A torrent of plunging water not far from the Icefields Parkway, Sunwapta Falls is just one of the many waterfalls in Jasper created by hanging valleys.
Broad U-shaped hanging valleys were formed when glacier ice receded 8000 years ago. . Larger valleys were carved deeper than smaller ones and in places where the two meet, the smaller valleys "hang" at a higher elevation. This is an excellent place to find waterfalls. At Sunwapta Falls, the smaller "hanging" Chaba Valley and larger Athabasca Valley join in a spectacular stepping waterfall that has carved a deep limestone gorge out of the rock some metres below the footbridge.
Sunwapta Falls is also the trailhead for a beautiful backcountry trail that features campgrounds along the Athabasca River and majestic peaks towering in the background. The trail passes through the Chaba River burn area, legacy of a 1967 wildfire. The fire rejuvenated a large portion of the subalpine forest along the Chaba River Valley and is now one of the best bear and moose habitats in the park.
CAUTION - Mist from the falls covers surrounding rocks with a slippery film of water. For your own safety, do not cross the railings.