Vacationers and wilderness enthusiasts have been flocking to West Canada in recent years to explore the Canadian Rockies and, just looking at the photos, it’s easy to see why. Composed of vast valleys, expansive mountains, and colorful lakes, the Canadian Rockies is home to some of the most spectacular national parks and untouched wilderness in North America. If you’re planning an adventure to the snowy white north, you’ll want to head to these awesome national parks and attraction along the way!
Banff National Park
As Canada’s first National Park, Banff is well-known among travelers for its gorgeous lakes and impressive mountains. Receiving close to four billion visitors each year, Banff is the centerpiece of the Canadian Rockies. Your base of operations for most adventures will be the alpine town of Banff, just an hour from Calgary, which offers a thrilling gondola ride to the top of Mt. Robson, day trips to Lake Minnewanka, Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, and the soothing Banff Hot Springs. Whether you love hiking, skiing, photography, or water-sports, Banff National Park has something for you!
Whether you’re heading to the Rockies in summer or winter (hint: winter looks amazing!), Johnson Canyon has something for everyone. Formed from years of erosion by the Johnston Creek, the Canyon walls host a fascinating array of rock layers, waterfalls, and trails to wander down. Located in Banff National Park, Johnston is a favorite destination on a Canadian Rockies summer journey. But I’ll admit, I think this attraction shines best in winter when you can go ice walking.
Jasper National Park
With well over 2,500,000 acres of wilderness, Jasper National Park is the largest park in the Canadian Rockies. It is also regarded as having the most varied and thriving wildlife population of any Canadian national park. A bit less traveled than Banff, the park works to preserve the ecosystems of the unique species that live there and minimize human disturbances, which means for you this is a great destination if you’re looking to get lost in the peaceful backcountry. Any Rockies vacation package will include it, but if you want a few days to relax here you can take a 2-day trip from Vancouver.
And, if you’re going to explore Jasper, you can’t miss a trip to Athabasca Glacier (especially since its 6 km (3.7 mi) long). One of the “toes” of the Columbia Icefield, Athabasca offers visitors the unique experience of walking across the glacier’s surface. With the specially designed Ice Explorer bus, you can ride out over the glacier’s surface and get out for a stretch on this amazing natural wonder. If that’s not thrilling enough for you, at the nearby Columbia Discover Center you can step out onto the Glacier Skywalk, a glass walkway akin to the Grand Canyon Skywalk that lets you stand over a 918-foot drop and receive untouched views of the Canadian Rockies.
Yoho National Park
Yoho National Park is one of the most accessible of Canada’s parks, making it an easy escape for nature lovers. Relatively small, you can easily drive through the park and take in its lakes and mountains with a day trip from Banff or package it into an extended Canadian Rockies adventure. Hiking and photo opportunities are ample in this small slice of Canadian wilderness!
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