As I recently learned, it’s hard to find good waterfalls near Duluth MN. However, if you’re willing to travel about 20-40 miles in any direction outside the city, there’s at least 5 good ones that are worth exploring and today, I’ll be sharing that list with you.
In September 2021, I spent 2 nights in this city while traveling to explore the North Shore area. I initially came from the east shore of Lake Superior while also exploring the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and when I got into the city, one of the things I wanted to see was if there were beautiful waterfalls in Duluth. But I quickly learned that it’s not that simple and here’s why:
The truth about finding waterfalls in Duluth (it’s almost impossible):
While the city itself is beautiful and has nice parks and nature places to explore, finding waterfalls in Duluth itself is really not possible. You may find a creek waterfall here and there in one of the parks but if you’re looking to see truly gigantic and amazing waterfalls, you have to go outside the city and the good news is that there are several choices nearby:
Here are the 5 best waterfalls near Duluth MN to check out:
- Amnicon Falls.
- Congdon Falls.
- Orienta Falls.
- Big and Little Manitou Falls.
- Gooseberry Falls (the best option).
Now each of these waterfalls is about up to an hour away from Duluth, but the good news is that they are all located in parks where you can do much more than just explore the waterfalls. There are also hiking trails, plenty of adventures to check out and a lot to do overall. So let me show what they are:
1) Amnicon Falls:
Amnicon Falls State Park (Wisconsin).
How far is Amnicon Falls State Park from Duluth?
About 30 minutes east of the city.
Amnicon Falls isn’t a large waterfall, but it is beautiful and one you can walk up to from multiple angles. There’s also a lot of cool stuff to explore in the small park itself which I’ve included in this post on Amnicon Falls State Park.
I visited this place while driving to Duluth and was very surprised (in a great way) at how scenic this park was, in addition to the waterfall there. For instance, there are gorges, hiking trails, camping spots, lava caves in spots and a lot of stuff I just didn’t expect to be so compact in such a small park like this (and that’s on top of the waterfall itself which the park is named after). Overall, despite being here for only about an hour, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Amnicon Falls State Park and I’m sure you will too.
2) Congdon Falls:
Congdon Park, along Tischer Creek.
How far from Duluth?
It’s literally in the city itself.
Congdon Park is a place I missed while in Duluth, even though I drove through the area but it doesn’t take a lot of research to see how worth it is to check out. It has nice trails, views, bridges and some small to medium sized waterfalls. Nothing major (including waterfalls), but the surrounding area makes up for a lack of amazing waterfalls there.
The thing about this park is that there’s a lot to explore in a small area so if you’re staying in Duluth and don’t want to go very far, out of every waterfall on this list, this is the one I’d recommend visiting most. You can spend at least half a day in this park if not more enjoying the trail hikes, just sitting by the rivers, picnicking or more. Overall, it’s a small park, but it’s got a lot of stuff to check out too.
3) Orienta Falls:
30 miles east of Duluth (Wisconsin).
This is a man made waterfall (dam) that is accessible from multiple areas. It’s not very high, but it is wide in length and large enough to be worth an exploration. It’s also not far from the coast of Lake Superior and believe me, there’s a lot to check out on the shoreline there.
It’s also possible to kayak and fish by this waterfall and the surrounding area nearby also allows for hiking, checking out gorge trails and having a nice place to explore. This waterfall is also close to a popular camping spot (Orienta Campground), and it’s not well known about either. So if you enjoy camping and want to do it somewhere near Lake Superior or close enough to Duluth, this might be a good place to consider staying at as it offers multiple benefits.
4) Big and Little Manitou Falls:
Pattison State Park (Wisconsin).
How far is Big and Little Manitou Falls from Duluth?
About a 30 minute drive south.
I explored a bit of this park after my trip to the North Shore ended. While driving towards Rochester MN, we stopped at this park to check out the waterfall there. In this park, there’s 2:
- Big Manitou Falls.
- And further downriver Little Manitou Falls.
My buddy and I only explored the upper one since it’s far larger and actually is worth looking at. The big falls here is over 100 feet high and the thing to note is that you can’t get close to it since it is gated off, so keep this in mind if you go here. The park is also pretty nice to check out and has a lot of activities you can do there.
5) Gooseberry Falls:
Gooseberry Falls State Park (Minnesota).
How far is Gooseberry Falls from Duluth?
It’s about a 30 minute drive north from the city.
Gooseberry Falls was the first waterfall my buddy and I explored outside Duluth and out of the ones on this list that I did check out, it was my favorite. One of the reasons why is because it’s absolutely stunning. Another is that it’s huge. Additionally, there’s also 3 cascading waterfalls to explore here and the terrain is such that you can climb around there, even near the waterfall and I’m someone whose really into that sort of stuff.
So coming to this park and climbing the trees, rocks and doing some cool hiking along Gooseberry Falls really made my visit here memorable. In that picture I put up, you can see the 2 waterfalls, but there is another behind the bridge that is also beautiful to check out (keep that in mind).
Looking for more waterfalls near Duluth? Here’s where to find them:
1) Your best bet at finding the most waterfalls near this city is to just get on the North Shore road and explore the coast.
Gooseberry Falls is the closest you’ll find on that road, but beyond it, there’s also tons of other state parks, nice hikes and beautiful (giant) waterfalls you can find, some of which are totally hidden and others you have to hike deep into the woods for. You can find more on Tripadvisor.
You can also check out my North Shore post for a list of the ones I found since I did the entire drive there in 2 1/2 days. Other than that, if you’re willing to go further, you’ll find many beautiful waterfalls in every direction from this city, but you’ll need to travel several hours to do that.
2) If you’re planning on sticking around in the city only, then the 5 choices on this list are close and beautiful enough to be explored and again, I highly suggest you check out the respective parks they are in, because they offer way more to explore.
3) There is also a place called Jay Cooke State Park which is the closest state park to Duluth and there are some waterfalls there, but nothing major to check out, just nice looking rivers and bridges to check out (the main feature there are the awesome sunset views).
If you’re into that, then add it to your list. I briefly visited that park and aside from the masses of annoying mosquitoes, it was a beautiful place to check out.
4) Finally, there is another park I didn’t add to this list but is worth mentioning and that is Copper Falls (in Copper Falls State Park). It has beautiful waterfalls, hikes and gorges to explore there.
Other questions about visiting Duluth:
What is Duluth Minnesota known for?
The city of Duluth is mainly known for having a nice city, access to beautiful spots like the North Shore and more.
Is Duluth Minnesota worth visiting?
I enjoyed visiting Duluth personally so I do recommend you do the same if you are interested in the city and the nature close to it.
Is Duluth MN a good place to live?
From what I have seen, Duluth has good scores in terms of living advantages.
What are winters like in Duluth MN?
During winter, Duluth and the greater Minnesota area generally get a lot of blizzards and it does get very cold there.
If you’re someone who has been to Duluth or knows the area well and other waterfalls worth exploring that are close enough to the city to check out, so let me know below!