Explore the best waterfalls in New York with Andy Crawford

Amazing waterfalls are scattered across rural New York, and Go Outside ambassador Andy Crawford has photographed some of the most beautiful examples during his travels across the state.

Tucked deep into Watkins Glen Gorge is probably the holy grail of U.S. waterfalls is the amazing Rainbow Falls. I had see photos, and fellow Bassmaster photographer James Overstreet promised it was the “baddest waterfall in the United States,” but nothing prepared me for rounding the bend and seeing it in person. It was like stepping into Middle Earth.
But Watkins Glen State Park is more than that one overlook. The gorge is literally filled with waterfalls, with the official count standing at 19. The gorge trail is only 1 1/2 miles long, but it’s a visual wonder every step of the way.
I spend a lot of time walking trails to investigate waterfalls. The thrill is the unknown: Will there be enough water flowing to create a great photo? And New York is filled with amazing cascades just begging to be photogaphed. (Photo: Andy Crawford Photography)
Great Gully Falls is another Finger Lakes cascade that was breath-taking. It’s located near Union Springs, NY, along Highway 90. But be on the lookout: There’s just a small sign pointing to the little parking area. Reaching the waterfall is pretty easy: Just walk upstream along the creek. However, you will have to cross the stream, so be very careful. I slipped on the way back, and the rocks were unforgiving.
I had heard about AuSable Falls for a couple of years, but I never made time to drive there. Until my wife accompanied me to New York and visited the chasm while I worked on nearby Lake Champlain. So we made the 30-minute drive down to the bridge crossing the AuSable River — and I was blown away by what I saw. The roar of the waterfalls was deafening, and it was all visible right from the bridge. Honestly, I didn’t like that building just below the falls at first, but after working the final image it really does add to the view.
The Great Chazy River is lined with waterfalls. As far as I can tell, this one isn’t named, but it’s a special one for me because I was banging around with fellow Bassmaster photographer Seigo Saito on his first waterfall shoot when we saw it through the trees.
I found little Woods Falls on my way to a Bassmaster tournament on nearby Lake Champlain. The little waterfall is at the juntion of State Highway 15 and Woods Falls Road near little Mooers , New York. It can be viewed from above an old stone bridge, or you can slip down a very narrow crevice in the rocky bank of the Great Chazy River to stand near the base. Just be careful: The rocks are dangerously slippery when wet.
For an even better view of Woods Falls, ease downstream past the old arched stone bridge. This is one of my favorite waterfall photos because that bridge offers the perfect frame for the cascade and the lush trees surrounding it. Again, however, it’s best to move slowly to avoid a painful fall on wet rocks.
Fall Creek tumbles 150 feet over Ithaca Falls in the New York Finger Lakes Region. The beautiful waterfall is located just outside of, you guessed it, Ithaca and is just upstream of the creek’s confluence with Cayuga Lake. It’s very easy to get to, and is a great place to enjoy a picnic.
One of my problems when I travel — at least according to my wife — is that I constantly check for waterfalls as I drive. That’s exactly how I found gorgeous Salmon Falls on my way home from a 2021 Bassmaster Open on the St. Lawrence River. I saw it was just a 30-minute detour, so I turned off and was soon standing on the trail leading to the bottom of the 110-foot-tall cascade. I decided I didn’t even need to get to the foot of the falls, as a hole in the trees provided the perfect window for a photo. I left there smiling, knowing that the travel time lost was well worth the side trip.
I learned in 2022 that I’ve been robbing myself by not visiting Letchworth State Park earlier. The Genesee River Gorge, known as the Grand Canyon of the East, is stunningly beautiful. The Upper Falls was the first sight my wife and I found of the chasm. But it wasn’t the biggest waterfall along the river. (Photo: Andy Crawford Photography)
(Photo: Andy Crawford Photography)
Just downstream from Letchworth’s Upper Falls is the magnificent Middle Falls of the Genesee River. This cascade stands more than 100 feet tall, and has such wonderful character with all of those terraces on the cliff face. (Photo: Andy Crawford Photography)
Creating a photo of Middle Falls without any obstructions required me to set up on top of the stone wall of the observation deck. It was precarious, but the results were worth the risk. (Photo: Andy Crawford Photography)
Move to Letchworth State Park’s Inspiration Point to get a stunning view up the Genesee River to Middle Falls. I decided to convert this photo to monochrome because the rising sun created such harsh contrast on the top right of the frame compared to the depths of the gorge. (Photo: Andy Crawford Photography)