Bow Falls

Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

About Bow Falls

Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2010-09-15
Date last visited: 2010-09-15

Waterfall Latitude: 51.16797
Waterfall Longitude: -115.5615

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Bow Falls was a wide river waterfall situated in the backside of the town of Banff.

Given how relatively easy it was to visit this waterfall, it was the first one we saw during our September 2010 Canadian Rockies trip.

Bow_Falls_005_09152010 - Bow Falls
Bow Falls

We also saw tour buses routinely stop and drop off its load of tourists at the large car park for this waterfall as a result of its accessibility.

We were able to see Bow Falls along a well-established walkway that gave us views from near its base, above the falls, as well as the rapids and cascades further upstream.

Whenever we looked downstream from the falls, we got to see the lovely river twisting its way before tall mountains including the oddly sloped Mt Rundle.

From this established walkway, there didn’t seem to be an obvious way to see the Bow Falls from the other side of the river.

Bow_Falls_056_09152010 - Context of the walkway leading to the top of the Bow Falls
Context of the walkway leading to the top of the Bow Falls

Speaking of the other side, Julie and I almost wasted time there when we took a different road as suggested by our confused GPS.

We ended up at a car park where it led to a trailhead labeled the Bow Falls and Hoodoos Trail.

However, from looking at the trajectory of the trail, it didn’t seem like something we should be doing late in the day for the purpose of just seeing the waterfall, especially given that it was 3.1 miles return and Julie was pregnant.

While this trail might have been a worthwhile experience under different circumstances, we were content with the contextual views of the Banff Springs Hotel near this trailhead before turning back and driving to the car park with the easier access (as mentioned above).


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

Bow_Falls_002_09152010 - At first, we took Buffalo Street and went to the Hoodoos Trail which yielded this view of the Bow River and the Banff Springs Hotel
Bow_Falls_003_09152010 - Looking downstream from the car park and viewing area for Bow Falls
Bow_Falls_007_09152010 - Looking ahead towards Bow Falls with some people checking it out from the lookout for a sense of scale
Bow_Falls_016_09152010 - This was probably the most direct view of Bow Falls that we could get from this side of the river
Bow_Falls_025_09152010 - At a closer viewpoint next to some interesting cliffs though getting any closer to the base of Bow Falls was not possible when we made our visit
Bow_Falls_032_09152010 - Top down angled look at Bow Falls from the walkway skirting by its brink
Bow_Falls_043_09152010 - Looking down across Bow Falls from the walkway above it
Bow_Falls_049_09152010 - Looking downstream past Bow Falls towards some mountains in the distance
Bow_Falls_052_09152010 - Another look over the slope of Bow Falls towards mountains in the distance as seen from the walking path by the waterfall
Bow_Falls_053_09152010 - The well-established walkway leading up above the top of Bow Falls
Bow_Falls_054_09152010 - Looking down at one of the upper cascades well upstream of the main Bow Falls

Bow Falls sat on the back outskirts of the town of Banff so we’ll describe the directions right from town.

From Banff Ave (which leaves the Trans-Canada Hwy 1 and cuts right through the heart of Banff Town), we headed south crossing over the Bow River.

Right on the other side of the bridge, we turned left onto Glen Ave before forking to the right onto Mountain Ave.

Shortly thereafter, we turned left onto Spray Ave, following this street until we turned left onto Rundle Ave (there should be signposts for Bow Falls by this point).

Rundle Ave eventually merges into Bow River Ave, which ultimately leads to the large car park for the falls.

The mistake that we made earlier (to get to the other side of the river) was that we followed the GPS and ended up taking Buffalo St (prior to crossing over the bridge over Bow River).

Driving this route would only make sense if you’re wishing to combine seeing the hoodoos with a different perspective of the falls.

For context, Banff Town was 127km (90 minutes drive) west of Calgary, 288km (over 3.5 hours drive) south of Jasper, and 413km (4 hours drive) southwest of Edmonton.

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Fixated on the falls from near the car park

Left to right sweep starting at the falls and ending towards Mt Rundle

Left to right sweep looking down at the falls and following its flow towards Mt Rundle

Left to right sweep following the uppermost rapids and cascades towards the top of the main waterfall and Mt Rundle

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Tagged with: banff, national park, bow river, canadian rockies, canada, waterfall, alberta, hoodoos trail, banff springs

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Johnny Cheng

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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