By now, you know I have a real soft spot for Canada! It’s one of my favourite countries to visit with the most incredible cities like; Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary (to name a few). That being said, the real draw for me is the great outdoors, especially with all the best places in the Canadian Rocky Mountains to visit.
Stretching between the gorgeous places in Alberta and British Columbia, the Canadian Rocky Mountains is one of the most dramatic and iconic places in western Canada that you can’t miss. It’s totally gorgeous and home to world-famous lakes, frozen waterfalls and the most beautiful scenic spots. It’s totally timeless and completely gorgeous.
We’ve explored the Canadian Rocky Mountains quite a few times now – and, on each visit, we always find somewhere we haven’t been. This is the first lesson in exploring the mountains here, I think it’d take you years (if not decades) to see all there is to experience. So, don’t expect to ‘complete’ or see everything in just one trip; it just isn’t possible.
That being said, you can easily make a dent in some of the most iconic and dazzling spots to get a real taster of what the Canadian Rockies is all about.
So, to save you a little time (and to maximise your trip), I wanted to share the gems we totally loved. Some are within easy reach of Banff or day trips from cities like Calgary; whilst others will require a little planning. Whatever the case, I’m sure I can whet your appetite with a handful of spots you’ll love.
Take a look, below, at the best places in the Canadian Rocky Mountains to visit. Have an amazing time in Canada.
1.) Icefields Parkway, Alberta
One of the best places in the Canadian Rocky Mountains to drive, you’ll be able to stop off at spots like; Boundary Lake, the incredible Columbia Icefield Skywalk and even spot the Stutfield Glacier that’s totally huge!
Plus, if you fancy a moderate hike, join the Parker Ridge Trail that has some epic views. Just be sure to take some layers, it does get chilly at the top!
Now, we’ve driven this route quite a few times and although it’s totally stunning it can be closed without warning, especially in the colder months (due to avalanches). We’ve been caught out a few times by this and it’s a pretty big detour (a good 4-5 hours extra) if you’re planning on driving between Jasper and Banff.
2.) Yoho National Park, British Columbia
Yoho National Park has some bonny views across the Canadian Rockies and is easily one of British Columbia’s most iconic parks.
Once here, you can head around to explore; the Natural Bridge, Hamilton Falls, Takakkaw Falls, Spiral Tunnel, Upper Spiral Tunnel Viewpoint, and The Village of Field. You’ll be spoilt for choice, especially with the Emerald Lake and Lake O’Hara, too.
What I would say is that you’ll need a fair amount of days to truly explore Yoho National Park. So, make sure you book yourself into some lodgings so you’re not too pressed for time.
Oh, and don’t forget you can easily pop over to Wapta Falls, too!
3.) Banff National Park, Alberta
Being Canada’s oldest national park, Banff is one of the more famous and well-known spots to see in the Candian Rockies. Set around the town of Banff itself, the national park is a huge region that includes some of the prettiest spots in Alberta.
Once here, you can explore; Lake Minnewanka, head on the trails around Mount Norquay and ski the slopes at Sunshine Village.
Oh, and if you’re hankering for a treat, book a stay at the Fairmont Lake Louise – we loved it and the views were incredible around the lake. Just don’t fall down as much as I did when ice-skating across the lake – those bruises hurt!
4.) Peyto Lake, Alberta
Another spot in Banff National Park, Peyto Lake is named after Bill Peyto, a pioneering mountain guide that once worked in Banff.
Now, Peyto Lake is totally gorgeous, especially with the blue-green colour that’s caused by the glacier waters that are high in minerals.
One thing to note, car parking can be limited here – especially on busier weekends. If you want to avoid the majority of visitors, head across a first thing in the morning when it’s much quieter.
5.) Wells Gray, British Columbia
We couldn’t resist a stop at Wells Gray Provincial Park whilst road tripping between Vancouver to Calgary – and what a great call it was!
We spent a whole day here, though you can spend much longer, and explore some of the parks most iconic spots.
Once you arrive, be sure to spot Helmcken Falls that’s totally incredible in winter or summer. Plus, take some time to visit Spahats Creek Falls or go whitewater rafting (with Interior Whitewater Expeditions) on the North Thompson River.
We loved it.
6.) Johnston Canyon, Alberta
Just off the Trans-Canadian Highway, Johnston Canyon is a relatively easy hike that’s great if you’re not the most confident of hikers (but still want great views).
Taking you through with scenic wooded canyon, with trails for hiking, it’s one of the best places in the Canadian Rocky Mountains to visit in any season.
Though do wear crampons if you’re heading on the trails in winter (like we did), the route is icy.
Along the way, you’ll get to see Lower Canyon Falls and Upper Canyon Falls which is a must-see! Taking about 2.5-hours (there and back) it’s something we did in the morning before heading back to Calgary.
7.) Moraine Lake, Alberta
Close to the border with British Columbia, Moraine Lake is an eye-catching lake that has some incredible hiking trails around the shore.
For the best views, head to the Rockpiles area where you’ll get to see all across the glacial-fed waters!
8.) Athabasca Falls, Alberta
Nestled within Jasper National Park, Athabasca Falls is one of the best places in the Canadian Rocky Mountains to explore that’s around 25 minutes south of Jasper town.
Really easy to visit, once here you can explore some of the trails and follow the routes over the falls that are totally stunning when the water is high.
9.) Canmore, Alberta
We spent quite a bit of time in and around Canmore on our last trip to the Canadian Rockies and totally loved it. Although not within a National Park itself, the region is stunning and there’s so much to see.
After arriving, be sure to trek Grotto Canyon that’s beautiful in the winter months.
Just make sure to get some crampons as you’ll be hiking over the frozen river at times! Keep your eyes peeled for the historic pictographs painted by First Nations people on the walls of the canyon.
If that’s not your thing, head over to the Wolfdog sanctuary that cares for wolfdogs that can’t be released into the wild. we stopped by for a few hours and totally loved learning more about wolfdogs and how they came about.
For a place to stay, drive to Kananaskis and check into the Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge. It was totally lovely and they also have a Nordic-style outdoor spa, too!
It was incredible and such a great view.
10.) Maligne Lake and Canyon, Alberta
Nestled within Jasper, Maligne Canyon and Maligne Lake are some of the more popular places in Jasper National Park to see.
On a clear day, you’ll get to see the incredible rocky peaks and spot the glaciers that feed the lake itself. In the summer months, you can rent a canoe and paddle the lake’s waters; it’s totally beautiful and serene.
Also, if you’re visiting in the winter, head to Maligne Canyon and hike through the frozen trail to the waterfall.
It’s totally stunning and really easy to book with a guide in Jasper.
11.) Takakkaw Falls, British Columbia
As mentioned within Yoho National Park, Takakkaw Falls is a spot you really can’t miss. You see, at over 370+ metres in height, it’s the second tallest waterfall in all of Canada!
Fancy a longer hike? Head on the Iceline Trail that heads way beyond Laughing Falls and is beautiful and unspoilt.
12.) Lake Louise, Alberta
Probably Alberta’s most famous lake, Lake Louise is a gem to see at any time of the year.
Briefly touched upon earlier, We’ve visited Lake Louise in summer and winter and it’s totally beautiful and well worth a gander whilst exploring the wider Canadian Rockies.
In the summer, you’ll get to head out on the lake in a canoe and hike the trails overlooking the Rockies themselves.
During the winters the turquoise waters freeze and you can head right onto Lake Louise to go ice skating!