10 Unique Waterfalls Accessible Only by Lake Boats | LakeWizard

Key Takeaways

  • Secluded waterfalls provide a unique boating adventure.
  • Boat-only access enhances the allure and privacy of these sites.
  • Trustworthy details ensure a safe and fulfilling journey.

Imagine discovering a hidden treasure, right at the heart of nature.

Tucked away in serene lakes, accessible only by boat, some of the most beautiful waterfalls await your discovery.

Waterfalls have a magical pull, and the ones that require a boat trip to visit are in a league of their own.

Majestic, secluded, and often encompassed by lush landscapes, they offer a unique adventure and sights that can't be reached by foot.

You're about to get the inside scoop on these hidden cascades.

With years of exploring and a thirst for uncovering nature's best-kept secrets, we're here to guide you.

From the tallest plunges to the most enchanting settings, we've meticulously gathered information to ensure you have a trusted guide on these seldom-seen sights.

Ready to set sail?

Table of contents


Rainbow Falls (Lake Sutherland, Washington)

Ever dreamed of discovering a hidden gem that feels like it's yours alone?

Picture a place where you can only hear the lapping of the water against your boat and the gentle roar of a waterfall.

Rainbow Falls at Lake Sutherland is just that kind of place.

Tucked away in the stunning Olympic National Park, Rainbow Falls is a picturesque cascade that you can't just stumble upon during a roadside picnic.

Have you got a boat?


You'll need it because this beauty is accessible exclusively by lake boat.

Imagine the spray of mist on your face as you approach the falls.

Sounds inviting, doesn't it?

What's waiting for you at Rainbow Falls?

Here's what you can expect:

  • The Journey: A serene boat ride over Lake Sutherland. Grab your oars or power up the outboard motor.
  • The Reward: A breathtaking view of Rainbow Falls cascading down the rocks.
  • The Experience: An intimate connection with nature that's undisturbed by crowds.

Remember, Rainbow Falls isn't the time to test out your new megaphone.

It's a secluded spot where the sounds of nature should be the loudest thing you hear.

Prepare to be awed by the natural beauty and tranquility of this secluded waterfall.

Pack a lunch, charge your camera, and set out for a day of adventure on Lake Sutherland.

And hey, if you're lucky, you might catch a rainbow playing in the waterfall's mist, giving the falls its magical name.

Adventure's calling, are you ready to answer?

McWay Falls (Big Sur, California)

Ever wondered if there's a slice of paradise tucked away on the Californian coast?

There is, and it's called McWay Falls!

Nestled in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, this 80-foot marvel cascades directly into the Pacific Ocean, offering a scene so picturesque, it feels like it's leaped out of a postcard.

You might be thinking, "Can I only gaze at it from afar?" Not at all!

While the waterfall is a sight to behold from the Highway 1 vantage point, imagine getting up close in a lake boat.

That's right, you can actually skirt the edges of the Pacific on a boat to see the falls tumble down in full glory.

Just picture that sea spray against your face as you witness nature’s own shower!

But before you set sail, here's what you need to know:

  • Where? Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur.
  • Height? A majestic 80 feet.
  • Access? Traditional viewing from a pullout north of the park or by water through a lake boat experience.

Remember, this stunning waterfall isn't your everyday sight—it's one of the few in California that plunge straight into the ocean, which kind of makes it a rare gem, doesn't it?

And although it flows all year round, to see McWay Falls at its most vigorous, plan your boat trip in winter or early spring; that's when it truly comes to life.

Interested in the trek?

It's an easy .4-mile walk along a well-trodden path if you're viewing from land, but who can resist the call of the ocean for that one-of-a-kind boat approach?

Just make sure to respect the protected beach area which is off-limits to visitors—for your eyes only!

So, have you added McWay Falls to your bucket list yet?

Because, honestly, it'd be a shame to miss out on the kind of view that could be the highlight of your coastal Californian adventure!

Tahquamenon Falls (Lake Superior, Michigan)

Have you ever found yourself longing for a view that simply takes your breath away?

Let's talk about Tahquamenon Falls.

Nestled in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, these falls are a dazzling sight—and guess what?

While you can stroll down to the upper falls, it's the lower falls that offer an adventurous twist: they're accessible only by boat!

Imagine setting sail on the Tahquamenon River, feeling the gentle tug of the current as you head towards Lake Superior.

That's right, these falls aren't just pretty—they're an invitation to an adventure on the water.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Location: Just 14 miles east of Paradise, Michigan.
  • Accessibility: Upper Falls by land, Lower Falls by boat via the Tahquamenon River.

Did you know these falls are the largest in Michigan and among the largest east of the Mississippi?

It’s true.

The state park around the falls stretches over a massive 50,000 acres!

  1. Activities: Hiking, fishing, boat rentals.
  2. Travel Tips:
  1. Spend 1-3 hours at the falls.
  2. Nearby town: Newberry, a cozy 30-minute drive away.
  3. Nearby attractions: Oswald Bear Ranch, Pictured Rocks off Grand Marais.

So, why not grab an oar, ready your camera, and prepare for some stunning views?

Tahquamenon Falls isn't just a destination—it's an experience waiting for you to dive in!

Shoshone Falls (Snake River, Idaho)

Have you ever heard someone call Shoshone Falls the "Niagara of the West"?

If not, you're in for a treat!

Imagine cruising up to a breathtaking waterfall by boat, feeling the mist on your face as the Snake River unfolds its beauty right before your eyes.

  • Height: 212 feet
  • Width: 900 feet

Now, picture yourself there - you've taken a lake boat and you're heading up the river.

The thunderous roar grows louder as you approach.

Shoshone Falls towers above at an impressive 212 feet.

That's taller than Niagara Falls by 45 feet!

Out there on the water, the view is unmatched – the falls stretch nearly 900 feet across, making it one of the largest natural waterfalls in the United States.

Here's what you can see and do:

  • Views from the boat: Unbeatable perspectives
  • Recreational opportunities: Hiking trails, picnic areas, and a swimming area nearby
  • Visit schedule: Anytime during the open water season

So, have you started planning your trip yet?

You can check out the facilities once you’re back on land, from playgrounds to scenic overlooks.

Whether you're a seasoned explorer or looking for a new adventure with your family, visiting Shoshone Falls by lake boat is an experience you'll treasure.

Just remember, the best times to visit are in the spring and early summer, when water flow is at its peak.

Get ready to be awestruck by one of Idaho's most majestic natural jewels!

Cascade Falls (Lake Mohonk, New York)

Ever fancied a serene journey to a hidden gem where you can have a big splash of natural beauty?

Cascade Falls is your must-visit spot!

Nestled near the historic Mohonk Mountain House, this lovely cascade is a treat for your senses, and guess what?

The best way to reach it is by a peaceful boat ride on Lake Mohonk.

Isn't that an adventure in itself?

Here's what you can expect:

  • Scenic Approach: Glide over the tranquil waters of Lake Mohonk to get close to the falls.
  • Eye-Candy: Feast your eyes upon a beautiful waterfall nestled in lush greenery.

Did you know the blend of water and tranquility could have such a calming effect on your soul?

And while you're soaking in the splendor, why not snap some photos for your friends stuck in the office?

They'll be green with envy!

Getting there isn't a herculean task:

  1. Launch your boat onto Lake Mohonk (don't forget life jackets!).
  2. Paddle towards the unmistakable sound of nature's melody.
  3. Match your breath with the rhythmic oars -- in and out, in and out.

Finally, when you arrive, the majestic Cascade Falls unveils itself.

It’s not just a vision, but a backdrop for stories and memories.

You’re part of an exclusive club when you visit these falls, so cherish every splash and ripple.

Remember, it's the journey as well as the destination that counts.

So, breathe in that fresh air, take in the views, and let the falls mesmerize you.

After all, how often do you get to escape the buzz and humdrum aboard your very own lake craft?

Basswood Falls (Boundary Waters, Minnesota)

Have you ever paddled the serene waters of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness?

If you're up for a bit of a challenge and a treat for the eyes, Basswood Falls should be at the top of your list!

Tucked away in the wilderness of Minnesota, this stunning natural feature is a must-see for any lake boat enthusiast.

Getting There:

  • Mode of Transport: Canoe or kayak
  • Starting Point: Fall Lake

The Journey: You'll start this 45-mile adventure at Fall Lake, weaving through Newton Lake and into Pipestone Bay of Basswood Lake.

Here's the catch: are you ready to tackle a one-mile long portage?

It's the pathway leading to the treasure – Basswood Falls.

The Experience: Imagine the sound of water cascading down as you paddle along—nothing but the call of nature surrounding you.

It's a journey that not only challenges you but rewards you with scenes so beautiful, they'll be etched in your memory.

The falls, split between the U.S. and Canada, are framed by rugged terrain that's as unspoiled as it gets.

  • Scenery: Beautiful rapids and rugged wilderness
  • Challenge: Portage and wilderness navigation

Remember, Basswood Falls isn't just another waypoint; it's a destination that embodies the spirit of the great outdoors.

So, are you ready to dip your paddles into the waters of Basswood Lake and venture out to one of Boundary Waters' best-kept secrets?

Don't forget your camera, because you'll want to capture the grandeur of these falls for posterity!

Laurel Falls (Lake Jocassee, South Carolina)

Hey there, nature enthusiast!

Ever heard of Laurel Falls?

It's this hidden gem nestled on Lake Jocassee, tucked away in South Carolina.

And guess what?

You can only reach it by boat—how's that for exclusive?

Picture this: an 80-foot waterfall plunging directly into the lake, surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains.

Cool, right?

Here's a little sneak peek of what awaits you at Laurel Falls:

  • Height: 80 feet
  • Access: Boat-only
  • Starting Point: Devils Fork State Park
  1. GPS for Devils Fork: N 34.952139 W 82.946134
  • Best Activities: Birding, camping, hiking
  • Trail Length: 10.7 miles (out and back)

Make sure you grab a map at Devils Fork Ranger Station before setting sail—the water's clarity might make it look easy, but a map always helps!

So, have you got a boat?

If not, don’t fret, you can rent one.

Once you're on the water, just sit back, let the breeze guide you, and soon, you’ll catch that first spectacular glimpse of the waterfall.

And if you're lucky, you might find that crescent-shaped grotto behind the rocky tower for a picturesque lunch spot.

And hey, if you want more of a workout, you can hit the trail.

With a moderate challenge over approximately 4 hours, it's not just about the destination but the journey too.

Just think of the solitude you’ll enjoy, with nature's soundtrack playing all around you.

Plus, the area is open all year round, so any season you pick is the perfect time to visit.

Ready to embark on this aquatic adventure to Laurel Falls?

Trust me, it's a trip you'll be bragging about for years to come!

Waterwheel Falls (Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, California)

Ever dreamed of seeing a waterfall that's something right out of a fantasy book?

Well, pack your bags because Waterwheel Falls awaits you!

Tucked away in Yosemite National Park, this cascade offers an adventure that’s both exceptional and a smidgen off the beaten trail.

You won't just trek to it; you’ll float to it!

Getting There

Your journey begins at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.

The only way to reach this hidden gem is via a refreshing lake boat ride.

Imagine the cool spray of water on your face as you skim across the reservoir's crystal-clear surface.

Perfect for those who adore a little excitement with their nature!

Essential Stats

  • Altitude: 3,900 feet
  • Boat Access: Required
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring for superb water flow

The Waterwheel Effect

What makes Waterwheel Falls a head-turner?

The answer lies in its name!

When the water levels are just right, the falls create an extraordinary optical illusion, where it looks like nature's own version of a spinning waterwheel.

That's right, water that defies gravity!

On-Site Tips

  • Pack ample sunscreen and hydration
  • Have your camera ready (you won't want to miss this shot!)
  • Wear sturdy footwear for stability on the boat

Remember, while Waterwheel Falls is deserving of all your Instagram envy, it’s also a spot that's steeped in natural grandeur.

So why wait?

Let this be the year you tick this marvel off your bucket list.

Not only will you have cool stories to share, but you'll also get that enviable golden-hour selfie with one of California’s less-traveled wonders as your backdrop.

See you on the water!

Cumberland Falls (Cumberland River, Kentucky)

Have you ever heard someone nickname a place the "Niagara of the South"?

Well, let me introduce you to Cumberland Falls, a natural marvel tucked away in the lush landscape of Kentucky, on the Cumberland River.

Fun fact: this is one of the few spots in the world where you can witness a moonbow, and yes, it's exactly what it sounds like—a rainbow under the moon's glow!

Bet you're already imagining that Instagram post, aren't you?

Key Details:

  • Height: 68 feet
  • Width: 125 feet
  • Location: Cumberland River, Kentucky

Exploring Cumberland Falls is an adventure best enjoyed from the vantage point of a lake boat gliding on the Cumberland River.

Picture this: the gentle lap of water against the boat, the spray of the falls misting your face, and the thundering sound as tons of water plunge into the gorge.

It's a sensory overload—nature's version of 4D cinema, but way better.

Getting there by boat adds a sprinkle of exclusivity to your visit.

It's not every day that you get to approach such a magnificent waterfall from the water itself.

What Makes It Unique?

  • Moonbow Sightings: Check the lunar calendar; Cumberland Falls is one of the rare places offering this nocturnal rainbow spectacle.


  • Camping areas
  • Picnic spots with grills
  • Playgrounds for a family-friendly day out

Don't forget to pack your camera and a good sense of adventure.

You're in for an unforgettable journey to a waterfall that demands respect for its sheer power and captivating beauty.

Are you ready to set sail and see it for yourself?

Fairy Falls (Lake Crescent, Washington)

Have you ever imagined a place where the water dances like pixies in the sunlight?

Well, pack your sense of adventure and hop on a lake boat to discover Fairy Falls, a hidden gem nestled along the tranquil shores of Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park!

Why is it a must-visit?

Just the ride over the crystal-clear waters is an adventure in itself!

Imagine being surrounded by lush forested hillsides, then arriving at the secluded cascade known as Fairy Falls.

Here's what you can expect:

  • A Captivating Cascade: Fairy Falls isn't just about height; it's about the intimate experience. The waters here have a magical quality, gliding gracefully over mossy rocks.
  • Secluded Splendor: Since it's only accessible by boat, you're likely to have a more private encounter with nature, away from the bustling crowds.
  • A Paddler's Delight: Think of the journey to Fairy Falls as part of the fun. Kayaks or small boats are perfect for this little expedition.

Remember to bring:

  • A camera, because you'll want to capture the enchanting beauty. Trust me!
  • Good company or a great book to enjoy the serenity of the falls.
  • A picnic basket, perhaps? Nothing beats a scenic snack!

Interesting Tidbit: Unlike its mighty neighbors, Fairy Falls prides itself on being an intimate retreat.

It's all about the atmosphere here, not the size.

So, ready for a little escapade?

Fairy Falls is waiting to cast its spell on you.

Just when you thought Lake Crescent couldn't get any more picturesque, this waterfall adds a splash of magic to your experience.

Don't miss out on this fairy-tale adventure!