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Logo. Feature : Waterfalls
One example for Feature : Waterfalls
Waterfalls and related features



waterway=waterfall, natural=cliff, height=*, width=*

This page serves to describe and gather information about current tagging conventions of waterfalls and related features. (wikipedia waterfall)

Tagging of waterfalls

Waterfalls are described by marking a node node of the waterway as waterfall and creating a way way describing the cliffs of the waterfall:


  • node tag a node of the waterway as waterway=waterfall and name=* + height=* when known, see also tag:waterway=waterfall. The tagged node should be shared with the waterfall edge, hence marking both features as part of the waterfall. Intended rendering is to display a waterfall icon in that place, some renderers already do that.
  • way additionally, a section of the waterway can be tagged with whitewater_section:grade=*, or the new alternative whitewater:grade=* if it is relevant to whitewater sports. See also open issues
  • way deprecated, historic usage: tag a section of the waterway as waterway=waterfall. This has been part of proposed features/Waterfall which has been changed and abandoned since then.

Waterfall edge and cliffs

way The cliffs forming the waterfall edge are drawn as a way and tagged as natural=cliff, drawing direction should be so that upstream is on the left side. node The cliff should share a node with the crossing waterway and this node should be tagged with waterway=waterfall as described above.

This is currently rendered as cliffs across the river, though the renderer may detect that it is actually a waterfall edge and render it in a special way.

Waterfalls can be also artificial or include man made elements such as weirs or dams, these can be tagged as waterway=weir and waterway=dam instead of cliffs, with the same rule about shared node as above.

Sometimes a waterway=waterfall has been also applied to an area of water delineating the actual area where water is falling, this area also often closely resembles the cliff area so the two flags have been used together. However this scheme does not seem to be defined anywhere.

Height and width of the waterfalls

  • height=* should be attached to the waterway=waterfall node.
  • The width currently is defined by the river width or riverbanks.

Intermittent waterfalls

If the waterway is intermittent, the waterfall should also be tagged with intermittent=yes.

Tagging for OpenSeaMap

seamark:type=waterfall can be used to mark waterfalls for OpenSeaMap.


Natural waterfalls

Artificial waterfalls

Some of these are tagged with an extra waterfall=artificial tag.

Tagging around the waterfalls

Viewpoints and other amenities

Other natural objects frequently found around waterfalls

Open issues

Please discuss on talk page

  • tagging the waterfall-edge as natural=cliff is logical and rendered nicely, but it may be a good idea to mark the waterfall edge additionally. The shared node marked as waterfall may or may not be enough. As it is a special type of cliff it could have an additional waterfall_edge=yes. It could be rendered as a cliff with superimposed bubbles or blue curly lines across it.
  • the status of whitewater:grade=* is unclear - it is used even though the proposal seems to have been abandoned, wiki needs cleanup regarding this.
  • whitewater_section:grade=6 has been used to tag waterfall section of the river at the Rhine Falls (see examples). The Rhine Falls have been navigated by kayaks so this seems logical. The question remains if that is appropriate for other waterfalls which for various reasons (too little water, too high) will never be navigable by any craft. Possible options:
    • use whitewater_section:grade=waterfall: pro - known tag and it is a kind of whitewater. contra - tag only defined for ways
    • use a new tag to mark a node/way/area that would define the point/way/area where the water is falling
    • White water classification follows its own subjective rules not only described by these pictures, see International Scale. If you don't know about river practise on a particular river, don't map it at all.


  • The old proposal had a complicated history partly explained in here and was withdrawn because a de-facto usage emerged which addressed most needs.

See also

Related proposals and bugs