Teddy Roosevelt called it the “8th Wonder of the World”. Burney Falls isn’t the tallest waterfall in California, but it is arguably the most beautiful.
This stunning waterfall is located in McArthur-Burney Falls State Park. The park is just North of the town of Redding and of stunning Lassen Volcanic National Park.
The same volcanic forces that led to Lassen’s gem-like lakes and jagged mountain peaks are also responsible for the unique beauty of Burney Falls. Basalt, the remains of volcanic rock, makes a perfect dark background for the turquoise water.
A series of underground springs feed the 129 foot plummet of the falls. Glaciers from Mount Burney that lie only a few miles upstream contribute to the water’s blue hue.
The park itself is a big, sprawling piece of land sheltered by tall pines. There is a nice campground and the Pacific Crest Trail runs right through the park. In the summer months, the ground bakes with heat and the scent of pines fills the air. As you near the falls the temperature drops drastically. The falls can be easily seen from an overlook, but a few steep switchbacks will take you down to the base of it.
My favorite way to experience a waterfall is to get as close to it as possible. A precarious climb over wet rocks will bring you right next to the wall of falling water.
It wasn’t easy keeping my camera dry while standing here but it was worth it to be this close to the hanging gardens that sprout from the basalt.
The amazing thing about Burney can’t be shown properly in a photograph. It has been clearly measured at 129 feel tall, but the real mystery is how wide this waterfall is. It seems to go on forever. I’m guessing Burney is at least twice as wide as it is tall.
Burney Falls is worth a visit if you’re exploring the Cascade Range. Who am I kidding...? Burney Falls is worth this visit all on its own! I would definitely recommend camping here so that you can get as much time as possible with the water. In my opinion, waterfalls look their best just before sunset and just after sunrise, before the full sun hits the water and the true colors get to shine through. As a photographer, this is also the best time to get photos as the indirect sunlight allows me to draw out a silky exposure.
Burney Falls is easily one of the most beautiful waterfalls that I have ever seen.