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Wapta Falls (not to be confused with Sunwapta Falls in Jasper) is a towering, 30m high waterfall, squirrelled away in the middle of Yoho National Park. The name actually comes from a Nakoda word meaning “River”, so it’s not surprising that the word “wapta” pops up occasionally when we’re talking waterfalls.
The waterfall is only a short 2.4km hike from the parking area, and it’s virtually flat until the last couple of hundred meters. It’s the perfect hike if you’re just feeling like stretching your legs, and the payoff at the end is spectacular.
There’s really not a lot to describe on this one; you walk in a gently undulating straight line through the trees for probably the first 2km or so at which point you’ll start to climb a little. The elevation gain is minimal and pretty soon you’ll be met with a stunning aerial view of Wapta.
One you’ve soaked in the views from above, you’ll zigzag downwards for the last few metres until you’re standing at the base of the mighty falls. If you’re there in winter you can get a lot closer to the falls and even climb the large berm that sits directly in front of the falls.
It’s a fantastic pit stop if you’re on your way west, and honestly I’m surprised we’d driven past it so many times without realizing…. which leads me to my next point. There’s no signage at all from the main highway.
In order to get to Wapta, your best bet is probably typing it into google maps and letting it do the hard work for you. The turn is almost invisible, and if you’re coming from the Alberta side, you’ll have to make a sharp left turn when it appears. The road is a single lane at this point, so start slowing down well in advance so that you don’t catch anyone behind you by surprise. It would be a disaster if you tried to turn with a semi bearing down on you at full speed. A safer alternative would be to drive past and u-turn when it’s safe.
The next thing to bear in mind is that although this is a 2.4km hike in summer, the access road isn’t cleared in winter. This adds an additional 2km in each direction in winter, making the grand total round trip approximately 8.8km. We were caught a little off guard by that, as there isn’t much winter advice for Wapta Falls. The toilets are also 2km down the trail therefore. Finally, the parking area in Winter is tiny, so do your best to carpool if possible.
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