Wapta Falls – Yoho’s best waterfall?

Wapta Falls – Yoho’s best waterfall?

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.

Eroding away

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.

Heading back

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.

31 thoughts on “Wapta Falls – Yoho’s best waterfall?

  1. This is awesome! We love waterfalls, the bigger the better. And I love that the little hike isn’t too long that we could bring the kids!

  2. That is quite a waterfall! I love that it’s an easy hike despite the impressive scenery 🙂

  3. I live close to the Rockies in the Colorado end of things and love the hikes and waterfalls we find there. This is a great hike though for when we visit my family in Canada.

  4. Wapta Falls looks so gorgeous! Definitely adding this to my list of easy hikes to do for when I finally make it out to Yoho. Thanks for this great guide!

    1. Thanks Erin! Yoho is soo gorgeous. Just driving through is incredible, but when you stop for hikes it’s even better!

  5. I love waterfall hikes too and this is looks like a great one! Powerful and lots of water. Very cool that it is from a glacier. I grew up next to Niagara Falls and some of your photos remind me of Niagara. I also noticed your reference to the AllTrails app. I just started using that and am a HUGE fan!

    1. Me too! Alltrails sometimes fails me loading in the backcountry (so I use Maps Me as well) but I have discovered sooo many hikes through that app!

      And I see what you mean. It does look a bit like Niagara from some angles. That is another incredible waterfall!

    1. Yeees! I loved all your waterfall-filled posts this year. We did too, but this one (and the next one I am going to post, Bow Glacier Falls) really blew me away.

  6. Another gorgeous hike, thanks for the guide! Standing on the island in front of those astounding falls must have been amazing! I’m adding this to our list since it isn’t hard but has a huge payoff.

    1. Yeeees. It was soggy, but standing on that island was amazing.

      And yeah, this is one of those hikes that can be great even for non-hikers. 🙂

  7. Wow! That’s one heckuva waterfall! The forest is beautiful too. Short but rewarding waterfall hikes are my favorite 🙂

    1. I guess it is a bit easy – we always want to hike high and get the best views, so it took us a while to attempt this one too. I guess you are the same – if you’re in Yoho, you’ll be on the epic trails.

      It’s quite good as a mini stop-off before or after another longer hike.

  8. These waterfalls definitely do not disappoint! Like you, I love hikes to waterfalls, it makes it so much more of an adventure. Definitely saving this guide for later.

  9. Wow, I’ve never heard of Wapta Falls or Yoho National Park… so I missed that when I was in the Rockies. Such a shame as it’s so majestic! I’ll have to visit next time!

    1. This one is in the Canadian Rockies Hannah – that might be why you hadn’t heard of it. There are loads of fab walks/waterfalls and mountain views North of the border too. 🙂

  10. I love a good waterfall hike! It’s always exciting when you can get up close and personal to the falls (which sometimes requires getting a second shower for the day, but totally worth it).

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: