Hiking in the Canadian Rocky Mountains – Banff National Park

Hiking in the Canadian Rockies leads to a world of natural wonders. Discover high mountain passes and meadows blanketed in wildflowers. Watch for wildlife you won’t find elsewhere. Encounter remote alpine lakes, cirques and glaciers that most people never see. You’re walking on top of the world.

Luxury in the Wilderness

Lake Louise in Banff National Park is one of many possible settings for your Rockies hiking vacation. The park is a study in contrasts: turquoise waters against gleaming glaciers; tea and scones on a mountain top at the Lake Agnes Teahouse; a muscle-burning hike up rugged Fairview Mountain with a white linen experience in the dining room at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise awaiting your return. And the hotel itself: old-world elegance yet relaxed and inviting.

As dusk settles, it’s hard to tear your focus from the view through the opulent dining room windows. That is until the host brings the menu and you’re torn between the Alberta elk striploin with baby turnips or the Alberta rack of lamb with potato goat cheese pavé. All will be fuel for tomorrow’s hike.

Plan to hike the Plain of Six Glaciers to take in the ice-age moraines. See if you can spot some wildlife and be back for a late tea at the Lakeview Lounge. Or a craft beer – the Chateau specializes in local brew.

The Lake Louise Gondola

While it gets most of its praise for taking skiers high and fast to one of the world’s most recognized ski hills, the Lake Louise Gondola is a treat in the summer. The slopes of Whitehorn transform from a snowy wonderland to alpine meadows laced with hiking routes. On the ride up, keep your eyes peeled. You might spot a mother grizzly bear and her cubs shambling along a wildlife corridor far below the lift. At the top you’ll find an interpretive centre and several short, leisurely strolls.

Backcountry Bliss

Step into your time-travel machine (aka hiking boots). The only way to get to Skoki Lodge is on foot. Head out from the Lake Louise trailhead on an 11 km journey through the high alpine – an experience that has filled the journals of explorers and adventurers for almost 100 years. If you yearn for an authentic pioneer-pilgrim experience, this is it. The lodge defines rustic: no electricity and no running water, but you’ll be surprised at the creature comforts. And it proved to be the perfect honeymoon hideaway for Prince William and Duchess Kate.

Must-Do Hikes from Skoki Lodge

  • Merlin Castle – in Merlin Valley southwest of Skoki Valley
  • Skoki Mountain – at the head of the Red Deer River, east of Skoki Valley
  • Oyster Peak – east of Skoki Mountain, northeast of Fossil Mountain
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