Some places possess a natural ability to soothe the soul. Their grandeur calms our minds—humbles us, even—and reminds us that our cares and worries are miniscule when dwarfed by broad-shouldered mountains and pointy peaks piercing the sky.
Canada’s Rockies, stretching north from Montana into an untamed wilderness, provide the perfect escape from the hectic pace of the modern world. Amidst 2,500 square miles of splendor cloaked in spruce and pine and overlaid with a patchwork of sloping glaciers that feed turquoise lakes, serenity is yours. If, that is, you don’t mind sharing it with elk, moose, lynxes, bears, and a huge array of wildlife.
We’ve identified some of its most magnificent regions for you and strung them together on our Alberta & British Columbia: Banff, Yoho & the Canadian Rockies Walking Adventure.
Rugged mountains rising up to 11,000 feet … glacier-cut valleys strewn with wildflowers … shimmering lakes mirroring back their magnificent surroundings. They all characterize the stunning Ghost River Wilderness Area. Its namesake waterway slices through a rocky wilderness that’s home to Bighorn sheep, wild horses, deer, moose, and bears. This is one of the most invigorating corners of Canada, spanning almost 60 square miles.
With its dramatic setting among snow-capped peaks and steep sloping hills, Lake Minnewanka is a stunning study in blues, whites, and greens, particularly on a sunny day. The lakeside walking path here is easy, pleasant, and awe-inspiring, skirting the glassy surface of the water and weaving past soaring stands of spruce and fir and distant rugged peaks.
This thunderous cascade of water plummets 100 feet to continue its journey along the Kicking Horse River. There’s no forgetting your encounter with such a spectacle of nature, particularly because the falls are the largest in Yoho National Park by water volume. The trail in is relatively flat, tracing an old roadbed before narrowing into a mossy, mist-fed forest alder, birch, western red cedar, and poplar. Linger awhile admiring the cataract from a fenced overlook, or hike down about 1,300 feet for a closer look.
Hemlock Grove Interpretive Trail
When you want to learn more about the flora that dominates the area, head for an interpretive trail like the one that winds through the primeval old-growth forest of Hemlock Grove. It’s a short stroll along an elevated boardwalk and up and down stairways, with stops where you can read up on all the surrounds you. Along the way, be sure to take the time to gaze up at the towering hemlocks and cedars and breathe in the sweet-scented air.
Great Glacier Trail
This scenic trail leads to spectacular views of the Illecillewaet Glacier, the largest of the 131 named glaciers in Glacier National Park. You’ll follow a rail trail at first—once part of the Canadian Pacific Railroad—while tracing the Illecillewaet River, whose name translates into “swift water” in the Okanagan First Nations language. After passing the ruins of Glacier House, once a 90-room luxury hotel, you walk through a forest of Dwarf Dogwood, Leatherleaf Saxifrage, and Lewis Monkeyflower, enjoying views of the glacier and surrounding peaks as your reward.
Need a break from hiking? Indulge in a peaceful kayak or canoe row amidst the tranquil beauty of the Columbia Wetlands. These are the largest intact wetlands in North America, nestled between the Rocky and Purcell mountain ranges. This stunning ecosystem is a magnet for wildlife, including the second largest concentration of great blue herons in western Canada; more than 300 pairs have been recently identified. Some 15,000 migrating waterfowl join them each spring and autumn while moose, wolves, cougars, and grizzly bears prowl the shore.
One of the shortest walks in the Rockies is also one of the most scenic and soothing. Tokumm Creek meets the Vermillion River converge in this narrow slit canyon. Just watch your step, because it’s easy to become mesmerized by the soundtrack of the many minor waterfalls that course their way through. You’ll find lots of opportunities to pause along the way and lose yourself in the rush of the water.
Find your bliss among a vast pristine wilderness during our Alberta & British Columbia: Banff, Yoho & the Canadian Rockies Walking Adventure.