The most beautiful landscapes of the Rocky Mountains in Canada are the lakes in the heart of the mountains. There are plenty of activities to do when visiting the national parks. You can take the chairlifts or the skylifts that take you to the top of the mountains to have a panoramic view of the mountain, or you can make boat trips on the Lakes.
These activities are quite expensive: between 30 and 40 Canadian dollars per person. It is very good and convenient if you have the budget or if you accompany young children, elderly persons or persons with reduced mobility, as these activities are accessible to everyone, safe and well supervised. Otherwise I advise you to rather go by car near the Lakes and then take free hikes in the nearby areas, short walks or longer, depending on the time you have available.
When is the best time to go? Prepare your trip in advance
The ideal time to visit the Canadian Rockies by car, is in the summer. Attention, here summer lasts two months: July and August. Indeed, you may still have snow in June and early September. So remember to book your accommodation and your rental car in advance. You can also visit the Rockies in winter, see the completely frozen lakes, it is also beautiful from the pictures I’ve seen and you can also ski. But here I speak of the Rocky Mountains in the summer, I visited them in August with my friend Sarah for a week.
Get your equipment in order
You will not just be sitting in your car. You need pants, jackets and boots capable to withstand harsh weather and walking on ice. On the glaciers for instance, the winds can go up to 30 miles per hour, with sudden dark cloud blankets and snowfalls. A good place to get these is Cabela’s or Amazon. You’ll also need a light backpack. A good selection of daypacks is Rangermade’s.
Jasper National Park
Jasper is a small friendly town in the Province of Alberta where the”Canadian” train line passes through. It is a good point of departure for visiting the national park, its beautiful lakes and canyons. It is classified in the world heritage of Unesco since 1984 and with more than 10 000 square kms, it is the largest national park in the Canada. There are many hiking trails around the lakes and along the canyons. It is also the national park where you have the greatest chance to observe wild animals. There are some kinds of animals along the railway near the city center. Unfortunately or fortunately, I didn’t ever find myself face to face with a bear!
Lakes to see less than half an hour drive from Jasper: Lake Annette, Lake Edith, Lake Beauvert, Patricia Lake and Lake Pyramid. The Pyramid Lake has a small island in the middle where weddings are celebrated. We arrived there right in the middle of a wedding ceremony. My favorite was Lake Beauvert, it was really worth the time.
Maligne Lake and Canyon
A little further away, about an hour’s drive from Jasper, we found Maligne Lake. On the road from Jasper, don’t miss hiking a bit at Maligne canyon. And along the way you can stop to see the Medicine Lake from the car. On Maligne Lake, you can also take a boat trip or walk along the Lake to take advantage of different points of view.
Icefields Parkway is one of the most beautiful road trips in the world, it is also called the Glacier Parkway (Highway 93). It is a scenic road in the Canadian Rocky Mountains connecting Jasper and Banff National parks. Wonderful views throughout the 230-kilometre journey! Spare at least one day to take it, because there are beautiful views on the road and great lakes and glaciers to see.
Athabasca Falls and Canyon
Athabasca falls are 30 kms south of Jasper on the road to Banff.
The Athabasca glacier is part of the Columbia Icefield, it is one of the largest icefields in the world. There are several ways to visit the glacier: Glacier Adventure is a truck with huge tires that can take you on the glacier to walk on. You can also do a walk with cleats on the glacier, without a doubt, the best way to experience the glacier and see closely how it is like, its particular relief, its crevices. Of course we went with a guide who knew the terrain.
More info on the tours: http://www.brewster.ca/rocky-mountains/activities/
The Gondola (chairlift) for overview on Lake Louise
You can take the Lake Louise gondola for an overview of the landscape and the lake surrounded by mountains.
Lake Louise with the Fairmont hotel
One of the most photographed lakes in the world, with the stunning Fairmont hotel at the end, several hiking trails around and adorable squirrels.
Hotel in Lake Louise: Lake Louise Inn
Banff National Park
A walk near the Centre of Banff follows the Bow River to Bow falls. Here in summer Otto Preminger shot the film with Marylin Monroe: The River of No Return.
Cruise on Lake Minnewanka
The Banff Lake Cruise is a cruise on the beautiful Lake Minnewanka.
The Banff Gondola is a gondola which takes you at the top of Sulphur Mountain for a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. You can also continue to mount to the top for a complete view.
Several hiking trails are also there.
Several lakes are to be seen in Banff national park: the most impressive is probably the Moraine Lake, absolutely beautiful. I advise you to walk along the Lake and mount on the mound in front to have a view overlooking the Lake.