Rearguard Falls Provincial Park is a teeny park, on the road to Jasper, just before you enter Mount Robson Provincial Park. We spent the morning (and the previous day) chasing waterfalls in Wells Gray Provincial Park, so you might think we’d have seen enough waterfalls for the rest of the day. But, when I spotted another waterfall on the map, we couldn’t resist a mini stop off to look at the views and take a peek at Rearguard Falls. There is a car park and a large sign post right next to the highway, so you can’t miss it!
This waterfall is pretty small compared to the epic falls we saw elsewhere, but the scenery around the waterfall is beautiful. Just after we arrived the sun poked out from behind the clouds and this made the water turn into a gorgeous greeny-blue. The other reason you might want to visit here is that you may spot salmons jumping up the waterfall.
Rearguard Falls Map
Rearguard Falls – the basics
Distance from the carpark: 400m
Elevation loss: 30m
Time: 10-15 minutes each way, and then ages to stare at the waterfall!
There are pit toilets, but bring toilet paper.
Dogs are allowed if you keep them on a leash.
How hard is it?
Rearguard Falls Hiking Trail
As you can probably guess from the description above, this isn’t a long hiking trail, it’s more of a taste of hiking. A sort of amuse-bouche-sized walk. This doesn’t mean you should ignore it though! The waterfall in Rearguard Falls Provincial Park is beautiful. Plus, this detour will only take a few minutes, so you’d be mad to drive straight past. We used this as an excuse to stretch our legs from the road trip and to use the toilet.
Rearguard Falls boardwalk
The start of the trail is through trees. You need to walk down a steep slope that leads down to a well-built boardwalk. The boardwalk allows you to walk up close to Rearguard Falls, so you can look right into the bubbling splashing water.
We visited in spring, so the river had swollen from all the melted snow. I have a feeling there might not be quite so much water later in the summer. It may also not always be such a gorgeous colour.
Rearguard Falls Provincial Park
The boardwalk has steps up to a viewpoint. You can’t see the waterfall very well from here, but it will allow you to see great views of the Fraser River and the surrounding geology.
This is the view. Not bad eh?
Watch Chinook Salmon at Rearguard Falls
Apparently, this is a fantastic place to watch chinook salmon leap up the falls. This is the highest the salmon climb on the Fraser River, so they have made a blooming long journey (1200km -ish) to make it this far! The Fraser River is British Columbia’s longest river. It is mad to think this pretty, bright-coloured river is the same as the giant, brown Fraser River down in Vancouver.
Anyway, the boardwalk has a viewing platform right next to the waterfall, so if you visit in August, you’d get a great view of flying fishies!
Rearguard Falls – Be Safe
There were signs near the water asking people to stay on the boardwalk and, not go down closer to the waterfall, but, of course, there were also plenty of people ignoring those signs to climb over the barriers and get closer and take photos. Le sigh. Don’t be that person!
Etiquette for watching the salmon
If you’d like to see salmon run at Rearguard falls you need to come at the end of the summer. We visited the falls in early spring, so we didn’t see any salmon, but Marc and I previously went to watch the salmon run at the appropriately named salmon arm, so I can share the tips we learned back then:
- Don’t wade into the water. The salmon lay their eggs at the edges in the stones, so you might disturb them
- Stay back from the water (shadows can scare off the salmon)
- Keep pets on their leads (don’t let them in the water)
- Don’t litter or throw anything in the water
Any harm you do to the salmon or their eggs can have massive consequences as it can effect the salmon run, and the whole ecosystem in future years. So, please just don’t mess with them.
This is the view just above Rearguard Falls, so this is where the very strongest Chinook Salmon spawn, and then die.