Water roars over the edge of Raymondskill Falls sending up mist that reflects the light like a rainbow
Raymondskill Falls roars with life as its pristine water flows downstream to the Delaware River, ultimately becoming the drinking water for millions of Americans from New York City to Philadelphia and beyond.

NPS Photo/Michael Cuff

What's the big deal about a bunch of water?

The waterfalls found within the park are more than water, gravity, and time. They represent many things to many people. They were once sources of power, drivers of machinery, suppliers of fresh water to many homes, cabins, and even a number of vacation resorts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Today, the numerous waterfalls within the park are a place for reflection, a soundscape unlike any other, and a spot to marvel at nature's power over the earth itself. With water, time, and the help of gravity, these falls of today are slowly changing the landscape of tomorrow. We are here to see but a moment of this change. These beautiful wonders of nature are here for you to enjoy, so take some time to come see the beauty and feel the wind as millions of gallons of water flow from your park, all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Now that's quite a commute!

When visiting, please follow these safety requirements:

When it comes to the waterfalls within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River there are some important rules in place for both the safety of you and our staff and also the long-term preservation of these beautiful landscapes.

  • No climbing of waterfalls, waterfall pools, adjacent cliffs
  • No swimming or wading in water within 50 feet upstream of a waterfall (except individuals engaged in ice climbing)

Why can't I swim or climb in a waterfall?

According to the Superintendents Compendium, The Superintendent has determined that these closures are necessary for public health and safety; to protect environmental and scenic values; to protect natural and cultural resources; and reduce public use conflicts.

Waterfalls and waterfall pools have been the scene of numerous injuries and deaths as a direct or indirect result of climbing, rappelling, diving, or jumping at these locations. The climbing and rappelling in these areas has an impact on environmental and scenic values by creating erosion and scaring as well as impacting on natural and cultural resources through damage of plants and structures. Often trash is left behind as are ropes and rope swings creating additional impacts to values and increasing the public safety risk.

Note: Silver Thread Falls is closed to ice climbing due to impact on threatened plants identified as growing in this area.

Why are there so many big waterfalls here?

The ravines carved between the ridge tops are partly the result of glaciers moving across the landscape, deepening and widening the path opened up by the creek. When each glacier retreated, the creeks then tumbled over ledges of rock, forming the waterfalls we enjoy today. If you visit after a good rain, you'll be in for a real treat. The power of nature is awesome!

How they are formed?

Where the rock at the top of the waterfall is more resistant to weathering (stronger) than the rock below the falls, the waterfall is steep. Where the rock at the top of a waterfall is not much harder than the rock at the bottom, more gradual waterfalls can form.

Natural springs, swamp runs, and outlets of natural and artificial ponds and lakes drain downhill along the mountain sides sloping down to the river valley and form part of the Delaware Watershed. The drops of water that you see hurtling over these waterfalls will reach the Delaware River, and, in time, flow into the Atlantic Ocean. Many communities benefit from the drinking water that this natural process supports.

Want to learn more?

Check out the Delaware River Basin Commission's website to learn all about the waters of the Delaware Watershed and how they are vital to the lives of millions of our fellow citizens.

Delaware River Basin Commission


Waterfall Locations

Last updated: December 27, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
P.O. Box 2

Bushkill, PA 18324


570 426-2452

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