Top Ten Frozen Waterfalls in New York State (and a bonus Ice Volcano)

Originally written for the Upstate New York Outdoors Blog

New York is home to over 600 waterfalls. We have so many waterfalls that we have a New York State Waterfalls Challenge to visit 100 waterfalls throughout the state. Most people visit NY’s waterfalls in the summer.  Most people are missing out on half their beauty.

Winter is one of the best times to see NY’s waterfalls.  Seeing them frozen in the winter only adds to their mystique and majesty.  It will make you feel like you walked into a scene from Frozen. 

New York weather can be a bit unpredictable in the winter. One day it will be in teens, the next it will be in the 50’s. This can make seeing frozen waterfalls tricky. 

My suggestion is to look up their locations or hashtags on Instagram to see the current status.  I also suggest following John Kucko on Facebook and Instagram.  John is very active on social media, taking near-realtime videos and pictures from around NYS. Another great resource for NYS Waterfalls is NYFall.com.

Here are ten of our favorite frozen waterfalls in New York.  

1. Eternal Flame Falls

The Eternal Flame Falls Image Source: @outsidechronicles


The Eternal Flame Falls is a 35ft high cascade located at Chestnut Ridge Park located in Orchard Park, NY.  The Eternal Flame is found in a grotto on the lower third of the waterfall. The actual flame varies from 3-9″ depending on the natural gas pressure. A portion of the waterfall drapes over the grotto giving it a magical effect. The waterfalls are frozen in the winter giving the Eternal Flame a perfect contrast of fire and ice.

2. Letchworth Upper/Middle/Lower Falls plus Ice Volcano

Upper Left-Middle Falls, Lower Left-Upper Falls, Right-Ice Volcano Image Source @JohnKuckoDigital


Letchworth State Park is called the “Grand Canyon of the East” and features 3 waterfalls on the Genesee River.  The Lower Falls is 70ft tall and is best scene from a stone footbridge spanning the river.  The Middle Falls is the largest and highest falls at 107ft.  The Upper Falls is a 70ft horseshoe cascade.

In addition to the majestic waterfalls, the park features an Ice Volcano.  The Volcano forms from a gravity fountain that never shuts off. When temperatures drop, it forms this unique frozen feature that can reach up to 5 stories high.

3. Hector Falls

Hector Falls Image Source: @msmolly27

Hector Falls is a series of cascades reaching over 250ft with the main cascade measured at 165ft. The cascades fan out as it approaches Seneca Lake.

4. Buttermilk Falls

Buttermilk Falls Image Source: @noahjohnson2520

Located in Buttermilk Falls State Park, The main falls is 165ft high, tumbling in a wide, frothy cascade. It is divided into two equally high segments (the ‘first’ and ‘second’ fall), with a twist around the gorge in-between.

5. Salmon River Falls

Salmon River Falls Image Source: @1920peaches

The Salmon River Falls, located in the Salmon River Unique Area, is a 110ft waterfall that plunges over a steep cliff.

6. Watkins Glen

Watkins Glen Image Source: @rob.rawls

Watkins Glen is a series of 19 waterfalls that cascade through the gorge.

7. Kaaterskill Falls

Kaaterskill Falls Image Source: @natureadictlady

Kaaterskill Falls, located in the Catskills region, is a massive 231ft falls in three tiers. The first drop, an overhanging one, is 170ft tall. One of the tallest falls in the state.

8. Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls Image Source: @JohnKuckoDigital

Taughannock Falls is a 215ft waterfall located in the Finger Lakes Region. The surrounding gorge walls extend over 100ft higher than the falls adding to its grandeur.

9. Chittenango Falls

Chittenango Falls Image Source: @ccerio

Chittenango Falls, located in Chittenango Falls State Park, is a 167ft waterfall featuring multiple cascades.

10. Shequaga Falls

Shequaga Falls Image Source: @JohnKuckoDigital

Shequaga Falls, also known as Montour Falls, is a 156ft cascade that passes underneath a road. The gigantic falls are hidden behind the small houses along Genesee St. in Montour Falls, NY.

11. Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls Image Source: @JohnKuckoDigital

We had to add Niagara Falls because this list goes to 11 (some Spinal Tap fans will get that). Niagara Falls is the grand-daddy of all NY waterfalls and is absolutely spectacular in the winter. Due to the Falls mist, everything is encapsulated in ice make the whole area a winter wonderland. 

2 thoughts on “Top Ten Frozen Waterfalls in New York State (and a bonus Ice Volcano)”

  1. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for mentioning the New York State Waterfall Challenge! You’ve got a great place, here!

    Depending on how you measure them, NYS has over 3,000 waterfalls (5′-500′ tall).

    Letchworth has 24 official falls and many others that people can seek out, if they are careful. Other than that, you are pretty well spot on with your article. Great piece!

    Wish you the best!
    Edward M Smathers
    Founder of Dig The Falls

    1. Thanks Edward,
      I am actually going to Letchworth tomorrow to see the ice volcano and the falls. I will be interesting to see them frozen. I am usually guiding whitewater trips in the summer through the gorge. It is pretty cool to see NYS’s tallest waterfall at Inspiration Point when we get a decent rain from the bottom of the gorge. Also, the Wolf Creek lower falls can only be seen on one of our rafting trips.

      Thanks for reading,
      Mike

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