Highway of Waterfalls Oregon – How to plan this Scenic Drive     

The “Highway of Waterfalls” in Oregon refers to Highway 138 which runs along the North Umpqua River in Southern Oregon. This scenic drive is renowned for numerous stunning waterfalls, including iconic ones like Toketee Falls, Watson Falls, and Susan Creek Falls. It’s a beautiful drive through the lush Umpqua National Forest and connects the high desert region with the picturesque Oregon coast. During our Oregon road trip, we drove the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway and visited many of the waterfalls. Therefore we share with you in this complete guide the best waterfalls along the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Highway, how to visit them, and much more!  

Where exactly is the Highway of Waterfalls in Oregon?

The Highway of Waterfalls in Oregon is a 172-mile-long stretch of highway that follows the North Umpqua trail and goes from Roseburg through Umpqua National Forest and arcs down to Gold Hill, just north of Medford. There are fifteen waterfalls to see along the Rogue Umpqua Scenic Byway, all varying in height and beauty. 

Coming from Bend, the best highway to choose is 138, as you will then also pass Crater Lake National Park and Diamond Lake including some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Oregon. 

What is the best time to drive the Highway of Waterfalls Oregon?

The best time to drive the Highway of Waterfalls in Oregon is typically during the spring and summer months, from April to September. During this time, the waterfalls are most powerful and at their fullest due to melting snow and increased rainfall. This provides the most spectacular sight. In autumn, some waterfalls may lose their power, and only have a trickle left. Nevertheless, Umpqua National Forest is a stunning destination year-round with beautiful options for outdoor exploration.

Visiting Oregon by plane? Secure your rental car ahead!


Best waterfalls along the Waterfall Highway Oregon 

With 15 waterfalls along this waterfall highway, there is an abundance of beauty to explore. But to make your visit as efficient and spectacular as possible, you probably want to visit the most beautiful waterfalls. To be well prepared so you know what to expect regarding hiking distance and type of waterfall, we’ve put together this list with the best waterfalls to visit along the Waterfall Highway in Oregon. This road trip itinerary starts from … but can be driven in both directions. 

Deadline Falls 

The Deadline Falls are situated amidst several smaller cascades along the North Umpqua River, where the river flows over basalt formations in its riverbed. While it’s not the most impressive waterfall along the waterfall highway in Oregon at 20 feet in height, the Deadline Falls is famous for the salmon migration between May and October. During this time you can see the Salmon jumping upstream which is a unique sight. The short walk from the parking lot and charming environment make the Deadline Falls a lovely visit along the Highway of Waterfalls in Oregon. 


Susan Creek Falls 

Next up along the road is a bigger Oregon waterfall. The Susan Creek Falls is a beautiful cascade of approximately 50 feet height. The water flows down in different veils along a moss-covered basalt rock face into a tranquil pool below. Surrounded by lush vegetation and towering trees, the Susan Creek Falls offers a serene and scenic setting. The short 1.5-mile round trip is a family-friendly hike and makes it accessible for visitors of all ages and skill levels.  


Fall Creek Falls

The Fall Creek Falls is a multi-tier waterfall flowing over four tiers at 120 feet in total. The 1.1 miles round trip takes you through the stunning lush forest along the creek before you reach the base of the falls. Here you can see Fall Creek Falls from various angles, but the upper falls is only from the top of the falls visible. 


Steamboat Falls 

The Steamboat Falls is located along Steamboat Creek and is 20 miles further east along the Highway. You will pass Steamboat Inn which is a fantastic small river view cabin resort. The short hike to Steamboat Falls leads to a beautiful view of the falls that plunges approximately 25 feet over a basalt ledge. An interesting point is that Steamboat Falls has an internal fish ladder that helps steelhead fish migrate upstream. For campers, there is also the Steamboat Falls Campground if you want to enjoy this place a little longer. 


Yakso Falls 

The next stop on this list is Yakso Falls which is a beauty of 60 feet height. While this waterfall is not directly located along the Highway, it is worth the extra miles. The uniquely sculpted cliff has different ‘knobs’ that divide the water into mini veils, creating a stunning display of this so-called type of horsetail falls. 


Hemlock Falls 

The Hemlock Falls is a 45 foot beautiful waterfall tucked away in the lush forest of the Pacific Northwest. The trailhead at Lake in the Woods campground is a short and easy 1-mile trail. It’s only a short drive of 10 minutes from Yakso Falls, and therefore easy to combine these stunning Southern Oregon waterfalls. 


Grotto Falls 

Grotto Falls is a bit off route as the trailhead is another 55 minutes from Hemlock Falls located. Located near the Little River, the easy hike of 0.5 miles round trip takes you through the moss-covered forest to the base of the falls.  


Wolf Creek Falls 

Wolf Creek waterfall seeps down the rocks into a small pool and is easy to get to along the 2.3-mile hiking trail. It’s another 40-minute drive from Grotto  Falls and passes several campgrounds along the way such as Coolwater Campground and White Creek Campground. 

Shadow Falls 

Shadow Falls flows down the narrow gorge of Cavitt Creek and is a 75-foot-high waterfall surrounded by mossy rocks. The 1.5-mile round trip is a moderate hike and goes through stunning lush vegetation. The interesting part of Shadow Falls is that the unique rock formations make it look like the falls cascade through a hole. Maybe that’s where the name Shadow Falls comes from?! 


Toketee Falls

Toketee Falls is a stunning waterfall accessible via a moderate hike. The 113-foot waterfall plunges into a rugged canyon, and the wooden treehouse-like viewing platform offers a great vantage point to admire the cascading water. You can descend down to the base of the waterfall via a rope, however, this is a very steep slope and only recommended for hikers with plenty of experience. 

Distance: 0.8 mile (1.3 km)

Elevation gain: 170 feet (52 m)

Location: 7H7F+J3, Idleyld Park, OR 97447, United States


Lemolo Falls 

Getting to the Lemolo Falls takes a little longer than the other waterfalls mentioned in this guide. But it’s totally worth it because this 165-foot cascade is spectacular! Seeping down the mossy rocks and with several separate veils, the Lemolo Falls are stunning. 

Two different trails can take you to the falls, one which gives an elevated point of view, while the other trail takes you to the base of the falls. You can check them both, but the best view is definitely from the bottom.


Watson Falls 

The majestic falls of Watson Falls is definitely a must-visit along the Highway of Waterfalls Oregon. In fact, this is the tallest waterfall on this list at 272 feet (83 m).


A short hike of 0.8-mile along a well-maintained trail takes you along the creek to the base of the waterfall. Here you cross a wooden bridge from where you can continue a bit higher to another vantage point. It’s one of the must visit waterfalls along the Highway! 


Whitehorse Falls 

The Whitehorse Falls is very easy to visit as it’s just a minute walk from the parking area. The small 15-foot waterfall is picturesque but nothing too spectacular. Nevertheless, it’s a great, short stop along the Highway of Waterfalls. 


Clearwater Falls 

Clearwater Falls is another very easy waterfall to visit. The 30-foot-high falls seep down along the mossy, volcanic rocks and create a fairytale feeling. The short walk from the parking area makes it another very easy and family-friendly waterfall to visit. 


More USA travel inspiration

I hope you enjoyed this complete guide about the Highway of Waterfalls Oregon. For more USA travel inspiration, head over to our other guides. 


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