Alexander Falls – A Hidden Gem Inside the Callaghan Valley

Alexander Falls is one of the many impressive waterfalls along the Sea to Sky corridor. It is located in the beautiful Callaghan Valley, a few kilometres south of Whistler and a couple of kilometres before the Whistler Olympic Park, where the 2010 Olympic Nordic events took place.

Alexander Falls drop 53 meters (173 feet) down a cliff in three steps. The best time to visit is during winter when the entire waterfall or parts are frozen. The scenic snowshoe trail will take you inside a deep coastal forest and to the base of the falls for a close-up view.

Alexander Falls in December

Winter is the only time you can get near Alexander Falls. For the rest of the year, you can only see it from the upper viewing platform.

To snowshoe to the waterfall, you will need to purchase a ticket from the Callaghan admission gate when you arrive or online. Snowshoe rentals are available if you do not own or have your snowshoes with you.

How to Get To Alexander Falls

The best way to reach the Callaghan Valley is by car, shuttle or taxi from Whistler, which is the closest town to the valley. If you do not have a car, we suggest renting one in Vancouver. 

Discover Cars is a fantastic site for finding good deals. Make sure that your vehicle has good winter tires if you plan to visit during winter. 

If you plan to visit during the winter, you will need to park at the Alexander Falls Touring Centre. During summer, follow the directions to Alexander Falls Parking Lot. The two parking lots are located about 400 meters from each other.

Driving directions: Take Hwy 99 and turn onto Callaghan Valley Rd. The turn-off is 110 km north of downtown Vancouver, 44 km north of Squamish, and 14 km south of Whistler Village. 

Drive for about 8.5 kilometres up Callaghan Valley Road. Just before the switchback, which will take you to the Whistler Olympic Park, you will notice a large red sign pointing you left into the Ski Callaghan Parking Lot.

You will come to an admission gate, where you can purchase a ticket for snowshoeing during winter. There is a huge gravel parking lot, and parking is free. The Callaghan Valley Road is plowed all winter long.

Alexander Falls Viewing Platform

The easiest way to look at the waterfall is from a large viewing platform located next to the Alexander Falls Parking Lot. You can access the platform during both summer and winter.

Drive up Callaghan Valley Road for about 8 kilometres and follow the signs for Alexander Falls Parking Lot and Alexander Falls Recreation Site. Watch out for wildlife, as it is very common to see black bears along the road.

When we visited during summertime, there was a grizzly bear in the area. It’s good to be aware of your surroundings and to carry bear spray.

Next to the parking lot, you will also find some picnic tables located inside the forest clearings. They were part of a campsite some time ago. 

Snowshoeing to Alexander Falls 

We visited Whistler and the Callaghan Country on multiple occasions, but this was our first time snowshoeing to Alexander Falls. Making a trip to the waterfall was so worth it!

At the base of Alexander Falls

The Callaghan Country and the Whistler Olympic Park also offer some fantastic cross-country skiing. The views inside the park are stunning, and there is always a massive amount of snow in the winter; it looks magical.

During our visit in December, we had some bitterly cold weather; it was minus 18 Celsius (felt like -28 Celsius!). It does not get this cold in Whistler very often. 

We put on multiple layers of clothing in the morning and packed some hand warmers. The freezing weather did not deter us, and we spent a lot of time at the waterfall, taking photos and admiring the turquoise-coloured water. 

The hand warmers came in very handy. We were so cold by the end that it was hard to smile for the camera, and I could not feel my toes. 

Key Facts

  • Distance: 3 km loop
  • Estimated Time: 1.5-2 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 120 m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Location: Callaghan Valley

Alexander Falls Snowshoe Trails

Two snowshoe trails will take you right up to the base of the falls. The course is well-signed and easy to follow. You can download the snowshoe trail map here or get a hard copy from the ticket office when you arrive.

Going to the falls is easy as it is all downhill. We recommend taking the Express Trail on the way there and the Alexander Falls Explorer on the way back. If you are short on time and do not mind steep trails, take the Express route there and back. 

Alexander Falls Snowshoe Trailhead

From the Callaghan Country rental shop, walk past the double-decker coffee bus and the signboard at the end of the parking lot. You will see the snowshoe trail access behind it. 

Alexander Falls Trailhead is behind the white camper

The route goes into the trees and slowly descends into the forest. Soon you will come to a junction. The Alexander Falls Express Trail is to the left, and to the right is the Alexander Falls Explorer.

The Alexander Falls Express Trail 

This trail is a direct shortcut to the base of Alexander Falls. The distance is 0.5 kilometres one way. The route is steep and can be challenging for some people. Beware, the trail is closed in icy conditions.

Alexander Falls Explorer

This winding trail will take you deep inside a beautiful Western Hemlock forest and ultimately lead you down to the base of the Alexander Falls. The distance is 2.5 kilometres one way.

Alexander Falls Explorer Trail

Both trails join together about 300 meters before the waterfall. Shortly after the junction, there is a steep downhill section towards Madeley Creek that can be challenging for some people. 

When you are at the creek level, go left. It is a short, few-minute walk to the base of the waterfall. Enjoy the beautiful falls before heading back up the trail. 

Alexander Falls Snowshoe Trail Map

On our map, you can view the Alexander Falls Express Trail and the Alexander Falls Explorer. To see a more detailed map, click here

Click the map to open a large interactive Google Map

Snow and Weather Report for the Alexander Falls Touring Centre

We recommend checking the snow and weather information before you go. You can find a report on the Callaghan Country website during the winter season. The data is updated every day. To view a full-week forecast, visit the YR website.

Beautiful trees on the Alexander Falls Explorer Trail

The Callaghan Country is famous for its winter storms and abundant snowfalls. Make sure to dress appropriately, especially during cold spells; the temperatures in Whistler can go down to minus 20 Celsius. 

Winter Dates and Hours of Operation – Alexander Falls Touring Centre

The winter dates of operation are from early December to mid-April. Hours are Monday & Tuesday, 9 am – 4:30 pm; Wednesday & Thursday closed; Friday, 9 am – 4:30 pm; Saturday & Sunday, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm.

*Please note that all dates, hours, and trail availabilities are snow and weather dependent and subject to change. Please confirm with Callaghan Country before arrival at 604 -938 0616.

Snowshoe Tickets for the Callaghan Country

You can purchase your snowshoe tickets when you arrive from the Ski Callaghan admission gate. The ticket includes access to both Callaghan Country and Whistler Olympic Park.

Day admission for snowshoeing, if you purchase your ticket online, is $17 for adults, $10 for youth, $10 for seniors, and children have free entry. The cost to bring your dog is $7. If you purchase your ticket at the gate, the price is a bit more expensive. 

Callaghan Country Shop and Snowshoe Rentals

The Callaghan Country snowshoe and ski rental shop is located at the Alexander Falls Ski Touring Centre. Here you will also find an Adventure Desk where you can book overnight accommodation for the Journeyman Lodge in the sub-alpine wilderness and a snow shuttle.

Callaghan Country snowshoe rentals

If you do not have your equipment, you can rent everything from snowshoeing to ski touring and overnight excursions in the Callaghan. The knowledgeable staff at the rental shop will help you rent, demo, or purchase gear for your winter adventure. 

Callaghan Country ski shop carries Salomon clothing, gloves, snowshoes, alpine touring gear and supplies, icebreaker layers, North Face accessories, snacks, beverages, etc. 

Facilities and Services at the Callaghan Country

The Callaghan Country has fewer facilities than the nearby Olympic Park; it has more of a rustic, backcountry feeling. There is a cozy warming hut where you can relax after hours of snowshoeing.

Double-decker bus at the Callaghan Country

You can also enjoy a delicious cup of coffee served from a double-decker bus parked onsite. It was not open while we visited, but we took many photos. The double-decker bus looked dazzling among the piles of snow.

When Is the Best Time to Visit Alexander Falls?

We recommend visiting the waterfall during the winter, after a prolonged period of cold weather, to see stunning ice formations. If you are lucky, you will see the waterfall wholly or partially frozen, which is a remarkable sight.

Alexander Falls in December

The second best time of the year to view the waterfall is during late spring or early summer when all the snow is rapidly melting and providing a powerful force of water. When the winter season is over, you will be able to look at Alexander Falls only from the viewing platform.

How Long Does It Take To Snowshoe to Alexander Falls?

The Express Trail will take you straight to the falls and back if you are short on time. This can be completed in about an hour. 

If you have more time, we recommend making a loop and taking the Express Trail there and Alexander Falls Explorer on the way back to enjoy more of the beautiful forest. Snowshoeing the loop will take 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on your speed and the time spent at the waterfall.

How Tall Are Alexander Falls? 

The Alexander Falls drop 53 meters (173 feet) over three sections and are 20 meters wide at their maximum width. The water source comes from Madeley Creek, which is fed by several rivers and creeks in the Callaghan Valley region.

Partially frozen Alexander Falls

The falls can be wholly or partially frozen during the wintertime due to heavy snowfalls and high elevation. 

How Popular Are Alexander Falls?

Before constructing the Callaghan Valley Nordic Center for the 2010 Winter Olympics, the waterfall could only be accessed by a remote forest service road and then by walking on a rough trail to a viewpoint. 

Now, the road is paved, and access is much easier. There were not too many people during our visit, and we could enjoy the waterfall and the lovely forest without being overly crowded.

We discovered info about Alexander Falls when searching for snowshoe trails in the Whistler area. After chatting with a few locals, we found out only some knew about Alexander Falls.

Should You Bring Kids and Dogs?

In good conditions, snowshoeing to Alexander Falls is a family-friendly adventure. If your kids are very young, we recommend taking the Alexander Falls Explorer, which is less steep and more scenic than the Express Trail. 

Happy dog on the Alexander Falls snowshoe trail

Both trails join together shortly before reaching the waterfall, and there is a short, steep section where caution should be taken.

The trails to Alexander Falls are dog friendly; you can keep your pup off-leash. We recommend checking the weather forecast before you go to be better prepared.

Cold weather may affect some dogs more than others. Booties can help protect your pup’s paws, and a light coat will be helpful if you know your dog gets cold quickly.

More Adventure Activities in the Callaghan Country

If you want to stay longer and enjoy more activities in the Callaghan Country, there are several picturesque snowshoe trails you can explore. Your admission will also provide access to the nearby Whistler Olympic Park. In addition, both parks have many cross-country ski trails.

Snowshoe Trails in the Callaghan Country

Snowshoe your way through ancient coastal rainforests and pristine frozen lakes. Ski Callaghan area offers approximately 15 kilometres of wilderness snowshoe routes. 

Alexander Falls Explorer Trail

The snowshoe trails cover both old and second-growth forests. As the branches of hemlock and fir trees collect snow, they create the feeling of a winter wonderland. 

Stop in one of the many viewpoints to gaze upon stunning views of the surrounding mountains, such as the distinctive Black Tusk, located in nearby Garibaldi Provincial Park.

If you love herbs and trees or just being inside a beautiful forest, the Medicine Trail Snowshoe Tour is amazing! This guided hike lasts for about 3 hours and will take you on a journey to the mysterious old-growth forest in the Callaghan Valley.

The tour will introduce you to some Eastern and Western philosophies of tree medicine that our great ancestors lived by. You can admire giant cedar, fir, and hemlock trees and sample teas made from medicinal plants that grow on the route. >>Book your Medicine Trail Snowshoe Tour here

Cross-Country Skiing at the Callaghan Country

Experience the charm of winter inside the park while Nordic skiing or ski touring. Callaghan Country offers 47 kilometres of groomed ski trails. One daily admission allows access to both Callaghan Country and Whistler Olympic Park, with over 120km of trails to explore!

The area boasts over 7000 hectares of wilderness, from majestic old-growth forests and stunning peaks to flat plateaus and steep climbs. 

An easy trail for a start is the Real Life trail, which is 4.5 kilometres one-way and takes between 70 minutes to 3 hours to finish. It is also a dog-friendly trail, and you can take your pup with you! 

If you want to do something more challenging, take the Mainline trail, which is 8.5 kilometres one way and takes between 2 to 6 hours to finish.

If you do not have cross-country skis and need transportation from Vancouver, we recommend booking a cross-country ski tour. It includes a pick-up and drop-off right at your doorstep and ski equipment rental.

READ MORE: Cross-Country Skiing in Whistler – The Nordic Paradise

Snowmobile Tour in the Callaghan Country 

Take the Whistler Wilderness Run Snowmobile Tour and ride across Whistler’s rugged Callaghan Valley. Your guide will take you through the Coastal Mountain Range, snowy landscapes and frozen lakes.

Snowmobile Tour in the Callaghan Country. Photo Credit: Canadian Wilderness Adventures

During your adventure, you will also visit the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics events. If you take the early morning tour, you can enjoy a unique Canadian Yukon breakfast of eggs and syrupy pancakes cooked on a wood stove at a rustic cabin. The breakfast option does require a minimum of six people to confirm the trip. >>Book your Whistler Wilderness Run Snowmobile Tour here

The Best Places to Stay Around Alexander Falls

The closest town to Callaghan Valley is Whistler. It offers a myriad of activities and fantastic skiing. Whistler has many beautiful lodges, hotels, and resorts to make you cozy and comfortable.

Four Seasons Resort Whistler. Photo Credit: Four Seasons Resort

We recommend booking your accommodation months in advance to make sure you get one of the best hotels. Here are a few of our recommendations:

Luxury Hotels

Mid-Range Hotels

  • Sundial Hotel: Excellent Location; the Sundial Hotel is situated just a one-minute walk away from Whistler Blackcomb Gondola and right at the base of the Whistler Bike Park. It features a rooftop hot tub, gas fireplace and a full kitchen in all suites. >>See prices and availability for Sundial Hotel

Budget-Friendly Hotels

Plan Your Trip to Alexander Falls

  • Travel Insurance: Protect yourself from possible injury, theft or a cancelled trip. World Nomads offers excellent coverage and competitive rates.
  • Accommodation: Our favourite hotel search engine is Discover savings on hotels, apartments, resorts and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide.  
  • Experiences: Make your trip extra special and memorable. Get Your Guide and Viator offer fantastic tours and activities.
  • Car Rentals: Discover Cars is an excellent site for comparing car prices and finding great deals. Book online for the best rates. 
  • Flights: Our favourite search engine for airline tickets is Skyscanner. Compare millions of flights and discover the best fares for standard and budget flights.

Read More Travel Guides

We hope you enjoyed our guide on snowshoeing to Alexander Falls. Let us know in the comments below. Here are a few of our favourite articles to inspire your travels around Whistler.

This post may include affiliate links. We will earn a small commission if you make a purchase at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support. 

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *