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15 Best Waterfalls in Minnesota to Visit

Waterfalls in Minnesota are as bountiful as the lakes, which makes this outdoor lover’s paradise famous.

Minnesota’s Lake Itasca is the source of the Mississippi River, which eventually ends in the Gulf of Mexico. The state also has nearly 3,000 miles of Lake Superior shoreline.

Given the state’s nickname of the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” Minnesota is home to over 180 cascading beauties, with a number of waterfalls dotting its diverse landscape. These natural attractions vary in size and setting, from majestic falls within state parks to hidden gems within cityscapes.

These waterways and their sources create lots of gorgeous, cascading waterfalls all across Minnesota. If you’re lucky enough to live in Minnesota, great! Pick a few from our list and go exploring.

Best Waterfalls in Minnesota to Visit

With so many incredible waterfalls in Minnesota, you need to plan how to find the best ones. Here’s a list to get you started.

1. Minnehaha Falls

Minnehaha Falls

The first of our waterfalls on the Minnesota map is probably the most well-known and is located inside Minneapolis. Minnehaha Falls is a 53-foot cascade over limestone you can hear as you enter Minnehaha Regional Park.

Spring is the best time to see them, as that’s when the winter’s snowmelt fuels the flow. Winter is also fantastic as the falls freeze into millions of icicles. Visitors to Minneapolis can get here easily by rental car. Since it’s a city park, it’s convenient to see from almost any hotel in Minneapolis.

Check out these other top beaches in Minneapolis if you need to get your sunshine fix in. If you want to avoid the crowds, stop by Hidden Falls Regional Park in St. Paul.

Location

Minnehaha Regional Park is at 4801 S. Minnehaha Drive in Minneapolis.

So it’s easy to see one of the famous waterfalls in Minnesota after a flight in for the weekend without having to leave the city.

The park is an urban oasis overlooking the Mississippi River about seven miles southeast of downtown.

Activities

The park features a bike path, a walking path, and a wading pool. During your visit, have lunch or dinner at the Sea Salt Eatery.

During the summer, enjoy a live music show at the bandshell.

The falls are a short walk from the park entrance. Steps will take you to the bottom to get lovely views from only several feet away.

All the park paths and trails are level and accessible to everyone.

Fee

Visiting the park is free, and it’s open every day from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. or midnight. Free parking near Longfellow Gardens.

Lodging

There are many hotels close to the Minnehaha Regional Park. The park is close to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport too–perfect for air travelers.

Hyatt Place Minneapolis Airport South is highly rated and less than four miles from Minnehaha Falls.

See Related: Best Hotels in Minneapolis

2. Cascade Falls, Cascade River State Park

Cascade River Waterfalls in lush Lutsen, MN forest, a scenic hiking destination
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

There are many parks in Minnesota with waterfalls, and inside this one, the Cascade River drops 900 feet in its final miles before flowing into Lake Superior. Its twisty-turning flow creates a series of falls, including a beautiful 30-foot waterfall.

Find the parking area on Highway 61 at the mouth of Cascade River. You’ll need to hike the west side of the river to see the official waterfall. However, other drops may be best seen from the other side. Fortunately, a footbridge can make this hike a loop so you can see most of the falls.

If you take the Superior Hiking trail, you’ll see the upstream falls. Stay on the west side for the best views. Check out these roaring falls from a video on the ViaTravelers YouTube channel.

Location

Cascade River State Park is approximately four hours northeast of Minneapolis via I-35 N and MN-61 N.

Activities

Hiking, cross-country skiing, and picnics are among the many activities available at Cascade River State Park.

Fee

Vehicle permits cost $35 for one year or $7 for one day. Spring, fall, and winter, the park is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 pm. Summer has extended hours.

Lodging

Tent camping and RV sites are available by reservation year-round. There are also many cozy cabins like Little Loon Cabin to rent along Lake Superior.

See Related: Things to Do in Ely, MN

3. Gooseberry Falls, Gooseberry Falls State Park

Gooseberry Falls Minnesota in Spring - Scenic Waterfall Landscape
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

A waterfall tour of Minnesota has to include the five magnificent falls of Gooseberry Falls State Park. It’s one of the best things to do in Minnesota for a reason. Walking up and down the Gooseberry River, you can see the upper, middle, and lower falls.

A longer loop hike will take you to Fifth Falls. Gooseberry Falls State Park also has a nature center with programs and lectures. Restrooms and a gift shop are also available, and the town of Two Harbors is quiet enough for a stopover. I recommend stopping into Castle Danger Brewing for an excellent pint of craft beer.

Location

The park is at 3206 Highway 61 East, Two Harbors, MN, on the North Shore of Lake Superior.

Activities

Enjoy hiking, cross-country skiing, and picnics. You can also bike, fish, and ride snowmobiles.

Fee

Vehicle permits cost $35 for one year or $7 for one day. The park is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 pm in spring, fall, and winter. Summer has extended hours.

Lodging

Campsites are open from late spring to late October. Tent camping and RV sites are available for reservation.

For great hotel and lake resort options, Duluth is the closest town. Duluth also has excellent restaurants and an active lake boardwalk. Alternatively, consider heading further north to Grand Marais.

See Related: Free Printable Travel Planner

4. Split Rock Lighthouse

Split Rock Lighthouse on a bluff

Close to Duluth and Gooseberry Falls State Park is Split Rock Lighthouse, which has beautiful waterfalls. You can hike or bike the Gitchi-Gami State Trail through the park and see the Middle Falls waterfall and parts of the Upper and Lower Falls.

You can also combine this hike with Gooseberry Falls State Park, 8.5 miles south. Learn more about what split rock has to offer in a video from the ViaTravelers YouTube channel.

Location

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park is in Two Harbors on the North Shore of Lake Superior.

Activities

Walk, bike, run, and hike the Gitchi-Gami State Trail. There is also swimming and kayaking on Pebble Beach and places to have picnics.

Fee

There is no admission to the Gitchi-Gami State Trail to see the waterfalls. Vehicle permits cost $35 for one year or $7 for one day.

During spring, fall, and winter, the park is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 pm. Summer has extended hours.

Lodging

Tent camping is available for reservation. Many hotels are available in nearby Duluth. Check out spots to book camping spots by using Tentrr.

The Best Western Spirit Mountain Duluth is highly rated and is close to more hiking and skiing.

See Related: Things to Do in Bloomington

5. High Falls, Tettegouche State Park

High Falls

The tallest waterfalls in Minnesota are at Tettegouche State Park. The park has about a mile of Lake Superior coastline and the mouth of the Baptism River with falls.

This large and beautiful park also has lakes and a hardwood forest. The tallest waterfalls in Minnesota are the High Falls at 70 feet and Illgen Falls at 40 feet.

Location

Tettegouche State Park is on the north shore of Lake Superior on Highway 61, 58 miles northeast of Duluth.

Activities

Hike to the waterfalls and look for Peregrine falcons. You can also try rock climbing and cross-country skiing.

Hike to High Falls on an easy, well-marked trail that will take you to a wooden platform above the falls.

You can also take steps and boardwalks down to the riverbed and the base of the falls. Cool your feet by wading into the river.

Illgen Falls is accessible by driving Highway 61 to Illgen City, taking Country Road 1 1.6 miles west to the roadside pull-off, and taking a short walk to the falls.

You can climb to the base, but it’s off-trail and challenging.

Fee

To park, vehicle permits cost $35 for one year or $7 for one day. The park is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 pm.

Lodging

Year-round tent camping, cabins, and RV sites are available to reserve. Use Tentrr to find and reserve a camping spot or Outdoorsy to book an RV rental.

There are also lodges and resorts along scenic Highway 61 like Cove Point Lodge in Beaver Bay.

See Related: Things to Do in Southern Minnesota

6. Devil’s Kettle

water disappears underground at Devils Kettle

There’s a waterfall in Minnesota where the water disappears–or at least that’s what it looks like. Devil’s Kettle waterfall is found on Minnesota’s North Shore, and it appears that the water plunging over the rocks disappears at the bottom.

It may look like the most mysterious waterfall in Minnesota. But hydrologists say the water ends up in an underground river and emerges eventually into Lake Superior.

Location

Devil’s Kettle waterfall is in Judge C.R. Magney State Park, 4051 East Highway 61, Grand Marais. Check out these top things to do in Grand Marais.

Activities

Hiking is about 2 miles, starting in the park parking lot. The trail is moderate, and dogs on leashes are allowed.

The trail ends with 166 stairs down to the falls and a flat trail along the river.

Fee

To park, vehicle permits cost $35 for one year or $7 for one day. The park is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 pm.

Lodging

Camping and RV sites are available for reservation. No winter camping is available.

See Related: Things to Do in Southern Minnesota

7. Niagara Cave

Niagra Cave Waterfall

Waterfalls in southern Minnesota are as beautiful as the ones on the North Shore. Niagara Cave is a limestone cave with a 60-foot waterfall. One-hour guided tours are available and include a one-mile hike underground and a set of 275 stairs to see the fossils, underground stream, and waterfall.

Location

Niagara Cave is in Harmony, about a 2.5-hour drive south of Minneapolis.

29842 Country Highway 30, Harmony, MN 55939

Activities

The guided tour into the cave and to the underground waterfall is one hour. Visitors can also play miniature golf and have picnics on the grounds.

Fee

  • General admission is $20
  • Children aged 3-12 are $12
  • Children 2 and under are free with paid adult admission

Lodging

If you don’t want to head back to Minneapolis, there are several darling inns near Harmony and Niagara Cave. Schmidt Farm sleeps eight and is highly rated. Experience farm life and peaceful solitude.

See Related: Best Parks in Minneapolis, Minnesota

8. Minneopa State Park

Minneopa Falls

Next on our waterfall tour Minnesota visitors have to see the stunning falls in Minneopa State Park. Not only are these some of the most scenic waterfalls in southern Minnesota, but you can also see the bison herd. The falls are created by the flowing of Minneopa Creek over a ledge, then cascading almost 40 feet to meet the Minnesota River.

Location

Minneopa State Park is 90 minutes from Minneapolis by taking US-212 W and US-169 S.

Activities

Road signs will direct you to the falls in the southern part of the park. You’ll take a short walk from the parking lot to the overlook.

You can hike along the side of the gorge and down the trail to a set of stairs down into the gorge. You can then hike either side of the creek to the base for great views. There is no swimming due to current and algae growth.

You can also drive through several hundred acres of bison range and learn more about their conservation.

Fee

To park, vehicle permits cost $35 for one year or $7 for one day. The park is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 pm.

Lodging

Tent camping, RV sites, and camper cabins are available for reservation. Use Tentrr to reserve a camping spot in advance.

9. Minnemishinona Falls

Minnemishinona Falls

Minnemishinona Falls are some of the smaller waterfalls in southern Minnesota, but they are no less beautiful. These are best seen after a rain shower or during consistent rain. They are also on Highway 169, south of Minneapolis, and would make a lovely stop on a day trip.

Location

From Highway 169, take US 14 W through North Mankato to Nicollet Co. 41. Then south on Co. 41/Rockford Road for 1.5 miles to Judson Bottom Road.

The falls will be on your left.

Activities

A short, flat walk takes you to a bridge overlooking the fall’s crystal clear plunge. There isn’t a way to get to the base.

Picnic tables are available.

Fee

There is no fee to see the falls or use the picnic tables.

Lodging

No camping is available, but nearby Lake Madison has amazing lake houses like Log Inn on Madison Lake, large enough for the whole family.

See Related: Things to Do in Voyageurs National Park

10. Hidden Falls, Big Woods State Park

Hidden Falls

Hidden Falls is in Nerstrand Big Woods State Park in Southeast Minnesota. A short trail will take you to this beautiful (and hidden) veil of falls. This makes for a great day trip from Minneapolis.

In the spring, you may see the state’s dwarf trout lily, an endangered wildflower species. In the fall, the tree leaves turn gorgeous colors. The easy 2.3-mile round-trip trail starts at the picnic area and takes you through the hardwoods to the falls. A boardwalk will help you across the flowers.

Location

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, Nerstrand, MN 55053. Take I-35 to State Highway 19 east to Northfield.

Head south on State Highway 3, then east on State Highway 246. Turn right onto County Road 29.

Activities

Picnic, spot wildflowers, go birding, and hiking are fun things to do in this hardwood forest ecoregion.

You can also snowshoe in the winter. There is a visitor center where you can pick up trail maps and bird identification lists.

Fee

To park, vehicle permits cost $35 for one year or $7 for one day. The park is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 pm.

Lodging

Tent and RV camping are available at the park for reservation. You can check Tentrr for advance camping reservations.

Or rent a lake house like this beautiful country log home on Circle Lake.

11. Wolf Creek Falls

Wolf Creek Falls in autumn

A few moderately difficult trails will take you to Wolf Creek Falls in Banning State Park near Sandstone. The best time to visit is March through October, but winters bring their beauty–and fewer crowds. Leashed dogs are welcome!

Location

Banning State Park is 1.5 hours north of Minneapolis via I-35W N and I-35 N.

Activities

A couple of options to hike to Wolf Creek Falls, from short and easy to longer with moderate difficulty. There’s good signage in the parking lot.

Or canoe up the Kettle River or white water raft to the falls through a local operator in Sandstone.

You can also swim in the falls.

Fee

To park, vehicle permits cost $35 for one year or $7 for one day. The park is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Lodging

Tent, RV, and cabin camping are available for reservation. Check Tentrr for camping reservation spots in advance.

Private cabins like Kettle River cabin nestled between the Twin Cities and Duluth, close to Sandstone, can also be rented.

12. Ramsey Falls

Ramsey Falls

Ramsey Park, home of Ramsey Falls, is a 219-acre municipal park and campground. It’s nicknamed “Little Yellowstone of Minnesota” because of the beautiful scenery and meticulous maintenance. There’s an easy paved path to the falls.

Location

Ramsey Park is about two hours west of Minneapolis via US-212 W to 99 E Oak St., Redwood Falls, MN 56283.

Activities

Hike and picnic. There is also a small zoo and a river for trout fishing.

Camping Fee

  • Camping fee: $27.92
  • Tenting fee: $16.11
  • Electrical hookup: $26 + tax

Open in the fall and summer.

13. High Falls, Grand Portage State Park

Grand Portage State Park's High Falls or the Portage River Waterfalls
lpaulson_90 / Adobe Stock

High Falls is located near the Canadian border, so it’s a long journey if you are coming from the Twin Cities. Not to be confused with High Falls of Tettegouche State Park, High Falls at Grand Portage State Park is one of Minnesota’s most beautiful waterfalls.

This waterfall is 120 meters high, about 80 feet high. This waterfall is the tallest in Minnesota and one of the best waterfalls in North America.

The waterfalls, such as Duluth or Grand Marais, are easy to get to from Northeast Minnesota. The roaring sound of this massive waterfall can be heard from all over the park. There are different observation points for visitors to enjoy this amazing waterfall.

Grand Portage State Park is one of the best state parks in Minnesota and maybe one of the best state parks in the entire country due to its outstanding hiking trails and amazing views.

See Related: Best Resorts on the Gunflint Trail

Honorable Mention

14. Vermillion Falls, Vermillion Falls Park

Vermillion Falls in Vermillion Falls Park
thiax / TripAdvisor

Vermillion Falls Park in Hastings is a 35-foot waterfall in downtown Hastings that arises from the Vermillion River. It is a 30-minute drive down the Mississippi River from St. Paul, making it an ideal short-day trip from the Twin Cities.

15. Willow Falls, Willow River State Park

Willow Falls at Willow River State Park
Yan / Adobe Stock

Willow Falls is the center of attention at Willow River State Park, located north of Hudson, Wisconsin. This beautiful waterfall plunges over several ledges before flowing into a 200-foot-deep canyon and eventually joining the St. Croix River. This is a short walk from the trailhead and an easy-to-see waterfall from the Twin Cities.

This is technically not one of Minnesota’s waterfalls since it’s in Hudson, Wisconsin. However, it’s still worth mentioning that Hudson is close to Minnesota.

Tips for Visiting Minnesota Waterfalls

Portage River Waterfalls in Grand Portage State Park
MelissaMN / Adobe Stock

Do you need to rent a car? Find a roomy option so you can bring the gear you need to make your quest as comfortable as possible.

Take plenty of water, too. This CamelBak Hydration Pack features breathable construction with a zippered pocket and access to water wherever you are. A waterfalling trip to Minnesota begs for an RV so you can camp in the beautiful outdoors with all the comforts of home.

Otherwise, fly into Minneapolis to be your home base for day trips to the waterfalls. Pick up your rental car at the airport, and you’re ready. Minneapolis is an amazing city with tons of culture and wonderful food. The hotel choices are practically limitless, too.

Hyatt Place Minneapolis Downtown is close to highway access, so you can enjoy downtown and get out on the open road effortlessly.

Protect your travel plans with World Nomads insurance that keeps you whole in case of cancellations. Travel insurance allows you to relax, knowing you’ll be fine even if something unexpected happens.

For the best rates, you’ll need to compare as prices and coverage vary widely across the industry. For added protection, good health insurance with VisitorsCoverage can ensure your hospital bills are covered in case of sickness or emergency.

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