Nevada WaterfallsPosted by Bryan Swan | March 25th, 2012
We’ve just posted our data set for the State of Nevada, which we know to harbor a whopping
22 24 waterfalls. Given that Nevada is the driest state in the United States, averaging something like 9 inches of precipitation per year, this may or may not seem like a lot of waterfalls depending on where you stand. Most of Nevada’s waterfalls fall within two very clustered areas – the Ruby Mountains in the northeast corner of the state, and the Spring Mountains just west of Las Vegas – with a handful of other falls scattered around the rest of the state, some near the Sierra Nevada in the Tahoe area, others seemingly quite out of place in the middle of the undulating Basin and Range formations in the middle of the state.
While most of the waterfalls in the Spring Mountains are ephemeral in nature, not flowing for more than 3-4 months out of the year, some of them are considerably noteworthy given the fact that the landscape is essentially desert. Big Falls, Little Falls and Mary Jane Falls in Charleston Canyon are among the most well known waterfalls in the state (largely due to the proximity to the Las Vegas metro area), though despite all three falls likely dropping over 100 feet, because they effectively only flow during snowmelt events, they are not at all well regarded outside of the immediate Las Vegas area.
The Ruby Mountains, on the other hand, harbors much greater potential. Situated in the heart of the Great Basin and surrounded by desert (really, most of Nevada is) the Rubies actually receive a considerably amount of snow in the winter months, ensuring that the many streams which drain down from above flow for a consistent length of time. In following, the best waterfalls in Nevada are found in the Rubies, though the region is so sparsely populated and rarely visited that there is very little documentation on exactly how many waterfalls may be found there.
Since we don’t have a great deal of information on the waterfalls in Nevada, we will not be posting a “best of” or “most interesting” list at this time, but it may come in the future as further research can be conducted. But as a parting note, we’ll mention that perhaps the most interesting fact about the waterfalls in Nevada is that none of the waterfalls which occur within the state are found along streams which have above-ground outlets to the ocean. The eight waterfalls known to occur in the Las Vegas area fall along streams which sink underground well before their respective streams can enter into tributaries of the Colorado River near Lake Mead. But in all areas north of Las Vegas, all watercourses drains directly into the Great Basin and abruptly end there, with no outlet and in many cases not even a lake to show for it either. So where does the water go? Nobody knows for sure but it’s likely that much of it percolates underground and emerges in springs along the Colorado Plateau in Utah and the Columbia Plateau in Oregon and Idaho.