Wanderlust: The Canadian Rockies

Jonathon Lynam

Located in the Canadian province of Alberta, The Rockies provide a nice backdrop to the adventures you will have in the province famous for its stunning turquoise glacier-fed lakes and abundance of wildlife. 

When visiting the Rockies you can either include it as a part of a wider trip across western Canada while also visiting Whistler and Vancouver. Alternatively, you can fly into Calgary, which is just a two-hour drive from Banff, either way, you will have plenty to do when you arrive.

The best time of the year to visit the Rockies is mid-June to mid-September any earlier and you may find some of the hiking trails to be closed. To make the most of your time in Canada its best if you avoid coaches and travel around on your own accord that way you can avoid having the views ruined by crowds and can take your time soaking up the breath-taking views.

Banff National Park established in 1885 is Canada’s oldest national park and is located approximately 110 km west of Calgary and is the home of many Glacier fed lakes and ice fields. 

Out of all the beautiful glacier lakes to be found in Banff National Park three that are a must-visit are Lake Louise, Moraine Lake and Peyto Lake.

Lake Louise is considered by many to be the crown jewel of the national park. Renting a canoe from the boathouse is a great way to dislodge yourselves from the tourists that crowd the lakeside and is a great way to experience this stunning location, once you don’t go overboard into the icy waters.

If you decide to visit the lake in the winter months and are lucky enough that the roads aren’t closed make sure to bring some ice skates to skate out onto the ice with.

Approximately 14 kilometres down the road is Moraine Lake another stunning azure blue lake, Moraine Lake. The area around the lake has many trails with the shoreline trail one of the most popular and suitable for all skill levels at a length of 1.8 miles. 

For the best view I would recommend climbing up the rockpile at the base of the lake which can be done by using the steps on the far side of the rockpile or crossing the over the floating logs in the water. The climb is definitely worth it and you’ll be more than likely joined by squirrels and chipmunks on your trek up.

The final lake and one I think is a must-see purely for its unique wolf head like shape is Peyto Lake. The amazing valley view which you see above is found at the end of a short 10 min walk from the car park and is found along the Icefields Parkway.

If you are looking for something a little different you can book a trip to explore the Columbia Icefields. The trip costs €120 and although it is tw0 and a half hours north of Banff or one hour from Peyto lake or 90 minutes from Lake Louise it is definitely worth the trip. 

When you arrive at the Discovery Centre you will be put on an “Ice Explorer” which can only be described as a bus with really big wheels which will bring you out on to the Athabasca glacier. Upon arriving on the glacier, you will be given twenty minutes to walk around the glacier, fill up your bottle with glacier water, or take photos.

After your visit to the glacier, you are brought to the Skywalk. A platform that hangs off a cliff edge and where glass is all that separates you from a 918-foot drop into the Sunwapta Valley while giant glaciers perch above you it is truly a unique adventure.

Tired of all the walking? Need a rest day? Head to Banff where you will find the Banff upper hot springs. The hot springs are the perfect way to relax. At 1,585 meters of elevation, the Hot Springs in Banff are the highest in Canada. The water is heated geothermally bubbling up to the surface from three kilometres into the earth’s crust through the Sulphur Mountain Thrust fault.

The town of Banff was designed as a tourist town so much so that the towns and as such has plenty of other things to offer including  plenty of shops where you can find genuine Canadian goods, galleries where you can browse original Canadian artwork, 

You can also take a gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain and enjoy dinner or lunch form the observation deck found near the peak of the mountain.

There is so much more that the Canadian Rockies has to offer but to really make the most out of it you have put on some waterproof clothes and some good walking shoes and get out there and explore it yourself, at your own pace and find the many gems hidden within its hills.

Jonathon Lynam

Image Credit: Jonathon Lynam