Heavy winter rains and snows have returned to the Southwestern United States after years of drought, replenishing waterfalls across the region.
Southwestern Waterfalls Come to Life
Jeff Crider shares some of the southwest's most beautiful waterfalls and where to camp nearby.
While a half dozen of the world’s most famous waterfalls are located inside Yosemite National Park,
World-of-Waterfalls.com provides descriptions of hundreds of waterfalls in the Southwest and across the country that are worthy destinations in their own right.
Here’s a sampling of scenic and easily accessible waterfalls across the mountains and canyon areas of California, Arizona, and Colorado that make terrific spring and summer RV trip destinations, along with listings of nearby campgrounds:
Alamere Falls: Spilling from a cliff onto a Northern California beach, Alamere Falls is often including in listings of California’s most beautiful waterfalls. Located in Point Reyes National Seashore, Alamere Falls can be reached by trail. Nearby campgrounds include Olema Campground in Olema.
Big Sur Area Waterfalls: The Big Sur area on California’s Central Coast features 13 waterfalls, including McWay Falls, an 80-foot waterfall that plunges from a forested cliff onto the beach below. One of California’s most photographed waterfalls, McWay Falls is inside Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park and can be seen from State Route 1. Other noteworthy waterfalls in the area are located in Limekiln State Park. Nearby campgrounds include Big Sur Campground and Cabins, Fernwood Resort, Riverside Campground and Cabins, all of which are in Big Sur.
Burney Falls: This graceful, spring-fed waterfall located inside McArthur Burney Falls Memorial State Park is considered to be among the most scenic in the state. Nearby campgrounds include Hat Creek Resort and RV Park in Old Station; Lassen RV Resort in McArthur; and McArthur Burney Falls Cabins, which is inside the state park.
McCloud Falls: This waterfall is actually a succession of three waterfalls on the McCloud River. Nearby campgrounds include Fridays RV Retreat and Fly Fishing Ranch in McCloud.
Rainbow Falls: This 100-foot waterfall is located on the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River in Devils Postpile National Monument, which is located in a remote area of the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains near Mammoth Lakes. A free shuttle take visitors to the Rainbow Falls trailhead from the Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort during the summer months.
Nearby campgrounds include Mammoth RV Park in Mammoth Lakes.
Tahquitz Falls: This beautiful 50-foot waterfall is hidden inside a beautiful canyon on the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation near the south end of Palm Springs. Nearby campgrounds Emerald Desert RV Resort in Palm Desert, Palm Springs / Joshua Tree KOA in Desert Hot Springs, and Palm Springs Oasis RV Resort in Cathedral City.
Madera Canyon Waterfall: This waterfall is about 25 miles southeast of Tucson and can be reached via a short hike through Madera Canyon. Tucson.com offers directions how to get to the falls. Nearby campgrounds include the Tucson / Lazy Days KOA Resort and Rincon Country West RV Resort
Slide Rock: This waterfall near Sedona is actually a series of cascades along Oak Creek. World-of-Waterfalls.com describes the falls and how to reach it. Nearby campgrounds include Rancho Sedona RV Park in Sedona, Verde Ranch RV Resort in Camp Verde, and Thousand Trails Verde Valley in Cottonwood.
Wolf Creek Falls: This 90-foot waterfall is considered one of the best hikes in the Prescott area. HikeArizona.com describes the short hike to reach the falls, which includes views of the surrounding mountains and a historic mining site. Nearby campgrounds include Willow Lake RV Park in Prescott.
Bear Creek Falls and Bridal Veil Falls: Telluride.com describes the steady 2-mile trail to Bear Creek Falls, which is one of the most popular hikes in the Telluride area, as well as the nearly 2-mile trail to 365-foot Bridal Veil Falls, Colorado’s tallest waterfall.
Nearby campgrounds include Telluride Town Park Campground in Telluride and Ouray Riverside Resort in Ouray.
Continental Falls: This is considered a “must see” waterfall for anyone who visits the greater Breckenridge area. DayHikesNearDenver.com describes the 5-mile roundtrip hike, which has about 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Nearby campgrounds include Tiger Run Resort in Breckenridge.
Fish Creek Falls: Two-hundred-eighty-foot Fish Creek Falls can be reached with a short hiking trail, one of the most popular destinations near Steamboat Springs. Nearby campgrounds include the Steamboat Springs KOA Holiday in Steamboat Springs.
Waterfalls at Hanging Lake: Some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Colorado cascade off of cliffs into Hanging Lake, a destination that has become so popular that permits are now required to hike there. The waterfalls are close to Glenwood Springs. Nearby campgrounds include Glenwood Canyon Resort and The Hideout at Glenwood Springs, both of which are in Glenwood Springs.
Rifle Falls: Rifle Falls is a series of three waterfalls in Rifle Falls State Park that are easily accessible by short hiking trails. Nearby campgrounds include Glenwood Springs West / Colorado River KOA Holiday in Silt.
North Clear Creek Falls: The U.S. Forest Service provides directions on how to get to an observation site to view North
Clear Creek Falls, which can be seen from the Silverthread Scenic Byway right along State Highway 149. Nearby campgrounds include Mountain Views at Rivers Edge in Creede.