Numa Falls, Kootenay National Park


It certainly looks like there aren’t many people who bother to stop at Numa Falls in wintertime.  And I understand why.  The area is buried under a lot of snow, and you’ll have to trudge through some of it to get to the waterfall.  But, for those willing to try, there’s an abundance of beauty and solitude to be discovered.

This is Numa Falls, but you’d hardly know that it’s there.  The waterfall is buried beneath ice, and a layer of snow so thick, that it absorbs most of the sound from the rushing water underneath it.  Only when you’re standing directly in front of it, can you hear any sound.

Getting to the waterfall is easy in summer, but in winter, it requires a little more effort.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find part of the parking area, next to Numa Creek, has been shoveled.  On the day I visited, I was the only car here, and even though the plows had paid a visit, a few inches of snow had fallen since then.  If it was any deeper, I would have been in trouble.  I made a u-turn before I parked, so that it might be easier to leave without getting stuck.

Part of the parking area is shoveled, but not all of it.  The trail to Numa Falls (which is probably only a couple hundred meters away) had seen a few visitors, but not many since the most recent snow fell.

The unplowed portion of the parking lot ended somewhere around this outhouse.  That’s quite a bit of snow on the roof.

The trail curves around, passing a graffiti-covered shelter, with an equally impressive snow cap.

Then, you come upon the waterfall itself, which is directly below this footbridge.  Can’t see the bridge?  That’s no surprise, since the snow was piled up to the top of the railings.  I walked across it, while thinking about how much weight my body was adding to the already heavy snow.

The waterfall is, of course, the main attraction, but in winter, it’s well hidden.  Instead of seeing any water falling, you’ll have to be content with this all-natural modern-art sculpture.

For me, the real treat of Numa Falls was in the opposite direction.  Below the falls, on the other side of the footbridge, the shallow canyon formed by Numa Creek stretched out before me.  I’m trying not to use the phrase “winter wonderland” too often as I write about this trip, but this is one spot where the phrase would certainly apply.  Frosted trees and rounded snow banks surrounded a tumbling, blue creek.  Aside from the water, everything was silent and peaceful.  I forgot about my cold feet and numb fingers.  I stopped worrying about getting the car out of its snowy parking spot.  I just stood there for a while.

But of course, the moment had to end.  On the way back to the car, it began to snow more heavily.  I read some of that graffiti, and it mentioned a friendly raven that lived nearby.  I guess that’s better than gang symbols.

Back at the car, I spotted the raven.  I can’t say with any certainty that he was friendly, but he was considerate enough to let me take a couple of pictures, before flying away.

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