With peaks of 13,000 feet above sea level, the Canadian Rockies form one of the most dramatic and picturesque landscapes on the planet. Home to five national parks, four of which make up the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site, the series of mountain ranges that form the Canadian Rockies are an ideal destination for those who want to feel close to nature.
This vast wilderness of forests, lakes, canyons and picturesque mountain views provides the perfect environment for a wide range of outdoor activities for every season. With trekking, water sports, caving, fishing and cycling available, visitors are spoiled for choice in the way they experience and explore the wilderness during the summer months. The winter season is also not to be outdone with activities, such as skiing, snowboarding and ice walking available for the more adventurous traveler.
With a variety of tour companies operating throughout the Rockies, tourists have the option of taking a guided tour either on foot or by air. Trips like these will enable visitors to observe Canada’s wildlife in its natural habitat, including both the grizzly and the black bear, moose, elk and array of bird species.
No matter which of the following ways you choose to experience the Canadian Rockies, you are sure to find an activity that’s both thrilling and memorable.
Hiking and Trekking
[Also see "Conquering Banff’s Sulphur Mountain the Hard Way"]
Immerse yourself in the Canadian wild with a leisurely hike or lengthy trek into the depths one of the several national parks that make up this mountainous region. Choose from a wide variety of trails, some of which can be completed within a single day whereas others will take several days to a week to finish. There are a range of hikes available for different skill levels in the Canadian Rockies, so whether you are an inexperienced leisurely stroller or an expert mountaineer you can rest assured that this region has a hiking trail with your name on it. If it’s climbing the uppermost mountain peaks that excites you, remember that you will need an expert guide and relevant climbing equipment to practice this safely.
For this activity you have the option of joining a guided hike or trek if you visit either the Banff or Jasper National Parks. These parks also provide visitors with more amenities in the way of accommodation and evening entertainment. A professional guide who is familiar with the area will also lead you to the most picturesque viewpoints that are located along your chosen route. Expect a breath-taking landscape of striking green lakes and snow-capped mountains that will stay with you long after you leave the area.
You can also find numerous trails running through the more remote national parks of Yoho, Kootenay and Waterton Lakes, where guided walks are uncommon. Hiking trails throughout the Rockies are generally well defined to help walkers to avoid getting lost. It is therefore vital that you stay on the trails while hiking. If you do intend to venture out without a guide, ensure that you are prepared by researching the area that you are choosing to hike. You should also acquire a map and compass to help you to navigate.
One of the most famous and perhaps the most striking attractions of the Canadian Rockies, Lake Louise is located in the valleys of the Banff National Park, surrounded by some of the highest mountain peaks in the whole of North America. First referred to as “Ho-run-num-nay” or “Lake of the little Fishes” by the Stoney Indian tribe that once inhabited the area, Lake Louise has since become a favorite hiking destination for travelers. Trails that run around the lake enable tourists to appreciate the mountain reflections in the glassy waters. This location is also a favorite with photographers and artists, so bring a camera to capture this remarkable sight.