Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

True north: Canada's stunning Rockies

Experience the wilderness bounded by Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay national parks.

Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park.
Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park.

The Canadian Rockies have everything nature lovers could ever ask for: soaring mountain vistas, gorgeous alpine lakes, majestic glaciers and one of the best wildlife-spotting areas on the North American continent. And for those of us living in the western U.S., they're closer than the East Coast or most Midwest destinations.

This area is protected by four adjacent national parks, two on the eastern slopes in Alberta and two on the western side in British Columbia. Together, Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay capture the diversity of this region – from barren high-altitude plains dominated by glaciers to the wet, lush rainforest of the western slopes.

Banff National Park

Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest and most visited national park, with the southern entrance only an hour’s drive from Calgary. The only major city with services in the park is the city of Banff on the southern end, making it a good base for exploring.

Elk near the Bow Valley Parkway.

Heading north out of Banff is the Bow Valley Parkway, known as the single best place to spot wildlife in the Canadian Rockies. Elk and black bear are frequently spotted along with the occasional grizzly bear.

On the north end of the parkway are two glacier-fed lakes, Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Lake Louise gets the well-deserved headlines and also the crowds. For a more peaceful visit, check out Moraine Lake.

Banff's Moraine Lake.

Heading north out of Lake Louise towards Jasper National Park is the Icefields Parkway, the single best place for glacier viewing in North America.

Kootenay National Park

Marble Canyon entrance at Kootenay National Park.

Kootenay National Park sits on the western side of the mountains opposite Banff National Park. Its major draw is the Radium Hot Springs, so named for its slightly radioactive hot springs. No need to be concerned – the levels of radioactivity are well below any concern for human health.

Any visitor to Kootenay should not miss the magnificent Marble Canyon, an incredibly narrow and deep canyon created by the crystal blue waters from nearby glacier melt-off.

Yoho National Park

Yoho National Park is a little west of Banff National Park’s Lake Louise area, and, like Kootenay National Park, it sits on the Pacific side of the Continental Divide. Its main attractions are within an hour's drive from the Lake Louise area.

You access Yoho from Banff National Park by heading west on the Trans-Canadian highway. On a side road 15 kilometers from the main highway you'll find Takakkaw Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in Canada. A little ways down the Trans-Canadian is the access road for Emerald Lake. This lake, as scenic as any of the Banff lakes sans the crowds, has a resort, restaurant and boat rentals. One of the best ways to get a view of the lake is the six-kilometer trail around the lake.

Jasper National Park

Jasper is the largest and most remote of the Canadian Rockies national parks. It’s therefore a prime destination if you want to experience some truly remote backcountry areas and see Rockies wildlife like mountain goats and Dall sheep.

Hiking Jasper's Columbia Icefields.

Just within the southern boundary of the park is the star attraction of Jasper, the Columbia Icefield. The largest glacier in Canada, the Columbia Icefield is one of the few glaciers south of Alaska that you can hike up and on to. Guided tours are available with special vehicles that take you across the glacier.

Bottom Line

A short plane ride away is one of the most fantastic wildernesses in North America. You'd need to traverse the entire length of the U.S. Rockies to see the variety of mountains, wildlife and glaciers that exist here.

For those on the hunt for outdoor adventure, consider our neighbor to the north for an unforgettable experience.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies, uncovered

Nudity does more to advance an actress’s career than it does the plot
Next Article

Tahona Bar takes it to the street

Perks include cemetery view dining, and cocktails out of a VW bus
Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park.
Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park.

The Canadian Rockies have everything nature lovers could ever ask for: soaring mountain vistas, gorgeous alpine lakes, majestic glaciers and one of the best wildlife-spotting areas on the North American continent. And for those of us living in the western U.S., they're closer than the East Coast or most Midwest destinations.

This area is protected by four adjacent national parks, two on the eastern slopes in Alberta and two on the western side in British Columbia. Together, Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay capture the diversity of this region – from barren high-altitude plains dominated by glaciers to the wet, lush rainforest of the western slopes.

Banff National Park

Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest and most visited national park, with the southern entrance only an hour’s drive from Calgary. The only major city with services in the park is the city of Banff on the southern end, making it a good base for exploring.

Elk near the Bow Valley Parkway.

Heading north out of Banff is the Bow Valley Parkway, known as the single best place to spot wildlife in the Canadian Rockies. Elk and black bear are frequently spotted along with the occasional grizzly bear.

On the north end of the parkway are two glacier-fed lakes, Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Lake Louise gets the well-deserved headlines and also the crowds. For a more peaceful visit, check out Moraine Lake.

Banff's Moraine Lake.

Heading north out of Lake Louise towards Jasper National Park is the Icefields Parkway, the single best place for glacier viewing in North America.

Kootenay National Park

Marble Canyon entrance at Kootenay National Park.

Kootenay National Park sits on the western side of the mountains opposite Banff National Park. Its major draw is the Radium Hot Springs, so named for its slightly radioactive hot springs. No need to be concerned – the levels of radioactivity are well below any concern for human health.

Any visitor to Kootenay should not miss the magnificent Marble Canyon, an incredibly narrow and deep canyon created by the crystal blue waters from nearby glacier melt-off.

Yoho National Park

Yoho National Park is a little west of Banff National Park’s Lake Louise area, and, like Kootenay National Park, it sits on the Pacific side of the Continental Divide. Its main attractions are within an hour's drive from the Lake Louise area.

You access Yoho from Banff National Park by heading west on the Trans-Canadian highway. On a side road 15 kilometers from the main highway you'll find Takakkaw Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in Canada. A little ways down the Trans-Canadian is the access road for Emerald Lake. This lake, as scenic as any of the Banff lakes sans the crowds, has a resort, restaurant and boat rentals. One of the best ways to get a view of the lake is the six-kilometer trail around the lake.

Jasper National Park

Jasper is the largest and most remote of the Canadian Rockies national parks. It’s therefore a prime destination if you want to experience some truly remote backcountry areas and see Rockies wildlife like mountain goats and Dall sheep.

Hiking Jasper's Columbia Icefields.

Just within the southern boundary of the park is the star attraction of Jasper, the Columbia Icefield. The largest glacier in Canada, the Columbia Icefield is one of the few glaciers south of Alaska that you can hike up and on to. Guided tours are available with special vehicles that take you across the glacier.

Bottom Line

A short plane ride away is one of the most fantastic wildernesses in North America. You'd need to traverse the entire length of the U.S. Rockies to see the variety of mountains, wildlife and glaciers that exist here.

For those on the hunt for outdoor adventure, consider our neighbor to the north for an unforgettable experience.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Ocean Beach trash altruist

Cameron Reid covers Niagara and Narragansett, Sunset Cliffs to Abbott.
Next Article

Angry Pete's Pizza brings Detroit to Kensington

Thick crust and caramelized cheese will make you forget about round pies
Comments
2

Thanks for the memories Jim. I remember visiting this are with my parents in 1967. It was an incredible place even for a 12 year old. I still have the large dish pan that I used to sled down one of the ice fields. I'm sure it was the Columbia Ice Field based on your picture. I always wondered if I would ever know where it was and be able to find it again. I need to make plans to return there with my family.

Sept. 16, 2013

Yes, the area really looks that good! The best way to access the Rockies is via Calgary. There's good air service in and out of there, and plenty of rental cars. You can get around just as well--maybe better--than in the US, and with a car you can visit spots off the highway and stay and soak up the scenery for as long as you like. Don't miss Jasper--it has elk right in and around town, docile enough that you can walk up next to them, although trying to do things like pet them isn't a good idea.

For many years now, travel writers have touted Rocky Mountaineer Rail Tours as the way to see the Rockies. If you really want to see the sights, don't fall for that. The train misses most of the lakes, such as Lake Louise, and moves along too fast to see some of the best vistas. As it is, if you really want to do that train, ride it west from Vancouver to Jasper, not to Banff or Calgary, and then stay in Jasper to really see something. Oh, the rail tour is an expensive proposition.

Sept. 17, 2013

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close