Visit Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper – and you’ll be smitten with Rocky Mountain fever.
It’s the ache you feel upon beholding glaciers that cling like angel’s wings to mountains so lofty, they disappear into the clouds. It’s the longing that overtakes you after seeing untamed evergreen forests, waterfalls that cascade down vertical cliffs and lakes that glitter an astonishing aquamarine.
The only cure is to return, and visit once again this world-renowned region in Canada’s Rocky Mountains.
Bonus: Visit for free!
Yes, you can visit Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper for free in 2017. To celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary this year, Parks Canada is offering free admission to all national parks. Canada rocks, right?
Cool factoid: So many people are interested that demand for the free passes crashed the Parks Canada website when the offer was first announced in December, 2016.
(By the way, the 20 photos you see here aren’t ours. These are much more stunning.)
Photos of Banff and Lake Louise
Banff and Lake Louise are found in Banff National Park. Spanning 2,564 square miles of wilderness, the park boasts 1,000 miles of hiking trails – more than any other mountain park in the world.
We like hiking along the steel catwalks up Johnston Canyon – it’s exhilarating to feel the spray above the thundering waterfalls! Soaking in natural hot springs and golfing are also popular. And the wildlife? We’ve seen black bears, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, brilliant blue jays and cheeky chipmunks that grab bits of your sandwich and run.
In winter, you can shuss down world-class slopes at Lake Louise Ski Resort, Mt. Norquay and Sunshine Village.
Photos of Jasper
Jasper National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is twice as big as Banff. But its postage-stamp size town, Jasper, is quainter and you’ll bump into fewer visitors here.
Perhaps splurge on the Jasper Park Lodge. Along with the Chateau Lake Louise and Banff Springs Hotel, it’s one of the “wow” places to stay. Or you can rent a rustic cabin like we did once for a summer family holiday in Jasper.
Connecting the two parks is the 144-mile Icefields Parkway, which stretches between Lake Louise and Jasper. Watch out for the elk! Be sure to stop at the Columbia Icefield, North America’s largest sub-polar body of ice feeding eight major glaciers. You can ride in a big red “ice explorer” on Athabasca Glacier, then walk along the glass-floored Glacier Skywalk suspended a jaw-dropping 918 feet above glacier-formed valleys.
Talk about a Rocky Mountain high!
See our magazine story on visiting Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise
In honor of Canada’s 150th birthday this year, we were asked by Cruise & Travel Lifestyles magazine to write about an iconic Canadian destination that’s so beautiful it gives goosebumps. We used to live in Calgary, just over an hour’s drive from Banff, and we’ve hiked, explored and reveled in the magnificence of Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise many times – so the Canadian Rockies immediately sprung to mind! Click on the image below to see our magazine story.