Your Guide to Exploring the Canadian Rockies
The Canadian Rockies are among the most visited destinations in Canada. They sit at the easternmost section of the Canadian Cordillera which is the collective name for all the mountains in Western Canada. Stretching 1000 miles they span Alberta and British Columbia and with 50 peaks and one of the world’s great mountain ranges.
Exploring the mountains and the rivers, lakes, forests, and towns surrounding them is a wonderful adventure where you will get to see Canada’s glorious landscapes in its truest form. In this guide, we will answer a few key questions so you have all the information you need to plan your adventure.
What is the best time of year to visit the Canadian Rockies?
Although exploring the mountains is something that can be enjoyed all year round, we recommend visiting in summer from May to September. The weather is milder than during the winter, and the towns have a bit more vibrancy as they are busy with both tourists and locals. In the mountains, summer passes quickly due to the increased elevation, but there are plenty of activities to keep you busy during your trip.
Not only is summer warmer, but the Rockies’ lakes are also at their fullest during these months which means they are also at their most striking in terms of colour. There is a lot more to do on the water in the summer as well, such as canoeing and kayaking. Of course, skiers may think differently.
Where should I stay when visiting the Canadian Rockies?
There is a wealth of accommodation available for visitors to the Canadian Rockies, so it depends on what you want from your hotel or guesthouse. Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, for example, is an inviting 446-room hotel that overlooks Lac Beauvert in the heart of the mountains, offering a lavish spot to rest your head.
For lodge-style accommodation, Lake Louise Inn is a lovely hotel. Just a few minutes walk from Lake Louise Village, this cosy hotel is simple yet comfortable and is in a great location for discovering the local area.
Another favourite is Pyramid Lake Resort which is around 10 minutes drive from Jasper. It is snuggled in the midst of the Canadian Rockies iconic scenery. The chalet-style buildings have either private or shared balconies, giving you a special spot to take in the surrounding landscape. It’s also far enough away from Jasper to feel like you are at one with the wilderness.
How do you get to the Canadian Rockies?
Calgary or Edmonton are the best places to fly into if you intend to visit the Canadian Rockies. We would recommend Calgary as it is the closest airport to the mountains, and you can get to Banff in less than two hours.
You can also take the train from Vancouver or hit the open road and include the Rockies in a bespoke self-drive itinerary.
How do I get from Vancouver to Canadian Rockies?
If you are starting your Canadian adventure from Vancouver, you can get to the Canadian Rockies by car, train, or plane. During the summer months, renting a car and making the road trip yourself offers the opportunity to take in the scenery and stop where and when you like along the journey.
Travelling from Vancouver to the Canadian Rockies via train also affords you a chance to see the scenery. You can take Via Rail overnight from Vancouver to Kamloops then on to Jasper. Alternatively, the Rocky Mountaineer is one of the world’s most iconic rail journeys; though it’s more expensive, it is a truly unique journey. The glass-domed car gives you a panoramic view of the mountains and because the train only moves during daylight hours, you’ll not miss any of the stunning views.
You can also fly from Vancouver into Calgary or Edmonton then make the drive from there to Jasper or Banff.
What is there to do in the Rockies in the summer?
In the summer, the Canadian Rockies are alive with activity. From the more intense activities like rafting on the Kicking Horse River and traversing Jasper’s Glacier Skywalk, to the more relaxing ones like taking a drive along the Icefields Parkway, or a fondue dinner at Banff Grizzly House – there is something for everyone.
You should also aim to take in the popular towns of Banff and Jasper, which are both gateways to their respective National Parks.
Whatever it is you want to get from your journey, chat with our specialists to help create a tailor-made trip that encompasses all the things you’ve dreamed of doing in the Canadian Rockies.
What is there to do in Banff and Jasper?
Firstly, Jasper and Banff National Parks are both breathtaking areas of natural beauty. The former is well known for Mount Columbia, which is Alberta’s tallest mountain, and Maligne Lake, the second-largest glacial-fed lake in the world. Banff has a larger central town, giving it a less remote feel than Jasper, and is home to two of the most popular lakes – Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. However, turquoise lakes, lush green forests, and awe-inspiring mountains are everywhere you look in both parks.
Aside from the activities that the lakes and mountains provide, spotting the local wildlife is another popular thing to do in Banff and Jasper. Bears, elk, and deer reside in the parks, making for some spectacular sights.
Can you drive from Banff to Jasper?
The Icefields Parkway runs between Jasper and Banff and offers a truly gorgeous drive through Canada’s breathtaking landscape. With numerous lovely spots to stop along the drive, it is a wonderful activity in and of itself and well worth a full day to savour. Without stops, it takes around three hours to drive the route.
Is Yoho National Park worth a visit?
Although Banff and Jasper get a bit more attention, Yoho National Park is just as beautiful. Located close to Banff National Park, it makes a great day trip and offers just as many dazzling sights and scenery. It is home to Takakkaw Falls, Canada’s second-tallest waterfall, and Emerald Lake (so named because of its incredible colour).
Yoho National Park is somewhat off the beaten track so it makes a great experience for travellers looking for something a bit less busy and more tranquil. The peaceful mountain village of Field is also another great attraction for visitors to Yoho National Park; it’s just a few quaint little streets with charming guesthouses, restaurants, and gift shops.
What do you wear to the Canadian Rockies?
During the summer, the weather is relatively mild but you should still take plenty of layers. Being high in the mountains is often colder than lower elevations so take warm jumpers and trousers as well as a light but windproof jacket.
What do you wear hiking in the Canadian Rockies?
If you are planning on enjoying any one of the many hiking routes in the Canadian Rockies, make sure you pack all the essential gear. Sturdy hiking boots, short and long trousers, warm hoodies and pullovers, and a high-quality windproof jacket are highly recommended. You can pick up all the necessary supplies for hiking in any one of the multitude of equipment stores in Banff or Jasper.