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12 types of waterfalls to see in your lifetime

By: Jaymi Heimbuch on June 28, 2016, 8:09 a.m.
Havasu Falls in Arizona is a particularly colorful sight.

Photo: ronnybas/Shutterstock

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The wide world of waterfalls

A waterfall is just some water falling over a ledge, right? There's actually a lot more to it than that. From punchbowls to slides, from tiers to cataracts, a surprising diversity exists in ways water can tumble from point A to point B. There are anywhere from 12 to 18 different types of waterfalls, depending on how specific you get in describing them.

Not only can a single waterfall fit into multiple categories at once, but the category under which it fits can change over time through seasons, erosion, weather events and other factors. Havasu Falls (pictured) is a perfect example. It changes from falling in one continuous sheet of water to a segmented waterfall and back, depending on flooding and erosion.

This list of falls is not exhaustive as these labels can be a bit subjective. There are different variations and subtleties to how water flows over a drop, which can earn it different names. For instance, a horsetail waterfall can be subcategorized as a fan waterfall, or a ribbon waterfall, or... well, we'll get to all that later.

Suffice it to say that there are lots of amazing waterfalls out there, and we've selected 12 types, plus two unusual bonus types, that you definitely want to see during your lifetime.