By Heidi Wagg
The Canadian Rockies are the easternmost part of the Canadian Cordillera, the collective name for the mountains of Western Canada. They form part of the American Cordillera, an essentially continuous sequence of mountain ranges that runs all the way from Alaska to the very tip of South America. The Cordillera in turn are the eastern part of the Pacific Ring of Fire that runs all the way around the Pacific Ocean. On a journey across the Canadian Rockies, every bend points to another scenic treasure. Here are six key destination points—enjoyed by people of all ages and physical capabilities—leading to unforgettable mountain gems.
A smooth paved path, equipped with hand railings, borders the spectacular gorge of Johnston Canyon and the sapphire waters that rush through it.
This narrow canyon is cut into 350 million year old limestone. The gushing waters continually shape the rugged canyon’s face as two millimeters of rock is worn away each year.
Johnston Canyon is situated on the Bow Valley Parkway, inside Banff National Park. You’ll also find impressive waterfalls on the short hiking trail. visit their website
If you are familiar with the old Canadian twenty-dollar bill, you will recognize the spectacular mountain scene at Moraine Lake.
Moraine Lake radiates a wonderful peacock blue colour, produced by fine particles of glacial silt. Ten lofty peaks crown the waters. And when the timing is just right, the mountains’ reflection covers the entire lake—a sight you’d never forget!
The road to Moraine Lake is a short ten-minute drive from Lake Louise, in Banff National Park. visit their website
Mount Edith Cavell Trail
Ascending the Mount Edith Cavell Trail is like climbing into heaven. Cotton-like ice formations drift in powdery-blue waters; all of which sit peacefully at the foot of Angel Glacier. During warmer months, pretty alpine flowers delicately lace the path.
Mount Edith Cavell is situated in Jasper National Park. The road approaching the trail is steep and you need to drive several switchbacks upwards. visit their website
Radium Hot Spring Pools
Nothing compares to a relaxing soak in spring-fed waters, all the while encircled by jagged alpine terrain.
Situated in British Columbia’s Kootenay National Park, the waters of the Radium Hot Spring Pools perpetually sit at a balmy 39° C (103° F).
The pools curve against the hovering cliffs, giving an amazing feeling of being in the canyon. Sometimes bighorn sheep are seen grazing on the ridges above the pool.
Clear, odourless and sulfur-free, the springs have been used many years for both recreational and therapeutic purposes and are open to the public all year round. visit their website
Red Rock Canyon
Just 16 km from the entrance of Waterton Lakes National Park are the brilliantly coloured bedrock layers of Red Rock Canyon. Depending on the time of year, snow runoff either trickles gently or rushes forcefully down the water-carved canyon walls.
Nearby is an easy walking trail—bordered by all types of wildflowers in summer— leading to some picturesque falls. visit their website
Meaning “it is magnificent“ in Cree, Takakkaw Falls is even more impressive than the name suggests.
At the site, thunderous glacier-fed waters plunge hundreds of feet into boulders below, causing a tremendous spray upon impact. The entire scene is utterly mesmerizing and beautiful.
Takakkaw Falls is Canada’s second highest waterfall and is located immediately west of the Continental Divide in Yoho National Park. visit their website