Here are the ultimate highlights to visit on your Canadian Rockies adventure.
Pale morning mist hovers over the Canadian Rockies, wreathing the mountain chain’s frigid lakes and frosted peaks in a haze of fog. The soaring pinnacles frame the turquoise water, a hallmark of the picturesque Banff National Park. Explore these ultimate Canadian Rockies highlights to make the most of your trip to Alberta.
Banff National Park
Sunlit summits dwarf emerald evergreens on the shore of Banff’s Moraine Lake, a hidden gem whose aquamarine surface reflects the puffy white clouds floating serenely overhead. Banff, a pristine paradise tucked in southwestern Alberta, is home to groves of leafy pine trees and an endless array of snowcapped mountains rising high above the horizon. Banff’s unrivaled beauty and wealth of natural wonders, including over 1,000 glaciers, earned it the honor of becoming Canada’s first national park as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Thousands of tourists trek to Banff’s rugged, untouched wilderness every summer to go whitewater rafting down churning rapids, row through glistening lakes in kayaks and canoes and fish for trout. If you would rather admire gleaming water from afar, head underground on a cave tour where you will trek through rocky caverns to reach a deep blue pool. For a truly serene lakeside view, saddle up and take a leisurely horseback ride along Lake Louise’s grassy shore.
In winter, campers brave freezing cold temperatures and head out onto Lake Trout to go ice fishing. If you prefer to stay on land, join the hundreds of visitors maneuvering classic dogsleds through the forest or dash through the snow on a horse-drawn sleigh. Another option is to rev up your snowmobile and thunder through the white powder which blankets Banff’s steep slopes.
Sunlight illuminates the robin’s-egg blue hue of Lake Louise, one of the most striking attractions in Banff National Park. White powder dusts skyscraping peaks which soar above the tree lined slopes framing the sparkling water. In summer, rent an e-bike and ride along the lakeshore before sampling Atlantic salmon and fresh fennel or a plate of roasted squash and sage at Lake Louise’s Whitehorn Bistro.
There are a variety of ways to enjoy the snow-covered Lake Louise. Once the sparkling lake freezes over, it becomes the perfect place for tourists to go ice skating in the shadow of towering mountains. Families with young children make the most of the season by careening down icy hills in bright blue and pastel pink inner tubes. Meanwhile, skiers take cross-country treks along snowy paths and snowshoers descend on the Tunnel Mountain Winter Trails at night to make their way through eight kilometers (4.97 miles) of moonlit snowpack. Whichever category of visitor you fall into, make the most of all that Lake Louise offers in the cold winter months.
Continue your Canadian Rockies adventure at Fairmont Chateau, a four-diamond luxury resort on the shore of Lake Louise where you can experience classic comfort in the heart of Banff’s rugged majesty. After 45 minutes of high intensity interval training in one of the hotel’s on site fitness classes, unwind in the warm waters of the Fairmont Spa. In the evening, feast on buttered lobster fettuccine with a side of cauliflower at the chateau’s Fairview Bar and Restaurant.
During your stay, take a 5.5 km (3.42 mi) uphill hike from Lake Louise to the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House, an elegant two-story building which has graced the Canadian Rockies since 1927. The historic restaurant offers sandwiches, soup and cake as well as drinks like tea, hot chocolate and water. Chefs whip up delicious homemade bread and chili for customers to enjoy, an especially remarkable feat considering that there is no electricity at the tea house. Since the tea house charges an additional $4 for credit card transactions, consider bringing cash to pay for your meal.
Bask in the beauty of the Canadian Rockies when you visit these ultimate highlights.