Wapta Falls has to be one of the best waterfalls I have ever seen. You can reach it via an easy hike, but the payoff is simply magnificent. We visited when the air was smoky and gross, but it would be even more incredible on a clear day. If you are passing through Yoho National Park, stop and visit Wapta Falls!
You can probably tell (from my multiple posts about them) but Marc and I always love hiking to waterfalls. However Wapta Falls almost needs a different name, as it is just so much more epic than other waterfalls – even in the Rockies. It should be called a water-smash or colossal-torrent-falls (or something!)
Wapta Falls – the basics
Waterfall details: This is one of the largest waterfalls (by volume) in the Canadian Rockies.
Dimensions: It’s 18m high and 100m wide
(or 30m high and 150m wide, depending which website you trust.)
Cost: You need to have a discovery pass to enter Canadian National Parks. Once you have that, it is free.
How much time do you need: 1.5-2 hours.
Facilities: Loos at the trailhead
Good in winter: It looks like you can visit in winter when the falls are frozen.
Mini hike distance: 4.8km
Elevation gain: 125m
Dogs: Dogs will love it. Just keep them on a leash.
Extra notes: If you want to go up close to the falls you will end up all soggy from the spray.
Wapta Falls – Getting started
Wapta Falls road is the first turning on the right after you have entered Yoho National Park on the Trans-Canada Highway from the East. Drive to the end of the road to the large parking area. From there, there is only one trail. At this point it is flat and easy to follow.
The trail is a little boring for the first kilometer, until you climb up a hill that gives views of the Kicking Horse River. Slightly further along (1.8km in) you reach the first incredible view of Wapta Falls from above.
Wapta Falls from above
This is the view from above. There is an island that has been eroded into a mound of rocks, silt and debris just in front of the falls that you can climb up if you’d like to get close. If you look carefully in my photo below, there are multiple people on it.
The trail down to the waterfall is very steep after that first viewpoint. Bring non-slippery shoes and take is slowly if you need to.
More incredible views
There is a second viewpoint half way down. You can’t quite get the enormous scale from my photos; But according to the world waterfall database the water flow is 13,000 cubic feet per second. It’s loud, misty and impressive.
Getting down below Wapta Falls
Once you climb down to the base of the waterfall, you can navigate between the pools of glacial water to reach that island at the edge of the waterfall.
You can see where the island in front of Wapta Falls is being eroded. We visited at the start of August, so the flow rate was high, but it had already had a month of the glacier melting, so it wasn’t at it’s peak. You can see where the water cuts through earlier in the springtime.
Access to the island in front of Wapta Falls must change as the level of water in the pools goes up or down. When we visited it was easy to cross over to the rocky island and climb up it.
Wapta Falls close up
And look at it!? We’d been soaked at Bear Creek Falls just before visiting this one. But nothing compares to the deluge of mist you’ll get standing so close to Wapta Falls!
I’d have to shield my camera, snap a photo and then cover the camera up again as these viewpoints close to the waterfall were just so wet.
Once you have been completely drenched and enjoyed looking at the falls, you can hike back. We found an alternative route that was less steep for our return hike (follow the signs from the base of the falls.)
We really enjoyed the relaxing walk through the forest, and found some cool plants like this Devil’s Club. However I have a feeling most people that visit this trail will only have eyes for the waterfall as it is just such a good’un!
Have you visited Wapta Falls? It is one of the more famous waterfalls in Yoho National Park, and the largest waterfall on the Kicking Horse River. I also love Takakkaw Falls, Laughing Falls and Twin Falls if you want to chase more waterfalls near here.
Other Waterfalls near Yoho National Park
Yoho (and well, the Rockies in general) are fantastic for epic waterfalls. I will add more to the map below as I create posts for them. In case you are looking for other waterfall adventures.
Please click on the pins below if you’d like to save the information for later.