Summer & Winter at Wapta Falls in Yoho National Park

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Have you ever been to Yoho National Park in BC? Put it on your list of places to visit. While you’re there, make sure to stop in at Wapta Falls for a short hike to get up close and personal with the largest waterfall on the Kicking Horse River.

We’ve had the opportunity to visit Wapta Falls in both the summer and winter, and can highly recommend both seasons for very different reasons.

Summer

Visiting during the summer months (starting in July), you can expect warm temperatures, easy travel on the roads, and snow free trails for hiking.

A hiker walks down a winding trail in the woods.

The meandering trail is easy to follow.

The summer parking lot is a short 1.9 km (1.2 mi) to the top of the falls. The trail meanders through a pine forest alive with the sounds of summer, and you will hear the falls before you can actually see them. From the viewpoint at the top, you can get a bird’s eye view of the falls.

A cascading waterfall in a rocky landscape.

Bird’s eye view of the falls.

We highly recommend taking the trail all the way to the bottom though, and if the water is low enough, you can reach a series of rock islands near enough to the falls to feel the cool spray. This is extremely welcome, especially on a hot summer’s day.

Summer round trip: Approximately 5 km (3.1 mi)

A well-traversed hiking trail in the woods.

The vibrant summer forest.

Winter

Visiting during the winter months is a unique time to visit a waterfall. You need to prepare for sub-zero temperatures and the possibility that you may have to break trail. Snowshoes are recommended if the trail has fresh snow, or if the trail has been trodden down (surprisingly, this trail gets a fair amount of traffic even in the winter), then grab a pair of microspikes for the hard packed trail.

A small waterfall in a snowy landscape, nestled at the base of a rocky mountain.

Taking in the wintry view

In the winter, the road to the summer parking area is not plowed so you can expect the trail to now be approximately 3.7 km (2.3 mi) to the top of the falls. The forest and the falls are much quieter in the winter, which makes for an entirely different experience. In the winter the water level is low enough and frozen enough to reach the base of the falls. Make sure you have dressed warmly, as the cool spray that felt so refreshing in the summer will feel quite the opposite now.

Winter round trip: Approximately 8 km (5 mi)

A woman stands at the edge of a snowy cliff, looking out at a stunning waterfall.

The falls almost frozen in time.

How to get there

From Golden, BC, take the Trans-Canada Highway 1 east for approximately 30 km (18.6 mi) until you see the turn for Wapta Falls on your right. In the summer, drive up the road 1.8 km to the parking lot. In the winter, there will be a small parking area plowed off of the road, park there.

What you need to know

  • Weather changes rapidly in summer and winter, so be sure to pack appropriately i.e. warm layers, water, snacks, appropriate footwear, etc.
  • A National Park Permit is required when stopping in the park.
  • Always take the appropriate precautionary wildlife measures, especially in the summer.

 

It’s incredible to have easy access to such beautiful spots. We hope you will take the opportunity to visit Wapta Falls this year, whether it be this winter or during the summer months.

More Photos

A woman wearing a backpack runs down a snow-covered trail lined with pine trees.

Running through the pine forest in winter.

A small black and white bird crosses a hiking trail.

Summer wildlife on the trail.

A stunning waterfall is lined on both sides by a dense forest.

Refreshing summer spray from the falls.