Travel to Canada’s Rocky Mountain Paradise

Mention the Canadian Rockies, and most people instantly think of Banff. As the main tourist destination in the Rockies, Banff is very much a commercial town geared to tourism. But for those who like their Rockies a little quieter, 250 kilometers north is paradise – the town of Jasper.

July and August are the peak times to visit Jasper, but if you don’t mind colder weather and like your lakes frozen, you can avoid some of the tourists by visiting in the few months either side. The weather can be haphazard, so allow a little flexibility in your plans.

Six kilometers south of Jasper is Whistler Mountain. If you visit early or late in the day, you will most likely hear the melodic sounds made by the whistling marmots living on the lower slopes of the mountain. Early birds can also get cheaper tickets on the Whistler Mountain gondola. The terminus is at 2,500m, with spectacular views south to the Columbia Ice fields, and west to Mount Robson.

For those who prefer to look up at mountains, there are plenty of beautiful lakes close to town, all surrounded by snow topped peaks. Patricia and Pyramid Lakes, 8km north-west of town, are small and quiet. They have beaches just begging for picnickers to sit on them and admire the view after a tranquil lunch. Herds of elk and deer roam the area, and if you’re very lucky, you may spot a coyote or a black bear.

Maligne Lake is south of Jasper, and is the largest of the glacier fed lakes. A boathouse from the 1920s completes the storybook setting. There are a couple of excellent hikes in the area, taking full advantage of the beautiful scenery.

Nearby is Maligne Canyon, a narrow cleft through the rocks filled with roaring water during the spring thaw. It’s also home to a very active herd of big horn sheep, who can jump out of nowhere to startle tourists.

For those visitors who like more leisurely pursuits, it is possible to swim in Lakes Annette and Edith near town. Situated at around 1000m, they are popular during the summer months, although it’s still not advisable to take a lengthy swim in the icy waters.

After a few hard days of sightseeing, go for a leisurely drive about 40km towards Edmonton. At the sleepy little town of Pocahontas (she certainly got around!) take the turnoff to Miette Hot Springs. The renovated spas contain two pools, and are a welcome respite for tired bodies. On the way there you may be lucky enough to see mountain goats beside the road, although they’re more likely to be perched on a cliff high above you.

Another excellent drive is route 93A, which was the original road heading out of Jasper towards Banff. Now preserved as a scenic route, the road offers a number of interesting stops. Keep your eyes open, particularly during the quieter times early and late in the day, because wild life abounds here. Mother bears with their cubs have been seen chomping on berries right beside the road!

The aptly named “Meeting of the Waters” marks the place where two rivers join together. During the spring thaw this meeting can make for spectacular waterworks. Further along, it is worth taking the time to visit Moab Lake. A pleasant walk ends with the magnificently sited lake, mountains hovering in the background.

Skiers visiting in winter will certainly want to make the trip to Marmot Basin, a popular ski resort south of Jasper on 93A. In summer, however, it looks much the same as any other deserted ski field, except for the breathtaking scenery.

One of the final stops before the road rejoins the main highway is the Athabasca Falls. A raging torrent in spring, the fierce waters tumble and crash over hundreds of smoothed boulders. The adventurous can explore further up the river, but wear shoes with a good grip.

When the time comes to leave Jasper, there are two major routes. Those who arrived by train can continue their journey either east to Edmonton and on across the Canadian plains, or west to Vancouver. This route takes you on one of the most spectacular train journeys in the world, with incredible scenery in every direction.

For those travelling by car, allow plenty of time to explore the 230km Ice fields Parkway which connects Jasper to Banff, with a slight detour to Lake Louise. The road follows a valley through the Eastern Mountain Ranges, and offers spectacular scenery and plenty of wildlife. By the end of the day you’ll probably have a stiff neck from craning upwards to see the view.

The Sunwapta Falls are set in chunky terraces of rock, and it’s worth taking a short stroll to the viewing platform. Peyto Lake is a beautiful glacial lake, but should only be visited when the snow clears, otherwise the gentle uphill stroll can become a mammoth battle through waist high snow drifts.

Another beautiful stop is the Tangle Falls. Intrepid visitors can do some exploring here, rewarded by a close up look at the rushing waters. The best known stop, however, is Athabasca Glacier. This glacier has been steadily retreating for years, and there are date markers so you can see the gradual regression. It is possible to take a truck ride on the ice, or you can simply walk from the car park. Be warned – the weather can change very rapidly during your visit, so be prepared.

The Weeping Wall is particularly interesting after or during rain, with thousands of tiny waterfalls pouring down its rough faces. And for those nature lovers with a penchant for moose, try visiting Waterfowl Lake at either end of the day. It’s home to a number of these huge creatures.

The Ice fields Parkway continues on to Lake Louise, the magnificent setting for scenes in the movie “The Bodyguard”. Finally the road reaches Banff, leaving the peace and quiet of the wilder Jasper behind for good.

Exploring the Canadian Rockies is a must for lovers of rugged, mountain scenery. For those who want to experience the Rockies and its wildlife as closely as possible to how it would have been centuries ago, Jasper is the perfect base. The Rockies are waiting for you.

Adventure Travel in Canada

Travelers seeking an adventure travel vacation need look no farther than Canada. From its rocky Pacific Rim to the pristine beaches of its Atlantic coast, Canada is a nature-lovers dream travel destination. Whether your passion is hiking, kayaking, climbing, fishing, diving, surfing, or biking, Canada provides the ideal destination for any adventure travel enthusiast. Head to any of these Canadian adventure travel areas to explore the best of the great outdoors.

Banff, Alberta

Located in the Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest national parks and arguably its most popular. Banff is a natural wonderland, with terrain varying from glaciers to dense forests. Adventure travelers hail from near and far from Banff’s world-class hiking, mountain biking, climbing, kayaking, and winter sports. Take in the stunning views from atop Sunshine Meadows, Banff’s famous hiking trail that has an average elevation of 2,200 meters. Travelers seeking unique adventures can learn fly-fishing or take a cave exploring tour from one of the many adventure travel guide operators.

Nova Scotia

The second-smallest province in the country, Nova Scotia is located on Canada’s southeast Atlantic coast and draws in adventure travelers seeking its peaceful coastlines and soaring cliffs. Visitors relish in Nova Scotia’s charismatic fishing villages and picturesque bays, which lend themselves to ample opportunities for whale watching, kayaking, rafting, and fishing. If the green you crave involves 18 holes, Nova Scotia’s first-rate golf courses will not disappoint. Any traveler heading to Nova Scotia should put the beautiful Cape Breton Highlands National Park on their itinerary for stunning ocean and mountain scenery.

The Laurentians, Quebec

The Laurentians make up 22,000 square kilometers of natural beauty just north of Montreal. The area is home to some of the world’s finest resorts, including Mont Tremblant, Saint-Sauveur, Sainte-Adele and Sainte-Agathe, among others. These resorts offer everything the adventure traveler could want, including hiking, canoeing, white water rafting, climbing, and camping. For the traveler who covets a break from the wild outdoors, these resorts provide fine dining, spas, shopping, and entertainment. What’s more, the area is renowned for its striking fall foliage; take a ride up a gondola for a view of the dramatic scenery.

Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island is an adventure traveler’s dream, with terrain ranging from rugged, untamed beaches to untouched temperate rain forests. Vancouver Island’s Pacific Rim offers extreme surfing conditions, whale watching, scuba diving, biking, kayaking, and some of the world’s finest salmon fishing. Stroll through the Island’s historic fishing villages, or experience the remarkable old-growth trees on an eco-tour through a temperate rain forest.

Basic Travel Tips for First-Time Travelers to Canada

Canada perfectly defines one word – massive. It is the second largest country in the world and occupies most part of North America. So, if you are visiting Canada for the first time, you might wonder where to start your journey and what to do in the vast wilderness and enchanting cities. Mentioned below are some basic tips that will help you to plan a memorable vacation in Canada.

  • Best time to visit

In Canada, summer begins in late May and lasts till mid-September. After summer, fall season begins and continues till mid-November. Fall is succeeded by winter and ranges from mid-November until mid-March. Finally, spring completes the cycle up to late May. The tourist season in Canada booms from mid-June to mid-September. During this period, prices for accommodation and transport escalate. So, you can plan your visit to Canada depending on your preferences of weather and related activities. For example, you can ski in winter or hike the mountains in summer.

  • Good accommodation

With a population of approximately 30 million living in a vast country, you are certain to find a wide range of accommodations that suit your budget or taste. You can choose to stay in inexpensive Bed and Breakfast motels or fully-furnished luxury vacation rentals. Moreover, you can find accommodations in popular cities that are located close to city attractions. So choose your pick from the igloos or ice hotels during winter season or cozy lodges in any city that are open for all seasons.

  • Bunch of activities

It is simply impossible to run out of places to visit and things to do in Canada. Every province presents a unique spectacle of nature’s pristine beauty along with the charm of captivating cities. You can take a stroll in the streets of Old Montreal, skate on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, hike the Rockies in British Columbia, or watch wild polar bears in the wilderness of Manitoba…the attractions and activities are endless. Also, do not forget to eat the local delicacies like the famous Canadian poutine.

  • Budget your travel

You can save a notable sum of money on flights when you visit Canada and also when you book flights to travel from one city to another within the country. There are many travel agencies that offer discounted rates on flights of popular airlines. Flight Network is one of the most visited online travel agencies in Canada that offers cheap flights on leading domestic and international airlines such as Air Canada, WestJet, Delta Airlines, American Airlines and British Airways.