Alberta’s stunning Rocky Mountains are one of the biggest attractions in the province. Protected by Banff and Jasper National Parks, the Canadian Rockies run along the border of British Columbia and Alberta through a landscape of glaciers, snow-capped mountain peaks, hot springs, and turquoise lakes.
Outdoor adventure is the name of the game in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The menu of activities is extensive; you can take a bus tour along the Icefields Parkway to tour the Columbia Icefield, go whitewater rafting on the Fraser River, embark on a guided hike through the alpine wilderness of Banff National Park, walk above the Athabasca Glacier on the glass-floored Glacier Skywalk, or sit back and enjoy the twists and turns of the roads from the seat of a sidecar.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Rocky Mountains are a must-visit for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers.
- Wear comfortable hiking shoes suitable for traversing uneven surfaces.
- Dress in layers; the weather in the Rockies can be unpredictable.
- Cellphone reception outside of towns can be unreliable.
- Rocky Mountains tours typically include pickup and drop-off in Banff or Jasper.
How to Get There
The commercial airport closest to the Canadian Rockies is Edmonton International Airport, about four hours from Jasper. The easiest way to explore the region is by renting a car and driving, but you can also opt for day tours from Banff or Jasper.
When to Get There
While the Canadian Rockies are a four-season destination, winters are long and chilly (perfect for winter adventures), with snow covering the ground well into April and even May. Late June to mid September is the best season for hiking, and crowds begin to thin out in September and October. Expect crowds during the Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival (January) and the Calgary Stampede (July).
Visiting Canadian National Parks
Like their U.S. counterparts, national parks in Canada require an entrance fee paid at the park gate or visitor center. If you’re planning to visit multiple parks in the Rockies, like Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Waterton Lakes National Park, Kootenay National Park, or Yoho National Park, consider a Parks Canada Discovery Pass, an annual pass that gets you into any of Canada’s national parks, marine conservation areas, and historic sites.