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:
- Where to Stay and Why
- 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.
The best time to visit Burney Falls? Find the answer right here. Additionally, we included a complete guide with tips you must know! Although the park gets crowded in the pleasant summer months (read our crowd tips below) and cold in the winter, 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.
Make sure to scroll down to our '9 Top Tips and Facts' at the end of this article.
The climate around Burney Falls is controlled by its predominantly mountainous topography. The highest elevation in the park is almost 3,100 feet (950 m). Please keep in mind that regardless of the season it’s cooler at the base of falls. Due to the mist visitors often say it feels about 10 degrees (about 5°C) colder down there at the pool.
Spring (March, April, May)
- Weather: Mild, rainy in March
- Crowds: Light in March, busier in April/May
Temperatures starting to rise, getting more pleasant. However, in March it’s often still chilly and drizzly (average high 57°F / 13°C). March is the month with the most rainfall in spring (early March snowfall is still possible). In April it’s getting a little warmer (average high 62°F / 17°C) and there is considerably less rain. But still, check the weather forecast and always bring a rain jacket and dress in layers as weather can change quickly. Although half of the trees at Burney Falls are coniferous and provide an evergreen forest year round, the other half (mostly California black oak) blooms in spring. Depending on the year and the varying temperatures, the trees begin to bud as the weather in April warms, leaves begin to shoot out and grow as we progress into and through May and by June the foliage is pretty full. There is also a period of nice flowering along the creek in mid-spring. Crowds: In April it starts to get busy, especially on weekends and public holidays, even more in May, when temperatures rise even more.
Summer (June, July, August, September)
- Weather: Warm and mostly dry
- Crowds: Very crowded
Warm and lots of sunshine. The highest temperatures at Burney Falls can be experienced during the summer month with an average maximum of 89°F (30°C) in July and August. Even in September temperatures are still very pleasant. Rain is rare in the summer. When it gets hot in the summer months the waterfall and the mist at the pool provide some nice cooling effect. However, it can get chilly down at the falls at times, even in the summer months. Better bring an extra top. Highlight: In the morning with enough sunlight you can spot rainbow reflections in the mist above the pool. However, the waterfall itself is always in the shadow, even on the sunniest day. Unlike other waterfalls, Burney Falls has an impressive flow even during the dry summer months. It’s high season and heavily crowded, with a peak from mid-June until the end of August.
Fall (October, November)
- Weather: Still pleasant, colder in November
- Crowds: Lighter but still busy in September, less crowds in October
It gets colder but October is usually still pleasant (average high 69°F/21°C) while it’s getting chilly in November. There is also a possibility of snow later in November. The leaves start turning in October and you can experience the beautiful fall foliage with vibrant displays of gold, scarlet, and orange. Especially when you are down at the falls, you’ll spot beautiful reflections in the pool from the rich hues of autumn leaves. Although crowds start to dissipate slightly after Labor Day weekend, it’s still busy in September. In October crowds thin out even more, although it can still be busier on weekends. However, October is significantly less busy compared to summer and spring of course.
Winter (December, January, February)
- Climate: Cold, snow, and ice
- Crowds: Virtually none
It’s getting cold (average high 43°F / 6°C). However, even in the winter, it's a stunning experience when sometimes the whole park is covered with snow while the waterfall is still flowing.The mist from the falls is freezing in the trees, covering everything. It looks like you’re in a fairy tale. Also, tiny icicles decorate the cliff and make it even more gorgeous. A downside in the winter: Due to ice and snow it's sometimes impossible to get to the bottom to see the falls. This happens quite often from December to January and a few times in February. Even without snow, the path to the falls can be quite icy which makes it dangerous to walk down. Although there are some rails where you can hang on to, there is a danger of slipping. Especially kids or seniors should be very careful. Keep in mind that when you are down at the falls, it gets a lot colder because of the mist.
Avoiding Tourist Crowds
Theresa at McArthur–Burney Falls (Summer) by m01229, CC BY-SA, cropped
It can get very 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. How to avoid the crowds and enjoy a much more pleasant stay at the falls:
Early / Weekday:
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 park gets a little quieter while it's usually still busy on weekends. The temperatures are still great and the light is wonderful. But still, try to visit mid-week in September if possible or be there early (see above). October is even better in terms of crowds. If you'd like to visit before the busy season starts, try late March or early April.
Entrance fee: $8 - $10 (more info at the bottom of the article). Open 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.
Clothing (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter)
Depending on the season and climate you need different clothes at Burney Falls. In general, it's best to pack lightweight clothing items that work for every kind weather at the falls. It's also recommended to dress in layers if you visit in late autumn, winter or early spring, as it gets a lot colder when you are down at the falls. Dressing in layers allows you to make quick adjustments. We love to check Amazon Outdoor Clothes regularly. From our experience, they offer the best variety of high-quality clothes and other outdoor gear: Outdoor Recreation
June - August if you would like to ensure a spot on one of the boat tours, winter will bring its own stunning views if you don't mind bundling up. Snowfall in the area can come as early as mid-October. January is a good time to see the falls frozen.
Year round destination. Best in May and June when the waterfall is at its peak due to the melted snow. Temperatures are perfect for hiking. July and August crowded. September is nice as well.
any season, especially after a rainstorm.....more bugs in late Spring, though
any season except early Spring, crossing stream could be difficult ( read: fun )