Must-Visit Tennessee Waterfalls

USA, Tennessee. Cane Creek Cascades in Fall Creek Falls State Park
USA, Tennessee. Cane Creek Cascades in Fall Creek Falls State Park | © Danita Delimont Creative / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Frank Lopez
Writer6 August 2020

A wealth of natural attractions await you in Tennessee and there are few things as thrilling and picturesque as a waterfall. Most waterfalls in Tennessee are in State Parks, so they’re free to visit, but there are also some special options that are worth every penny. Here at Culture Trip, we have chosen our favourite falls to visit in Tennessee.

Ozone Falls

Natural Feature
Map View
Woman standing and admiring the majestic Ozone Falls in Crossville, Tennessee which plunges 110 feet over a sandstone rock into a deep pool.
© Rebecca VanTonder / Alamy Stock Photo
The easily accessible, 110-foot Ozone Falls got its name from the mist in the air that’s created by all the cascading drama. A basin has formed over time to make these falls extremely picturesque. In fact, any movie buffs will recognise them from the movie Jungle Book, which was filmed there. The stream itself is just as impressive geologically as it is littered with massive boulders as the water rushes to the backdrop of beautiful trees.

Ruby Falls

Natural Feature
Map View
Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Image shot 12/2016. Exact date unknown.
© Zoonar GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
Chemist and local cave enthusiast Leo Lambert descended into the depths that lay in the Lookout Mountain of Chattanooga in 1928 and discovered Ruby Falls, the tallest and deepest underground waterfall in the US. Since then it has been open to the public. And while some may be wary of the commercialisation of this natural beauty, it’s all forgotten when you get close to the wonder and magic of it all inside the cavern. Most definitely a great way to stay cool in the summer.

Cummins Falls

Natural Feature
Map View

Found in the eponymous 282-acre State Park near Cookeville, this is Tennessee’s eighth largest waterfall and stands at 75 metres high. It’s best seen from above, as the base is only accessible when the weather permits. It’s also important to note that the falls are found at the end of a strenuous hike: you may have to swim through water and sometimes climb across slippery rocks, but the reward is the view when you get there.

Laurel Falls

Natural Feature
Map View
Laurel Falls. Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA. HDR photo processing.
© Stan Rohrer / Alamy Stock Photo
On the Laurel Falls trail, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you climb up Cove Mountain to reach this beautiful waterfall spot. It is incredibly popular on weekends and holidays, so to get that perfect photograph it’s best visited on a weekday, and better yet either early or late to capture it in perfect light. Please be advised that it is bear country so do discard your food sensibly. The Rainbow and Grotto falls are also easily accessible from here even though the paths are not clearly marked.

Bald River Falls

Natural Feature
Map View

Bald River Falls is a popular 100-foot high waterfall, renowned for its spectacular cascade into the Tellico River. The best spot to admire them safely is from the bridge on Forest Service road 210. The fast-flowing white waters to the backdrop of woodland is a popular delight, especially in Autumn when the colours of the leaves contrast wonderfully. If you are lucky enough to see the falls frozen in winter or just after a very heavy rainfall you will see them in all their splendour. A very accessible choice.

Fall Creek Falls

Natural Feature
Map View

Fall Creek Falls is a 256-foot-high free-fall waterfall set within its own State Park. The most visited in Tennessee. From the carpark, you only have to walk a short journey to the overlook. From there it is also possible to take a short-but-steep descent to the base of the falls where the view is even more impressive, but be careful as the rocks can get quite slick. This is a truly magnificent waterfall and a Tennessee highlight.

These recommendations were updated on August 6, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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