Best time to travel to Banff & Jasper National Parks

Bow Falls in Banff & Jasper National Parks

Take a trip to an unusual waterfall famous for its colour

Best time: June–August (all year round)

Bow Falls
Bow Falls
Bow Falls

Bow Falls are unlike any other waterfall in North America. Being small, wide, short and located on the backside of Banff and the Banff Springs Hotel, they are often frequented by many tourists. In 1953, these falls were even featured in Marylin Monroe's movie, River of No Return.

The one-of-a-kind green-blue colour of the falls is caused by glacial sediment from nearby glaciers that make up the incredible landscape.

Late afternoons or evenings are the quietest times to visit and there is a trail that can be taken directly from town. You'll find a sign pointing to the direction of the falls after the bridge along the southern side of the river towards the east.

Bow Falls are a year-round destination. Spring, summer, and autumn are the most popular times, but winter visitors still visit even though the falls are almost frozen. Please note that the clifftop section is closed for hikers during this time.

Summer (June–August) is the best time to visit the natural site—this is when you'll see the highest water levels, mist rising above the falls, and the most splendid colours.

Practical info

What makes Bow Falls distinct?

Bow Falls get their uniqueness from their large size, width, and green-blue hue, which result from the glacial sediment from nearby glaciers. They are one of the most remarkable waterfalls in North America and offer stunning surroundings viewable from various locations, including the clifftop lookout, with an exceptional view of the Banff landscape. Show more

When is the best time to visit Bow Falls?

Though open year-round, the best time to visit Bow Falls is between June and August. During this period, the falls' water level is usually high, and tourists can experience its full magnificence with mist rising from the water. Visitors should note that the cliff-top trail is closed for part of the winter months. Show more

How can I get to Bow Falls from Banff town?

Bow Falls are easily accessible from Banff town via a trail leading directly to them. Visitors should head east towards the bridge, cross the Banff Avenue Bridge, turn right, and follow the path along the southern bank of the river towards the east. The path leads to a sign indicating the direction to Bow Falls. Show more

Is it safe to hike along the cliffs in winter when Bow Falls almost freeze over?

For safety reasons, visitors are not allowed to hike along the cliff-top path during the winter when Bow Falls almost freeze over. The path reopens in the spring. Nonetheless, visitors can still access other observation points around the falls from town, which provide exceptional views of the frozen falls. Show more

What causes the green-blue color in Bow Falls?

Glacial sediment from nearby glaciers contributes to the unique green-blue color of Bow Falls. The fine sediment absorbs and reflects sunlight generating the exceptional greenish-blue color, making it one of the most exceptional waterfalls in North America. The Bow Glacier, above Bow Lake, part of Jasper National Park also contributes to the sediments causing the lake's unique green-blue hue. Show more

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