Environment Planet Earth 5 Types of Waterfalls You Never Knew Existed By Jaymi Heimbuch Writer California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo Jaymi Heimbuch is a writer and photographer specializing in wildlife conservation. She is the author of The Ethiopian Wolf: Hope at the Edge of Extinction. our editorial process Twitter Twitter Jaymi Heimbuch Updated May 10, 2019 A beautiful forest waterfall. . Ian Sane/ MNN Flickr Group Share Twitter Pinterest Email Environment Weather Outdoors Conservation A waterfall is a simple thing: water drops from a high point to a low point. But it turns out this simple thing can become rather complex depending on how the water is falling. There are at least 12 different types of waterfalls in the world. The ledge waterfall is your classic curtain of a fall, and the cascade waterfall is your classic water falling over a series of rock steps. But there are a few that aren't quite so obvious. Here are five examples of just how unique waterfalls can be. Punchbowl waterfalls: This is a waterfall that's constricted as it falls, but lands in a wide pool. These are alluring for people who want to enjoy a swim near a waterfall. Horsetail waterfalls: This is when a waterfall maintains contact with the rock wall under them as it cascades. A famous example is the horsetail fall in Yosemite National Park. Plunge waterfalls: This is the opposite of a horsetail fall. In plunge waterfalls, the water is moving so fast as it bursts over the edge of the fall that it loses contact completely with the rock wall under it. Staircase waterfalls: This is a series of waterfalls that cascade one after the other, with each fall tumbling into its own plunge pool before the water continues over the next ledge. Chute waterfalls: These powerful waterfalls force a lot of water through a narrow vertical opening in a rock face, bursting out at high pressure. These are just a few examples, and waterfalls can fall into more than just one of these types as they tumble over rocks. Whatever the label may be, all waterfalls are fascinatingly beautiful!