Canadian Rockies Holidays
Picture a holiday to Canada and the first thing to come to mind is likely to be a spectacular array of soaring mountains, sparkling glaciers and vivid turquoise lakes. Add in some waterfalls, alpine forests and an abundance of wildlife and you have the Canadian Rockies. Marking the border between British Columbia and Alberta, the Rocky Mountains can be accessed from either province. A network of carefully preserved national and provincial parks offer the chance to drive, hike, bike, ride, paddle and ski through some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery.
Throughout the summer months the iconic Rocky Mountaineer rail journey connects Vancouver to the mountain resort towns of Banff and Jasper. Over 2 days the eastbound journey follows rivers and roads towards an increasingly alpine landscape, arriving in the heart of the Rockies on your second afternoon. What better way to approach than on an iconic Canadian legend, coasting along the tracks with plenty of time to relax, take in the scenery and spot wildlife from the comfort of the train.
Widely renowned as one of North America’s most scenic drives, the Icefields Parkway boasts over 100 ancient glaciers along its 232km length. The road connects Jasper in the north with Lake Louise in the south and passes countless scenic attractions as it threads its way through the soaring peaks of the Rockies. Highlights include the tumultuous Athabasca Falls, dramatic Peyto Lake and the Columbia Icefield, the largest icefield south of the Arctic. Journey onto the Athabasca Glacier in a specially designed Ice Explorer vehicle, test your nerve on the Glacier Skywalk or simply find a quiet spot to marvel at the sheer scale of the towering mountains around you.
Banff National Park
Canada’s first national park (and the world’s third), Banff National Park was established in 1885, following the discovery of a thermal hot spring in a mountainside cave. Today its breathtaking landscapes of mountains, glaciers, lakes and meadows remain one of Canada’s most popular destinations and the park is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the summer outdoor enthusiasts swap skis and snowshoes for hiking boots or mountain bikes to explore the 1,600 kms of well-maintained trails. Kayak on pristine lakes, go horseback riding through alpine meadows or take to the sky for an unforgettable helicopter flight – whatever your preferred perspective you can’t fail to be impressed.
This thriving resort town has been attracting tourists for more than a century – and it’s easy to see why! Surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery, Banff is the ideal base from which to explore the Canadian Rockies. Here you will find a variety of accommodation and dining options to suit every taste and budget, along with shops providing souvenirs and essential outdoor gear. Despite its popularity, Banff retains its small town charm, with plenty of attractions right on the doorstep. Paddle a canoe on the Bow River, visit the historic Cave and Basin – birthplace of the national park – or take the gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain for dramatic views over Banff and beyond, before ending your day with a relaxing soak in the Banff Upper Hot Springs.
Often described as the jewel in the crown, the striking turquoise waters of Lake Louise are perhaps the most photographed in Canada. Follow one of the lakeside trails or spend a night at the imposing Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise to enjoy uninterrupted views once the day-trippers have left. Stretch your legs with a forest walk to the historic Lake Agnes teahouse, or tackle the Plain of Six Glaciers trail to be rewarded with spectacular views. A short drive from Lake Louise is the equally stunning Moraine Lake, another glacier-fed lake located in the Valley of the Ten Peaks – well worth a detour.
Jasper National Park
At the northern end of the Icefields Parkway lies the laid-back village of Jasper, right in the heart of the vast Jasper National Park. The park is the largest in the Rockies at over 10,000 sq km, much of which is untouched wilderness, defined by glaciers, lakes and mountains. Wildlife abounds, including moose, wolves and bears, as well as bighorn sheep and hoary marmots. Countless natural attractions include Maligne Lake, the Columbia Icefields and Mt. Edith Cavell. Take the Jasper Skytram to the top of Whistlers Mountain for spectacular views and access to a wealth of hiking trails. In the winter months, ski and snowboard fanatics flock to a snowcapped wonderland, whilst every October eyes turn skywards for the annual Dark Sky Festival.
Start planning your trip
Allow plenty of time to explore this beautiful region, whether you are on an active winter adventure, an iconic rail journey, a leisurely independent summer self-drive or a small group hiking adventure exploring the Rocky Mountains’ lesser-known trails. Contact our team of Canada Specialists to discuss your travel plans or browse our collection of holidays in the Rockies.