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Johannesburg Falls
   Skagit County, Washington, United States

This waterfall has been surveyed, mapped and measured in person by the World Waterfall Database.
Of the many small streams which flow from the small unnamed glaciers on Johannesburg Mountain, this is the most significant in several ways. First, it produces more volume than the others, and second, it appears to possess one of the tallest waterfalls on the continent. While I had previously written off the portion of the stream above the final 800 foot drop, upon reexamining the falls, it's clear that from the toe of the glacier feeding the falls to the base of the mountain, the stream is legitimately steep enough to be considered one waterfall. Based on the USGS Topographic maps, it appears that the falls descend a total of just over 2400 feet from the glacier, culminating in a vertical drop of about 800 feet. Also worthy of note is the changing appearance of the falls. Whether due to an avalanche, or increased stream flow, the bottom part of the falls appears different than several months ago. There are now two side by side, nearly vertical waterfalls which culminate the long series of steep cascades. The fall on the right skips down the mountainside in three drops, while the fall on the left plunges a sheer 800 feet, baring a strong resemblance to California's Ribbon Falls. It appears this 800 foot plunge has formed some time after July of 2004, so whether it is a permanent feature is unknown. I am very curious to see the evolution of the fall into next year. Despite the great height of this waterfall, it isn't a significant waterfall in a sense of volume, so not a lot of attention should be given.


  • Johannesburg Falls is the Unofficial name of this waterfall

Location and directions

Located near the Cascade Pass, within North Cascades National Park. From I-5 in Burlington, drive east on US 20 to the town of Marblemount. As the highway bends sharply left, stay straight on the Cascade River Road, across the bridge spanning the Skagit River. The Cascade River Road goes 23 miles to its end at the Cascade Pass trailhead within a secluded portion of North Cascades National Park. The falls come into view on the opposite side of the valley, as you cross Boston Creek at 21 1/2 miles, and are visible for about ¾ of a mile of road.

Johannesburg Falls is shown in the center. Additional nearby waterfalls (if any) can be found in the list below.

Additional Nearby Waterfalls

Name of Waterfall Distance
Cascade Basin Falls 1 0.41 mi / 0.66 km
Cascade Basin Falls 2 0.57 mi / 0.92 km
Soldier Boy Falls 0.64 mi / 1.03 km
Cascade Basin Falls 3 0.81 mi / 1.29 km
Upper Soldier Boy Falls 1.07 mi / 1.71 km
Gilbert Falls 1.12 mi / 1.8 km
Midas Creek Falls 1.23 mi / 1.96 km
Unnamed Waterfall 1.28 mi / 2.05 km
Morning Star Falls 1.31 mi / 2.09 km
Cascade Basin Falls 4 1.33 mi / 2.13 km


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Photography tips

Though the falls are easily visible from the road, because of the relatively small volume of the stream, it doesn't appear terribly significant from across the valley. I recommend a moderately powerful telephoto lens to isolate the falls; 200mm is good enough. Since the falls drop off the north face of Johannesburg Mountain, the lighting is terrible for the majority of the day. If it's not overcast, wait to take pictures of this until both you and the falls are in the shade (either early morning or late evening).

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