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9 of the best Whistler waterfalls

Did you know there are some amazing Whistler waterfalls around Whistler Village and up in the mountains surrounding the town?

From Nairn Falls to the waterfalls by the Whistler Train Wreck and the waterfalls on the way to Whistler such as Mamquam Falls and Shannon Falls, there are some truly stunning waterfalls near Whistler BC.

The best time to visit Whistler waterfalls is in spring and early summer once the snow has melted, but before the heat has dried things up too much. Shannon Falls in particular has such a huge change in power over the year!

During my time living in Vancouver, trips to Whistler for an almost weekly occurrence for a few years. Whether we were skiing in the winter, or hiking and biking in summer, we made time to check out places like these waterfalls along the way.

Whether you’re looking for an easy walk to a waterfall in Whistler, or want something that involves a bit of a hike, going hunting for these Whistler waterfalls is one of the best things to do in Whistler. All are impressive in their own way and well worth checking out during your trip to this BC mountain town.

Best waterfalls in Whistler

AllTrails is my go-to hiking app for finding, planning, and navigating while I’m out on the trails. With offline maps on AllTrails+ you can be confident you’re still on the right track, even without mobile signal.

Alexander Falls Whistler

what to do in whistler in winter for non skiers (1 of 3)
  • Distance from Whistler: 24 km, 22 minutes
  • Hike difficulty: Easy-moderate
  • Trail map

Alexander Falls is just south of Whistler Village in the picturesque Callaghan Valley, near the Whistler Olympic Park from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Alexander Falls is about 43 metres tall and you can get to it all year round. You have the choice of either viewing the falls from the platform built into the cliff, or you can walk down to view the falls from the bottom.

One winter during a birthday trip to Whistler, we went snowshoeing in Whistler down to the bottom of Alexander Falls which was a lot of fun and a great way to view them.

In winter in Whistler you’ll need to pay for a trail pass but not in summer.

Cirque Falls

cirque lake whistler
  • Distance from Whistler: ~30 minutes to trailhead
  • Hike difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail map

Cirque Falls can be found on the hiking trail to Cirque Lake or Callaghan Lake in Whistler’s Callaghan Valley.

Though the hike to Cirque Lake is short, you’ll need a 4×4 or good AWD to get to the trailhead since Cirque Lake is down a rough logging road.

Cirque Falls is something of a connector between Cirque Lake and Callaghan Lake as the water flows between the two lakes.

Though it’s much harder to get to than the other falls on this list, it’s with visiting if you want to combine a hike with a viewing of a waterfall!

Rainbow Falls

rainbow falls easy whistler hikes
  • Distance from Whistler: 7 km, 10 minutes
  • Hike difficulty: Easy
  • Trail map
  • Note: Rainbow Falls Park is closed until June 2024 so you won’t be able to drive + park at the trailhead.

Rainbow Falls is another of the waterfalls in Whistler that require a hike (albeit short) to get to. Though it’s not the most impressive of Whistler waterfalls, it’s really the surrounding scenery and the journey to get there that makes this one special.

Rainbow Falls is just a short walk from the trailhead for the hike to Rainbow Falls Whistler just off Alta Lake Road by one of Whistler’s best lakes.

The journey to reach Rainbow Falls is a pleasant walk through the forest and along the creek and you can continue uphill once you reach the bottom of the falls to get a view from both the top and the bottom.

If you’re looking for a longer, more challenging hike, you can continue to hike to Rainbow Lake which is on my list of the best hikes in Whistler.

Whistler Train Wreck waterfall

what to do on an adventurous weekend in whistler whistler train wreck suspension bridge
  • Distance from Whistler: 9 km, 10 minutes
  • Hike difficulty: Easy
  • Trail map

The Whistler train wreck trail takes you across Cheakamus River to a crashed train in the middle of the forest that’s now a colourful attraction on this easy Whistler hike.

It’s easy to get to the trailhead in Cheakamus, just a couple of minutes south of the village, to begin your hike.

Along the way, you’ll cross over a suspension bridge and get to check out the pretty train wreck falls that cascade underneath you. The flow comes from Cheakamus Lakes, one of the best lakes in Whistler, and the colour is often a pretty vivid blue-green.

They’re not tall, but being able to view them from the falls is still super cool and adds something extra to this hike.

You can also see some similar falls from a suspension bridge if you do the hike to Loggers Lake from the Whistler Interpretive Forest which I’d also recommend.

It’s a great hike if you’re looking for Whistler fall activities too since you don’t need the Whistler gondola to be running, and there’s unlikely to be snow. Plus you’ll get to experience what can be some stunning Whistler fall colors as you walk!

Nairn Falls

nairn falls whistler easy hike
  • Distance from Whistler: 29 km, 22 minutes
  • Hike difficulty: Easy
  • Trail map

Nairn Falls is one of the best waterfalls to visit in Whistler. Though it’s not a super tall waterfall, it’s in a beautiful location and involves a short, easy hike in Whistler to get to the viewpoints within Nairn Falls Provincial Park.

There’s a parking lot and trailhead just off the highway as you drive north out of Whistler towards Pemberton. The trail follows the scenic Green River that flows down into Green Lake in Whistler Village and you’ll get incredible views of Nairn Falls at the end as it carves its way through a narrow canyon.

It’s this curving around the rocks that I think makes Nairn Falls one of the coolest waterfalls in Whistler. Many of the others are straight up and down, but this one is a bit more unique and reminded me of some of the waterfalls in Banff and Jasper.

Holloway Falls

joffre lakes waterfall
  • Distance from Whistler: 62 km, 1 hour to trailhead
  • Hike difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail map

Holloway Falls is the beautiful waterfall you see along the Joffre Lakes hiking trail.

It’s found between Middle Joffre Lakes and the Upper Joffre Lake.

Though it’s not exactly the tallest waterfall near Whistler, it’s still at a decent height as it crashes down and it’s surprisingly wide as you walk past it through the forest on your way to the final of the three lakes along the Joffre Lake trail.

Brandywine Falls

brandywine falls whistler easy hike
  • Distance from Whistler: 17.5 km, 14 minutes
  • Hike difficulty: Easy
  • Trail map

Brandywine Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls near Whistler and it’s just off the Sea to Sky highway as you drive between Vancouver and Whistler.

There’s an interesting story behind how this waterfall got its name.

Legend has it that a couple of railway surveyors, who also happened to be drinking buddies, made a wager to accurately estimate the height of this magnificent 70-meter waterfall. The stakes were high—a bottle of brandy (or Brandywine as it was known back then). After measuring the falls with a chain, the friends celebrated their success by polishing off the entire bottle on the spot and promptly named the falls in honour of their ‘spirited’ adventure.

Beyond its curious name, Brandywine Falls Whistler is renowned for its mesmerizing time-warp effect.

If you stand on the upper observation deck, you’ll feel like as the water plunges from the upper edge, it slows down and then spreads out. It’s super cool to see and I’ve not seen it at any of the other waterfalls I’ve visited in Canada or elsewhere.

Brandywine Falls is just a short 10-minute walk from the parking lot off the highway. There’s also an unofficial trail to the bottom of Brandywine Falls but this is done at your own risk.

Brandywine Falls gets very busy during the summer months and so the parking lot fills up. Don’t be tempted to park just off the highway as cars get towed here regularly. If it’s busy, carry on driving and try and stop on your way back.

You also can’t view the falls in winter as the parking lot is not ploughed and the gates are locked. This access point usually reopens in early or mid-May depending on the weather and snow coverage that year.

Shannon Falls Provincial Park

shannon falls sea to sky highway bc
Shannon Falls in mid-summer when it’s at its weakest
  • Distance from Whistler: 80 km, 1 hour

Shannon Falls is one of the best waterfalls on the way to Whistler.

These waterfalls in Squamish are just next to the Squamish Chief and they tower 335 meters above Highway 99. That makes them the third-highest waterfall in British Columbia and definitely one of the best waterfalls in BC!

According to Squamish First Nations legends, Shannon Falls is attributed to a colossal two-headed serpent known as Say-noth-ka. This mythical creature resided in Howe Sound and would make its way from the ocean up into the mountains, following a specific path. Over time, the massive serpent’s twisting body gradually eroded the mountainside, forming a distinct grooved spillway that guides the cascading waters of the falls.

Similar to many other waterfalls on this list of Whistler’s best waterfalls, Shannon Falls is easy to get to and one of the most popular stops when people drive between Vancouver and Whistler.

Simply park up in the parking lot for Shannon Falls off the highway and then take the short walk to the viewing platform at the bottom of the falls. If you want more of a challenge and an alternative view, you can hike the Sea to Summit trail which passes by the falls further up so you’ll hear them roar.

During the summer, the parking lot gets full very quickly. While people often don’t stay too long here, you might have to wait for a spot or alternatively get there early to experience one of the best waterfalls near Vancouver and Whistler.

Mamquam Falls

mamquam falls near whistler

Distance from Whistler: 66 km, 1 hour

I first saw these falls when I was racing in a trail running race and I couldn’t believe the colour of the water!

Turns out this is something of a local gem and these falls are well worth visiting if you’ve already seen all the others on this list and are looking for some of the best waterfalls near Whistler in Squamish.

Mamquam Falls is located at the end of a Forest Service Road (FSR) so you’ll want a car with good clearance and ideally, AWD or 4×4 to get there.

From the gate on the Mamquam FSR you’ll need to park up and walk the rest until you get to a bridge and the views of Mamquam Falls. There are various trails to the river where you can enjoy the falls from another viewpoint too (where this picture was taken).

Be careful as you walk as it’s wet and slippery and you don’t want to fall!

FAQs about the best Whistler waterfalls

What waterfall is on the way to Whistler?

The main waterfall on the way to Whistler is Shannon Falls which is next to the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish.

What waterfalls are on the way to Whistler from Vancouver?

The biggest one is Shannon Falls. There’s also Mamquam Falls at the end of a forest service road which is lesser known and super pretty.

What falls are between Whistler and Pemberton?

Nairn Falls is the most easily accessible waterfall between Whistler and Pemberton. There are also waterfalls on the Joffre Lakes trail.

Final thoughts on the best waterfalls in Whistler BC

Whistler is a great destination for active travellers and adventurers and visiting some of the best Whistler waterfalls such as those on this list is a great way to experience the town.

Book a great Whistler hotel or go camping in Whistler and then wake up and grab a coffee from one of the best Whistler coffee shops and get ready to explore.

From the iconic Brandywine Falls and Shannon Falls to lesser-known gems like Alexander Falls and Train Wreck Falls, each of these Whistler falls offers its own unique charm and Whistler’s waterfalls never fail to impress.

Explore the trails, feel the mist on your skin, and immerse yourself in the captivating beauty of these waterfalls.

If you’re looking for more hiking guides I’ve over 100 of them. And, if you want more waterfalls in BC, check out this guide to the best waterfalls in Kamloops, or these Revelstoke waterfalls.

Last Updated on July 6, 2023 by Hannah

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