Canada is a vast country with towering mountains, large rivers, immense glaciers, and deep canyons, so it is not surprising that the country has more than 1700 major waterfalls. Nature has been particularly generous to British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec. There are waterfalls in Canada that flow backwards, and those in the north that freeze over completely create mesmerizing shapes and forms.
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It is impossible to describe the raw beauty of Niagara Falls. Even photos cannot completely convey the power and beauty of nature at its most majestic. Standing on the banks of the Niagara River, deafened by the thunder of falling waters, it is easy to feel insignificant and humbled. Even the thousands of tourists lining the wall separating the broad walkway from the falls cannot diminish the feeling of absolute awe. Niagara Falls consist of three waterfalls between Canada and the United States: the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls, and the Bridal Veil Falls, with Goat and Luna islands separating them. The falls, located on the majestic Niagara River as it spills Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, have the highest rate of flow of any world waterfall: six million cubic feet of water spills over the edge every minute. The falls were formed after the glaciers of the last ice age receded and the water from the Great Lakes cut through the Niagara Escarpment on the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Niagara Falls is one of the most popular tourist destinations in North America, and it has developed its own industry, dominating the region. Things to Do in Niagara Falls
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The fourth tallest waterfall in Canada, Helmcken Falls in British Columbia is easy to access from the main park road, which means you will have to share it with busloads of tourists. But, it is worth it. The fall drops 141 meters down in two tiers, and you have a spectacular vantage point from the viewing platform on its rim. Helmcken is part of the Wells Gray Provincial Park, which was created in 1939 to protect the falls. Murtle River tumbles down six more falls through a narrow canyon before reaching Helmcken. You can approach the falls following the four-kilometer Brink Trail along the Murtle River south bank that begins close to Dawson Falls. Visiting the falls in winter is a mesmerizing experience, as the water creates a 50-meter ice cone at the bottom of the canyon. The cone starts to slowly dissipate in March.
3.Bridal Veil Falls
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Gently dropping 400 feet over a wide, rounded rock face, Fraser River creates a magnificent fall that looks like a lacy, romantic veil. It is located at the south end of the Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park. The fall is located 16 km east of Chilliwack, near Rosedale, British Columbia in Canada. The source of the fall is water tumbling down from Mount Archibald, flowing into Bridal Creek on its way through Cheam Lake Wetlands Regional Park, ending finally at the Fraser River. The falls are easily accessible from Highway 1, requiring an easy 10-minute walk on a wide, softly graded path. The park near the falls is very popular place for a picnic, and there are several tables and benches. The falls freeze in the winter, creating a fragile wall of ice that can crash down at any time, making the area near the base dangerous.
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The water that flows down Panther Falls originates from Nigel Pass in the Parker Ridge of the Canadian Rockies. The series of waterfalls is located in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. The park is Canada’s first national park and premier sightseeing destination worldwide, spanning 2,564 square miles and filled with mountains, valleys, forests, glaciers, rivers, and meadows.
Panther Falls is a class 3 waterfall that is over 25 feet wide and has a drop of over 200 feet. Visitors can go on a short hike to get up close and personal with the falls; it is also a great opportunity to appreciate the lush flora that surrounds the area.
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You do not have to walk far to see Shannon Falls – it is tumbling down about 1000 feet over a series of steep cliffs just above Sea to Sky Highway, about half an hour from the Horseshoe Bay Ferry terminal. The fall is part of the Shannon Falls Provincial Park 36 miles from Vancouver, and its waters tumble down from Mount Sky Pilot and Mount Habrich. This impressive waterfall, third in height in British Columbia, comes down the mountain through Shannon Creek until it reaches granite walls of Howe Sound, which was carved by glaciers ten thousand years ago, and falls towards the Pacific. As they are so close to Howe Sound, the falls seldom freeze and have consistent amounts of water year round. Nevertheless, seeing the raw power of nature in spring when Shannon Creek swells with spring rains and thunders down 1000 feet is a quite sight to behold.
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Yoho National Park is an awe-inspiring British Columbia park full of snow-capped mountain peaks, shear rock walls, ancient forests, and roaring rivers, but nothing captures its majesty more than Takakkaw Falls. The Cree aptly named it, since Takakkaw means “magnificent” in Cree. The falls are fed by the melting Daly Glacier, a part of the Waputik Icefield. Takakkaw is 991 feet high with a free fall of 850 feet, making it the third highest in Canada. The fall is reached by following the Yoho Valley Road to its end, about 13 kilometers from the Trans-Canada Highway. There is a campground where the Yoho Valley Road ends, offering spectacular vistas of the fall. The campground is the trailhead for the trails leading to the Yoho Valley and Laughing Falls, Iceline, Twin Falls, and Whaleback trails. It offers a unique wilderness experience, and the area is fairly accessible.
7.Nailicho (Virginia Falls)
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One thing is certain: you will not find many tourists around Virginia Falls. Located in the Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories, the only way to visit the falls is by renting a float plane from Fort Liard of Fort Simpson. The plane can land above the falls, and you have to hike from there. The main feature of this spectacular park is the powerful whitewater Naha Dehé (South Nahanni River), which is lined with four canyons until it splits into two segments around Mason’s Rock, a 400-foot tall limestone spire. One segment falls 294 feet directly to the river below, and another slides along the rocks before falling 170 feet. The falls are massive, 800 feet wide and spanning four acres in surface. Only the remote location prevents this grandiose fall from becoming one of the fabled Canadian falls like Niagara.
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As the upper Athabasca River flows from the Columbia Icefield through the Jasper National Park in Alberta, it chips away at the rock, forming a canyon until it drops 80 feet over a thin layer of hard quartzite through soft limestone, carving first the short gorge and many potholes as well. What makes Athabasca Falls so picturesque is not the height but the force the huge volume of water creates as it drops into the gorge. The water formed many natural viewing platforms and trails that are still being chipped away, one millimeter every year. There are stairs that lead to the base of the falls that will allow you to closely view small plants, mosses, and lichens that managed to cling to the rock. You can cross the concrete bridge to the other side of the gorge. The falls are popular among white-water rafters, who start at the falls’ base and head all the way to Jasper.
9.Top Canada Waterfalls: Montmorency Falls
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Parc de la Chute-Montmorency is an impressive waterfall on the Montmorency River in Quebec, Canada, about 12 km from Quebec City. The falls are part of the scenic, popular Montmorency Falls Park, where the Montmorency River drops 83 meters over the cliff into the Saint Lawrence River across from Île d'Orleans. The falls are very popular among tourists, who can see the falls from the staircase cut into the cliff from a suspension bridge that crosses the river or from the spectacular 300-meter double zipline that offers views you will not easily forget. There is also an aerial tram that travels between the top and the base of the falls. The best time to visit the falls is in the summer during the fireworks competition.
Also must-see are Brandywine Falls in Brandywine Falls Provincial Park, Sea to Sky Waterfalls and the waterfall at Bow Lake.
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Located in a village called Kakabeka Falls, the Kakabeka Waterfall is the second highest waterfall in Ontario. The waterfall has a drop of over 130 feet and flows from the Kaministiquia River. The boardwalk that wraps around the top of the falls is accessible all year long, and visitors get a stunning view of the water cascading into the gorge below whether they visit in winter, summer, spring, or fall.
The eroding shales that surround the waterfall host a number of flora and fauna, and they also contain fossils that are over 1.6 billion years old. There are a number of walking and nature trails for visitors to enjoy nearby, and during the winter there are groomed cross-country ski trails as well.
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Over 62 feet in height, Albion Falls cascades down the Niagara Escarpment in Red Hill Valley, Ontario, Canada. The falls have a staggered series of “steps,” giving the waterfall a beautiful cascaded flow surrounded by rocks. The rocks from Albion Falls were also used to construct the Royal Botanical Garden’ Rock Garden.
Guests can enjoy the beauty of the waterfall from the viewing platform above. Nearby attractions include Bruce Trail, Buttermilk Falls, Devil’s Punch Bowl, Confederation Park, and hiking to see a scenic view of lower Hamilton. They also have the King’s Forest Golf Course and the Hamilton Children’s Museum nearby.
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Eroded out of the Palliser Formation, Maligne Canyon is located in Alberta, Canada in Jasper National Park. The canyon is nearly 7 feet wide at some points and over 160 feet deep. Water from Medicine Lake flows into the Maligne River and drops down the canyon, creating an underground river flow that is joined by various other streams.
Altogether, the view is absolutely breathtaking, and Maligne Canyon is popular for visitors who want to sightsee and explore; the surrounding areas are filled with waterfalls, stream outlets, and plant and bird life. Visitors can walk on one of four bridges across the gorge or take a short hiking tour to the upper reaches of the canyon.
13.Pissing Mare Falls
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Probably the best way to see Pissing Mare Falls is by paddling through dreamy Western Book Pond to watch the Burnt Woods Brook at the far end tumble down 343 meters into the pond in the most spectacular way. Pissing Mare Falls start with about a 250 m tall almost vertical drop. After that the water flows along the cliff until it reaches crystal clear waters of the Western Brook Pond. In the summer when the falls turn to a mere trickle, it is easy to understand how the falls got the name. If you climb the cliffs above the pond, you can see not only the waterfall in the distance but you also realize that the pond was once a fjord created by glaciers. Pissing Mare Falls are part of the spectacularly beautiful Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
14.Top Canada Waterfalls: Alexander Falls
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One of the major waterfalls in the Whistler area, Alexander Falls is a spectacular sight of flowing water spilling down a three-step cliff during the summer months. During the winter, heavy snowfall and high elevation combine to freeze over the falls, making it a picturesque sight for visitors viewing from the platform above.
Alexander Falls is over 173 feet high and is easily accessible; no walking or hiking is required as cars can park right near the viewing platform. But for those who want to enjoy the natural beauty surrounding the waterfall, a hike is the perfect way to do it, and bird-lovers will see a variety of birds that visit the area.
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Brandywine Falls is a 230-foot waterfall located in the heart of Brandywine Falls Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada. When standing at the viewpoint, visitors can enjoy an amazing view of the falls, Daisy Lake, and the surrounding mountains.
The park itself is over 420 acres, and it is great for exploring; there are a number of existing recreation trails and opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, cycling, and wildlife viewing. Visitors can enjoy picnicking surrounded by the beauty of nature in the many designated areas. During the winter, snowshoeing is a fun activity for the entire family.
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The Loquilts River empties into the Princess Louisa Inlet, which in turn flows down to Chatterbox Falls – a beautiful spot that visitors can access by boat or float plane. Campsites and picnic tables that are right in view of the falls are conveniently located in the area. Outhouses, a cooking shelter, and a communal fire pit are nearby as well.
Visitors can take part in wilderness camping and campfires or make use of the onsite boat launch. Other activities include canoeing, hiking, scuba diving, swimming, and wildlife viewing. The tallest waterfall in North America (2,755 feet), James Bruce Falls, is just upstream from Chatterbox Falls.
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Dawson Falls is one of the seven lovely waterfalls on the Murtle River in Wells Gray Provincial Park. In British Columbia, Canada, the Wells Gray Park road takes visitors close to Dawson Falls, but there is still a 10-minute walk to get to the main viewpoint.
Visitors can climb for a few more minutes and reach the very top of the waterfall. There is a different vantage point on the north side, but trails are a bit rougher. A bit further off, visitors can enjoy wilderness camping on one of 50 campsites; this gives visitors the chance to see the beauty of the waterfall and the nature surrounding it in the early morning hours.
18.Englishman River Falls
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Englishman River Falls is one of two stunning waterfalls that flows from Englishman River in the 97-hectare Englishman River Falls Provincial Park. The waterfall cascades into a descending riverbed, which then flows into a deep canyon. Surrounding it, visitors will find a forest filled with Hemlock, Cedar, maple, and Fir trees.
The picturesque destination is breathtaking and welcomes many visitors throughout the year, especially since swimming at the base of the waterfall and the nearby beaches of Parksville are an option. Other facilities and features include a campground, hiking trails, and a large day-use area with bathrooms and a picnic area.
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Numa Falls is a beautiful waterfall near Vermillion Crossing; a short walk to the bridge brings visitors face to face with the waterfall. The bridge is the perfect place to view the water falling powerfully and then cascading through a narrow corridor surrounded by rock walls.
Numa Falls is located in the 1400 square kilometer Kootenay National Park, which has beautiful alpine scenery, icy glaciers, and the hauntingly beautiful view of a charred, bare, burnt forest. The waterfall is a part of the Vermillion River and empties into the North Saskatchewan River, but its close proximity to the road and its convenient accessibility make it a place worth stopping by.
20.Top Canada Waterfalls: Hunlen Falls
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Located in Tweedsmuir South provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada, Hunlen Falls is the highest waterfall in Canada (in terms of continuous unbroken drop) at a height of 1,316 feet. The waterfall starts flows in from Turner Lake and drops into the Atnarko River.
It has had many names in the past, including Mystery Falls and Bella Coola Falls. The waterfall is difficult to access by foot so visitors may prefer a 20-minute flight on a float plane taken from Nimpo Lake. From the drop off point, it’s about a 30 minute walk on decent trails to the viewpoint.
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A punchbowl type waterfall, Keyhole Falls has a height of 115 feet high and is the largest waterfall along the Lillooet River in British Columbia, Canada. Named for its resemblance to an old-fashioned keyhole, the waterfall was formed over 2,350 years ago due to a dam constructed on the Lillooet River.
Visitors may find it difficult to access the waterfall, as a landslide in 2010 caused a bit of damage in the area. There is a logging road that goes up to a mile from the falls. A short-distance hike is precarious but will take visitors the rest of the way.
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Nairn Falls is located in Narn Falls Park – a 170-hectare park filled with breathtaking natural scenery. It is a great place for visitors who are visiting and exploring the Pemberton Valley, Garibaldi Provincial Park, or Whistler. The waterfall itself is gorgeous; the 60 meter high waterfall is surrounded by lush greenery and is a focal point for many birds and other animals in the area.
There is a 1.5-kilometer trail hike for visitors who want to get to the viewpoint. Additional facilities in the surrounding area include campfires, picnic areas, pit toilets, and vehicle accessible campsites. Other than hiking and viewing the waterfall, visitors can also go fishing, cycling, or wildlife viewing.
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Nymph Falls flows from the Puntledge River and is a part of Nymph Park. The waterfall is lovely during October, as visitors can enjoy sitting on the benches surrounding Nymph Falls on an exposed rock terrace and view returning salmon fight their way upstream.
There are many trails within the park that take visitors on a journey beside the river. In addition to the waterfront and other scenic views there are facilities like toilets and picnic tables. Visitors can enjoy hiking, cycling, mountain biking, horseback riding, and swimming at Nymph Falls.
24.Spahats Creek Falls
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Spahats Creek Falls is located by Clearwater River Valley in the 305-hectare Wells Gray Provincial Park. The beautiful waterfall and the surrounding area is full of cedar and hemlock, giving it a cool environment that is popular with visitors on a hot summer day. It’s a short walk for visitors to get to the viewing platform where you can see the waterfall, the canyon, Spahats Creek, and cut volcanic rock.
The designated trails are great for hiking and cycling; nearby businesses offer guides for these as well as horse riding, boating, river rafting, canoeing, and fishing. Visitors can swim in most of the streams, rivers, and lakes, though it is important to keep in mind that the water originates from glaciers and is ice cold all year long.
25 Best Waterfalls in Canada
- Niagara Falls, Photo: Courtesy Javen - Fotolia.com
- Helmcken Falls, Photo: Courtesy of Benshot - Fotolia.com
- Bridal Veil Falls, Photo: Courtesy of LoweStock - Fotolia.com
- Panther Falls, Photo: Courtesy of Circumnavigation - Fotolia.com
- Shannon Falls, Photo: Courtesy of Lijuan Guo - Fotolia.com
- Takakkaw Falls, Photo: Courtesy of Andreas Edelmann - Fotolia.com
- Nailicho (Virginia Falls), Photo: Courtesy of vadimgouida - Fotolia.com
- Athabasca Falls, Photo: Courtesy of elena_suvorova - Fotolia.com
- Top Canada Waterfalls: Montmorency Falls, Photo: Courtesy of rabbit75_fot - Fotolia.com
- Kakabeka Falls, Photo: Courtesy of PiLensPhoto - Fotolia.com
- Albion Falls, Photo: Courtesy of Chris Gardiner - Fotolia.com
- Maligne Canyon, Photo: Courtesy of estivillml - Fotolia.com
- Pissing Mare Falls, Photo: Courtesy of Ale Cam - Fotolia.com
- Top Canada Waterfalls: Alexander Falls, Photo: Courtesy of Olesya - Fotolia.com
- Brandywine Falls, Photo: Courtesy of Friedberg - Fotolia.com
- Chatterbox Falls, Photo: Courtesy of Chris Gardiner - Fotolia.com
- Dawson Falls, Photo: Courtesy of Bjorn Alberts - Fotolia.com
- Englishman River Falls, Photo: Courtesy of klevit - Fotolia.com
- Numa Falls, Photo: Courtesy of rcfotostock - Fotolia.com
- Top Canada Waterfalls: Hunlen Falls, Photo: Courtesy of nhermann - Fotolia.com
- Keyhole Falls, Photo: Courtesy of Chris Gardiner - Fotolia.com
- Nairn Falls, Photo: Courtesy of Bjorn Alberts - Fotolia.com
- Nymph Falls, Photo: Courtesy of adamcegledi - Fotolia.com
- Spahats Creek Falls, Photo: Courtesy of Elenathewise - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of surangaw - Fotolia.com