Ultimate Travel Guide to the Canadian Rockies
When you hear of people travelling to Canada, a major motive for their trip is to visit the Rocky Mountains. Consisting of 5 National Parks with many charming towns in between, it’s a nature lovers dream! During winter, the parks become blanketed in snow which creates the most epic playground for skiers and snowboarders.
How long should I stay in the Rocky Mountains?
To get the most out of your trip, I would recommend staying at the Rockies for 10-14 days, depending on the season. In the winter, there is the possibility of spending a lot of time indoors (you could rent a super cute cabin) due to the freezing temperatures and snow. If you are staying in the warmer months, you will be spending most of your time outdoors and I would recommend starting each day fairly early so that you can beat the crowds.
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What time of year should I travel to the Canadian Rockies?
In summer, the lakes within the Rockies reflect the most vibrant tones of blues and aqua, especially Moraine Lake. It's only open for part of the year (as it closes during the winter season), and due to this, it can be incredibly popular with tourists visiting during the warmer months.
It’s still possible to enjoy the other lakes during the colder months, with most of them being accessible for the majority of the year. The contrast between the cool colours of the water against the snow, trees and ice is an incredible sight, especially when the waterfalls and lakes begin to freeze. Depending on the time of year you go, you also could have the chance of seeing the Northern Lights - which is an incredible experience itself!
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Where should I stay in the Rocky Mountains?
A great town to start with is Banff. This is a cute resort town located in Banff National Park and is suitable for everyone, from solo travellers to families. Many hikes and lakes are easily accessible from Banff, so I would recommend basing yourself here for about 5 days. Due to the distance between all locations and parks, you definitely will need a car. Some great walks to do would be around Tunnel Mountain, Vermillion Lake and Lake Minnewanka. If you take a ride up the Banff Gondola at Sulphur Mountain, the views from the top look like they will never end. Also, about a 20 minute drive from Banff is a town called Canmore. This place is often overlooked but it’s just as nice as Banff with its own hikes and lakes to see, often without all the crowds.
What are the best things to do in the Rocky Mountains?
#1. Visit beautiful lakes in Banff
From Banff, you will easily be able to visit a few lakes in one day, that being Peyto Lake, Lake Louise, Bow Lake and Emerald Lake (located in Yoho National Park). Each are easily accessible and if the weather is nice, I definitely would recommend doing some hikes around the area. You could also stay overnight at Emerald Lake in the cabins and resorts, which would give you a lot more time to immerse yourself in your surroundings.
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#2. Walk around Johnston Canyon
A really nice walk to do is around Johnston Canyon. There is a secret trail that leads off the main path about halfway through the walk, which takes you down to the river bed where there is a hollow cave with a giant rock out the front. This is not on maps but if you do a little bit of reading up on the location, or follow some people who look to be going off track, you should be able to find it.
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#3. Drive along the Icefield Parkway
After your time at Banff National Park, you can make your way along the Icefields Parkway that leads to Jasper National Park. This drive is one of the most scenic drives that you will do in Canada, and luckily there are plenty of places to stop along the way for you too take photos or go for a little walk. During the winter months, a lot of facilities close down, so come prepared and make sure that you have a full tank of gas.
#4. Explore Jasper National Park and Athabasca Glacier
A great place to stop and explore for a little bit would be the Athabasca Glacier. Although tours may not be running depending on the season, you can still walk out a fair way towards the ice. Another great stop would be the Sunwapta Falls, which looks like a big rock horseshoe surrounded by water.
The main attractions in Jasper, which seems to be a quieter town compared to Banff, are the Athabasca Falls, Maligne Lake, Spirit Island, Medicine Lake and Maligne Canyon. I would recommend staying here for a few days, depending on how much activity you wanted to get up to and you will be sure to see plenty of wildlife around the area.
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I think of The Rocky Mountains as a giant, natural theme park but in the best possible way. You drive yourself around to each attraction where you witness the most incredible scenery. Yes, you may have crowds but if you wander a little off track, you can be the only person in sight and this just the most peaceful feeling.
Jessica Ward is a commercial travel photographer and writer based in Newcastle, Australia. She has spent many months exploring the world and is always eager to embark on overseas trips. Jessica documents all of her adventures on Instagram @jesswardphoto and on her website Jessica Ward Photography.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More India.