Alberta may be landlocked, but that doesn’t mean it’s without wondrous waterways. You’ll find several jaw-dropping rivers, lakes, and (you guessed it) waterfalls spread throughout the province. Some are fairly accessible, while others require a bit more effort. Whatever you’re up for, these impressive waterfalls in Alberta will quench your thirst for adventure.
Times are tough in the height of the third wave. I’m sure we’ll be looking for close-to-home options this summer, especially when it’s safe to travel around. The good news is that there’s so much to explore right here in Alberta. Here are 10 spectacular waterfalls in Alberta that are worth the trip!
About an hour southwest of Calgary roars the Elbow Falls. The Elbow River flows for 120 kilometres from the Rockies to Calgary where it merges with the Bow. The falls is a popular spot in the summertime, with picnic tables and family-friendly hikes in the area. In fact, there are several hiking options, including the shorter Fullerton Loop or trails like Prairie Mountain for more of a challenge.
Sheep River Falls
Have you heard of Sheep River Provincial Park? It’s less popular than other areas in Kananaskis Country, but Sheep River Falls is one of the mightiest waterfalls near Calgary. Not bad for a 1.5-hour drive. Take a day to explore the falls and the beautiful landscape. Bring a picnic lunch or drive 30 minutes east to Turner Valley (the Chuckwagon Cafe is a local favourite!).
It’s doesn’t matter if you’re in Calgary or Edmonton, the trip to Crescent Falls is about the same 3-hour drive. If you live in Nordegg, it’s a quick half-hour. No matter where you’re coming from, two majestic waterfalls wait to greet you at this popular site. Combine the falls with a trip to Abraham Lake about 30 minutes away. Or spend time on Highway 40 north from Calgary to find Alberta’s wild horses roaming free—spectacular! There are several hikes in this part of the province, too.
Ram Falls Provincial Park is a lesser-known campground that’s bookable most of the year. In my opinion, it’s totally underrated with this 20-metre waterfall right next to your campsite. One of the most impressive waterfalls in Alberta! If you’re up for a drive, head north toward Nordegg to see the two-tiered Crescent Falls. The Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site also provides a blast from the past in the area.
Troll Falls has got to be one of the most trodden trails in all of Kananaskis. It’s a wonderful option for families with kids, or for anyone wanting a shorter jaunt. The waterfalls create an exciting landscape in summer and winter, and you can even go in behind. Located near Kananaskis Village, Troll Falls is found at the heart of K-Country with many other hiking, biking, and paddling options nearby.
Johnston Canyon Waterfalls
Speaking of popular trails, Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park is another hike that captures the attention. The Upper and Lower Falls are both spectacular, and there’s a little cave to climb through at the lower falls. Just keep in mind that the Bow Valley Parkway is currently closed to vehicle traffic, so an additional 12-kilometre roundtrip is added to get to the trailhead (biking is a good option!).
Have you experienced Jasper National Park? There’s so much to do and see in Jasper, including Athabasca Falls just 30 kilometres south of the townsite. You really shouldn’t miss this stop, which is a perfect picnic option with some trails nearby. The turquoise blue water is stunning any time of the year.
Maligne Canyon Waterfalls
Maligne Canyon is easily one of the most popular places to visit in Jasper. I’ve never been here in the summer, but the frozen falls are completely remarkable in the winter months. There are several bridges to enjoy the falls from above, too. If you’re planning a Jasper trip sometime soon, be sure to stop for Maligne Canyon. You could continue on to Maligne Lake afterward for a lovely beach day.
Southern Alberta has many gems to offer—like Lundbreck Falls! The Crowsnest Pass area makes for a splendid road trip, and these falls are a nice stop along the way. It’s about 2 hours from Calgary, so easily done as a day trip. Or you could spend a weekend at the nearby Beaver Mines Lakes or another spot in Castle Provincial Park. Lots of great hikes nearby, including Table Mountain or Turtle Mountain (where Frank Slide happened!).
Waterton Lakes National Park is one of five incredible national parks in Alberta. We’re very lucky to have such pristine nature in our own backyard. About 3 hours from Calgary, Waterton Park is home to magnificent lakes and various hiking trails. If you want a more leisurely day, Cameron Falls is a lovely spot to stop and explore right in town.
What’s your favourite waterfall in Alberta? Did I miss any that deserve to be on the list? Let me know in the comments below!
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