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The Canadian Rockies are Alpine Icons

Each season’s arrival ushers in radical transformations in the Canadian Rockies. With these changes come new, enjoyable experiences for groups.

Winter brings lots of snow, along with opportunities for once-in-a-lifetime activities like dogsledding, snowshoeing and sleigh rides through the wilderness-turned-wonderland. Upon spring’s arrival, melting snow means open roads and hiking trails, as well as thawing lakes, with plenty of opportunities to view the area’s exotic wildlife.

In the summer, wildflowers finally venture to bloom in the meadows and travelers can kayak on the pristine turquoise waters of the region’s many alpine lakes. Autumn brings the golden hues of larch trees to the forests, which make a breathtaking backdrop for a train ride, one of the most popular ways to view the mountains.

The area’s wildness is owed to its abundance of national parks, designed to preserve its many natural wonders. But its quaint towns are equally enjoyable, with lots of shops, diverse restaurants and plenty of entertainment.

Groups of active outdoor recreationalists will thrive in this region designed for adventure, but so will groups that take things at a more leisurely pace. That’s because there is no shortage of ways to see the sights; while there’s hiking, biking and canoeing, there’s also scenic drives, train rides and lake cruises.

Can’t Miss Destinations

Banff and Lake Louise

Located within Banff National Park, the resort town of Banff is a focal point for tourism in the Canadian Rockies. The park, which sees 4 million visitors annually, is home to natural attractions like Bow Falls and a collection of beautiful turquoise lakes, including Lake Minnewanka, Vermilion Lakes and the iconic Lake Louise, for which a nearby hamlet is named.

Downtown Banff has plenty of well-known resorts where groups can stay, such as the Fairmont Banff Springs and the Rimrock Banff, each of which have a variety of restaurants. There’s also an assortment of breweries, eateries and shops downtown.


Jasper National Park is the largest park in the Rockies. Its 2.5 million yearly visitors flock to the park to see attractions such as Athabasca Falls and Maligne Canyon. Groups can take a cruise on Maligne Lake to see the famed Spirit Island and explore the Maligne Valley, or look for wildlife via a scenic drive. Jasper is known for its dark sky preserve; groups can stargaze at the Jasper Planetarium or search for the aurora borealis. The area has plenty of dining options for groups, such as Jasper Brewing Co., which serves brews and an eclectic menu, and Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen, featuring a smokehouse-inspired menu.


Just south of Banff, Canmore is another small town that sits just outside of the national park. While not as visited by tourists as Banff, the town still enjoys an abundance of natural attractions, such as the Three Sisters (its most popular peaks), Rat’s Nest Cave and Grassi Lakes. Groups can hike, take a cave tour or go rafting in the warmer months, or try dogsledding, skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. For in-town activities, tours of Canmore’s multiple breweries and distilleries are available. There are plenty of fine and casual dining options in town, from coffee shops to restaurants and lounges.

Signature Experience

A ride up the Banff Gondola takes park visitors 2,300 feet up to the summit of Sulphur Mountain, letting them see the gorgeous scenery of Banff National Park. At the top, they’ll be treated to breathtaking views of Banff and the mountains. They can also dine at the summit’s restaurant, Sky Bistro, which offers lunch, dinner and drinks with a side of beautiful vistas.

Unforgettable Flavor

Rocky Mountain cuisine emphasizes fresh, local ingredients, so it’s no surprise that wild game is featured prominently on many menus in the region. Try tender cuts of venison, elk and bison prepared in many different styles, from tenderloins to fillets to burgers.

Hidden Treasure

Just a 30-minute drive from Banff, Kootenay National Park sees far fewer visitors but is home to some equally stunning scenery. Park highlights include the Paint Pots, mineral-rich pools producing bright colors; Marble Canyon, a stunning cavern that’s easily accessible with a short hike; and Radium Hot Springs, naturally heated pools in the mountain town of Radium.

Favorite Souvenir

The Canadian Rockies are rich in Indigenous history. Purchasing Indigenous artwork is a great way to honor that heritage and bring back a memorable souvenir. Wall art, moccasins and jewelry can be purchased at cultural centers and shops throughout the region.