You know the feeling of being somewhere and wishing you could stay forever? There are a few places like that in the world, and the Canadian Rockies is one of them. You’ve seen the pictures - dazzling peaks, lush mountain meadows, emerald lakes, virgin forest, towering waterfalls and wildlife galore. Everywhere you point your camera is alpine eye candy.
Stretching from the Continental Divide on Alberta’s southwestern border north into British Columbia, the Canadian Rockies are a network of provincial and national parks that have collectively been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An eye-popping 90 minute drive west of Calgary and four hours west of Edmonton.
The Canadian Rockies are packed with year round outdoor adventures. Hike or horseback thousands of kilometers of trails through mind-blowing alpine panoramas. Paddle, raft, fish, climb and golf all summer long. When the snow falls, get in on the action of skiing, boarding, dog sledding, snowshoeing and ice climbing. Go wildlife watching or slip into outdoor natural hot springs year round. Feel the Rocky Mountain high long after the snow melts off your boots.
Glaciers. Canyons. Turquoise lakes. Moose in the meadows. Live the mountain adventure of your dreams. Here’s your insider Canadian Rockies checklist!
Getting here is half the fun
From Calgary, hit Hwy 40 west through Kananaskis Country – the highest highway in Canada - to Canmore and the gates of Banff National Park. From Edmonton take Hwy 16 west past Hinton into Jasper National Park.
Medicine and moccasins
Learn the Aboriginal secrets of medicinal plants, making moccasins or wilderness survival skills along the Mahikan Trails.
Strap on the crampons
The Canadian Rockies boast some of the best ice climbing on earth. Learn how to scale the ice like a pro. Seasoned climbers can travel by helicopter to ice that has never seen a pick.
Trains and planes
Soar with the eagles high above the peaks on an aerial tour of the Rockies. Take a train trip through hidden mountain passes in a glass domed rail car.
Leave the big parks behind and experience the Rockies on the trails of the early 19th century fur trappers in Willmore Wilderness Park near Grande Cache. 70 km of new backcountry trails were cleared in 2010-2011. Willmore borders the northern boundary of Jasper National Park.
Hit the slopes
Ski and board in the Canadian Rockies and feel like you’re living in a glossy ski magazine. Swish the day away in light mountain powder at one of five downhill ski resorts.
The drive between the towns of Banff and Jasper via iconic Lake Louise will thrill your soul. Ranked by National Geographic as one of the “10 Greatest Drives in the World”, the Icefields Parkway is 230 km (143 mi) of alpine ecstasy. Stop and do a hike along the way, and be sure to take a glacier tour on the Columbia Icefield, atop a triple continental divide. With ice as deep as 365 m (1,200 ft) it’s the largest fresh water ice mass on the continent.
Room with a view
The mountain lodges and cabins in the Canadian Rockies have the perfect room for your alpine getaway. Retreats are as simple or as luxurious as you like. Get away from it all in a rustic cabin. Spoil yourself in a sumptuous lodge or alpine “castle.”
Ice is cool
Colossal ice sculptures and ice caves form naturally in the Canadian Rockies in winter. Join an ice walk and get out to the icefalls, ancient Aboriginal rock art, massive icicles and unusual rock formations in the frozen canyons.
Scale the shale
Look around and all you see are great spots for mountaineering and climbing. Learn to climb up cliffs and scale mountainsides. Beat the summer heat on a cool glacier.