Watkins Glen: The No. 1 waterfall in the United States

Watkins Glen Gorge waterfall

This view is the hallmark of Watkins Glen State Park, and it's simply stunning. Click the image for information on prints!

Photo gallery captures bliss of this state park

What is the the most beautiful waterfall in the United States? I've seen some amazing falls in my travels around the country, but a recent visit to Watkins Glen State Park in Upstate New York tops my list.

I've dreamed of visiting Watkins Glen Gorge ever since I saw a photo of the beautiful waterfall that captures all the attention. The opportunity finally arrived in mid-August, and I was blown away by the scenery of this amazing state park.

My buddy James Overstreet, who has shot Watkins Glen several times, suggested I arrive early and go straight to the hallmark vista of the park — a tiered waterfall topped by a stone bridge and flanked by another veiled waterfall.

It was difficult not to stop because there are so many amazing sights all along Glen Creek, but I soldiered on until I reached the tiered waterfall.

And I'm so happy I did. Rounding the corner to the iconic waterfall took my breath away. Glen Creek rushes beneath the stone foot bridge before falling down four terraces to a large pool, while Rainbow Falls entered the gorge to the left. 

It was just amazing. The best part was that, since I was there just after the part opened, no one was clogging the view. It was just me and another photographer. I quickly framed the scene with a Nikon 24-120mm lens, capturing both vertical and horizontal images of the scene before me.

More than one waterfall

However, Watkins Glen is much more than that one waterfall. In fact, there are 19 falls to be found in the park.

But some of the most beautiful scenes are found in the details.

After finishing the money shot of the central waterfall, I took my time and found some amazing details of small, terraced waterfalls along the length of the state park. I simply love how the water moved from still pool to still pool.

Various textures from the surrounding stone added to the beauty of the creek's run before emptying into the gorgeous Seneca Lake, one of five so-called "finger lakes" carved during the last ice age.

Amazing scenery everywhere you look

Watkins Glen State Park is small, measuring less than 2 miles in length. But it holds some of the most dramatic and beautiful landscapes I've ever seen. And the hallmark Rainbow Falls and its associated terraced waterfall absolutely stands out as the No. 1 waterfall on my list.

It should be on the bucket list of any nature lover.