After a winter of snowfall in the mountains, the waterfalls in Whistler come to life in the spring.
Our region has everything from horsetail and multi-step falls, to tiered and plunge waterfalls. All of which look spectacular after 6 months of snow starts to melt and sets off on it’s journey to the sea.
Here’s our list of the most magnificent waterfalls in and near Whistler – enjoy.
1. Brandywine Falls, just south of Whistler
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Brandywine Falls are one of Whistler’s most iconic, and most photographed, waterfalls. But, what most people don’t know is that this waterfall is steeped in prehistoric history – a history that is just as wondrous as the falls itself.
Brandywine Falls are part of Brandywine Creek which starts to the west (on the other side of Highway 99) at the Powder Mountain Icefield, an area studded with extinct, dormant, and active volcanoes, such as Mt Cayley. It is believed that the walls of Brandywine Falls are made up of more than four different basalt lava flows dating back around 34,000 years.
Where Brandywine Falls got its name: The name Brandywine is believed to have come from a wager, between two surveyors (Jack Nelson and Bob Mollison), over the height of the falls. The man with the closest guess won a bottle of brandy(wine). The height was measured with a chain and found to be 70 meters, and from that day Mollison named the falls Brandywine.
How to get to Brandywine Falls
2. Rainbow Falls, Whistler
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Rainbow Falls is on our list for two reasons: first, you can drive to within a 15 – 20 minute hike to the falls and secondly, they’re hidden away in a place 90% of tourists don’t know about so there’s never a crowd.
The falls are part of 21 Mile Creek and are found at the start of the much longer hike to Rainbow Lake and the summit of Rainbow Mountain.
Local knowledge: These falls are beautiful all year-round and the hike becomes a great snowshoe route in the winter. Sadly, dogs are not allowed on this trail.
How to get to the Rainbow Falls trail head
3. Alexander Falls, Whistler
The drive up to this waterfall is almost worth it on its own. Alexander Falls is right at the top of Callaghan Road, on the left, just before you get to the Whistler Olympic Park. The Callaghan Road is known as one of the best “unofficial” bear watching sites in Whistler. When the road was developed for the 2010 Winter Olympics the banks were seeded with grass so that it looked nicer than the dirt left behind. Now the grassy banks are fertile and full of clover – some of the black bear’s favourite food.
Good to know: It’s important for the health of our bears and for your safety, that you know how to react appropriately if you do come across one while in Whistler. For more information read this post 5 Safety Tips: What To Do If You See A Bear In Whistler
Local knowledge: Alexander Falls is a waterfall on Madeley Creek which runs down from Madeley Lake, one of our favourite Whistler lakes to camp at. If you have time (and a 4×4 vehicle) it’s well worth the drive up to the Madeley Lake trail. Get directions and more information here: artofliving.summitlodge.com/happening-in-whistler/fall-hikes-madeley-lake-whistler-bc
How to get to Alexander Falls
4. Nairn Falls, just north of Whistler
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Nairn Falls is a 60 meter high double waterfall connected by a canyon. As the raging torrent is forced through the canyon it carves away at the walls, leaving behind beautiful channels and shapes in the rock.
To get to the falls drive to Nairn Falls Provincial Park and follow the signs for the falls trail. The hike in is about 1.5km along a well maintained trail.
How to get to Nairn Falls
5. Shannon Falls, Squamish
Shannon Falls is a little bit further away from Whistler than the other four, but we included it because it’s the third highest waterfall in BC and one of the most popular stops on the Sea To Sky Highway between Vancouver and Whistler.
Rising 335 metres above Highway 99, the tumbling waters of Shannon Falls originate from Mount Habrich and Mount Sky Pilot which can be seen from the top the Stawamus Chief hike or the Sea To Sky Gondola.
Local knowledge: In 1792 Captain George Vancouver set up camp just west of the falls. The falls were named after Shannon, who, in 1890-1900 owned the falls and surrounding area. He then later sold the land to the near by Brittania Mine in 1900.
How to get to Shannon Falls
We hope you get chance to bask in the natural beauty of these falls. After all, #waterfallwednesday is a real thing!