There are few places as picturesque as Alberta’s Rockies. Tourists from around the world visit the area to take in the towering mountain and sparkling lake views, while they also enjoy a host of year-round outdoor activities. It comes as no surprise that Alberta’s Rockies, with their sheer natural beauty, regularly rank as a top destination to visit in Canada.
Located in the southwestern region of the province bordering British Columbia, the area includes Banff, Canmore, and Jasper. The region also has several national parks that together comprise a UNESCO heritage world site. From Calgary, it’s only about an hour-and-a-half drive west to the Rockies. From Vancouver, the drive lasts nine hours, giving you time to enjoy the panoramic sights.
If you’re leaving from Calgary, head west on the Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy 1), and take your first stop in the town of Canmore. Drop by Rocky Mountain Bagel Co for a breakfast bagel and a freshly brewed cup of “Fearless Climber” coffee. If you’re feeling truly adventurous, consider hiking the Mount Lady Macdonald trail (named after the wife of Canada’s first Prime Minister) to witness some spectacular views.
After Canmore, head farther west for about 30 minutes to arrive in beautiful Banff. Known as the “Castle in the Rockies”, the Fairmont Banff Springs is the ultimate place for rest and relaxation—you can unwind in the mineral pool at the Willow Stream Spa. For dinner, choose from one of the many restaurants the hotel has to offer, with Canadian, Italian, Alpine, and Japanese cuisines.
Saturday’s activity options in Banff are endless. In the summer, hop onto the Banff Gondola to enjoy scenic views of the area. For the ultimate elevated experience, try a helicopter tour. Another popular summer activity is canoeing on the emerald waters of Lake Louise. For more fun outdoor ideas, you can go mountain biking, hiking, or whitewater rafting.
In the winter, there are plenty of opportunities for skiing and snowboarding. Choose from three mountain resorts in the area: Mt. Norquay, The Lake Louise Ski Resort, or Sunshine Village.
In the afternoon, get back on the road and head farther northwest. About a three-hour drive away from Lake Louise is stunning Jasper. Check into the Alpine Village Cabin Resort and immerse yourself in its surrounding natural beauty. Don’t be surprised if a few elk wander by outside your cabin.
In the evening, visit Jasper Brewing Co and try one of their signature beers brewed on-site. The secret ingredient? Pure, natural mountain water sourced right from the Canadian Rockies.
Spend a leisurely Sunday morning on the trails near Alpine Village Cabin Resort, or enjoy a round of golf at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge Golf Club. Then satisfy the appetite you’ve built up by exploring Jasper’s culinary scene. Lou Lou’s egg dishes are offered until 2 p.m., but if you’re ready for lunch, visit Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria for some hand-tossed, crispy thin-crust pizza.
In the afternoon, get back on Hwy 1 for about a five-hour drive back east to Calgary. After you’ve recharged from the fresh alpine air, you’ll be ready to conquer the week ahead!
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Photos: Vinay A Bavdekar / Shutterstock.com, Travel Alberta/Anthony Redpath, Lauren Orr / Shutterstock.com, Travel Alberta, Banff Lake Louise Tourism/Paul Zizka, Pierre Leclerc / Shutterstock.com, Courtesy of Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria