Your Guide to Mt. Rainier’s Waterfalls

Early summer is usually the best time to view the waterfalls of Mt. Rainier. The melting snowpack is supplemented by spring rains to create an impressive performance. Autumn brings another wonderful experience, as the late season rains return to beautiful golds and reds dotted amongst the evergreens as the mountain prepares for the winter months.

What is most special about visiting Mt. Rainier’s waterfalls, however, is that many of them have not been named. You get to experience the power and rush of over 150+ waterfalls, with many over 300 feet in height, with most having easy accessibility – including roadside access for some.

Here’s your guide to the best of Mt. Rainier’s waterfalls and what to expect along the way.

Waterfalls in Carbon River and Mowich Lake Areas

There are 4 named waterfalls accessible in this area of the park. You’ll want to plan an early spring trip to view them all at the same time.

Chenius Falls: Access this waterfall from the Chenius Falls trailhead, which is about 4 miles up the Carbon River Road. Despite its measured height of 287 feet, this is a low-profile waterfall which deposits into a beautiful pool.

Ipsut Falls: This waterfall is only accessible through the Ipsut Creek backcountry. Get to the Carbon River Ranger Station and then follow the marked 5-mile trail to this cascade waterfall.

Ranger Falls: Take the Carbon River Road to the Green Lake Trail. It’s about a mile from where the trail and road meet to this dramatic cascade waterfall of nearly 200 feet.

Spray Falls: It’s one of the tallest and most dramatic waterfalls Mt. Rainier has to offer thanks to the source materials from Flett Glacier. Go to the end of Mowich Lake Road to the trailhead to this waterfall, follow it 2 miles to Spray Park, and then take the spur trail over to the falls.

Picture by Thomas Sørenes

Waterfalls in Ohanapecosh Area

There are 5 named waterfalls in this area of Mt. Rainier. The best part? Since these falls aren’t on many tour guides, there will often be only a few people on the trail with you.

Deer Creek Falls: Catch this waterfall when you go to see Stafford Falls on the Owyhigh Lakes Trail. Take care when viewing it: the edges are slippery and falls have been known to happen.

Falls Creek Falls: You can catch this waterfall next to Stevens Canyon Road. It’s just a few yards up the hill from the Grove of the Patriarchs parking.

Ohanapecosh Falls: This two-tiered waterfall offers a 70 foot drop after a 3.7-mile hike along the Eastside Trail. Head south of the footbridge for the falls to get the best views.

Silver Falls: This waterfall is spectacular all year long, but is particularly powerful at times of high flow. A series of cascades is at the start of the falls, which then ends into a 60 foot drop which is surrounded by old growth forest. You can reach it by taking the Grove of the Patriarchs, the Laughingwater Creek, or Ohanapecosh Campground trails.

Stafford Falls: This small waterfall drops into a “punchbowl” of a pool from about 30 feet in height. You’ll find it by taking the Owyhigh Lakes Trail off of Highway 123 via the Eastside Trail after a 2-mile hike.

Picture by Steven Smith

Mount Rainier Tours from Seattle

Mt Rainier Day Trip  Mt Rainier Day Tour  Small-Group Tour with Lunch Private Mt Rainier Day Tour

On this full-day tour of Washington state’s Mt Rainier, you’ll visit the majestic 14,411-foot (4,392-m) volcano and learn about the area from your informative guide. You’ll also explore local treasures like lakes and waterfalls en route from Seattle to Mt Rainier. Nature lovers won’t want to miss this!

Of all the mountains that surround Seattle, Mt Rainier stands the boldest. Appreciate the beauty of Mt Rainier on this full-day tour from Seattle. On clear days, you can see the mountain from downtown, but to grasp its full grandeur and magnificence, you must see it up close!

Admire close-up views of Mt Rainier’s snow capped peak, one of Seattle’s most iconic sights, on this full-day nature tour. See glaciers, waterfalls and wildlife in Mt Rainier National Park with a naturalist guide, and get a vivid sense of the mountain’s beauty while walking or snowshoeing.

On this private tour, take a scenic drive through the old-growth evergreen forests of America’s 5th-oldest national park, affording views of sparkling lakes, flower meadows and massive glaciers. Stop along the way to view wildlife and take photos and bring a picnic lunch to enjoy amidst the scenery.
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Waterfalls in Longmire and Paradise Areas

This is the most frequented section of the park for those looking to access Mt. Rainier’s waterfalls and for good reason. 8 named waterfalls and countless unnamed falls are easy to access from the roadside or with a high of 1 mile or less.

Carter Falls: This horsetail waterfall drops about 50 feet and can be accessed from the Wonderland Trail. Just follow the trail toward Paradise and cross the Nisqually River.

Christine Falls: Look for the Comet Falls parking area on the road to Paradise. It’s about 4.5 miles out of Longmire. Just park and walk down the short trail to the viewing area.

Comet Falls: The parking and trailhead for this waterfall is about two miles above the Cougar Rock Campground. It’s one of the park’s most popular waterfalls with at 320 feet in height, but the hike to get there can be quite strenuous. Expect about 2 miles of potentially hazardous conditions. The National Park Service recommends waiting until early summer to make sure all snow/ice have melted from the trail.

Fairy Falls: With a cascade drop of nearly 600 feet over Stevens Canyon, this is easily the most impressive waterfall Mt. Rainier has to offer as the snowpack melts. It’s barely a trickle, however, during the late summer months. You’ll need binoculars to see it from the Snow Lake trailhead – look north to the upper end of the canyon.

Madcap Falls: If you’ve made it to Carter Falls, then just head upstream about 100 yards and you’ll find this cascade-style waterfall.

Martha Falls: This waterfall cascades over an old lava flow to crash to the canyon floor. You can see it from the roadside on the upper end of Stevens Canyon.

Myrtle Falls: Take the paved Skyline Trail to Edith Creek in order to access this 60-foot waterfall. A good starting point is the Paradise Inn. On a clear day, you’ll get a great view of Mt. Rainier’s peak with this waterfall as well.

Picture by Ralph Arvesen

Narada Falls: It’s a short hike to access this 150+ foot high waterfall, but it’s a steep hike. On a sunny day, the spray from these falls will shoot rainbows everywhere. The trail is about 9 miles out of Longmire and 3 miles below the Paradise area.

Sluiskin Falls: This veil-type waterfall has 300+ feet of height as it deposits water into the creek bed of Paradise Valley. Take the Skyline Trail toward Myrtle Falls and you’ll see it throughout most of your time in the Paradise area.

Many of the waterfalls in this guide are fairly easy to access, but the areas around each falls may have slick rocks, difficult trail areas, and steep slopes that may be potentially hazardous. Take care when viewing each waterfall, stay in designated areas or viewpoints, and approach each one with caution. In doing so, you will be able to embrace the spirit of adventure that Mt. Rainier offers to one and all.