Discover the Magic of Tumalo Falls

Waterfall, trees, blue sky, cliff

Tumalo Falls is a must-see destination that will leave you in awe. First-time visitors will find themselves standing in awe of this 97-foot waterfall, watching as it plunges dramatically into Tumalo Creek. The classic rectangle-shaped waterfall is surrounded by lush green trees that create a perfect natural frame. It’s no wonder this iconic waterfall is one of the most visited in the state and listed on every “Top Ten” list I found for Oregon waterfalls.

Tip: “Most visited” means crowded so plan accordingly!

The surrounding hiking trails offer a diverse perspective, with views of the lush forest and smaller cascades along the creek. The main trail leads you to an upper view of the falls, where you can appreciate the full power and majesty of this amazing place. Keep going another mile or so down the trail, you’ll find a breathtaking double waterfall. Just remember to bring bug spray if you visit in the spring or summer, as mosquitoes can be plentiful.

No matter when you visit, Tumalo Falls offers a unique and captivating experience. In the spring, the snowmelt causes the waterfall to surge with incredible force, while summer brings vibrant wildflowers along the trails. Autumn transforms the foliage into a stunning tapestry of reds, oranges, and yellows, and even in winter, the falls are beautiful with icicles and snow-covered landscapes. Tumalo Falls promises an unforgettable adventure for every nature lover.

What Makes Tumalo Falls Magical?

I have been chasing waterfalls for many years now. The first glimpse of a waterfall is a magical moment. Experiencing the sheer power of the rushing water and feeling the spray as you stand nearby is probably my absolute favorite thing to do in nature!

I’ve read that there is a path that will take you to the base of the falls (and even behind it!) however when I went it seemed as if there had been a recent flood that took out much of that path. Even though I wasn’t able to get close enough to feel the spray from this waterfall, but it was still a worthy adventure! If you are a nature lover you will want to add this waterfall to your must-visit list and experience the magic for yourself.

Tip: Take some time to explore the area and find a vantage point that will give you the view you want.

Exploring Tumalo Falls was a delightful experience that I’ll cherish forever. The surrounding area is equally mesmerizing, with lush greenery and scenic trails that invite you to wander and explore. Each step along the trail offers a new perspective, and the sound of nature is both soothing and invigorating. The view from the top of the falls is breathtaking, providing a panoramic view of the landscape that is nothing short of spectacular. Whether you’re a seasoned waterfall chaser like me or simply looking for a peaceful nature retreat, Tumalo Falls is a destination that will leave you feeling inspired and rejuvenated.

Getting To Tumalo Falls

Enjoy the drive through Deschutes National Forest as you make your way to the trailhead. The falls are a short drive from Bend and easy to find. I mapped to the Tumalo Falls Trailhead. You’ll be on Skyliners Road until you get to Tumalo Falls Road (Forest Road which will take you to the trailhead.

Tip: Go early or late in the day to avoid the crowds.

The road to the closest parking lot is only open June-October. It is just steps from the main viewpoint of the falls. In the off-season, you can park outside the gate and hike to the falls but be warned, it is a 5-mile round trip to the main viewpoint.

Trees, Cars, Road

Best Time to Visit Tumalo Falls

According to All Trails, the best time of year to visit is May through October but, as I mentioned above, I think you will find a great view any time of year. I went in June on a beautiful sunny day, around 9 in the morning. The sunlight was starting to get bright giving me a challenge on added shadows.

Tip: Waterfalls are best photographed in diffused light, like on a cloudy day.

I highly recommend going early in the day to beat the heat and the crowds. This is a hugely popular hike with easy access to a beautiful waterfall and the small parking lot fills up fast before overflowing to line both sides of the dirt road.

Tumalo Falls Hiking Trails

The hiking trails at Tumalo Falls offer a variety of scenic routes for all skill levels. Several trails in the area connect to a network of paths in the Deschutes National Forest, offering more opportunities for exploration and adventure.

The most popular trail is the Tumalo Falls Loop, a 6.9-mile round trip that takes you past the falls and along Tumalo Creek. This trail provides multiple viewpoints of the falls, with the first viewpoint just a short walk from the parking area. You can continue up the trail to see smaller cascades and enjoy the lush forest scenery.

Tip: Bring bug spray!

I hiked the Tumalo and Double Falls trail, about 2 miles, and (at least in June) had to fight off the mosquitos any time I stopped. Stupidly I had forgotten the bug spray. Don’t be like me. The trail, however, was a shaded and well-maintained path that was an easy hike.

hiking trail, trees
Waterfall, blue sky, green trees, long exposure
Long exposure shot from my iPhone
View of Double Falls

Photographing Tumalo Falls

There are three great spots to view (and photograph) Tumalo Falls. The main viewpoint is a short walk from the parking area. It provides a stunning view of the falls with an easy path to a platform accessible by all.

The upper viewpoint is a short uphill hike from the main viewpoint and offers a higher perspective, giving you a view from the top of the falls along with a more panoramic view of the surrounding landscape.

After taking in the view from the top, continue your hike along the trail. You’ll encounter several scenic spots to see smaller cascades along the creek. About a mile down the trail, you will find Double Falls. I didn’t know what to expect or even if I was on the right path

Despite the lack of a “real” path, I navigated my way down to a creekside view from the parking lot and carefully inched along to find a good view.

Tip: when you find a composition you like capture shots from every angle and focal range possible. You may see something unexpected or learn new ideas for future photoshoots.

Gear

I’m frequently asked what gear I bring to photograph a waterfall and the answer has changed over time. Currently, my bag includes a set of ND filters (3-, 6-, and 10-stop), my PlatyPod (with the PlatyPod Handle for extra height), and my trusty Canon 6D Mark ii DSLR camera. I also shoot with my iPhone 13 Pro more often now using the Live and Long Exposure features.

camera gear, waterfall, rock, trees
dirt path, trees

Practice Good Stewardship

You can help preserve the falls during your visit by remembering to practice Leave No Trace principles to help minimize human impact.

At Tumalo Falls, several conservation efforts are in place to protect the natural environment. These include maintaining and improving trails to reduce erosion and implementing waste management practices to keep the area clean. There is a vault toilet for your convenience.

Additionally, the Deschutes National Forest works to preserve local wildlife habitats and monitor water quality to ensure the health of the ecosystem around the falls.

person, water, trees, rock

Conclusion

Tumalo Falls is a true gem of natural beauty that promises an unforgettable experience for all who visit. Its majestic cascade, lush surroundings, and scenic trails make it a perfect destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. Whether you’re taking in the powerful rush of the falls from the main viewpoint or exploring the diverse hiking paths, Tumalo Falls offers a unique connection with nature that is both invigorating and serene.

Each season brings its own charm to Tumalo Falls, ensuring that no two visits are ever the same. From the roaring spring melt to the vibrant summer blooms, the fiery autumn foliage, and the serene winter wonderland, the falls are a year-round spectacle. If you’re planning your first visit, or even if you’re a seasoned waterfall chaser, Tumalo Falls should be at the top of your must-visit list. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the breathtaking views and create lasting memories.

We’d love to hear about your experiences at Tumalo Falls! Have you visited during different seasons? What was your favorite part of the trip? Share your stories and photos in the comments below or on our social media pages. Your adventures might inspire others to embark on their own journey to this incredible destination. And if you haven’t visited yet, what are you waiting for? Plan your trip to Tumalo Falls and immerse yourself in the beauty and tranquility of this natural wonder.

About
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Hi! I’m Shelle and my mission is simple: to inspire and empower adventurous souls like you to embark on unforgettable journeys into the heart of nature. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a passionate photographer, or simply someone who loves to wander, we’re here to fuel your wanderlust and provide you with the tools and resources you need to make the most of your outdoor adventures.

Join our vibrant community of fellow travelers as we dive into the beauty of the natural world, one adventure at a time. Let’s explore, discover, and connect with the world around us—together.

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