Canadian Rockies Travel Guide

Satoru Kikuchi

The Canadian Rockies are a majestic, mountain landscape, full of peaks, glaciers, lakes, waterfalls, canyons and caves. Its Canadian leg runs from the Montana border up to the Liard River in British Columbia. Five national parks are located in the Canadian Rockies, including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, and Waterton Lakes, as well as numerous other provincial parks. For many, the Canadian Rockies are the iconic symbol of wild spaces, and they are deservedly famous for their beauty. Although the Rockies are not the tallest mountain range in Canada, many people mistake them for it, as their sheer ruggedness can feel over-whelming when you're up close.

Dating back to 1885, Banff National Park was Canada's first national park and only the second national park in the world. In the 1888, the Canadian Pacific Railway built the Banff Springs Hotel to encourage tourism to Western Canada. Now, it is a world-famous icon, visited by almost 5 million tourists per year. CPR also built Chateau Lake Louise on the shores of the beautiful, emerald lake. Banff National Park is a year-round tourist destination, offering majestic scenery to hikers and skiers alike. Located only 100 kilometers west of Calgary, the Banff townsite offers its many visitors quaint shops, world-class restaurants, luxurious hotels, and curious wildlife, such as elk, deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and black bears. Banff Ave is the heart of the town, but across the river are the Banff Springs Hotel, the Upper Hot Springs, and the famous Banff Springs Golf Course. Banff National Park has three ski hills: Lake Louise, Sunshine, and Mount Norquay. The Icefield Parkway to Jasper and Highway 93 to Radium are possibly the most beautiful scenic highways in the world.

Just outside Banff National Park is the town of Canmore, which in many ways rivals Banff. The scenery is stunning, and Canmore is a jumping off point for many adventure areas in Kanaskis, such as the Spray Lakes. There are several of Canada's best golf courses in Canmore, including SilverTip and Stewart Creek. The Canmore Nordic Centre hosted the cross-country events for the 1988 Winter Olympics, and it still attracts world-class athletes, today, as well as the public. Canmore has many shops and hotels, much like Banff, but it has more of a local culture because it is less touristy.

To the north of Banff is Jasper National Park, which became a national park in 1930, and it is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies. Jasper gets about 40% of the tourist volume as Banff, but it is in no way less beautiful. Jasper has more wildlife and more jagged mountains. People come to Jasper to seek isolation from the crowds and to see the magnificent beauty. Some of the highlights of Jasper are Tonquin Valley, the Athabasca Glacier, Marmot Basin ski hill (the only ski hill in Jasper), and Jasper Park Golf Club. The town of Jasper is at the junction of the Icefield Parkway and the Yellowhead Highway, connecting it to Banff and Edmonton. The Jasper Park Lodge, near Maligne Lake, is the most famous hotel in town, but there are a number of others. The Miette Hotsprings, found off the Yellowhead near Hinton, provide a welcome 104 degree natural hot pool to warm its guests. Heli-skiing in Jasper can be done in the Monashee Mountains with Mike Wiegele Heli-Skiing, considered one of the best heli-ski operators in the world, or there are also white-water rafting opportunities.

Waterton Lakes National Park is the least touristy national park in Alberta, receiving only several hundred thousand visitors per year. The peak season is July-August, as there are no ski areas near the lake. The Prince of Wales Hotel is an old icon, which unfortunately has seen better days. For those who know about it, Waterton Lakes is truly one of the Rockies best kept secrets.

Kananaskis Country is a collection of provincial parks situated to the west of Calgary. K-country is noted for recreation, offering: a hotel, a holiday ranch, dozens of campgrounds, the best golf course in Alberta, a ski hill, rock climbing, fishing, and many kilometers of hiking, horse-back riding, biking, and cross-country skiing.

Where to Go in Canadian Rockies

TOP PICKS BY OUR LOCAL EXPERTS

Piccadilly Motel Golf Suites

4874 St Joseph Street BOX 87

Kimberley Alpine Resort

301 Northstar Blvd

Just minutes by car from the Bavarian-style village of Kimberley, Kimberley Alpine Resort features 80 runs for beginner, intermediate and advanced skiers, a rail park, a high speed quad and four other lifts. Its night skiing, kids activities, cross country ski opportunities and varied programs bring the skiers back season after season.

Corks Restaurant

2 Cache Close
In the Copper Horse Lodge, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Canadian Rockies Blog Posts

UPDATES FROM OUR TRAVEL TEAM

New Snow Brings Even Better Skiing to the Rockies
Snowfall has been terrific in many parts of the Canadian Rockies region during the last two weeks, adding to an already excellent opportunity for skiing and snowboarding. Many resorts continue their showcase of winter events and advantages for hitting the slopes this season:  Read more

Winter Driving in the Rockies: Resources for A Great Trip
Driving winter roads in the Rockies is often one of the necessary hassles one has to put up with in order to take advantage of great skiing. Fortunately, B.C. has an excellent winter advisory system that keeps travelers up to date on road conditions, weather and when necessary, road closures in the province... Read more

Rockies' Resorts Gear Up for Action During 2011 Winter Events
Most skiers in the Northwest need no introduction to the Rockies, Canada‚Äôs winter playland. With more than 12 ski resorts and areas in the Canadian Rockies overall, and snowfall at some resorts at 23 feet (Fernie) and counting, skiers and snowboarders have an almost unlimited venue for enjoyment.  Read more


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