Great waterfalls to see on vacation in the Canadian Rockies

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Written by Patrick J. Smith posted on Monday, September 7th, 2009

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Water cascading over a falls has to be among nature's most awe-inspiring sights. The Takakkaw Falls are just one of many examples in the Canadian Rockies.

Water cascading over a falls has to be among nature's most awe-inspiring sights. The Takakkaw Falls are just one of many examples in the Canadian Rockies.

Sheila from Idaho writes: “I like to see waterfalls. Our family tailors our vacations to go see them. We’d like to come to the Canadian Rockies soon. Can you give us a few recommendations?”

Sheila, I love waterfalls. I’m the kind of person who’ll come across a waterfall and stop for at least an hour to eat and relax next to one. I’ll hike an entire day to get to a really good one.

There are a couple that are must-sees here in the Rockies.

Let me start in the north, at the top of Jasper National Park, so to speak. Next to the Columbia Icefield, in fact. I’m talking about Sunwapta Falls. You get there on an access road off the highway that connects Jasper and Banff National Park.

There are actually two waterfalls there. The larger one drops by more than 18 meters! It’s one of those awe-inspiring sights. It’s also pretty well-known, so you might find yourself in a bit of a crowd.

If you’re like me, you’ll want to get off the beaten path, so to speak. Trust me, I’m not leading you into unexplored wilderness. But this is the reason why I like Sunwapta Falls, and why I’ve mentioned it first. If you’re willing to climb a little, there’s a trail from the large falls that heads upward. Up there, a second waterfall awaits you. It’s not as large, but it’s still beautiful, and not as many people know about it.

Next on your falls tour, I’d advise you to go to Yoho National Park. One of the great highlights of the park is the Takakkaw Falls.

Take the road from Lake Louise to Yoho. It’s the easiest way to get to the falls, and on the way, you’ll see a lot of waterfalls on the cliffs next to you. They’re nice enough, but push on to your destination.

The Takakkaw Falls are among the highest named falls in Canada. Even better, you can get close enough to their base to feel the spray of the water on your face. The falls originate from meltwater from a glacier, but it’s so far above you that you won’t be able to see it.

The only problem is that the road to the Takakkaw Falls isn’t plowed in the winter, so you have to go between October and June. Which means you might have to make two trips.

The last falls I want to tell you about is Athabasca Falls. Another one close to Jasper, these falls happen when the Athabasca River is pushed through a gorge, only to emerge in a spectacular fashion. They’re incredible viewing at any time, but they are especially impressive in winter, when they freeze completely into a vertical sheet of ice.

So there you go, a quick glance at just three of the many waterfalls to be found in the Rockies. There are many more, of course. In mountains replete with waterways, you’re bound to have a lot of falls. So come on out, and see how many you can discover. No matter how many times you do, I’ll bet there’ll be another falls to find, just around the next corner.

Alberta Adventure Guide

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