Discover the Tallest Waterfall in Florida

Written by Andrew Wood
Updated: May 31, 2023
© William Silver/
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People flock to Florida for its sunny weather, gorgeous beaches, major theme parks, tropical flora and fauna, and rich history and culture. But waterfalls? The Florida terrain is generally quite low and flat. Few people would think of it as a place to see waterfalls. As it turns out, a special geological feature of Florida has helped create a waterfall much taller than you might imagine, which has been preserved in a park with abundant local wildlife.

Although best known for its beaches, Florida is also a surprising location to see an impressive waterfall.

©Arina P Habich/

What Causes Waterfalls?

Waterfalls, also sometimes called cascades, are geological formations where a stream or river flows over one or more vertical drops. Waterfalls can range from minor falls that might dry up in dry seasons, to raging torrents hundreds of feet tall. The tallest waterfall in the world is Angel Falls in Venezuela. The highest drop of these falls is 2,648 feet – twice as tall as the Empire State Building! The tallest waterfall in the United States is Upper Yosemite Fall at 1,430 feet. Probably the most well-known waterfall in the United States and Canada is Niagara Falls, but it stands only 325 feet tall.

Waterfalls usually happen in the upper reaches of a river where water from lakes rushes down steep mountain valleys. They are a part of the erosion process of mountainous terrain that results from glaciation, tectonic activity, or other changes in the landscape. However, they are sometimes man-made, such as controlled releases of water from dams for hydroelectric power generation and flood management, or on a smaller scale for aesthetic purposes in gardens and parks.

Niagra Falls in New York
Waterfalls like New York’s Niagra Falls are part of a natural process of erosion of rough geological terrain.

©warasit phothisuk/

How Do Waterfalls Change over Time?

Waterfalls often begin as rivers that course over bedrock, causing erosion. As the river continuously erodes the rock away, the river will begin to flow more quickly, especially as it gets downstream. Erosion downstream in rivers occurs much quicker than erosion upstream in rivers. As this process of erosion continues, waterfalls can be formed. Waterfalls will, however, recede back over time. The amount that a waterfall recedes back per year depends on many factors but can be as much as one and a half meters per year.

How Do Waterfalls Affect the Environment?

Waterfalls can affect the environments around them in many ways. They can create habitats for animals and fish to thrive. They also help with water filtration, as the quick flow of water helps to filter out pollutants and impurities, improving the overall water quality. Waterfalls can also have some negative effects on their environments. One example is soil erosion. This can occur where landslides are common or in places where rock formations are weak. Waterfalls, while beautiful, do encourage and attract visitors. This can be both positive and negative, as guests have a natural wonder to view, but this sometimes does lead to littering and other forms of environmental degradation.

The Tallest Waterfall in Florida

Knowing that waterfalls typically occur in rough and mountainous terrain, Florida seems an unlikely site for one, at least not one that is particularly tall. In fact, though, the tallest waterfall in Florida is Falling Waters Falls, at 73 feet tall! That is as high as two full-sized yellow school buses if stood end to end. Sure, it’s no Angel Falls, but that’s still pretty impressive. Where do you find a mountain that high in Florida? Well, this waterfall doesn’t need a mountain. Instead, it cascades into a sinkhole.

Much of Florida’s geology is made of limestone, a soft and porous rock that can contain a great deal of groundwater. If the water is slightly acidic, it starts to dissolve the limestone, creating underground caverns. Eventually, the overlying ground and anything on it — forest, roads, farms, buildings, people, and animals — can disappear into the ground. The same can happen to a stream, and that’s exactly what happened to create Falling Waters Falls. Thousands of years ago a stream began tumbling into a large sinkhole, disappearing into an elaborate maze of caves, underground rivers, and chasms that have never been fully explored.

Falling Waters Falls, Florida
Falling Waters Falls is the tallest waterfall in Florida.

©William Silver/

How Can You Enjoy Falling Waters Falls?

You can see the tallest waterfall in Florida yourself at the Falling Waters State Park. It’s located in Chipley, Florida, about 86 miles west of Tallahassee. It’s open year-round and is very affordable. Some of the amenities available are a nature trail, campsites, a picnic pavilion, and places to fish – provided you have a Florida freshwater fishing license. You can swim in the lake and see migrating butterflies in the butterfly garden. With over 100 species of birds in the park, it’s an ideal destination for bird watchers. And there’s plenty of other wildlife for animal lovers to enjoy. When planning your visit, remember that waterfalls like Falling Waters Falls are more impressive after it has rained a lot, so pay attention to weather reports and try to time your visit when you see the falls at their full strength.

bird watching
Falling Waters State Park has more than 100 species of birds, making it an ideal destination for bird watchers.


Where Is Falling Waters Falls Located on a Map?

Falling Waters Falls is within Falling Waters State Park, located three miles south of Chipley, which is part of Washington County. It is around 86 miles west of Tallahassee and 25 miles west of Florida Caverns State Park.

Wildlife Around Falling Waters Falls

There’s a lot of wildlife to be seen on your visit to Falling Waters Falls. If you like birds, you may catch a glimpse of red-headed woodpeckers, bobwhite, quail, and great horned owls. Mammals and reptiles are in abundance, including deer, foxes, lizards, and turtles. You might think a squirrel is nothing to write home about, but you might not have never seen anything like Florida’s gray-furred fox squirrels, with their little bandit masks of black fur around their eyes. You’ll take a picture, guaranteed. The park provides extensive habitat for brown bats in its elaborate network of underground caves that connect many of the sinkholes in the area. Since bats eat up to half their own weight in insects, they’re a resource to appreciate and protect. Check out the photo montage below of some of the common species you might find in the park and a list of other articles you might enjoy if you liked this one.

great horned owl
Great horned owls hunt small mammals, reptiles, and even other owls in Falling Waters State Park.


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Falling Waters Falls, Florida
Falling Waters Falls, Florida
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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer, world traveler, and lifelong animal lover. Currently, I'm an "Emotional Support Human" to 4 dogs, 1 cat, and 2 guinea pigs. My favorite wild animal is the quokka, the most selfie-friendly animal in the world!

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the tallest waterfall in the world?

The tallest waterfall in the world is Angel Falls in Venezuela. The highest drop of these falls is 2,648 feet – almost twice as tall as the Empire State Building!

What is the tallest waterfall in the United States?

The tallest waterfall in the United States is Upper Yosemite Fall at 1,430 feet. By comparison, measured all the way to the tip of its spire, the Empire State Building is 1,454 feet tall.

What is the tallest waterfall in Florida?

The tallest waterfall in Florida is Falling Waters Falls, at 73 feet tall! It’s located in Chipley, 87 miles west of Tallahassee.

Can you fish in Falling Waters State Park, Florida?

Yes, you can fish in Falling Waters State Park if you have a Florida freshwater fishing license.

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