Waterfalls to Go See in Alberta, Canada

by Aaron Charles
Alberta's rivers and mountains help create the region's startling waterfalls.

Alberta's rivers and mountains help create the region's startling waterfalls.

Karl Weatherly/Photodisc/Getty Images

The spires and crags of the Canadian Rockies that stand throughout Alberta don't just give artists something to paint and climbers something to climb. The book "Adventure Tourism" notes that the limestone geology of the Canadian Rockies offers countless waterfalls -- and endless excitement for those who go to see them.

Relaxation

Choosing a waterfall to visit in Alberta could be similar to choosing a lake to visit among the "10,000 lakes" in the province's American neighbor, Minnesota. One way to choose, though, is by determining whether you prefer a relaxing, adventurous, or cultural experience. The online directory "Discover Alberta" gives a detailed list of numerous Alberta waterfalls. In particular, though, the website "Travel Alberta" mentions one special waterfall where you can relax as much as you hike. There's a waterfall above the town of Waterton, just a few hours from Calgary, that can be accessed by hiking about 45 minutes on the Lower Bertha Falls trail. Afterward, you can pick from different amenities in Waterton, where you'll find golf, massage, aromatherapy and more.

Off the Beaten Path

Going where few choose to go can give your waterfall visit just a bit more adventure. One example of traveling the way "less traveled by" is taking the Jasper National Park trail down to the Lower Sunwapta Falls, off the main road and away from the popular Upper Sunwapta Falls. "Frommer's Alberta" notes that few travelers make the journey to the lower falls, where the lodgepole pine forest adds to the serene setting made even more peaceful by the dearth of swarming tourists. Also consider the many options in the Banff National Forest, a popular destination for waterfall sightings, even in winter, when the cold weather freezes waterfall spray on rocks and sets an artful scene.

Cultural

In trying to keep up with nature, architects, artists and working citizens have teamed up throughout Canada's history to either make their own waterfalls or alter the landscape surrounding waterfalls to make them more accessible to hikers. For example, in Edmonton, the artist Peter Lewis designed the Great Divide Waterfall to celebrate Edmonton's 75th anniversary as a city. Finished in 1980, the falls pour out of the city's High Level Bridge -- from 21 feet higher than Niagara Falls -- into the North Saskatchewan River, being fed by the municipal water system. In 2009, though, the city suspended waterfall operations until planners figure a way to greatly reduce or eliminate the amounts of chlorine from the waterfall put into the river. You also might enjoy the waterfall unofficially known as "The Junkyard" in the Grassi Lakes area of the Banff National Forest. Strategically placed stepping stones lead the way to a view of the falls here, which is much cleaner than the name implies.

Caution

More adventurous waterfall-seekers can take a lesson from history by considering what at least one kayaker experienced in Crowsnest Pass, about 165 miles south of Calgary. Jaron Kooperberg deliberately paddled over Lundbreck Falls in May 2010 and remained underwater for several minutes. He could not be resuscitated once finally pulled from the water. His death is a reminder that pushing the limit while enjoying Alberta's waterfalls can be dangerous.

Resources

Photo Credits

  • Karl Weatherly/Photodisc/Getty Images