Dozens of scenic waterfalls can be found along Minnesota's many rivers, from cascading waters in far southern Minnesota to high falls that dot the North Shore.
While each of the state's thundering waterfalls is worthy of recognition, here are six waterfalls you just can't miss, no matter the time of year:
6 must-see waterfalls in Minnesota
Upper, Middle and Lower falls at Gooseberry Falls State Park
Gooseberry Falls State Park near Two Harbors is an easy stop on a trip to the North Shore, and there are several waterfalls and rapids along the Gooseberry River that are accessible within the park. Plus, you can follow the river down to Lake Superior.
Not far from the visitor's center on a paved trail that's ADA-accessible, you can see the Middle (pictured above) and Upper waterfalls (follow the "Waterfalls Walk"), or you can take a slightly longer "Falls View Loop" to view the Middle, Upper and Lower waterfalls. Be sure to stop by the viewing platform for spectacular views of Lake Superior.
There's another waterfall, called the Fifth Falls, that's further away from the visitor's center. You can get there by hiking a 2-mile loop that'll bring you to Fifth Falls and back.
If you have the time, be sure to follow the Gooseberry River down to Lake Superior to see where they meet. That's where you'll find an exposed, hardened lava flow (the Minnesota DNR says it's one of the North Shore's best examples) and hang out on the beach.
If you follow the river's flow, there are a few hiking options to get down to Lake Superior on either side of the Gooseberry River. On the south side of the river, there's the Picnic Flow and Lakeview Shelter, where you can see an exposed, hardened lava flow (the Minnesota DNR says it's one of the North Shore's best examples).
High Falls at Grand Portage State Park
A waterfall adventure wouldn't be complete without visiting the highest waterfall in the state at 120 feet.
Grand Portage State Park is home to two waterfalls, the impressive High Falls (pictured), which is an easy, paved hike from the parking lot (a mile there and back) with three viewing points. It's also an easy hike and/or snowshoe in the winter months that offers spectacular views of the iced-over waterfall on the Pigeon River and snowy views of Canada, which is just on the other side of the river (sometimes you'll see people checking out the falls from the Canadian side).
And then there's Middle Falls, which is a longer more strenuous 4.5-mile hike on a rugged, sometimes steep trail through the wilderness. The DNR says this hike on average takes at least three hours.
Minneopa Falls at Minneopa State Park
Minneopa State Park in Mankato, which is the third-oldest of Minnesota's State Parks, offers spectacular double waterfalls dropping more than 50 feet into a deep gorge (Minneopa in Dakota means "water falling twice"). The upper falls drop 7-10 feet and the lower falls (pictured when water levels were low) continue for another 40.
The walk to see the falls is about 0.18 miles on cement and dirt, but there are some steep stairs if you go down into the gorge.
And while you're at the park, be sure to check out the bison. The park has a Bison Drive where you travel through 331 acres to see the bison herd.
Devil's Kettle at Judge C. R. Magney State Park
At Judge C.R. Magney State Park on the North Shore the Brule River cascades down two different scenic waterfalls, Upper Falls (the main image on this story) and then upstream there's Devil's Kettle (pictured).
Devil's Kettle is a unique geological feature formed 1.1 billion years by molten lava. When looking at Devil's Kettle, half the river drops down a 50-foot waterfall and the other empties into a giant hole and essentially disappears.
For years, Devil's Kettle stumped scientists because no one could figure out where that half of the river went, with some theories suggesting it flowed straight to Lake Superior.
The mystery behind Devil's Kettle was solved a few years ago, with Minnesota DNR hydrologists determining the water meets up with the rest of the river downstream somewhere.
The hike to Upper Falls and Devil's Kettle isn't easy but it's worth it. Just be prepared for hilly terrain on the well-traveled dirt path and lots (like hundreds) of stairs.
High Falls at Tetteguche State Park
Tetteguche State Park near Silver Bay on the North Shore has a few waterfalls along the Baptism River. The most impressive is High Falls (pictured), which is about a 3-mile round-trip hike from the visitor's center on trails, boardwalks and stairs.
The hike, which includes some steep terrain, brings you along and high above the Baptism River, affording many scenic overlooks if you need to take a break. And just before you reach High Falls, you can make a pit stop at Two Step falls (warning: lots of stairs), where you can easily dip your toes in the water.
The trail to High Falls isn't a loop, so you'll have to head back the way you came. The good news is it's all downhill.
Tetteguche is home to a third waterfall — the Cascades Waterfall — that's much easier to get to. Just follow the Cascade Trail.
Other sites worth checking out at Tetteguche: Shovel Point, which offers breathtaking views of Lake Superior's rocky shoreline; follow the river to Lake Superior to check out where they merge and hang on the beach; and take a short drive to Palisade Head, where you can see Shovel Point and maybe catch some rockclimbers.
Vermillion Falls in Hastings
The 35-foot Vermillion Falls, along the Vermillion River, is another must-see waterfall located right in Hastings.
The waterfall, which was used to power a gristmill in the 19th century, is accessible via a short walk from the parking area. There's also a paved walking/biking trail that follows the river, which you can take to find more grand views of the falls, like where people make their own trails down to the gorge (just be careful).