Tours & Activities in Alberta's Rockies
Renowned for its world-class ski hills and resorts, the Alberta Rockies provide impressive verticals and top-notch facilities at major ski hills in Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper and Kananaskis Country. Snowboarders and skiers alike will appreciate an impressive abundance of fresh snow, a November-to-May season (weather permitting) and a diversity of runs. Average snowfalls at hills across the area range from 300 cm (10 ft) to 10 m (33 ft) and some hills, such as Lake Louise Mountain Resort, boast over 135 runs. Novices can tackle the slopes with professional ski and snowboard lessons or through an array of organized ski tours and packages.
A popular winter activity for tourists to the region, dog sledding is a unique and exhilarating way to explore the spectacular backcountry trails of the Rockies. No experience is necessary when embarking on a dog-sled adventure; tours are conducted by professional guides who offer participants the choice to try their hand at mushing or just sit back and take in the views from the comfort of a blanket-lined sled. Kingmik Dog Sled Tours in Lake Louise offers an array of guided, family-friendly excursions on scenic trails that follow the Continental Divide.
CANYON ICE WALKS
Exploring the frozen landscapes of some of the most magnificent canyons in the Alberta Rockies, guided ice walks provide an up-close encounter with natural ice formations and caves in popular gorges near Banff and Jasper. Overlander Trekking and Tours in Jasper offers comprehensive guided excursions at Maligne Canyon, the deepest of its kind in Jasper National Park. Tours of Banff National Park’s Johnston and Grotto canyons are available from White Mountain Adventures, which leads participants along ice-covered trails to towering frozen waterfalls, capping off the visit with a hot cup of cocoa. All tours, which typically run from November to April, provide necessary safety footwear and related gear.
TOURS BY HELICOPTER
Remote mountain areas are made accessible via organized sightseeing helicopter tours, which provide a bird’s-eye view of peaks, lakes and glaciers. Thrill seekers looking for untouched locations can arrange for a one-of-kind heli-adventure into the deep backcountry of the mountains; skiing, hiking and mountain-top yoga retreats are just a few of the activities accessible by air. Notable operators include Icefield Helicopter Tours in Cline River and Alpine Helicopters in Canmore.
Not for the faint of heart, whitewater rafting tours in the Rockies offer a high-adrenaline adventure on Class I to IV rapids. Professionally guided tours range from scenic float excursions to wet and wild adventures on glacier-fed rivers. Chinook Rafting, operating out of Kananaskis Country, offers packages ideal for families and large groups, while Wild Blue Yonder, near Grande Cache, provides a variety of tours, including half-day, full-day and overnight guided trips through the wilds of Willmore Wilderness Park. Dependant on weather, most tours operate from June to September.
Magnificent surroundings make for a truly inspiring game of golf at world-class courses located throughout the region. Links in the mountain villages of Waterton, Jasper, Canmore, Banff and Kananaskis offer unsurpassed facilities surrounded by towering peaks, meandering rivers and lush forests. Courses of distinction include the Stanley Thompson Course at the Banff Springs, which offers challenging terrain and 360° views of breathtaking mountain scenery, and the historic Waterton Lakes Golf Course nestled in beautiful Waterton National Park. The area typically observes a May to October golfing season, weather permitting.
HOLIDAY ON HORSEBACK
Trail riding excursions through alpine meadows and river valleys are an extraordinary way to explore the backcountry and simultaneously discover the region’s Western heritage. Many outfitters in the tourist area offer a wide array of packages and activities, including interpreted half- and full-day trail rides and multi-day overnight pack trips. Boundary Ranch in Kananaskis Village is a popular destination for its year-round horse-drawn wagon rides and seasonal trail adventures through the Kananaskis Range. Warner Guiding in Banff National Park has been providing guided horseback tours to visitors from around the globe since 1964 and features a wide selection of packages for beginners and experienced riders.
A mineral-rich soak in a geothermally heated, modern, outdoor bath house is a welcome respite to any weary traveller. Throughout the Rockies, these historic hot pools are a popular destination for locals and visitors alike due to the soothing properties of the water and inspiring mountain views. Facilities at Miette Hot Springs near Jasper are in operation from mid-May to mid-October and feature the hottest pools in all of the Rockies. Year-round services are offered at the historic Banff Upper Hot Springs, where visitors can indulge in a spa treatment or enjoy views of majestic Mount Rundle while soaking up the benefits of the springs.
A convenient (and less strenuous) way to ascend the Alberta Rockies is by means of one of its sightseeing lifts. Lake Louise Gondola and Sightseeing Lift operates from May to September and, in addition to providing breathtaking views from the top, features an array of interpretive programs and a full-service dining lodge at its base. In just eight minutes, visitors can reach the summit of Banff’s Sulphur Mountain via the glass-encased cabins of Banff Gondola, which is open year round. Canada’s highest aerial lift, the Jasper Tramway, transports visitors to the peak of Whistlers Mountain, which, at 2,300 m (7,500 ft), offers unrivaled views of multiple mountain ranges. Open seasonally, the attraction also features summit hiking trails and a restaurant.