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picture of a man at a crosswalk in the mountains walking toward a waterfall alongside the road with cars on the highway
seeingtheelephant.net

Epic Views, No Hiking Required: Tangle Creek Falls Awaits

Get served up an Alberta-sized helping of nature at this epic drive-by location!

We all love the drive-through convenience of our favourite fast food or coffee.

What if we told you that a super-sized helping of epic nature awaits you at a location that you can simply drive to?

Well, there is. 

Tangle Creek Falls in early June, Darwin Wiggett | oopoomoo

Nestled between Banff and Jasper in the heart of the Columbia Icefields sits Tangle Creek Falls – a roaring roadside attraction!

It is one of the highlights of any journey along the world-famous Icefields Parkway. Still, rather than stop for a helping of awesomeness, many people drive right by this multi-tiered waterfall without even noticing it along the side of the road!

With its impressive 35-meter drop and drapery waterfalls cascading over tiers of rock, it’s a stop to be on the lookout for!

And the best part? 

It’s really right beside the road, making it one of the most accessible attractions in the Canadian Rockies.

The Falls are easy to find if you pay attention.

Situated 96 km south of Jasper along the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93), it’s so close to the road that a parking lot had to be built on the opposite side of the road because the Falls are so close to the road. But because the road is winding here, drivers often concentrate on staying in their lane and miss the Falls. 

If you’re heading from Banff, it’s roughly a 2-hour drive; from Jasper, it’s just over an hour.

If you are coming from Banff, the Falls are just a short distance past the Columbia Icefields Skywalk. Look to your right as you descend the hill from the skywalk. A painted crosswalk will be your cue that you have arrived at the Falls! Be cautious as you turn left into the parking area as there’s a bend in the road, so watch out for approaching cars.

From Jasper, as you wind up the pass to the Columbia Icefields, watch for a parking lot on the right, and the Falls will be on the driver’s side. If you get to the Skywalk, you have gone too far. 

What to Expect 

Upon arrival, you’re greeted with a cascading spectacle that seems to dance and tangle, perhaps giving the Falls its name. There’s no need for a strenuous hike; the Falls are in all their glory beside the road. The best photos are taken from the shoulder of the highway, giving you an open view of the entire Falls.

But if you’re itching for a mini-adventure, a short, slightly steep trail offers a different perspective from different levels of the Falls

If you hike up into the Falls, be sure to turn around to look across the highway, and you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the Stutfield Glacier. It’s a reminder of the vastness of the Columbia Icefield, which feeds rivers flowing to three different oceans.

When to Visit: 

If you want the most water cascading over the rock layers, come in June. Summer brings warmer temperatures and an opportunity to stand under one of the many smaller cascades to cool off. 

If you want to avoid the crowds, October and November are special because parts of the Falls will hang in frozen icicles while other parts still have flowing water.

In the dead of winter, the Falls completely freeze over, and Tangle Creek Falls becomes a great place for ice climbers to try out their skills.

Safety and Tips

Even though Tangle Creek Falls is a roadside stop, there are still safety considerations.

Photographer at Tangle Creek Falls in September. Darwin Wiggett | oopoomoo
  • The Icefields Parkway can be busy, and having people lining the edge of a highway always puts people at risk. Be aware of your surroundings, especially as you take photos, so you do not back up into oncoming traffic!
  • Always have a valid park pass when accessing the Icefields Parkway.
  • Respect the environment. Follow the “Leave No Trace” principles, ensuring the area remains pristine for future visitors.
  • If you decide to climb for a closer look, tread carefully. The rocks can be slippery due to the mist. If you hike up the Falls in the winter, wear trail crampons.
  • The Falls can get busy, especially during peak tourist season. However, the turnover is quick, so you won’t have to wait long for that perfect photo spot.
  • Don’t be that person who hogs the view! Make your images, and then let others do the same.
  • Lastly, while the Falls are a quick stop, take a moment to soak in the beauty. It’s not just about the destination but the journey and the memories you make.

So, next time you drive on the Icefields Parkway, pause at Tangle Creek Falls. It’s a short stop that promises long-lasting memories. Safe travels and happy exploring!

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