It is accessible via a short drive off the Icefields Parkway that connects Jasper and Banff National Parks. The falls have a drop of about 18.5 metres. Sunwapta is a Stoney (Assiniboine) word that means turbulent water. It is most spectacular in the late spring when the spring melt is at its peak.
There are actually two falls, a lower and an upper one. The one most people see is the upper falls as access is easy. The lower falls are a short distance away.
The water originates from the Athabasca Glacier, and volumes are higher in early summer, caused by glacial meltdown.
It is a class 6 waterfall, with a drop of 60 ft (18 m) and a width of 30 ft (9.1 m).