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I’m afraid to break the news to you. There are no waterfalls in Edmonton (unless you count that fake waterfall they used to have off the High Level Bridge on Canada Day). And it gets worse…There are no waterfalls “near” Edmonton. You are going to have to drive at least a few hours, OK?
But if you’re from Edmonton like me, you’re probably used to driving great distances for your holidays. That’s why I’ve put together this article of the best waterfalls and waterfall hikes near Edmonton, keeping in mind that “near” is a relative term! If you want to feel jealous, you can see my similar guide to the best waterfalls near Calgary (spoiler: they’re mostly way closer).
All of the below waterfalls can be reached in 2–5 hours from Edmonton. I’ve ordered them from closest to furthest in terms of distance you’ll need to drive. You can see more options further afield in my round-up of the best waterfalls in Alberta.
Map of Waterfalls near Edmonton
Hard Luck Canyon Waterfall (198 km)
The closest waterfall to Edmonton can be found in a little-known natural area called Hard Luck Canyon. The canyon is northwest of the city, on the way to Grande Prairie, and is formed by a small creek that flows into the McLeod River.
Don’t expect a raging waterfall, though. The water flow here ranges from a non-existent trickle to decent flow in spring or after rain. It makes for a fun visit in winter, when it becomes a frozen waterfall.
The trail leading down into the canyon and falls is less than a kilometer and only takes about 30 minutes return. There’s a small parking lot accessed via a gravel road.
Ram Falls (312 km)
Ram Falls is a remote but stunning 20-meter waterfall in Ram Falls Provincial Park, which is in Clearwater county west of Rocky Mountain House. There’s a wooden staircase down to an excellent viewpoint of the falls, and you can often see bighorn sheep in the area. The unserviced Ram River Falls Campground is also nearby.
Even though it’s the second closest waterfall to Edmonton in terms of kilometers to drive, it takes longer to reach than the next three entries. You’ll need devote almost four hours to get there, including an hour or so of driving on a gravel road from Rocky Mountain House, which is why it takes longer. It’s slower, but you can also get there by driving south from Nordegg on forestry trunk road 734.
Note that the road to Ram Falls in closed in winter.
Punchbowl Falls (322 km)
If you’re from Edmonton, you’ve probably driven by the entrance to Punchbowl Falls a hundred times without realizing it.
The waterfall is just off the Yellowhead Highway, right after it enters Jasper National Park. There’s a small parking lot for the falls just up the road from Pocahantas Cabins, before it reaches Pocahantas Campground on the way to Miette Hot Spring (road closed in winter).
It only takes a minute from the car park to reach a small bridge over the falls. It is also possible to walk down to the bottom, though it is difficult to get a good view of the falls these days, with some trees blocking the view. There is also a trail connecting the falls to Pocahontas Campground.
Crescent Falls (323 km)
Crescent Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in all of Alberta. And unlike the more famous Rocky Mountain waterfalls (see below), it’s in a wilder, less visited (by tourists) area.
Crescent Falls is located in the Bighorn River Valley in the remote Nordegg region, or David Thompson country, after the David Thompson Highway (Highway 11), which runs through it from Red Deer and Rocky Mountain House to Saskatchewan River Crossing on the Icefields Parkway.
Crescent Falls is an impressive two-tiered waterfall, with a total height of 27 meters. You can look down from the top, near where there is a small campground, or hike down to the bottom of both falls.
Take extreme caution as several people have died at the base of the falls in recent years. Heading west from Crescent Falls will bring you to Abraham Lake, famous for its ice bubbles in winter, and Siffleur Falls (see 2 entries below).
Elbow Falls (357 km)
Jumping south, Elbow Falls is one of the best waterfalls in Kananaskis country, due west from Calgary and Bragg Creek on the Cowboy Trail (Highway 22).
Elbow Falls is a small series of falls on the Elbow River. The main one is only 3 meters when water levels are high, but in the dry season, the lower river level means that the falls double in height to 6 meters. The easy walking loop to the falls is less than 1 km long.
You can get there in under four hours from Edmonton. Although Elbow Falls is in Kananaskis country, it’s better accessed from the east rather than the main areas of Kananaskis to the west. See my guide to Kananaskis country for more info.
Siffleur Falls (362 km)
Returning back to the Nordegg/David Thompson area, Siffleur Falls near Abraham Lake is only a few kilometers further from Edmonton than the previous entry, albeit in a totally different area.
Siffleur Falls is the first waterfall on this list that requires a longer hike to reach. The 14.2 km return hike to Siffleur Falls begins right on the David Thompson Highway and North Saskatchewan River, just south of Abraham Lake.
This 3-tiered waterfall plunges through a narrow chasm on the Siffleur River, a tributary of the North Saskatchewan.
Maligne Canyon Falls (366 km)
In the #7 spot in terms of distance from Edmonton, Maligne Canyon Falls is the second Jasper National Park entry on this list.
Not a single waterfall, the famous tourist attraction Maligne Canyon is filled with numerous waterfalls. Maligne Canyon is a narrow gorge on the Maligne River, with a popular walking trail that crosses back and forth over a series of six bridges.
Most people park at bridge 1 and hike down the canyon, but you can also park at fifth bridge and hike up. Some of the best waterfalls can be reviewed from bridges 1, 2, and 3.
In winter, the Maligne Canyon Ice Walk features some of the best frozen waterfalls and ice formations you could ever hope to see.
Grotto Canyon Falls (379 km)
Grotto Canyon is one of the most popular hikes in Kananaskis, especially because it is an easy stop just off the main highway leading from Calgary to Canmore.
While the hike is mainly known for its creek walk, petroglyphs, and inukshuks, it also features a small waterfall trickling down a cliff.
Grotto Canyon is also one of the most popular Kananaskis winter hikes, at which time the waterfall becomes totally frozen, making it more impressive than in summer. It’s marked as Grotto Canyon Icefall on GoogleMaps. The starting point for the trail is on Bow Valley Trail (Highway 1A), 13 km before it reaches Canmore.
Troll Falls (386 km)
What also makes Troll Falls so popular is that the 3.5 km (1–2 hours) trail leading to it is perfect for all ages, making it one of the best easy hikes in Kananaskis. Besides the main waterfall, you can also hike up a slightly steeper trail to Upper Troll Falls.
Athabasca Falls (395 km)
The rushing 23-meter Athabasca Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in Jasper National Park, and probably the most nearest “famous” (as in you’ll see it on postcards) waterfall to Edmonton.
The waterfall is only 250 meters from the parking lot (perfect for those visiting Jasper with kids!), and there are various viewing platforms on either side of the falls and directly facing it.
The waterfall is only 30 minutes’ drive south of Jasper at the start of the Icefields Parkway, which connects Jasper to Banff. From Edmonton, it’s a 4 hr 15 min drive, so it’s best include on a multi-day trip to Jasper.
10 minutes’ drive past Athabasca Falls is the even more iconic Sunwapta Falls (see 3 entries below)
Sheep River Falls (399 km)
Sheep River Falls is in remote Sheep River Provincial Park, Kananaskis country. Like Elbow River (entry #5 above), it is a small-ish waterfall in a gorgeously wild natural setting.
The two waterfalls actually look a little similar, not to mention they are both better accessed from the east, such as from Calgary and the Cowboy Trail, rather than from the main areas of Kananaskis to the west. Although Elbow and Sheep River Falls are fairly close together as the crow flies, it takes 1 hr 15 min to drive between them, as they are up different roads.
A very short path leads from the parking lot to the falls. Note that the road is closed in winter.
Bow Falls (415 km)
Banff National Park’s most famous waterfall, Bow Falls, can be reached in a long morning drive from Edmonton, but of course you’ll want to further explore the park and stay for a few days; here’s my recommended Banff 3 day itinerary.
This wide, tumbling waterfall on the Bow River sits below the iconic Banff Springs Hotel just outside of Banff townsite. You can drive right up to it, or walk there on an easy riverside trail, one of the best walks for those visiting Banff with kids.
If you’re in Banff in winter, the waterfall becomes a frozen spectacle. It’s a quick and easy stop on the drive up to Upper Hot Springs!
Sunwapta Falls (419 km)
Only 10 minutes’ drive after Athabasca Falls (see 3 entries above), Sunwapta is the most iconic waterfall in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
A modest 18.5 meters tall, the water here explodes down a narrow crevice. But the most unique feature is the small, treed island just upstream from the falls, adding a unique touch to the view.
Like Athabasca Falls, it’s only a few minute’s walk from the car park to the falls, with various angles and bridges over the river to view the falls from.
Bridal Veil Falls & Panther Falls (424 km)
Two lovely waterfalls can be enjoyed from the same parking lot on the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, just south of where it meets Jasper National Park.
Bridal Veil Falls is a gentle cascade trickling down a cliff face and is visible right from the parking lot. The waterfall has many tiers, most of which are not visible from the highway. In total, they come to 370 meters in height, with the tallest single drop being 120 meters!
Panther Falls requires a short hike (30 min return) and is more of an explosive falls, plunging 66 meters from a ledge.
The drive to these two falls from Edmonton via Jasper would take over 5 hours, so they wouldn’t even make my list. But if you take David Thompson Highway (see Crescent Falls and Siffleur Falls above), then hang a right at Saskatchewan River Crossing on the Icefields Parkway, you can reach them in 4.5 hours from Edmonton.
Tangle Creek Falls (445 km)
Like the previous entry, Tangle Creek Falls is between Jasper and Saskatchewan River Crossing, just north of Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park.
If you take David Thompson Highway to Bridal Veil and Panther Falls, as I recommend in the previous entry, you would only have to drive another 10 minutes north to reach Tangle Creek Falls. Alternatively, you can visit Tangle Creek Falls by driving south from Jasper, passing Athabasca, Sunwapta, and Stanley Falls (see next entry) along the way.
Similar to Bridal Veil Falls, Tangle Falls is visible from the small parking lot right on the highway. It has four drops totaling 48 meters, and in winter you can often see people ice climbing on the main drop.
Stanley Falls (452 km)
Drive yet another 6 kilometers north from the previous entry and you’ll reach our final waterfall “near” Edmonton, Stanley Falls. In fact, whether you come via Jasper, or via the David Thompson Highway, this one is equidistant from Edmonton. It takes just under 5 hours either way, so it just barely makes the cut for this article.
Stanley Falls requires an easy, gently uphill, 1–2 hour-return hike from the highway.
The cascade itself is stunning, and you can walk right up to the cliff’s edge overlooking the pool that it drops into. Also watch for a few smaller waterfalls along the hike to it!
Did I miss any awesome waterfalls near Edmonton that you know of? Please let me know in the comments below!