16 Wild Adventures in the Canadian Rockies
By Kate Barker

Mount Shark by Kelly Hofer

There are so many exciting adventures in the Canadian Rockies to try this summer! With over 17,000 square kilometres of protected wilderness in Banff and Jasper National Parks, the Rockies are home to vast spaces dedicated to saving the environment as well as the many species of wild animals who call this place home. Take your inspiration from the wilderness all around and find your favourite wild adventure in the Canadian Rockies!

 

In the Sky: Soar like an Eagle

Golden Eagle

Golden Eagles migrate through the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies twice a year. In the spring they head north to their summering grounds and in the fall, they seek warmer, southern climates for winter.

1. Try a Zipline Tour

Fly like an eagle and feel the wind in your hair with a zipline tour. Traditional zipline tours in the Columbia Valley are available from Awesome All Season Adventures.

For a true flight simulation experience, Alternative Adventures in Hinton, outside of Jasper, has an innovative zipline that allows you to fly face first. Leap off a cliff and fly like a bird over the stunning Rocky Mountain landscape!

2. Take flight in a Helicopter

Get a bird’s eye view of the Canadian Rockies with a heli-tour. Helicopter packages are available from CMH, Peregrine Helicopters and Rockies Heli Canada.

Customize your tour experience with the very best in backcountry fishing, hiking and camping, or take a sightseeing tour for the best views from up high.

3. Walk in the Sky

Walk on air with the Glacier Skywalk Experience by Pursuit. Take in the views as you look down on rivers, mountains and glaciers from a glass platform on the side of a cliff just off the iconic Icefields Parkway.

The trip includes transportation by coach from the Columbia Icefields, where you can see the athabasca glacier, as well as an interpretive walk along the Discovery Trail’s cliff-edge walkway. Experience the finale of standing on nothing but glass, 280m/920ft in the air! Professional guides tell the story of the area during each phase of the journey, providing a deep connection with the region and its history.

This family-friendly tour is accessible to people of all abilities.

 

On the Ground: Roam like the Bison

Parks Canada Bison

In 2017, wild bison were reintroduced to Banff National Park to serve as a keynote species that creates vibrant habitats for bugs, birds, bears and countless other creatures. After a century of absence, bison are now back in their place in the mountain ecosystem. Image provided by Parks Canada

4. Experience a Wildlife Tour

View and learn about wildlife with tours from Discover Banff Tours and White Mountain Adventures in Banff or Sundog Tours and Maligne Adventures in Jasper. Your guides will take you to the best spots to discuss safe viewing practices and wildlife behaviour patterns while providing opportunities for great photos of iconic Canadian animals. Learn about wildlife in the mountain parks and what visitors can do to keep them safe.

Check out our list of the 9 Best Wildlife Tours in the Canadian Rockies.

5. Meet the Local Wildlife

Looking to get up close and personal with wildlife? Kicking Horse Mountain Resort’s Grizzly Bear Refuge houses Boo, an orphaned grizzly who calls this area home. Kicking Horse is located in Golden, British Columbia, just a short and scenic drive from the edge of Banff National Park. Tours from Banff are available!

Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary homes abandoned wolfdogs and educates visitors about the importance of wolves in the natural environment. Read more about this amazing experience, here.

The Rocky Mountain Buffalo Ranch in Golden, British Columbia teaches the importance of these huge animals to the landscape, as well as their behaviour and history.

6. See the Geology

View the stunning geological record that makes the Canadian Rockies so extreme with a hike through Johnston's Canyon in Banff or Maligne Canyon in Jasper. Visiting in winter? Icewalks of these stunning canyons make for great outdoor winter activities. They even run at night!

7. Travel the Landscape

Biking is an excellent way to cover a lot of ground and enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the Canadian Rockies. Watch for wildlife while mountain biking along the extensive trail networks around the mountain towns and in the national or provincial parks. Alternatively, try biking along the paved paths including the Legacy Trail, which connects the town of Banff with the town of Canmore.

Rent bikes at Backtrax in Banff, Wilson Mountain Sports in Lake Louise, or Gear Up, Rebound Cycle, Sports Experts and Trail Sports in Canmore. In Jasper, try Source for Sports and the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.

Local visitor information centres will have the most up-to-date information on trail conditions and closures.

 

In the Water: Swim like a Fish

Spotted Brown Trout

The Canadian Rockies are home to numerous fish species including brown trout, whitefish, cutthroat trout and bull trout. You can still find pockets of rare greenback cutthroat trout in backcountry alpine lakes.

8. Swim for the Brave

Some of the best summer activities take place on the water! The Canadian Rockies are famous for their pristine glacial waters, with minerals that turn them turquoise in colour. The mountain lakes, while beautiful to look at, are very cold, even in the heat of summer.

If you’re a dedicated swimmer, some good swimming holes include Johnston Lake in Banff or Quarry Lake in Canmore. In Jasper, try Horseshoe Lake, Lake Annette, Pyramid Lake and Lake Edith.

9. Paddle Away

Canoes, kayaks and stand up paddleboards allow you to experience the majesty of the Canadian Rockies as you listen to the ripple of your paddle through the water. Rentals are available from the Canoe Club in Banff, Bow Valley SUP and Rebound Cycle in Canmore, and Kananaskis Outfitters in Kananaskis Village.

In Jasper, find rentals at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, Maligne Lake Boathouse, Pyramid Lake Resort or On-Line Sport and Tackle.

10. Take a Cruise

Spend the day on the water with a boat cruise. The Lake Minnewanka Boat Cruise takes you around this beautiful lake in Banff National Park. New this year is a family-friendly Beer Voyage! This cruise features beer and sodas from local breweries.

Lake Minnewanka is the only lake in Banff to allow motorized boat access. Rent a boat from the docks and explore the area’s best fishing.

In Jasper, take the Maligne Lake Cruise to explore the largest glacier-fed lake in the Canadian Rockies.

11. Raft the White Water

Have a need for speed? Rafting is a fast and fun family activity available throughout the Rocky Mountains. From a gentle float trip down the Bow River to the wild rapids of Kicking Horse and Kananaskis, rafting has something for everyone.

In the Banff area, try Chinook Rafting, Hydra River Guides and Rocky Mountain Raft Tours. In Jasper, see Jasper Raft Tours, Jasper Rafting Adventures, Jasper’s Whitewater Rafting and Maligne Rafting Adventures.

12. Cast a Line

Banff Fishing Unlimited and Wapiti Sports guide in the Banff and Canmore area, while On-Line Sport and Tackle and Currie’s Guiding take you to the best places in Jasper. Please note the licencing requirements for each area before casting a line.

 

Love the Night like a Fox

Red Fox

Foxes are secretive creatures who hunt at night and are rarely seen in the Canadian Rockies. Despite their elusive nature, remote wildlife cameras often spot these crafty little critters, usually between the hours of 8pm and 8am, far from human civilization.

13. Camp Out

The long days of summer don’t end when the sun goes down! There are many nighttime adventures in the Canadian Rockies that you can enjoy by firelight. Camping in the Rockies is a popular summer activity. Make sure to reserve your campsite in advance to ensure availability!

14. Discover the Backcountry

Sit around a campfire listening to stories from seasoned guides with a backcountry adventure. Banff Trail Riders, Timberline Tours and Boundary Ranch offer pack trips on horseback, while Yamnuska Mountain Adventures and White Mountain Adventures offer certified guides for multi-day hiking trips. Shorter excursions and day trips are also available.

15. Bask in Starlight

Gaze at the stars in Jasper’s dark sky preserve with access to telescopes from the Jasper Planetarium. Their annual Dark Sky Festival features renowned astronauts and guest speakers as well as stargazing sessions.

Ride the Banff Gondola to experience starlight from the top of Sulphur Mountain and watch the townsite of Banff go to sleep.

16. Celebrate all things Canada

Light up the night with fireworks and light shows! Canada Day is July 1. Canadians celebrate all across the country, including the Rockies. See the fireworks display against the majestic mountain backdrop in Canmore or watch the pyrotechnics light show in Banff.

From Kananaskis to British Columbia, Banff to Jasper and beyond - no matter where you find yourself in the Canadian Rocky Mountains this summer, remember: Wild Adventures Await!

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