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Visiting the Canadian Rockies

Our guide to your next holiday in the Rocky Mountains

Welcome to the Canadian Rockies, the picturesque snow-capped mountain range that Canada is known for. Located on the west coast of the country, this region is filled with stunning glaciers, glittering lakes and unique wildlife that will leave you with an experience of a lifetime, no matter when you visit. We’ve got all the tips to make sure you’re ready for your next trip, from what weather to expect to excursions worth trying. So, make the Canadian Rockies your next holiday and visit some of Canada’s most famous landscapes in the country for yourself.

Visiting The Canadian Rockies

About the Canadian Rockies

The Canadian Rockies is a segment of the Rocky Mountains that extends into the U.S., giving North America some of its most beautiful views.

 

Where are the Canadian Rockies you ask? It starts in Northern British Columbia and travels 1,600 km (1,000 miles) to the southeast of the country, forming nearly half of the border between Alberta and B.C. The mountain range contains 2,283 named peaks, of which Mount Robson in B.C. is the largest at 3,954 metres (12,972 feet). It’s a destination for avid hikers, mountain air lovers and fresh water seekers who are looking for adventurous climbs, amazing views and cool waters to cool off in at the end of the day. And if you’re visiting in the winter, it is the perfect destination for skiers too.

 

The Canadian Rockies are found on the ancestral land of the Ktunaxa First Nations, Secwepemc First Nations, the Blackfoot Confederacy, the Cree, Dene, Saulteaux, Nakota Sioux, Stoney Nakoda, the Tsuut’ina Nation and the Métis People of Alberta, among other Indigenous communities. Honoured as the “Backbone of the World” by these peoples, these mountains are the place to be for any outdoor adventurer out there. So, if it’s not on your bucket list yet, you should definitely add it ASAP.

Mountain Weather

At its lowest, the Canadian Rockies reaches well below 0° Celsius averaging at -15° Celsius and highs of about 20° Celsius in summer months. The high altitudes keep it fairly cold year round, and the closer to the peaks you get, the colder these temperatures get as well. So, if you’re thinking of hiking up to the top, even in the summer months, bundle up because it gets chilly. 

The coldest months of the year are December and January which get paired with a wind chill that makes everything that much colder. May through June is the wettest time of the year in the Rockies for snow or rain, but if you’re looking for the best ski conditions, the deepest fresh powder snow is found between December and January.

Holidays to Canadian rockies

Fun Facts about the Rockies

Wondering what makes the Canadian Rockies so unique? These mountains are home to extreme ecosystems, North America’s hydrographic apex, exemplary animal safety standards and even a Guiness World Record.

 

  • Extreme weather, Kootenay National Park ,B.C.

Kootenay National Park is the only park in Canada that has both glaciers and cactus plants. That means, extreme cold temperatures that maintain giant ice structures and vegetation that calls the warmest places in the world home all in one place. Glacier-clad peaks the Continental Divide in the park, while cacti are found on the dry, grassy fields of the Columbia Valley. 

 

  • World's freshest water, Columbia Icefield, Alberta.

Some of the freshest water in the world is found in the Columbia Icefield between the Banff and Jasper National Parks. Here, the meltwater from the glaciers in the icefield flows into the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The water from the glaciers is often so clean, you can drink straight from the source itself. Just take a handful and enjoy as you’re walking by.

 

  • "Natural" highway bridges, Banff, Alberta.

The Canadian Rockies host a collection of animals including moose, bighorn sheep, elk and other creatures that travel between the mountains. However, this means that there are tons of animals, big and small, that have to cross major roads like the Trans Canada Highway. In 1997, the Canadian government invested to build green bridges and tunnels that cut through Banff National Park as a custom-built, naturally vegetated passage for these animals to cross. Since its construction, it has been heralded for setting a global standard for animal highway safety around the world.

  • World's largest hand paddle, Kootenay National Park, B.C.

Besides cacti, the Kootenay National Park is also home to the largest hand paddle in the world. Measuring in at 18.57 metres (60 ft. 11 in.) long and 2.80 metres (9 ft. 2 in.) wide, this paddle took more than 200 hours of labour, four gallons of varathane wood stain and one entire Western Red Cedar tree to be built. Created by Mark Teasdale and Dave Stonehouse, this roadside attraction towers over a picnic area in the Columbia Wetlands.

Best way to see the Canadian rockies

Our Favourite Places to Visit in the Canadian Rockies

The Canadian Rockies are filled with five National Parks and seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Throughout the entire mountain range, there are tons of unique places to visit that are filled with epic adventures around every corner. Here are just some of our top destinations to visit during holidays to the Canadian rockies.

Found in the traditional territory of the Treaty 6 and 8 as well as the traditional lands of the Anishinabe, Aseniwuche Winewak, Dene-zaa, Nêhiyawak, Secwépemc, Stoney Nakoda, and Métis, Jasper National Park is filled with spectacular views and a HUGE trail network. Covering 11,000 square km, Jasper is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies and is made up of five major regions.


Around town, or the Jasper townsite, is a good place for those looking for a refreshing paddle on cool waters or chill biking and hiking trails. This small community of about 5,200 people is a model environmental community and is the perfect place for eco-tourism. Maligne Valley is home to Maligne Lake, the largest lake in the Canadian Rockies. It is the ideal place for a smooth boat ride across calm waters or for camping with an amazing view. Edith Cavell and the 93A is the third Jasper region with an impressive 3,300-metre peak that you get through by the old parkway (a.k.a. Highway 93A) which was built in the 1930s through the Athabasca Valley. Miette Hot Springs are the hottest springs in the Canadian Rockies surrounded by a peaceful panorama. Finally, the Icefields Parkway connects Jasper with Banff and is one of the top 10 scenic drives in the world.

JASPER national
park

Banff National Park is Canada’s first national park (established in 1885) and the founder of the national parks system in the country. It’s found on the ancestral land of the Iyârhe Nakoda Nations (Bearspaw, Wesley, Chiniki), the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai, Piikani), the Tsuut’ina – part of the Dene people, Ktunaxa, Secwépemc, Mountain Cree, and Métis. 

 

Top activities in Banff include white water rafting, golfing, hiking, ziplining tours, wildlife watching, mountain climbing, biking and fishing. And, if you visit during the winter, Lake Louise has one of the best ski resorts in the Rockies. With over 6,641 square kilometres of mountain scenery and hosting over three million visitors every year, Banff National Park is one of the most popular park in Canada and a must-see for anyone visiting the country.

JASPER national
park

Banff National Park is Canada’s first national park (established in 1885) and the founder of the national parks system in the country. It’s found on the ancestral land of the Iyârhe Nakoda Nations (Bearspaw, Wesley, Chiniki), the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai, Piikani), the Tsuut’ina – part of the Dene people, Ktunaxa, Secwépemc, Mountain Cree, and Métis. 

 

Top activities in Banff include white water rafting, golfing, hiking, ziplining tours, wildlife watching, mountain climbing, biking and fishing. And, if you visit during the winter, Lake Louise has one of the best ski resorts in the Rockies. With over 6,641 square kilometres of mountain scenery and hosting over three million visitors every year, Banff National Park is one of the most popular park in Canada and a must-see for anyone visiting the country.

Banff National Park

Kootenay National Park is found on the traditional territories of the Ktunaxa and Secwepemc First Nations. It was established in 1920 as a part of an agreement to build a new road across the Rockies and is made up of 1,406 square kilometres of land. Some of the top activities to do in the park include exploring deep canyons and rushing waterfalls and backcountry trails and camping if you’re interested in multi-day treks. And if you travel the 106 km long Banff-Windermere Highway (Highway 93) you can even drive through the park from the north end to the south connecting to Banff National Park. 


The park is filled with mountain peaks, glaciers, valleys, grasslands and mineral pools, so there is something for everyone to do when you visit. The mineral pools in particular are what makes Kootenay National Park so unique. Marble Canyon has a short 3.2 km trail that leads to a cold mineral spring -  Paint Pots. Rich in iron, the spring is known for its orange colour which comes from the clay under the clear waters. Radium Hot Springs, on the other hand, is a natural mineral spring that is heated deep in the Earth’s crust to create a perfect relaxation pit after a long day of hiking. If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, white water rafting is another great experience which FML always does when we visit the Kicking Horse River.

Kootenay National Park

Yoho National park is found on the ancestral land of the Ktunaxa and Secwepemc First Nations, on the western side of the Great Divide. It’s a great place for hiking and camping for casual visitors and backpackers because there’s different levels of adventure for everyone. 


One interesting thing about Yoho National Park is that it is home to a half-billion-year-old fossil bed which it shares with Kootenay National Park. A full-day hike will take you to the Burgess Shale fossils which are the oldest evidence of complex life on Earth. It shows a marine ecosystem that existed before dinosaurs, being a link between modern day and 500 million years ago. Overall, Yoho is filled with rock walls, waterfalls and epic peaks that give you days of fun if you choose to visit.

Yoho National Park

A Travel Guide to Our Favourite Things to do in the Rockies

The Canadian Rockies are a chain of mountains filled with trails to visit for sure, but there is so much more hidden behind those peaks that make people come back to visit again and again. Endless activities await, all you have to do is come on over and enjoy the fun! Here are just some of the amazing excursions that FML Adventures loves to do when we visit the Rockies:

Hiking the Mountains

The Rockies are filled with hikes. It’s THE number one thing to do if you visit, and because of the variety of forests, mountains and lakes in the region, there’s tons of different levels of hiking so everyone has a chance to see an amazing view (because sometimes we just don’t want a hike with too much elevation). Some of our favourite hikes when we visit are the following: *insert hike names*

 

  1. Little Beehive - Lake Louise 

  2. Wapta Falls - YOHO National Park 

  3. Mount Edith Cavell - Jasper National Park

The Best Ways to See the canadian rockies

Getting around when visiting the Canadian Rockies is a little bit harder because there’s no regular public transit to rely on. There are private companies that offer shuttle buses across Banff and Jasper or from the Calgary airport to Banff. Equally, there are trains from Vancouver to Banff and Yoho as well. Or you can take the famous Rocky Mountain train and see it all in one go in the height of luxury. 

 

If renting a car is more your vibe, that is always an option. There’s tons of car rentals in the major cities that will get you what you need to travel up the long, winding roads of the Canadian Rockies that are just begging to be explored.

Best way to see the Canadian rockies

Group Tours of the Canadian Rockies

If none of that sounds appealing, let us introduce you to group tours of the Canadian Rockies.

 

The FML way is to bring people together for places and experiences they’ll never forget, and group tours is how we do that. Travelling with your besties or even strangers who will become close friends by the end of it is a great way to discover new places, make new friends and learn from seasoned tour guides who know everything you need to know about the Canadian Rockies.

Planning a trip to the Canadian Rockies?

If you’re planning on having a holiday in the Canadian Rockies, let’s get up close and personal with nature and make this vacay a window into your outdoorsy adventurer self. The Canadian Rockies are filled with adventures around every corner, and FML has an itinerary filled with them waiting for you to join. Our Canadian Rockies Explorer tour runs every summer and it is the perfect way to see a snippet into the Canadian Rockies in 8 days of fun. Visit our tour page to learn more.