I’ve posted images of this iconic waterfall before, but thought I’d do it again simply because I haven’t been there for a couple of years. And I don’t think yesterday’s photograph really does the place justice. This image is from the observation point high above the amphitheater formed by the falls; it’s the place that most people visit. I’ve taken this photograph many times and I’ve always wondered why couples seem to gravitate to the left side of the railing. I don’t even think that that’s the best view.
The falls, by the way, is 215 feet high – the tallest free-falling waterfall in the eastern United States. Yes, it’s taller than Niagara. More interesting, too, in my opinion.
This is obviously a closeup of the top of the falls (at a focal length of about 300 mm). You can see that the caprock has been significantly undercut by water and ice. Eventually it will collapse because of its own weight and there will be a new “brink”. This is how waterfalls evolve. In a few millennia Taughannock Falls will no longer exist.
Clearly, the rocks in the water didn’t fall from the sky. They were once part of the amphitheater wall in the background. Loosened by water and ice, they’ve fallen and wound up here. Much of the smaller sediment continues to flow the mile and a half or so to Cayuga Lake (one of the Finger Lakes) where a fair sized delta has formed.
One of my favorite spots is the magnificent gorge above Taughannock Falls, especially this time of year. And yes, it’s as inspiring as most desert canyons. Hard for me to admit, but true. I should note, however, that this gorge and waterfall is much younger – geologically – than most desert canyons. All of this was formed during the last glacial period (about 14,000 years ago) while the great canyons of the Colorado Plateau have been forming over millions of years. But who’s counting.
So if you ever get to western NY, come and visit this place. I hate to sound like one of New York’s tourism ads, but it’s more than worth it. The setting is bucolic and the views and trails will calm your soul.