Ladder Creek has cut itself a fairly impressive slot canyon which harbors a very pretty three-tiered waterfall. While the falls are easily visible from the rim of the gorge, all tiers of the falls are obscured in some way or another - some more than others - by the twisting walls of the chasm. The upper and middle tiers drop 34 and 28 feet in back-to-back fashion, but both are highly obstructed by the shape of the canyon. The 46-foot lower tier is the most visible of the set but can be partially obstructed unless viewing it in a very specific area (near a large tree right next to the stairs).
Ladder Creek is fed by the Ladder Creek Glacier and would natively have a lot more volume were it not largely diverted into the Gorge Powerhouse. However as a result of the creek being drawn off above the falls, the stream remains one of the most consistent in the North Cascades, leaving the falls with just the right amount of water all year long. At night the gardens along the trail to the falls and falls themselves are illuminated with colored lights.
- Ladder Creek Falls is the Official name of this waterfall.
When the Skagit Hydroelectric project was being developed in the 30s and 40s, J.D. Ross developed the trail to the falls and the surrounding gardens as a showcase for the project as the Newhalem powerhouse was being constructed. The origin of the name of the creek is not known, but it is suspected to be based on the presence of the falls creating a natural "ladder" up the hillside. The falls were named for the creek.
Ladder Creek Falls can be found at the eastern end of the town of Newhalem along Highway 20 within Ross Lake National Recreation Area. Park directly across the river from the Gorge Powerhouse and cross the river on the suspension bridge to the Ladder Creek gardens. Follow the stairs along the creek to viewpoints of the falls.