Painting a dramatic backdrop across the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, the Canadian Rockies can’t help but attract visitors worldwide. And with five incredibly scenic national parks—Kootenay, Banff, Jasper, Waterton, Yoho—there’s ample space for everyone to explore without feeling congested. The range of activities offered will also help anyone and everyone conquer the areas of wild they want to see, whether that’s views overlooking peaks stretching into the horizon, emerald lakes nestled in the mountains, or fairytale-like canyons and waterfalls. That’s why I listed here the best things to do in the Canadian Rockies
So, you’re probably wondering: where do I even begin when it comes to exploring the Canadian Rockies? Whether you want your trip tailored to hiking, cycling, backpacking, or camping, you can always look into tours in the Canadian Rockies
Don’t you worry! This article will highlight some of the best activities and adventures you can do in the Canadian Rockies. Hopefully, it narrows down your options. On another note, if you’re really not in the mood to plan a trip, but you have an idea of whether you want your trip tailored to hiking, cycling, backpacking, or camping, you can always look into tours in the Canadian Rockies.
Things to Do in the Canadian Rockies
1. Drive along Icefields Parkway
Stretching from Lake Louise to Jasper, the Icefields Parkway is one of the most epic road trips in the world. Even if you aren’t planning on hopping between Lake Louise to Jasper, driving along Icefields Parkway is worth considering as a destination in itself. Not only will you drive through the soaring Rocky Mountain peaks, but you’ll pass by glaciers, rock spires, and turquoise lakes. And most spots spanning this epic 232 km road are easily accessible and require little to no effort to reach once you park your car.
The highlights along Icefields Parkway are Peyto Lake, Bow Lake, Columbia Icefield, and Sunwapta Falls (to name a few).
2. Go on a backpacking adventure
Nothing beats listening to the sparks of a fire crackle in harmony with the hums of trees rustling and the howls of wildlife while you sit adjacent to your tent somewhere deep in the backcountry—whether you’re facing a bright-blue alpine lake or amid an amphitheater of peaks. It’s safe to say that backpacking in the Canadian Rockies is a truly remarkable, wild experience.
Some epic backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies worth booking in advance are Rockwall Trail in Kootenay National Park, Mount Assiniboine located on the Great Divide, and first-timers or families will enjoy the short hike to Mount Rundle Campground. Families looking to immerse themselves in the Rockies for longer while sticking to kid-friendly adventures without compromising on exploring scenic spots may enjoy this Family Adventure in the Canadian Rockies Tour.
3. Try wild skating
Feel like a true Canadian by lacing up your skates and heading to one of the many mountain lakes for a once-in-a-lifetime wild skating experience. The Canadian Rockies may be a marvel to explore in the summer, but when snow blankets the land and the turquoise lakes freeze, an image of a picture-perfect postcard of a winter wonderland slides into view. Imagine gliding across a clean sheet of ice that somehow still maintains the bright emerald hues that are so distinct in warmer weather. Wild skating on mountain-backed lakes is definitely a must-do activity in the winter, but be sure to check the ice conditions before you tie up your laces. However, if all is good to go, grab a hockey stick and a puck and tap into your inner Canadian vibes.
For some of the best wild skating opportunities, head to Gap Lake near Canmore, Johnson Lake, Vermilion Lakes, Two Jack Lake, and Lake Minnewanka near Banff, and the list goes on. The window for skating is usually in November, when the ice is frozen deep enough to skate on safely but without snow. However, this can change depending on the season!
4. Cycle the scenic roads
One of the best ways to revel in the Canadian Rockies’ scenery is to hop on your bicycle and ride along the roads. While some epic mountain biking trails are carved throughout the parks, cycling the roads makes for an incredible slowed-down adventure that grants you a chance to truly appreciate the untouched wilderness flanking the roads.
Not only can you drive the Icefields Parkway, but cycling this highway sits atop many bucket lists! Just think about the amount of time you’ll have to bask in the snow-capped peaks, icefields, and glaciers lining this route. Other favorite road biking rides are Banff to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Road (it’s challenging to get here by car during busy summer months).
5. Lace up your hiking boots
Hiking is probably the most popular activity in the Canadian Rockies as it’s the easiest way to truly immerse in the scenery. Whether you’re dropping your jaw as your toes inch towards one of the bright-blue lakes backed by snow-capped peaks or standing atop a summit and gazing at the mountains fading across your sightline, there’s a trail for everyone. That’s right. Most epic lakes, canyons, waterfalls, and viewpoints aren’t too hard to reach! However, this doesn’t mean that those seeking a full-day heart-pumping trail winding to a montage of unreal views won’t find what they are looking for. Out of all the national parks, Kananaskis Country, and provincial parks in the Canadian Rockies, there’s a hike tailored for whatever experience and scenery you’re wanting.
It’s hard to name the best hikes to do in the Canadian Rockies. Still, some epic ones are:
- Floe Lake in Kootenay National Park
- Pocaterra Ridge in Kananaskis (incredibly amazing during larch season)
- Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit in Yoho National Park
- Carthew Alderson Trail in Waterton National Park
- Johnston Canyon is an awesome family-friendly hike in Banff National Park (it’s a busy one, though).
We could go on and on hikes in the Canadian Rockies. If you’re not sure where to even start, there’s always this Rockies Hiking and Camping Tour, which leads you to some of the best highlights sprinkled across Canada’s favored mountainscape.
Other activities in the Canadian Rockies
Some other activities in the Canadian Rockies worth mentioning are skiing and snowshoeing when the yellow and orange hues of autumn fade into a snowy bliss are skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. Two popular ski resorts in the Rockies are Lake Louise Ski Resort and Sunshine Village and Ski Resort. During the summer, you can extend your time in nature by booking one of the many front-country campsites, but be sure to book in advance as they fill up fast. There are also some excellent crown land spots with no facilities that are either free or cost $30 for the year per person (as of writing this article). Lastly, if you’re not feeling adventurous but want to spend time in the mountains, you can always wander around the quaint mountain towns: Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise, and Waterton.
The Canadian Rockies are a natural marvel peppered with a range of activities!