One of the many enticing aspects of Jasper Icefield Park is the numerous amount of waterfalls that surround the mountains in and around the national park. Many of the waterfalls, such as Sunwapta Falls, are right off the highway and are the perfect break from a long drive.
Sunwapta Falls is a short drive from the Icefields Parkway and is accessible right off the parking lot. There are 2 parts to the waterfall. The upper falls that you come across first has a drop of roughly 18.5m and you can feel the thundering waterfall from a few viewpoints including a bridge and a railed off area near the top of Sunwapta Falls. The lower falls is a further of a distance down and many people are not aware of them. This is probably why the upper Sunwapta Falls are the most visited and most popular.
Before you get to the parking lot for the falls, you drive by some accommodations for people wanting to spend more time in the area. The original owner of the Sunwapta Bungalows was William Hayhurst. Legends say that the ghost of William Hayhurst still haunts the bungalows to date.
The bungalows were built by William in the 1940's. The lodge was opened by 1941, despite the war being on and labour and materials being in short supply.Stories say that the staff still see William Hayhurst walking around in the lodge and there are even tales of William being seen hitchhiking on the highway near the bungalows.
The name "Sunwapta" originates from the Assiniboine word meaning turbulent water. The waterfall stems from the Athabasca Glacier and has the most volume in the spring time with the glacier melt-water. When we went in later July, the waterfall was still rather voluminous so we can only imagine the impressive view in the spring time. Definitely don't miss this when driving through the Jasper National Park.
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