Alexander Falls Sea to Sky Driving Destinations
Alexander Falls is a very impressive 43 metre/141foot waterfall just 30 to 40 minutes south of Whistler in the Callaghan Valley. Open year-round and located just before Whistler Olympic Park where several of the 2010 Olympic events were held. There is a nice viewing platform on the edge of the cliff across from the falls which crash fantastically into the valley below. The parking area and viewing platform at Alexander Falls is one big area just 40 metres from the main road (to Whistler Olympic Park). The adventurous can find the obscure trail that leads to both the top of the falls as well as, with great difficulty, to the base of the falls.
Alexander Falls is certainly one of the nicest spots for a picnic in Whistler. The picnic areas are numerous, the surrounding forest is gorgeous and wild and Alexander Falls crashes loud and beautiful in the background. Several picnic tables are located in forested clearings that were once used as campsites, so if you have a big group, you will have lots of room to spread out and enjoy the surroundings.
There is a nice information board with as short history of the areas surrounding Alexander Falls, complete with museum-like pictures of the regions logging history. One depicts, "A Land of Giants" and describes, with photos, how incredibly huge trees were cut down and moved. One picture from 1910, shows 10 men sitting on an enormous, felled tree and looking tiny by comparison. The depiction goes on to show how First Nations people felled trees as long as 8000 years ago.
The history of logging continues to present day logging practices in British Columbia and around Whistler are depicted in another nice museum-like mural on BC's "Green Advantage" and sustainable future.
The drive to Alexander Falls is very nice. As soon as you turn off from the Sea to Sky Highway into the Callaghan Valley you ascend quickly into the mountains. Bears along the roadside are frequently seen as they seem to have a particular fondness for the fields of grass that grow in the sunny meadows that surround this recently constructed, paved road.
The Alexander Falls viewing platform and picnic area was redesigned and reconstructed just before the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Some of the Nordic competitions took place just a five minute drive north of Alexander Falls. The facilities are still in operation and open to visitors year-round. There is a cafe and visitor centre well worth visiting. The access road to Whistler Olympic Park is blocked by a security gate after hours so keep that in mind when going. The hours change seasonally. In the summer they are open 10am to 4:30pm daily and in the winter 9am to 4:30pm weekdays. Check their website for current opening hours as their opening hours change annoyingly often.
Of impressive waterfalls in the area, Alexander Falls is one of several spectacular ones. Others include Shannon Falls in Squamish, Brandywine Falls just south of the on the , Rainbow Falls in Whistler and Nairn Falls north of Whistler. If don't mind a challenging hike, High Falls Creek is a beautiful hike to some impressive waterfalls.
The free parking lot at Alexander Falls is enormous. Keep in mind that it is a day-use only parking area and camping or campfires are prohibited. If you are looking for a place to park overnight in the area the possibilities are endless. The Callaghan Valley is very wild, devoid of people and the spider-web of logging roads that cover the valley run for hundreds of kilometres. You often spot a camper van parked just off of Callaghan Valley Road on one of dozens of large, gravel areas that lead to logging roads. When you drive to Alexander Falls you will notice several of these massive pull out areas, two of which are just south of the turnoff(on the right) to Alexander Falls. Decades of logging activity in the Callaghan Valley have resulted in beautiful and accessible areas. The logging roads are, however, very bad and don't expect to be able to drive a large camper to Callaghan Lake (see below), however Madeley Lake may be possible for a camper to get to, if you are a brave driver.
Before the Olympic remodelling of 2009, there were several campsite areas at Alexander Falls. They have now been replaced with several secluded picnic tables amongst the trees. Picture a tent where each picnic table sits and you will recall what a beautiful campsite area Alexander Falls once was. The area is very beautiful and possibly with the new, easier access resulting from the paved road, the campsites would be too busy and overrun with campers. This may be the reason for Alexander Falls now being strictly day-use only, no camping and no campfires. There are however, plenty of beautiful and free campsite alternatives very close by. Callaghan Lake and Madeley Lake are both located just a short drive from Alexander Falls and are excellent free, wilderness camping areas. Callaghan Lake is a 6k drive north of Alexander Falls and Madeley about 4k. See the map below for directions. Both are easy to find and the turnoff is just a couple hundred metres north of the Alexander Falls parking area.
There are two large and regularly serviced outhouses at Alexander Falls. Just a 5 minute drive north of Alexander Falls is the beautiful Whistler Olympic Park with proper washrooms and even a nice cafe. The Brandywine Cafe is open various hours depending on the season. Usually 9-4:30pm daily and has hot and cold beverages and a pretty good selection of food such as pizza by the slice and sandwiches. Unfortunately outside ofthe access road is barred by a gate so you can't even get close after hours.
Alexander Falls and everywhere in the Callaghan Valley is dog friendly. Unlike Garibaldi Park across the valley beyond Whistler, the Callaghan Valley is wild and remote and dogs are welcome everywhere. You do have to exercise caution however and bears, both black bears and grizzly bears are numerous. Grizzly bears are reclusive and seldom seen, however, black bears are frequently spotted, especially along the Callaghan Valley Road. For the most part, they will avoid humans, however, dogs tend to antagonize bears and make them potentially dangerous. If you bring your dog to Alexander Falls and the surrounding areas, be very cautious. Have a good look around for bears before letting your dog out of your vehicle. If you don't and your dog spots a bear, and out-of-control situation will almost certainly occur. Separating your dog from a bear can be extremely difficult and usually involves the dog owner having to get in between the two animals, putting yourself and your dog in a life threatening situation. Keep that in mind and exercise caution.
Alexander Falls is one of several amazing waterfalls in the Whistler area. Located up in the Callaghan Valley, the viewpoint to the falls is just steps from where you park. The Callaghan Valley is located just a 15 minute drive south of Whistler Village and is also home to Whistler Olympic Park. The drive to the falls from Whistler Village takes about 40 minutes one-way, but it is well worth it. The drive up the valley is very scenic and the stretch of road near Alexander Falls is a well known place to spot bears in the summer and fall months. It is not unusual to see several bears on the drive to the falls. Callaghan Lake and Northair Mine are also in the vicinity if you are after some adventure.
Alexander Falls Driving Directions & Maps
Printer, smartphone and tablet friendly. Designed to fit standard printers and copiers. To print: Right click on the map below, save image as, save to desktop, then open the image and print on standard size printer paper. Cell coverage is reliable on the road and at the viewpoint to Alexander Falls so you will be able to access the internet if you have a data plan, however saving this map to your smartphone or tablet might be helpful.
From Vancouver/Squamish: Head north on Highway 99 towards Whistler. Turn left onto the new Callaghan Valley access road at the sign for Whistler Olympic Park, 40 kilometres from the set of lights at Garibaldi Way in Squamish (Look for the Petro-Canada gas station in Squamish). Follow this road for 8km, keep an eye out on your left for a little sign that directs you to Alexander Falls. The sign/turnoff is about 1km before Whistler Olympic Park.
From Whistler Village: Drive south on the Sea to Sky highway, 13.5 kilometres from Village Gate Boulevard, turn right onto the new Callaghan Valley access road at the sign to Whistler Olympic Park. Follow this road for 8km, keep an eye out on your left for a little sign that directs you to Alexander Falls. The sign/turnoff is about 1km before Whistler Olympic Park.
More Sea to Sky Driving Destinations
Stawamus Chief trail which goes to the three summits of the Chief. Shannon Falls Provincial Park has a concession stand as well as an information centre next to the parking area. Whistler's Bungee Bridge is a very convenient and beautiful stop on the way to or from Whistler from Squamish. Just 35 minutes north of Squamish on the Sea to Sky Highway, then just a 3 kilometre logging road takes you right to the stairs up to this amazing bridge. Open year-round and surprisingly accessible, even in the snowy winter months, thousands of cars drive by every day and never take a look. With so many sights on the Sea to Sky Highway to see, the Whistler Bungee Bridge is one of the nicer and certainly one of the most convenient to see. The Whistler Bungee Bridge is part of the fantastic Sea to Sky Trail. Lighthouse Park is an extraordinarily little known piece of paradise, so close to to as to see its tall buildings, yet immersed into a dramatically beautiful . A wonderful network of trails winds throughout massive and as well as stretching toward the ocean. There are so many great aspects of this hike. The first is the beautiful drive to get there. spectacularly hugs the rugged and steep coast of . Another is the wonderful variation of trails. They stretch out in several directions in the thick forest, each leading to breathtaking ocean viewpoints. Northair Mine is a surreal little world of colourful murals on abandoned cement foundations, surrounded by an astoundingly tranquil little lake in a secluded forest. Just a short logging road off of the Callaghan Valley Road takes you to this unusual little abandoned mine. You would have driven by the turnoff if you have been to Whistler Olympic Park, which is just a couple kilometres away. Northair Mine gets its name from the Vancouver based mining company Northair Group. The mine was in production from 1976 and extracted 5 tons of gold before being abandoned in 1982.towers above Howe Sound at 335 metres as the third tallest falls in BC. The wonderful, though very short trail winds through a beautiful old growth forest to get to the base of the falls. From your car to the viewpoint takes only about four minutes, however the trail continues a bit further to a higher viewpoint (five minutes higher). You can even continue along the trail and join with the