How to tour the Canadian Rockies


The Rocky Mountains in Canada is particularly well known, more so than its American counterpart. Tourists flock here to see the mountains, lakes and glaciers. Glaciers are also called icefields here in Canada, and along the Icefields Parkway, you can see many many glaciers.

You don’t yourself justice if you don’t do some hiking, which is the only way you can get a feel of the grounds – to see the woods that grow on the slopes of the mountains or the meadows on top of it.

The hike up Johnston Canyon was a lot of fun. This was an easy 2.6km hike with only 120m in elevation. The main thrill factor is getting up close with two waterfalls.

The rocks and vegetation are beautiful.

You ‘walk on water’ through the canyon.

The spray from the upper fall gets you wet. So fun.

There is a cave opening that leads right next to the lower fall.

Cascading waterfalls.

The gushing water takes a breather around this bend.

You will most certainly meet this furry friend along the way.

Lake Louise is one of the main attractions in the Canadian Rockies. IMHO it looks best at midday – the water has a deeper turquoise colour.

There are two popular trails at the Lake Louise area – the Lake Agnes trail and the Plain of Six Glaciers trail. Both trails reward you with a teahouse at the finishing line. We chose the trail to Lake Agnes since it is shorter. This trail is rated moderate, with 385m of elevation over 3.4km. The estimated time for a return trip is 2.5 to 3 hours, which we found to be accurate (for our case with kids carried on the back). Walking poles are indispensable.

Mirror lake, two thirds of the way up.

Friendly strangers often offer to help us take photos voluntarily. Taken at the waterfall just below Lake Agnes teahouse.

Lake Agnes. They boil the water from the lake to make the beverages in the teahouse.

Stools shaped from logs at the teahouse.

You will come across many lakes along the way. Lake Peyto is worth a look.

The view from the Big Bend. As you observe the slopes, it will be obvious that the valley in which the Icefields Parkway traverses was carved out by a huge glacier long ago.

Athabasca glacier is another major tourist attraction (i.e. busloads of tourists). For a hefty fee they take you up onto the glacier using a special bus, and you can set foot on it. We skipped that of course. The thrill factor of doing that (and burning a hole in your wallet at the same time) is no match against going on a hike.

What i found interesting was the bluish colour of the shadows under the thick layers of snow, which is how illustrations of snow capped mountains are done, which i never thought was very close to how it actually looked. Photos don’t capture the effect well but if you look closely you get the idea.

If you’re fortunate, you may get to see some animals along the Icefields Parkway.

Mountain goat

Bear chewing the grass. This is my first encounter with a bear in the wild, very fascinating.

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