Family Holiday: Waterfall Chasing in Banff, Yoho and Jasper National Parks
The Canadian Rockies offer breathtaking landscapes and incredible waterfalls. Images of the stunning blue lakes and snowcapped mountains inspired us to plan a family road trip in Canada. We came across the most stunning photos of waterfalls on Instagram, but it was never clear how accessible many of these spectacular viewpoints and scenic places really are — especially when traveling on family holiday with young kids. We can now assure other family travelers that the Canadian Rockies are a perfect destination for a family holiday and road trip in Canada. We will have a series featuring family-friendly experiences here, starting with the best waterfalls to enjoy that are very easy and accessible for families with young kids. Below, are our top five recommended waterfalls in Jasper, Banff and Yoho National Parks.
Jasper National Park: Sunwapta Falls
Sunwapta Falls are torrential and terrific! The 60ft falls are turbulent and powerful, and very accessible. Located directly off the Icefields Parkway, there is a parking lot and short walk to see these falls. There is also a bridge, which the kids enjoyed, and opportunities to get close to the falls.
Jasper National Park: Athabasca Falls
Athabasca Falls is thunderous and terrifying in its ferocity, yet magnificent to behold. This very accessible waterfall is just a short walk from the parking lot off Icefields Parkway. It includes a walking path through dramatic mountain passageways offering several different viewing points of the waterfalls. Even on a rainy day, this was a perfect short excursion that couples nicely with a stop at Sunwapta Falls on the same day. There is a nearby Sunwapta Falls Resort and restaurant for food and rest.
Jasper National Park: Tangle Falls
As you roadtrip along Icefields Parkway in Jasper National Park, don’t blink or you will miss this incredible waterfall. Tangle Falls are spectacular, and located right at the side of the scenic highway! There is a small parking lot where you can pull over and get out to enjoy the view.
Banff National Park: Johnson Canyon Upper and Lower Falls
Johnson Canyon is a delightful hike that follows along a river and features several waterfalls. It’s about 1.5 to 2 miles, easy, and totally doable with kids. There is a portion of the hike where you can go into a cave for an up close view of the waterfall, but prepare to wait in line for this experience.
Like other popular hikes and attractions in Banff, it’s best to plan your hike here either early morning or early evening — midday crowds can make this less than enjoyable. If you visit in summer like we did, take advantage of the very late setting sun.
We arrived late afternoon and it was pretty crowded. But by 7:30 pm the crowds had completely disappeared and our hike on the trails back out were wonderful, peaceful and blissfully crowd free. In summer it stays daylight until 10 pm, so planning an early evening hike in this popular spot seems to be the way to go.
Yoho National Park: Takakkaw Falls
Photos can’t do justice to the magnificence of Takakkaw Falls which literally translates to “it is magnificent” in Cree.
With a height of approximately 1,200 feet it is the second largest waterfall in all of Canada.
The waterfall, fed by the melting Daly glacier, is at its peak in late Spring, early summer and thanks to an exceptionally wet spring, it was roaring for us. This is a very accessible hike for families with young kids along well managed trails.
We were delighted to find the Canadian rockies to be so accessible for the whole family. While there are ample opportunities for backcountry excursions and more strenuous hiking adventures, there is A LOT to see and do for families on a Canada road trip.