The Rocky Mountains in Canada

Updated on Mar 07, 2024 | Canada eTA

The Rocky Mountains, or simply the Rockies, is a world-famous mountain range starting in Canada, at Liard River, which lies at the northern end of British Columbia, and stretching till the Rio Grande River in New Mexico in the southwestern part of the United States. They derive their name from a translation of what they were known as in one of the indigenous languages of Canada.

These mighty mountains form one of the biggest tourist attractions in Canada. With their craggy snow-capped peaks, wide valleys, hot springs, and homey inns, many of the Rockies' peaks and the ground that they span over have been turned into preserved areas as national and provisional parks, some of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Tourists can explore the Rockies Mountains by visiting these parks and participating in such activities and sports as hiking, camping, mountaineering, fishing, biking, skiing, snowboarding, etc. Here is a list of the five national parks in Canada which are situated in the Rocky Mountains and from where you can witness the scenic landscapes these mountains have to offer. Your Canadian vacation won’t be complete till you have visited at least one of these national parks nestled amongst the Rockies.

Jasper National Park

North of Banff is another national park in the province of Alberta in Canada. Jasper National Park is the largest national park that’s located in the Rocky Mountains, covering an area of eleven thousand square kilometres. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that consists of some other national parks in the Rockies in Canada.

Containing mountains, glaciers, icefields, springs, lakes, waterfalls, meadows, picturesque mountain drives etc., this park is full of scenic attractions. Some famous ones are Columbia Icefield, the largest icefield in all of the Rockies and famous all over the world; Jasper Skytram, an aerial tramway, the highest and longest in Canada; the Marmot Basin, where skiing is a popular and recreational activity; and other places such as Athabasca Falls, Mount Edith Cavell Mountain, Pyramid Lake and Pyramid Mountain, Maligne Lake, Medicine Lake, and Tonquin Valley. You can partake in many activities here, such as camping, hiking, fishing, wildlife watching, rafting, kayaking, etc.

Kootenay National Park

Another national park that’s part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kootenay is located in British Columbia. Apart from some thousand square kilometres of Canadian Rockies it also consists of some parts of other mountain ranges such as Kootenay and Park Ranges, as well as such rivers as the Kootenay River and Vermilion River. It has many tourist attractions, mainly Radium Hot Springs, which is known to have an inconsequential quantity of a radioactive substance, radon, which is the decay left of radium; Paint Pots, a cold water mineral spring which is said to be acidic, which deposits a type of clay called ochre from which pigments are made which are used for making paint; Sinclair Canyon; Marble Canyon; and Olive Lake. You can view all of these attractions or go hiking or camping on the many hiking trails and campgrounds in the park. You wouldn’t find such a unique tourist destination elsewhere, for where else would you find a hot spring, a cold spring, and icy rivers coexisting? Besides, the waterfalls, lakes, and canyons found here make for quite a scenic landscape.

Banff National Park

View of the Rockies from Banff National Park The Rocky Mountains - or simply the Rockies

Situated in the Rockies in Alberta, this is the oldest national park in Canada, established at the end of the nineteenth century. Spread over some six thousand square kilometres, what you will find in Banff ranges from glaciers and ice fields to coniferous forests, and a stunning mountainous landscape. With a subarctic climate that leads to long, extremely cold winters, and very short, cool or mild summers, Banff is a Canadian winter wonderland. It is also one of the top national parks in all of North America and one of the most visited ones. Other than the park itself, you can also explore the peaceful town of Banff that’s become a cultural centre of the place; the hamlet of Lake Louise, one of the most picturesque lakes of Canada, with the famous Chateau Lake Louise nearby; and Icefields Parkway, a road that connects Lake Louise to Jasper in Alberta and where you’ll pass by many other beautiful, pristine lakes of Canada.

Waterton Lakes National Park

The fourth-ever national park to be constructed in Canada, Waterton is located in Alberta, bordering a national park in Montana in the United States. It is named after an English Naturalist, Charles Waterton. Stretching from the Rockies to the Canadian Prairies, which are grasslands, plains, and lowlands in Canada, Waterton is a relatively smaller park, spanning only some five hundred square kilometres. Although it’s open all year the peak tourist season here is from July to August. Its picturesque landscape consists of lakes, waterfalls, streams, rocks, and mountains. It’s one of the deepest lakes found anywhere in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. It’s known for the diverse wildlife that’s found here and also for the gorgeous wildflowers that can be spotted all over. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as part of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Tourists would find many trails here for hiking as well as mountain biking.

Yoho National Park

Yoho National Park

A national park in the Rocky Mountains, Yoho is located in British Columbia at the Continental Divide of the Americas, which is a mountainous and hydrological divide in North America. Its name derives from the Canadian aboriginal language and means amazement or awe. Yoho's landscape made up of ice fields, some of the highest peaks of the Rockies, rivers, waterfalls, and fossil deposits certainly deserves this title. One of the waterfalls here, Takakkaw Falls, is the second tallest waterfall in all of Canada. Also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, it’s a must-visit place where you can do many things such as backpacking, hiking, camping, etc.

Top Tips To Explore The Canadian Rockies Safely

The Rockies in Canada are found mainly in the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. Since the Rockies are extremely alluring and adventure-packed, they have become one of the main driving forces of tourists in Canada over the years. If a voyager is planning to explore the Canadian Rocky Mountains in the above-mentioned national parks, then they are invited to read the following tips to explore the Canadian Rockies safely-

Pack a sufficient amount of layers

There is a famous saying that goes- ‘Less is more’. However, this saying cannot be applied when it comes to exploring the Canadian Rocky Mountains safely. When you are creating a plan for exploring the national parks in Canada with the Rocky Mountains, you are suggested to pack a sufficient number of layers as each layer counts in keeping you warm and comfortable in the chilly weather of the mountains.

Stay at a safe distance from bears

While exploring the Canadian national parks with the Rockies, hikers or visitors may come across bears. We agree that it is pretty fascinating to get a close shot of the bears that are not commonly found in other parts of the country. However, going close to the bears spotted in the wild is not a good idea. For the safety of life, we recommend all visitors keep a minimum of 100-metre distance from the bears.

Carry food and water at all times

Carrying an adequate amount of water and food is extremely essential while exploring the national parks in Canada. Since the weather and other conditions in the mountains cannot be correctly predicted every time, it is highly advisable to keep a good supply of basic survival items such as water, food, warm clothing, etc. During the activity of hiking, once the hiker enters the wild zone, they won't be able to find any water or food. In such situations, the supply of food and water that was packed earlier will be proven helpful.

Save money and plan a budget for the trip

It is always a smart move to create a budget for every trip. For a trip to Canada especially, making a budget in advance is a great way to ensure that the traveler can save money as exploring Canada can be a bit expensive at times. Saving money and creating a budget applies to the activity of exploring the Canadian Rockies as well. Before you start your trip to the Rocky Mountains in Canada, we suggest that you keep a budget in mind that will help you spend and save money accordingly. And also have a memorable time doing activities that you've always wanted to do!

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