Top 10 things to do in the Canadian Rockies
A pristine wilderness on a scale difficult to imagine, Canada’s glaciated Rocky Mountains are a true adventure playground with a huge range of activities on offer. From hiking to horse-riding and of course wildlife spotting, there is no end of things to do. Here’s our lowdown on the top ten ways to spend your days in this grand region, which spans the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia...
1. Ride the Rocky Mountaineer
Operating between Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies, the Rocky Mountaineer is one of the world's great train journeys. A trip on the Rocky Mountaineer lets you experience the awe-inspiring peaks and glaciers of the Rockies, learn about the region’s fascinating pioneer heritage and spot wildlife from bears to elk as you swish through the vast wilderness landscapes. The level of service on board the train is unparalleled, so sit back and enjoy the scenic grandeur of this impressive region in unadulterated luxury.
2. Drive the Icefields Parkway from Jasper to Banff
Often recognised as one of the world’s greatest drives, the Icefields Parkway is a 232km highway winding through soaring rocky mountain peaks, icefields and vast sweeping valleys. While some love the feeling of whizzing along this wide mountain road and feeling the buzz build as they gather speed, we personally like to take it slow – soaking up the epic scenery in all its glory and stopping to explore and take pictures when the surroundings get too impressive to simply pass through.
3. Hike up to flower-filled mountain meadows
The Rocky Mountains’ alpine meadows are truly stunning and offer a variety of hikes for all levels of walkers. Breathe in the great mountain air and soak up the kaleidoscope of colours formed by the beautiful meadow flowers.
4. Kayak or raft down rushing rivers
Kayaking and white-water rafting in the rushing rivers of the Rockies is an adrenaline pumping activity which offers adventure seekers a really unique way to see the Rockies, while at the same time conquering the rapids at the foothills of the mountains. For those looking for a more chilled excursion, taking a kayak or canoe out on one of the many peaceful lakes is also a very rewarding experience, offering a level of tranquility that will make you feel a million miles from the strains of daily life.
5. Saddle up for a trail ride
Heading out on horseback into the majestic Rocky Mountains is a great way to soak up this wonderful wilderness. Meander through this spectacular scenery, taking in the icy peaks, green valleys and pristine turquoise lakes. Being on horseback you can get much closer to some of the region’s real unspoilt pockets, places which are hard to navigate on foot, making this a truly intimate experience of the Canadian Rockies.
6. Take to the air on a heli-tour
There is really no better way to take in the true grandeur of the Rocky Mountains than from above. Take a heli-tour over the glaciers and high meadows of the Rockies for a real once-in-a-lifetime experience and a totally different perspective on this spectacular scenery, not to mention an adrenaline rush!
7. Rise above Lake Louise on a gondola
If you like the idea of taking in the grandeur of the Rockies from above but aren’t sure you can stretch to a heli-tour, we think the Lake Louise gondola is the next best thing. The surrounding scenery becomes ever more splendid as you rise above the lake, reaching its pinnacle at 2,088 metres above sea level, where you dismount at an awe-inspiring viewpoint of the Rockies’ soaring peaks. From here you have a range of hiking trails and guided walks available to you, and if you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of a grizzly bear!
8. Take a cruise down Lake Maligne
Alberta’s Maligne Valley near Jasper really shows the dramatic landscapes of the Rockies at their most beautiful. The best way to experience the lake is on an excellent 90 minute cruise, which departs from the Maligne Lake Dock and travels 14km down the lake, through Sampson Narrows and onto Spirit Island. It’s a lovely relaxing experience and gives you an insight into the heritage of the Rockies too.
9. Experience the invigorating glacier skywalk
The glacier skywalk adventure is a really thrilling excursion which lets you experience the power of glaciers. Travel in a massive ice explorer onto an ancient glacier and hang mid-air on the glacier skywalk – a glass-floored observation platform that is suspended nearly 300 metres above the spectacular glacier-formed valleys beneath you. This one is not for the faint-hearted, but for avid photographers it’s a must; the views from this unusual perspective are different to anything you can experience elsewhere.
10. Spot some of the region’s abundant wildlife
The Canadian Rockies are teeming with wildlife, and you’re sure to spot some of the mountains’ famous inhabitants while you're going about most of the above activities. However, if you’re really in it for the wildlife and want to get the most out of your experience, we strongly recommend you consider which animals you are most keen to spot, and keep this in mind when choosing your hiking trails, horse riding routes and other activities, to give you the best chance of spotting your must-see creatures. With bears, moose, wolves, deer, coyotes, elk, big horn sheep and more all calling the Rockies home, these spectacular mountains are the perfect holiday destination for wildlife enthusiasts.