Visiting the Canadian Rockies is on the many peoples` “bucket list”! We have created a list of 4 important factors to consider when planning a trip to the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
A trip to the Rocky Mountains will be amazing regardless of when you visit, but the season will have an impact on your plans. During the Spring (April – May), frozen lakes begin to thaw. It is very likely that you will see snow and experience colder temperatures, and it tends to be less crowded. It is common to spot animals emerging from their winter hibernation. Summer (June – August) is a very popular time to visit the Canadian Rockies – for good reason! The weather is warmer, days are longer, and animal sightings are frequent. In the Fall (September – October), leaves change colour, the region is less crowded, and animals sightings are common. Winter (November – March) is breathtaking, as blankets of snow cover the mountains and towns, and winter sports are extremely popular. However, animal sightings are rare, and many attractions/sites close for the winter. One season is not necessarily better, but make sure to plan your trip according to what you want to see and experience so you don’t miss out!
Accommodation styles range from camping to hostels to bed & breakfasts to hotels to resorts. Since they differ dramatically in terms of appearance, quality, and price, consider your choices carefully. Location matters – Canada is bigger than it looks! Jasper, Banff, and Lake Louise are the 3 main towns in the Canadian Rockies, and while neighboring towns (such as Canmore or Valemont) are lovely, they are also typically at least a 1 hour commute from the main towns (where the majority of attractions and sites are located) and transportation can be difficult. Book in advance! Accommodation in the Rockies can sell out extremely quickly (it is not uncommon for rooms to be sold out 6 + months in advance) – especially if you are travelling in the summer!
Transportation will be a very important component of your trip to the Rockies. For transportation to/from the Rockies, you can choose to travel by train, tour bus, or drive. Once in the Rockies, transportation becomes a bit tricky. A tour is always a possibility (either 1 day or multi-day). There is no public transportation in the Rockies (although 2 companies offer town-to-town transfers but you cannot get off mid-point to explore). This means that if a tour does not interest you, you will likely need to rent a car to explore to Rockies.
There are so many incredible sights to see in the Rockies and activities to enjoy. These activities vary from wandering through town to hiking to relaxing in a spa to river rafting…and everything in between! The Canadian Rockies provide incredible opportunities to explore nature by visiting sites such as Athabasca Falls or Johnston Canyon, or hiking one of many trails. There are also activities for those desiring a relaxing getaway, like the Upper Hot Springs. For those who want an adventure, there are countless options available, including: river rafting, horseback riding, zip lining, kayaking, mountain climbing, etc. I strongly suggest booking activities in advance. The Rockies can get quite busy, and the last thing you want during your trip is disappointment because an activity is sold out, or endless lines as you wait for your turn.
*Photos courtesy of Travel Alberta (Yamnuska), Tourism Jasper (Parks Canada/Rogier Gruys), Rocky Mountaineer and Mountain Park Lodges.