What is the Best Way to See the Canadian Rockies?

Deciding what is the best way to see the Canadian Rockies depends on your interests and budget, and how adventurous you are. Below we give you 10 options for travelling through the Canadian Rockies and making the most of your time in this wilderness destination.

BY DRIVING. A number of highways cross over the Canadian Rockies while the famously scenic Icefields Parkway parallels the most spectacular mountains between Banff and Jasper. Most roads are paved and open year-round. Travel in your own vehicle or opt for a Canadian Rockies car rental.

BY RAIL. Canadian Rockies train trips are very popular. Routes include from Vancouver to Banff and from Vancouver to Jasper on the privately operated Rocky Mountaineer, or across Canada and through Jasper on the government-operated VIA Rail system.

ON A BUS TOUR. Taking a bus tour means that you won’t miss a thing. The best Canadian Rockies tours mean hitting all the most famous attractions with a knowledgeable local making sure you learn all you need to know.

BY PUBLIC TRANSIT. Canadian Rockies public transit has improved greatly in recent years, especially in Banff, Canmore, and Lake Louise. There are now Lake Louise shuttles and getting to Moraine Lake is easy by bus.

Public transit in Banff.

Public transit in Banff.

ON FOOT. With over 3,000 kilometres (1,860 miles) or trails, Canadian Rockies hiking is a major attraction for outdoor enthusiasts. Regardless of whether you go for an evening lakeside stroll or strike off into the backcountry on an overnight trek, hiking will take you to some amazing scenery.   

Horseback riding is popular in the Canadian Rockies.

Horseback riding is popular in the Canadian Rockies.

ON HORSEBACK. In the Canadian Rockies, horseback riding is a traditional form of transportation used in the mountains for over 150 years. Today, visitors can relive the era on hour-long trail rides, or more serious trips to backcountry lodges.

CYCLING. Riding a bike is a good way to see the Canadian Rockies during summer, with options including roadways, paved biking trails, and mountain bike trails. For short rides, there are rentals in most towns, including eBikes; Banff National Park cycling has the most options. Also see Canadian Rockies cycling.

BY CANOE, KAYAK OR PADDLEBOARD. Local lakes and rivers are perfect for Canadian Rockies paddle sports such as canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. The most famous lakes—Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Maligne Lake, and Emerald Lake—all provide memorable paddling experiences. Either bring your own watercraft or rent one when you arrive.

 FROM THE AIR. To maintain a wilderness experience and for the well-being of wildlife, flightseeing is not permitted over Canadian national parks. But there are a few options for Canadian Rockies flightseeing, including helicopter trips originating from Canmore.

IN AN ICE EXPLORER. The most unique form of transportation in the Canadian Rockies are Ice Explorer buses. Designed with massive tires that make travel over glaciers possible, Ice Explorers operate on the Columbia Icefield, between Banff and Jasper.

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING. In winter, when the Canadian Rockies are covered in snow, roads are cleared for car travel, but cross-country skiing is a great way to experience the white wonderland beyond the highways. Cross-country skiing can be enjoyed by everyone and rentals are available throughout the Canadian Rockies.

SKIJORING. Okay, this isn’t for everyone, but getting towed behind a horse on skis may appeal to some. If you want to see how it’s done, visit Banff in January during Snow Days.

Skijoring in Banff during SnowDays.

Skijoring in Banff during SnowDays.

THROUGH PHOTOS AND MOVIES. Of course, you’ll want to take your own photos, but you can also experience the Canadian Rockies through the eyes of professional photographers at galleries located throughout the region. Canadian Rockies movies are also a great way to see the region through the eyes of filmmakers.