English: Montmorency Falls Park / French: Parc de la Chute-Montmorency
With spectacular views over the St. Lawrence River and the array of parks and green spaces, there are plenty of opportunities to connect with nature without leaving Quebec City itself. That said, the natural wonders on the doorstep of the city beckon, and if you’re here for more than a couple days, it’s definitely in your best interest to go exploring.
Montmorency Falls Park is perhaps the most convenient excursion from the city as it lies less than 10 miles from the city center. It can be done in 2-3 hours, including drive time from the city, and it's on the way to both the Ile d’Orleans and Ste. Anne de Beaupre if you'd like to connect a visit with some of the other most popular side trips from Quebec City.
PSST: Looking for more? Check out: Quebec City for Kids: Top 10 Things to Do.
The falls check in at 276 feet (84m) tall, making it one of the ten tallest waterfalls in Canada, and I’d wager than none of the others are quite so easily accessible.
Map of Montmorency Falls Park
The Panoramic Circuit
For the visitor that comes with young children (as we do) or less inclined to push their limits (as we are), our recommendation is to park at the base of the falls and make the “Panoramic Circuit” to get the full 360 degree experience.
After a brief glimpse of the falls from the base, the circuit itself begins with a cable car up the cliff face, a walk across the bridge above the falls, and a descent of the massive wooden staircase on the way back to the visitors’ center.
The falls are spectacular, and this route gives you a chance to experience it from every angle. The cable car gives you a slightly detached overview of the site while the bridge gives you the opportunity to really feel the rush of the falls. It’s on the stairway however, where you get your best look at the falls, and there are plenty of stations along the way to rest and take pictures as you descend down into the mist.
Everyone (us, kids, Jessica’s parents) enjoyed our time at the falls, and we’d definitely recommend stopping by if you have any time. The kids loved the cable car so much that they rode it both ways, and they also enjoyed playing near the visitors’ center. The park has a playground and is kid-friendly as long as you take a normal amount of care around the railings atop of the 300-foot cliff.
Unofficial Trail to the Base of the Falls
Before you head back to the city, I’d definitely recommend you tack on a short walk that will take you to the very base of the falls. It’s an “unofficial” trail, so you won’t see signs for it, but we were rewarded with some great, close-up views of the main falls and some other thinner falls nearby.
When you finish the Panoramic Circuit, turn right at the railroad tracks, and follow the path along the SW side of the river toward the falls. After about 5 minutes of walking, you’ll find yourself walking along the base of the cliff and (at least when we visited in July) rewarded with an extreme closeup of multiple courses of water cascading over the cliff edge…
…step out just a bit more and you'll get an up-close view of the main event.
Alternative Experiences of the Falls
There are numerous ways to experience the falls. You can drive to either the top or the bottom of the falls, and the more adventurous visitors can choose to climb the rock face by a “via ferrata” or take a zipline across the face of the falls themselves.
You can obviously do the circuit in reverse, but I find it hard to believe that someone would choose to climb up all those stairs only to descend via cable car. Also, if you want to avoid the cost of the cable car altogether, you can climb up and down the stairs or just take the short walk to the base of the stairs and see the falls from that vantage point.
Note that you can also drive to the top of the falls and park, but I wouldn’t suggest you do this unless you plan to take the cable car or walk down the stairs as you will not get a good, frontal view of the falls this way.
Getting to Montmorency Falls Park from Quebec City
If you have a car, this is a very easy drive from the city center – no more than 15 minutes without traffic. If you don’t have a car, bus 50/800X ad 53 run from various spots in the city out to the falls.
Montmorency Falls Park Costs
In the peak season (May – October), it costs $10 to park a car at the falls, and a one-way ticket on the cable car costs $12 per person ($5 for children 5-17, children under 5 free). There is additional fee for riding the cable car round trip, but it’s negligible ($2 for adults, $1 for kids).