WATERFALLS OF THE WORLD

I became a true aficionado of waterfalls when I visited Niagara Falls as a youngster with my family. It was with amazement that I learned that the first person that is known to have survived going over the falls in a barrel was Annie Edson Taylor in 1901. As an adult, one of my goals has been to visit and photograph some of the best waterfalls in the world. My experiences to date are shown here.

Niagara Falls straddles the border between Canada and the United States. There are actually 3 falls which include Horseshoe, American, and Bridal Veil. My favorite of these is Horseshoe Falls, located on the Canadian side of the Niagara River as it drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario. With a vertical drop of more than 165 feet, the Falls have the highest flow rate of any waterfalls in the world. It is remarkable to think that this is the result of the last ice age, in which water from the Great Lakes had to find a path through the Niagara Escarpment for eventual drainage into the Atlantic Ocean.

After having seen and photographed Niagara Falls, my attention turned to the Iguazu Falls in South America. Located on the border between the Argentine province of Misiones and the Brazilian state of Parana, these falls are the second largest in size in the world. It is reported that when Eleanor Roosevelt came to this spectacle her comment was, "Poor Niagara."

First discovered by the Spanish conquistador, Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca in 1541, the Iguazu River meanders through Brazil for the majority of its course. Most of the falls are on the Argentine side; however, the Devil's Throat in Brazil, which is U-shaped, with dimensions of 82 meters high, 150 meters wide, and 700 meters long, stands out as the culmination of many smaller falls.

As part of our excursion to Croatia, we ventured into Plitvice Lakes National Park. What we found was an entire area characterized by natural dams, beautiful lakes, caves and waterfalls. Through a process that has evolved over thousands of years, the flow of water over limestone and chalk has resulted in the deposition of travertine barriers, which has formed what are known as karst landscapes. This area is comprised of 16 lakes that have formed between Mala Kapela Mountain and Pijesevica Mountain. The upper lakes reside in a dolomite valley filled with thick forests and numerous waterfalls. The lower lakes lie on a bedrock made of limestone and are found to be smaller and shallower.

After having seen the great waterfalls of Niagara, Iguazu and Plitivice, I decided to search for unique domestic sites. My research lead me to several interesting areas in New York State.

One area in particular was Watkins Glen State Park. Located in the Finger Lakes region, this area is a 400-foot-deep gorge carved out by glaciers during the Pleistocene era. What we see today is a tributary stream of Glen Creek that has created a gradient resulting in a series of rapids and waterfalls, some of which are depicted here.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park is best known for the Upper Falls and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River. These falls were the subject of numerous paintings and photographs by Thomas Moran, the legendary 19th century landscape artist. The 308-foot Lower Falls is almost twice as high as Niagara! From the Lower Falls, the river descends several hundred feet through bright yellow, red and orange canyon walls where it eventually drops off into space.

Yosemite National Park has numerous waterfalls. The flow of the falls is very dependent on the time of the year. They are best seen during the spring, when the snow has melted from the winter. I had the opportunity to photograph the falls after a large rainfall had ended a California drought that had lasted many years. While there are 10 named falls, the water levels were high, and unnamed falls were omnipresent.

While the Iguazu Falls is the widest, and Niagra Falls has the most volume, the Victoria Falls are the tallest waterfalls in the world. The Zambezi River channels through Zimbabwe and Zambia, with huge falls on both sides. Some of the shots seen below were taken from an aerial view via helicopter.