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 as we were getting oriented. We also saw tour buses routinely stop and drop off its load of tourists at the large car park as a result of its accessibility.

We were able to see this waterfall 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 falls from the other side of the river.

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 the falls before turning back and driving to the car park with the easier access (see below).


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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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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