I have a secret I haven’t even told most of my friends yet….I’m returning back to Canada for a month this summer, most of which I’ll spend in the Canadian Rocky Mountains!
To say I am excited would be an understatement! Besides my family and friends, the thing I’ve missed most are the Rockies! And poutine, I really miss poutine! I’m in the German Alps almost every weekend and while they are beautiful, they have nothing on the Canadian Rockies! I miss knowing that when you are hiking and hear a branch snap, you freeze. It could just be a bird. But it could also be a deer…or a bear! In Germany, when you hear a branch snap…it’s another hiker! I can count the number of times on one hand that I’ve seen wildlife while hiking in Germany. I also miss the solitude at a summit which most peaks in the Rockies offer. In Germany, you usually share the summit with several to upwards of 50 other hikers.
Caving at Rat’s Nest Cave in Canmore
The Rat’s Nest Cave is undeveloped and is in it’s natural state. That means no hand rails or walkways. You navigate twisting passageways by the light from your head lamp. I had heard there were some narrow passageways, but I wasn’t too worried…until I had to go down a part of the cave known as the Laundry Chute. Panic set in as I tried to twist my body in the narrow opening into the right position. Some brave souls in my group went head first! I wasn’t that brave and went feet first. My heart was pounding, my breathing quickened, almost as if I was running, despite barely moving. What if I got stuck? Would I die here? Thankfully neither of those things happened. And once I was out of the cave I was SO grateful that I had done it! Adventure means pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone…even if that’s into small nooks and crannies! It’s only possible to do the cave with a guide.
White Water Rafting the Kicking Horse River
You can start this from different points, but I recommend starting it from Golden if you’re limited on time and want to hit those Class 4 rapids! You know you do! If you go in late spring/early summer, I guarantee that your heart will be pumping out of your chest as you try and paddle your way through the rapids while simultaneously hanging on for dear life! You’ll want to go with a guide unless you’re highly experienced. I’m a bit of an adrenal junkie and I LOVED white water rafting the Kicking Horse!
Canoeing or Kayaking on Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park
Maligne Lake is the largest glacially formed lake in the Rockies and one of the most photographed spots in Jasper, if not the most popular. Once you’ve been there, you get it, it’s simply stunning! So why not enjoy it for as long as you can by canoeing or kayaking there if the weather is calm? There are two backcountry campgrounds on the lake if you really want to soak it all in! Note: The lake can be quite rough, so bring appropriate clothing and be prepared to shorten your trip if the weather turns for the worse. Canoes and kayaks can be rented for 1 hour through to the whole day.
Ziplining Down the Mountainside Near Golden
Confession: I LOVE ziplining, but I haven’t done this one yet, but it’s definitely on my agenda this summer! You can reach speeds of up to 70km an hour as you zip down the mountainside for a whirlwind bird’s eye view! Sign me up!
Hiking in the Canadian Rockies
There are literally hundreds of hikes you could choose from in the Rockies! I have too many favourites to share, so will just share a few of my favourites. I love hiking in Sunshine Meadows. You take a bus to a gorgeous meadow, which is one of the best places in the Rockies for wild flowers. You can do an easy, relatively flat hike around the meadows or use it as a jumping off point for something more strenuous.
I also love Fairview Mountain which starts right from the lake at Lake Louise. It’s steep, but straightforward hiking and you get fantastic views over the lake and a bird’s eye view of the glaciers hanging over the lake!
Peyto Lake is one of the most popular attractions in the Canadian Rockies on the Icefields Parkway. You can get a gorgeous view of the lake from the viewing platform which is just a 10 – 15 walk. Alternatively hike the 3km to Bow Summit Lookout which is less crowded, and offers spectacular views over the lake! Or hike down to the lake itself! Be sure to deep your feet in! Nothing is quite as refreshing as a glacier lake after hiking!
I’m also a big fan of Cirque Peak, north of Lake Louise on the Icefields Parkway. You hike up to a gorgeous wildflower meadow and lake and then continue further up a steep path for views over what looks like an other-wordly crater landscape!
Wildlife Viewing in Waterton National Park
Waterton often gets overlooked in favour of Banff and Lake Louise, and that’s in part what makes it so special. The hiking trails are not crowded, which is why it’s such a fantastic place for wildlife viewing. I grew up near Waterton so have been a frequent visitor there my entire life. I’ve never been and not seen wildlife – not once! I’ve also seen bears there at least 20 times! That’s a fantastic experience if you’re in a car, and a rather scary one if you’re hiking, so ensure you’re following the safety precautions that you will receive upon entering the park. I’ve also seen moose quite a few times, which are often hard to spot, and big horn sheep and deer too many times to count. If it’s wildlife that you’re in search of, Waterton is the place to go!