Athabasca Falls, a class 5 waterfall, has a drop of 80 feet.  It is not considered one of the highest waterfalls in Canadian Rockies,  but it is  thought of as the most powerful.
The falls’ crushing water tumbles over quartzite and limestone and its pulverizing power carves out gorges:

And a number of potholes.  While the potholes of my experience are a major nuisance, these potholes added another layers of fascinating curves and holes to an already magnificence view:

Some potholes even managed their own log jams:

Once again my research took me (forgive me) down a number of  rabbit holes.  I discovered that Athabasca Falls is actually quite a dangerous place. The sheer force of the cascading waters creates a mist that covers the rockies with a quite slippery film.  There are signs along the edge of the trails that warn  visitors to stay within the appointed walkways and one tourist site online states:

While Athabasca Falls is accessible and tourist friendly, tourists are cautioned not to leave the designated paths or climb over the guard rails, as doing so entails putting oneself in grave danger. While trying to take better pictures, several tourists have reportedly fallen to their deaths as they have underestimated how slippery the rock ledges are. .

In general, if visitors follow the rules, they are quite safe.  This applies to many national parks I have visited.  For example,  despite constant reminders from rangers to keep away from bison and elk every year there are many incidences of visitors getting gored as the attempt a selfie with these wild animals.  Stupid never works.
I never knew of waterfall potholes before seeing them at Athabasca Falls.  To my surprise I also discovered that there are many falls actually named “Pothole Falls:”
  • Clark County Washington,
  • Chatooga River, North Carolina
  • Lacamas Park, Washington

Live and learn.





Leave a Reply