The Waterfalls of Central Oregon

Chris Smith | 07.27.21

TLC would have certainly changed their tune if they had visited Central Oregon. The area’s wild and wonderful wilderness is full of wow-worthy waterfalls that are easy to find and easier to enjoy (with little chasing required). From powerful plunges to captivating cascades and even roaring rapids, you’ll find a fantastic fall to delight every member of your family (and help you cool off after a hot afternoon hike). 


Tumalo Falls

Tumalo Falls is a classic but captivating waterfall that plunges nearly 100 feet over ancient lava rock before winding peacefully through a young forest of ponderosa pine. It’s fed by Tumalo Creek, a scenic waterway made by melting snow that begins high in the Cascade Range before winding through the Deschutes National Forest.


To find Tumalo Falls, you’ll want to travel to the Tumalo Falls Day Use Area. Here, you’ll find easy access to an overhead viewing platform that gives a panoramic view of the plunge (as well as bathrooms and break areas). If you’ve still got some pep in your step, take the trail towards Bridge Creek Watershed to explore a series of smaller – but no less stunning – waterfalls.


Dillon Falls

Dillon Falls is one of three major waterfalls that run along the scenic Deschutes River. Unlike some of the more well-known waterfalls, Dillon Falls is not a high and dramatic drop. Instead, it begins with a 15-foot plunge before crashing and cascading downriver in a series of violent and impressive rapids. 


As class-5 rapids with a 76.5° pitch, it should only be rafted by expert professionals, but the calm and scenic Deschutes River Trail offers safe and stunning views from the nearby shore. For the best view, begin at the Dillon Falls Day Use Area for a picnic and photo-ops before continuing along the trail.


Proxy Falls

Proxy Falls is one of the most photographed waterfalls in Oregon – and for good reason. This stunning cascade and plunge waterfall has one of the highest (and most impressive) vertical drops in the state, falling 226 feet down a moss-covered cliff. The water then sinks slowly into the porous lava below, creating a magical pool that seems to disappear without a trace. You can get close enough to feel the crashing spray at the waterfall’s base, but tread carefully on the rocks and watch for falling debris. 


You can access the Proxy Falls Trailhead from McKenzie Highway (242), but only during the summer as the road closes during the winter season. The trail is an easy 1.5-mile loop that leads through the Willamette National Forest, passing through conifer trees and ancient lava flows before winding to the Upper and Lower Proxy Falls viewpoints.


Marion Falls

A short distance downstream from Marion Lake in the Willamette National Forest, Marion Falls is a charming cascade made by Marion Creek. It doesn’t fall as far as other falls on our list, but it’s surrounded by a lush storybook forest that paints a beautiful backdrop for its picturesque plunge. Best of all, following the use trail a bit further will give you a glimpse of Gatch Falls, a shorter but wider waterfall that falls just a few feet downstream. 


Marion Falls is not as easy to locate as the other waterfalls on our list, but that makes it even more memorable. You’ll begin on the Marion Lake Trail #3436, which can be found at the Marion Lake Trailhead in the Willamette National Forest. After passing Lake Anne, take the fork right to follow Marion Outlet Trail #3495. After approximately 150 yards, you should find an unmarked use trail that forks into the forest on the right-hand side (it isn’t obvious, so keep your eyes peeled). Follow the sound of roaring water to reach Marion Falls.


Tamolitch Falls (Blue Pool)

Tamolitch Falls isn’t famous for its powerful plunge, but for the vibrant blue pool that rests beneath it. In fact, this seasonal waterfall is dry for most of the year, only running during rare spring months when the McKenzie River overflows. Despite its fragile flow, the sight is worth visiting to feast your eyes on the incomparable turquoise pool that gets its color as underground water seeps to the surface through porous lava.


The easiest way to access Tamolitch Falls is by taking the Trailbridge Reservoir from the McKenzie River Trail. You’ll reach the pool by hiking over the waterfall ledge and down a steep slide to the water’s edge. Although dipping your feet near the falls is a great way to cool off, swimming in the pool is not encouraged. The water is extremely cold year-round and has a depth of over 30 feet (though its crystal-clear color makes it seem much shallower). 


Book your stay with Sisters Vacation Rentals

Our convenient Sisters rentals are a wonderful home base for waterfall adventures. If water is a way of life, book one of our waterfront cabins on the Metolius River for an experience that winds its way right into your heart. 

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