With this huge heat wave rolling through the country there's no better way to cool off than by splashing around in some water. Or a lot of water. Sure, going to a pool is fun, but taking a quick hike to a stunning waterfall for a day under the sun is way better.
Whether you're adventurous or not, discovering a waterfall during the summer is a perfect way to spend your day.
There are so many amazing waterfalls in the Midwest. Some are huge and others are small, no matter the kind of waterfall you're searching for, we've got at least one you're going to want to see for yourself. Pack your best self and wear your hiking shoes because it's time to explore some waterfalls!
Content disclaimer: We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit a potentially hazardous location, you check for the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. The locations listed below may or may not have changed their regulations in regards to what you can or cannot do on site since the article was last updated. Always consult with local authorities. If you do plan to visit a location, know the risks beforehand and respect the environment.
1. Bork Falls // Ozark, IL
Ferne Cliffe State Park is home to the magnificent Bork Falls. Bork Falls is hidden away in the Shawnee National Forest along the Ohio River. The hike lets you explore a ton of huge rocks, hidden caves, and a ton of different trees. To get to this waterfall you have to take the waterfall trail at Ferne Cliffe State Park.
2. Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve // Lemont, IL
This amazing hidden waterfall in southern DuPage County is bound to cool you off this summer. Waterfall Glen has plenty of hills that are popular with hikers and bicyclists. If you're searching for a waterfall to chill at this summer, you have definitely found it.
3. Amnicon Falls State Park // South Range, WI
This falls can be found in South Range along the Amnicon River. The waterfall is a series of rapids that run along the river. You can see the falls from the bridge or you can head to the falls to climb through the water and have some fun.
4. Lake Kincaid // Gorham, IL
This place is a true favorite. After heavy rain, the water level tends to increase so watch out. The water cascades over three levels. It can be slippery and difficult to climb, so be sure to wear some shoes just in case!
5. Burden Falls Wilderness // Pope County, IL
This stunning waterfall is a summer must visit. Located in Pope County, Burden Falls Wilderness has plenty of trails for hiking. You can find the waterfall on the southern edge.
6. Caribou Falls // Lake County, MN
This stunning wild waterfall can be reached by a short hike. It's a pretty waterfall that's perfect for a splash in some water to cool off. It's also great for a cute summer Instagram to add summer vibes to your profile. The falls are on Minnesota's north shore and are less visited than other popular waterfalls.
7. Starved Rock State Park // Oglesby, IL
Get ready to be completely amazed by this waterfall. The waterfall is surrounded by rock canyons and a lot of people take a dip while they're there. Starved Rock was formed thousands of years ago by melting glaciers releasing currents of water. As the water rushed downstream it stripped away everything in its path except for the stunning sandstone.
8. Lost Creek Falls // Cornucopia, WI
This scenic waterfall is located in the woods south west of Cornucopia. There is an 8' plunge with a few feet of cascades above and below. You can even walk behind the falls!
9. Ocqueoc Falls // Ocqueoc Township, MI
Ocqueoc Falls Bicentennial Pathway begins at the falls and continues along the river. The area has plenty of spaces where you can have a picnic table with grills. So pack up some food and head to this waterfall for a true summer day under the sun.
10. Illgen Falls // Silver Bay, MN
This stunning waterfall is small but mighty. It is located in Tettegouche State Park and is ideal for a day in nature. You can rent cabins close to the falls making it a true summer favorite. The cabins are fully furnished and perfect for a trip with all of your closest friends!
11. Cataract Falls // Owen County, IN
Cataract Falls is where two sets of falls on Mill Creek form a cascade that has a 86 feet drop. This is the largest waterfall in Indiana and is the best place to go and cool off this summer. The falls are split into two portions. The upper falls have a plunge of 20 feet and the lower falls have a plunge of 18 feet.
12. Snake River Falls // Valentine, NE
These small falls are a great place to go for a quick escape from reality. It's surrounded by prairie sand hills and is gorgeous. Be prepared for a little hike to get to this waterfall!
13. Hungarian Falls // Calumet, MI
On its way down to Torch Lake, Dover Creek goes over a series of falls. There are two falls here that are around 20 feet high. The spectacular falls is a must visit, however during hot summer months the water does dry up. That doesn't mean it's not worth adding to your waterfall bucket list!
14. Matthiessen State Park // Oglesby, IL
Just a short drive away from Starved Rock State Park, this waterfalls is perfect for a hot summer day. The seasonal waterfall separates the upper and lower valleys in Matthiessen State Park. Even if the gorge doesn't have any water, the rock formations are still unreal.
15. Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve // South Elgin, IL
This small waterfall is a true hidden gem. If you're looking for a waterfall that's not too big then this one is for sure perfect for you. Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve is a nature preserve that's on the Fox River. There are plenty of hiking trails, a boat launch, and many picnic areas around the park.
16. Butcher Falls // Summit, KS
Butcher Falls is hidden between rock wall banks. The falls is 14' high and is located on the Red Buffalo Ranch that is over 8,000 acres long.
17. Dead River Falls // Marquette County, MI
The name does sound pretty intimidating but don't worry, you're in for a blast at Dead River Falls. The river has a ton of dams and diversions and runs for half a mile just west of Marquette. There are three main waterfalls so you're in for a day of discovery at this river.
18. McCormick's Creek Falls // Spencer, IN
This waterfall isn't massive, but it's still worth adding to your bucket list this summer. McCormick's Creek State Park is the oldest state park in Indiana and was founded in 1916! Close to the falls is a campground perfect for a summer camping trip.
19. Gooseberry Falls // Two Harbors, MN
This gorgeous waterfall is sure to leave you in awe this summer. It can be found on the north shore and is extremely mesmerizing. It has five sets of falls that flow through a river gorge. The Gooseberry River flows out into the largest freshwater lake in the world—Lake Superior.
20. Eau Claire County Park // Altoona, WI
Dells of the Eau Claire Park is a true hidden gem. The stones at the waterfall are sure to leave you breathless as you take in the summer sun. The stones are actually ancient volcanic rocks!
21. Bell Smith Springs // Ozark, IL
If you're searching for somewhere different this summer, look no further. This isn't necessarily a waterfall, but the unique rock formations are sure to amaze you. The springs are part of the Shawnee National Forest and have sandstone cliffs, creeks, and eight miles of trails.
22. Wagner Falls // Alger County, MI
You're in for a treat at this pretty waterfall on Wagner Creek near Munising. The Wagner Falls Scenic Site is filled with stunning views of nature. The falls can be found near the junction of M-28 and M-94 and are reached by a trail and boardwalk.
23. Smith Falls State Park // Cherry County, NE
Nebraska’s highest waterfall, Smith Falls, is located in Scenic Smith Falls State Park. The park is a popular place to go camping, canoeing, and kayaking. While at the waterfalls you will see the pretty Niobrara River.
24. Bond Falls // Ontonagon County, MI
These pretty falls are pretty easy to get to so if you're not the hiking type, this may be the waterfall for you. The waterfall is spectacular to see and to splash in. The falls is located west near Paulding.
25. Dixon Springs State Park // Golconda, IL
This park can be found on a giant block of rock and it has a great waterfall that's perfect for summer. The park is filled with places you can hike, birdwatch, and take in the summer sun.
26. Cascade Falls // Hot Springs, SD
This place is one of South Dakota's best-kept secrets. The hole is near Hot Springs and can be seen from the road. There is a picnic area right beside the falls and there are washrooms and parking spots close by as well. It's a perfect place to spend an entire summer day.
27. Clifty Falls State Park // Madison, IN
These multi-level waterfalls are absolutely stunning. Clifty Falls State Park is located near Madison with entrances on state roads 56 and 62. The park has four waterfalls Tunnel Falls, Big Clifty Falls, Little Clifty Falls, and Hoffman Falls. Tunnel Falls, the tallest, tops over 80 feet.
28. Rock River Falls // Chatham, MI
This waterfall is hidden in the Rock River Wilderness area. It is a perfect waterfall adventure for you to take with your friends this summer. To reach the falls you have to drive on old logging roads and hike about one mile.
29. Taum Sauk Mountain // Ironton, MO
This gorgeous waterfalls will leave you in awe. Taum Sauk Mountain State Park is the best place to go for a day of complete adventure. From hiking trails to rocky waterfalls, you are in for a fun-filled day.
30. Laughing Whitefish Falls // Alger County, MI
Laughing Whitefish Falls is a stunningly tall waterfall that cascades downwards over a rocky hill. This tall slide is one of the tallest waterfalls in Michigan. This waterfall has to be at the top of your summer bucket list, mainly because it looks like a giant natural water slide!