Although the second-largest state in the United States contains multitudes (mouthwatering barbecue, buzzing honky tonks, dramatic national parks, and more), these waterfalls in Texas are the lesser-known natural wonders that will transform your trip from typical to one-of-a-kind.
We’re breaking down 18 of the best Texas waterfalls–scattered all across the Lone Star State–from peaceful bubbling springs to paradisiacal retreats that will have you feeling like you’ve entered another world.
Whether you’re hoping to get active with tubing, swimming, and kayaking or simply want to pack a picnic and enjoy all Mother Nature has to offer, there’s certainly something on this list to squeeze into your itinerary.
18 Magical Waterfalls in Texas
So pack your swimsuit, sunscreen, and plenty of snacks, and get ready to learn all the need-to-know details about these gorgeous getaways, like how to get there, how tall they are, and the popular activities in the area.
1. Gorman Falls
Tucked away amid the rolling hills and lush greenery of Texas Hill Country, Gorman Falls is part of Colorado Bend, a state park near Austin–just 2 hours outside of the city.
Many say it’s the most stunning of all the waterfalls in Texas, and we might just have to agree!
The round-trip out-and-back hike to get there is just under 3 miles and covers predominantly rocky, unshaded terrain with a steep final push.
But once you arrive, your effort will be rewarded with the 70-foot cascade, known as a “living” waterfall because of the deposits that have built up over millions of years to create the sight visitors enjoy today.
Although you can’t swim in this fragile environment, there is a small wooden viewing platform where you can catch your breath and enjoy a picnic lunch.
Entrance to the state park costs $5 per person for a day pass.
2. Pedernales Falls
No small trickles and bubbling brooks here! The dramatic Pedernales Falls commands attention, cascading over and around layers of ancient limestone.
You can find Pedernales Falls State Park just an hour outside of Austin, and entrance costs $6 per person for a day pass. Once there, take a short 0.6-mile trail to the park’s namesake falls.
You can’t do many activities besides sightseeing in this main area since water levels can change rapidly. However, there are designated spaces for swimming, tubing, and kayaking further down the river.
Read next: Best Hikes in Austin (And Nearby)
3. Dolan Falls
While you may have heard some of the names on this list, Dolan Falls probably isn’t one of them.
This 15-foot tall cascade is located in the super remote Devils River State Natural Area, making it one of the most hidden and least-visited waterfalls in Texas, accessible only for experienced paddlers.
To get there, you have to embark on a 1-mile hike followed by a 0.5-mile downstream paddle. However, the current is very strong, and there are class 4 and 5 rapids just beyond the falls, so you have to find a stopping point on the rocky ledge above.
Read next: Best Places to Visit in the Southwest, USA
4. McKinney Falls
If relaxation is what you’re looking for, McKinney Falls is an easy go-to. It’s located within the broader McKinney Falls State Park, just 30 minutes from downtown Austin and perfect for a day trip out of the city.
After a short hike, you’ll be treated to 2 refreshing swimming holes–the deeper Upper Falls (complete with points where you can get “cliff jump” from limestone boulders) and the shallow Lower Falls, where you can find climbing trees and a small, rocky beach.
During the busy season, it’s recommended that you make a reservation in advance, as crowds flock here to escape the Texas heat. Entrance to the state park costs $6 per person for a day pass.
5. Krause Springs
Krause Springs is like something out of a fairytale, with dense forests and 32 crystal-clear natural springs that culminate in a turquoise swimming hole, which remains a refreshing 68 degrees year-round.
Founded in 1955, this pristine oasis is less than 1 hour from Austin and has been drawing travelers for decades.
There are picnic tables, BBQ pits, restrooms, and showers by the pool, as well as campsites along the creek bank if one day just isn’t enough.
Explore the gently trickling waterfall, swim in the small grotto behind it, and kick the adrenaline up a notch on a classic rope swing. There’s even a butterfly garden onsite, where you can stroll among flowers and colorful creatures.
6. Wichita Falls
There are no tough trails or long treks required for the next stunning spot on our list, a 54-foot, multi-level, artificial cascade on the banks of the Wichita River.
Wichita Falls is a popular location for outdoor weddings and special occasion photo shoots, so you can count on charming views. The wider area holds a pagoda, sprawling green lawns, and a fairytale footbridge.
Just park nearby and take a short 1-mile, out-and-back walk along a paved path to visit Wichita Falls up close. Want a quicker sightseeing option? It’s also visible from the highway as you drive through!
7. Hamilton Pool Waterfall
As you’ve already seen, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to beautiful waterfalls in Texas.
But few compare to the natural beauty of Hamilton Pool in Dripping Springs–which transcends state borders and looks more like a scene from tropical Mexico or Thailand.
Within a partially collapsed grotto, you can luxuriate under blue skies, delicate foliage, and a dazzling 50-foot waterfall that spills out over the limestone cliffs.
Because of its popularity, you must make a reservation prior to visiting Hamilton Pool Preserve. It costs $12 per vehicle and $8 per adult to enter.
8. Westcave Waterfall
Continuing with our theme of Texas waterfalls that hardly feel like they’re in the Lone Star State, we head next to Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center and their namesake waterfall.
This natural wonder is part of a larger conservation sanctuary rich in wildlife, winding trails, and caves well-worth exploring.
For the full experience, take the center’s 1-hour walking tour, which meanders through the Hill Country and into the grotto, and gets you up close views of the 40-foot waterfall from multiple angles.
9. Chalk Ridge Falls
On a hot summer day, few things sound better than a short and sweet (and shady!) hike, especially if that trek ends up at a spot as gorgeous as Chalk Ridge.
The 2.5-mile out-and-back trail accommodates all skill levels (plus pups if they’re kept on a leash), and there are plenty of opportunities to swim and wade both in the creek alongside the trail and near the falls themselves.
On your way, don’t miss the beautiful views from the swinging suspension bridge!
You can find this Texas waterfall is about halfway between Waco and Austin, so it’s easy to work into a longer Texas road trip.
10. Boykin Creek Waterfall
Next we head to a truly secluded stretch of Texas wilderness, hovering close to the Louisiana border and home to some of the richest landscapes in the state.
In the Angelina National Forest, you’ll be greeted by thick pine forests, historical sights, and a small but super charming waterfall.
Hikers will enjoy the Sawmill Hiking Trail, a 5-mile round trip walk that heads past the falls, along the Neches River, and to the ruins of the historic Old Aldridge Sawmill.
11. Cattail Falls
Calling all serious trekkers! While many waterfalls in Texas aren’t accompanied by tough hikes, this trail will ensure you break a sweat before enjoying the refreshing spray of Cattail Falls.
You can choose between a 12-mile hike that also passes through one of the park’s most popular viewpoints–The Window–or opt for the shorter option, about half the distance and focused on just the falls.
Found in striking far West Texas, this spot guarantees dramatic vistas and a rare oasis amid the desert landscapes of Big Bend National Park.
If you’re heading there during the warmer months, make sure to bring enough sunscreen and water, as the area does get hot.
12. Beef Creek Falls
The scenic 15-foot Beef Creek Falls on Hog Creek is located a 2.5-hour drive from Houston, nearing the Louisiana border, and not very widely known.
Of course, that means you’re in for pristine nature, no crowds, and the beauty of the falls all to yourself.
Just be aware that the land surrounding the falls is privately owned, so you’ll need advance permission as well as a guide to accompany you on the hike.
If you are able to make the journey, you’ll be greeted by pine forests, wildlife, and plenty of peace and quiet.
13. Madrid Falls
Clocking in at a whopping 100 feet, Madrid Falls is the tallest waterfall in Texas accessible to the public, and the second-tallest overall.
However, you’ll have to work to get there. The rugged, rocky terrain of Big Bend National Park is not for the casual walker, but those who do brave the trek will be rewarded handsomely.
Enjoy the towering cascades, a tranquil pool, and the Wild West landscapes this part of the state is known for. Although you can’t wade or swim, you can check out 3 viewpoints around the area to see Madrid Falls from all angles.
Still not convinced? One writer and photographer called this spot “the closest thing to Eden West Texas will ever know.”
14. Mexicano Falls
Just behind Madrid Falls, Mexicano claims the rank of third-tallest waterfall in Texas. This 80-foot cascade is pristine, secluded, and absolutely stunning.
It’s best to visit shortly after a period of rainfall, as the waterfall can shift to only a slight trickle during drier months. But when you catch Mexicano Falls in its prime, you’re in for a powerful display.
You’re more likely to see wild horses and other wildlife than other hikers on the 4-mile round-trip trek, which meanders through dramatic rock formations, around pools of water, and through shady groves, putting the best of Big Bend National Park on display.
15. Waterwall Park
Although it’s certainly not home to your typical, natural waterfall, Waterwall Park is well worth a visit all the same.
You’ll hear the 64-foot, semi-circular cascades before you see them, as an astounding 11,000 gallons of water tumble down the fountain per minute.
This instantly recognizable Houston landmark not only makes for an incredible photo opportunity (proposals, graduation shoots, and more happen here), but it’s also a peaceful place to spend an afternoon.
Bring a picnic lunch and a good book and sprawl out on the green lawns under the shade of towering live oaks. Whenever it gets too hot, just head back to the Waterwall and catch some refreshing spray!
16. Zilker Botanical Garden Falls
Want to get your nature fix without straying too far from the city center? This waterfall in Austin offers the best of both worlds, transporting visitors to a tranquil natural sanctuary right in the heart of downtown.
You’ll find the falls within the Hartman Prehistoric Garden, which also holds sculptures, a viewing pavilion, and even dinosaur footprints!
The broader Zilker Botanical Garden boasts all kinds of events, group classes, and art installations throughout the week, so you can easily add some in and make it a full-day adventure. Admission costs $6-8 per person.
17. Japanese Tea Garden Waterfall
It may seem as though the Austin area has laid claim to many of the best cascades in the state, but this gorgeous waterfall near San Antonio proves otherwise.
The 60-foot cascade is a popular backdrop for wedding ceremonies, so if you’re traveling with a special someone, definitely bring them here!
Aside from the falls, you can spend a few hours wandering along winding paths through a lush year-round garden, over stone bridges, and by koi ponds, or fill up with sandwiches, salads, and Asian cuisine at Jingu House Cafe. As a bonus, access to the park is free.
18. Airfield Falls
Last but not least of our favorite waterfalls in Texas is Airfield Falls, a relatively secluded spot just a 15-minute drive from the Fort Worth city center.
Not only is it Tarrant County’s largest natural waterfall, but it also boasts tons of native wildlife (including monarch butterflies during their migratory season)!
An easy 2-mile hike will take you through the surrounding nature to the picturesque falls, where you can climb along the rocks or wade in to cool off.