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.
Breathtaking! Multnomah Falls in Oregon is open again and definitely the most stunning waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge. However, 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.
Read our helpful season guide below or jump directly to the tips section:
- Best Hotels
- Hikes at Multnomah Falls
- Multnomah Falls Lodge and Visitor Center
- Must-Know Tips
- From Portland to Multnomah Falls
Special Tip: If you're looking to do more than visiting Multnomah Falls in the Portland region, you'll love this Oregon guidebook: Fodor's Travel Oregon - Portland - Wineries - Waterfalls - Mountains. You'll also find sites in there, you probably couldn't have found without a guide. Now: Let's dive into the top tips before visiting Multnomah Falls:
How to Avoid the Crowds
- Avoid weekends and public holidays: Visit mid-week if your schedule allows it. There are even fewer people when the weather is bad, especially during pouring rain: It's a great experience to hike to the top in quality rain gear. The worst time in terms of crowds are the summer months (June, July, August). However, it usually starts to get extremely busy in spring (March, April, May) and it's still crowded in the fall (September, October). Visit during the week if you can!
- Be there early in the morning: The earlier you get there the better your chances of fewer tourists and getting a space to park. Maybe even right before sunrise, which is beautiful. Check times at Sunrise Sunset Troutdale. If you visit on a weekend be there around 7 a.m.! As of 2019 visitors report that it's already crowded around 9 a.m. and still quiet at 7 in the morning.
- 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'. However, that was a while ago. As of 2019 winters became a little busier. Still much less than in the warmer months.
Combine 1) + 2) 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.
Highlight (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter)
Peak flow is 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. And while there is less flow in the summer, the falls seem higher in the 'dry' season. Less water does emphasize the height of the falls. In the winter months, on the other hand, you can take amazing photos with a gorgeous waterfall covered in snow and ice. To sum it up: Regarding the waterfall itself, there isn't a bad season or month. Every season offers different but equally stunning photo opportunities.
Several trails are leading to the Alamere Falls. We'd chosen the shortest one. Continue reading to get all necessary information for an awesome hike and waterfall experience. 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
Mid-week start your hike to the Alamare Falls around two to three hours before low tide depending on the trail you choose. At weekends and in the summer months start early to get a parking lot. 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 January to April. Humpback whales migrate past Point Reyes from November to March.
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.
Where to Stay (bookmark the links)
We recommend spending minimum two days in the Point Reyes National Seashore. The park has so much to offer; outstanding nature, wildlife, several hiking trails, and coastline. We'd been here already twice and still haven't seen all of its beauty. Situated inside the park is the HI Point Reyes Hostel. Next to the park in Olema is the quiet and lovely The Lodge of Point Reyes with an excellent restaurant. Probably the best accommodation in this area.
If visiting for hiking start early morning to beat the midday heat during summer. 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. They were not accessible in 2017 closed due to the powerful storms that flooded the Big Sur Coast with nearly 100 inches / 2540 mm of rain and remain closed. Opening was planned by February 2019 but it looks like they won't be open before mid-June 2019. Check closure
Nearby along the Highwy One are the famous McWay Falls which can be already seen from the road
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 inches/ 1270 mm. Fog happens between May and October usually from the 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.
If you like camping under the amazing redwood trees book the tent or RV site in advance at least 3 months before for the summer holidays even 6 months. Within the park are several campgrounds offering 189 tent and RV sites in total for $ 35-50 each night which includes the State Park fee of 10 $ (2019). From mid-June until September are two group campsites available which can accommodate up to 35 people. 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
Best Accommodations at Big Sur
- There are cozy little cabins and a campground as well just close to the Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground. The Riverside Campground and Cabins offers well equipped cottages with a kitchenette and bathroom and some share the facilities with the campground. It's beautiful located under redwood trees and an excellent alternative if the Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground is already fully booked,
- Our luxury top tip is the Ventana Big Sur - An Alila Resort situated in a breathtaking scenery. The food at the on-site restaurant is incredible. You can really forget about everything except your time. Don't come here in a rush. You will love this cozy place and regret it if you stay here just for one night.
- Excellent located at the park entrance is the Big Sur Lodge. The rooms are heated up with a cozy fireplace. The on-site restaurant offers tasty meals. Start your hike directly from the lodge and afterwards enjoy the outdoor pool during your stay.
Start your hike before 2 p.m. You need enough time for the climb and to enjoy the waterfall. Best at low tide, at high tide the waterfall goes into the sea and it's difficult to get close due to the surf. Don't climb during or after rain it might be too slippery and dangerous. Roseau tide times
Best months are during the dry season from December until April. This is also the peak season. May is also possible: Less tourists on the island but also very hot and humid, which makes hiking more strenuous. Rainy season is from June to November with the possibilities of hurricanes and flash floods. This hike could be too dangerous during some days in the wet season. Driest month is March and wettest is August.
This waterfall is a popular year-round attraction in the Swabian Alps. Weekends and summer holiday are overcrowded. It looks like a pilgrims' path even in the evening. The flow of the waterfall is best after rainfall and during the thawing period. The flow can be between 70 and more than 400 liters each second.
In winter the waterfall can freezes which looks terrific. The sunlight is best in the morning, and it is not that busy.
Although there are several car parks, they fill up soon from midday onwards in the summer. The large car park area is called P 23, and the fee is 2 € until 4 p.m. Afterwards parking is for free.