The beauty of Arizona’s landscapes and natural treasures have made it a popular tourist destination for decades. While the Arizona desert and sunset views are well-known across the globe, there are some really gorgeous Arizona waterfalls that are less-known but still worth a trip.
There are mountain valleys, Grand Canyon, Cathedral Rock, diverse forests, mountains, and so much more to see in this dry but oh so beautiful place. Thousands of visitors come to the state yearly to catch a glimpse of the breathtaking scenery.
Road trips in Arizona are legendary. And trust me: if you’re taking a road trip through the desert, you’ll definitely want to find some waterfalls in Arizona to stop for a quick dip.
The top Arizona waterfalls range significantly in magnitude, location, and difficulty accessing them. Several attractions may be closed or require reservations at certain times. Others necessitate an extensive, multi-day camping trip, while some are easily accessible and ideal for families with younger visitors.
If you are seeking a relaxing time, take a look at these stunning must-see waterfalls in Arizona!
14. Fossil Creek Falls
Fossil Creek Waterfall is a natural waterfall that you can reach through a 1-mile Waterfall Trail.
The area is usually secluded to sit back and enjoy the scenery. The Fossil Creek Waterfall and its grounds are open for day usage only with reserved permission from April through October.
The permit process can be complicated, but it is necessary to keep the area free of tourists and preserve this stunning piece of Arizona’s heritage. Plus, this is a guarantee that you’ll have peace and quiet.
Note that you can only purchase permits online in advance; they are not available on-site. Make sure you print out and carry your ticket with you.
The hike begins at the Waterfall Trailhead parking lot on the service road. A little distance from the parking area, you’ll see a sign that tells you to follow a trail that will lead you into the woods. As time goes by, you’ll notice that there’s a small creek nearby.
You’ll find isolated bathing spots and swinging ropes along the creekside as the trail winds its way through it.
The trail is ideal for families because it is simple to follow and only has modest elevation. Strollers are not encouraged because there are some muddy sections and wooden plank bridges to traverse, but otherwise, it’s relatively simple.
Swim in some of the state’s most refreshing waters once you arrive to reward yourself for your effort. If the rush of the waterfall is too much for you, try swimming in one of the nearby crystal-clear pools. There are tons of options at this spot so it’s one of our favorites!
13. Beaver Falls
The breathtaking grandeur of Beaver Falls is worth the effort, even if you have to hike a long way to get here. The Havasu Falls, an 18-mile hike from the campground, is teeming with pools and turquoise waters cascading over limestone ledges.
Bolts, chains, and ladders aid the descent, and you’ll also pass by a stunning historical burial site for the Havasupai people. Enjoy the scenery and cool off in the refreshing pools once you arrive at your destination.
From Mooney Falls, it’s about a 4-mile hike to Beaver Falls. To make the most of your time, we recommend beginning the climb about 7-8 a.m. to ensure you return before sunset. You must ascend the cliff you dropped to reach Mooney Falls to return. Beaver Falls can only be reached by wading across three rivers, so be sure to have your water shoes.
The best part of the hike to Beaver Falls is the shaded sections, the rocky pathways, the wild grape fields, and the breathtaking vistas of the gigantic Grand Canyon cliffs. It is also much quieter than prior routes. You only have to wade through knee-deep water at least four river crossings and a few footbridges to get to Havasu Creek downstream from Mooney Falls.
Surely, Beaver Falls will be your favorite among the Havasupai Falls. The water rushes down the sandstone and limestone terraces, forming a series of smaller waterfalls that include swimming and wading pools. Swimming, cliff jumping, and climbing all over the falls are just some of the activities available once you arrive.
After a long day of jumping and shooting, sit down to eat our dinner and enjoy the peace.
You must first camp at Havasu to go to Beaver Falls, arranged through the local tourism office.
12. Bridal Wreath Falls
Saguaro National Park’s Bridal Wreath Falls, located in the Rincon Mountain District, is a somewhat popular route that offers stunning vistas of Tucson and occasional wildlife sightings.
If you’re searching for a solo hike or are just starting to hiking, this is the ideal route for you!
Stay on the Douglas Spring Trail to reach Bridal Wreath Falls. In addition to the numerous mile markers and signs that you’ll come across along the way, this hike has a great deal of clearly marked pathways. Many Arizona hikes lack clear directions, so this one is ideal for individuals who are just starting or need more supervision.
As soon as the trail begins its ascent, you’ll observe a noticeable elevation change. From here on, the trek will be moderately steep but manageable.
It’s a lovely upward hike amid desert vegetation and views for the next mile and a half. The falls can be heard before you can see them, and you can even catch a peek of them from the trail as you round the bend before the course opens up. There are saguaro and barrel cactus in the foothills, mesquite, and creosote-covered grasslands.
Despite its tiny stature, it’s a serene and beautiful sight. Rest here for a bit and grab something to eat before retracing your steps back down the path you just came up through the boulder field.
Tall canyon walls and a cottonwood-will canopy shade the falls, making for excellent photographers’ backgrounds.
March through October is ideal for visiting because of the mild temperatures and clear skies. You can see deer, javelina, and coyotes along the isolated trail, which is a great area to see the desert’s vegetation and fauna in their natural habitats.
11. Cibecue Falls
Visit Cibecue Falls, and you’ll get to witness a different aspect of Arizona that you won’t find anywhere else. Driving to the trailhead is possible; it’s an adventure to navigate the winding roads, through towering cliffs, and along the stunning Salt River.
If you’re looking for a more challenging canyoneering-style hike, this one is for you. The trailhead is situated at the height of around 2900 ft. To get to the parking area, you’ll even have to cross the swiftly flowing Cibecue Creek. The site has a different set of rules and signs, which you should know.
There will be a lot of rock jumping on this trail because it is mainly in the creek. Your feet will get soaked.
Taking the creek upstream for two miles rewards you with stunning vistas of the canyon and a bevy of the creek’s unique water features. As a canyon, you’ll have lots of natural shade and a comfortable temperature thanks to the flowing water. You begin to appreciate its majesty when you’re near a waterfall as the canyon gets smaller and smaller.
About 30 feet high, the waterfall has a substantial water flow. Also, you can discover a natural cave/alcove just before the falls.
Use utmost caution when dealing with a rising body of water. There is a hazard of flash flooding in the canyon during monsoon season and severe weather.
Although the river is shallow, the waterfall’s pool is deep enough to swim in. It is not easy to resist the temptation to jump in and swim on a hot day, but please, do not do so for safety.
For those who plan to camp, the sites are relatively basic. There were no picnic tables on-site, and the facilities were rudimentary.
10. Seven Falls
The Catalina Mountains in Tucson, Arizona, are home to a sequence of small waterfalls known as Seven Falls. Sabino Canyon Recreation Area provides access to Seven Falls. The Seven Falls trek is popular; the mix of accessibility, beauty, and water features makes it a worthwhile adventure.
Bear Canyon Trail, FS Trail No. 299, leads to Seven Falls. In addition to being well-maintained, the route follows a creek for much of its length. If you’re in Tucson and looking for a half-or full-day trip, be sure you hike Seven Falls.
While trekking to a waterfall, you’ll be traversing challenging terrain in the Arizona desert. For this hike, you’ll want to carry lots of water with you. Because Seven Falls is a moderately graded route, there are a few essentials that you should bring along with you.
Prepare your pack or wear shoes to get wet due to stream crossings and a waterfall after the walk. We recommend swimwear or dry clothing if you want to plunge into the watercourse the waterfall has formed.
Near the parking lot, you’ll find restrooms and water fountains. Visitors to the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area should know that pets are not permitted.
9. Ribbon Falls
One of the accessible waterfalls in Grand Canyon National Park is Ribbon Falls, located on the Rim to Rim Trail and accessible from Phantom Ranch.
You can find Ribbon Falls approximately six miles up Bright Angel Creek and conceal in a small canyon on the north bank of the Colorado River. Water-rich minerals have built a massive travertine spire under the falls around 100 feet high. It is a fantastic respite from the sun in this part of the canyon.
You can trek around the falls and stand behind them after you’ve had a swim in the icy water at the bottom. The trip to Ribbon Falls, despite its proximity, involves much forethought and preparation, but it’s worth it!
Getting to Ribbon Falls from Phantom Ranch needs backpacking or hiking trips. You must first obtain a backcountry camping permit from Grand Canyon National Park to go backpacking.
Staying at the Phantom Ranch dormitories or cabins for two nights is all you’ll need.
Phantom Ranch and Bright Angel Campgrounds are the only two options for this hike’s access. The South Kaibab Trail and the Bright Angel Trail are two options for getting to the canyon. You can also get here by river rafting down the Colorado River.
This canyon is on the river’s right bank, around mile 88. Another method to observe this waterfall is climbing the North Kaibab path from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to Cottonwood campsite. To get to Ribbon Falls from Cottonwood Campground, you only have to walk about a mile downstream.
Ribbon Falls is a magnificent reward for your challenging trek. A large boulder covered in moss is struck by the falls. To the right side of the waterfall, an alcove provides a distinct perspective.
8. Grand Falls
These muddy waterfalls are a must-see, almost as beautiful as the chocolate waterfall in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. You’ll find this waterfall marvel in the Painted Desert, 30 miles east of Flagstaff.
The Grand Falls, a natural wonder in the Southwest, has multiple layers of water and a broad stance.
It is more than 180 feet tall and known for its spectacular rainbows. Because of rocks at the foot of Niagara Falls, the actual cascade is just 70 feet in height. Hence, Grand Falls does surpass Niagara Falls in size!
Use the picnic tables and pavilions adjacent to the gully’s edge if you want to spend the day exploring Grand Falls. Take food and water with you since this is an isolated location. Remember that you are on the Navajo property and should treat it with respect by removing all rubbish and leaving no trace.
Because this is indeed a beautiful waterfall, you can even find yourself hiking down to the water’s edge. The trail into the gully is less than a half-mile long and straightforward, but be aware of loose stones.
Ensure you have shoes that can handle the sticky mud if you plan to trek down the falls. When walking through muddy areas, keep an eye out for soft soil, which might give way beneath your feet at any time. Be cautious!
Don’t miss this spectacular oasis in the Southwest that erupts from the Arizona desert!
7. Mooney Falls
Mooney Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Havasupai Indian Reservation, full of stunning waterfalls. With more than 190 feet, it is the largest waterfall on the reserve.
Mooney Falls, situated just west of the Grand Canyon, can only be accessed through a lengthy and arduous journey or by helicopter. There is no way to get to Havasupai via car.
To reach Mooney and Havasu Falls, you’ll have to go over some rough terrain. To see these magnificent waterfalls, you must first get a permit and then travel to Arizona to the trailhead for Havasu Falls. There is a 10-mile journey to get to the campsite, where you can pitch a tent and rest for the night. It’s a long, arduous road, but it’s worth it when you reach the gorgeous oasis at the end.
The trailhead for Mooney Falls in Havasupai is located on the other side of the campground from Havasu Falls. Take the way via Havasupai campsite to get to the trailhead. There’s a short 1-mile walk from the Havasupai campsite to the beginning of the Mooney Falls trek.
A sign says “descend at your own risk,” which marks the beginning of the route. You can have a glimpse of the waterfall from a bird’s eye perspective from the trailhead.
You’ll come upon a cave in the rocks not long after seeing the “warning” sign. Continue your journey to the foot of Mooney Falls Havasupai by entering the cave.
Duck down as you make your way to the exit on the opposite side of the cave. The walls are adorned with chains that will assist you in navigating and maintaining your balance.
For a unique perspective, take a picture of Mooney Falls via the “window.” The Mooney Falls descent begins after leaving the cave.
6. Tanque Verde Falls
The Tanque Verde Waterfall in Tucson has a stunning 80-foot drop. The Lower Tanque Verde Falls Trailhead is only a short walk away. You will witness many small waterfalls and swimming holes along the way, and they’re a terrific place to take a break and cool down.
Following the stream bed to the falls will be the only way to get there once you’ve arrived at the creek itself. Swimmers should be aware of the slippery granite in the region, even if it is permitted. Remember to bring your camera to capture the magnificence of this secluded hidden waterfall.
You’ll see a series of caution signs as you make your way through the area. You’ll be on the canyon bottom in less than a half-mile. There should be impressive falls upstream if the water is running here.
Once you’ve reached this point, there’s no clear route ahead of you. Your next move is to go upstream. There are several minor waterfalls and pour-offs to keep you entertained. It becomes required to scramble and climb over stones after roughly 0.75 miles from the trailhead since the canyon becomes more severe.
In the end, you’ll come to the mouth of an exciting-looking, small passage. You can hear the roar of a 30-foot waterfall just around the bend, surrounded by sheer canyon walls. Although the waterfall is lovely, this one is not the Lower Tanque Verde Falls.
While the 30-footer serves as a great vantage point, you’ll need to clamber up the rock wall to the right of it to get to the true goal of this trip. However, the payoff is well worth the effort, and an impressive 75-foot Lower Tanque Verde Falls awaits you in a small cave. Reverse your direction and travel back the way you came from paradise.
5. Apache Falls
The Apache Falls is a little-known gem in the state of Arizona. Located deep inside the Salt River Canyon, the falls are a spectacular sight to see, and they’re also quite accessible.
In the Salt River Canyon, Apache Falls is one of the few waterfalls in Arizona located in a river rather than a stream, making it a stunning sight.
The falls need a permit to visit. Most tourists acquire the White Mt Apache permit and combine the trip with a climb to Cibecue Falls. It costs $30 to purchase online—logging in before making a purchase grants you access to Apache Falls.
To get to the falls from Phoenix, use Highway 60 east for 43 miles. Once you’ve crossed over the river, you’ll begin your descent into the canyon through a series of switchbacks and make your first left.
Parking is available in the lot.
Apache Falls is a mile-long trek with an easy difficulty rating due to the trail’s flatness. Before you see it, you’ll hear it thundering down the mountainside for roughly 10 minutes.
Also, the trek up the river beyond the falls is quite stunning, so we highly recommend it.
4. Pacheta Falls
An undiscovered waterfall in the White Mountains is just begging to be found. Pacheta Falls, with its 130-foot cliffs and rich vegetation, is one of the most impressive waterfalls in the area. It is like something out of a jungle, not an Arizona desert, and the sight will take your breath away.
The falls are in the White Mountain Apache Reservation; therefore, visitors need a permit to go here. The Sunrise Gas Station sells permits. We recommend a high-clearance vehicle because the terrain is complex, and the roads might soon become inaccessible in a sedan if a major thunderstorm passes through the region.
It can be challenging to get here at times, but you’ll only have to walk 1.25 miles from the parking lot. Another option is to drive close to the falls, although this is more difficult and requires navigating some extremely rocky, unmarked roads.
Evergreen Douglas fir trees are blanketing the cliffs of the high country panorama when you look the opposite way. You’ll have trouble believing you’re still in Arizona when you see these quite surreal sights.
With a view from above the falls, you’ll be able to appreciate this natural beauty in an entirely new light.
Take your breath away as you watch the water tumble down the lush green hillsides, ultimately pouring into an oasis of clean water. Smaller waterfalls dot the landscape, further adding to its enchantment.
The foliage is stunning in the fall, so plan on being amazed if you come then.
Start on AZ-260 toward Sunrise Ski Resort, and then turn right towards the end of the road to reach Pacheta Falls.
3. Navajo Falls
After the 2008 flash flood in Havasu Canyon, Navajo Falls emerged as a natural wonder. Upstream Havasu Falls, there is a stunning array of waterfalls and cascades! Swimming in cool, clear water is a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.
Havasupai Campground is an excellent place to camp in the afternoon and evening because of the flash flood that permanently altered the canyon topography. It’s a quick walk from the campsite (just over 0.5 miles) and a refreshing alternative to Havasu Falls if it’s too busy there.
Upper Navajo Falls and Lower Navajo Falls are two separate waterfalls connected by a beautiful succession of cascades. Upper Navajo Falls, the fifth waterfall in Havasu Canyon, is slightly hidden from the main route, so be sure to explore a little to view it!
The Havasupai Tribe prohibits cliff jumping from Upper and Lower Navajo Falls, although many visitors will find it irresistible to leap from the cliffs.
Upper Navajo Falls is just upstream of Lower Navajo Falls, and it’s easy to overlook. Lower Navajo Falls may be seen well from the main route that connects Supai Village and the Havasupai Campground.
You can find the Upper and Lower Navajo Falls through an access road and a succession of well-defined paths that begin from the main route.
A vast pool formed by Upper Navajo Falls has attracted visitors who bring innertubes and other recreational floating equipment to enjoy the breathtaking canyon walls and the falls’ mist.
It’s essential to exercise caution while exploring this area and be mindful of the fragile system of travertine that is still emerging in the stream; the “stone” ledges you notice in the water are still growing and are thus quite unstable.
2. Madera Canyon Waterfall
The sound of gushing water fills the air as you stroll through a canyon in southern Arizona. It is not Sabino Canyon but a hidden waterfall.
As an Arizona tourist, Madera Canyon Waterfall should be on your list of must-see attractions.
Go south on I-19 towards Nogales for 20 miles from Tucson, and you’ll find it. Take exit 63 in Green Valley and turn left onto Continental Road. Take Whitehouse Canyon Road, then turn right onto Madera Canyon Road after one mile. Enter Madera Canyon Road at the first parking lot on the right.
The unpaved track on the right is 200 feet down the paved path on the Proctor Trail. A trickle of water will lead you to a secret waterfall.
The water comes from Madera Creek, which is roughly a mile distant.
Nearby, Madera Creek provides the waterfall with its water supply. See what the picnic area beside the stream has to offer.
Sit on the slippery rocks near the waterfall to enjoy the view. Despite the roaring river, this area is relatively quiet. It’s a terrific place to take a breather, clear your thoughts, and see nature in action.
1. Wolf Creek Falls
In Banning State Park, Wolf Creek Falls is a modest waterfall with a tiny pool. A beautiful waterfall descends 12 feet where Wolf Creek joins the Kettle River at Wolf Creek Falls. After entering the park, follow the camping signage. The trailhead is on the left, and there is parking in a small lot to the right.
The Wolf Creek Trail is the quickest and most direct route to the falls. The course will branch off and blend in with its surroundings at some point. You can return by a similar path or the High Bluff Trail on the way back if you want to see more. The forest ground is covered with trilliums during the spring, making the level dirt route an enjoyable stroll through the woods.
The North Umpqua’s emerald green woodlands will be your favorite thing about trekking here. There is an almost continual rainforest-like wetness around them, even in the middle of the summer. As you cross the bridge to get to the trailhead, you’ll see a gorgeous rock covered in neon green moss. There’s a picnic table and a fascinating fallen tree on a sidetrack.
The hike is a moderate, downhill path from the trailhead to the stream. It’s easy to slide on the loose gravel, and rainfall can make the stones around it even more slippery. Wear long trousers and shoes with excellent grip if you’re going to be near the stream, lined with prickly bushes.
Once the route reaches the stream, it will flatten out and diverge in several ways. Turn right and follow the creek downstream until you come to a set of waterfalls.
If there has been just the appropriate amount of snowmelt and the temperature is perfect, it is common to encounter a frozen waterfall throughout the winter.
Waterfall Safety Preparation In Arizona
- No matter how short the hike is, do some research on it. Ensure that the terrain is appropriate and doable for everyone in your group. It’s a good idea to scribble down waypoints and instructions, and having a map on hand never hurts. Even though mobile devices can be pretty helpful, you should not depend on them entirely.
- Bring plenty of water! When hiking to a waterfall in the heat, it’s easy to get dehydrated and much worse.
- Use a hiking pole for trail stability. Rough terrain or river crossings are common on many pathways. While navigating rugged or steep terrain, a trekking pole (or two) can substantially boost stability.
- Wear breathable and light clothing. When it’s hot outside, pants and cotton apparel are ideal for soaking up sweat and keeping it around all day. Hypothermia can develop quickly if a hiker becomes lost and spends the night in the woods. As for socks, although some people find merino wool socks to be a little warm or unpleasant, they are fantastic at wicking away sweat and regulating your body’s temperature.
- Proper footwear is crucial. Hiking boots/shoes provide good grip and support, especially important on the slick pathways and rocks surrounding waterfalls. A fall or a disabling injury might occur if you don’t have enough traction and support. Hiking should never be done in flip-flops or sandals.
The natural beauty of Arizona waterfalls is a gift to the cactus-strewn desert. Different kinds of them are available, and each is a terrific way to escape the oppressive heat. If you haven’t explored these waterfalls yet, you should include them in your itinerary.