lassify yourself as an adventure seeker who dreams of skydiving, bungee jumping or swimming with sharks before you die? Or do you consider yourself more easy going with less ambitious activities on your list? Regardless of what type of adventure sets your soul on fire, many of us have what we call “bucket-list” items to cross off before we die. Something that you should see is the Canadian Rockies.
Maybe you’ve heard of the Canadian Rockies before, or perhaps you’ve seen stunning images of the shimmering glaciers, vibrant turquoise lakes and landscapes of what appear to be scenery you could only dream of. Located in the heart of Western Canada, the Canadian Rockies rival any landscape in the entire world.
Planning an upcoming visit to the Great White North? Make sure seeing, driving, hiking or enjoying an extended stay in the Canadian Rockies is included into your itinerary to make the absolute most of your trip. This article has a complete list of reasons to convince you to make the trip as well as things to do during your stay, regardless of the season.
It’s Cold but Magical
You’ve likely heard that Canada is cold, and if you’re wondering if the Canadian Rockies are a part of this coldness, the answer is yes. Temperatures in the winter around -30 are quite common, but don’t let that deter you from visiting the Rockies, especially during winter, because this is one of the most beautiful times to visit, you just have to be prepared. Bundle up and get out there to enjoy the incredible Rocky Mountains!
Visiting the Rockies is obviously beautiful anytime of year, but there’s just something extra magical about being surrounded by blankets of glistening snow...ticket to winter wonderland anyone?
Visiting the Canadian Rockies unfortunately isn’t cheap, however, winter travelers are in for a nice surprise. During peak travel in the summer months, hotel prices average close to $300 CAD per night and hostel prices are around $70 CAD per bed. In the winter time you can often book your stay for significantly cheaper and even book places the day you arrive.
World Class Skiing and Snowboarding
This one’s for the adventure seekers. Fresh powder, carving and hill beers? Say no more. The Rockies are home to some of the top resorts in the world like Ski Marmot Basin (close to Jasper), Kicking Horse Ski Resort and Sunshine Village (between Banff and Lake Louise).
With so many ski hills and resorts to choose from, you can be sure your experience on the slopes is a memorable one. Don't forget your sunscreen!
Cross two items off your bucket list during your trip to the Canadian Rockies and see the northern lights. If you’re looking for some breathtaking landscapes to absorb, you can't pass up a chance to see the Northern lights during your visit. Worried you might miss them? Sign up for free aurora alerts and never miss an opportunity.
A Remarkable and Unforgettable Road Trip
Now this is a road trip you won’t ever forget. Start early, fill up the car, stop for coffee at Tim Hortons, and soak up the hundreds of kilometres of breathtaking mountain valleys, icefields, wildlife, and more unique photography locations than you’ll be able to visit in your lifetime. Don’t forget to roll your window down to breath in that fresh, brisk mountain air, your lungs with really thank you.
There are multiple routes you can follow during a Canadian Rockies road trip, but a lot of people suggest starting and ending in Calgary (the nearest international airport hub), and then making way to Banff National Park, going through the Icefields Parkway and then into Jasper National Park. From there, they make their way to Yoho National Park and finish the trip off in Kananaskis country close to Canmore.
Obviously there are many other areas to checkout, especially if you have some skiing on your itinerary, but check out some more detailed routes at the links below.
Try to plan your road trip ahead of time, as some major highways are closed during certain parts of the year to protect wildlife.
If you’re a camper, well, this is practically camper’s paradise. Yes, lots of mountain towns in the Rockies have some of the best hotels, but nothing is better than truly experiencing the outdoors by sleeping under the star studded skies of the Canadian Rockies, waking up surrounded by peaks to fishing for your dinner. Try to get your camp on in the summer months though because most registered campgrounds are closed in the summer, other than five that operate year round.
The Rocky Mountains is also home to Crown Land, which is public land available for recreational use where camping is 100% free of charge. While there are rules visitors must follow, there's no better way to get a fully wild experience than to spend some time under the stars in the open wilderness. Crown land is often used for camping, hiking, and exploring the countryside on all-terrain vehicles of every type. British Columbia and Alberta both have different zones and rules visitors must follow.
Whether you’re in search of a nice day trip hike, a family-friendly trail, a waterfall hike, or a scramble to the top of a summit, the Canadian Rockies have it all. There’s got to be a reason why millions of people visit Banff, Canada’s first national park, to see Moraine Lake and Lake Louise and to experience everything else the park has to offer. Here are just some of those reasons.
Beauty - Rugged mountain peaks, green forestry, turquoise alpine lakes and colorful wildflowers; the Canadian Rockies offer a different kind of beauty you won’t ever forget. Don’t forget to pack a camera!
Landmarks - Did you know Mount Assiniboine in Banff is one of the most striking and most photographed peaks in the Canadian Rockies? Moraine Lake is also one of the most photographed spots in the Canadian Rockies.
Wildlife - The Canadian Rockies are a home to cougars, wolves, black and grizzly bears, lynx, moose, elk, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, otters, marmots, and many more. Respecting wildlife is extremely important, be sure to keep your distance, don't feed the animals, and take as many pictures as you want.
Check out this list of day hikes in the Canadian Rockies to plan our which hikes you want to cross off your list! Don't forget water, snacks, sunscreen, and bear-spray.
Where The Wild Things Are
While we already touched on this in the last point, wildlife truly deserves it’s own spot on the list because it’s unlike anywhere else on earth. The best part, it’s incredibly easy to spot wildlife, and you can even do it from the comfort of your vehicle. If there’s one thing the Canadian Rockies traveler aspires to see, it’s the renowned grizzly and black bear. Adult grizzly bears can reach a height of 8.5 feet when standing on their hind legs and can weigh up to 1,200 pounds.
If you’re lucky enough to spot one, make sure to stay in your vehicle, as face-to-face encounters are dangerous, especially when bear cubs are present. If you are on a trail or out and about while you run into a dangerous animal, make sure you have bear-spray that's easy to access and that you are properly educated on how to use it.
Aside from bears, keep an eye out for moose, wolves, elk, deer, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, eagles, porcupines, beavers, squirrels, coyotes, cougars, lynx, bobcats and caribou.
Check out this article on noise makers and bear spray so you’re 100% caught up to speed prior to your adventure.
If you have the chance to check out Jasper, doing the Columbia Icefield Skywalk is an absolute MUST. Imagine being almost 1,000 feet over the Sunwapta valley, on a glass-floored walkway as you peer into the ragged cliffs below your feet.
This experience is an affordable one with adult tickets for the Skywalk priced at $24.95 and a children's ticket at $12.50.
If you plan to visit the Rockies in the winter but aren’t a skier, or even much of an adventurer, there’s still plenty of winter activities to keep you busy. There are several locations to ice-skate and feel the cold winter air against your cheeks in Banff, Lake Louise and more! Rentals are widely available.
Experience a real winter thrill by captaining a team of Canadian huskies ton a sled ride in the Rockies. There are numerous dog sled tours to choose from in Banff, Kananaskis, and Canmore.
Last on the list is the exhilarating snowshoeing adventure. There are different lengths of trails surrounding the Rockies for you to choose from, with most of them in Banff, Lake Louise and Emerald Lake. Choose an easy day on flat terrain, or a summit climb with far-reaching views.
After all this, it’s safe to say the Canadian Rockies have basically something for anyone, and the best part, is that it’s full of adventure, at all times. Clearly there’s no shortage of activities in the winter, but even in the summer, you can find yourself catching some serious splashes, rapids, (and laughs) as you whitewater raft down the rivers of British Columbia and Alberta. Some rivers even have optional cliff-diving spots!
Ever thought about what the Rockies look like underneath? Take a trip to uncover the hidden secrets of some of the longest cave systems in Canada.
There you have it. A Complete list of things to not only keep you busy, but get your adrenaline rushing and get tons of bucket list items checked off, guaranteeing breathtaking views and the chance to see wildlife around every corner.