Sometimes you need easy days in the Rockies! We were camping at Marble Canyon Campground, just opposite the actual Marble Canyon; So it would have been mad for us not to take a peek at this famous geological feature. Even if you are not staying nearby, Marble Canyon offers more of those crazy blue glacial waters as well as epic mountain views by a spectacular canyon. You should definitely visit here as you explore Kootenay National Park or Banff.
A quick walk in Marble Canyon will let you see the amazing blue waters, the spectacular gorge as well as a pretty waterfall. There are seven bridges that cross the canyon allowing you to peek down at the limestone. It’s great for Geology nerds like me.
Marble Canyon Map
Marble Canyon – The basics
Distance: 1.4 km
Elevation gain: 50m
Time: 30 mins
What to bring:
This is super short. You only really need your camera.
There are loos in the car park.
Dogs: Yes (on a leash)
How hard is it? Easy-peasy. This is more like sightseeing than hiking.
Extra notes: There is no cell service in Kootenay National Park. Download maps and details before you drive into the National park!
Marble Canyon – Getting started
There is a small car park right next to the highway (Banff-Windermere Parkway.) You can’t really get lost as you just cross the Vermillion river then start walking up along the beautiful bright blue waters of Tokumm Creek.
So many bridges
The trail for Marble Canyon crosses the canyon multiple times on small bridges. This gives you some fantastic views of the long steep drops (40m+) where the gorge has been carved out of the limestone out by Tokumm Creek. As well as the seven bridges, you look down at a couple of natural stone bridges.
Top of the Canyon
The views are pretty impressive at the top. You can see the surrounding cliffs as well as some of the grey stumps from the giant forest fire that ravaged this area back in 2003. More bright green trees have now grown in around the destruction, so the area is starting to be beautiful again!
Waterfall at Marble Canyon
At the top of the pathway, there is a beautiful waterfall. Stand just above it and watch as the water drops into a huge hole in the rocks. The water disappears from view, but you can still hear it far below.
Here’s a quick video to give you the idea…
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There are great views above the Canyon, looking out to Vermillion Peak.
How busy is Marble Canyon
There were quite a lot of people around, but it still didn’t seem too busy once people are spread out along the trail. It’s very empty compared it to the crowds at the nearby Johnston Canyon. This was actually the busiest place we visited in Kootenay National Park, but it was still easy to keep social distance.
I thought the views were even better on the way down. The natural bridges stand out more against the blue waters when you see them from this direction.
Fab picnic area
Right at the base of the Canyon there is a gate you can go through to access the shoreline. A few people had stopped here to admire the views and eat their lunch.
Keep walking to the Paint Pots
If you fancy stretching your legs a bit more, there is an easy trail that follows along the Vermilion River for 4km to the nearby Paint Pots. Or, you can pop back in your car and drive down the road to them. They are mineral pools with bright orange and green waters, in contrast to the blues you see in Marble Canyon. (I wrote about those in my next post!)
After a few epic days hiking, it was really nice to wake up a bit late and do some sightseeing rather than a super long hike. Marble Canyon (and then the Paint Pots) was perfect for this kind of relaxing day. It would also make a great picturesque stop-off if you are driving through Kootenay national Park.