Insiders Look at the Waterfalls of Grand Canyon

It would take multiple lifetimes to explore and see all that the Grand Canyon has to offer.  It is truly a national treasure and as Buzz Holmstrom once said “anyone who it allows to go through its canyons and see its wonders should feel thankful and privileged.”  Below is a list of 10 of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Grand Canyon.  There are many more to be found.  Comment below which Grand Canyon waterfall is your favorite, or tag us with your photo @crateinc on Instagram and Facebook.

#1 Vasey’s Paradise

Vaseys paradise with greenery coming out of the Redwall Limestone
Vasey’s Paradise during the spring after a wet year.

John Wesley Powell first described this waterfall in his book Exploration of the Colorado River and its Canyons:  “Riding down a short distance, a beautiful view is presented.  The river turns sharply to the east and seems enclosed by a wall set with a million brilliant gems.  What can it mean?  Every eye is engaged, every one wonders.  On coming nearer we find fountains bursting from the rock high overhead, and the spray in the sunshine forms the gems which bedeck the wall.”  Vasey’s Paradise is named after George W. Vasey.  Vasey traveled with Powell on his “Rocky Mountain Scientific Exploring Expedition” during 1868.  Historically, Vasey’s Paradise flows between .1 and 10 cfs due to the seasonal fluctuations in precipitation on the North Rim.  During the last 5 years the waterfall has had periods where it completely dried up.

#2 Clear Creek Waterfall

Relaxing day at Clear Creek
Taking a Clear Creek River Style Shower.

One of the most beautiful places in the Grand Canyon.  Getting here requires a short hike from the Colorado River.  Backpackers can hike to Clear Creek from Phantom Ranch.  The waterfall is located along a beautiful creek framed by the Vishu Schist.  

#3 Deer Creek Falls   

Deer Creek Waterfall
Beautiful day at Deer Creek Falls.

Deer Creek may be the most beautiful waterfall in the Grand Canyon.  The falls plunges over 150 feet right next to the Colorado River.   At the base of the falls, the water is very powerful, and the breeze off the waterfall acts like air-conditioning on a hot summer day.  This is a popular stop for Grand Canyon rafting trips.

Deer Creek Falls was originally called Buckskin Falls by EO Beaman who photographed the falls in 1872.

#4 Ribbon Falls

Ribbon Falls on the way to the North Rim of Grand Canyon.
Ribbon Falls is a hidden gem off of the North Kaibab Trail.

Francois Matthes believed the waterfall plunged off the travertine in ribbons.  Thus he named the falls Ribbon Falls sometime around 1900.

The falls is located a little over 5 miles from Phantom Ranch on the North Kaibab Trail.  For those hiking to the North Rim it is about a 20 minute detour to hike to Ribbon Falls from the North Kaibab Trail.  

#5 Mooney Falls

Mooney Falls
The Base of Mooney Falls.

Mooney Falls is located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation in the Grand Canyon.  A permit is required from the Havasupai Tribe to visit Mooney Falls.  The Havasupai Campground is located just above Mooney Falls.

Mooney Falls is the tallest of the Havasu Canyon Waterfalls at 200 feet.  The falls is named after James Mooney who fell to his death in 1882.  The trail from Mooney Falls to the Colorado River is approximately 6 miles in length and requires route finding and multiple creek crossings.

#6 Thunder River  

Thunder River Waterfall
Hikers at Thunder River.

Thunder River is located about 3 miles up the Tapeats Creek drainage from the Colorado River.  Thunder River may be the most spectacular waterfall in the entire Grand Canyon.  The water “Thunders” directly out of the Muav Limestone on its .5 mile journey to Tapeats Creek.  Over this half of mile, Thunder River drops 1200 feet in elevation.

Deer Creek is located in the next drainage over from Tapeats Creek.  It can be reached from Thunder River by hiking through Surprise Valley.

#7 Elves Chasm  

Elves Chasm on a nice day
Elves Chasm is located a short distance from the Colorado River.

Elves Chasm is located up Royal Arch Creek, a short distance from the Colorado River.  It is a common stop on Grand Canyon rafting trips, and is one of the most photographed waterfalls in the Grand Canyon.  

The waterfall also offers a unique experience.  Those who dare can swim up under the waterfall and crawl behind it through a fairyland of mosses and trickling water.  Then from a ledge perched about 10 feet up,  jump out and into the cold pool.

#8 Shinumo Creek Waterfall  

Shinumo Creek Waterfall
The cold water of Shinumo Creek is a nice way to cool down on a hot day.

The Shinumo Creek waterfall is located close to where Shinumo Creek joins the Colorado River.  The depth of the pool under the falls has varied dramatically over the last 10 years from ankle deep to over 8 feet deep.  Further up Shinumo Creek is where William Wallace Bass set up his tourist camp in the late 1800s.  


#9 Travertine Grotto

Travertine Grotto walk
Hikers in Travertine Narrows of Travertine Grotto.

Travertine Grotto is located a couple miles below Diamond Creek and is one of most special places in the lower Granite Gorge.  Mineral rich water drops down a waterfall through a narrow canyon and then cascades over a second fall.


#10 Stone Creek Waterfalls

Upper Stone Creek Waterfall
This waterfall along Stone Creek requires some hiking.

Stone Creek enters the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon about 130 miles below Lees Ferry at Dubendorff Rapid.  A short hike from the beautiful Stone Creek camp gets you to the lower Stone Creek waterfall.  It takes more time and effort to get to this waterfall a few miles up the canyon.

Colorado River & Trail Expeditions (800-253-7328)specializes in off river hiking and exploring in conjunction with all of its rafting trips in the Grand Canyon and across the Colorado Plateau.

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