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Canadian Rockies

  • 520Audio Points
  • LocationAlberta, CAN
  • Suggested TimeAllow 2+ Days

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What to Expect

Our most comprehensive guide for exploring the Canadian Rockies.  This one app includes all 4 of our individual tours for Banff Townsite & SurroundsLake Louise & YohoIcefields Parkway and Jasper National Park, as well as bonus content.  It will transition seamlessly between each area and there is no need to download tours separately.

If arriving through Calgary, we also recommend downloading the free Calgary to Banff tour app.

See the descriptions for each of the suggested tour sections below:
Banff
Lake Louise, Moraine & Yoho
Icefields Parkway
Jasper

Visit all to the “not be missed” sites and viewpoints, man-made and natural, in and around the Town of Banff.

We suggest starting this loop drive at the the Bow River Bridge.  Catch a glimpse of the iconic “Castle in Rockies“, the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, before continuing onto the cascading Bow Falls

Other attractions that you can explore at your leisure, also located on the south side of the bridge, include the Banff GondolaHot Springs and Cave & Basin sites. 

We’ll follow Tunnel Mountain Road to capture amazing views from Surprise Corner, and visit hoodoo formulations with views across the sheer drop of Rundle Mountain. 

The lakes just on the outskirts of Banff, Johnson and Lake Minnewanka offer great places for short hikes and boat tours.  You’ll complete the loop by climbing Mt Norquay. 

The Vermillion Lakes thermal spots contribute to birdlife, elk and deer watching and when the waters are calm you can capture a classic sunset reflection photo.

It’s a great introduction to the National Park and a must-do orientation for any first time visitor to Banff.

Allow at least 3 hours to drive this loop, adding more time to stop and explore the many attractions along the way.

Iconic scenery in the Canadian Rockies; towering mountains, surreal coloured lakes and breathtaking waterfalls.

Lake Louise has 2 incredibly scenic and famous lakes: Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. And the indigenous Cree people were so impressed by the region that they used the term ‘yoho” roughly translating to ‘awe’.  Not to be missed attractions in Yoho National Park include the Spiral TunnelsEmerald Lake and Takakkaw Falls, the largest and mightiest falls in the National Parks.

This is a stunningly beautiful area and also has some of the best grizzly gear habitat, so always keep a watchful eye to spot bears.

The reduced speed Bow Valley Parkway drive between Banff and Lake Louise also offers wildlife spotting opportunities and is the location of one of Banff’s favourite easy hikes at Johnston Canyon.

One of the world’s most spectacular drives, the praise is well deserved.  Hundreds of glaciers, amazing wildlife watching, towering mountains peaks.  The highlights are well known and marked, but we’ll share some stories about the mountaineering explorers along the way to keep you entertained.

Pull into Bow Lake and don’t miss out on venturing inside Jimmy Simpsons’ historic Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, once the largest log cabin of it’s kind in the world.  Peyto Lake will will have you rubbing your eyes in disbelief with it’s surreal turquoise blue waters created by glacial silt.

As we drive pass sheer cliffs of Cirrus Mountain with it’s Weeping Wall seeping ‘tears’, but to truly appreciate the size of this range, the viewpoint after the climb at Big Bend will have you amazed.

If you’ve packed a lunch, there are many picnic areas along the route to enjoy a break and soak in the views.  Our favourite is the short, but steep hike at Parker’s Ridge for dramatic views of the Saskatchewan Glacier.

The highlight for many is the Columbia Icefield with ‘tundra buggy’ style tours available up onto Athabasca Glacier where you can sip the glacial waters. If you’re the more adventurous type you can also prebook icewalk tours.

The two powerful waterfalls along the route, Sunwapta Falls & Athabasca Falls give you an idea of water contributes to slowly shaping the Rockies.

Expect a long, but exciting day of sightseeing, allow 10-14 hours.

There is a least a full day of sightseeing to be enjoyed using the town of Jasper as your base.  Closer to town, Patricia and Pyramid Lakes will impress, you may see big horn sheep at Old Fort Point and catch the Tramway to the top of Whistlers Mountain for amazing views. Driving further from the town takes us to Maligne Canyon and Maligne Lake where the cruise departs for the iconic photo of Spirit Island.

Watch for wildlife as you drive to Mitte Hot Springs for a relaxing soak.

Listen to the Tour Intro

Highlights

BANFF
LAKE LOUISE
ICEFIELDS PARKWAY
JASPER
  • Bow Falls
  • Lake Minnewanka
  • Cave & Basin*
  • Vermilion Lakes
  • Surprise Corner
  • Hoodoos
  • Banff Gondola*
  • Hot Springs*
  • Bow Valley Parkway
  • Castle Mountain
  • Emerald Lake
  • Johnston Canyon
  • Lake Louise
  • Moraine Lake
  • Spiral Train Tunnels
  • Takakkaw Falls
  • Yoho National Park
  • Athabasca Falls
  • Big Bend
  • Bow Lake
  • Columbia Icefields Centre
  • Crowfoot Glacier
  • Parker Ridge
  • Sunwapta Falls
  • Stutfield Glacier
  • Weeping Wall
  • Jasper SkyTram*
  • Maligne Canyon
  • Maligne Lake
  • Miette Hotsprings
  • Mt Edith Cavell
  • Old Fort Point
  • Pyramid & Patricia Lakes

Map

Suggested Start Location

National Park Entrances: Banff, Yoho, and East and West Jasper.

Suggested Time

Our recommended minimum time would be to have 3 days, one for each of the suggested tours in Banff, Lake Louise & Yoho and the Icefields Parkway. Add more days if including Jasper in your itinerary.  Ideally a week is a comfortable amount of time to truly explore the Canadian Rockies without having to rush through sections.  

Driving Distances

Banff – Lake Louise & Moraine Lake (57km, 35 miles)

Lake Louise – Yoho & Emerald Lake (39km, 24 miles)

Banff – Icefield Centre (185km, 114 miles)

Banff – Jasper (288km, 178 miles)

Canmore – Banff (24km, 14 miles)

FAQ

WHAT ARE THE CANADIAN ROCKIES KNOWN FOR?

Located in Alberta and British Columbia, the Canadian Rockies are renowned for their scenic splendor with high mountain peaks, turquoise glacial lakes, scenic viewpoints, spectacular drives and rejuvenating hikes.

WHAT IS THE BEST MONTH TO VISIT THE CANADIAN ROCKIES?

For seeing the spectacular summer scenery such as turquoise glacier lakes, hiking and warmer weather, many would say the best time to visit the Canadian Rockies is from late June to mid September. The shoulder seasons of spring and fall have fewer crowds, and winter is a popular time for skiers.

HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU NEED IN THE CANADIAN ROCKIES?

Ideally a week is a comfortable amount of time to truly explore the Canadian Rockies without having to rush, as there’s so much to see and do. The minimum time to visit Banff, Lake Louise, Yoho and the Icefields Parkway is three days, plus more time if you’re also intending to visit Jasper.

WHICH NATIONAL PARKS ARE LOCATED IN THE CANADIAN ROCKIES?

The Canadian Rockies comprises of four national parks: Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Yoho National Park and Kootenay National Park, as well as three provincial parks.

CAN YOU DRIVE THROUGH THE CANADIAN ROCKIES?

A Canadian Rockies road trip is one of the most scenic drives in the world. The main towns and attractions are generally accessible by well-maintained roads, but as with all mountain driving it’s important to plan ahead for road closures and conditions.