10 Best Nevada Waterfalls

Waterfalls do not come to mind when you think of Nevada, but this desert state has a surprising number of wonderful falls. Most of them are seasonal and are best visited after heavy rains, and many dry out completely in the summer or have just a trickle of water. The falls are usually surrounded by lush vegetation, making a hike a good way to spend some time in a cool, pleasant environment. Most falls are close to the cities and are an easy day trip. By far the most popular is Mary Jane Falls near Las Vegas, Nevada. More dramatic but more difficult to access is Big Falls. Lush Hunter Creek Falls is a popular hiking destination for folks living in Reno, and Carson City residents head up to Kings Canyon Falls for a bit of weekend exercise. Photo: Kisa_Markiza/Fotolia

1.Lost Creek Falls

Lost Creek Falls

Located in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Lost Creek Falls is a lovely waterfall shooting out from a narrow rock chute and dropping 40 feet down into Lost Creek Canyon. The falls can be easily reached by a short round-trip hike of under a mile through the lush, shady canyon. The hike starts by crossing a narrow wash and continuing along a raised boardwalk constructed to protect the willow thicket you can see along the creek. You will see more interesting desert plants growing along the high canyon walls after you pass the fork with the Children's Discovery Loop Trail. The trail continues through the shady tunnel of lush trees and boulders, emerging at the grotto and the falls. If you come after heavy rains, the waterfall will be a torrent of water. At other times, it might be completely dry.

Rocky Gap Road, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas, NV 89161 Photo: siloto/Fotolia

2.Mary Jane Falls

Mary Jane Falls

One of the tallest waterfalls in the Mount Charleston region, Mary Jane Falls is located in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, a short trip from Las Vegas. The very popular hike to the falls starts at a parking lot next to a former campground that was washed away in 1971 by a flash flood. The trail follows the edge of Kyle Canyon on about a mile-long gradual, easy climb. After that, you will have about a mile of switchbacks towards the canyon’s northeastern side before reaching the falls. Enjoy the shade and the cool, fragrant air, with a 10-15 degree difference in temperature from Las Vegas. The falls drop from a high rock wall into a refreshing pool – a perfect spot to cool off.

Las Vegas, Nevada Photo: pedrosala/Fotolia

3.Big Falls

Big Falls

Big Falls is located in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, just across Kyle Canyon from the more popular Mary Jane Falls. The hike is less crowded and the waterfall is more beautiful than the more famous Mary Jane Falls. Start the hike by following the Mary Jane Falls Trail from the trailhead at the parking area. Soon the trail to Big Falls leaves the Mary Jane Falls Trail and heads left along a narrow trail through the trees to the wide wash on the valley floor. A path resumes on the canyon’s far side, heading up through a forested area and then down to the streambed. The faint path follows the wash with some large boulders, although it is easier to walk along the creek bed. Once you make it past all the obstacles, it will all be worth it. Big Falls is a magnificent 85-foot waterfall that flows off a limestone rock face into a deep pool at its base.

Spring Mountain National Recreation Area, Mount Charleston, Nevada Photo: dmitrimaruta/Fotolia

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4.Tamarack Peak (Galena Creek) Falls

Tamarack Peak (Galena Creek) Falls

Located at Galena Creek's upper end, Tamarack Peak Waterfall is a seasonal waterfall between the Mount Rose Wilderness and Slide Mountain, at the northeast slope of Tamarack Peak. You can reach the waterfall by hiking the Mount Rose Trail. It is a beautiful 6.5-mile day hike that begins at 8,990 feet at the Mount Rose Trailhead at the parking plaza just off Mt. Rose Hwy. Go down the open, sandy trail, surrounded on both sides by blooming lupine and paintbrush. As the trail goes gradually up, you will start catching spectacular views of the Tahoe Meadows and Lake Tahoe. After about a mile from the trailhead, the trail enters the forest and levels pleasantly. After a few rolling hills, at about 2.5 miles from the trailhead, you will reach the base of Galena Falls. The falls are very popular, and many people spend the day at this cool, lush spot. Photo: efimenkoalex/Fotolia

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5.Hunter Creek Falls

Hunter Creek Falls

Only about 10 minutes from downtown Reno, on Woodchuck Circle, is the trailhead that will take you to a very different world, to lush Hunter Creek Falls. The trail starts at the parking area. A gravel road eventually drops to Hunter Creek, where you can use the stepping stones, walk through the water, or cross the stream using a couple of wide planks some kind souls have placed over the water. Close to the top, the trail continues through the trees and after one more creek crossing you will reach Hunter Creek Falls, which consists of two sets of falls dropping down between forested hillsides and steep rocky banks. Like all falls in Nevada, the amount of water in the falls depends on the time of the year. The best time to visit is after heavy storms.

Hunter Creek Trail, Reno, NV 89511 Photo: nvphoto/Fotolia

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6.First Creek Falls

First Creek Falls

Located in the Red Rock National Conservation Area near Las Vegas, First Creek Falls can be reached by a nice, easy 4-mile hike across a dry desert valley surrounded by massive red and white sandstone cliffs. The trail is well-maintained in most parts. As you get closer to the falls, follow a narrow trail going down along the side of the wash until you reach the falls. The small waterfall drops into a big plunge pool cut into the rock, surrounded by lush, shady desert willows, cottonwood trees, and other trees. While the waterfall is dry most of the year, there is always a bit of water in the pool to the delight of birds and other animals.

Red Rock National Conservation Area, 3205 State Rte 159, Las Vegas, NV 89161 Photo: ondrej83/Fotolia- Fotolia.com

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7.Kings Canyon Falls

Kings Canyon Falls

Kings Canyon Falls is located a short drive from downtown Carson City, Nevada. The trailhead is at the parking lot on Kings Canyon Road. Take a dirt road on your right and when you reach the creek, get off the road, and continue up the trail to the waterfall. Although it requires a bit of scrambling, it is mostly an easy and therefore a very popular hike. You will reach the waterfall after about a mile, and after heavy rains it is a lush fall that cascades 25 feet down the creek. If you scramble a bit up the creek, you will see a few more smaller cascades. During the summer there is just a trickle of water. All around you can see the evidence of a massive forest fire that destroyed much of the forest and many homes in 2004.

4450 Kings Canyon Rd, Carson City, NV 89703 Photo: Kavita/Fotolia

10 Best Waterfalls in Nevada