Nature & Science: Geological Features

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.

NPS Photo/Michael Cuff


The waterfalls found within the park 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 resort or two in the grand days of the late 18th and early 19th century.

Today, the numerous waterfalls within the park are a place for reflection, a soundscape unlike no other, and a spot to marvel at nature's power over the earth itself. With water and time, these falls of today are patiently changing the landscape of tomorrow. We are here to see but a moment of this transition.These beautiful wonders of nature are here for you to enjoy.

When it comes to the waterfalls within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation area there are some important rules in place for your safety and the preservation of these beautiful landscapes.

When visiting, please follow these safety requirements:

  • 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)
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.

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

Why 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 waterfalls.

Where the rock at the top of the waterfall is more resistant to weathering 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 lakes drain the mountain sides along 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.

Delaware River Basin Commission

Last updated: May 7, 2021

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Mailing Address:

1978 River Road
Bushkill, PA 18324


(570) 426-2452

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