The Canadian Rockies attract a lot of tourist attention with over 3 million people visiting per year… for good reason! It is one of the most beautiful locations in the world and there is something for everyone to enjoy. I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Rockies and was blown away by the beauty we encountered. With so much to see, deciding on a route can be super tough. After a lot of research and Google Mapping, we settled on our path through the Rockies and I reckon it was a bit of alright! There are soooo many ways to plan your trip, but here’s a little food for thought…
We started our Rockies adventure from Whistler so headed North toward Kamloops. There is a lot to see on this stretch alone; Joffre Lakes, Seton Lake, etc. The scenery will blow you away!
Next we made our way up to Well’s Grey Provincial Park which is approx 60km off the highway via a gravel road. It was so beautiful and quiet with excellent camping facilities and has a wide range of hikes available. Helmcken Falls is a must see if you venture out that far.
Our next stop was in Valemount so that we could prepare ourselves for the Berg Lake Trail in Mount RobsonProvincial Park. Whether you’re planning on doing this hike or not, Valemount is a beautiful little town to visit with a wide range of activities and events available throughout the year.
Continuing our road trip, we next visited Jasper. On the way there you will cross over into Alberta and also enter Jasper National Park. At this point it is necessary to purchase a Parks Canada Discovery Pass or appropriate day passes if you haven’t already done so. You may know Jasper for its hikes, mountain biking, lakes and nearby hotsprings, but after visiting, you will remember it for its laundromat. Yep. In the main street there is the most wonderful laundromat with the best coffee. For some reason we just had to keep going back for something we forgot to wash. Weird. You’ll believe me when you see it. Another place worth visiting (more than once) is Jasper Brewing Company. You deserve it!
From Jasper, Maligne Lake is an easy drive with lots of amazing scenery on the way. We had planned to do some hiking at Maligne, however there had been some snow overnight and not as much melt as we thought. Playing soccer by the lakeside and having snowball fights was not a bad option.
Jasper is the gateway to the Icefields Parkway: 232km of mind blowing scenery. You can easily do this in one day if you are time poor, however it is definitely worth taking your time and exploring everything you can. There are so many places to visit along this road. Our highlights were:
- Athabasca Falls
- Honeymoon Lake
- Waterfowl Lakes
- Mosquito Creek
- Bow Summit
- Peyto Lake
If you stop at these locations, you will only be scratching the surface of the beauty this area has to offer. There is so much to do! We had quite poor weather during our Icefields Parkway drive, so did less hiking than planned, but the scenery was still stunning. We camped for two nights at Mosquito Creek which was beautiful and quiet. Firewood was provided, the toilets were very clean, and the camp sites were quite private. Be aware that you may miss out on a campsite if you arrive too late in the day. This is also bear country! A grizzly had been sighted the few days previous to our arrival, so be very careful to secure all your food and garbage.
From there we made our way to Lake Louise. We had three nights here which was great to dry everything out after our wet camping experience, but we definitely could have spent less time here. The ‘township’ is much smaller than we expected and has very limited eateries and groceries available. That’s not to say we didn’t love our Lake Louise experience! Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are absolutely stunning. With their beauty brings a lot of crowds! Our tips would be to start early! Moraine is so beautiful at sunrise… it is definitely worth a look – even in the freezing cold! This will also put you in the perfect position to access some hiking trails before the crowds arrive.
There are so many hikes available for all sorts of fitness levels, but our favourite was the Plain of Six Glaciers and up to the Teahouse. This hike takes you up behind Lake Louise and provides the most spectacular views. It’s a fairly consistent uphill hike to reach the Teahouse so a couple of scones went down a treat. If you’re planning on going up to either Teahouse, make sure you have cash!! There is no phone service up there and everything is packed in and out – no choppers! You can still pay by card but there is a fee attached. Just take cash.
From Lake Louise we continued down to Banff. Johnston Canyon is on the way, but it was extremely busy. When you see Banff, you will understand why staying here and driving up to Lake Louise may be the better option in terms of town size. Banff has everything you can think of adventure wise… white water rafting, hiking, gondola rides, rock climbing… the list goes on! We accidentally found the Cave and Basin Historic Site which is very interesting! You can use your Discovery Park’s Pass to get in for free.
Again, due to our arrival slightly early in the season, a lot of the hikes in the area were not yet open due to avalanche and rockslide risk. However, we were able to venture down to Kananaskis Country and do the Rawson Lake to Sarrail Ridge hike. WOW. This was by far my favourite adventure of the trip and is well worth the drive out there. The hike to Rawson Lake is quite tame, but as soon as you walk around the lake toward the ridge you are faced with what appears to be a vertical wall. It was tough! But, the views at the top are absolutely spectacular.
We stayed the night in Canmore after our hike and I would highly recommend it! Canmore is approx 15km from Banff but soooo much more chilled out. We all agreed that we could live there forever. There are some great eateries and their markets are amazing too.
From Canmore, it was an easy drive to the Yamnuska Wolf Dog Sanctuary. This was an amazing experience. We had a guided tour and were able to enter one of the enclosures with the wolf dogs behind a smaller fence. There is also a tour available that allows you to enter an enclosure and have no fence between you and the wolf dogs, but this tour books out fairly quickly so be sure to reserve your tickets here. Whether you book a tour or not, the staff at the sanctuary are extremely knowledgable and it is amazing to see the refuge they are providing these wolf dogs.
Our trip from here involved us driving back home via Golden and Kamloops. All up we spent just over three weeks on the road and had a brilliant time. Hopefully this can give you some ideas on your Rocky Mountain adventure!
If you want to see how much fun we had on this trip, feel free to check out my video of it for more details!