13 Chilling Ways to Spend Halloween in the Canadian Rockies
Halloween is just around the corner! While this day is usually celebrated with frights, ghosts and goblins, the pandemic has put a damper the event this year. But Halloween still has a lot going for it: It’s on a Saturday, it’s going to be a full moon and it’s a great excuse to wear a mask! To honour the spirit of this scary evening, we’ve rounded up 13 ways to celebrate Halloween in the Canadian Rockies.
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Give yourself over to absolute pleasure and watch the Rocky Horror Picture Show at BLAKE Canmore! There will be prizes for the best dressed and BLAKE will have food and drink specials for the night. Admission is free, but space is limited. Email email@example.com to reserve your space! Friday, Oct 30. Doors at 9:30, show starts at 10:00.
Halloween Ghost Town Hike
Join a certified guide from Kananaskis Outfitters for a 5km hike along a trail that used to lead to the Kovach Mine. Follow the trail used by horses to cart coal out of the mine. Walk back in the light of the full moon for an extra scary evening! This hike has 250m elevation gain and is suitable for humans 8 years and older. Halloween treats will be provided. Costumes are encouraged! Book your tickets here.
The Haunting of Harmon House
Join The Radiant and Brilliance Cabaret Banff for a haunting evening like no other! Enjoy spirits, a show and more. Each $50 ticket includes two witch’s brews, a live performance and a haunted house tour. Doors at 9:30, show at 10:00. Reservations required. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your space.
Halloween Day Program
Join the Jasper Museum and Friends of Jasper National Park for two days of Halloween fun! Total of 8 spots available. Enjoy the history of Halloween, a hike (weather-permitting), soap making, broomstick lacrosse, edible potion making, squash carving, and myths, monsters and mysteries! Ages 6-12. $10/day. Register here.
Trick-or-Treat Scavenger Hunt
Join the Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge for a ghoulishly fun scavenger hunt adventure! This family-friendly adventure will tour the grounds of Kananaskis Village throughout Halloween weekend. Pick up your clues from the Front Desk, Concierge or Family Activities team.
Trunk or Treat
Worried about trick-or-treating? Why not try trunk-or-treating! Hosted in the parking lot beside the Malcolm Hotel, this event allows for covid-friendly trick-or-treating for the little ones. Cars will be decorated in Halloween flair and treats will be pre-packaged and sterilized for ultimate safety. Enjoy music, Halloween treats, a concession and carved pumpkin contest. Noon-3pm.
Walk with Ghosts
What better way to spend Halloween than with a Ghost Walk in Banff? Book your ghost walk through Discover Banff Tours during the week of Halloween to get your scares, frights and scary stories! All walks are led by experienced actors who will bring these historical ghost stories of the mountains to life! Walks are 1.5 hrs long, wheelchair friendly and well-behaved pets are welcome!
Show us Your Mask!
Fancy, scary, or just plain safe, show off your mask at Banff Ave Brewing Co. The best mask will win a $200 gift card. Winner is announced at midnight. Enjoy a pint of craft beer or stay for the special feature: $12 Witches Brew Martini. For event information, click here.
Join the Elk & Oarsman for a Halloween costume party! Awards will be given for most creative, scariest, funniest and best duo/group costumes. This is an all-day event, from noon to close. Come anytime of the day or night to participate. Winners will be announced at 9:00pm. There will also be Halloween drink specials all day! For more information, email email@example.com.
Haunted Halloween Weekend
Boundary Ranch has some eerie adventures for Halloween weekend! Try a wicked witch’s wagon ride, a marshmallow roast with hot chocolate, trick-or-treat candy hunt and so much more! Prizes will be given for best costumes! These events are open for families of all ages. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Scary Stories – Online!
Jasper Community Habitat for the Arts and Arts Jasper are hosting a night of stories, songs and murder ballads. Join voices from Newfoundland, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Ottawa for a night of scary entertainment. This is an online event! Look for the video link to arrive, here.
Curb your Chocolate Craving
Since there will be fewer trick-or-treaters this year, why not indulge in hand-crafted chocolates from Le Chocolatier in Canmore? Try some of the many different Halloween items available, from bags of assorted goodies to chocolate bats, scarecrows and ghosts! Since there will be less kiddos around, this means you’ll get to enjoy these gourmet treats yourself.
Skating at The Fenlands in Banff!
Family Halloween at The Fenlands starts for children 0-6 years old. Small cohort groups will be led through fun spooky storytime, echoes of the forest outdoor play, and fun arts and crafts. This FREE event is funded by the Banff Canmore Community Foundation. Pre-register, here. Event runs from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm. In the evening, from 4:00 to 5:00, The Fenlands is hosting free, family friendly public skating. Costumes are encouraged! Pre-register at 403-762-1251 or by clicking here.
Banff Pride Week
This week, Banff will be the most colourful place in Canada as the leaves are changing and rainbow flags are flying high!
From October 4-11 love and equality will be celebrated harder than ever as Pride Week festivities take over the iconic and picturesque town of Banff, AB... And as always, everyone’s invited!
For visitors looking to visit Banff and planning a stay at Fairmont's Banff Springs or the Rimrock Resort Hotel, you will not only be immersed in luxurious rest and relaxation, you’ll also be close to most of the action!
Throughout the jam packed week dozens of small events and COVID-compliant gatherings will be taking place. There will be a Comedy/Open mic/Improv & Trivia Night, a Roller Disco, Royal-Tea Story Time, and an interactive screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show at Lux Cinema. In addition, Banff Ave Brewing Co will be tapping a limited edition cask beer for the occasion!
And then there’s the weekend!
Early Saturday afternoon Fairmont Banff Springs' newly renovated Vermillion Room will host its 2nd annual a-la-carte Drag Brunch served with multiple sides of sassy queens and talented performances.
Late Saturday afternoon someone may be surprised with love as they enter one of Banff’s newest venues - the Radiant - which will be transformed into a pop-up wedding venue!
Here some people may propose while others renew their vows... And for those ready to tie the knot, a drag queen will be at the helm to do the deed! Like all good weddings the party will continue throughout the night.
But you’re not going to want to stay out too late, because on Sunday morning Banff will wrap up its colourful and energetic Pride Week with one last Waffle and Mimosa Drag Brunch at the Radiant.
With so many events happening throughout the week and weekend you’ll want to gather your best Judy’s now and start to plan out your Banff 2020 Pride Week celebrations!
For a full list of Banff Prides events, visit BanffPride.ca
Public Art in Canmore
With the leaves sporting their full fall colours and the warm sunshine still making the afternoons pleasant, it’s the perfect time to walk around and view the public art in Canmore!
Canmore embraces its creative side with public displays of art and stunning murals. Since 2003, the town has commissioned public artwork from Canadian artists, many of whom live in the valley or nearby. The collection currently has 10 official works, with the latest piece installed and unveiled last month. In addition, the Bow Valley Mural Project dedicated resources to decorate the towns and villages in the Bow Valley for Canada’s 150th birthday. This artwork shows how the beauty of the community extends beyond the surrounding mountainscapes. Here are some of our favourites:
This big head statue by Alan Henderson on Main Street harkens back to the Scottish history of Canmore and the story of naming the town for King Malcolm III of Scotland. This head is a popular photo opportunity for visitors and is often dressed to celebrate the seasons!
As part of the Canada 150 celebrations, the Bow Valley Mural Project commissioned five murals throughout the towns and villages in the valley. They were designed to celebrate the diverse peoples of the community and bring people together through shared creativity. The murals were designed with the knowledge of local Indigenous Elders and the imagination of the community’s youth. The beautiful swan on the back of artsPlace shows the migration of the magnificent birds during the fall.
This latest installment to Canmore’s public artwork is by Canmore’s own Tony Bloom. The piece embodies the geological formation of the mountains by representing the transformations that occur deep under the ground when the earth’s structure changes and various elements are caught up in the process. It is located on Fairholme Drive at the Spur Line Trail.
This tall statue by Peter Powning sits outside Elevation Place. Beautiful from near and far, the statue is an impressive pillar with intricate details. The statue is made from Rundle Rock, bronze and stainless steel. It brings together Canmore's history, its people and its natural surroundings. It includes artefacts from Canmore's mining days, and there is a book commemorating the artefacts and the people who donated them.
This piece by Lucie Bause near the Trans Canada underpass is composed of Rundle Rock, which is found only in the Canadian Rockies. The material was donated from the Kamenka Quarry, a family business near Harvie Heights. The spiraling shape of the portal represents the tiny ammonite fossils, which are often present in Rundle Rock, which shares the same shape as the larger galaxy. Let the portal transport you to new places!
Take a walk through town and discover the beautiful public artwork in Canmore. For a full list of public artwork from the Town of Canmore, click here. For other secret wonders you’ll find along the way, take a walk and let your imagination be your guide!
Open Top Touring in Banff
If you’re looking for a new and exciting way to experience Banff and the Canadian Rockies, look no further than Pursuit’s new Open Top Touring busses. These busses are large, luxurious and custom built to provide the best views of the grandeur of the mountains. You’ve never seen the Rockies like this before!
A new way to experience the beauty of the Rockies.
The busses harken back to the automobiles of the1930’s. The original automobile tour was conceived by the Brewster brothers who were looking for a new and exciting way to show visitors – many of whom arrived by train – around the spectacular scenery of Banff. Pursuit still has one of the original Brewster vehicles, named Old White, and the 1938 restored vehicle makes an appearance for parades and special events.
The Open Top busses mimic Old White in design and purpose, but they are custom built to meet today’s standards of safety. Each bus is impeccable, from the stylish grille to the leather and suede interior. Much like the original busses, Pursuit’s Open Top busses have a removable roof, for the maximum effect on warm summer days! Feel the breeze in your hair and get a full view of the mountains through large windows and nothing but the sky above you.
The busses are custom built to reflect the style of the 1930's with today's safety and comfort standards.
To complete the experience, skilled guides dress in era-inspired clothing, and they pepper their stories with words and expressions of the time. They play jazz and electro-swing, furthering the immersion into the experience. The stories range from early First Nations naming traditions to stories about some of Banff’s early characters, including Bill Peyto and Norman Luxton. They have great stories about local wildlife and the various attractions around town. "It was a time when stories were told and legends were made," says Pursuit's VP of Operations, Stuart Back, "We decided to recreate that period."
The busses take a scenic tour of Banff, exploring the best sights including the Bow River, Tunnel Mountain, the Banff Centre, Mt Norquay and more. They stop for photographs at the best lookouts, and there are opportunities to stand up (when the bus is stopped, of course!) to take in the scenery through the open top.
You can stand (when the bus is stopped!) to take in the iconic scenery.
These tours are available throughout the fall, as a sneak peek into what’s available next spring and summer. With the crisp mornings but warm sunshine, and all the beautiful fall colours, this is the perfect time to try an open top touring experience with Pursuit!
Insider tip: Try an evening tour to take advantage of the warm sunlight but still get those amazing golden hour photographs. Finish your tour with a spectacular dinner at Pursuit’s newest restaurant, Farm & Fire!
Drawn to the West
The Canadian Rockies have long captured the hearts and imaginations of everyone who’s visited. The vast and wild spaces have especially spoken to the hearts of artists. In order to get artists inspired by the Rockies, they first had to get here. The latest exhibit from the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies explores the history of art in the mountains and tells the stories of how artists from across Canada and around the world are continually Drawn to the West.
The First Nations had a long and deep connection to the mountains for their beauty and their sacredness. Europeans got their first real glimpse when building the Canadian Pacific Railway, which was driven by the desire to connect Eastern Canada with British Columbia. The expensive and cumbersome project went way over budget and left the company with massive debts. Sir William Cornelius Van Horne, the president of CPR, famously came up with the idea to bring tourists to Banff and the surrounding areas in order to generate revenue for the railway. In what would become a successful marketing strategy, he brought painters to the mountains to “find the true face of Canada” and promote the Rockies as a travel destination.
Watercolour of the Fraser River at Yale, BC by Charles Jones Way, c. 1900.
Throughout the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, wave after wave of artists visited Banff to capture the mountain scenery. The result is a wide and varied collection of artwork that spans oil painting, drawings, watercolours and more, all celebrating the beauty of the area. The marketing strategy worked, and the CPR hotels – now known as the Fairmont Banff Springs and Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise – were full of tourists who couldn’t get enough of the Canadian Rockies.
The Whyte Museum has artwork from these early artists on display in their Drawn to the West exhibit, as well as more contemporary interpretations of the area and everything in between. There is a collection of four mysterious paintings from renowned Canadian painter Tom Thomson as well as popular work from the Group of Seven and works from the museum’s founders, Peter Whyte and Catharine Robb Whyte. The exhibit also covers the beginnings of the Banff School of Fine Art, and the painters that school produced.
Four mysterious paintings of mountains in Banff and Canmore by Tom Thomson.
The collection of contemporary artwork shows how styles have changed over the years, but it also demonstrates how one thing stays the same: the vast and imposing landscapes of the Canadian Rockies still have a hold of the imaginations of everyone who sees them. The progression through time in the artwork of the mountains allows the viewer to truly experience the evolution of the landscape in the public imagination, while still remaining awestruck by the beauty and imposing size of the peaks.
A collection of paintings from Whyte Museum founder Catharine Robb Whyte.
From perfect paddles to roaring rapids, the Canadian Rockies have it all for the perfect day on the water.
Wake up your wild side with an adrenaline-soaked white-water adventure, journey across turquoise lakes to explore faraway shores, or serenely drift along a peaceful river and take in the views. Whatever your preference, getting out on the water allows you to experience the mountains in a totally unique way. Ready to unleash your sense of adventure?
There’s nothing better than paddling across the calm, crystal-clear waters of the iconic lakes in the Canadian Rockies, whilst being surrounded by spectacular forests, incredible wildlife and rugged mountains. Canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards (SUP) are a fantastic way to explore nature. Don’t worry if you don’t have your own canoe, kayak or board, there are plenty of places where you can rent equipment.
The Banff Canoe Club is located just five minutes from downtown Banff and has everything you need for a peaceful trip on the Bow River or nearby Vermillion Lakes. Every rental begins with useful tips and directions from the staff at the docks. You can also rent equipment from the boathouse at Lake Minnewanka, and paddle across the famous Lake of Spirits. Minnewanka is the only lake in Banff National Park where power boats are permitted. Rent boats at the dock or learn more about the area with a guided tour on Pursuit’s Lake Minnewanka Cruise. In town, rent boats or book a tour on the Bow River with Banff Adventures. If you have your own vessel, try Two Jack Lake or Johnson Lake. To buy your own gear, visit Atmosphere in Banff or Canadian Tire in Canmore.
Photo by Travel Alberta / Katie Goldie @goldiehawn_
Canoe rentals at Pyramid Lake. Photo by Travel Alberta / Andrew Penner
If you’re travelling through BC, visit Golden Canoe Rentals and explore the Columbia River, the wilder Kicking Horse River, the Columbia Wetlands or one of the many lakes in the area. Book canoe and SUP tours with Golden Paddle Adventures and enjoy a backcountry paddle through the Columbia Valley. To rent a SUP to go on your own adventure, visit Higher Ground Sports. Equipment is also available from Emerald Lake Lodge, for an extremely calm paddle across the glass-like surface of Emerald Lake.
Mild to Wild
Take an unforgettable journey through towering canyons, cascading rapids and glacial white-water to kick start your day. The Rocky Mountain rivers are natural playgrounds. If you are looking for excitement while immersing yourself in nature this summer, white-water rafting is the perfect day on the water for you. You can book exhilarating trips anywhere in the Canadian Rockies, ranging from gentle, scenic floats to adrenaline-pumping rapids.
Whether you’re a white-water veteran or an unseasoned newbie, Banff is home to a number of rivers that offer a mix of family-friendly waves and roaring rapids. regardless of your level of experience, the outfitters in the area can cater to the type of ride you want. Rocky Mountain Raft Tours offers scenic, guided one-hour tours that start below Bow Falls. Chinook Rafting has led rafting trips for over 30 years. Choose a novice-level trip on the Kananaskis River, exciting thrills in Horseshoe Canyon, or a full day of soaking waves on the nearby Kicking Horse River.
Photo provided by Hydra River Guides
In Canmore and Kananaskis, choose between a number of friendly rafting companies such as Canmore Raft Tours, Canmore River Adventures or Kananaskis Whitewater Rafting. For something totally different, try Kananaskis riverboarding, an experience only offered at Canadian Rockies Rafting.
In Jasper you’ll be spoiled for choice, as you can choose between the Sunwapta, Fraser or Athabasca rivers. Take the plunge and experience the breathtaking scenery that just cannot be accessed on foot. Enjoy towering cliffs of limestone on the Athabasca River or the exciting and turbulent waters of Sunwapta with Jasper Rafting Adventures or Jasper’s Whitewater Rafting. Join Maligne Rafting Adventures to launch from the shadow of Mt Robson on the class 3+ Fraser River, with thrilling rapids and swirling eddies, guaranteed to drench everyone in the boat. Explore a route used by fur traders centuries ago with Jasper Raft Tours or get a SkyTram package deal with Rocky Mountain River Guides.
Golden, BC is home to the Kicking Horse River, a haven for white-water rafting and a premier destination for anyone into white-water sports. Hydra River Guides have adventures for everyone, from age 5 to 85. Pick from a serene 1-hour float, or mighty class 4 rapids. Wild Water Adventures, located 40 minutes west of Lake Louise, has been operating for 29 years. They cater to everyone from “reluctant rafters” looking for a gentle trip, to adrenaline junkies seeking the rush of big rapids. For a unique experience, try white-water paddle-boarding at Wapta Falls, the most photographed waterfall in the Rockies with the guides from Golden River Adventures.
Whitewater rafting not thrilling enough? Try adding a helicopter! Photo provided by Glacier Raft Company
If regular paddling just isn’t enough to quench your thirst for adventure, try adding a helicopter into the mix. Heli-adventures take you to hidden valleys, incredible gorges and remote, seldom-explored scenery. Join Alpine Raft Company or Glacier Raft Company on an intense journey to the famous Lower Canyon of Kicking Horse River, known for its 4km stretch of class 4 white-water.
With towering pillars of rock, rugged mountain peaks and lush forests complimenting the serene turquoise lakes and rushing, untamed rivers, the Canadian Rockies provide unparalleled water sport experiences. Whether you’re looking for a tranquil trip or an exhilarating thrill ride, the Canadian Rockies are the place to find your perfect day on the water.
Smartwool Banff’s Goods for the Greater Good Campaign: Great Socks, Great Cause
On March 24, 2018, Smartwool opened its first standalone branded Canadian Store on Banff Avenue. Smartwool is known for its amazing Merino wool outdoor apparel. Soft and comfortable in all weather conditions, it has gained widespread acclaim. When you combine these amazing products with the airy outdoor feel of the Banff store, you have a shopping experience like no other.
The store features a stone path that circles the space with a merchandise island in the middle. Items are tastefully displayed in an uncluttered environment. “The idea of the store design was to bring the outdoors indoors. The open space, high ceilings and artistic mountain decor gives shoppers a taste of the mountain lifestyle,” says store owner Dave MacDowell. “And, although we certainly didn’t anticipate the current situation, it is also an ideal layout for safe shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Banff, a town that personifies the tourism industry in western Canada, has been hit particularly hard by the lockdown and ensuing regulations of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Being closed for two months was really weird,” says Randy Scriber, Smartwool’s store manager. “We never thought the bubble would burst, but it did.”
Thousands of people living in and around Banff were laid off in March and April. Many of them have now returned to work, as regional travellers have flocked to the mountains for recreation. But two months of lost revenue, during what is normally peak season, has had a severe impact on local businesses. Also, 2020’s regional visitors have different spending habits than the international tourists who have frequented Banff’s stores, hotels and restaurants in the past. Local businesses have had to adapt with discounted pricing and modified product offerings. Pandemic regulations mean many businesses are reopening gradually or with limited capacity. All local businesses are struggling to recover lost revenues, and some may not survive.
“Dave and I used to manage The North Face Store in Banff”, says Randy, “where we gained some experience with charity drives. Our local communities have never needed support more urgently than now, so we decided on our ‘Goods for the Greater Good’ campaign. Our Banff Smartwool socks are very popular, so we are donating $3 from the sale of every pair to the Banff - Canmore Community Foundation. This foundation has always done a great job in supporting and developing our local communities.”
Dave and Randy are trying to raise as much as possible this summer from the sale of Banff Smartwool socks in support of community improvement projects in Banff, Lake Louise, Canmore and throughout the Bow Valley. The unique, limited edition socks are made only for the Smartwool Banff store and are available for in-store shopping only.
Off the Beaten Path
From the cozy mountain towns to vast wild spaces, the Canadian Rockies always promise adventure. If you’re looking to escape the crowds and find a unique journey, read on! We’ve uncovered some of the best ways to explore the Canadian Rockies, well off the beaten path.
Up In The Sky
The mountains always look stunning from above. Scenic helicopter rides provide a spectacular taste of the beauty the Canadian Rockies have to offer. Sightseeing packages can often be combined with backcountry hiking, fishing or even weddings to add that extra slice of perfection. Looking to hit the skies? Try Alpine or Rockies Heli Canada. Looking to make a day of it? Try a heli-hike from White Mountain Adventures or Hiking with Claire and explore the mountains of the backcountry, far from any trails.
Photo by Kate Barker
Down To Earth
Bring it down to the ground with amazing activities for adventure seekers and first-time backcountry explorers. Pack trips are a great way to access the wild spaces of the Canadian Rockies the way the original guides did – on horseback. Create your custom backcountry pack trip with Timberline Tours or experience the traditional methods of packing with modern comforts with Brewster Mountain Pack Trains. If you’re looking to access the beauty of untouched mountain landscapes without “roughing it”, try a backcountry trip with Banff Trail Riders. Their tent camps offer a secured camping experience while their lodges add a touch of luxury to the traditional backcountry experience.
Photo provided by Banff Trail Riders
If the backcountry isn’t your thing, a via ferrata is a great way to get amazing and unique mountain views, above and away from the crowds. Italian for iron road, a via ferrata combines the excitement of rock climbing with the safety of always being connected to a metal cable, as well as the convenience of added steps, handholds and bridges. Via ferratas are fun and exhilarating, and no experience is required to participate. Mt Norquay has numerous options, from short, 2.5-hour trips to full day excursions.
In Golden, BC, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort offers several via ferrata experiences to complement their summer hiking and downhill biking.
In The Moment
Nothing enhances your understanding and appreciation for an area like an interpretive tour. Qualified guides have years of experience and boundless knowledge about the Canadian Rockies, and they love to show you around their home.
In Banff, try a Guided Signature Hike from Discover Banff Tours and explore your guide’s favourite trails. Learn about the natural environment and its wild inhabitants at the Lake Louise Summer Gondola. Take a self-guided tour of the wildflower-filled alpine meadows or enhance your experience with a guided hike.
Photo provided by Tourism Jasper / Rockaboo Mountain Adventures
Getting to the unique places of the Canadian Rockies doesn’t have to be extreme – or cost a lot of money. There are countless day-hikes that can bring you far from civilization, and they can be accessed almost anywhere.
Photo provided by Tourism Golden / Andrew Chad
In Kananaskis, try Chester Lake or Heart Creek for moderate hikes with big rewards. In Banff, Tunnel Mountain and Sulphur Mountain are easy summits with big views, or go even higher with the hike to the Cascade Amphitheater.
The Icefields Parkway offers stunning and accessible hikes including the Bow Summit Lookout, the Parker Ridge Trail and Helen Lake Trail. In Jasper, try hiking alongside Maligne Lake or up the ridge to Whistler’s Summit, accessible from the top of the Jasper Skytram.
The BC Rockies have a secret stash of trails to explore and their remoteness attracts only the most adventurous of travellers. Try mountain biking in Golden or Revelstoke on their world-class trails. Hike to spectacular waterfalls in Kootenay National Park or visit large and impressive icefields in Glacier National Park.
Whether you’re looking to get far away from an average day, revive with a digital detox, or just escape the ordinary, the Canadian Rockies have countless ways for you to immerse in nature and escape the crowds, far off the beaten path.
Room to Roam
The experience of visiting and playing in the Canadian Rockies is a unique one. That’s why people like you come from all over the world to enjoy what these beautiful, wild landscapes have to offer. Summer is a great time to visit, whether it’s your first or twentieth time. Wildflowers cover the mountain meadows, aquamarine lakes reflect blue skies, and numerous outdoor activities immerse you in nature.
Wild animals also love the warm weather! From spring into autumn, wildlife are very active as they feed and breed. Often, they’re wandering about in the same places as people, whether you see them or not. In the Rockies, it’s not uncommon to see elk, deer, bighorn sheep, birds, ground squirrels and even bears. This amazing region is also home to many other animals: wolverines, cougars and bison, to name a few. They’re all important parts of a much larger mountain ecosystem called the Yellowstone to Yukon region.
Most animals instinctively stay away from humans, but that’s starting to become more of a challenge as places like Banff and Jasper host more and more people — even off the beaten path. The highway that winds you through the Rockies, the hike you plan to conquer and even where you spend the night are home to wildlife. Just as you made the journey here, animals make long journeys to find food, mate and migrate. Wildlife need room to roam!
Travel Alberta / Jeff Bartlett, @photojbartlett
Wildlife Make the Rockies Wild
The list of wildlife that can be found in and outside of park boundaries is a long one. They may be deep in the backcountry, or perhaps, just out-of-sight.
Bears are iconic to the Rockies. From the rolling foothills to the forest-covered mountains, grizzly and black bears are around. This is good news! The presence of healthy bear populations indicates a healthy community of living creatures, including many plants and animals. To share space with these majestic animals, be sure to carry bear spray and keep your dog on a leash.
"If you're lucky enough to see wildlife on the side of the road, slow down (don't stop) and stay in your vehicle."
Elk are more commonly seen around mountain towns. It’s best to keep at least two bus lengths’ distance between you and an elk. With huge, easily recognizable antlers, male elk are quite defensive during August to October, when they’re in mate-finding mode. Similarly, May to July is calving time when mama-elk are ultra-protective of their babies.
Another creature that roams the Rockies is the wolverine. It’s unlikely that you’ll see one during your time here, but wolverines are still an important part of the mountain landscape. They are quite the long-distance travelers, occupying territories as big as 1,000 square kilometres (that's like combining 200 Banff-sized towns!) Most importantly, wolverines need secure and undisturbed habitat to move and raise their babies.
Species such as these ones not only require space to stay healthy, safe and thriving, they also need their populations to stay connected. The question is, how, as humans, can we make sure we’re helping and not harming those connections?
Photo by Erik McRitchie, @erikmcr
Did you know in some parks including Banff and Yoho, wild animals have access to their very own bridges and pathways that help them get across highways safely? Crossings under and over roads are one helpful way that people keep wildlife connected. Plus, they also make driving much safer for people!
Species such as bears, elk, deer, cougars and wolves have all been recorded using these crossings. And years of research has shown the fencing you see lining the sides of the highway in the parks helps guide animals to the crossing structures safely. That is why conservation groups and nearby communities are working to get more crossings and fences built outside of parks.
Thanks to hidden wildlife cameras and other tools, we know that even if we don’t always see them, wild animals are nearby and relying on these structures to survive and thrive.
Our cover image shows a wildlife crossing over the busy Trans Canada Highway (photo by Banff & Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka).
You are Protecting Nature
Growing up, most of us are taught to be considerate guests when we visit someone’s home. The same goes for a visit to the wild Rockies! Your actions can have a lasting impact — good or bad — on wildlife and their homes, during and after your visit. Coexistence is a term often used in science. It describes how we can occupy the same places as wild animals in a way that causes the least harm. In other words, let’s all be the best neighbours that we can.
You are an essential part of the solution to keep the future of the Canadian Rockies and its wildlife healthy, regardless of where you call home. Happy exploring!
A bull elk by Kent Nelson
6 things you can do before, during and after your visit that will make a difference for wildlife:
Make sure you’ve purchased bear spray and have a way to carry it accessibly (not in your bag!). If you’re taking a plane to get here, research places to rent bear spray in the area before your trip.
Look up laws for your destination. For example, national parks don’t allow drones or off-leash dogs.
If you spot local wildlife, give them space. It’s tempting to try and get close for a photo, but that puts you and the animal in danger.
Dispose of trash properly. Around town or by trails, you’ll find trash bins with special latches that keep bears out.
Did you learn something new and cool about the local landscape and its wildlife? Share a story with your friends and family!
Take a moment to reflect on how nature made your trip to the Rockies special. Wherever you’re from, think of ways you can support organizations that are working to protect nature.
We can all help protect wild spaces so we can enjoy them for years to come. Photo by Karsten Heuer
Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative is all about connection, collaboration and protecting wild places. That’s why our mission is to connect and protect habitat from Yellowstone to Yukon so that people and nature can thrive.
In 1993, a group of scientists, conservationists and engaged community members realized the importance of connected habitats. A wolf's travels showed wildlife move on large scales, inspiring a conservation collaborative covering the Rockies from the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to Canada's Yukon Territory: the Yellowstone to Yukon region.
Learn more: y2y.net.
Storms Pass, Community Lasts – Highline Outdoors Steps Up to Support COVID-19 Recovery in the Canadian Rockies
Storms pass, but community lasts. Highline Outdoors, owner of The North Face store in Banff and Wild Mountain in Jasper, is stepping up to help local mountain communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic that devastated the tourism and hospitality industries in the Canadian Rockies.
Thousands of people living in and around Banff, Lake Louise, Canmore and Jasper were laid off in March and April due to the COVID-19 health restrictions. Although many of them were foreign workers who left Canada to return home, others have had to rely on temporary government programs and charity to survive. As restrictions ease, some locals have been able to return to work. However the continuing foreign travel bans, hesitancy on the part of regional tourists to renew travelling and continuing social distancing restrictions mean businesses are reopening gradually with far fewer staff.
I recently spoke with Lydia Wilson, who owns Highline Outdoors with her spouse Cam. “Right now we are working on campaigns in Banff and Jasper to support grassroots COVID-19 recovery efforts,” she explained. “We are calling it 'Storms Pass, Community Lasts' and we are donating $3 from the sale of each of our popular Coordinates T-shirts to help locals who really need it. In the Banff, Lake Louise and Canmore area, we are donating to the Banff Canmore Community Foundation’sEmergency Community Fund. In Jasper we are donating to the Jasper Community Team Society’s Caring Community Fund.”
Lydia and Cam’s goal is to raise $5,000+ this summer from The North Face store in Banff and $3,000+ from their Wild Mountain store in Jasper to “walk out of this storm together”. T’s are available in both stores and online at highlineoutdoors.ca.
In previous campaigns using the Coordinates T’s, Highline Outdoors has been successful raising funds that went to causes such as the Young Film Makers Workshops at The Banff Centre, sponsorship of various Banff Mountain Film Festival Events and local community grants through the Banff Canmore Community Foundation.