Home Destinations Crescent Falls and Bighorn Gorge Lookout

Crescent Falls and Bighorn Gorge Lookout

by Karen Ung

Crescent Falls is a beautiful two-tier waterfall in David Thompson Country.

Crescent Falls | Image Credit: Melissa Schulze

Crescent Falls is the most popular waterfall in David Thompson Country because it’s one of the biggest and most accessible. From the Crescent Falls Day Use Area, it’s mere metres to the waterfall viewing platforms (in winter, however, you must walk 300 metres from the upper parking lot). Feel the mist on your face as the Bighorn River plummets 30 metres over two ledges.

While the upper falls can be viewed from viewing platforms near the parking lot, it’s a bit more work to see the lower falls. For a complete view of the upper and lower falls, hike 1 km on an easy, forested trail towards Bighorn Gorge Lookout. *Most of the trail isn’t fenced, so use extreme caution.* From there, you may continue on to the canyon lookout (6 km return from Crescent Falls Day Use) or go back the way you came. If you’re short on time, I recommend turning back after 1 km and doing a more scenic hike such as Siffleur FallsVision Quest, or Hoodoo Creek. You can easily view Bighorn Gorge Lookout from a pullout on the way back to Highway 11 (signed & on the right).

After visiting the stunning falls, you can hike or drive to Bighorn Gorge Lookout, a deep and dramatic canyon. Just half an hour from Nordegg, or 3 hours from Calgary!

Trail to Bighorn Gorge Lookout
Crescent Falls – upper & lower falls

Crescent Falls at a Glance

  • Distance: 50 metres to viewing platforms, 1 km to viewpoint of both trails (on Bighorn Gorge Trail)
  • Elevation gain: n/a
  • Washrooms: Pit toilets at Crescent Falls Day Use area
  • Stroller friendly? No
  • Parking: Crescent Falls Day Use (in winter, park at the upper parking lot and walk 300 m to the day use)

Sketchy sidetrip: If you have time and good shoes, you may take a sketchy, unofficial trail to the pool below the upper falls, but stay out of the water and use extreme caution. Several people have lost their lives here. The water is powerful and the rocks near the falls are extremely slippery. NOT recommended for children. Allow 30 minutes return.

Where to Stay

Crescent Falls campground is across the creek from the day use area. Sites are unserviced, first come-first served, and quiet.

Getting Here

Directions: 18 km west of Nordegg, turn right at the Crescent Falls sign. Continue for 4.4 km, then turn left towards Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area. After 1.7 km, park in the day use parking lot on the left.

Steep trail down to lower (unofficial) lookout
Crescent Falls
Image Credit: Melissa Schulze (Instagram @rockieschick22)

Bighorn Gorge Lookout

Directions from Nordegg: Drive west on Hwy 11 for 18 km, then turn right at the Crescent Falls sign. Continue for 3.5 km. Park at the small parking lot on the left side of the road.

Directions from Crescent Falls: Drive SE towards Hwy 11. In 2.7 km, the parking lot will be on your right.

Bighorn Gorge Lookout

Thanks to Melissa from Rockieschick’s Adventures for the beautiful photos of Crescent Falls! I’ve been twice, but was the first time it was smoky (forest fires in BC) and this year, it was rainy. Fingers crossed it’s a clear, sunny day next time we go!

More Hikes in David Thompson Country

Did you know the David Thompson (Hwy 11) connects to the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93)?
Check out The Best Stops on the Icefields Parkway for a super fun road trip!

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