Stanley Falls are spectacular along Beauty Creek in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada.
The trail-head for Stanley Falls, along Beauty Creek, is accessed via a small, nondescript parking area on the Icefields Parkway north of the Columbia Icefields between the Stutfield Glacier Viewpoint and the Beauty Creek Hostel in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. This is one of the most commonly accessed, relatively easy and spectacular hikes in Jasper National Park.
This popular hike is 2.3 KM (1⅜ miles) one-way with minor elevation differential. Beauty Creek is a major drainage between 3,001 m (9,486 ft) Tangle Ridge to the south and 3,315 m (10,875 ft.) Sunwapta Peak on the north. An early morning start begins from the grass roots David Thompson Resort in Bighorn Backcountry for the 1½ hour drive to the Stanley Falls trail-head.
The view south from the Stanley Falls trailhead with Tangle Ridge in the background at Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
Initial, good-gravel trail morphs to a short section of root-laden, damp trail leading to excellent quality trail hosting beautiful border carpets of wildflowers in seed alongside Beauty Creek. At one time, this flat section of the trail was paved and although the surface has nearly returned to gravel, it is easy walking to the Y junction where Beauty Creek heads up and along the north edge of the narrow canyon. At some time in the past this trail also crossed a bridge over Beauty Creek and continued south. This brief steep ascent leads to good trail along the narrow Beauty Creek canyon hosting roaring, white water.
The formidable profile of Tangle Ridge is in the background.
Beauty Creek is a phenomenal experience of hiking the edge above a narrow canyon containing frothing, roaring, white and turquoise water accompanied by the musty odor of wet, mossy rock combined with damp, forest aroma. Powerful sound of the tumbling creek is amplified by the acoustic characteristics of the narrow canyon. All senses are on overload.
Following sequential photographs attempt to capture the nature of this short, easy hike above the narrow, twisting, turning canyon. Hundreds of photographs are taken. These few are representative of the indelibly memorable experience.
Trail between two old, weathered boulders leads quickly to the largest waterfall. The sound of crashing water reverberates within the canyon bowl which contains the impressive waterfall. This ethereal experience is uniquely exhilarating and while walking around the edge of the bowl, the beautiful waterfall reveals its multiple spectacular facades.
The trail continues along Beauty Creek but return is justified by other plans for this day which include the the short, easy hike to the toe of the Athabasca Glacier at the Columbia Icefield and the trail to Wilcox Pass before returning to David Thompson Resort.
From the Stanley Falls trail-head, the drive south on the Icefields Parkway proceeds to the viewpoint for Stutfield Glacier before a brief stop at impressive roadside Tangle Falls. A short distance further south past Tangle Falls provides impressive views from the large viewpoint along Icefields Parkway of the massive Kitchener Glacier and Dome Glacier on the flank of Mount Kitchener and the Snow Dome. The massive Columbia Icefields occupy a large section of the Continental Divide and channel water to the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans.
Stanley Falls is an outstanding hike north of the incredible Columbia Icefields. A rest stop at Icefield Centre provides the opportunity for lunch with a view on the elevated stone patio adjacent to the dining room.
Following lunch the short drive across the Icefield Parkway to parking near the trail-head initiates a short hike to the toe of the very accessible Athabasca Glacier. Cloud cover is building and getting moody. From a private, upper parking area, tour buses with massive wheels are delivering passengers for the experience of traveling on the surface of the massive glacier.
Photographs for this outstanding hike to Stanley Falls along Beauty Creek were taken on August 19, 2014 in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. This hike is highly recommended when hiking or travelling in this world famous area.