British Columbia and Alberta are traversed by the Canadian Rockies, which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The region welcomes millions of visitors each year from all over the world because it offers breathtaking views at every turn. The Canadian Rocky Mountains’ natural splendours are protected by a number of magnificent parks along Alberta’s western border, including Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Kananaskis Country, and Waterton Lakes National Park.
As the first national park in Canada, Banff National Park was created in 1885 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It keeps luring travellers from all over the world. Explore the more than 1,600 kilometers of well-maintained paths for hiking, cycling, and horseback riding to experience the natural splendor of this alpine paradise. Return in the winter to ski in thrilling deep powder.
Here are 9 of the Canadian Rockies’ most stunning tourist destinations!
1. 9 Amazing Canadian Rockies to Explore
1.1. Lake Louise and Moraine Lake
1.1.1. Lake Louise
Some of the most breathtaking lakes in the world can be found in the Canadian Rockies. These alpine beauties are distinguished by their gorgeous aquamarine color, resulting from the fine-grained silt known as “rock flour” suspended in the waters of these glacier-fed lakes. It’s a picture-perfect scene that’s difficult to top when set against a background of gorgeous snow-capped peaks.
The most magnificent of them all is Lake Louise in Banff National Park, which is anchored at one end by the Victoria Glacier and the other by the lavish Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
1.1.2. Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake is another turquoise treasure found in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. Bring your camera; the vistas are breathtaking whether you rent a boat or stroll the shoreline.
From Calgary to Lake Louise, the drive takes less than two hours. It takes around an hour and 20 minutes to get from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake, making it the ideal day trip inside the park. There is so much to see and do along the road, though, that we bet you’ll wish you could stay longer.
1.2. Lake Minnewanka
The 28-kilometer Lake Minnewanka, which is close to the town of Banff, is the longest lake in the Canadian Rockies. Hike or bike the walkways around the lake’s northern shores, or take the hour-long guided boat tour to experience the lake’s breathtaking beauty from every angle and learn about its fascinating history.
For instance, it was given the name Minn-Waki, or Lake of the Spirits, by the First Nations who hunted and inhabited the area for up to 10,000 years. Minnewanka Landing, a summer settlement founded in 1912, can only be reached by scuba divers as it is completely submerged at this time.
There are still people living in the area that are descended from the elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, and black bears who provided for the First Nations people who lived around the lake.
1.3. Cave and Basin National Historic Site
The thermal springs were used by First Nations people for thousands of years before being unintentionally discovered by three railroad workers in 1883, which resulted in the establishment of Canada’s first national park. The history of the thermal springs is chronicled at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. Explore the rock tunnel that leads to the ancient pool at night with lanterns.
1.4. Jasper National Park
Jasper National Park is the Rockies’ largest and northernmost national park, covering 10,878 square kilometers.
This vast park has a lot to discover, starting with the stunning Athabasca Falls. The 23-meter waterfall may not be the tallest in the world, but its force is impressive. Another attraction is Maligne Canyon, where the churning water is cut 50 meters deep and where you can see a roaring waterfall, intriguing fossils, and a wide variety of flora and wildlife. Both of these attractions shall appear further ahead in this list.
1.5. Columbia Icefield and Glacier Skywalk
The Columbia Icefield is the Rockies’ biggest remaining icefield, covering an area of around 230 square kilometres. To sign up for the Columbia Icefield Glacier Adventure and experience it for yourself, go to the Glacier Discovery Centre on the Icefields Parkway.
The most accessible glacier in North America, the Athabasca Glacier, will be your destination once you board the Ice Explorer, an enormous all-terrain vehicle with enormous rubber tires. Take a stroll on ice that is up to 365 meters thick while sipping glacial water. After that, your trip will take you to the Glacier Skywalk, a viewing deck with a glass floor that is 280 meters above the Sunwapta valley.
1.6. Athabasca Falls
Athabasca Falls, which is only 23 meters high, is not the highest waterfall in the Canadian Rockies, but it is one of the most powerful ones because glacial water from the Athabasca River is forced through the confined gorge.
Watch your footing and never go over the barriers when viewing and photographing the falls from platforms and walkways because the spray can make them slick. It may be accessible through Highway 93A, which departs from the Icefields Parkway, and is located 32 kilometres south of the town of Jasper. The falls are easily accessible on foot and there is lots of free parking.
1.7. Maligne Canyon and Maligne Lake
1.7.1. Maligne Canyon
Maligne Canyon, which has a maximum depth of more than 50 meters, is breathtaking in the summer. Fossils, waterfalls, strange animals, and lush plant life can all be found there. Cross the gorge on four separate bridges while walking the self-guided interpretive route; each bridge has a distinctive vista.
Return in the winter when it is below freezing and the waterfalls are transformed into imposing walls of shimmering blue ice. Go with a guide, who will give you ice cleats and explain the area’s fascinating geology while you go through the canyon floor.
1.7.2. Maligne Lake
Take a boat tour on this stunning turquoise lake, and don’t forget to pack your camera because you’ll be visiting Spirit Island, one of the most famous locations in the world for photography. There are many hiking and mountain biking trails.
The 48-kilometer trip from the town of Jasper is extraordinarily scenic and offers many opportunities to see animals, so getting there is half the enjoyment.
1.8. Waterton Lakes National Park
Just north of the Montana border is where you’ll find Waterton Lakes National Park. No other place in the world combines an International Peace Park, a biosphere reserve, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A remarkable array of plants and animals call the towering mountains, which climb straight up from the prairies, home. You have a good chance of seeing black bears along with bighorn sheep, elk, deer, golden eagles, ground squirrels, and various orchid species. Here, you’ll find some of the best walks, or you can choose from a variety of breathtaking scenic drives. The following are the highlights of the area:
1.8.1. Upper Waterton Lake
The deepest lake in the Canadian Rockies is called Upper Waterton Lake. Take the Waterton Shoreline Cruise to learn about the geography and history of the region, and while you’re there, stop in Goat Haunt, Montana, to enter the United States.
1.8.2. Red Rock Canyon
From the village of Waterton, travel through the Blakiston Valley to Red Rock Canyon; keep a watch out for wildlife. To enjoy the best views of the oddly colored rock that gives the canyon its name, continue the trail around its borders and across its top after arriving at the canyon. You can enter the streambed at the base after completing the loop. Lunch should be brought; the setting is excellent.
1.8.3. Cameron Falls
One of the most easily accessible natural features in the park is Cameron Falls, which is situated immediately inside Waterton. For a breathtaking view, hike up the short route to the top of the waterfall.
1.8.4. Akamina Parkway and Cameron Lake
From Waterton, go a short distance down a winding mountain road that follows the Cameron Valley to serene Cameron Lake. It’s the ideal spot for a lakeside walk, a refreshing paddle, and a picnic lunch.
1.9. Kananaskis Country
Kananaskis Country is located in the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies, less than an hour’s drive west of Calgary. Get ready for plenty of outdoor adventures in 4,211 square kilometers of provincial parks, recreation areas, wildlands, and other open spaces.
The alpine town of Canmore, which is at its center and offers a bustling bar and restaurant scene, shopping, a variety of lodging options, and several seasonal festivals There is a vast amount of hiking and biking that can be done in the backcountry, which is accessible from the town by a network of paths known as K-Country.
On the Kananaskis River, test your talents at whitewater rafting or stand-up paddle boarding. For cross-country and alpine skiing, snowshoeing, and dog sledging, return in the winter.
2. Some Fun Activities to Do!
The Canadian Rockies are full of exciting adventures that will make you grin and make your heart race. There are so many fun things to do there. Here are only a few suggestions.
In the Canadian Rockies, there are thousands of miles of maintained hiking trails to explore. Whether you want to take a short stroll around a turquoise lake or an extended excursion through the backcountry, there are paths for everyone, from beginners to professionals.
Some of Canada’s top hiking trails may be found in Sunshine Meadows in Banff National Park. As you climb to lovely Grizzly Lake, look for little pikas (adorable spherical little mice-like critters with a peculiar sound).
The Stanley Glacier and the Valley of Ten Peaks are popular hikes for intermediate hikers, but if you’re up for a bigger challenge, make a loop by going to the Lake Agnes tea house first before tackling the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail. This walk will take you from Lake Louise’s shoreline through a mountain forest, past beautiful glaciers, and to a second ancient tea house at its conclusion (open seasonally and cash only).
The 44-kilometer Skyline Trail in Jasper is a multi-day climb through stunning mountain ranges. For a less strenuous adventure, try any of the routes leading from Jasper into the Athabasca Valley. You can also experience a once-in-a-lifetime adventure by taking a helicopter tour.
A trek among the wildflowers can be enjoyed after getting a bird’s-eye view of the mountain peaks and landing in a beautiful valley. Try heli-skiing or heli-snowshoeing throughout the winter.
2.2. Cycling and Mountain Biking
Many of the alpine tracks were designed specifically for mountain riding and cycling. You can ski at your leisure on more than 65 kilometers of groomed slopes at Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park. Alternatively, if you want a longer challenge, embark on a four-day cycling excursion via the Icefields Parkway.
2.3. Skiing and Snowboarding
Hikers and cyclists are replaced by skiers and snowboarders as the temperature drops and snow starts to fall, and they swarm to our mountain park ski resorts to enjoy the famed Canadian Rocky Mountains’ light-as-a-feather powder snow.
The Big Three ski areas in Banff National Park include Mt. Norquay (28 runs, 503 vertical meters), Sunshine Village (145+ runs, 1072 vertical meters), and Lake Louise Ski Resort (145+ runs, 990 vertical meters). With 86 runs on a 914-meter vertical drop, Marmot Basin in Jasper National Park has Canada’s highest base elevation (1,698 meters). Nakiska, the site of the 1988 Winter Olympics and home to 71 runs on 735 meters of vertical drop, is located in Kananaskis Country.
In Kananaskis Country is Nakiska, the venue for the 1988 Winter Olympics and home to 71 runs with a 735-meter vertical drop. Or try cat skiing on Fortress Mountain’s virgin routes — there are no lift lineups! One of our best-kept secrets is Castle Mountain Resort, which is located further south.
Of course, using skis or a board to climb mountains is not limited to resorts. The best backcountry skiing in the world can be found in the Rockies. Spend your days knee-deep in pure powder by hiking in, flying in via helicopter, or staying at a remote resort.
2.4. Ice Climbing and Ice Walks
Winter in the Canadian Rockies transforms the gorges into magical ice palaces as turquoise and azure waterfalls freeze from top to bottom. Put on some ice cleats (spikes that attach to the bottom of your boots) and go on a guided ice walk or ice climbing lesson with an experienced guide. Top locations include Maligne Canyon in Jasper, Johnson Canyon in Banff, and Grotto Canyon in Kananaskis Country.
2.5. Train Adventures
Travel by train to experience the Canadian Rockies at their finest. Travel in elegance on the Rocky Mountaineer while taking in the scenery from the comfort of a train car. Visit remote locations that are inaccessible by driving, such as the fabled Spiral Tunnels that were carved through two mountains at the Kicking Horse Pass or the banks of the raging Fraser River as it roars through Hell’s Gate. Trudge through magnificent blue mountain lakes and across high bridges.
Pay attention to the strong rush of water as it cascades down granite cliffs and through constrained canyons. Observe golden eagles catching updrafts or grizzly bears feeding on open slopes. Infamous mountain resorts and hotels, spend the night. The Rocky Mountaineer’s adventure is in the journey.
2.6. Whitewater Rafting
From relaxing floats to exhilarating Class Five rapids, the raging rivers in the Canadian Rockies provide fantastic whitewater rafting excursions. Among the most popular rivers are the Kananaskis, Athabasca, and Kicking Horse rivers.
Professional outfitters may customize an adventure to fit your talents and thrill-seeking demands in the communities of Jasper, Banff, and Canmore.
I sincerely hope you liked reading about the beautiful Canadian Rockies to explore and were motivated to visit a few of them. Make travel arrangements as soon as you can to explore the Canadian Rockies; you won’t regret it.As an Amazon Associate, Icy Canada earns from qualifying purchases.