Stretching between British Columbia and Alberta, the Canadian Rockies boast an intimidating backdrop that invites explorers from across the world. Just imagine setting foot below a canopy of unruly trees before the scenery opens to a ridgeline that exposes you to a bright-blue glacial lake nestled below an amphitheatre of snow-capped peaks.
You may think you have to spend days immersed in the wild to reach a scenic view like this, but that’s not the case. There are family-friendly hikes and a collection of easy-to-access lookouts that make the incredible scenery across the Canadian Rockies accessible to anyone and everyone.
But the thing is, a plethora of epic must-see vistas sprawl across the Rockies, making it tough to pick the best spot for you! Thankfully, there are some tours in the Canadian Rockies that jam-pack the highlights into one extraordinary exploration that can often include activities ranging from hiking, biking, kayaking, rafting, backpacking, to name a few.
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You can’t go to the Canadian Rockies without visiting the ever-so magical Moraine Lake. While several tourists and locals flock to admire this lake every day, the sight of crowds and people snapping photos will blur as you focus on the indescribable natural beauty in front of you.
You can reach the glacially-fed turquoise lake by driving here, but be sure to head in early, especially during the late spring, summer, and early autumn months. The parking lot can fill up by 5:30 am. Alternatively, you can hike the 14.4 km from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake, which takes most between three to four hours one-way. Parks Canada also offers a shuttle service!
The Icefields Parkway stretches from Banff National Park to Jasper National Park, following Highway 93. But this isn’t just a regular fast-moving highway as it’s peppered with world-class lookouts, short hikes that lead to remarkable views, and grants a huge possibility of viewing wildlife along the way.
One of the main attractions is the freakishly stark blue Peyto Lake, which is best viewed from Bow Summit. Other notable scenic stops include Bow Lake, Columbia Icefield, Athabasca Falls, and the Glacier Sky Walk.
Most people flock to the Town of Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies, but instead of highlighting these phenomenally stunning towns, we wanted to discuss an up-and-coming mountain-tucked gem: Canmore. This quaint town attracts fewer people than the nearby Banff, but it’s no less beautiful.
If you’re seeking a quieter main street with quirky restaurants underneath the watchful eye of soaring peaks, Canmore is tailor-made for you. But, if you want to be around more people, head to Banff. Think of Canmore as the introverted sister (with a quiet beauty) to Banff’s extroverted, upbeat personality!
This attraction in Kootenay National Park may require some exertion to reach. Still, the scenery rolling by on this hike will have you feeling like you’ve stepped into some magical wonderland. En route to the lake, you’ll revel in the Kootenay River carving through wildflowers and the recovering burnt forest from the 2003 fires.
But don’t let the thought of hiking through a burnt forest influence you to skip this hike! The remnants of the wildfire have left a moody, folklore vibe that intensifies once you reach Floe Lake—yet another epic glacial lake backed by snow-capped peaks in the Canadian Rockies. The hike to Floe Lake is a 22.9-km out-and-back route that may be long, but it’s crazy worth it.
Similar to Moraine Lake, Yoho National Park’s Lake O’Hara is a super popular attraction in the Canadian Rockies. Can you guess the features of this alpine lake? If you thought of turquoise with a mountainous backdrop, you’re 100% correct! To view this wonder, you can walk the 13-km road on foot (and then 13km back), but the distance is well worth it, for sure.
If you don’t want to walk, there’s always the daily bus, but note that this shuttle runs on a lottery system, so it’s essential to book well in advance to ensure you get a spot.
Well, there you have it: five must-visit spots in the Canadian Rockies—and these are only five of the highlights. Tucked into the mountains, you’ll find incredible backpacking trips (Mount Assiniboine, to name one), unforgettable hiking and biking trails for all fitness levels, and cozy mountain towns that add a sprinkle of charm to your more rugged, rustic adventures in the thick of the Canadian wild.
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