What is it about waterfalls that so enraptures the human imagination? Is it the sheer, humbling power they project? Is it the beauty they possess — like nature’s version of jewelry bedazzling the cliffs and rivers to which they cling?
Heck, maybe it’s just because they look so damn cool.
Whatever it is that keeps us coming back, feast your eyes on these 41 photos of the world’s most spectacular waterfalls.
Angel Falls, Venezuela
Salto Ángel, better known to English speakers as Angel Falls, is considered the highest in the world at 979 meters.
Dragon Falls, Venezuela
Another spectacular cascada from Venezuela in the same region as Angel Falls.
Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Iceland
This picturesque 60m plunge has appeared on the likes of The Amazing Race. Hikers get a kick out of the trail that leads behind the falls.
Large Waterfall, Croatia
The creatively named Large Waterfall splits into many braids as it meanders through the Lower Lakes of Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Iguazu Falls, Argentina/Brazil
There are 275 separate falls along this 2.7km stretch of the Iguazu River. Yeah, they're awesome.
Bridal Veil Falls, California
Every year, millions of people behold the majesty of Bridal Veil Falls, the most prominent falls in the much-touristed Yosemite National Park.
Athirapally waterfalls, India
If you can avert your gaze from these falls long enough, be on the lookout for endangered hornbill birds that live in the area.
Baatara Gorge waterfall, Lebanon
Discovered in 1952, it free falls over 255 meters behind three natural bridges into a cave of Jurassic limestone known as the Baatara Pothole.
Jog Falls, India
Just two thin streams in dry season, the 253-meter Jog Falls goes ballistic during monsoon.
Palouse Falls, Washington
Thanks to forward-thinking locals who voted against building a hydroelectric dam on this site in 1984, Palouse remains one of Washington's most beautiful falls.
This wide, staircase waterfall is most notable for its hidden "infinity" edge – the river seems to simply vanish into the earth.
El Chiflon, Mexico
The "Big Whistle" is actually two waterfalls that are equally impressive during dry season as they are during rainy season.
Owing to its relative easy access between Oslo and Bergen, Voringfossen is Norway's most famous falls despite only being the 83rd largest in this waterfall-spoiled country.
Barron Falls, Australia
Only a trickle for much of the year, the Barron Falls roar after a hearty rainy-season downpour.
Nohkalikai Falls, India
It's no surpise that one of the wettest places on Earth produces the largest plunge waterfall on the subcontinent.
Elakala Waterfalls, West Virginia
These wonderfully photogenic falls are actually four different waterfalls that comprise Shays Run in Blackwater Canyon.
Salto Grande, Chile
Sunrise over the Salto Grande cascades with the Cuernos del Paine mountains in the background.
Yosemite Falls, California
One of the most photogenic falls in California's Yosemite National Park, and that's saying a lot.
Sunwapta Falls, Canada
Sunwapta is an indigenous word meaning turbulent. I think they nailed it.
South Falls, Oregon
Beautiful colors, the lush natural forest, and sometimes mystical fog all combine in Silver Falls State Park, where you'll find South Falls.
Basaseachic Falls, Mexico
Every spring and summer, two streams merge in the woods above and plunge 246 meters over a sheer cliff face.
Wall of Tears, Hawaii
You'll find as many as 17 waterfalls cascading down the lush tropical cliffs.
Cascata delle Marmore, Italy
The only manmade waterfall on the list, Marmore was built by the Romans in 271 BCE by diverting the Velino River. This masterful feat of engineering solved the problem of malarial wetlands near the city of Rieti but caused massive flooding in nearby Terni. Oops.
Yellowstone Falls, Wyoming
The largest volume waterfalls in the Rocky Mountains were known to Native American tribes for centuries but not seen by a European until the early 1800s.
Tad Sae falls, Laos
Next time you find yourself in Laos during rainy season, grab an inner tube and head to Tad Sae, about 12 miles outside Luang Prabang.
Silverthread Falls, Pennsylvania
Find this little slice in the Keystone State's awesomely named Dingman's Ferry.
Wallaman Falls, Australia
Find this dramatic 268-meter falls in Girringun National Park and be one of 100,000 that visit it annually.
Tegenungan waterfall, Bali
Near the village of Kemenuh, the cool, crystal-clear water is perfect for swimming.
Multnomah Falls, Oregon
Two falls totaling 189 meters run all year round.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Victoria forms the "largest sheet of falling water in the world." Its extent is so great that it helps to have a view from the air (below).
Victoria Falls, Zambia
Yinlianzhuitan waterfall, China
Though not as large as the nearby Huangguoshu waterfall (below), Yinlianzhuitan makes the list for one reason: this sweet pic.
Huangguoshu waterfall, China
Located along the Baishu River, the "Yellow-Fruit Tree Waterfalls" is one of the largest in China.
Glacial waterfall in Queulat National Park, Chile
Sensitive environmentalists, avert your eyes. This one might as well be taken straight from a climate change poster.
Huka Falls, New Zealand
Huka is famous for its massive volume of water, not its height. A trip by jetboat to the mouth is a closeup lesson in raw power.
Sutherland Falls, New Zealand
The second-tallest waterfall in NZ drops an astounding 580 meters.
Niagara Falls, USA/Canada
Niagara needs no introduction, but just like Victoria, its true scope can only be appreciated from the air (below).
Tad Fan twin waterfalls, Laos
Twin chutes of water plummet into a jungle gorge just beyond the balconies of the Tad Fane resort.
Takakkaw Falls, Canada
Takakkaw is one of the star attractions of British Columbia's Yoho National Park.
Kaieteur Falls, Guyana
Though neither the tallest nor the widest, Kaieteur's combination of height and volume makes it one of the world's most powerful falls.