Usually when I think of waterfalls, I think of exotic locales. Undeniably, Canada has spectacular natural beauty. We have mountains, rivers, lakes and trails to explore for a lifetime. Waterfalls however…I initially thought I may come up with a list of ten or so across the country that are noteworthy. Inspired by a winter trip to Helmcken Falls and being awed by the spectacular ice bowl that forms and the gorgeous frozen landscape, I looked into it further and these twenty to check out below (in British Columbia and Alberta alone!) just scratch the surface of waterfalls you can visit and explore.
Many falls on this list are accessible year round and offer different, amazing experiences depending on the time of year you visit (hiking, camping, ice climbing, photography…just to name a few!).
Alexander Falls | Whistler, BC
Located in Sea to Sky Country to the west of Whistler, the falls tumble in tiers over an andesite cliff. Located just before Whistler Olympic Park, there is a large, easily accessed viewing area that overlooks the falls across the enormous gorge.
Athabasca Falls | Jasper, AB
Not notably high, these falls are still impressively powerful. The full width of the Athabasca River funnels into a three metre gap and over the edge of the falls. According to season, the water colour can change from milky white to aqua blue.
Bow Falls | Banff, AB
Wide and short, Bow Falls creates a popular ice climb in the winter. Ice climbers cross country ski to the base, then climb the frozen waterfall. The 1953 Marilyn Monroe film River of No Return featured these falls.
Brandywine Falls | Brandywine Falls Provincial Park, BC
A spectacular 70 metre waterfall, Brandywine is best seen from the viewpoint which also shares gorgeous views of Daisy Lake. A scenic stop between Squamish and Whistler, the Sea to Sky Trail also runs through Brandywine Falls Provincial Park.
Bridal Veil Falls | Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park, BC
East of Chilliwack, Bridal Veil Falls gently cascade over smooth rock creating a veil-like resemblance. Very accessible, it’s an easy, scenic 15-minute walk through lush ferns and forest to the falls.
Cameron Falls | Waterton Lakes National Park, AB
Popular and accessible, Cameron Falls are a tranquil cascade viewable from a walkway and lookouts that are lit for night viewers. Exposed Precambrian bedrock dating back 1.5 billion years old makes it some of the oldest in the entire Canadian Rocky Mountain range!
Canim-Mahood Falls | 100 Mile House, BC
Located in Wells Gray Provincial Park northeast of 100 Mile House, trail signage on the road says only ‘Canim Falls’. It is a 10-minute walk to see Mahood Falls first, then 10 minutes further to see Canim Falls. Deception Falls is nearby as well if you’re going for a waterfall hat-trick.
Dawson Falls | Wells Gray Provincial Park, BC
One of seven waterfalls along the Murtle River and perhaps lesser known than other waterfalls in Wells Gray (like Helmcken), Dawson Falls is a beautiful, broad drop over lava flows that date to about 200,000 years ago.
Della Falls | Port Alberni, BC
Della Falls, a cascade from Della Lake, is reached by crossing Great Central Lake by boat (there is a water taxi service). With the highest total vertical drop, at 440 metres (1443 ft), Della Falls is considered by many to be the highest waterfall in Canada and one of the 10 highest in the world!
Helmcken Falls | Wells Gray Provincial Park, BC
For you adventurers, Helmcken is currently one of the hardest mixed-route ice/rock climbs in the world. For the rest of us, I recommend a winter viewing for a magical, frozen wonderland experience.
Hunlen Falls | Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, BC
Located east of Bella Coola without a road in, the best way to see Hunlen Falls is by a 20 minute floatplane flight from Nimpo Lake. The falls are named after a Chilcotin Chief who used to fish below the falls.
Keyhole Falls | near Upper Lillooet Provincial Park, BC
Named for resembling an old-fashioned keyhole, the falls are the largest along the Lillooet River. Located 75km northwest of Pemberton, an added bonus for visiting is the hot springs located a couple kilometers downstream.
Kinuseo Falls | Monkman Provincial Park, BC
South of Tumbler Ridge plunges the stunning 60 metre (197 ft) Kinuseo Falls. Taller than Niagara Falls, Kinuseo Falls is a spectacular Northern BC attraction and was also featured in ‘The Seventh Son’ movie.
Maligne Canyon | Jasper National Park, AB
Eroded out of the Palliser Formation, the canyon measures over 50 metres (160 ft) deep. Popular for sightseeing and exploration, the area contains waterfalls, stream outlets, birds and plant life.
Panther Falls | Banff National Park, AB
One of the best waterfalls along the Icefields Parkway, Panther Falls drops 218 feet along Nigel Creek into a cloud of spray before continuing on to the North Saskatchewan River. In winter, Panther Falls is a popular ice climbing and photography site.
Shannon Falls | Shannon Falls Provincial Park, BC
Cascading over a series of cliffs 335 metres (1099 ft) into the Howe Sound south of Squamish along the Sea to Sky Highway, Shannon Falls is the third highest waterfall in BC. The falls and surrounding woods are often used in television and film production.
Spahats Creek Falls | Wells Gray Provincial Park, BC
Another gorgeous Wells Gray fall, Spahats is a popular stop easily accessed from Yellowhead Highway. Spahats is the First Nation word for bear and the creek used to be called Bear Creek. This was changed to Spahats due to so many Bear Creeks in BC.
Sunwapta Falls + Canyon | Jasper National Park, AB
Sunwapta is actually two falls. Water originating from the Athabasca Glacier flows around a small island in the Sunwapta River and then tumbles over the upper falls then flows through a narrow canyon to form the lower falls.
Takakkaw Falls | Yoho National Park, BC
Adding to the majesty of Yoho National Park is the tremendous thunder of Takakkaw Falls. A distinction of the glacier fed falls is the huge rooster tail seen during heavier flow. Water impacts on a jutting rock forcing it to shoot outward from the cliff face by up to 46m (150 ft).
Tangle Creek Falls | Jasper National Park, AB
Popular in part to due it’s easy accessibility, the falls have an initial cascade of 35m (114ft) and then tumble from tier to tier. Tangle Creek Falls are 7km north of the Columbia Icefield Centre. Gorgeous in the winter if you get the chance to see the falls frozen.