Wapta Falls Hike is an awesome hike in Yoho National Park, where you can even get close for a refreshing spray. You get a huge reward for a small effort when you visit Wapta Falls.

We’ve been to Yoho National Park and hiked to Wapta Falls many times. And I’m still amazed how such an easy hike gives you such a great reward.

Yoho National Park is an underrated destination and provides a welcome quiet break from its busy neighbours Banff and Jasper National Parks.

The trail through the forest is mostly shaded. Once you emerge onto the clearing, a giant waterfall is right in front of you. You can cool down in the river or hike up the pile in front of the waterfall to get a refreshing spray or, I should say, a nice soak. Although you can hike to Wapta Falls year-round, we only visited in summer.

Wapta Falls Hike in Yoho National Park

This blog post includes all info about Wapta Falls Hike, including stats, the best campgrounds and other accommodation options, a hiking packing list, hiking tips, and additional tips about Yoho National Park & beyond!

Read our comprehensive Adventure travel guide to Yoho National Park for more activities and tips for visiting.

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Pros & cons of the Wapta Falls Hike


  • Shaded trail
  • Open year-round
  • Option for a river dip
  • You can get very close to the waterfall
  • Very few people on the trail
  • Option for camping with a waterfall view
  • Close by campgrounds to stay before and after the hike


  • No amenities close by (it’s also a good thing as the trail is not overcrowded)

Wapta Falls Hike in Yoho National Park

Where is Wapta Falls Hike & how to get there

Wapta Falls Hike is in Yoho National Park in British Columbia (close to Alberta/British Columbia border). It’s 54 km southwest of Lake Louise, 27 km southwest of Field, and 33 km east of Golden. The trailhead is accessible from the Trans-Canada Highway.

Wapta Falls Hike starts at the Wapta Falls Main Trail on Google Maps. It’s important to type the whole name Wapta Falls Main Trail – if you type into Google Maps just Wapta Falls, it leads by default to the Wapta Falls recreation site.

Wapta Falls Trailhead from Lake Louise & Field

If you’re travelling from Lake Louise (45 min drive) or Field (30 min drive), you won’t see any signs for Wapta Falls, as a left turn from this direction is forbidden. You must drive to the west boundary of Yoho National Park (this spot) and turn around.

Now that you drive east, you can see the Wapta Falls sign after a few minutes of driving. After turning right, continue on the dirt road for about 2 km until you see the parking lot with a restroom.

Wapta Falls Trailhead from Golden

From downtown Golden, take Highway 95 eastbound and merge onto Trans-Canada Highway. After about 30 km, you see Wapta Falls sign. After 2 km on the dirt road, you arrive at the trailhead for Wapta Falls.

If you’re driving from Calgary to Golden, Wapta Falls Hike is a great stop to stretch your legs.

Wapta Falls Hike in Yoho National Park

  • Distance: 2.4 km one-way
  • Elevation gain: 30 m
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Best time to go: end of May to mid-October for the shorter hike (add 1.5 km one-way if you’re hiking in winter)
  • Gear: water bottle with filter (you can fill up from the river), windproof jacket, running/hiking shoes, bear spray (map is not needed as the trail is well trodden)
  • Waterfall stats: 30 meters high & 150 meters wide
  • Tip for camping with Wapta Falls view: Wapta Falls recreation site provides another view of the waterfalls from across the valley. For directions, put this spot on Google Maps. Once you turn from Trans-Canada Highway, it’s about 7 km on the Beaverfoot Forest Service Road until you reach the site.

The beginning of the Wapta Falls Hike is easy as you walk through the forest with almost no elevation gain or loss. Towards the end, when you can hear Wapta Falls, there’s a fenced viewpoint where you can take in the views from above.

Wapta Falls Hike in Yoho National Park

From here, you continue down to Kicking Horse River. There are two trails to choose from. The one I like that is faster is the steep trail on the left side. The trail to the right has some switchbacks to make descending to the river easier.

You can take in the views of Wapta Falls from the shoreline of Kicking Horse River or cross the river (when the water level is low) and enjoy a picnic on the tiny island you see in the middle.

Wapta Falls Hike in Yoho National Park

Either way, I also recommend getting closer to the waterfall. You can walk up the dirt pile before the waterfalls and get a refreshing summer spray. Or I should probably say a good soak. Don’t worry; once you hike back to the parking lot, your clothes dry.

Wapta Falls Hike in Yoho National Park

Wapta Falls Hike in Yoho National Park

Wapta Falls Hike in Yoho National Park

Wapta Falls is the biggest waterfall on the Kicking Horse River, and as you get closer, you see the massive amount that flows down the river creating a tumbling sound – a beautiful sight to watch during your picnic on the shore.

Wapta Falls Hike in Yoho National Park

After your hike, I highly recommend fuelling up at Truffle Pigs Bistro in Field. We always eat here whenever we visit Yoho National Park. Their bistro & lodge are fantastic. I often get the Purple Burger with beets patty; it’s so delicious!

Adventure travel guide to Yoho National Park - Field in Yoho

Wapta Falls in winter

You can visit Wapta Falls in winter. The dirt road to the closest parking lot is closed till May, so in that case, you need to add 1.5 km one-way to your hike.

I only saw pictures of the frozen Wapta Falls, but they look magical. Ensure you have microspikes for your shoes, and check trail conditions before you go.

Where to next?

Don’t miss the most stunning place in Yoho: Emerald Lake & Takakkaw Falls. Several hikes in Yoho are worth a stop.

Hiking in Yoho National Park

When driving from Banff/Lake Louise, the first hike when you cross the border from Alberta to British Columbia is Sherbrooke Lake, with a stunning and quiet lake. Then there is Iceline Trail with a view of Takakkaw Falls from above, the 2nd tallest waterfall in Canada, a few hikes leaving from Emerald Lake in the next valley, and Lake O’Hara, which is hard to get to due to daily limits for the shuttle bus.

Canadian Rockies road trip itinerary - Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park


This small and charming mountain town offers lots of fun outdoor adventures. You can check out our 3-day Golden itinerary, or 30 fun things to do in Golden.

My favourites are:

Banff National Park

If you’re continuing east to Banff National Park, check out our Adventure travel guide to Banff National Park for activities and tips for visiting.

Just a few stops you shouldn’t miss on your visit are:

SUP on Lake Louise, Banff National Park

More hiking ideas

Know before you go

National park entrance

When you enter any national park in Canada, you must pay an entrance fee. You have a choice of either a daily pass or a yearly pass.

  • 10.50 CAD per person for a daily pass, 21 CAD for a group/family
  • 72.25 CAD per person for a yearly pass, 145.25 CAD for a group/family

The yearly Discovery Pass is valid for all National Parks in Canada. You can purchase it at the gate when you enter the national park, in the Visitor’s Centre or online here.

Wapta Falls Hike in Yoho National Park

Hiking essentials for Wapta Falls Hike

These are just a few of our hiking essentials. But we do carry a few more things. For the complete list or more details about any of these essentials, read our post Hiking packing list for summer in the mountains.

You need to carry water in a reusable Nalgene bottle, which I find is the most lightweight bottle, or you need to take a filtration system. In this case, all you need is a bottle with a water filter and fill it up when you arrive at the waterfalls. We always carry LifeStraw bottles on our runs, hikes, and backpacking trips.

  • Sunscreen

One of the best-rated sunscreens from EWG, which I use and highly recommend, is Thinksport and Attitude mineral sunscreen. Alternatively, you can pack a sunscreen stick to re-apply during the day without getting your hands messy.

  • Repellent

I don’t like DEET repellent’s smell or skin stickiness, so I make my own. It’s been effectively tested in the Canadian backcountry and smells incredible!

My recipe for DIY repellent – combine 200 ml Witch hazel, 5 drops of Lemon essential oil, and 5 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil and pour it into a glass spray bottle. Shake well before each use and spray on your skin or clothes a few times a day.

Alternatively, you can buy biodegradable repellent.

  • Bear spray

Bear Spray Repellent is an essential item in the Canadian Rockies. If you’re flying in, you cannot take it on an airplane, but it can be purchased in most outdoor stores or rented at your hotel. Make sure you know how to use it, and keep it close.

Despite popular belief, Parks Canada stated that bear bells are ineffective in deterring bears, and you should make noise while hiking to let bears know you’re there.

Wapta Falls Hike in Yoho National Park

  • Waterproof jacket

A windproof jacket is a must on any mountain trip. Double bonus if it’s waterproof with breathable fabric as well.

My jacket packs small as it’s from a light fabric, but it’s both windproof and waterproof. Because this shell jacket is an outer layer, you need a fleece or a down jacket for warm insulation.

  • Fleece or down jacket

I like to use my comfy soft fleece in spring and autumn when I know I’ll wear it most of the day. When I need to pack a light and small insulating layer into my backpack (especially in summer), I like to use a down jacket that’s lighter than fleece, packs into a little pouch, and uses very little space in my backpack.

  • Trail running shoes

My long-time favourite trail running/hiking shoe is Adidas Outdoor Kanadia. They have a waterproof membrane, excellent grip on rocks, and great foot support, and I use them year-round. Michal tried several trail shoes over the last few years, and his favourites for hiking are waterproof Salomon with a wider toe box.

Wapta Falls Hike in Yoho National Park

Where to stay when visiting Yoho National Park

Budget pick: HI Whiskey Jack Hostel near Takakkaw Falls is open from late June till September but is currently under construction.

Depending on which direction you’re travelling, you can choose from these options:

Value pick: Truffle Pigs Lodge

Truffle Pigs Lodge (our beloved bistro) also offers accommodation in Field. You can choose a single room, a queen room with a kitchenette, a double queen, and a family suite. All offer stunning mountain views!

Click here for current prices

Luxury pick: Emerald Lake Lodge

Located on the gorgeous Emerald Lake shore, the lodge offers rooms with fireplaces, a private balcony, and the most stunning views.

Click here for reviews and the latest prices

Staying in Banff National Park

We always recommend staying in the campgrounds to have the most freedom and enjoy nature to the fullest while staying on a budget. Check out our Smile Campervans, your home on wheels in the Canadian Rockies.

Smile Campervans

Camping in Yoho National Park

  • Kicking Horse Campground

Both reservable and first-come, first-serve sites are available. This scenic campground is open from May 18 to October 9 and offers sites by the river, in the forest or a meadow. The campsite fee is 29.25 CAD/night, including hot showers and flush toilets.

  • Monarch Campground

Only first-come, first-serve sites are available. It’s a basic campground open May 4 to September 18 for a fee of 18.75 CAD/night.

  • Takakkaw Falls Campground

Walk-in campsite with a view of the 2nd tallest waterfall in Canada. It’s open from June 15 to October 9 for a fee of 18.75 CAD/night. Only tents are allowed (parking is about 500 meters from the campground, with trolleys available to carry your gear).

Camping in Yoho National Park - Takakkaw Falls

  • Hoodoo Creek

Hoodoo Creek Campground is furthest from Takakkaw Falls and other Yoho attractions. It’s open from June 15 to September 4 for a fee of 18.75 CAD/night.

  • A fire permit costs 9.50 CAD/day, and firewood is provided
  • Online reservation, modification or cancellation costs 11.50 CAD

Road closure in Yoho National Park

For trail closures due to wildlife presence or avalanche dangers in Yoho National Park, check out the report from Parks Canada.

Accurate road conditions for Alberta can be checked here and for British Columbia here.

Trail report for Yoho National Park

Before you head out, check current trail conditions on Trail Report from Parks Canada.

Bear Country

As always, you are in a bear habitat in the Canadian Rockies. You should always carry a bear spray (can be purchased at Visitor’s Centre or outdoor stores), know when and how to use it and make noise while hiking and running (so you don’t surprise any bears)! Carefully read these instructions on how to behave around them.


About Maya Steiningerova

Heyo, I’m Maya! An adventure athlete currently living near the Canadian Rockies with my partner in crime Michal. I love running in the mountains, jumping in the ice cold lakes, mountain biking and trying not so common activities, such as mountaineering. By showing that an ordinary person can live an extraordinary life, my hope is to inspire you to live an adventurous life and provide you with tips and tools for your own adventure.

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