Kristina has been writing for the internet of things since 2010 and has recently moved from tech-themed op-eds to outdoor adventure writing. She enjoys writing about adventures in nature just as much as embarking upon them herself.
Pristine landscapes, turquoise wild waters, rare wildlife, and adrenaline-filled hiking and rafting - that’s what you can expect to find in the Canadian Rockies. A favorite holiday destination for tourists and locals alike, this unique wonder is packed with otherworldly experiences and attractions unlike anything else.
Planning the perfect holiday can be daunting, especially if you want to get the best out of your destination. To help you decide what to do on your holiday in the Canadian Rockies, we have made a list of the best summer activities which will guarantee you the time of your life.
Summer in the Canadian Rockies
Women is sitting on the rock in Canadian Rockies
The Canadian Rockies are never more welcoming than in the warmer seasons. Gentle pacific winds bring pleasant summer temperatures to the region, offering an abundance of summer activities to adventurous travelers. Anything from hiking and horseback riding to backpacking is possible during the summer months.
Hiking and Cycling
Man standing in Canada Rockies on hiking trail
More and more of us choose to spend time outdoors during the holidays as opposed to a boozy cruise, swanky resort holiday or crowded city break. Whatever the reason, with the Rockies’ abundance of day and multi-day hikes and cycling routes, you’ll never want to spend your holidays anywhere else but in nature. Exploring the entire Canadian Rockies in a single holiday might be a bit of a challenge, so why not start with a specific region or national park? Here are a few options for you to choose from.
The Icefields Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in Canada, stretching around 200 miles (300 km) from the North of the Canadian Rockies to the South. It follows three major river systems, traverses beneath some of the most majestic peaks in North America and unfolds breathtaking views of glaciers. Cycling from inn to inn along the Icefields Parkway is the best way to explore all its hidden jewels.
For those who prefer hiking, the Icefields Parkway has a number of hiking trails just off the road, such as Bow Glacier Falls, Mistaya Canyon, Columbia Icefield Glacier Skywalk, and many more for you to enjoy.
Whistler is a unique and authentic mountain biking destination. It’s at the top of every reputable cycler’s bucket list. The riveting pedal-powered biking culture here rewards everyone with a wide selection of world-class biking trails for all skill levels and comfortable accommodation options, craved after a long day of biking.
Banff, Jasper and Yoho National Parks
For those with a limited amount of holidays, but a powerful desire to explore the three biggest parks in the Canadian Rockies, we recommend hiking across all three national parks. Deep gorges, azure lakes, never-ending glacial rivers, and verdant forests are a tiny fraction of what the national parks in the Canadian Rockies have to offer.
From June to September, the Canadian Rockies transform into a paddler’s paradise. Travelers from all over the world gather around turquoise lakes and glacier-fed rivers for adventures filled with white waters and rare wildlife. Kayaking and rafting in the Canadian Rockies normally doesn’t require any previous paddling experience and can be done in either a few hours or over a few days, making it perfect for a broad range of adventurers. Here are a few whitewater adventures you might be interested in.
Explore the pristine natural wonders of Jasper National Park and the historic fur trading route along the Athabasca River. Canoeing on this river doesn’t require any previous experience, and it’s just as exhilarating as any other river! Guided canoeing tours on Athabasca River usually involve much more than just paddling. On your way down, you’ll cross Jasper National Park, oozing with rare wildlife and untouched landscapes. Here, you’re also able to hike, cycle or watch wildlife once you’ve stepped off of the boat.
If you’ve decided on kayaking in the Canadian Rockies, then Lake Louise is an absolute must. One of the most picturesque lakes in the world offers you an oasis of tranquility and an unbreakable connection with nature. Your holiday pictures on Lake Louise will be nothing short of breathtaking and will make you want to explore every other lake in the Canadian Rockies.
The lake and the rental points for your kayaking adventures are easily accessible by car or bike. The sandy beaches with picnic areas are the perfect place for a peaceful lunch and the mirror-like azure waters of the lake will tempt you into several dips throughout the day. Nothing speaks of summer more than a kayaking trip across Lake Louise.
Kicking Horse River
If you are into whitewater rafting, then the Kicking Horse River is the place to go. Anything from gentle family-friendly rafting to class IV thrills can be found on the Kicking Horse River. The river is easily accessible and various tour organizers will help you choose from several whitewater rafting tours. If you decide to go whitewater rafting on Kicking Horse River, make time to explore the surrounding areas, taste local cuisine in the hamlet of Field, and take a trip to the Takakkaw Falls.
Horseback riding in Canadian Rockies
Horseback riding is one of the best and most comfortable ways to explore the Canadian Rockies. It adds excitement and adrenaline-spiced memories to your holiday without making you step out of your comfort zone. Horseback riding tours are available to complete newbies as well as experienced riders. Those of you who are new to horseback riding will be taught how to properly fit a saddle and manage your horse by the qualified guides.
Choose the region of the Canadian Rockies you want to explore and the length of your trip. Day and multi-day tours are available across most of the national parks in the Rockies. Multi-day tours can involve wilderness camping or lodges while on day tours you’ll ride out from the same ranch for several hours.
Banff National Park
A tent-based horseback riding trip in the backcountry of Banff is an excellent choice for anyone with only a few days to spare. You’ll ride by the towering peaks of the Brewster and Cascade Mountains, Stoney Creek Camp, Minnewanka Pack Station and many of the other attractions in Banff National Park. You’ll stay in comfortable tents and the experienced guides will take care of your well being throughout the tour. The tour is also available with lodge-based accommodation if you’re looking for a more comfortable stay.
Day tours around Lake Louise are perfect for anyone who wants to visit the area in style. Centuries-old horse stables there offer daily trips to must-visit locations, such as Lake Agnes Tea House, Paradise Valley, the Giant Steps, and the Plain of Six Glaciers. You can expect to ride past the pristine landscapes, have lunch in the meadows, covered in wildflowers, wade alpine rivers, and explore the trails like cowboys did back in the day.
Kananaskis Country is the place to go if you’re looking to explore the south of Canadian Rockies and embark upon true cowboy adventures at a remote ranch. Anything from lasso throwing lessons to horse feeding and saddle fitting is available and is sure to make some unforgettable holiday memories.
Mountaineering in the Canadian Rockies
Mountaineering in the Canadian Rockies
Comprising the northern segment of the Rocky Mountains, the Canadian Rockies are home to some of the highest peaks in Canada. With iconic mountains like Mount Robson and Mount Columbia easily accessible, mountaineering in the Canadian Rockies should definitely be high up on your to-do list.
From an easy scramble up Fairview Mountain to a difficult and technically challenging climb up Mount Alberta, the Canadian Rockies are ready for every kind of climber. If you feel like scrambling isn’t enough for you, yet you’re not skilled enough to tackle the more difficult climbs, this mountaineering program in the Rockies will help you learn the ropes.
Fairview Mountain hosts one of the most popular and easy climbing trails, offering unbeatable views of Lake Louise. Combine it with the Saddle Pass/ Peak Trail and you will be rewarded with a stunning 360-degree view of the area. While it’s not technically challenging, it must be approached with caution. Follow the signs and you shouldn’t have any trouble as the descent from the trailhead is only available from the other side. Numerous rescue operations have taken place over the years due to hikers who disobeyed the directions.
At 12,989 ft (3,959m) Mount Robson is the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies and considered to be the ultimate Rocky Mountains’ mountaineering challenge. Climbing Mount Robson will push even the most experienced of mountaineers to the limit. Like most of the mountains at such elevation, Mount Robson has its own climate and summiting, while possible on some days, might not be possible on others.
Positioned at the Columbia Icefields, with most of the climb above the treeline, Mount Athabasca is technically diverse and one of the most picturesque mountain climbs in the Canadian Rockies. Combining rock climbing with glaciers that require ice techniques, it’s a versatile and exhilarating experience. While you’re able to climb Mount Athabasca without a guide, if you lack experience or think your fitness level isn’t enough, it’s advised that you only attempt to summit with a guide.
Backpacking and camping
Man lying in a tent in front of Medicine lake in Canadian Rockies
The Canadian Rockies are one of the world’s worst kept secrets and during peak season, which can be all year round if the weather allows it, it can get pretty crowded. If you want to escape the hordes of tourists and reconnect with nature in the Canadian Rockies, then backpacking and camping in the backcountry is ideal for you.
Alberta’s Abbot Pass Hut
The destination of this remarkable hike is Abbot Hut, located on the Abbot Pass. Nested right on the continental divide, between Mount Victoria and Mount Lefroy, the Abbot Pass is a 26 km round trip hike and a light scramble. Located at an altitude of 9,598 feet (2925 meters), it marks the boundary between Banff and Yoho National Parks, offering stunning views of mountain ranges, deep rugged canyons, and alpine meadows.
Camping and backpacking in Jasper National Park
Packed with sights for every nature lover, Jasper National Park extends over the Icefields Parkway, through the wilderness of Alberta province, past the towering peaks of Mount Edith Cavell, and into the Columbia Icefield. This backpacking expedition in Jasper National Park allows you to explore its hidden gems and wake up to scenes of remarkable natural beauty every day. The trail you’ll embark upon is loved by both hikers and wildlife - so prepare to see caribou and wolves along the route.
Berg Lake Trail
Always wanted to combine hiking in the foothills of Mount Robson, traversing past iceberg-dotted lakes and waking up to the sound of calving glaciers? Then this trail is exactly what you are looking for. Located in the Mount Robson Provincial Park, the Berg Lake Trail extends to about 26 mi (42km). It’s a round trip hike with a number of potential extensions.
Combining the trail with a few other hikes can lead to more than 9842 ft (3000m) of elevation and isn’t recommended for inexperienced hikers. Once on the trail, you can expect to spend 3 to 4 days backpacking with 3 nights of camping.