Recent New and Latest Information

Welcome to the new and improved Northwest Waterfall Survey

November 21, 2016

It had been almost nine years since we had done any sort of significant work on the Northwest Waterfall Survey, and it was definitely well past the point of needing a facelift. But this wasn't just a makeover for the site, we rebuilt the entire infrastructure from the ground up to better support the expandability we envision for the future, as well as bringing it into compliance with modern web standards. We now finally have the framework in place to move toward being able to freely accept and utilize content and information submitted by our readers. Additionally, the website is now fully responsive and mobile friendly for easy browsing on your phone or tablet. In the future, we plan on expanding our mobile support further as well.

Our design standards have also been adjusted to only support the newest internet browsers available. The site will function correctly in the most current versions of Chrome (our recommendation), Firefox, Edge, Safari, Opera, and Internet Explorer 11 (we would discourage its use because it's slow and insecure, and we may not be able to guarantee compatibility going forward). Older browsers are not guaranteed to display the website correctly, and we discourage you from using them.


The option to browse the database based on Region has been removed because the designated Regions were arbitrary and very contextually ambiguous. We felt with the advent of technologies like Google Maps that making our own map and arbitrary divisions thereof was just creating more work than necessary. Likewise the option to browse the database based on Watershed has also been removed - this was mainly because there are too many small drainages in the Northwest with only a handful of waterfalls, while the vast majority fall within the basins of one of the huge rivers (the Columbia, the Snake or the Willamette) and listing all of the falls encompassed within each wouldn't allow for the degree of granularity we wanted.

Given the two changes above, the old Flash-based map has been removed and replaced with a fully-interactive Google Maps window:

  • You can browse the database via the map, showing all of the data for any of the three states at once (you cannot see more than one state at a time though). You can likewise view the data for any given county within a state (via the blue View County Map button on the list view of that county).
  • The map window has the option to snap and zoom to well known areas to aid in the search for waterfalls near a town, park, or well known landmark. This is not available when browsing County data on the map, because the area of coverage is much smaller. Likewise this is not currently available on mobile, but may be enabled in the future.
  • The icons shown on the map window can be toggled on and off from the Options menu to aid in visibility in areas of high waterfall density.
  • The Top 100 Waterfalls list can now be viewed in the map window.
  • The icons which represent waterfalls on the map windows, in the table columns, and in the Rating / Status box on a waterfall's page have been updated to use the same graphics as the World Waterfall Database.
  • You can now link directly to the map window for any given method of browsing (by State, County, or Top 100 list).

Table List Views

The Tabular lists used when browsing the database has been cleaned up and overhauled to improve readibility. Table rows are now brighter, wider, and highlight based on the status of the waterfall when you move your mouse cursor over it. Additionally:

  • At the top of each table is a button to view the tabular data on a Map.
  • Each waterfall's associated Status icon is now displayed at the left edge of the table to further visually communicate the status of the entry.
  • State data tables (other than the Top 100 list) can now be sorted Alphabetically, by Rating, or by Height.
  • The ability to sort County data tables by Rating and Height will be added in the future.

Waterfall pages

The information on each Waterfall's respective page has been tidied up and reorganized a little as well. We're removed some of the superfluous "filler" content like the links to Flickr, Panoramio, the small social media bookmark buttons, and the links to the third party mapping services like Flash Earth and Terraserver (because frankly Google Maps is the best option available as it is). We've also consolidated the Waterfall Page and the page which its associated photographs would appear on. Additionally:

  • Photographs now appear in a sliding carousel, and can be opened in a Lightbox directly from the Waterfall's page rather than having to click through to a second page.
  • The Photo Tips section has been moved to the main page from the old secondary page which harbored the photograph thumbnails.
  • The map window on each Waterfall's page once again shows the icons of the ten closest waterfalls.
  • Below the list of the 10 nearest waterfalls (if there are any are within 5 miles) is a "Find More Nearby Waterfalls" button that will take the user to a Map window centered on the waterfall in question. Panning this map around will then display all waterfalls which appear within the map window.


We have some more small changes that will be implemented in the coming weeks, none of which were determined to be show stoppers to delay launch at all. We would greatly appreciate feedback about the usability of the website; if you have any concerns or issues, or you encounter any bugs please let us know about it. We won't be making any edits or additions to the database probably until after the beginning of the year, because our next task is to completely overhaul our administration system. Once that's done, we'll beging working on our interface to allow User Submitted Information and Pictures, with the goal of having that active by next spring at the latest.

Database Additions

April 15, 2013

We've just rolled out a content update that added about 400 more waterfalls to the database for both Washington and Oregon. This update has pushed the number of waterfalls we have cataloged in Washington State to over 2,000, and Oregon has eclipsed 1,200. A lot of what we just added isn't necessarily going to be well-rounded content because most of the waterfalls in question lie in harder-to-access areas (such as the backcountry of Mount Rainier National Park), but there were a number of glaring holes that this update has now filled in. We'll be slowly fleshing out the new data as we have time, as always, and will be adding several more new full survey reports in the next week or two before the season really kicks into gear.

Geodata Updates

March 24, 2013

Those of you paying attention to the Updates page might notice a whole lot of changes going in over the last couple weeks. Unfortunately this isn't an exponential increase in field survey work (as much as I'd like it to be), but rather some much needed house keeping. Google has recently started adding - en masse - LIDAR data to it's topographic models for Google Earth. For those who aren't familiar, LIDAR - which stands for Light Detection and Ranging - is a technology that can be used for topographic surveying without being inhibited by trees and plant growth, and its results are incredibly accurate. So what this data being loaded into Google Earth means is the terrain models it uses results in being able to accurately locate waterfalls with not only a high level of accuracy, but also gauge their height nearly as accurately as if it were surveyed in the field.

Over the last couple weeks, I've been editing location data for a ton of waterfalls where this data has been made available, and there's still a ton more to come over the next several months. Most of what you're seeing in the updates page is not being updated beyond adjusting the Latitude, Longitude, Elevation and sometimes the height of the waterfall. But in some cases, we've been able to provide some much more detailed information (see Wahe Falls and Oneonta Falls in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge, for example).

The added bonus of having this LIDAR data at my disposal now is that I've been mapping a ton of new waterfalls which I either wasn't aware of, or was only partially convinced actually existed. Right now I'm sitting on about 400 new waterfalls to be added in to the database and I hope to have that up by the end of April, if not sooner (especially since some of the new finds are being catapulted to the very top of the "to survey" list for this summer).

Up In Flames

October 04, 2012

Several particularly large forest fires were sparked in mid September around the Pacific Northwest and have grown to considerable size thanks to the severe lack of rain over the last two months. Several of these fires have resulted in closures to large swaths of National Forest land out of safety concerns (which really messed with our plans to get to new waterfalls). But more relevant to this website is the fact that three of these fires have affected areas known to harbor several significant waterfalls.

The Table Mountain fire burning east of Highway 97 near Blewett Pass in Washington has burned an area of over 42,000 acres so far. It is known to have burned around both Jillian and Howard Creek Falls (neither of which we have yet visited).

The Cascade Creek fire on the southwest side of Mount Adams has burned over 20,000 acres and has consumed almost the entire Cascade Creek and Salt Creek drainages, which includes at least half a dozen significant waterfalls (all of which are off-trail and have yet to be surveyed). Several of the falls in this area were in sub-alpine zones, or are above tree line, so it's not clear how significantly the burn has affected the area - it may actually make cross-country navigating easier.

The biggest casualty thus far is from the Pole Creek Fire, east of Oregon's South Sister and north of Broken Top. The fire has burned out nearly the entire Whychus Creek drainage, which includes some of the best waterfalls in Oregon. Some photos suggest that the burn hasn't affected the bigger trees nearly as much as it has the understory, but expect the Chush Falls Trail to be closed for a while once the fire has been extinguished, and dont' be surprised if there are a lot of new logs fallen into the streams in the area.

One last note - the Top 100 Page is back up and working as it should be after we revamped the ratings a bit to account for the changes needed to reflect the true stature of the waterfalls in the Bacon Creek drainage of North Cascades National Park.

The Big Boys

September 24, 2012

While we've been slow to post any news here, we have been ensuring a slow but fairly steady trickle of new content has been getting posted over the last couple of months. Among that new stuff is our survey reports from the big waterfalls in the upper Bacon Creek drainage in North Cascades National Park - specifically Green Lake Falls and Berdeen Falls, two of the biggest and best waterfalls in Washington State. Unfortunately we couldn't get close because the terrain proved to be much, much more rugged and difficult to navigate than we expected, and time was limited, but there are at least pictures and more accurate information about the falls now available on their respective pages.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this new data is how it affected our Top 100 list. After getting a much better idea of how much water was involved in both Green Lake and Berdeen Falls, our ratings were adjusted and Green Lake Falls fell out of 1st place, with Depot Creek Falls assuming the spot of the best waterfall in the Pacific Northwest. While this may certainly shift back with additional surveys, this was mostly indicative of our overestimating how consistently the volume of these waterfalls would be during the late summer months (turns out the streams shrink more than expected).

Additionally, because of this shift in the ratings, we noticed a huge problem with our Top 100 page and we've had to take it offline in order to fix the issue with the data not populating and calculating the ratings correctly. It should hopefully be back online within the week.

Workshops are tentative this year

April 21, 2012

For several reasons, both personal and work related, my schedule is not terribly flexible at the moment, so in turn I currently do not have any plans to offer photography workshops for the 2012 season. However, I do expect my workload to lessen significantly toward the end of the summer and if / when this occurs, I may post up to three classes in the fall - likely one each in September, October and November - at locations that have yet to be determined and on dates which will be determined in the future (again, if this happens).

If my schedule does not let up, I will not be offering any classes this year, but I do anticipate offering at least four and possibly up to six classes in 2013, but this is currently way too far in the future to plan for. If you are interested in attending, keep watch here on the site for any announcements.

Snohomish County wants to dam Sunset Falls

October 30, 2011

While in a serendipitous coincidence three major dams in Washington are being removed right now (Condit Dam on the White Salmon, and the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams on the Elwha River), the Snohomish County Public Utility District is seeking to build more dams, specifically targetting several waterfalls as locations to do so.

The PUD just began operation of the first new dam in Washington State in decades, a relatively small project on Youngs Creek near Monroe capable of producing (at peak flow) 7.5 megawatts of electricity - enough to power about 5000 homes. The Youngs Creek project was built well above Youngs Creek Falls, which serves as a natural barrier to migrating fish, and didn't have a terribly sigifnicant impact on the surrounding forest. The Youngs Creek project was done right.

What is now being proposed by the PUD at other locations is entirely different. Licences have been applied for to put a 30 megawatt facility in place along the South Fork Skykomish River, with a dam above Canyon Falls and the powerhouse adjacent to Sunset Falls. The proposed project would house a 19-foot diameter tunnel to flume the river to the powerhouse. This would certainly allow for a minimum flow to be sent over the falls, but the kicker is that the project's capacity would be approximately 2500 cubic feet per second - which is greater than the mean annual flow for the river at this point. This means that while Canyon and Sunset Falls would still flow during the winter months, they may be entirely dry during the summer under this proposal. If such a setup was instituted at Snoqualmie Falls the public would be in uproar, I think the only reason the PUD might get away with this is because Sunset Falls is not a frequently visited waterfall.

In addition to the project at Sunset Falls, the PUD also wants to dam both Calligan Creek and Hancock Creek on the Snoqualmie Tree Farm - both in King County! Hancock Timber would presumably lease the land to the PUD, but could conceivably be compensated with a portion of revenue as well. In the process we would lose (or at least see greatly reduced) four more waterfalls - Calligan Creek Falls being potentially the best waterfall on the tree farm, and three as yet undocumented waterfalls along Hancock Creek.

Ultimately, in the case of Calligan and Hancock Creeks, because the waterfalls lie on private land there isn't much the public can do other than voice their opinion. But because the project along the Skykomish River lies partially on public land, we do have a say. And this is where things get tricky. Clean energy projects should definitely be pursued and as water is something we have in abundance in the Pacific Northwest, hydro power is the most logical method of producing clean energy. But at the same time sacrificing some of the best waterfalls in the region should not be necessary. We strongly urge those of you who care to make known that you do not want to see Sunset Falls destroyed.

New Content...Finally!

September 13, 2011

Its taken seemingly forever to deal with the server switch, but it looks like we're finally good to go for the most part. All pictures and content for this website will now be hosted by the World Waterfall Database, so anything you see here will also be available over there (plus additional info in some situations). Over the next week, we'll be shifting to the new database and a whole bunch of newly content will start showing up in the Updates page.

Additionally, due to the differing design of the WWD database and the old one, there have been some changes to the site as a whole as well. First of all, because we're trying to standardize as much data as possible, it will no longer be possible to search by Watershed. This may be something we bring back in the future, but for the time being it was too much work to make it function with the new system.

Secondly, we've had some trouble integrating the adjusted rating system in the new database (and by proxy in the World Waterfall Database) to this server, so for the time being changes to the ratings and new entries which end up with high scores will not show up on the Top 100 list until we can get this fixed (the Top 100 list will not change until the problem is resolved). Additionally, the search feature is limited for the time being to being able to search for the name of waterfalls - searching by strings was causing some strange issues and is likewise temporarily out of commission.

Third, because the database has in essence moved, the URLs for every waterfall have changed as well. We've set up automatic redirects if anybody has direct links from pages around the interwebs, so there shouldn't be much trouble. However, if you do see any problems such as links not going to the right page, please let us know ASAP so we can fix them.

For the Academy's consideration

April 19, 2011

While you're waiting for the months and months worth of new stuff I've got sitting in my backlogged inbox, here's a little video I shot a couple weeks ago at Kamikaze Falls near North Bend. First time I had been there, and the first time I properly shot with my camcorder, so progress on both parts. Information about the falls isn't posted yet (won't be up until the server migration is complete, and I've been busy enough that I haven't been able to do much lately), but its a good one - worth seeing while its still flowing.

2011 Workshop Schedule Posted

March 01, 2011

For those of you interested (and paying attention), the schedule for my 2011 workshops has been posted. I'm only able to hold four this year due to scheduling limitations in June and August, but I've expanded the capacity of each to six people per class, with the locations split between Oregon and Washington. Hurry and sign up ASAP because space goes fast!

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