When we think of waterfalls, clear images come to mind — tropical jungle pools, cascading water, peace and serenity. But come cold weather, waterfalls turn into totally different scenes, a stunning and solid tribute to winter, a season able to slow even the most powerful forces of nature.
We rounded up our favorite winter waterfalls for you in the gallery below — and while you may want to visit, you probably won't want to go dipping you head in.
Niagara Falls, U.S. and Canada
The granddaddy of them all, easily the world's most famous waterfall, and with good reason. It's on an international border, and it's massive. It's also the site of Will Gadd's history-making ice climb, the first-ever ascent of its kind (and maybe the last).
Iceland is known for its incredible natural scenery — and Aldeyjarfoss is no exception. The iconic waterfall is stunning in midwinter as the frigid spray freezes to the walls, framing the falls in gorgeous white. Wanna go there? If you're up for braving northern Iceland in midwinter, go for it — but don't forget the two-plus hour hike along the Skjalfandafljot River.
Helmcken Falls, Canada
This 463-foot behemoth in interior British Columbia is an ice climber's dream — or nightmare. Massive, overhanging and technical, there are few in the world up to the challenge — and one of those people is Will Gadd, who put up two first ascents at Helmcken. If Helmcken is on your bucket list, guess what? This one's easy — you can drive right up to it in Wells Gray Provincial Park.
The archipelago of Svalbard is famous for its glaciers — it's also one of the few places in the world waterfalls fall directly into the ocean. Runoff from melting glaciers cuts riverbeds in the ice, terminating in free-fall above the sea. Gotta see it in person? You're going to have to travel halfway to the North Pole from Norway (it's the second-most northern populated place in the world) ... and get on a boat.
This project with Red Bull Photography also took Ray Demski and his climber friends north of the Arctic Circle to Lyngen, Norway. Their goal? Hit this iceflow during the Northern Lights to create an epic, once-in-a-lifetime image. Success? We'd say so.
Ice climbing comes with a lot of risk. Says photographer Boone Speed: “The worse-case scenario is the whole column collapses.” Rifle, Colorado, is known for both summer rock and winter ice routes.
Multnomah Falls, Oregon
This breathtaking 620-foot waterfall reigns high over the Columbia River in Oregon. Given its proximity to a major highway, it's a popular tourist attraction in the summer — so we suggest going in the winter, when you can see it like this, in all of its frozen glory. But you've got to pay attention — conditions like this appear only once or twice a year.