Illinois is home to many spectacular waterfalls, some of which are among the most beautiful in the Midwest. From cascading rapids to thundering plunges, these falls offer breathtaking views and an escape from city life. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful spot to relax or an adventure-filled day out with friends, there’s a waterfall in Illinois that will fit your needs perfectly.
List of Top Waterfalls to Visit in Illinois
1. Ferne Clyffe Waterfall, Goreville
Ferne Clyffe Waterfall in Goreville, Illinois is a stunning natural landmark located inside of Ferne Clyffe State Park. This waterfall is made up of two separate falls that are both around twenty feet high and fifty feet wide. The upper fall cascades over the ledge into the lower pool below, where it then flows down to its final destination at Big Muddy River.
Visitors can enjoy this beautiful sight from either side of the falls or by taking a short hike along the trail that leads to an observation platform directly above them. The area surrounding Ferne Clyffe Waterfall also offers plenty for tourists to explore. There are several hiking trails throughout the park, including one which takes visitors on a tour through some of Illinois’ oldest forests and rock formations.
Fishing is allowed here and anglers will find plenty of bass and other species swimming around in these waters. Overall, Ferne Clyffes Waterfall is an amazing sight and must-see attraction when visiting Southern Illinois!
Address: Regent Ln, Goreville, IL 62939 | Directions from St. Louis – Map
2. Cascade Falls, Matthiessen State Park, Oglesby
Cascade Falls is a beautiful waterfall located in Matthiessen State Park, Illinois. This scenic spot consists of a series of cascading waterfalls that drop over sandstone cliffs into the Vermilion River below. The falls are surrounded by foliage and the park’s unique landscape provides plenty of opportunities for exploration and photography.
The main feature at Cascade Falls is the breathtaking view from atop one of the many cliffs that line either side of the river. Visitors can also take advantage of hiking trails to get closer to nature or explore some nearby caves and crevices. Fishing is available in certain areas as well, with bass, crappie, catfish, walleye and bluegill being among the most commonly caught species found in this area.
Cascade Falls has long been popular among local visitors seeking an escape from their everyday lives while enjoying its natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere.
Address: Oglesby, IL 61348 | Directions from St. Louis – Map
3. Little Grand Canyon, Pomona
Little Grand Canyon Waterfall in Pomona, Illinois is a breathtaking natural wonder that draws visitors from all over the country. This magnificent waterfall cascades down into a deep canyon and is surrounded by wilderness with towering trees.
The walls of the canyon are made up of sandstone cliffs that rise to heights of 30 feet or more, creating an awe-inspiring sight for visitors to take in. The Little Grand Canyon Waterfall was formed thousands of years ago when glacial meltwater carved its way through the rock layers beneath it. As a result, this gorgeous waterfall can be seen plunging nearly 50 feet into the depths below.
Visitors can admire its beauty while standing on one of two overlooks located near the top and bottom of the falls. From these vantage points, you can truly appreciate just how powerful nature’s force really is! Most visitors will make the trek directly into the canyon and enjoy the swimming hole during summer months.
There are several other activities available for visitors to enjoy in the area. You can go fishing or canoeing nearby at Lake Shelbyville or explore some of the area’s hiking trails which offer incredible views from atop bluffs. There are also many historical sites like Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site that give a great lesson into the history of the park.
Address: Pomona, IL 62975 | Directions from St. Louis – Map
4. Worth Waterfall, Worth
Worth Waterfall is a natural waterfall located in Worth, Illinois. It is the only known natural waterfall in the state of Illinois and is one of its most unique features. The falls are situated on a stream that flows from Lake Michigan into Wolf Lake. The falls have been around for centuries, but they have become increasingly popular with tourists since the early 2000s when they were made accessible via
hiking trails and boardwalks.
Visitors can observe the beauty of these cascading waters as they plunge down a steep slope to Wolf Lake below. There are several observation decks along the trail which offer views of both sides of the waterfalls as well as stunning panoramic views over Wolf Lake. The Worth Waterfall area has been designated an official nature preserve by Cook County, due to its ecological importance and rare flora and fauna species found there such as wild orchids, foxes, owls, beavers, turtles and white-tailed deer.
Address: 11798 S Harlem Ave, Worth, IL 60482 | Directions from Chicago – Map
5. Starved Rock State Park, La Salle County
One of the most popular attractions within the park is the waterfall at Starved Rock. This spectacular cascade falls approximately 75 feet into an amphitheater-like gorge below. The waterfall can be accessed via a short trail that leads from the Visitor Center to the overlook point. From this vantage point, visitors can admire breathtaking views of both Eagle Cliff Falls and French Canyon Falls cascading down into their respective valleys below.
The area around Starved Rock has been inhabited for over 10,000 years by Native American tribes such as Illiniwek, Potawatomi, Miami & Kickapoo Indians who used it as a source of food and shelter during harsh winters or when other resources were scarce. It was later named after an incident involving these tribes where they were reportedly trapped atop the rock with no means of escape which eventually led to them starving to death; hence its name – “Starved Rock”.
Address: 2678 E 875th Rd, Oglesby, IL 61348 | Directions from St. Louis – Map
6. Burden Falls, Shawnee National Forest, Pope County
Burden Falls is a spectacular waterfall located in the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois. Located near the town of Eddyville, Burden Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in Illinois and stands at an impressive 75 feet tall. The falls were named for William Burden, who settled on nearby land before his death in 1843.
The area around Burden Falls has been popular with hikers and outdoor enthusiasts for many years due to its stunning beauty and natural wonders, including scenic overlooks that provide views of the surrounding forest and valley below. There are numerous trails leading up to the falls which offer great opportunities for photography, sightseeing, birdwatching or just enjoying nature’s beauty. Visitors should be aware that while most of these trails are relatively easy to traverse there are some steep sections which can be challenging even for experienced hikers.
Address: Herod, IL 62946 | Directions from St. Louis – Map
7. Dixon Springs State Park, Golconda, Pope County
Dixon Springs State Park is a picturesque park located in Southern Illinois. The park offers visitors a variety of recreational activities and stunning natural beauty, including one of the best waterfalls in the state.
The Dixon Springs Waterfall is one of the most popular attractions at this state park. It cascades over huge limestone boulders into an large pool below, creating an impressive sight that can be enjoyed from several different vantage points throughout the park. Visitors can take advantage of designated viewing areas for close-up views or wander along nearby trails to get more distant perspectives.
Swimming and fishing are both allowed in certain sections of the swimming hole, making it possible to enjoy some cool refreshment on hot summer days! There’s also rock climbing available around the falls, although caution should always be taken when attempting such activities near any body of water.
Address: 982 IL-146, Golconda, IL 62938 | Directions from St. Louis – Map
8. Jackson Falls, Ozark, Shawnee National Forest
Jackson Falls is a scenic waterfall located in the Shawnee National Forest of Illinois. The area around the falls has been designated as a national natural landmark, and it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southern Illinois. It consists of three separate cascades that flow over sandstone steps into an emerald pool at its base.
The highest cascade drops from a height of approximately 30 feet, while the other two cascades drop from heights between 10 and 20 feet. The entire site spans more than 100 yards along Jackson Creek, which flows through rugged terrain before reaching the falls. Visitors to Jackson Falls can enjoy hiking trails that meander through bluffs, deep ravines, and towering trees.
Address: G858+7P Simpson, Illinois | Directions from St. Louis – Map
9. Thunder Bay Falls, Gallena
Thunder Bay Falls is a magnificent waterfall located in Galena, Illinois. It is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike to come and enjoy the beauty of nature. The falls are situated on the Galena River, just downstream from an old mill dam. The falls are quite impressive with their three tiered drops that cascade down into Thunder Bay. The first drop is about 15 feet high, followed by two more tiers which make up the total height of around 40 feet! As you stand at its base, it can be hard to believe that such a powerful force of nature exists so close to home.
Address: 233 Thunder Bay Rd, Galena, IL 61036 | Directions from Chicago – Map
10. Giant’s Bathtub Falls, Matthiessen State Park, Oglesby
Giant’s Bathtub Falls is a stunning waterfall located in Oglesby, Illinois. The falls are part of the LaSalle Canyon Nature Preserve and can be seen from the overlook along Starved Rock State Park Trail. The falls gets its name from its shape which resembles an oversized bathtub.
The water cascades over two tiers of several ledges and drops about 20 feet into a deep pool below. On sunny days, sunlight reflects off the crystal clear water creating a magical atmosphere that draws visitors from all around to take in its beauty. It’s easy to spend hours admiring this unique natural wonder and taking photos of it with friends or family members. Exploring Giant’s Bathtub Falls can
be done on foot via a moderate-level hike on Trail 1. During your hike you’ll also find several other points of interest such as Lover’s Leap Overlook, Ottawa Canyon Overlook, and Eagle Cliff Overlook.
Address: 2678 E 875th Rd, Oglesby, IL 61348 | Directions from Chicago – Map
11. Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, Lemont
The Waterfall at Glen Forest Preserve in Lemont is a stunning natural wonder. Located on the banks of the Des Plaines River, this picturesque waterfall cascades a few feet over a rocks into a large pool below. The sight and sound of the rushing water creates an atmosphere of tranquility that’s perfect for relaxation and contemplation.
The Waterfall at Glen Forest Preserve is just one part of a larger network of preserves located throughout Darien called The DuPage County Forest Preserves which encompasses thousands of acres for public use.
Address: Lemont, IL 60439 | Directions from Chicago – Map
12. Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve, South Elgin
The Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve is a beautiful natural area located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. It is home to an array of diverse habitats, including wetlands, woodlands, and prairies. Visitors can enjoy hiking trails that wind through the preserve or explore its abundant wildlife from one of the many observation decks and boardwalks dotting the landscape.
One highlight of this serene setting is its scenic waterfall. This 30-foot cascading waterfall is accessible via a short but steep hike along one of the trails leading up to it. As you make your way through the wilderness and over rocky terrain, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views as well as sounds from tumbling water below you.
Address: 35W003 State Rte 31, South Elgin, IL 60177 | Directions from Chicago – Map
13. Wildcat Canyon Falls
Wildcat Canyon Falls is a beautiful waterfall located in Starved Rock State Park, Illinois. The falls are situated on the Vermilion River and have been a popular destination for hikers since the park was established in 1911. The cascading waterfalls span approximately 30 feet across, creating an impressive sight that can be seen from different vantage points within the park.
The falls at Wildcat Canyon offer stunning views of cliffs and wilderness that line both sides of the riverbanks. With its photographic scenery and numerous activities available nearby, it’s no wonder why Wildcat Canyon Falls has become one of Starved Rock State Park’s most beloved attractions.
Address: 2678 E 875th Rd, Oglesby, IL 61348 | Directions from Chicago – Map
14. Niles Veterans’ Memorial Waterfall, Niles
The Niles Veterans Memorial Waterfall is located in the city of Niles, Illinois. This memorial waterfall was created to honor and remember those who served in the United States military. The memorial features a cascading waterfall that flows from an elevated platform into a pool below. The pool is surrounded by a ring of granite stones inscribed with quotes from famous veterans and leaders, along with flags representing each branch of the armed forces.
The design for the memorial was chosen after several local veterans’ organizations held public hearings to decide on its location, size and design. Honoring those who have served or are currently serving in our country’s Armed Forces, this special place serves as an educational tool for citizens young and old alike to learn more about patriotism, sacrifice and courage in times of war or peace.
Address: W Touhy Ave &, N Milwaukee Ave, Niles, IL 60714 | Directions from Chicago – Map
15. Double Branch Hole, Hayes Creek Canyon
Double Branch Hole in Hayes Creek Canyon, Illinois is a unique and beautiful swimming hole located in the Shawnee National Forest. The site features two branches of Hayes Creek that join together to form a large natural pool surrounded by cliffs and towering trees. The crystal clear water is invitingly cool, making it the ideal place for thousands of visitors every years on hot summer days. Double Branch Hole has been designated as an official swim area by both State and Federal agencies, so visitors should follow all posted regulations when visiting this special spot.
Address: 1 Hayes Canyon Camp Lane Box 186, Eddyville, IL 62928 | Directions from St. Louis – Map
15 Best Waterfalls in Illinois
Burden Falls, Shawnee National Forest, Pope County
Cascade Falls, Matthiessen State Park, Oglesby
Dixon Springs State Park, Golconda, Pope County
Double Branch Hole, Hayes Creek Canyon
Ferne Clyffe Waterfall, Goreville
Giant’s Bathtub Falls, Matthiessen State Park, Oglesby
Jackson Falls, Ozark, Shawnee National Forest
Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve, South Elgin
Little Grand Canyon, Pomona
Niles Veterans’ Memorial Waterfall, Niles
Starved Rock State Park, La Salle County
Thunder Bay Falls, Gallena
Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, Darien
Wildcat Canyon Falls
Worth Waterfalls, Worth