If you’re looking to get outdoors but don’t have the time to trek all the way into the mountains, then Elbow Falls might be the perfect afternoon getaway for you. We’re always looking for things to do close to Calgary, and this place is literally right on our doorstep! The best part is its open year-round and each season offers different but stunning views. Whether you want to visit in Winter or Summer, Elbow Falls is always breathtaking, and are definitely worth checking out.
Feel like going for a longer hike? Check out nearby Prairie Mountain!
If you have more time, I’d highly recommend checking out our list of the 14 Most Breathtaking Hikes in Kananaskis You Can’t Afford To Miss!
How to Get Here
You can simply type in “Elbow Falls Parking Lot” in Google Maps or Apple Maps. It is located along AB-Highway 66.
Elbow Falls are about a 45 minute drive from Calgary, near Bragg Creek, and once you get there, it’s about a 30 second walk from the car park. This is a true “drive-up spot”, and very little walking is needed at all. It’s the kind of trip we’ve done when we’ve woken up late but still want to get out and see something before the sun sets. The falls are also great if you’re not interested in doing a big hike or just want something short and accessible. It’s definitely the closest and best waterfall near Calgary if you ask us!
We love bringing our friends here to give them a taste of the outdoors and to see what the mountains have to offer. The place is super popular, and you can also go for a stroll along the river bed. When we went a couple of weeks ago, there were lots of families out and about, building snowmen and taking their kids out for the afternoon. It’s definitely a good place to take young kids as well. We even saw heaps of people out chopping down their own Christmas trees!
A couple rules when visiting Elbow Falls:
- Always practice Leave No Trace Principles. Pack out what you pack in. While it’s super tempting to have a picnic right by the water, and many people do it, it’s important that you take all your garbage (even apple cores or orange peels!) with you. There are no picnic tables located at Elbow Falls so bring a towel or picnic blanket with you.
- All dogs must be on leash at all times. There will be other families, hikers and dogs in the area so please be courteous and keep your furry friends on leash! There have also been several bear sightings in the area, along with numerous other wildlife sightings, so please be mindful of this.
Do These Falls Look Familiar To You?
There are many amazing locations in and around Calgary and Kananaskis that have been used by big movie crews as filming locations. Recently, the cast of Jumani: The Next Level actually filmed the iconic “body switching” waterfall scene at none other than Elbow Falls! Check it out below: (starting at 1:39)
Disclaimer: Despite how cool Dwayne Johnson looks doing it, please don’t attempt to jump into the water here. Not only is the water shockingly cold, people have lost their lives before.
Read: Calgary man dies while taking photo at Elbow Falls
Things To Do Near Elbow Falls
- Grab lunch in the nearby town of Bragg Creek! There are lots of great options for restaurants, whether you’re just looking for burgers or a proper sit-down meal.
- Hike Prairie Mountain right across the road from the Elbow Falls parking lot. Prairie Mountain is a relatively short grind up a steep hill with a total elevation gain of 720 m over 3.8 km but you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views of the valley. This is a hike you can actually do year-round, which is extremely rare!
- Visit the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary which is only a 45 minute drive away! This amazing location is also open year-round. Who says there’s nothing to do in the Winter, eh?
We’ve done Bragg Creek in Summer and Winter, and think that both seasons offer something unique to enjoy. Like most places in the Rockies, you need to see everything in both seasons to really say you’ve seen it! We’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking!
Elbow Falls in the Winter
Elbow Falls in the Summer
Feel free to get in touch with me on Instagram @robintuck1 if you’d like any more details on how to get to Elbow Falls or if you’d like any other information on things to do in the Canadian Rockies