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While there’s no equivalent to Niagara Falls in Alberta, we do give Canada’s most famous waterfall a run for her money with our sheer number of impressive waterfalls. In this article, you’ll find 25 epic waterfalls to add to your list of places to visit in Alberta!
Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of Alberta’s waterfalls are in the Rocky Mountains and their eastern foothills. I’ve organized them into sections covering the best waterfalls in Jasper National Park, David Thompson country, Banff National Park, Kananaskis country, Southern Alberta, and finally, a few super remote Northern Alberta waterfalls at the end (including one that is second only to Niagara Falls in size!)
If you live in Alberta like I do, then you may find my articles on the best waterfalls near Calgary and waterfalls near Edmonton more useful, which I’ve ordered by driving time for the province’s two largest cities.
Table of Contents
The Top 5 Most Impressive Alberta Waterfalls
These are the five most beautiful waterfalls in Alberta, according to a local Edmonton resident (that’s me!)
- Sunwapta Falls (#2 below)
- Crescent Falls (#6 below)
- Ram Falls (#7 below)
- Lundbreck Falls (#19 below)
- Crypt Falls (#23 below)
Waterfalls in Jasper National Park
The following five Alberta waterfalls are in Jasper National Park, the second-most visited of Alberta’s five national parks. All of them except one are located on the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) connecting Jasper and Banff national parks.
It is fitting that we begin with roaring Athabasca Falls, one of the most well-known and visited waterfalls in Alberta. This 23-meter waterfall is on the Athabasca River, which originates at the enormous Columbia Icefield before windings its way northeast across Alberta and emptying into the equally vast Athabasca Lake.
At Athabasca Falls, the river tumbles violently into a narrow gorge. A series of viewing platforms on either side of the waterfall allow you to peer down into the crevice from a variety of vantage points.
It’s only a few minutes’ walk from the parking lot to the falls, and a 30-minute drive south of Jasper townsite, easily included on an epic Rocky Mountains road trip from Edmonton.
If you visit Athabasca Falls, then it only makes sense to drive another 15 minutes south to Sunwapta Falls, upriver on the Sunwapta River just before it connects with the Athabasca River. The classic view of Sunwapta Falls is an iconic Canadian Rockies scene that graces many a postcard.
Sunwapta Falls is a little shorter than Athabasca, at 18 meters, but personally I find it even more beautiful. A treed island just upriver from the falls gives it a distinctive touch. Like Athabasca Falls, a series of bridges and platforms provide multiple viewpoints to admire the falls from.
The main Upper Sunwapta Falls is just a few steps from the parking lot, while a 1-hour-return trail leads to Lower Sunwapta Falls.
Continuing south from Sunwapta Falls on the Icefields Parkway, another 20 minutes of driving will bring you to a lesser-known waterfall, Stanley Falls. This one is less touristed because it requires a one-hour (make that 2 hours with young kids) return walk to visit.
The hike begins at a rest stop called Beauty Creek on the east side of the highway. After following the Athabasca River on flat ground for a while, the trail ascends gently up to a lookout of the falls. The waterfall tumbles from a rocky cliff into a pool below, which you can peer down into from the opposite side.
Tangle Creek Falls
Tangle Creek Falls is the last waterfall to make the list before Highway 93 reaches the popular Columbia Icefield, and right after that, the Jasper-Banff National Park Boundary.
There’s no sign, but at the top of a hill on the highway, watch for a small parking lot on the west side, from where you can spot Tangle Creek Falls on the east side. The waterfall is a multi-tier cascade. You can only see one portion of it from the highway, and it’s not easily possible to get a view of the entire falls.
More of the falls opens up, though, if you cross the highway and explore on foot. In winter, there’s a good chance you’ll see ice climbers ascending the frozen falls like I did when I shot the above photo.
Maligne Canyon Falls
Hopping over to a completely different section of Jasper National Park, Maligne Canyon is short drive northeast of Jasper townsite on Maligne Lake Road, just off the Yellowhead Highway when you’re driving in from Edmonton.
This is not one a but a whole series of waterfalls in a narrow gorge. Maligne Canyon is one of the most popular attractions in Jasper. A walking trail leads through the gorge, with six numbered bridges crossing at various points and providing views of the falls.
Most people park near First Bridge at the top of the gorge, but it’s also possible to park at Sixth or Fifth Bridges and walk upriver. In winter, you can walk right on the frozen creek (once the ice is thick enough!), called the Maligne Canyon Icewalk, and admire the multitudes of frozen waterfalls and other ice formations up close. Cleats/spikes on your shoes are essential!
Waterfalls in David Thompson Country
David Thompson country, named after the David Thompson Highway (Highway 11) which runs through it, is home to a couple of the most impressive waterfalls in all of Alberta. Also known as Clearwater County and the Nordegg region, this vast, wild area covers the foothills east of Jasper and Banff.
The highway runs directly west from Red Deer, passing Rocky Mountain House, Nordegg and Abraham Lake (famous for its methane ice bubbles in winter), before reaching Saskatchewan Crossing on the Icefields Parkway. From there, you can go right for Jasper or left for Banff.
Crescent Falls is David Thompson country’s most famous, and one of Alberta’s most beautiful waterfalls. This two tiered waterfall totals 27 meters in height. You can peer down from near the top or follow trails down to the bottom of either tier.
Like any waterfall, extreme caution should be taken, and DO NOT swim below the falls. In 2020, three people died here, two of them trying to rescue the first who went for a swim.
The falls are just a short drive off Highway 11. There’s also a small campsite in the Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area near the waterfall. Crescent Falls is close enough to visit as a day trip from Edmonton.
Single-tier Ram Falls is just as beautiful as Crescent Falls. Being more remote, however, it is even wilder and sees fewer visitors. You can’t get as close to this one, though. Instead, a staircase leads down to a vantage point a fair distance from the picturesque falls (from where the above photo was taken).
Ram Falls requires an hour-long drive on Forestry Trunk Road 743, either going south from Nordegg, or from the west starting at Rocky Mountain House. Like Crescent Falls, there’s a small campground on site, but this one is totally unserviced, so bring everything you need!
Note that the road to the falls is closed in winter.
If you’re looking for a solid waterfall hike in the region, then Siffleur Falls Trail is the one! This 14.2-kilometer hike starts at on the David Thompson Highway just south of Abraham Lake.
The trail is rated as easy but may be too long for some kids. It includes not one but three waterfalls, as well as a suspension bridge. The trail gets tougher towards the end, with some narrow portions on the sides of cliffs, but it’s possible to just walk the first part of the trail and see only the first and second falls.
Waterfalls in Banff National Park
The most popular (and first!) national park in Alberta and Canada is also home to some incredible waterfalls, although none of them quite made my top-5 list of best waterfalls in Alberta (sorry Banff!)
Banff is better-known for its stunning turquoise lakes, but the following waterfalls are definitely still worth the trip. You can also see my articles covering things to do in Banff with kids, my recommended Banff itinerary, and visiting Banff in winter.
Bow Falls on the Bow River is Banff National Park’s most famous waterfall. Mainly that’s because it lies just outside of Banff townsite and directly below Banff Springs Hotel, one of Canada’s most iconic hotels.
This wide waterfall tumbles down a rocky portion of the river. A fun fact is that the waterfall was featured in the 1953 Marilyn Monroe film River of No Return!
An easy walking trail follows the Bow River downstream to the falls from the Banff Pedestrian Bridge in town. Alternatively, you can drive right to the falls, an easy stop on the way to visiting Banff Springs Hotel, Upper Hot Springs, or Banff Gondola.
Johnston Canyon Falls
Johnston Canyon is the Banff equivalent to Maligne Canyon in Jasper. Like Maligne Canyon, a walking trail leads through this narrow gorge, crossing numerous bridges and offering views of many cascades on Johnston Creek.
There are two main named falls here, Lower Falls and Upper Falls, which take about 30 min and 1 hour to reach from the parking lot. The canyon walk is also incredible in winter, when the waterfalls freeze. But unlike Maligne Canyon, you can’t just walk right on the creek. Some of the frozen waterfalls can be climbed with proper gear, but a guide is strongly recommended.
Johnston Canyon is a 30-minute drive west of Banff townsite on Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A).
If you want to lay your eyes upon a beautiful waterfall in Banff, but prefer to avoid the crowds of Johnston Canyon, then opt for Silverton Falls nearby. It’s just up the road close to where Highway 1A rejoins Highway 1, which then continues on toward Lake Louise.
Silverton Falls features a narrow but very tall drop. To get to it, you need to park and follow the trail to Rockbound Lake for about 10 minutes. Watch for a turnoff on the right, then follow Silverton Creek until it reaches the waterfall.
Lake Louise Falls
The main draw of Lake Louise is of course the lake itself, and the famous ski resort taking its name. But Lake Louise also has a waterfall of its own. This waterfall is more of a steady trickle down a towering cliff face, but thanks to its stunning location, it still makes my list.
This unnamed waterfall is at the western end of the lake, opposite Chateau Lake Louise. You can reach it by following the lakeside path along the north side of the lake. I’d say it’s more impressive when frozen in winter.
Another small waterfall can be found on the hike from Lake Louise to Lake Agnes Teahouse. Just a heads up that Lake Louise is insanely popular and the parking lot is often closed off, so the park and ride may be your best bet.
Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls is comparable to Tangle Creek Falls (#4 above), which is only 15 minutes to its north in Jasper National Park. Both falls are visible from the small parking lots on the Icefields Parkway.
Similarly, both waterfalls are larger than what you can easily see. In fact, Bridal Veil Falls includes a staggering 370 meters of cascades, with the largest single drop being 120 meters! You’d have no idea when looking at it from the highway stop, though, and the photo above was taken from far away.
This is one of the first stops you can make in Banff National Park when driving south into it from Jasper. The pullout is just before a spot labeled “The Big Bend” on GoogleMaps. Don’t confuse this with Bridal Veil falls near Chilliwack in BC>
From the same spot, you can also walk to the more impressive Panther Falls. While Bridal Veil is a trickle, this one is an explosion, tumbling 66 meters down a series of drops on Nigel Creek.
The trail from the parking lot down to a lookout of Panther Falls only takes about 30 minutes, and you can continue past it to a better viewpoint of Bridal Veil Falls. There’s another walking trail from the north end of the parking lot to the top of the falls, but extreme caution should be taken.
The cover photo of this article was also shot at Panther Falls.
Waterfalls in Kananaskis Country
Wild and remote Kananaskis country is a vast collection of provincial parks and wildland areas south of Banff National Park and Canmore. The area features countless hikes, gorgeous lakes, and other fun things to do. The below four waterfalls stand out as the best.
Troll Falls is the most popular waterfall in Kananaskis and probably the most visited waterfall close to Calgary. The waterfall is popular not just for its beauty but also proximity to Kananaskis Village and Nakiska Ski Area. What’s more, it’s an easy 1-2 hour walk, perfect for families with kids.
Watch for the troll shape in the rock that gives the waterfall its name! You can also cross the creek and walk further upstream to Upper Troll Falls, while unmarked (and difficult to find) trails lead to Marmot Falls, Boulder Falls, and a few others.
Grotto Canyon Icefall
Another of the most popular waterfall hikes in Kananaskis is the one leading up Grotto Canyon. Besides the inukshuks, pictographs, and caves that make this walk famous, there’s a waterfall about half way up, called Grotto Canyon Icefall on GoogleMaps.
The waterfall is more impressive when frozen in winter, hence its name. If you visit in winter, make sure to wear cleats/spikes to avoid slipping. Try to avoid popular times, because the trail is extremely popular.
Like Troll Falls, this one is a favorite among families with young children, although it’s a little harder and longer.
If you’re looking for a beautiful waterfall very close to Calgary, Elbow Falls is a great choice. Only 66 kilometers away from downtown Calgary, this small waterfall on Elbow River is nevertheless in gorgeously wild surroundings.
The waterfall is only 3 to 6 meters tall, depending on the river’s water level. You can walk right up to it, and it’s a very short walk from the parking lot, making for a very easy stop.
From Calgary, you can get there via Bragg Creek. It’s in Elbow Falls Provincial Recreation Area, one of the eastern areas of Kananaskis country.
Sheep River Falls
Like Elbow Falls, similar-sized Sheep River Falls in a provincial park of the same name, in southeastern Kananaskis country, and is an easy half-day trip from Calgary. Sheep River Falls is a little further away from town, though, so it’s not as busy as the latter.
This waterfalls is also in a beautifully wild location and requires only a very short walk from the parking lot to reach.
Waterfalls in Southern Alberta
For this section, we travel to the far south of the province. The first waterfall below is at the tail end of Cowboy Trail, while the following four are all in small but stunning Waterton Lakes National Park. For loads of details, see my guide to the best things to do in Waterton.
Mighty Lundbreck Falls is in an unlikely location, surrounded by prairie farmland and foothills. Only 12 meters tall (it seems bigger!), the waterfall is quite wide and split in two by a small island on the river. A variety of platforms offer impressive views from either side of the falls, or you can follow trails down to vantage points (or picnic spots!) on the river downstream.
The best way to reach Lundbreck is by traveling down Cowboy Trail (Highway 22), which runs parallel to the Rocky Mountains through scenic ranch land for hundreds of kilometers. In summer, think bright yellow canola fields backed by Rocky Mountain peaks.
Nearby, you can spend the night at Lundbreck Falls Provincial Park Campground.
The first of four must-visit waterfalls in Waterton Lakes National Park, Cameron Falls is the easiest to visit because it is right in Waterton townsite. You can walk to this impressive falls from anywhere in town, including the large townsite campground.
The falls are enjoyed from a large viewing platform. Don’t count on witnessing it, but on extremely rare occasion after heavy rain, the waterfall has been known to turn pink!
The second easiest waterfall to visit in Waterton Lakes National Park is Blakiston Falls. You can get there on an easy, 15-minute walking trail from the very popular and unique Red Rock Canyon. The trail starts at the southern end of Red Rock Canyon, close to the lower parking lot.
After walking through a forest of burned trees from the 2017 Kenow Fire, you’ll reach two metal platforms with epic views looking down on the plunging falls.
Bertha Falls is another Waterton Lakes National Park hike that shouldn’t be missed. Starting near the townsite campground, it takes less than an hour to reach Lower Bertha Falls. The trail leads to a vantage point directly opposite the wide cascade, so close you can nearly reach out and touch it.
From there, the trail continues uphill, becoming steeper and more difficult before reaching Upper Bertha Falls, and then all the way to Bertha Lake near the mountain’s peak.
Crypt Falls is one of several waterfalls that can be seen on the infamous Crypt Lake trail in Waterton Lakes National Park. The trail’s popularity boomed after National Geographic called it one of the world’s most thrilling hikes. You can read about my experience of the hike in my guide to Waterton Lakes.
The most famous section of the trail includes a narrow cliffside trail, ladder up a cliff, tunnel through a mountain, and narrow mountain top ridge. The hike terminates at a lake that sits on the Canada-US border.
During the most exciting portion of the trail, the view is dominated by an epic waterfall called Crypt Falls, which pours 175 meters down from Crypt Lake.
Northern Alberta Waterfalls
The final two waterfalls are super remote (I haven’t personally been). The first is in the Rockies north of Jasper, while the final entry is super remote and difficult to reach.
Remote Kakwa Falls is located in Kakwa Wildland Provincial Park, west of Grande Cache and adjacent to a park with the same name in BC.
At 30 meters, Kakwa Falls is sometimes called the tallest waterfall in Alberta, which it is not. Others on this list are way taller, but they include multiple tiers and cascades or they trickle down cliff faces. But perhaps you could say that Kakwa is the tallest single plunge waterfall in Alberta.
To reach Kakwa Falls, a 4X4 or offroad vehicle is essential, with multiple creek crossings to be made on the way there. Here’s a route map.
If the last waterfall sounds remote, this one might as well be on another planet. Vermilion Falls on Peace River is in far northern Alberta near enormous Wood Buffalo National Park, the largest of Canada’s national parks. You’ll need to start with a seven-hour drive from Edmonton to reach nearby Fort Vermilion.
According to its Wikipedia page, Vermilion Falls is the second largest in Canada after Niagara Falls in terms of flow volume, and the largest waterfall that is totally in Canada. It’s also the 6th widest waterfall in the world!
So how come none of us have heard of it? Clearly, this one is not easy to get to. I can’t even find one good photo of it online. In fact, as someone has pointed out in one of the comments below, it’s not even really a waterfall but more like a series of rapids. Not quite as exciting as you’d hoped for, right?