Bow Glacier Falls

Banff National Park / Icefields Parkway, Alberta, Canada

About Bow Glacier Falls


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

Date first visited: 2010-09-17
Date last visited: 2010-09-17

Waterfall Latitude: 51.65235
Waterfall Longitude: -116.49847

Bow Glacier Falls was the waterfall draining the rapidly receding Bow Glacier, which fed the pretty Bow Lake.

Keep in mind that this was not the same waterfall as Bow Falls by the town of Banff.

Num_Ti_Jah_018_09172010 - Bow Glacier Falls
Bow Glacier Falls

Indeed, Bow Glacier Falls was well-situated as it was close by Bow Lake, the beautiful Peyto Lake, the Crowfoot Glacier, and also the reflections on the tranquil Waterfowl Lake.

Given how much the glacier had receded in recent years, it was hard to believe that this waterfall probably didn’t exist when the Bow Glacier’s terminus licked Bow Lake.

But when we showed up in September 2010, we needed a telephoto lens to try bring the falls closer to view.

We wonder how much longer would it be before the Bow Glacier would disappear completely from view or just disappear altogether!

I suppose we could’ve done a pretty strenuous 6-mile round trip hike to get closer to the Bow Glacier Falls while hiking the boulder fields (i.e. the glacial moraines) left behind by the receding glacier beyond the lake.

Num_Ti_Jah_032_09172010 - Bow Lake near the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge and the trailhead for the hike up to the Bow Glacier Falls
Bow Lake near the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge and the trailhead for the hike up to the Bow Glacier Falls

But given that we showed up late in the afternoon and the falls itself wasn’t particularly forceful, Julie and I were content with the views from the lakeshore near the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge.

In order to witness Bow Glacier Falls in higher flow, I’d imagine we would have to make our visit during Canada’s warmest days in late June through August.

Experiencing Bow Glacier Falls from a distance

The walk from the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge to the nearest shore of Bow Lake took us only 20 minutes.

This included the walking and the photographing so it could conceivably take even less time than that (supposing you don’t want to walk up to the waterfall itself).

Num_Ti_Jah_025_09172010 - Context of Bow Lake as we were content to experience the Bow Glacier Falls from the lake's shores
Context of Bow Lake as we were content to experience the Bow Glacier Falls from the lake’s shores

Speaking of Bow Lake, it added to the tranquility and ambience of the scene.

For it was here that we saw lovely snowy mountains rising high above the lake.

Even flanking the lakeshore were puddles providing mirror-like reflections of those same peaks behind the Bow Lake.

I guess we were lucky with the timing of our visit as bad weather had recently started to clear up when we showed up.

The only drawback with our timing was that the late afternoon sun was against us so we were looking into the sun while we were looking towards both the Bow Glacier and the Bow Glacier Falls.

Num_Ti_Jah_008_09172010 - Looking towards the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge at the trailhead for Bow Glacier Falls, but the hotel was closed for the season during our visit
Looking towards the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge at the trailhead for Bow Glacier Falls, but the hotel was closed for the season during our visit

I’d imagine since the falls and glacier were east facing that morning would be a much better time to visit if the sun was out.

If we’re fortunate to come back here, I intend to hike all the way to the waterfall for a greater appreciation of its size as well as the scenery on the way there.

So in the mean time, the low score we gave it merely reflected our short visit and distant views with suboptimal lighting.

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

Authorities

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

Num_Ti_Jah_009_09172010 - Looking over a swampy pond towards a partial view of Bow Lake backed by attractive conical snowy mountains
Num_Ti_Jah_015_09172010 - Distant look at Bow Glacier Falls against the sun with the Bow Glacier itself looming further upslope
Num_Ti_Jah_022_09172010 - Julie accessing the shores of the scenic Bow Lake
Num_Ti_Jah_031_09172010 - On the shores of Bow Lake as we looked across it towards some beautiful mountains that seemed to get a fresh coat of snow
Num_Ti_Jah_033_09172010 - Julie looking across Bow Lake towards Bow Glacier and Bow Glacier Falls. As you can see in this picture, the falls were quite a ways from this side of the lake. Hopefully, we can come back and do the full hike to the falls next time!

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In order to see Bow Glacier Falls, we had to access the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge.

The signposted turnoff for the lodge is by the 37km mark less than 10 minutes south of the signposted turnoff for Peyto Lake along the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93).

Num_Ti_Jah_001_09172010 - Gorgeous drive heading south on Hwy 93 (Icefields Parkway) as we approached the turnoff for Num-Ti-Jah Lodge
Gorgeous drive heading south on Hwy 93 (Icefields Parkway) as we approached the turnoff for Num-Ti-Jah Lodge

Contextually, it’s a little over a half-hour drive north of Lake Louise on Hwy 93 or a little over 75 minutes north of Banff taking Hwy 1 then continuing north on Hwy 93.

It took us longer to get between here and Banff because there was lots of road construction that really slowed down the flow of traffic.

I’d imagine it wouldn’t take that long to cover this distance (96km or about an hour drive) when the construction’s complete.

For additional context, Lake Louise was about 182km (2 hours drive) west of Calgary, 232km (3 hours drive) south of Jasper, and 469km (4.5 hours drive) southwest of Edmonton.

Left to right sweep of the scenic and tranquil Bow Lake before ending towards Bow Glacier Falls (hard to see) and the Bow Glacier.

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Tagged with: bow glacier, banff, national park, canadian rockies, icefields, crow foot glacier, peyto lake, lake louise, jasper, canada, waterfall, alberta, waterfowl lake, bow lake



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of 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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