Athabasca Falls

Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

About Athabasca Falls

Hiking Distance: < 1km round trip
Suggested Time: 30-45 minutes

Date first visited: 2010-09-18
Date last visited: 2010-09-18

Waterfall Latitude: 52.66442
Waterfall Longitude: -117.88389

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Athabasca Falls was memorable to us because it featured a pretty mountain backdrop.

The falls itself wasn’t particularly mindblowing, but it possessed enough power to carve out a bit of a gorge immediately downstream from where the Athabasca River made its tumble.

Icefields_Parkway_170_09182010 - Athabasca Falls
Athabasca Falls

The further downstream from the falls that we explored, the more the gorge became deeper, which illustrated how intense the cutting action was.

As for its dimensions, this waterfall was said to drop some 23m.

Experiencing the Athabasca Falls

We experienced Athabasca Falls by doing a very short walk along its extensive (and busy) walkways and bridges.

These paths skirted and spanned the gorge immediately downstream of the falls.

Meanwhile, these walks also afforded us views of the waterfalls’ brink from both of its sides as well as its front in addition to some of the interesting geology of the gorge itself.

Icefields_Parkway_106_09182010 - Broad look at the top of Athabasca Falls backed by an impressive mountain
Broad look at the top of Athabasca Falls backed by an impressive mountain

We didn’t do the walk that led further downstream deeper into the intriguing lower canyon.

However, when we were at the bridge spanning the gorge beneath Hwy 93A, we were able to see where the watercourse reached a calm area.

That was when Julie noted color of the water, which was that pronounced light blue that we normally associate with glacier-fed watercourses.

Indeed, that color impressed her much she felt it really added to the waterfall’s scenic allure.

A protruding rocky island in the middle of the Athabasca River at the brink of the river’s drop actually split up the Athabasca Falls.

Icefields_Parkway_176_09182010 - Looking downstream from Athabasca Falls into the deepening gorge cut forth by the Athabasca River
Looking downstream from Athabasca Falls into the deepening gorge cut forth by the Athabasca River

Thus, we were able to observe dual segments from the overlooks surrounding the falls.

Then, as we peered further downstream from these overlooks, we saw that shortly thereafter, the segments rejoined and thus retained its power and volume as it continued its cutting action into the gorge below.

Given all that turbulence, we were lucky to see a faint rainbow in the rising mist of one of the waterfall’s two segments.

To give you an idea of how much time to spend here, we took a total of 40 minutes to meader about the falls and take photos.

I’m sure that score will change depending on how the return visit would go.


Athabasca Falls resides in Jasper National Park near Jasper in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is administered by Parks Canada. For information or inquiries as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Icefields_Parkway_116_09182010 - Closeup look at the Athabasca Falls from early on in its short walk leading to both sides of its brink
Icefields_Parkway_148_09182010 - Faint rainbow besides the brink of one of Athabasca Falls' segments
Icefields_Parkway_152_09182010 - Looking down at the convergence of Athabasca Falls' two segments. I can only imagine just how turbulent and powerful the water can be under such confines
Icefields_Parkway_169_09182010 - Frontal look at the Athabasca Falls from a bridge over the Athabasca River
Icefields_Parkway_174_09182010 - Slightly more obstructed view of Athabasca Falls as we were starting to move towards the other end of the short walk
Icefields_Parkway_179_09182010 - Back at the trailhead for the Athabasca Falls where it was possible to explore a little further upstream of the waterfall
Icefields_Parkway_181_09182010 - Broad look at the mountain near Athabasca Falls from near the brink of the waterfall and the shores of the Athabasca River

Athabasca Falls can be reached from a well-signed turnoff just west of the Hwy 93 and Hwy 93A junction.

The car park itself had lots of spaces though it was quite crowded anyways, which was saying something considering we were here outside of the peak Summer season.

We made it up here on the way to Jasper from Banff.

Icefields_Parkway_103_09182010 - The parking lot for the Athabasca Falls
The parking lot for the Athabasca Falls

It was about an hour’s drive north of the Columbia Icefields (where Athabasca Glacier and the Glacier View Inn are) along the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93).

The falls was roughly 3 hours north of Banff or roughly 30 minutes south of Jasper.

For additional context, Jasper was 365km (under 4 hours drive) west of Edmonton and 412km (5 hours drive) northwest of Calgary.

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Bottom up sweep of the falls while ending at the gorgeous mountain in back of it

Bottom up sweep looking down at the lower canyon

Right to left U-shaped sweep following the segmented waterfalls from an overlook on the right side of the falls

Looking downstream into the small gorge as the two segments of the falls combine and continue towards the lower canyon

Bottom up sweep of the falls from its brink on its left side

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Tagged with: jasper, national park, alberta, canada, waterfall, icefields, canadian rockies, columbia, sunwapta

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Canada Waterfalls October 20, 2013 2:17 am by Charles Kosina - Having just returned from an extensive photographic tour of British Columbia and Alberta in Canada, and Montana and Wyoming in USA, we have a large collection of spectacular waterfalls. Top of my list are the Takkakaw Falls in the Yoho National Park near Field, BC. These are glacier fed and are the second highest falls… ...Read More
Athabasca Falls November 5, 2012 4:53 pm by M. Richard Weiss - One stop among many in my tour of the Canadian Rockies ...Read More

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About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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