Rainbow Falls (Ausable Chasm)

Adirondacks / Ausable Chasm / Keeseville, New York, USA

About Rainbow Falls (Ausable Chasm)


Hiking Distance: almost roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2013-10-10
Date last visited: 2013-10-10

Waterfall Latitude: 44.52375
Waterfall Longitude: -73.46088

Rainbow Falls in Ausable Chasm was a powerful segmented waterfall with a reported height of 91ft.

Prior to our visit, we were warned about the steep price of the paid tours and that we would be better off seeing the falls from the road bridge spanning Ausable Chasm.

Ausable_Chasm_024_10102013 - Rainbow Falls at Ausable Chasm
Rainbow Falls at Ausable Chasm

When we made our visit in early October 2013, we opted to see the falls first from the bridge, then determine whether or not we should do the paid tours.

Experiencing Rainbow Falls of Ausable Chasm for free

From the official parking lot before the welcome center (see directions below), we walked up alongside the highway towards the long bridge spanning Ausable Chasm.

There were dedicated walking paths flanking the road while on the bridge so it made for easy viewing without the fear of getting hit by a motorist zooming by.

And it was from there that we could look right at the thundering Rainbow Falls somewhat in the distance sandwiched between some dam gates further upstream and a large hydro house a short distance further downstream of the falls.

Ausable_Chasm_005_10102013 - Context of the Highway 9 road bridge, which was where we got the most satisfying views of Rainbow Falls at Ausable Chasm
Context of the Highway 9 road bridge, which was where we got the most satisfying views of Rainbow Falls at Ausable Chasm

From the looks of things, it didn’t seem like any paid tour would improve the view of Rainbow Falls unless the tour would actually take us somewhere into that hydro structure within the chasm.

But whatever the case, we thought the view from the bridge was good enough, and it yielded the photo you see at the top of this page.

There was also a bonus waterfall right below the bridge, which was called Horseshoe Falls because it was shaped like a horseshoe.

This particular waterfall wasn’t particularly tall, and it was far enough away from the main waterfall that it was awkward to try to photograph the two waterfalls together.

Are the paid tours worth the price of admission?

Ausable_Chasm_010_10102013 - Contextual view looking almost straight down at Horseshoe Falls with Rainbow Falls further upstream on the Ausable River
Contextual view looking almost straight down at Horseshoe Falls with Rainbow Falls further upstream on the Ausable River

Although we didn’t do any of the paid tours, it was said that they would take you downstream of the bridge and besides 4 to 5 more waterfalls within the chasm.

When we saw the prices of the tours, it looked like it was only $5 per adult for the cheapest option.

It could very well be that they reduced the price from back in 2011 (something like $16 per adult) or they changed up the options for touring the chasm.

It also appeared that there were whitewater adventures in addition to the hiking trails.

Ausable_Chasm_001_10102013 - The Ausable Chasm Recreation Center, where we'd buy the tickets to do their tours
The Ausable Chasm Recreation Center, where we’d buy the tickets to do their tours

Nonetheless, we were time constrained so we merely had a lunch here before we continued on with our self-driving tour through the Adirondacks and beyond.

Even though we saw the Rainbow Falls in a voluminous state, I’ve read trip reports stating that the falls could very well be disappointing due to low flow from the regulation by the hydro facility.

I can’t say exactly what the timing would be to guarantee a satisfactory sighting so it could very well be the luck of the draw.

That’s why the advise we were given (and we’re passing along to you) would be to check out the waterfall from the bridge first.

Ausable_Chasm_016_10102013 - Focused look at Rainbow Falls at Ausable Chasm revealing more hydro infrastructure further upstream of the waterfall
Focused look at Rainbow Falls at Ausable Chasm revealing more hydro infrastructure further upstream of the waterfall

Then, evaluate how you’d want to spend the rest of your time here.

Authorities

Rainbow Falls at Ausable Chasm resides in Keeseville near Plattsburgh in the Adirondacks Region of Essex County and Clinton County, New York. It is administered by the Ausable Chasm Recreation Center. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Ausable_Chasm_004_10102013 - Looking north along US Hwy 9 as I was walking towards the bridge over Ausable Chasm
Ausable_Chasm_008_10102013 - Contextual view of Rainbow Falls, the Ausable Chasm, and the hydro facility
Ausable_Chasm_009_10102013 - Focused look at the Rainbow Falls and the mist it was throwing up from its power given the apparent dam release
Ausable_Chasm_014_10102013 - Even more zoomed in focused look at the Rainbow Falls revealing some more dam infrastructure further upstream as well as some Autumn colors
Ausable_Chasm_020_10102013 - Yet another pleasing contextual look at the Rainbow Falls at Ausable Chasm with some nice Autumn foliage around it
Ausable_Chasm_027_10102013 - A more angled look at the Rainbow Falls at Ausable Chasm showing more of the mist rising up out of the chasm
Ausable_Chasm_041_10102013 - Looking at the other side of the road bridge where the road on the right is the spur road leading to the Ausable Chasm Welcome Center

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To drive to Rainbow Falls at Ausable Chasm from the I-87 entrance from Hwy 3 in the south end of Plattsburg, we took I-87 south for about 8 miles to the exit for Hwy 442 by Keeseville (or Peru Town).

Then, we turned left to go onto Hwy 442 due east and we followed it for near 3 miles before turning right onto the US Hwy 9.

Next, we stayed on Hwy 9 for about 3.6 miles before we took a signposted offramp on the right for Ausable Chasm.

Ausable_Chasm_002_10102013 - Looking back at the closest parking spaces to the Ausable Chasm Welcome Center
Looking back at the closest parking spaces to the Ausable Chasm Welcome Center

This offramp curved underneath the road bridge towards a small parking lot by the Welcome Center.

There appeared to be more parking on the way out of this facility as well as some additional spillover parking by the US 9 Highway near both sides of the road bridge.

For context, Plattsburg was 162 miles (2.5 hours drive) north of Albany. Albany was also 152 miles (over 2.5 hours drive) north of New York City.

Right to left sweep from the bridge above the chasm showing Clinton County, then showing Horseshoe Falls below, then focusing in on the main falls

Tagged with: adirondacks, ausable chasm, keeseville, essex county, clinton county, new york, upstate, waterfall



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
Read More About Johnny | A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls.