Most people don’t travel to Banff for the waterfalls. It’s an area more well known for its glacial lakes and majestic peaks. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some amazing Banff waterfalls to check out on your visit.
This is a list of some of our favorite waterfalls in Banff, but it’s by no means all of them in the park. Many waterfalls are hidden back in the forests away from civilization and only seen by the most willing of hikers. Below are some of the most accessible in Banff and beyond.
Amazing Banff Waterfalls to Check Out!
Cascade Falls is right on the side of Cascade Mountain and is the one fall that just about every visitor to the park is certain to see. If driving from Canmore to Banff on the Trans Canada, you can see this 240-meter tall fall on your right as you pass Cascade Ponds. Although you can see them from the car, it’s best to pull off and get a better look at them.
You may see climbers nearby in the summer or ice climbers in the winter!
Bow Falls are some of the most easily accessible waterfalls in Banff and one of the best things to do in Banff. They are right outside of town on the Bow River near the Banff Springs Hotel. You can walk to them from Banff Ave in under 20 minutes, or there is a small parking area nearby (but I recommend the walk!). It’s also possible to book a whitewater rafting tour that goes by the falls up close (you won’t be going over them).
They are a magnificent thing to do in Banff in the winter when the whole scene turns into a winter wonderland.
Johnston Canyon Lower Falls and Upper Falls
The Johnston Canyon hike is a nice easy, family-friendly hike in Banff. It’s one of the most popular things to do in Banff and is a great path to take. The two main highlights on this trail are the falls. The Lower and Upper Falls can be viewed by hiking just 1.2 km to the Lower Falls and 2.4km to the Upper Falls.
They are a sight to see in the summer with the roaring water and in the winter when the falls are frozen solid. In the winter, you can book an ice climbing tour back here!
Lake Agnes Waterfall
If you’re hiking to the Lake Agnes Tea House, you’ll come across these falls right before you get to the tea house. These are fairly small falls that I wouldn’t make the trip out for. However, they are a nice treat at the end of a long hike up to Lake Agnes.
Bow Glacier Falls
If you’ve come across Bow Lake in Banff and wondered where all the water flows from, it’s a short hike away. The meltwater from the Bow Glacier and Wapta Icefield cascades over Bow Glacier Falls and into Bow Lake.
It’s a fairly simple hike to get back and see Bow Glacier Falls. Walk past the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge to the right of Bow Lake. Follow the trail all the way around the lake and continue up the stairs and through the meadow. It’s a wonderful hike in the summer and gives Icefield Parkway drivers a good excuse to stretch their legs.
Some websites claim you can see the falls from Bow Lake, but they are pretty far back there, and it’s an obstructed view so I would highly recommend making the hike. The hike will take you between 2-4 hours and is 8.7 km with 266 meters of gain.
This short hike to Silverton Falls follows an old dirt road on its way to Rockbound Lake (harder Banff hike)but splits off for a quick detour to Silverton Falls. The trail follows along Silverton Creek until it reaches the Silverton Falls viewpoint. The Banff waterfall is 50 meters tall, and in the summer months, it’s pretty impressive.
The best part about this trail is it’s pretty quiet compared to nearby Johnston Canyon, so if you’re allergic to crowds, this would be a great choice.
The Weeping Wall
If you look towards it, you’ll see water cascading down in a series of waterfalls, essentially “weeping.” The biggest one is called “Teardrop.”
If you drive the parkway in June, you’ll be able to see the weeping wall at its finest. As the snow melts from the surrounding peaks and creates a magical scene. However drive it in the winter, and you’ll get ice, snow, and the occasional ice climber.
They are easy to see from the car, but if you don’t mind a little bushwacking, you can get out and hike right up to them.
Panther and Bridal Veil Falls
As you continue up the Icefields Parkway towards Jasper, there will be a pull-off point on your right. This pull-off point overlooks Panther Falls, and it’s well worth the stop to admire and grab a photo! The stop can be found right before the Parker Ridge Trailhead when driving from Banff to Jasper.
If you hike to Panther Falls in the winter, you’ll be able to get up close to the falls and walk around the awesome ice and even go behind the falls.
Waterfalls Near Banff
Banff may excel at most natural features, but some of the best are in the neighboring parks when it comes to waterfalls. Here are the best waterfalls near Banff.
Takakkaw Falls is the most stunning waterfall to see in the Canadian Rockies and one of the most beautiful in all of Canada. In fact, it’s the second-highest waterfall in all of Canada at 373 meters.
“Tak Falls” is in Yoho National Park, close by to Lake Louise. It’s easily accessible as there is a parking area right at the base. That’s right – this is a great waterfall in the Canadian Rockies that you don’t have to hike to. That being said, if you hike the Iceline Trail, you can score fantastic views of Tak Falls.
Laughing Falls and Twin Falls
The trails to both Laughing Falls and Twin Falls are relatively easy in the Yoho Valley. They are both not so heard about waterfalls near Tak Falls, that take some legwork to reach.
The trail to Laughing Falls is a 7.8km round trip trail with an easy 128 meters of elevation gain. The trail ends at the base of Laughing Falls and Laughing Falls campsite. If you want more of a day, then continue to Twin Falls.
The trail to Twin Falls via Laughing Falls is a gorgeous one, and if you like big impressive waterfalls, you’ll want to continue hiking. From Laughing Falls, you’ll have to continue around 6.5 km to Twin Falls on simple terrain.
As you may have guessed, Twin Falls are two rushing 80-meter waterfalls – side by side twins. If you get to see both, consider yourself lucky. When we visited in mid-September, only the right fall was flowing, we’ll have to return sometime for the true magic of both falls.
Wapta Falls is the largest waterfall of the Kicking Horse River and one of the best things to do in Yoho. It’s 18 meters high and a whopping 107 meters wide, making it one of the most impressive sights in the Canadian Rockies.
I love visiting in the summer, but honestly think it is even more beautiful in the winter when the ice freezes over and the surrounding peaks are covered in snow.
Troll Falls is a popular winter Kananaskis hike for families as it’s short and easy. The trail will lead you right to a frozen waterfall that is very impressive. In the winter, it’s best to hike with microspikes and trekking poles.
In the summer, the Troll Falls trail is hectic during the weekend, so try and go during the weekday.
Mistaya Canyon is a popular stop on the Icefields Parkway. The pullout area for parking here is on the west side of the parkway; there’s limited parking, so it may be busy peak summer.
To reach the canyon, you’ll have to hike down the easy .5 km trail to a well-maintained fenced bridge. It’s here you can see the roaring canyon around you.
Sunwapta Falls is an easy stop off on the Icefields Parkway that is well worth venturing to. Sunwapta Falls consists of upper and lower falls that are fed by the Athabasca Glacier. The upper falls are more easily accessible and therefore much busier, but a 1.3 km hike will take you to to the lower falls.
If you have the time, consider hiking to both, but if you’re in a pinch driving to Jasper, then the upper falls will surely leave you satisfied.
I’ve seen some incredible waterfalls in my life, including the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, Niagra Falls, and Dettifoss in Iceland. However, none of them stirred the soul like Emperor Falls. Images fail to convey the scale, and the proximity that hikers can approach the roaring water is wild.
They are some of the most powerful I’ve seen in all of Canada. To get to them, it’s best to plan a multi-day hike on the Berg Lake Trail.
When is the Best Time to See These Banff Waterfalls?
The best time to see the waterfalls in all their glory is in the summer months, between June and August. However, I personally think June is the best when the snow melts and the water flow is at its highest. By mid-September, many of the waterfalls are no more than a trickle, and they are near freezing by late October.
If you want to see some wonderful frozen waterfalls, make sure to visit Banff in the winter, between January and March.
Hiking to the Banff Waterfalls
Most of these Banff waterfalls require some sort of hike to get to them. There are few that can be seen easily and from the side of the road. It’s noted in this post whether the waterfalls require a hike or not to see.