This article was written by Wilderness Culture and edited by Orbitz.
The Canadian Rockies are home to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world with towering mountains, serene glacier lakes, an abundance of wildlife and some of the best hiking and skiing in the world. If you’re looking for your next big adventure, look no further. Whether you are winter skiing or summer hiking, these eight places in the Canadian Rockies are sure to leave you inspired and refreshed. Plus, each of these locations is easily accessible and all Canadian National Parks are free to visit in 2017 in honor of its 150 years of Canadian Confederation!
Vermillion Lakes: Banff National Park, Alberta
Seeing mountains in the Canadian Rockies may seem like a given, but this range is home to some of the most iconic mountain faces in the world. One of the most recognizable is Mt. Rundle with its sheer drop off into the town of Banff. Vermillion Lakes has one of the best views of this beautiful and dramatic mountain. Sit and enjoy a coffee or a hike with friends as you take in the epic views and quiet landscape. If you’re an early riser, this is a great place to catch a morning sunrise and see the near perfect reflection of Mt. Rundle on the lake. Plus, it’s incredibly easy to get too as it is only a few short miles from downtown Banff.
Lake Louise: Banff National Park, Alberta
Lake Louise is world famous for its unique bluish green hue fed from glacier run off and for its beautiful reflections. It is situated beside iconic Mt. Temple, a giant mountain which towers over Lake Louise at over 11,000 ft in elevation creating picturesque reflections. Every photo taken here is sure to look postcard worthy and the views are unforgettable. In addition to the beautiful lake, enjoy the historic Fairmount Hotel at Lake Louise with fine dining and delightful cafes.
Moraine Lake: Banff National Park, Alberta
Moraine Lake is a favorite destination for visitors to the Canadian Rockies. On a clear day, the lake reflects the surrounding mountains, perfectly creating an almost unreal scene. During the warmer months, canoe rentals are available. A short paddle and you can see all the corners of the lake close up. This offers great photo opportunities and a chance to see the lake from all angles. Not a canoe person? No problem. There is a beautiful walking path around the whole lake so you can still take in all the incredible views. For the best vantage point, take the short hike to the top of the Rockpile located adjacent to the Moraine Lake Lodge. There’s a short interpretive trail outlining some of the history of the environment and surrounding mountains. For lunch, stop by the quaint Snowshoe Café at the Lodge for a delicious sandwich or coffee outside on the terrace.
Two Jack Lake: Banff National Park, Alberta
Looking to catch a glimpse of some locals? Take a short drive from Banff to Two Jack Lake. Due to nearby cascade ponds and meadows, the lake is a great place to take in the view and possibly see some of the Canada’s local wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for a herd of mountain goats, elk or the occasional black bear. Put the zoom on your camera, and enjoy from a safe distance! No wildlife in sight? Stay and enjoy a new angle of Mt. Rundle. The iconic mountain creates a fantastic photo to show off to friends back home.
Athabasca Falls: Jasper National Park, Alberta
Waterfalls in the Canadian Rockies are a must see. Each is unique and hiking to them is usually fairly easy. But Athabasca Falls is truly special. The glacier run off gives it an unforgettable bluish-green hue. The easy hike to the falls takes you along the canyon offering multiple vantage points of rushing blue water below. The canyon itself is a treat to see with its smooth rock faces and dramatic cuts from millions of years of water erosion. The hikes finish with impressive falls cascading from the mountain above.
Peyto Lake: Banff National Park, Alberta
The shape of the Peyto Lake is what makes it a must see in the Canadian Rockies. It is almost perfectly shaped like a fox. You can see the distinctive shape from the bird’s eye view after a relatively short hike to the high vantage point.
Three Sisters Peaks: Canmore, Alberta
The Three Sisters Peaks are some of the most recognizable peaks in Banff National Park. Take a hike along the Bow River and enjoy the epic mountain peaks standing side by side. The Three Sisters gained their name after a snow storm in 1883 that left the peaks resembling a trio of Catholic nuns. On a calm morning, the Bow River casts a near perfect reflection of the three iconic peaks.
Castle Mountain: Banff National Park, Alberta
Almost every where you turn, there is a unique mountain shape and an incredible hike to enjoy the view. Castle Mountain is no exception. You can enjoy the view of the mountain and river below while hiking along the Bow River. Added bonus: You can enjoy this hike without even leaving Banff!