The Canadian Rockies are a hub for adventure, and its endless offering of impressive glaciers, alpine views and breathtaking lakes make it an explorer’s paradise. Planning a trip there is complex to say the least, but we’ve put together the ultimate guide to the Canadian Rockies, making creating a memorable itinerary simple. Read on to discover the hotspots hidden in each of the area’s National Parks.
What to Expect
The Canadian Rockies are amongst the most beautiful places in the world and it’s almost impossible to have a disappointing experience there, but like any vacation, you still need to know how to make the best use of your time while you’re there. They are a 1,600km stretch of mountains that ties together British Columbia and Alberta, running from Vancouver to Calgary, with a range of landscapes from meadows to glaciers and forests to springs. There’s so much to see and do there, but the weather and conditions in the Rockies can be very challenging and changeable, so you need to do your homework before travelling to ensure you aren’t caught out.
Rockies in the Winter
When's the Best Time to Travel to the Canadian Rockies?
As with many beautiful destinations around the world, the answer to this is… it depends what you want! The winter months can be stunning there, but also brutal with sub-zero temperatures, ice and the potential for avalanches, so generally the summer months are the most popular with tourists. May to September are the months when you are most likely to be able to enjoy the many leisure pursuits there in the right conditions, while September is the best time to enjoy the spectacular autumnal colours.
Wildlife Canadian Rockies
Whatever season you choose to travel to the Canadian Rockies, you need to plan for almost any kind of weather, because even if it can feel like summer lower down the mountains, it can still be chilly up top. So it’s best to take clothing that suits a wide range of conditions, especially those that fit the activities you’ve got planned.
Of course, the weather is also a factor for those activities. Do you want to go ice skating on a frozen lake or kayaking on a very unfrozen lake? Some of them can stay rock solid until June, so you’ll definitely need to factor that into your considerations, while many hiking paths are closed for the winter because they’re unsafe.
Rockies train journey
What are the Best Things to do in the Canadian Rockies?
The Rockies are a great location for activity holidays, with places for hiking, biking, rafting, camping and much more. And then there’s the national parks. Banff National Park is the oldest in the country and while it’s also a hugely busy place at times, it’s large enough to give you plenty of chances to escape the crowds. Lake Louise is the most famous destination here and rightly so, thanks to its incredible natural beauty - particularly the blues of the lake itself - and range of watersports, hiking and biking.
There’s also amazing views to be had from Lake Agnes and Six Glacier Plain. Speaking of glaciers, there’s few better places to enjoy those than at Glacier National Park, which has more than 100 glaciers and plenty of challenging hiking trails for the brave and physically fit. One of the most famous glaciers in the region is the Athabasca Glacier, where you can even track how far it has receded over the last 120 years.
Jasper National Park is the biggest of the parks in the Canadian Rockies and unsurprisingly has a diverse range of activities and landscapes, from the Miette Hot Springs to the Saskatchewan Glacier. If you want to try and catch a glimpse of local wildlife, bears and moose are both found in Mount Robson and Yoho National Parks, but of course, be careful and respectful if you want to have an incident-free holiday anywhere that bears roam freely. Don’t approach them and definitely don’t feed them.
One of the lesser-known National Parks, Kootenay is a stunning spot awash with wildlife spotting opportunities, with the added advantage of less crowds. Here you will find hot springs not to mention breathtaking scenery from every angle.
Visiting the Canadian Rockies for even an extended period of time will still leave you having not quite managed to fit everything in - there’s just so much to see and do. But don’t worry about that, it’s just an excuse to starting planning your next trip.