Waterfalls are beautiful and unique. Some of them are even more photogenic with the perfect sunlight or need a heavy rainfall to unfold its beauty.
Make your Iguazu visit unforgettable! The insights we compiled from our own visits and from speaking with locals, you’ll find nowhere else:
Avoiding the Crowds (Worst Time to Visit)
With 1.5 million visitors each year Iguazu is pretty busy most of the year. Usually 5 – 6 thousand visitors come here each day. On average 10 thousand people visit the park in the peak season. There are even more during carnival, Easter and on bank holidays which are on the same days in Argentina and Brazil. The peak season lasts from late December until the end of February (school holidays in Argentina and Brazil). July is crowded as well. If possible avoid weekends. Important to know: The park gets closed with roughly 12 thousand visitors inside. This can happen during the peak season from midday onwards.
Opening Hours / Tickets
The Argentinian side is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., but the entrance is already closed after 3 pm. The Brazilian side of the falls opens from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tip: It's often mentioned that you should be at the ticket counter already before 8 a.m. to avoid queuing. We experienced the opposite. Lots of people come early and have to wait while we arrived after 9. It took us just a minute to get the tickets although it was crowded inside the park.
To take marvelous shots with the perfect sunlight consider the following order in terms of hiking to the falls:
- Hike to the Lower Falls in the morning
- To the Upper Falls around midday
- To the highlight Devil’s Throat at the end; in the afternoon.
The Iguazu Falls are spectacular with a high level of water but more difficult to experience and photograph with lots of spray. If it’s too dry, they might be less immense. The best months for a visit depend on what you would like to experience. During the summer season the level is higher and after the winter season July, August, and September it’s a lower level.
It’s a subtropical and humid climate. There is a high amount of precipitation around the year more than 1.800 mm. The winter months are a little drier from late May to mid-September. The day temps are more pleasant and nights are quite cold. In summer roughly from November to February day temps are on average around 30°C / 86°F and can be up to almost 40°C / 104°F.
The Color After Rainfall
They are not any longer clear as they were more than 40 years ago. Due to forest clearance, the unprotected soil gets washed out into the river. As you can see in the pictures, the color is brown-red nowadays. The harmful side effects fish can’t reproduce, birds and mammals can’t spot their prey.
Although it gets crowded in the summer months (read our tips below), Burney Falls is an amazing year-round destination. The flow at 100 million gallons every day is excellent throughout the year. Other waterfalls have the most impressive flow during certain seasons only. The reason is its source from volcanic underground springs. Even in the winter, it's a stunning experience when the whole park is covered with snow while the waterfall is still flowing. A downside in the winter: Due to ice and snow it's sometimes impossible to get to the bottom to see the falls. Also, keep in mind that when you are down at the falls in winter it gets a lot colder because of the mist. On the other hand the waterfall provides some nice cooling effect when it gets hot in the summer months. Many visitors tend to stay a longer period of time directly at the falls after walking down there.
Avoiding Tourist Crowds
It can get busy between April and October, especially on weekends and public holidays (California Public Holidays). The peak months with the highest visitation are from June to August: Try to go mid-week and be there around 8:30 or at least by 9 AM. Arrive even earlier if you visit on weekends. It usually gets crowded between 10 and 12 AM, with a constant stream of visitors on the trail into the afternoon. Particularly parking becomes quite difficult during peak season and on weekends. The parking lot is packed and tour buses come and go. Please note that if you park along Highway 89 outside of the park, your car can get towed! When you go on a weekday and combine it with getting there early, you’ll experience a much quieter park even in high season. Also, the light is perfect in the mornings until noon. If you visit in the winter months, it's possible to have this beautiful place all to yourself.
Sweet Spot Months
In September after Labor Day (first Monday of Sept), the whole place gets a little quieter. The temperatures are still great and the light is wonderful. But still, try to avoid weekends in September and visit mid-week if possible. October is even better in terms of crowds and temperatures are often pleasant as well. You'll also experience the nice fall colors usually in early October while the leaves are changing. If you'd like to visit before the busy season starts, try early April.
Weather Details: Burney Falls Climate (switch between C° and °F in the top row)
Opening Hours (entrance fee $8): From sunrise to sunset. In the summer from 6 AM - 6 PM. However, rangers at Burney Falls usually don't close at 6 PM sharp.
It's a tourist trap with massive crowds almost year-round. Spring, summer and fall bring the most crowds. Especially when the weather is pleasant.
How to Avoid the Crowds
A) Avoid weekends and public holidays:
Visit mid-week. Even less people during pouring rain: It's a great experience to hike to the top in quality rain gear.
B) Be there in the morning around 7:30 AM (at least before 9 AM):
The earlier you get there the better your chances of less tourists and getting a space to park. Maybe even right before sunrise, which is beautiful. Check times at: Sunrise Sunset Troutdale
C) Visit in the winter from November until February:
It's usually much less busy. But still, try to be there in the morning to ensure a solitude experience. Winter is also beautiful snow covered. Check the winter photos below. Quote from an employee: ' In winter, I have sat in the visitor information office and not had 4 people all day'.
Combine A) + B) and it's possible to have the place almost for yourself even during high season. Make sure to hike the very top and not just walk to the bridge like most people. Even better: Hike the Multnomah - Wahkeena Loop (see below) to get away from the crowds at any time.
Peak flow in late winter and spring: Higher water levels increase the flow and intensity. In summer months the waterfalls aren't flowing as much. However, it does not dry up as much as other falls.
During summer from July to September, the Park is often covered in fog while the inland has sunshine and warm temps.
It is quite a popular park due to the close location to San Francisco. The Alamare Falls are much loved, and the Palomarin car park already fills up early morning at weekends. If possible hike to the falls mid-week. If you can’t get a parking space, you have to queue or leave. Shoulder parking is not permitted.
Best time to start the hike:
Start your hike to the Alamare Falls around two to three hours before low tide depending on the trail you choose.
Tide times for the hike to the Alamere Falls or check at the Bear Valley Information Center
Tip for photographers:
Best light for a good shot of the falls is after midday.
If you do the hike on a hot summer day bring your bath cloth for swimming in the Pelican Lake, the last on the right on your way back.
Points of interest inside the park:
If hiking to the falls try to combine your visit with one of the other attractions depending on the day and month of your visit;
Point Reyes Lighthouse built in 1870
300 steps leading down to the picturesque lighthouse with a spectacular view if it is not foggy. Unfortunately, only open from Friday to Monday.
The overlook is close to the lighthouse to spot elephant seals while breeding during December to March. Many visitors want to observe the spectacle which causes much traffic and shuttle buses are offered.
Tule Elk Reserve on Tomales Point
These specific elks were reintroduced in 1978. It’s a more than 9 miles / 15 km hike on the peninsula to Tomales Bluff and back. A shorter option is the 2 miles / 3.2 km hike to Windy Gap and back where you may spot elks at a spring. The Tule Elk Rut Season from around August to late October/beginning of November is a spectacular time.
- Migrating gray whales can be spotted around the lighthouse and Chimney Rock between mid-January to mid-March and again late April/beginning of May together with their calves.
Weather / Climate:
Point Reyes has a coastal climate with dry summer and cool winter. Only very view rain occurs from mid-April to October. Most of the precipitation happens from December to March. It’s often windy at Point Reyes, and very strong winds are common in November and December. Fog occurs in summer mostly from July to September. If it’s hot in the backcountry, the fog might stay until the afternoon.
If visiting for hiking start early morning to beat the midday heat. We even spotted a gray fox close to the Lodge although they are nocturnal. Foxes, skunks, and raccoons can be seen during the night.
The Pfeiffer Falls are very popular either hike to them in the morning or late afternoon. At the moment they are not accessible, the trail is closed due to the powerful storms that flooded the Big Sur Coast with nearly 100 inches / 2540 mm of rain.
If you like camping under the amazing redwood trees book the tent or RV site in advance at least 3 months before. Reservations can be made six months in advance on the first day of the month. The campground is extremely popular even in the winter due to the mild climate. Click here for campground reservation
It’s a moderate cool coastal climate with moist air. The average temperature is between 50 to 65°F year-round. Most of the precipitation occurs from October to April with up to 50 inch / 1270 mm. Fog happens between May and October usually from evening until late morning. If it’s hot in the backcountry the fog might stay until the afternoon. It provides moisture for the redwoods along the coast in the dry summer months.
The Marriott Falls State Reserve is worth a visit year-round. Marriotts Falls are most spectacular during winter and spring after heavy rainfall.
The falls are still a hidden gem and not overrun like the Russel Falls in Mount Field N.P.