[1- Totem poles near Sunwapta Falls turnoff]
The Sunwapta Falls are located halfway between the Columbia Icefield and the Town of Jasper in Jasper National Park (55 miles from Jasper). The Upper Falls may be viewed just off highway 93.
The water in the Sunwapta River comes from the Athabasca Glacier and rushes through the gorge. Sun Wapta is the Stoney Indian words for Whirlpool River.
[2 - Full shot of the Sunwapta Falls]
There are three water falls spread over 450m of the Sunwapta River in the gorge.
The lower Sunwapta Falls are 1.5 km downstream, and can be reached from the Sunwapta Falls parking lot. Follow the main viewing trail above the falls to the right. Continue past the falls viewpoint to where the paved road ends and begin a gradual descent into a lodgepole pine forest to the lower falls. In half a kilometre the trail emerges from the forest to open views of the Athabasca Valley. The lower Sunwapta Falls have created a staircase waterfall instead of a single one.
[6-Lower Sunwapta Falls]
Also at Sunwapta Falls is a goat lick where Rocky Mountain Goats congregate to consume their needed minerals.
[7-Rocky Mountain Goat with kid]
The trail over Wilcox Pass allowed travellers and guides to bypass the toe of the Athabasca Glacier and the Sunwapta Gorge.
The 25-km hike to Fortress Lake begins at the Sunwapta Falls trailhead. I previously posted about this hike here.
Research: ParksCanada - Jasper
Photo Credits: -Alaskan Dude CC=flickr, -Kris Taeleman CC=nc-sa-flickr, -Anile P CC=nc-nd-flickr, -DavidQuick CC=nc-nd-flickr, -wonkanerd CC=nc-sa-flickr, -ConanTheLibrarian CC=nc-nd-flickr.