15 Arizona Waterfall Hikes: Discover Hidden Gems

15 Amazing Waterfalls in Arizona – Secret List!

Arizona Waterfall Hikes: Arizona has some amazing landscapes but I think one of the highlights are the hikes in Arizona with waterfalls. 

arizona waterfall hikes

Arizona, a land often synonymous with sprawling deserts and towering cacti, holds hidden within its landscapes an array of stunning waterfalls that offer a refreshing contrast to the arid terrain.

These natural wonders, ranging from towering cascades to serene pools, are tucked away in canyons, nestled within lush forests, and perched alongside rugged trails. Hiking to these waterfalls isn’t just a journey through diverse terrains; it’s an adventure into the heart of Arizona’s lesser-known beauty.

As you embark on these trails, each step uncovers a new facet of Arizona’s rich tapestry of nature. From the famed Havasu Falls, a turquoise gem in the heart of the Havasupai Reservation, to the hidden allure of Tanque Verde Falls near Tucson, these hikes invite explorers of all levels to witness the surprising diversity of the Grand Canyon State.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a casual wanderer, Arizona’s waterfall trails offer an escape into a world where the desert’s heat meets the cool respite of cascading waters.

So, lace up your hiking boots, pack your sense of adventure, and join us on a journey to discover the enchanting waterfall hikes of Arizona. Each trail promises not just a destination, but a journey filled with awe-inspiring vistas, challenging terrains, and the tranquil beauty of nature’s own artwork.

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Tips for Hiking in Arizona

Arizona is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.  There is a hike for everyone on this list and for different fitness levels.  Also, note that it is dry and hot (in the summer) and make sure you know what you are getting into before you start. 

Here are a few tips for Arizona hiking:

  • Bring a reusable water bottle and lots of water! Remember you are in the sun and you will need to drink lots of water. I love my LifeStraw Filtered Water Bottle.  I can refill this bottle anywhere and it comes with a carabiner to connect it to my daypack.
  • Check the Weather – days over 100 degrees are very common.  On top of that there is quite a bit of air pollution in Phoenix which can make it suffocating.  Make sure to check.
  • Hiking boots or sandals that will protect your feet! I love good shoes.  I need all the support and help I can get.  I actually love these sandals for hiking and have a whole post on Merrell vs Keen shoes for hiking.  I also love these hiking boots which I used for Hiking in the Grand Canyon.
  • Bring hiking poles for balance and to protect your knees.  I know many experienced hikers (and even amateur ones) think that hiking poles are for old people who lose their balance.  Actually, hiking poles can help when going down steep inclines or when scrambling over rocks.  They are great to hike with even for the most experienced hiker. 
  • Wear a sunhat. I feel like this whole post is about how high you are in the mountains and how much closer you are to the sun but it is so true. At elevation, you are closer to the sun and more likely to burn. Wear sun protection such as a sun hat and sunscreen.
  • Be aware of the wildlife. This is the Southwest and you will need to watch out for snakes and other wildlife such as moose or a bear.  Please stay away from wildlife and do not feed them.  I recommend carrying bear spray as well.
  • Start Early – If you want to avoid the traffic and the heat you will need to start your hike early.  That way it will be nice and cool and the smog will not affect you either.
  • Leave no trace. If you are new to the concept of Leave No Trace it is all about preserving the environment to ensure it is in the same or better condition when you leave it.  This means that you should stick to the trails and carry out everything that you carried in.  This is a great explanation of the Leave No Trace principles!
  • Water shoes are great for water hikes– If you don’t have a pair, I highly suggest it as they are affordable.  I have an article on the pros and cons of several pairs of water shoes.
  • Bring Bug Spray and a snack: Be sure to bring everything you need including a snack like a protein bar plus BUG SPRAY.

Hiking Arizona Waterfalls – the Best Waterfalls in Arizona

Fossil Creek Falls: A Hidden Gem Amidst Arizona’s Wild

Nestled near Pine, Arizona, Fossil Creek Falls emerges as a hidden treasure that I stumbled upon during one of my many Arizona explorations. As a seasoned hiker with a penchant for discovering less-traveled paths, I found this hike both invigorating and serene, offering a blend of adventure and tranquility.

Trail Overview:

  • Location: Near Pine, Arizona
  • Distance: 1.5 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 500 ft (approx.)
  • Difficulty: Easy

The journey begins with a scenic 21-mile drive down the unpaved Fossil Creek road. The rugged terrain adds to the sense of adventure, but it’s wise to use a vehicle suited for off-road conditions. Upon arrival, the first sight of the falls, about 25 feet high and cascading into a turquoise pool, is genuinely mesmerizing.

waterfalls in arizona
Clear water running over rocks at Fossil Creek, Arizona

In my experience, the best time to visit is during early spring when the flow is robust, and the crowds are sparse. The trail itself is quite accessible, making it an ideal choice for families or those seeking a more leisurely hike. The hike’s easy grade allows you to immerse yourself fully in the stunning surroundings without the strain of a strenuous climb.

One tip I always share: keep an eye out for the unique calcium-rich water, lending the pools their striking color. Also, it’s crucial to bring plenty of water – I always carry my trusted LifeStraw Filtered Water Bottle, ensuring I stay hydrated with safe, clean water throughout the hike.

And a word to the wise: Rattlesnakes are residents here too, so stay vigilant. Despite this, the hike to Fossil Creek Falls remains one of my favorites, offering a perfect blend of Arizona’s rugged beauty and the serene charm of its waterfalls. Whether you’re cliff-jumping or simply enjoying the cool waters, this spot is a must-visit for any waterfall enthusiast.

Cibecue Falls: A Canyon Adventure in Arizona’s Wilderness

Following the enchanting experience at Fossil Creek, I ventured next to Cibecue Falls, a hidden cascade near Globe, Arizona. This hike is a testament to Arizona’s diverse landscape, offering an exhilarating blend of canyon adventure and serene waterfalls.

Trail Overview:

  • Location: Near Globe, Arizona in the Salt River Canyon
  • Distance: 4 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 600 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
hikes in arizona with waterfalls
Arizona Waterfall Hikes

Cibecue Falls, a part of the Salt River Canyon, is a lesser-known gem compared to its famous counterparts, yet it delivers an equally breathtaking experience. The trail winds through a rugged canyon, showcasing Arizona’s raw beauty. The hike, which I found moderately challenging, offers a fantastic opportunity to connect with nature’s untamed side.

One of the most striking aspects of this hike, which I recall vividly, is the final approach to the falls. The waterfall, towering at over 40 feet, cascades into an emerald pool, creating a stunning contrast against the red rocks. It’s a sight that rewards the effort of the hike.

Preparation is key here. The trail can be rocky and uneven, so I recommend sturdy hiking boots for support and grip. Also, the creek crossings mean your feet will get wet, so it’s smart to pack water-resistant gear. On my visit, the sound of flowing water and the occasional sighting of local wildlife added to the immersive experience.

Permits are a must for Cibecue Falls, and they cost around $30. It’s a small price to pay for such a pristine natural wonder. The permit system helps maintain the trail and preserve the natural beauty of the area, something I deeply appreciate as an avid hiker who champions environmental conservation.

Lastly, always check the weather before heading out. Flash floods can be a danger in this area, especially during the monsoon season. With the right preparation, however, hiking to Cibecue Falls is an unforgettable adventure that showcases the wild heart of Arizona.

Apache Falls: A Desert Oasis in the Salt River Canyon

Continuing my journey through Arizona’s remarkable landscapes, I found myself drawn to the rugged beauty of Apache Falls. Located in the heart of the Salt River Canyon near Globe, Arizona, this destination offers a unique blend of accessibility and natural splendor.

Trail Overview:

  • Location: Near Globe, Arizona in the Salt River Canyon
  • Distance: 1 mile round trip
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal
  • Difficulty: Easy

Apache Falls stands out in my memory for its distinctive setting. Unlike the typical high, plunging waterfalls, Apache Falls is more of a broad, cascading series of falls, creating a spectacular view that’s easily accessible to hikers of all levels.

The trail to Apache Falls is relatively flat and easy, making it an excellent choice for a family outing or for those who prefer a less strenuous hike. During my visit, I found the hike to be a peaceful stroll, where the sound of rushing water grows stronger with each step, building anticipation.

A permit is required to visit Apache Falls, which can be easily obtained online. This modest requirement ensures the preservation of the area, allowing future generations to enjoy its untouched beauty.

One tip I’d like to share is to bring a picnic. The area around the falls is picturesque and serene, perfect for a relaxing lunch by the water. Also, don’t forget your camera – the unique landscape of the Salt River Canyon provides a stunning backdrop for photos.

During my time at Apache Falls, I was struck by the contrast between the arid desert and the life-giving force of the water. It’s a reminder of nature’s resilience and diversity, especially in a state as varied as Arizona.

In conclusion, Apache Falls is a must-visit for anyone seeking a tranquil yet awe-inspiring experience in Arizona’s great outdoors. Its ease of access and striking beauty make it a perfect spot for both seasoned hikers and casual visitors alike.

Seven Falls: An Oasis in Tucson’s Sabino Canyon

My adventure through Arizona’s waterfalls next led me to the iconic Seven Falls, situated in the Sabino Canyon near Tucson. This hike is a delightful showcase of the Sonoran Desert’s hidden wonders, offering an oasis-like experience amidst the arid landscape.

Trail Overview:

  • Location: Near Tucson, Arizona, in Sabino Canyon
  • Distance: 5 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 917 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Seven Falls, renowned for its picturesque series of cascades, is a popular yet rewarding hike in the Tucson area. The trail meanders through the majestic Sabino Canyon, surrounded by towering cliffs and diverse desert flora.

Seven Falls waterfalls in arizona

During my hike, the most striking aspect was the series of water crossings – a refreshing challenge under the Arizona sun. These crossings lead to the grand finale: a series of cascades flowing into crystal-clear pools, perfect for a cooling dip.

Springtime is particularly magical at Seven Falls. The winter rains breathe life into the desert, making the waterfalls flow at their fullest. It’s a sight that perfectly contrasts the typical desert imagery, showcasing Arizona’s diverse ecosystem.

Given the trail’s popularity, my advice is to start early to avoid crowds and the midday heat. The hike can be moderately challenging, especially with the elevation gain, so good hiking shoes and plenty of water are essentials.

Personal Experience and Tips:

  • Footwear: Wear sturdy, water-resistant footwear for the crossings.
  • Hydration: Carry plenty of water; the desert heat can be deceptive.
  • Photography: If you’re into photography, the falls provide a stunning backdrop, especially in the soft light of early morning or late afternoon.

Seven Falls is a testament to the desert’s hidden beauty. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, this hike offers an enriching experience that combines the tranquility of waterfalls with the stark beauty of the desert. For me, it was a rejuvenating journey that highlighted the unexpected marvels of Arizona’s landscapes.

Havasu Falls: A Jewel of the Havasupai Reservation

Venturing deeper into Arizona’s diverse landscapes, I embarked on the journey to the renowned Havasu Falls, a gem nestled in the Havasupai Reservation near the Grand Canyon. This hike is not just a journey through stunning scenery, but also a voyage into the heart of the Havasupai Tribe’s ancestral lands.

Trail Overview:

  • Location: Havasupai Reservation, near the Grand Canyon
  • Distance: 10 miles one way
  • Elevation Gain: 2000 ft (on return)
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Hard

Havasu Falls is perhaps the most iconic of all Arizona’s waterfalls, and for good reason. The contrast of the vivid turquoise waters against the backdrop of deep red canyon walls is nothing short of breathtaking.

The hike to the falls is a true adventure. It begins at Hualapai Hilltop and descends into the canyon. The trail is long and can be challenging, especially during the summer heat, but the reward at the end is unparalleled. The path takes you through stunning landscapes, and as you approach the falls, the sound of cascading water fills the air, building excitement with every step.

During my visit, the sense of awe upon first sight of the falls was overwhelming. The water plunges over a 100-foot drop into a large, serene pool, inviting a refreshing swim after the long hike.

A few important tips for this hike:

  • Permits: Securing a permit can be challenging due to high demand. Plan well in advance and be persistent.
  • Preparation: Bring enough water for the hike, and start early to avoid the midday sun.
  • Camping: Overnight stays require camping at the designated campground near the falls.

Experiencing Havasu Falls was a highlight of my hiking adventures in Arizona. It’s a place that not only showcases natural beauty but also offers a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the Havasupai Tribe. This hike is a must-do for any avid hiker and nature lover seeking to explore the depths of Arizona’s stunning landscapes.

Check out my post on everything you need to know about Havasu Falls.

Hidden Falls: A Secluded Marvel in Havasupai

My exploration within the Havasupai Reservation continued with a visit to Hidden Falls, a relatively lesser-known yet spectacular waterfall that offers a more secluded and intimate experience compared to its famous neighbors.

Trail Overview:

  • Location: Havasupai Reservation, near the Grand Canyon
  • Distance: 11 miles round trip from the campground
  • Elevation Gain: Moderate, but includes some steep and rugged sections
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Hidden Falls is aptly named for its tucked-away location, which provides a serene retreat away from the more frequented paths. The journey to Hidden Falls involves a trek through the captivating Havasu Canyon, with its unique geological formations and lush vegetation.

The hike to Hidden Falls was a reminder of the untamed beauty of nature. The trail is moderately challenging, with uneven terrain and some steep sections that require careful navigation. However, the journey is incredibly rewarding, unveiling the stunning beauty of Hidden Falls, which cascades into a beautiful pool surrounded by rock walls.

What makes Hidden Falls particularly appealing is its sense of seclusion. During my visit, the tranquility of the area was palpable, allowing for a peaceful communion with nature. The falls also present a fantastic opportunity for those interested in cliff jumping, with various heights catering to different levels of thrill-seekers.

A few tips for visiting Hidden Falls:

  • Permit Required: As with all hikes in the Havasupai Reservation, a permit is necessary.
  • Pack Lightly: Since the hike can be strenuous, pack only essentials to avoid unnecessary burden.
  • Safety First: If cliff jumping, always check the water depth and be aware of your surroundings for a safe experience.

Hidden Falls left a lasting impression on me as a hidden oasis within the rugged Arizona landscape. It’s a destination that offers both adventure and tranquility, perfect for those looking to explore the road less traveled. For me, Hidden Falls was more than just a picturesque location; it was a journey into the heart of Havasupai’s natural splendor.

Mooney Falls, Havasupai Reservation

Mooney Falls: A Challenging Descent to Unmatched Beauty

Continuing the enchanting exploration within the Havasupai Reservation, Mooney Falls presents itself as a thrilling challenge for any adventurer. Its towering presence and the captivating environment make it a standout among Arizona’s waterfalls.

Trail Overview:

  • Location: Havasupai Reservation, near the Grand Canyon
  • Distance: 10 miles one way to the campground, then an additional half-mile
  • Elevation Gain: 200 ft (for the Mooney Falls section)
  • Difficulty: Hard

Mooney Falls, cascading gracefully into a deep turquoise pool, is one of the tallest and most spectacular waterfalls in the Havasupai area. The journey to Mooney is as memorable as the destination itself. Starting from the Havasupai Campground, the trail to Mooney Falls adds an element of adventure unlike any other.

The descent to the base of the falls is challenging and not for the faint-hearted. It involves navigating through tunnels and down ladders, with portions requiring a firm grip on chains embedded in the rock. During my descent, the rush of adrenaline was palpable, matched only by the awe-inspiring beauty of the falls.

The sight of Mooney Falls up close is an incredible reward. The sheer height of the cascade, at about 200 feet, creates a powerful yet serene atmosphere. The pool below is an inviting spot for a refreshing swim after the strenuous descent, though caution is always advised due to the strong currents.

A few tips for those planning to visit Mooney Falls:

  • Safety Gear: Gloves are recommended for the descent, as the chains can be slippery.
  • Fitness Level: This hike is best suited for those in good physical condition and with some experience in challenging terrains.
  • Respect the Land: Remember, you are a guest in this sacred land. Tread lightly and respect the natural and cultural significance of the area.

Mooney Falls left an indelible mark on my heart as a symbol of nature’s power and beauty. It’s a hike that challenges your limits and rewards you with sights that are nothing short of magical. For the intrepid explorer, it’s a journey that encapsulates the spirit of adventure that Arizona’s landscapes have to offer.

Beaver Falls, Havasupai Reservation

After the exhilarating experience at Mooney Falls, my journey through the Havasupai Reservation led me to Beaver Falls, an equally majestic but less frequented cascade that offers a serene escape into nature’s embrace.

Trail Overview:

  • Location: Havasupai Reservation, near the Grand Canyon
  • Distance: 16 miles round trip from the campground
  • Elevation Gain: Varied, with some steep sections
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Hard

Beaver Falls, with its series of smaller cascades and turquoise pools, presents a different charm compared to its neighboring waterfalls. The hike to Beaver Falls starts from the Havasupai Campground and is a journey through some of the most picturesque landscapes in the canyon.

The path to Beaver Falls is as enchanting as the destination itself. It weaves through lush vegetation, crosses streams, and offers panoramic views of the canyon. One of the most memorable parts of this hike for me was the feeling of being completely immersed in the natural beauty of the Havasupai Reservation.

The trail can be challenging, with some steep descents and ladder climbs, but the effort is richly rewarded. Upon arriving at Beaver Falls, the tranquility and beauty of the surroundings are instantly calming. The cascading water over limestone terraces creates a series of natural pools, perfect for a refreshing swim.

Some tips for this hike:

  • Water and Snacks: Bring enough water and some energy-boosting snacks. The round trip can take several hours.
  • Start Early: To avoid the heat and enjoy the falls with fewer people, start your hike early in the morning.
  • Footwear: Wear sturdy, water-resistant hiking shoes. The trail involves crossing water and can be slippery.

Visiting Beaver Falls was an experience that highlighted the diversity of Arizona’s natural wonders. It’s a perfect spot for those who seek a sense of adventure coupled with the opportunity to unwind in nature’s lap. For me, Beaver Falls wasn’t just a destination; it was a journey through the heart of the Havasupai land, offering a profound connection with the natural world.

Fifty Foot Falls, Havasupai Reservation

Fifty Foot Falls: A Refreshing Stop in Havasupai

Continuing my journey through the stunning Havasupai Reservation, I came across Fifty Foot Falls, an enchanting and relatively tranquil waterfall that offers a refreshing respite before reaching the main campsite.

Trail Overview:

  • Location: Havasupai Reservation, near the Grand Canyon
  • Distance: 10 miles one way from the trailhead, accessible before reaching the campsite
  • Elevation Gain: Moderate, mostly descending into the canyon
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Fifty Foot Falls, often overshadowed by the more famous Havasu Falls, is a delightful discovery along the way to the Havasupai Campground. Its beauty lies in its simplicity and the serene environment it offers.

The trail to Fifty Foot Falls is the same initially as for Havasu Falls, descending into the canyon with breathtaking views. As you approach the falls, the sound of cascading water and the sight of lush greenery signal your arrival at this hidden gem. The falls are not as tall as some others in the area, but their beauty is in their serene, inviting nature.

During my visit, I found Fifty Foot Falls to be a perfect spot for a break, especially if you’re feeling the heat from the trek. The pool beneath the falls is ideal for a soothing swim, and the area around it is great for relaxing and enjoying the peaceful surroundings.

Here are a few tips for visiting Fifty Foot Falls:

  • Swimming: The pool is perfect for a dip, but always exercise caution.
  • Timing: Visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid crowds.
  • Photography: The falls and the surrounding area offer fantastic photo opportunities, especially in the soft light of the early morning.

Fifty Foot Falls may not be the tallest or the most dramatic waterfall in the canyon, but its charm and the tranquility it offers make it a must-visit spot on your trek through Havasupai. For me, it was a refreshing oasis that provided a much-needed pause to appreciate the natural beauty of this extraordinary place.

Navajo Falls, Havasupai Reservation

As I ventured further into the Havasupai Reservation, Navajo Falls presented itself as a vibrant and sunlit marvel, offering a unique experience distinct from its neighboring waterfalls.

Trail Overview:

  • Location: Havasupai Reservation, near the Grand Canyon
  • Distance: Approximately 10.5 miles one way from the trailhead, shortly before the Havasupai Campground
  • Elevation Gain: Moderate, primarily on the descent into the canyon
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Navajo Falls, often less crowded than Havasu or Mooney Falls, is a stunning cascade of water into serene pools. The falls have an open and airy feel, basking in sunlight, which makes them particularly inviting.

The trail to Navajo Falls diverges slightly from the main path to Havasu Falls, but it’s well worth the slight detour. On my hike, the sound of the falls provided a refreshing welcome as I approached. The falls consist of two main parts: Upper and Lower Navajo Falls, each offering unique views and experiences.

Upper Navajo Falls is a bit more secluded, hidden among the rocks and foliage, providing a sense of discovery and adventure. Lower Navajo Falls, on the other hand, is more open and accessible, with its waters flowing into a wide pool that’s perfect for swimming and relaxing.

A few tips for your visit to Navajo Falls:

  • Photography: The abundant sunlight at Navajo Falls creates a perfect setting for photography.
  • Swimming: The pools at Navajo Falls are great for a swim, but as always, be cautious of the water depth and current.
  • Exploration: Take time to explore both the Upper and Lower falls for a complete experience of the area.

Navajo Falls struck me as a place of joy and rejuvenation. The open, sunlit area around the falls provides a different atmosphere from the more enclosed, shaded falls in the canyon. It’s a spot that combines the thrill of exploration with the peacefulness of a desert oasis. My time at Navajo Falls was a bright and uplifting chapter in my journey through the captivating landscape of the Havasupai Reservation.

Ribbon Falls

Journeying away from the Havasupai Reservation, my next stop was Ribbon Falls, a secluded and enchanting waterfall situated within the Grand Canyon National Park, offering a serene escape from the more frequented paths.

Trail Overview:

  • Location: Grand Canyon National Park, North Kaibab Trail
  • Distance: 16.8 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 4,500 ft
  • Difficulty: Hard

Ribbon Falls stands as a hidden jewel within the vast expanse of the Grand Canyon. The hike to Ribbon Falls, starting from the North Kaibab Trail, is a challenging yet rewarding journey through one of the world’s most iconic landscapes.

Ribbon Falls arizona waterfalls

The trail is a true test of endurance, but the rewards are ample. The changing scenery, from steep canyon walls to the lush riparian vegetation near the falls, kept me captivated throughout the hike. Ribbon Falls, with its unique and delicate beauty, appears almost like a vision against the rugged backdrop of the Grand Canyon.

During my visit, the tranquility of Ribbon Falls was a refreshing contrast to the grandiosity of the Grand Canyon. The falls cascade over a mineral-rich rock formation, creating a veil-like effect that is both mesmerizing and soothing. The pool beneath the falls is shallow but inviting, perfect for cooling your feet after the long trek.

A few tips for those planning to visit Ribbon Falls:

  • Preparation: This hike is long and strenuous. Be well-prepared with water, food, and appropriate gear.
  • Timing: Start early to avoid the midday heat and to allow enough time to enjoy the falls and return safely.
  • Respect the Environment: Ribbon Falls is in a delicate ecosystem. Stay on the trail and respect all park regulations to preserve its beauty.

Ribbon Falls, in my experience, is a testament to the Grand Canyon’s lesser-known yet equally awe-inspiring wonders. It’s a destination that not only challenges your physical limits but also rewards you with a profound sense of peace and connection to nature. For me, it was a reminder of the diverse and often hidden beauties that lie within our natural world, waiting to be discovered and cherished.

Pacheta Falls

Pacheta Falls: A Wilderness Gem in the White Mountains

Leaving behind the grandeur of the Grand Canyon, my Arizona waterfall journey led me to Pacheta Falls, nestled in the remote White Mountains. This hidden cascade offers an off-the-beaten-path adventure for those seeking solitude and unspoiled nature.

Trail Overview:

  • Location: Near Whiteriver, Arizona, in the White Mountain Apache Reservation
  • Distance: 2.5 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: Moderate, with some rugged terrain
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Pacheta Falls is a less frequented but absolutely stunning waterfall located within the White Mountain Apache Reservation. This trail presents a different aspect of Arizona’s diverse landscape, showcasing lush forests and alpine scenery.

waterfalls of arizona
White Mountains Arizona

My hike to Pacheta Falls was an invigorating experience, marked by the tranquil sounds of nature and the anticipation of discovering a hidden treasure. The trail is moderately challenging, weaving through dense forest and over rocky terrain. It’s a hike that feels like a true wilderness escape.

The waterfall itself, cascading 131 feet, is a magnificent sight. Its secluded location adds to its charm, offering a sense of serenity and exclusivity. The area around the falls is perfect for contemplation and enjoying the peaceful ambiance of the woods.

Here are some tips for your trip to Pacheta Falls:

  • Permit Required: As it’s on reservation land, a permit is required for access. Make sure to arrange this in advance.
  • Vehicle: The drive to the trailhead is on rough roads, so a four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended.
  • Preparation: Pack sufficient water, snacks, and bear in mind there are no facilities in this remote area.

Visiting Pacheta Falls was a highlight of my waterfall explorations in Arizona. It’s a place that offers not just a beautiful waterfall, but an immersive experience in the wilderness. For me, it was a rejuvenating journey, a chance to connect deeply with the natural world in a relatively untouched corner of Arizona.

Romero Pools and Waterfalls

From the secluded Pacheta Falls, my Arizona waterfall odyssey took me to the Romero Pools and Waterfalls, located in the Catalina State Park near Tucson. This hike combines the rugged beauty of the desert with the refreshing allure of natural water pools.

Trail Overview:

  • Location: Near Tucson, Arizona, in Catalina State Park
  • Distance: 5.6 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 900 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The Romero Pools and Waterfalls trail is a true desert trek that leads to a rewarding oasis. The path takes you through the quintessential Arizona landscape, featuring saguaro cacti and rocky terrain, with the Santa Catalina Mountains providing a stunning backdrop.

As I embarked on this hike, the first mile’s ease gave way to a more challenging ascent. The trail becomes rocky and steep, offering a good workout and several vantage points for breathtaking views of the surrounding desert. Reaching the Romero Pools requires some effort, but the sight of the clear, cool water amidst the arid environment is a remarkable contrast.

The pools and cascading waterfalls are a haven for cooling off after the strenuous hike. During my visit, the sound of the water and the serene setting provided a perfect spot for relaxation and reflection.

Some tips for your visit:

  • Start Early: To beat the heat and the crowds, start your hike early in the morning.
  • Water and Snacks: Bring plenty of water and some snacks or a light lunch to enjoy by the pools.
  • Swimming: The pools are great for a dip, but be cautious as the rocks can be slippery.

Romero Pools and Waterfalls offer a unique hiking experience, combining the stark beauty of the Arizona desert with the refreshing surprise of water in the wilderness. For me, it was an unforgettable adventure that highlighted the diverse landscapes of Arizona, from its arid expanses to its hidden aquatic gems.

Grand Falls

After the delightful desert oasis of Romero Pools, my journey led me to a unique and spectacular sight: Grand Falls. Located near Flagstaff, Arizona, these falls are often referred to as the ‘Chocolate Waterfall’ due to their distinct color.

Trail Overview:

  • Location: Near Flagstaff, Arizona, in the Navajo Nation
  • Distance: 1 mile round trip
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal
  • Difficulty: Easy

Grand Falls is a remarkable sight, especially after the spring snowmelt or monsoon rains when the water flow is at its peak. Standing at 180 feet, these falls are taller than Niagara Falls and offer a spectacular display of nature’s force.

The trail to Grand Falls is relatively easy, making it accessible to a wide range of visitors. During my visit, the short hike led to an expansive view of the falls, where the sound of rushing water and the sight of the muddy waters cascading over the edge were awe-inspiring.

 best waterfalls in arizona

One of the unique aspects of Grand Falls is the color of the water, which is caused by the high sediment content picked up from the Little Colorado River. This gives the falls their ‘chocolate’ appearance, a rare and intriguing phenomenon.

A few tips for your visit to Grand Falls:

  • Access: The falls are located on Navajo Nation land, so respect the area and follow all guidelines.
  • Best Time to Visit: The falls are most impressive during spring or after heavy rains.
  • Preparation: The area around the falls is remote, so bring enough water and snacks.

Grand Falls was a highlight of my waterfall explorations in Arizona, offering a unique and striking natural spectacle. Its ease of access and the sheer size make it an excellent destination for families and those looking for an impressive natural sight without a strenuous hike. For me, Grand Falls was a reminder of the diverse and sometimes surprising natural beauty that Arizona has to offer.

Tanque Verde Falls

Continuing my exploration of Arizona’s diverse landscapes, I ventured to Tanque Verde Falls, located just outside Tucson. This hike offers a blend of desert terrain with the allure of cascading waterfalls, making it a popular destination for both locals and visitors.

Trail Overview:

  • Location: Near Tucson, Arizona
  • Distance: 1.6 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 430 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Tanque Verde Falls is part of a series of waterfalls and pools set in a narrow canyon. The hike to these falls is a scenic journey through the Sonoran Desert, with the Rincon Mountains providing a majestic backdrop.

My hike to Tanque Verde Falls was memorable for the stark contrasts it offered. The arid, cactus-strewn landscape suddenly gives way to a series of waterfalls, each varying in size. The largest fall, at about 80 feet, is a stunning sight, particularly after the rainy season when the water flow is at its strongest.

 best waterfalls in arizona
The gorgeous canyon walls of Tanque Verde falls, located just outside of Tuscon, Arizona, USA.

A few tips for those planning to visit Tanque Verde Falls:

  • Flash Flood Risk: Be cautious of the weather as the area is prone to flash floods, especially during the monsoon season.
  • Trail Navigation: The trail can be rocky and steep in places, so good hiking shoes are recommended.
  • Water Safety: While swimming can be refreshing, be mindful of the water depth and current, especially at the base of the falls.

Visiting Tanque Verde Falls was a highlight of my time in Tucson. The falls are a perfect retreat from the city’s heat, offering a natural sanctuary where you can enjoy the sound of cascading water and the beauty of the desert. For me, Tanque Verde Falls encapsulated the essence of Arizona’s natural diversity, combining the ruggedness of the desert with the tranquility of flowing water.

The first waterfall you will reach is Lower Tanque which is about a mile along the trail and has a 30 foot waterfall.  Further along there is an 80 foot waterfall.

From the start of the trail, it is a mile before you reach lower Tanque, which has a 30-foot cascade.

From there, it is a short distance to the 80-foot plunging cascade into the deep pool.

There is rope swing here for fun. Check out my post on the Best Things to do in Tucson, Arizona

Water Wheel and Ellison Creek Cascades

Leaving the dramatic desert landscapes of Tucson, my waterfall journey brought me to the Water Wheel and Ellison Creek Cascades near Payson, Arizona. This area, known for its picturesque beauty and refreshing swimming holes, offers a delightful retreat in the heart of Arizona’s wilderness.

Trail Overview:

  • Location: Near Payson, Arizona
  • Distance: 1.8 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 100 ft
  • Difficulty: Easy

The hike to Water Wheel and Ellison Creek Cascades is a relatively easy and family-friendly adventure, making it a popular choice for a day trip. The trail starts at the Water Wheel area, named after a historic water wheel that still stands near the parking lot.

things to do in Payson Arizona

My walk along this trail was marked by the soothing sounds of flowing water and the lush greenery that contrasts with the surrounding desert landscape. The path follows the creek, leading to several small waterfalls and natural pools where you can cool off on a hot day.

The final destination, Ellison Creek Waterfall, is a beautiful cascade that falls into a clear, inviting pool. During my visit, I enjoyed the peaceful environment and the opportunity to swim in the natural pools, which was both refreshing and rejuvenating.

Here are some tips for visiting Water Wheel and Ellison Creek Cascades:

  • Parking Fee: There’s a small fee to park at the Water Wheel area.
  • Weekday Visit: Consider visiting on a weekday to avoid the crowds.
  • Safety: Always be cautious when swimming or climbing around the falls and pools.

Water Wheel and Ellison Creek Cascades offer a charming escape into nature, where the beauty of Arizona’s creeks and forests is on full display. For me, this hike was a perfect blend of relaxation and exploration, showcasing yet another facet of Arizona’s diverse and stunning natural landscapes.

Conclusion – Best Arizona Waterfalls

There you have it the 15 Most Beautiful Waterfalls in Arizona.  Each time I keep coming back to Arizona I fall more and more in love with the Grand Canyon State and all of the amazing natural landscape with the Waterfalls and Hikes being the top rated things to do there.

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Nicole LaBarge

Nicole is a travel expert who has been traveling to the American Southwest since 1992. There is so much to see and do in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and California. I spend part of the year in Phoenix and travel around the area visiting all the best places and going on the best hikes. Check out my detailed destination guides, the best hiking in each state guides, and the travel gear you need for your next trip.

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