Photographing Oregon's Amazing Waterfalls

October 29, 2015  •  6 Comments

One of the many perks of living in Oregon as a photographer is the access to some of the world's most incredible waterfalls. While I've not been able to photograph all of them, I do have several that have become instant favorites. In this article, I'm going to share those favorite waterfalls with you and describe the process by which I went about to create the images I'm going to share. Additionally, I'll provide some information about how to locate these waterfalls and when to photograph them.

Without further ado, let's get on to the list of waterfalls!

Coming in at number one, my absolute favorite waterfall in Oregon:

1. Proxy Falls

Proxy Falls is located off of Highway 242 east of the McKenzie River in Central Oregon. After a short 30 minute hike through a volcanic boulder field, the trail drops you down into the valley that contains the terminus of the waterfall. This 226 ft. waterfall is so incredibly photogenic and offers several different compositions. The classic wide-angle view of the falls requires that you get yourself a little wet, so I highly recommend bringing water socks and sandals. A tripod is a must (let's just assume that tripods are required from here on out)! My personal favorite favorite tripod for shooting waterfalls is my trusty Feisol Tournament 3442 Carbon Fiber tripod paired with my Photoclam Pro Gold II ballhead. This combo is ultra light but stands up to abuse and can handle a heavy DSLR set-up. When I shot Proxy I used both my Nikon D800 paired with the 14-24 lens for the super wide shots and a Sony A7R paired with a 16-35 Zeiss lens. I liked how easy it was to climb up into the upper reaches of the waterfall with the smaller Sony set-up, which allowed me to get the more intimate shot of the waterfall.

For this image, I did use the 14-24 lens at 14mm and shot in landscape orientation. I actually shot a three-photo panorama starting with the top of the scene and then working down to the bottom of the scene. I learned this technique from my friend Kane Englebert and I find that it is a great way to give yourself a lot of flexibility in post-production to decide what to include or exclude in your final composition. Lastly, I did use a much longer shutter speed of 30 seconds while employing the use of a 5-stop ND filter stacked with a circular polarizer, both sold by fotodiox specifically for the 14-24 lens.

Smooth and SilkySmooth and SilkyProxy Falls - ah - what a visual delight! This waterfall has everything. Killer light, amazing water features, awesome moss-covered rocks, and dreamy tones. I shot this with the Nikon 14-24 and the fotodiox filter kit including both the 5-stop ND filter and the circular polarizer, stacked.

For this image, I used the smaller Sony set-up because it involved some tricky scrambling on wet and steep rocks up to a higher location at the base of the waterfall. I just loved how the light was getting diffused by the mist created by the waterfall - it created a super etherial effect.

LightbeamsLightbeamsWhat an amazing trip! I just returned from a 4-day excursion with my friend Kane Engelbert, where we photographed 7 waterfalls in south and central Oregon. This was probably one of my best shots from the trip, taken yesterday at Proxy Falls. The light showed up and gave me a nice show, no doubt. I sure do love living in Oregon, what a magical place! This is seriously almost SOOC, I did very little to this image, it was just that special. I shot it with the Sony A7R and the Sony 16-35 f/4, a nice combo for sure!

To get there: From the junction of Highway 126 and Highway 242 (just west of Belknap Hot Springs), follow Highway 242 for 6.5 miles to roadside signs marking the Proxy Falls Trailhead on the right.

2. Koosah Falls and Sahalie Falls

Koosah Falls and Sahalie Falls are located off of Highway 126 along the McKenzie River in Central Oregon. Koosah is easy to access; however, getting down to the more photogenic areas require some caution and for you to be fairly nimble, as it is quite steep. There are two very good spots along the river to photograph the waterfall, one up close and one from afar. Both require some steep down-climbing from the main trail to reach, but it is very obvious as to where to go.

Koosah Falls can also be paired with nearby Sahalie Falls, which gets an honorable mention here.

For the up-close location of Koosah, I opted to use a wide-angle lens (again, the 14-24) and a circular polarizer. I got my camera really low to the water and show-cased a very interesting rock in the foreground. I also utilized some focus-stacking techniques to ensure that my depth of field was maximized due to how close I was to the rock on the shore. 

Koosah FallsKoosah FallsOn the last day of my recent waterfall photography expedition with my friend Kane, we stopped at Koosah Falls at sunrise. The beautiful soft morning light was beaming through the tips of the trees behind us, lighting up the mist created by this powerful 64 ft. waterfall on the McKenzie River. Koosah Falls is located in Lane County, Central Oregon right off of Highway 126 near Sisters.

For my second photo of  Koosah Falls from further back, I found a very interesting composition that utilized some of the trees in front of me to break the scene up a bit and to provide a sense of scale. I shot it at 20mm with a circular polarizer. I absolutely loved how the early morning light was just above the waterfall here and I'm hoping to get a huge print of this one someday.

Mystical Koosah FallsMystical Koosah FallsOn the last day of my recent waterfall photography expedition with my friend Kane, we stopped at Koosah Falls at sunrise. The beautiful soft morning light was beaming through the tips of the trees behind us, lighting up the mist created by this powerful 64 ft. waterfall on the McKenzie River. Koosah Falls is located in Lane County, Central Oregon right off of Highway 126 near Sisters.

My favorite shot of Sahalie Falls was taken from far back in a strange alcove near the river, showcasing the huge power that the waterfall has.

Sahalie FallsSahalie FallsOn the last day of my recent waterfall photography expedition with my friend Kane, we stopped at Sahalie Falls at sunrise. The beautiful soft morning light was beaming through the tips of the trees behind us, lighting up the mist created by this powerful waterfall on the McKenzie River. Sahalie Falls is located in Lane County, Central Oregon right off of Highway 126 near Sisters. Credit goes to my friend Kane Engelbert for the composition on this one. To get there: Head Northeast of McKenzie Bridge off Highway 126. Look for the Koosah Falls Day Use Area and turn at the Ice Cap Campground / Koosah Falls sign. For access to Sahalie Falls Day Use Area go north another .5 mile and turn into the parking lot signed for Sahalie.

3. Elowah Falls

Elowah Falls is quite possibly one of the most beautiful locations in all of Oregon. The waterfall is nestled deep within the Columbia River Gorge just west of Bonneville on Interstate 84. This 213 ft. waterfall drops into the pristine McCord Creek and offers just about a billion different photographic compositions. The best times to photograph this beauty would be in early spring for the large water run-off or late fall due to the fall foliage. After parking in the parking lot, there is a short 1 mile hike up and then down to get to the waterfall. You can also pair this with Upper McCord Creek Falls, which is a fun hike but not very impressive photographically speaking.

For this first photo of Elowah, I employed the same technique described above for Proxy Falls - I did some panoramic work, but with a twist. For the reflection in the water, I employed a blend of two photos using my circular polarizer. I turned it "off"to bring back the reflection in the water.

Elowah FallsElowah FallsElowah Falls is magnificent to see in person and there are about 1000 compositions available here - a true photographer's dream! To shoot this photo required a ton of forethought and post-processing to accomplish, and I think it could be improved! This is a two-photo panorama taken at 26mm, with some focus stacking and hand-blending. I used a Circular Polarizer as well.

For my second favorite shot, I ventured out and captured some autumn fall colors using a wide angle lens and some panoramic stacking techniques.

Autumn at Elowah FallsAutumn at Elowah FallsWith my impending move to Colorado in a couple of weeks, I took a final trip to Elowah Falls and Upper McCord Creek Falls to explore the fall colors in the Columbia River Gorge with my son. We had a blast hiking through the woods and finding all kinds of awesome nature to take in. My son was really in love with the huge leaves that had fallen from the trees. I'm going to miss having these waterfalls so close to home!

To get there: Drive east on Interstate 84 from Portland and take the Dodson exit to get on the frontage road heading east. You'll find the Elowah Falls parking lot (John Yeon State Park) on the right just before the frontage road ends.

4. Metlako Falls

Metlako Falls is one of my favorite waterfalls to look at. There's just something magical about it. It always reminds me of being in an old fairy-tale. Metlako Falls is found deep within the Eagle Creek Wilderness Area of the Columbia River Gorge just before the more famous Punchbowl Falls (see below). Metlako Falls dumps water from Sorenson Creek into the larger Eagle Creek and is found about 1.5 miles up the trail from the Eagle Creek trailhead. The only bad thing about Metlako Falls is that there is really only one vantage point for the waterfall unless you kayak to it from above or hike somewhat dangerously off-route to a vantage point just above the fall on Sorenson Creek. I attempted to find this location once and never could get to it, even with good GPS coordinates. It also never felt very safe and so I gave up. From the classic vantage point I was able to get two different shots of Metlako - one in early summer and one in late autumn.

For this first photo, I utilized my Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR II lens and shot a series of three panoramas from left to right to showcase all of the awesomeness found in the scene, from the lush green leaves to the mist above the waterfall. I used a B+W circular polarizer at 95mm. 

Metlako Falls Summer DreamingMetlako Falls Summer DreamingOn my third straight day of photographing waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon, I stopped to take this telephoto panorama of Metlako Falls. I think this particular composition will look a bit better in late autumn, perhaps November. Hope you like it!

For this wider shot of Metlako, I employed the use of my Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 lens at 35mm using a circular polarizer. I really liked how diverse the scene was, including the orange of late autumn leaves to the green of the Doug Firs. 

Metlako Falls in AutumnMetlako Falls in AutumnI went for a nice hike with my son Quinn into the Eagle Creek Wilderness of the Columbia River Gorge here in Oregon. We stopped at Metlako Falls, which I've wanted to photograph in the autumn since I saw it for the first time back in June. What a surreal location!

To get there: Metlako Falls is located along the Eagle Creek trail in the Columbia River Gorge. Drive east along Interstate 84, exit at the Eagle Creek exit, one mile past the Bonneville Dam exit (immediately after a short tunnel). The parking area is only accessible to eastbound traffic (if you are driving west, exit and turn around at Exit 40 (Bonneville Dam), then to return to your westbound direction, do the same at Cascade Locks). Turn right at the first stop and proceed to the trailhead in about 1/2 mile. At about 1 1/2 miles, a short, poorly signed trail branches off, leading to the only viewpoint overlooking the gorge with Metlako Falls at the end.

5. Punchbowl Falls

Punchbowl Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in Oregon, and for good reason. There are two classic vantage points to photograph this awesome waterfall - one from above and one from below. I personally prefer the views from above because the views below have recently been obstructed by a large tree that fell across the creek, and because there are usually a lot of people down below. Additionally, the best vantage points from below require some pretty deep wading into the water, which I don't feel comfortable doing. Punchbowl Falls is found deep within the Eagle Creek Wilderness Area of the Columbia River Gorge just after Metlako Falls. 

My personal favorite shot of this waterfall utilized some interesting techniques. First, I shot this again as a two-photo panorama in landscape orientation using my Nikon 24-70 lens at 24mm with a 9-stop Hoya ND Filter. I blended a 30 second exposure with the ND filter to capture the dreamy water effect of the water with a shorter 1 second exposure for the foreground.

Punchbowl Falling into MidnightPunchbowl Falling into MidnightMy summer take on Punchbowl Falls - nothing special here in my opinion, but I do like the scale of this shot, which is two horizontal photos stacked together and blended. I love how the water looks like it is pouring into a midnight blue pond of emptyness...

For the classic and more intimate photo from below, I waded deep into the creek and shot at 70mm with my 24-70 lens using a circular polarizer to enhance the colors in the reflection. The fallen tree can be seen here.

Punchbowl FallsPunchbowl FallsWhile this is one of the more popular waterfalls in Oregon, I had to stop and get hip-deep into the water here to capture this great vantage of a great waterfall. Surely another visit in winter will yield some insane results.

To get there: Punchbowl Falls is located along the Eagle Creek trail in the Columbia River Gorge. Drive east along Interstate 84, exit at the Eagle Creek exit, one mile past the Bonneville Dam exit (immediately after a short tunnel). The parking area is only accessible to eastbound traffic (if you are driving west, exit and turn around at Exit 40 (Bonneville Dam), then to return to your westbound direction, do the same at Cascade Locks). 

6. Mossy Grotto Falls

Mossy Grotto Falls used to be one of the more secluded and secretive locations in the Columbia River Gorge; however, it has been popularized by photographers taking people there for workshops. It truly is a magical place; unfortunately, it has been quite trampled in recent years by the increased traffic to the area. The ferns here are very fragile and the area is quite small, so it is easy to cause a lot of damage here with a group. Finding the waterfall is somewhat of a challenge if you've never been there before, which I think is why so many people go here for workshops (which, by the way, is illegal without a permit). There are several interesting compositions to be found here and I think any photographer with a passion for nature would have an absolute field day here. When I visited this location, the water conditions were very low, and I'd love to return someday when the water levels are much higher, perhaps in the spring. My personal favorite shot of this waterfall is a bit different than your average composition from here. I shot a panorama from far away up away from the waterfall, taking in all I could of this really special and remote location. 

The Mossy GrottoThe Mossy GrottoWhile this relatively hidden gem of a waterfall, lower Ruckel Falls aka Mossy Grotto, is best viewed in April, a trip down in June provided this super lush view of an amazing hideaway that I fell in love with. My second favorite shot from here is a more up-close-and-person wide angle composition using the Nikon 14-24 lens. While this waterfall, also known as lower Ruckel Falls, is best viewed in April, a trip down in June provided unique views of quite vivid wildflowers known as Herb Robert. These wildflowers have some other colourful names too: Red Robin, Death Come Quickly, Stinking Robert, Cuckoo’s Eye, Bloodwort and Robert Geranium. I'm not sure I have seen this composition before so I found it to be fairly fresh and different than the norm from here.

Mossy Grotto RebirthMossy Grotto RebirthWhile this relatively hidden gem of a waterfall, lower Ruckel Falls aka Mossy Grotto, is best viewed in April, a trip down in June provided unique views of quite vivid wildflowers known as Herb Robert. These wildflowers have some other colourful names too: Red Robin, Death Come Quickly, Stinking Robert, Cuckoo’s Eye, Bloodwort and Robert Geranium. I'm not sure I have seen this composition before so I found it to be fairly fresh and different than the norm from here.

To get there: The waterfall is located just 300 feet off the Ruckel Creek Trail in the Columbia River Gorge, but it can be quite challenging to access. The rewards are well worth the slippery trail, however. Travel east on Interstate 84 to Eagle Creek exit # 41. Turn right, drive past the fish hatchery and park in the day use area. Hike 0.1 mile (0.2 km) up the road toward Eagle Creek Campground. Take Gorge Trail #400 for 0.5 mile (0.8 km) to the junction of Trail #405, which starts alongside an abandoned Historic Columbia River Highway bridge on the east side of Ruckel Creek.

On the trail, you will climb some pretty good grades through beautiful thickets of forests and a few open meadows. After 0.8 miles of hiking, you will arrive at a very large, easily identified clearing, called Indian Pits. Walk about 150 feet through the clearing and you will see trampled ground to your right, heading downhill. Follow this unofficial trail as you descend rapidly down a steep grade. Be careful, this part of the hike has some slippery, moss-covered rocks as well as poisonous oak.

7. Wahclella Falls

Wahclella Falls is another very easily accessed waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge that offers a bounty of compositions for the eager waterfall photographer. Of course, the more rewarding photographs require some risk by getting into the fast-moving water near the falls, and offer some of my favorite vantage points. The waterfall also pairs nicely with human subjects due to its large water profile. My favorite photo I've taken of this waterfall is quite a bit different than any I've seen from other photographers and includes an Ookow Flower that was blooming by itself on top of a mossy rock. The water in front of me was raging and deep. I had to wade hip-deep into the stream in order to get this vantage of Wahclella Falls underneath the footbridge using my 14-24 lens at 20mm.

Rush of the WahclellaRush of the WahclellaNature will find a way! I really wanted to get a close-up shot of this Ookow Flower that was blooming by itself on top of this mossy rock, but the water in front of me was raging and deep. As it was, I had to wade hip-deep into the stream in order to get this vantage of Wahclella Falls underneath the footbridge. I plan to return many times to this particular waterfall about a mile into the Columbia River Gorge, as I am a huge fan of the different compositions that can be found here.

Dichelostemma congestum is a species of flowering plant known by the common name ookow or fork-toothed ookow. This perennial wildflower is native to the hills and mountains of western North America. Its tall, thin, naked stem is topped with an inflorescence packed densely with six to 15 flowers, each about 1-3 centimeters wide and long, with usually six petal-like lobes in shades of bright purple.

My second favorite shot of Wahclella was taken from further back up on a hillside and showcases the full grandeur of this awesome area. 

Evening Light at Wahclella FallsEvening Light at Wahclella FallsWahclella Falls - located after just a mile hike in the Columbia River Gorge is one of my favorites so far - so many lovely scenes to capture here. Wildflowers, ferns, flowing water, mossy rocks. Ahhh, so tranquil and peaceful. Hope you like this one!

To get there: The trailhead for Wahclella Falls is easy to find. The entrance to the lot is close to the entrance to both the Bonneville Dam and Fish Hatchery, and the Tooth Rock Trailhead. The signage is good in the area, so watch closely for the signs specific to Wahclella Falls.

From Portland: Drive eastward on Interstate 84 to Exit #40, signed for Bonneville Dam. Turn right at the stop sign, drive about 100 feet and turn right again at the fork (left takes you to the Tooth Rock Trailhead). Follow the short road to the end where you'll see the trailhead parking lot.

8. Lemolo Falls

Lemolo Falls is a super secluded 165-foot waterfall found in the middle of nowhere. The closest attraction to Lemolo Falls is Crater Lake National Park. The waterfall itself is surrounded by high desert but the valley carved out by the waterfall is a totally different climate, which is the first thing I noticed when I hiked down into the valley. The climate changes quite abruptly as you descend into the valley, going from rocks and dirt to wildflowers and ferns. Lemolo Falls offers all kinds of interesting compositions; however, my favorite was from right next to the surface of the water by a strange looking rock protruding up from the creek-bed. 

Lemolo FallsLemolo FallsAnother waterfall photograph from my excursion to Oregon's prime waterfall locations yielded this surreal long exposure of Lemolo Falls. I really wanted to isolate this mossy rock outcropping in the foreground from the rest of the image, so I decided to employ a very long shutter speed using a 9-stop ND. I know the whole silky water look isn't for everyone, but it is exactly what I wanted for this composition.

To get there: Lemolo Falls is located near Lemolo Lake in the Umpqua National Forest. Depart Highway 138 eleven miles east of Toketee Lake at FR 2610, marked for Lemolo Lake. Follow Road 2610 for 4 1/4 miles and turn left onto Thorn Prairie Road # 3401. Follow 3401 for 1/2 mile to Road 3401-800 (a small sign reads just "800"), and a sign pointing towards Lemolo Falls. Follow 800 for 1 3/4 miles to road # 3401-840 (again, signed just "840"), also marked for Lemolo Falls. Proceed to this road's end in 1/4 mile. Lemolo Falls trail # 1468 takes off downhill, following part of an old road to the old trailhead and picnic area in 1/3 mile. The falls are reached 1 mile from the trailhead.

9. Toketee Falls

According to Waterfalls Northwest (a great website for waterfall research), Toketee Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in all of Oregon, renowned far and wide for the graceful columnar basalt formation framing the two-stepped falls. The awesome North Umpqua River has carved a gorge out of the lava flow, resulting in a 113-foot waterfall. One of the more interesting features I noticed at the trailhead was the wooden 12-foot diameter Toketee Pipeline, which diverts much of the volume of the North Umpqua River to a powerhouse downstream. This artificial taming of the river allows the waterfall to flow in an extremely consistent fashion all year long. 

Toketee is pretty impressive from the terminus of the trail; however, for the really amazing compositions, a riskier trek down to the river from the viewing platform is required. I highly recommend this not be done in wet weather or if you're out of shape, as it is very steep and dangerous to climb down to the river.

My absolute favorite shot of Toketee Falls is a four-photo panorama/focus stack emphasizing the compositional technique of an "s-curve" to lead the viewer right into the subject - in this case - Toketee Falls. 

Toketee FallsToketee FallsToketee Falls is one of the more amazing waterfalls to discover in Southern Oregon, located between Roseburg and Crater Lake on the North Umpqua River, Toketee Falls drops an awesome 120 ft. in two stages. Toketee is a Chinook Jargon word meaning "pretty" or "graceful". In order to reach the base of the falls, you need to climb down a very steep and loose trail of dirt, mud and rocks, which would surely be quite unpleasant after a rain storm.

To get thereThe Toketee Falls trailhead can be found 1/2 mile north of Highway 138 near Toketee Lake, about 43 miles east of Glide, Oregon or 16 miles west of Diamond Lake. The trail leading to the viewpoint is about 1/3 of a mile in length.

10. Whitehorse Falls

Whitehorse Falls is a small but awesome waterfall found on the North Umpqua River not far from Watson Falls and Toketee Falls off of Highway 138 between Roseburg and Crater Lake National Park. I personally found this waterfall to be quite outstanding in the early morning hours just as the sun rose behind the trees above the waterfall. 

For this shot of Whitehorse Falls I used a Sony A7R and the 16-35 f/4 Zeiss lens at f/22 to get the really intense sunstar effect. Yes, this is just how awesome the Sony 16-35 f/4 sunstar is! 

Morning Breaks at Whitehorse FallsMorning Breaks at Whitehorse FallsMy friend Kane Engelbert and I woke up very early to go photograph this lovely waterfall called Whitehorse Falls on the North Umpqua River east of Roseburg, Oregon. The sun broke through the Douglas Fir trees to create quite a dynamic scene. I really enjoyed this composition, with the criss-crossed logs and the river draining down the left part of the photo. I was also highly impressed with the performance of my new Sony A7R paired with the Sony Zeiss 16-35 f/4 lens, which produces some very sexy sunstars. Hope you like it!

Later in the morning the sun created some nice mist above the falls, which I was also able to capture using the same camera, lens, and settings as before (for the most part).

Misty Morning on the UmpquaMisty Morning on the UmpquaThis particular scene combines some of my favorite elements in a landscape photograph - interesting light, a sunstar, a waterfall, some mist, moss, fallen logs, and shadowplay. I shot this with the Sony A7R and the Zeiss 16-35 f/4 lens. Hope you enjoy it.

To get thereWhitehorse Falls can be found right off of Highway 138 near Toketee Lake, about 45 miles east of Glide, Oregon or 13 miles west of Diamond Lake. 

11. Watson Falls

Watson Falls are also found right off of the North Umpqua River between Roseburg and Crater Lake National Park off of Highway 138. Watson Falls is an impressive 293 feet, making it the third largest waterfall in Oregon! 

My favorite shot of Watson does not showcase the massive size of the waterfall, rather, it showcases the delicate terrain found around the falls. I used my favorite landscape oriented panorama technique to get the full scene into view and cropped to my liking.

Watson Falls FlowingWatson Falls FlowingOne of the more impressive waterfalls found in Oregon, and one that offers some pretty intimate scenes like this one - is Watson Falls, found near Toketee Reservoir between Crater Lake National Park and Roseburg.

My second favorite shot of Watson Falls was taken on the trail high above the falls looking down. What I love about this shot is that it shows my friend Kane photographing the falls from below, and shows just how big the waterfall really is.

Photographing WatsonPhotographing WatsonMy friend Kane Englebert can be seen left of center photographing Watson Falls in south-central Oregon off of the North Umpqua River. I love how this photo shows the sense of scale - Kane is so small in comparison to this massive waterfall. To get thereWatson Falls can be found along Fish Creek Road #37, just over 2 miles east of Toketee Falls, about 43 miles east of Glide or 16 miles west of Diamond Lake. The parking area is about 500 feet south of Highway 138 on the right side. The trail crosses Road 37 and climbs easily but steadily up to the base of the falls in about 1/3 mile.

12. Tunnel Falls

Tunnel Falls is located deep within the Eagle Creek Wilderness Area in the Columbia River Gorge on the same trail used for both Punchbowl Falls and Metlako Falls. Tunnel Falls is found quite a bit further up the trail about 6 miles from the start of the trail. It is really quite a sight to see. Tunnel Falls plunges 165 feet and has an awesome tunnel blasted out of the cliff behind the falls, which you walk through to get to the other side of the falls and to Twister Falls. 

Tunnel Falls #2Tunnel Falls #2It was a blast hiking to this waterfall and walking behind it, hearing the roar of the water. Tunnel Falls is the destination of choice for hikers traveling the famous Eagle Creek Trail near Portland Oregon. The falls, arguably the best along the trail, plunge a sheer 165 feet into a bowl sculpted out of a protrusion of columnar basalt. Of course the real thrill of this waterfall is walking through the namesake tunnel, which was blasted out of the cliff behind the falls so that the trail could circumnavigate the stream without an expensive bridge. There's really nothing like walking behind a waterfall, but not really, then emerging from the dark passage and literally being able to reach out and touch the falling water. Of course such a distinctive feature isn't without its hazards. As the trail passes behind the falls there is no hand rail to protect one from falling 60 feet to the rocks below, just a narrow cable bolted to the cliff on the other side of the trail.

To get thereTunnel Falls is located along the Eagle Creek trail in the Columbia River Gorge. Drive east along Interstate 84, exit at the Eagle Creek exit, one mile past the Bonneville Dam exit (immediately after a short tunnel). The parking area is only accessible to eastbound traffic (if you are driving west, exit and turn around at Exit 40 (Bonneville Dam), then to return to your westbound direction, do the same at Cascade Locks). 

13. Twister Falls

Twister Falls is just a short hike past Tunnel Falls and is quite photogenic to be sure. It is one of the most interesting waterfalls in Oregon because it literally twists 130 feet through a very narrow canyon, making for some very awesome views! My favorite shot from here includes some really fantastic pink wildflowers in the foreground, really setting off the scene. This photo was featured in the Oregon 1859 magazine in 2015. 

Twister Falls FloweringTwister Falls FloweringTwister Falls is a very unique waterfall found deep within the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. I found these awesome wildflowers blooming at the edge of the falls that drop into a slot canyon below. Man, I love Oregon.

To get thereTwister Falls is located along the Eagle Creek trail in the Columbia River Gorge. Drive east along Interstate 84, exit at the Eagle Creek exit, one mile past the Bonneville Dam exit (immediately after a short tunnel). The parking area is only accessible to eastbound traffic (if you are driving west, exit and turn around at Exit 40 (Bonneville Dam), then to return to your westbound direction, do the same at Cascade Locks). 

14. Ponytail Falls

Ponytail Falls is one of the more popular waterfalls in the Multnomah Falls section of the Columbia River Gorge. A short hike away from the parking lot, the waterfall is worth visiting and photographing for any serious nature photographer. I personally like it because of how you can walk behind it and get some really interesting views of it. While I'm not super happy with how my shot of Ponytail turned out, I don't think you can take a bad photo of it!

Ponytail Falls Refuge from the rainPonytail Falls Refuge from the rainI took shelter under this sweet rock cave behind Ponytail Falls during a hard rain in the Columbia River Gorge. The harsh highlights and dark shadows made it really tough to photograph with a single exposure, but I gave it a shot anyways.

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To get thereDrive to Horsetail Falls, 2 1/2 miles east of Multnomah Falls, or 2 miles west of I-84 at Dodson. Park, and follow the Horsetail Falls Trail # 438 steeply up for about 4/10 mile.

15. Hug Point Falls

Hug Point Falls is a really awesome waterfall that deposits water from Fall Creek right into the Pacific Ocean on the beach of the Oregon Coast. Hug Point is located just south of the popular beach town of Cannon Beach and is worth a visit if you're on the coast. I personally loved this photo I got of Hug Point Falls because I was able to include the sunstar right at the top of the waterfall using my 24-70 lens at f/22. 

Hug Point Sun PointHug Point Sun PointI visited Hug Point State Park near Cannon Beach, Oregon yesterday with my family. Despite being there with a ton of other people, I was able to capture this scene of the sun rising above the rocks and illuminating the water shooting down the waterfall, which drains into the ocean. I can't wait to revisit this location for some night photography opportunities.

To get thereHug Point Falls is found in Hug Point State Park, which is found a little less than 5 1/2 miles south of Cannon Beach. From the parking area, follow the stairs down to the beach, then head right. If the tide is high, the ocean prevent access to the falls. 

16. Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls is probably Oregon's most famous waterfall located in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge. I've only photographed it once and I took exactly one photograph when I was there. I was very confident of my settings, I guess you could say. Also, I guess I'm not that fond of natural places filled with other people, so I did not care to stick around for very long. It would have been a shame to not get a good photo of it though! I shot this one with my 14-24 lens at 24mm using a circular polarizer. It was quite rainy and dark this day and so I was able to keep my shutter open for 10 seconds. 

Multnomah FallsMultnomah FallsA classic shot, for sure, and probably nothing new to add… but I did love how this one turned out using my ND Filter on my 14-24 lens. Multnomah Falls are pretty impressive to be sure. Unfortunately, the bridge is currently closed due to some damage. According to the Oregon.com website, Multnomah Falls is 611-foot-tall. According to Native American lore, Multnomah Falls was created to win the heart of a young princess who wanted a hidden place to bathe. The bridge is named for Simon Benson, a prominent Portland businessman who owned the falls in the early part of the 1900s. Before his death, Benson gave Multnomah Falls to the City of Portland, which later transferred ownership to the USDA Forest Service.

To get there: Just follow the train of cars on Highway 84 and look for the sign!

There are several amazing waterfalls that don't make this list, not because they don't deserve to, but because I never did get a chance to photograph them. This includes Abiqua Falls, Kentucky Falls, Upper Ruckel Creek Falls, Oneota Gorge, and more. I'll try to update this as I get more photographs of those awesome areas in the future. Hope you enjoyed the read!


Comments

6.Photography by Matt Payne
Thanks Tim and Dan. Yeah, some good stuff in Southern Oregon for sure. If you ever get a chance, try to hit up Kentucky Falls in Autumn, I hear it is sublime.
5.Tim(non-registered)
Thank you for this! I'm new to photography and so I really appreciate you giving the specs.
4.Dan Hawk(non-registered)
Matt, love this post! Though I've lived here quite awhile, there a few that are new to me, specifically the stuff down south. I'm putting them on my list!

Thanks!
3.Dianne Godwin(non-registered)
These are absolutely stunning, Matt!! You've done an amazing job and I appreciate you sharing so much detail. I still love your photography and you've made the most of your photography opportunities.
2.Photography by Matt Payne
Thanks Steve! Appreciate it a lot. Oregon is a great place indeed!
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