Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Sunwapta Gorge

[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.

[3 - Gorge in detail]

[4 - Sunwapta Gorge and bridge]


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: [1]-Alaskan Dude CC=flickr, [2]-Kris Taeleman CC=nc-sa-flickr, [3]-Anile P CC=nc-nd-flickr, [4][5]-DavidQuick CC=nc-nd-flickr, [6]-wonkanerd CC=nc-sa-flickr, [7]-ConanTheLibrarian CC=nc-nd-flickr.


RuneE said...

The gorge looked dangerous, but maybe the totem poles can do something about the fear? There must be a tremendous amount of work involved in making them.

Leah J. Utas said...

Gorgeous. Thanks, Barbara. I have never been on the trail. I think I'll give it a try next time I go looking for goats to photograph.

Teresa said...

Thanks for sharing this gorgeous scenery with us, Barbara. The totem poles are really interesting, too.

Charles Gramlich said...

Wow. Just wow. Love that bridge over the gorge.

Ronda Laveen said...

Truly a magnificent area. Loved the beautiful photos and those goats are as cute as can be.

Barbara Martin said...

RuneE, another great idea for a post: the making of a totem pole. My high school had a totem pole for its mascot.

I would have trouble on the bridge over the gorge, needing to stick to the middle of it and away from the railing. Though I see now that ParksCanada has a wire mesh fitted between the poles to prevent people from slipping through on the bottom.

Leah, it's not a difficult trail so you should be good to go.

Teresa, all waterfalls fascinate me, so I have to post as many as I can.

Barbara Martin said...

Charles, I can see the glimmer of a story coming.

Ronda, the mountain goats tend to be illusive, coming to their mineral licks early in the morning or late in the evening. These look to be acclimatized to humans which isn't a good thing.

The only times I've seen them are in the snow sheds of the TransCanada Highway through Rogers Pass at night during a snowfall or up on crags a good distance from the road.

Michael Rawluk said...

Try the drive from Jasper to Cranbrook. You will be blown away.

Barrie said...

I think a post about totem poles would be great!