The Canadian Rockies represent a small segment of the Rocky Mountains, extending about a thousand miles southeastward from northern British Columbia. This mountain range features around 50 peaks that tower above 11,000 feet, with the highest residing in British Columbia.
The Canadian Rockies are home to various wildlife species, picturesque alpine lakes, natural hot springs, and dozens of hiking trails, making it a worthwhile destination for adventurers and relaxers alike. Here are a few tips on how to visit the Canadian Rockies.
The first step in visiting the Canadian Rockies is the journey. You’ll need to travel from where you call home to the craggy peaks of these magnificent mountains. But before that, you’ll need to plan your trip. Here are a few things to consider in this phase of the journey:
Choosing the Best Times to Visit
The Canadian Rockies offer stunning views year-round, but when planning your trip, consider the weather conditions. What do you want to do when you’re there? Do you want to curl up in a cozy cabin with the fireplace crackling while you watch the snow fall? Do you want to enjoy skiing, skating, snowboarding, or other winter sports?
Or perhaps you want to enjoy hiking during summer when colorful wildflowers are in full bloom. Either way, your answers will help you decide the best time to visit.
Driving to the Canadian Rockies is entirely doable if you live in the Pacific Northwest. It can be a fun opportunity to go on a road trip with your friends and family! However, flying might be your best option if you live further away or in an entirely different country. Choose the airport closest to the area you plan to visit.
If you decide to fly, you’ll need to determine how you plan to get around. Will you rent a car? Will you rely on public transportation?
Renting a car ahead of time is usually best to ensure options are available.
Before visiting, you’ll need to determine entry requirements for visiting Canada from your country. Generally, if you’re visiting from the United States, you’ll need a valid U.S. passport, passport card, or NEXUS card. Children younger than 16 years only need proof of U.S. citizenship, like a birth certificate.
Where to Stay
Once you iron out the details of getting there, it’s time to think about where you’ll stay. Do you want to immerse yourself in nature and camp under the stars? Plenty of campgrounds and RV parks are scattered around the Canadian Rockies, but be sure to research your options and reserve a spot before visiting if necessary.
If you prefer the luxuries of the indoors, consider a hotel, resort, or vacation rental. Many of the towns around the Canadian Rockies are tourist destinations, so there’s plenty to go around. However, these accommodations can fill up fast, so book your stay in advance.
Numerous towns flank the Canadian Rockies, offering unique experiences and phenomenal views of the jutting peaks. Popular options include Banff, Jasper, Canmore, and Lake Louise.
Exploring the Canadian Rockies
The Canadian Rockies have plenty to offer, from lively festivals to calming hot springs. Here are a few ideas for your trip itinerary.
National Parks and Protected Areas
If you love nature’s calm, peaceful expanse, the Rockies are the perfect place to enjoy it. Add a few national parks to your list, such as Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Yoho National Park, or Kootenay National Park.
Each has something to offer, so visit them all or pick the option nearest you.
Must-See Attractions and Activites
Aside from perusing national parks, there are plenty of other activities to fill your time. For example, take a relaxing soak in the steamy hot springs in Banff, take an invigorating hike up a trail near your lodgings, and enjoy a scenic drive with panoramic views.
Visit an iconic lake, like Lake Louise or Moraine Lake, which boast unbelievable turquoise waters that look almost unreal, like they’ve been edited.
The towns around the Rockies host various lively festivals and other forms of entertainment throughout the year. Take a peek at the options available in the area you’re staying when you plan to be there through a quick Internet search.
Guided Tours and Excursions
This area is teeming with guided tour and excursion options, and a quick Internet search will reveal options in the area you’re staying. Take a horseback ride through the mountain, ride the gondola through Banff, or enjoy a covered wagon ride with a Western cookout.
There’s plenty to go around, regardless of what you prefer!
Outdoor Recreation and Adventure
The Canadian Rockies are full of outdoor recreational activities and adventures. From hikes with stunning views to camping under the stars, there’s plenty to keep an outdoor enthusiast busy.
If you’re an avid hiker, you’ll probably love the Canadian Rockies. Dozens of trails extend across these vast mountains, some reaching lofty peaks and others dropping down to alpine lakes. The sights are breathtaking, teeming with vibrant wildflowers in the summer and fluffy snow in the winter.
When hiking in these areas, exercising caution is paramount. Pay attention to posted signage and restrictions. These mountains are full of wildlife, so preparing for encounters is essential. Bring plenty of water and food to keep you hydrated and satiated on your hike. Wear comfortable shoes and dress for the temperature changes as you climb. Hike in groups of at least two or three, if not more.
Prepare for the elevation changes and ensure you acclimate to the higher elevations when you arrive before scaling nearby mountains. If you experience altitude sickness, stop ascending and walk to a lower elevation. Stop for a few minutes to catch your breath before descending if necessary.
If you enjoy watching the goings-on of wildlife creatures, you’ll find plenty to do in this area. The Canadian Rockies are home to many species, including grizzly bears, bighorn sheep, elk, coyotes, wolves, lynx, mountain goats, and moose.
In addition, many birds frolic through the trees in the spring and summer before migrating to warmer climates in the winter.
As with wildlife watching in any state, remember that this area is their home. Leave them alone and stay a safe distance away. Be respectful of the animals and be cautious when watching them.
The Canadian Rockies are a must-add to any avid camper’s list. This area boasts numerous campgrounds and RV sites perfect for enjoying the environment. Reserve a campsite near a lake to fill your days with water sports like kayaking, swimming, or fishing and wind down with a crackling campfire. You might even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights!
If you go this route, remember to plan ahead. Bring everything you’ll need for the trip, including your camping essentials. Learn about how to safely store food in the area you’re staying to keep wildlife at bay and remember to book a campsite in advance.
Dining and Cuisine
Towns around the Canadian Rockies offer various types of local cuisine, including game meats and fruits or vegetables harvested from the mountains themselves. Browse through local dining options in your area to find the perfect place to satisfy your cravings. There are plenty of options, although some towns have fewer than others.
Some restaurants, like the Sky Bistro in Banff, pair delectable cuisine with stunning views.
Packing and Preparation
As you prepare for your trip, here are a few things to remember:
- Pack for changing weather: Given the higher elevation, temperatures are often cooler, even in the summer. Prepare for warm days and cold nights if you visit in the summer or cold days and freezing nights in winter.
- Bring essential gear: Base the contents of your suitcase on the activities you plan to do. Bring your snow gear for winter or your paddleboard for summer.
- Be smart to stay safe: While traveling through the Rockies, always avoid wildlife, hike with a buddy, and prepare for your activities accordingly.
- Leave no trace: Whether you go on a hike, stay at a campsite, or stop at a scenic outlook, always leave no trace. Pick up your trash and any items you brought with you to leave the area as you find it.
Take a Trip to the Canadian Rockies
Excited to visit the Canadian Rockies but not sure where to start? We get it. Planning this trip can be overwhelming – there’s so much to do. How do you decide where to go? This is where we can help.
At Caravan, we offer guided trips through the Rockies, visiting many of the picturesque towns framing this mountain range. Our journey takes us from the stunning views of Glacier Park in the United States to the jaw-dropping lakes, rivers, and peaks of the Canadian Rockies. Ready to book a trip? Call us today at 1-800-CARAVAN or +1-312-321-9800.