When you think “Kansas City”, do you think “waterfalls”? If not, you’re about to be amazed.
On a hot summer day, all I want is to get out of the city and spend some time in the shade, possibly surrounded by nature. And if you’re staying in Kansas City, there are plenty of good options for a refreshing day out of town.
In fact, the Kansas City area is dotted with gorgeous little waterfalls, all worth visiting.
But which waterfalls have the best hiking trails? Which ones are more easily reachable from Kansas City?
Read my guide and learn more about what the beautiful state of Kansas has to offer.
If you’re looking for some fun in the name of good wine, check out the Best Vineries in Kansas and plan your next wine tasting today.
6 Waterfalls Around Kansas City
This location will satisfy hikers, nature lovers, and fishermen alike.
The Waterfall at Geary County Lake is monumental in dimensions and lovely in the scenery. And its waters are packed with local fish.
I recommend coming here after a rainy day, as the waterfall will be fullest and at its most beautiful.
To reach the waterfalls from Kansas City, you’ll need to reach Topeka, then keep driving west on US 70 and 77. In total, the drive will take about 2 hours.
Once you’ve reached the parking space, a well-signaled trail will lead you through nature in an intermediate-level hike, to the gorgeous waterfalls.
Best things to do at the Geary County Lake Waterfall:
- This is a prime spot for fishing: If you’re looking to fish in the area, at Geary County Lake you’ll find catfish, saugeye, bluegill, and black bass in abundance. For more info and specifics on fishing at Geary County Lake, you can check out all the useful information here.
- Bathing is possible in the pool underneath the waterfalls and is a perfect choice for those looking to fight heat and have fun. The water is not deep at all (at deepest around waist level), therefore perfectly safe and kid-friendly.
Location: 100 E 12 St, Parkville, MO 64152
Located less than 15 minutes north of Kansas City, Parkville Nature Sanctuary is the perfect destination for a day out of town.
You’ll spend little to no time on the road, and you’ll have plenty of hours to explore the park, and of course, find the waterfalls.
The waterfalls are easily reachable through a short loop (0.9 miles) known as Old Kate Trail. You can take Old Katee Trail from the parking lot, proceed north until the waterfalls, and then proceed on the path to return to the headrail.
However, there’s plenty more to explore at the Parkville Nature Sanctuary. The reserve is home to plenty of wildlife, which can be easily spotted around the lesser beaten paths like the Whitetail Trail (1.5 miles), the Butterfly Pass (0.1 miles), or the Bluebird Trail (0.3 miles).
Best things to do at Parkville Nature Sanctuary:
- Explore the park through the nature-immersed hiking paths, and then take a well-deserved break by the waterfalls.
You can find smaller waterfalls on the Whitetail Trail.
- Participate in one of the many annual events held at the Parkville Nature Sanctuary. For example the Pumpkin Carving event, Ghost Story night, or Winter Wonderland. Click here for more information on the scheduled activities.
- Bring your camera and take stunning pictures of the deers, butterflies, native birds, and local wildlife in general.
Location: Line Creek Trail, Kansas City, MO 64151
These small but beautiful waterfalls are located right in the center of Kansas City and are easily reachable not only by car but also by public transportation.
The trails leading to the waterfalls are paved, making this location perfect for “hiking” comfortably, or taking a stroll with the whole family (the path is stroller-friendly).
While the summer is perfect for enjoying the waterfalls, even in autumn and wintertime, this is a great choice for a nature-immersed day.
The spectacle of the frozen creeks and waterfalls during the coldest months of the year is mesmerizing, and it’s a complete change of scenery from the surrounding urban setting.
A true winter wonderland, in the heart of Kansas City.
Best Things to Do at the Line Creek Waterfalls
- The park is great for bird watching, and in general, you’ll have plenty of fun observing the local wildlife. Deers can occasionally be spotted, and squirrels are found all over the park.
- Because of the well-kept paved path, and the relaxing scenery, cycling, and running are the most popular activities at the Line Creek Waterfalls.
- Line Creek Waterfalls don’t include a deep enough area for swimming, but you can surely get your feet wet at the waterfalls, or in one of the many creeks scattered around the trails. A perfect activity to cool down and get some rest from the summer heat.
This stunning botanical garden is famous for its complex and well-thought landscape, which also includes a series of artificial waterfalls.
The park is huge and there’s so much to explore. The many paths are well kept and easy to walk for hikers of every level, and most of the trails are perfect even for families with small children in strollers.
Through the park you’ll be able to admire not only the waterfalls and nature but also a series of artistic installations which complement the surroundings, making every corner of the garden fun and interesting.
Admission is $3 for adults and just $1 for small children.
Best things to do at the Overland Park Arboretum:
- Sure, there are waterfalls, but this is a botanical garden first: take some time to check out the labels under the various trees and flowers and learn more about nature.
This can also be a formative and educational experience for children.
- Walk the Sculpture Garden Trail and admire the many bronze statues and art pieces placed along the way for an artistic time in nature.
- If you’re visiting with children, make a game out of it and find the charming model train hidden in the Park, or schedule your visit in time for one of the annual seasonal events held at the arboretum.
5. Riverside Waterfall – An “Urban” Waterfall
Location: 1920 NW Platte Rd, Riverside, MO 64150
Riverside Waterfall, located as the name suggests close to the Missouri River, is a small but charming waterfall in the middle of the city.
Surrounded by a residential neighborhood, the waterfall is not so much a hiking spot, but a nice enough location for a change of scenery.
Locals love to take professional pictures at the Riverside Waterfall, as it does function as a great background for a nice portrait.
You can bring your lunch and have a picnic with a view, or just enjoy the sound of the crashing water while taking a break.
It does not count as a hiking or holiday destination, but it still remains a really enjoyable location to spend a couple of hours relaxing.
Just a couple of hours from Kansas City, the Pillsbury Crossing Waterfalls can be a great stop along the way during a road trip, or a perfect day out of town for a weekend on a budget.
Entrance to the wildlife area is free and the wildlife area is spartan and lacks amenities.
But being basic doesn’t make it any less fun! The waterfalls are a popular destination for families with children, but also for students, who love to hang out and party in this secluded and beautiful spot.
Because of the partying, sometimes the surrounding of the waterfall can be a bit dirty, however, the area is routinely cleaned.
Best things to do at Pillsbury Crossing Waterfalls:
- Pillsbury Crossing Wildlife Area is great for swimming in the natural pools and exploring the waterfalls. You can climb the waterfalls and even swim behind them. Since the area is completely non-developed, I recommend packing anything you’d need for basic camping, from chairs to food and water, to a deck of cards.
- Secluded waterfall with plenty of space? There’s no doubt this is a perfect location for partying and chilling with your friends.
- Picnicking and spending a great day with family, relaxing in the shade, and letting children play in the water.
More Things to Do When Traveling Through Kansas
Waterfalls are great, but if you’re looking for the perfect swimming spot, check out my guide on the 15 Most Popular Lakes in Kansas.
If you’re traveling through the state and looking for fun stops along the way, find inspiration in my article on the 16 Things You Can’t Miss in Wichita, Kansas.