Where to Find Alberta’s Best Frozen Waterfalls

Meaghan Baxter

Travel Alberta

Jul 11, 2019 - 3 minute read

There’s no doubt that seeing a rushing, roaring waterfall is a breathtaking experience. But frozen waterfalls take on a magical quality all their own. They’re beautiful to look at, of course, but frozen waterfalls are also perfect for ice climbing. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an expert adventurer to enjoy it. There’s plenty of courses to help you out, no matter what level you’re at. 

You can go chasing frozen waterfalls all over Alberta, but we’ve rounded up five of the best frozen ones to get you on your way. Get your camera and crampons ready.

Make a day trip out of your visit to Crescent Falls, off the David Thompson Highway. After doing the easy loop to the falls, check out the world famous ice bubbles on Abraham Lake, just down the road.

Crescent Falls

Crescent Falls is a two-for-one experience. It’s a series of two waterfalls located on the Bighorn River in Clearwater Country, about 25 km (15.5 mi) from Nordegg off Highway 11 (David Thompson Highway).

To see the falls, take the Crescent Falls and Bighorn Canyon loop trail. It’s an easy hike with big payoff and about 5.6 kms round-trip. When you arrive at the falls – the longest drop is 27 m (88 ft) – you can take everything in from the upper lookout or head down to the plateau located between both falls. 

A visit to Crescent Falls can also be combined with a visit to the famous ice bubbles at Abraham Lake. January is prime viewing time, but the bubbles can be seen from late November to mid-March."

Siffleur Falls

The Siffleur Falls hike is among the most popular hikes in David Thompson Country during the summer months, but it’s an entirely different experience come winter. The Siffleur Falls trailhead can be found 65 km (40 mi) from Nordegg off Highway 11 (David Thompson Highway). There’s parking right off the highway, just watch for signs for Siffleur Falls Day Use Area.

The falls are within the Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve, and the hike is approximately 9.5 km (6 mi) out and back. It’s ranked easy, so don’t let the distance deter you. The Siffleur Falls viewpoint is about 3.5 km from the start of the trail. You can either turn back or keep going another 2.5 km (1.5 mi) to see the second set of falls. Another 1.5 km (0.9 mi) – you can do it – is where you’ll find the third and final set.

You’ll also find yourself within 16 km of Abraham Lake if you visit Siffleur Falls – another shot at seeing the ice bubbles.

Panther Falls

This is a hidden gem within Banff National Park off the famous Columbia Icefields Parkway. Panther Falls, which boasts a drop of about 61 m (200 ft), is a short hike from the popular Bridal Veil Falls pull-out along the highway. Take the Bridal Veil Falls trail and go straight ahead at the junction to find Panther Falls. It’s only about 0.3 km (0.1 mi) out and back from the junction, so it’s worth the little bit of extra time. You can hike to the bottom of the falls or take a higher trail to see it all from midway – or both, if you’re feeling adventurous.

Take a short walk to the Elbow River from the parking lot to find Elbow Falls. It's a perfect spot for a wintery selfie.

Elbow Falls

The smallest of the falls on our list – a 6m (20 ft) drop – but no less spectacular. This set of waterfalls can be found along the Elbow River, 18 km (11 mi) southwest of Bragg Creek. You’ll find easy parking off Highway 66 before hitting the 1 km (0.6 mi) loop to Elbow Falls. You’ll be glad you stopped.

Lundbreck Falls

Lundbreck Falls are named after the neighbouring hamlet. Lundbreck, with a whopping population of 236, started as a coal-mining town in 1907. The falls rise approximately 12 m (39 ft) and can be found adjacent to where Highway 3A crosses the Crowsnest Pass. There are two prime viewing spots to take in the falls, either from an observation platform or at the base of the falls in the limestone gorge. It’s all less than 1 km (0.6 mi) from the Lundbreck Falls Recreation Area and one of the top hikes in the Crowsnest Pass.
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