Five Unique Ways to Experience the Canadian Rockies

This is sponsored content by Rocky Mountaineer

From scenic vistas and outdoor adventures, to local arts, culture and dining, we outline five of the ultimate ways you can enjoy all that Canada's Rocky Mountains have to offer.

Featuring some of the world's most spectacular landscapes, Canada's Rocky Mountains are teeming with so many highlights, knowing where to begin and how to experience them can feel almost overwhelming. This awe-inspiring region lies between the interior plains of Alberta and eastern British Columbia and includes iconic mountain destinations like Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper. It's also packed with world-class outdoor adventures, culinary innovation, cultural experiences and one of the world's most revered luxury train journeys. There's many incredible reasons to put this part of the world on your travel list.

SOAK UP THE SCENERY

Competition for the title of "standout natural geographic wonder" is undoubtedly stiff in this region, but it's hard to see past the glacial beauty of Lake Louise in Banff National Park. Nestled at the foot of the Victoria Glacier, this lake is famed for its ravishing colour transitions caused by reflections of light from natural mineral deposits carried by the glacial melt. From when the lake thaws in late May/early June until autumn, the surface frequently shimmers a striking shade of turquoise, but it's stunning in all seasons, and is a landscape photographer's dream. Another top contender is Moraine Lake, which is situated some 15 kilometres outside of Lake Louise and boasts breathtaking views and azure blues. Both lakes offer a variety of hikes ranging from easy to expert level.

For road trippers, Highway 93 — commonly known as the Icefields Parkway — is a must. Meandering 232 kilometres through the Continental Divide, the road snakes through plunging valleys and crisp alpine peaks connecting Banff and Jasper national parks and is considered one of the most beautiful drives in the world. While en route, it's worth exploring the Columbia Icefield and the Athabasca Glacier, one of the biggest non-polar icefields on earth. Pull into the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre or get onto the glacier itself onboard an Ice Explorer — essentially a modified bus sporting gargantuan wheels to safely navigate the ice.

FEAST ON LOCAL FARE

Dine on menus that feature regional flavours and ingredients, like Pacific Salmon or Alberta beef.

Dine on menus that feature regional flavours and ingredients, like Pacific salmon or Alberta beef. Photo: Rocky Mountaineer.

You may be in the mountains but fear not, you needn't be living off freeze-dried meals heated over a gas burner here; the Canadian Rockies have culinary options for every palate. The adventure mecca of Banff, Alberta has an especially active culinary scene, with top chefs from around the world flocking to the town in recent years. Premier dining options include Eden, showcasing well-crafted Canadian ingredients; The Maple Leaf Grill and Lounge, an upscale après ski-style classic; and Sky Bistro, which marries astounding views from the summit of Sulphur Mountain (accessible by taking the Banff Gondola), and menu items such as venison with apple and pear puree or foraged British Columbia mushrooms with herbed polenta.

At the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, a 45-minute drive from Banff, don't miss the iconic fondue experience. Tucked away in the hotel's Walliser Stube restaurant, the house speciality is a decadent cheese fondue, but there's a variety of other classic European alpine dishes to choose from, all served against a magical lake vista backdrop. For more casual fare and a rustic mountain-town vibe, head northwest to Jasper and try Tekarra Restaurant for rustic home-style fare, enjoy the smokehouse menu at the Maligne Canyon Wilderness Kitchen after hiking the trails, or indulge in elevated dining at Syrahs of Jasper. The Jasper Food Tour offers the opportunity to hop from spot to spot, sampling local dishes paired with drinks.

GET ACTIVE

Discover the iconic mountain town of Banff on a wander down Banff Ave.

Discover the iconic mountain town of Banff on a wander down Banff Ave. Photo: Rocky Mountaineer.

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During summer, the Canadian Rockies are ideal for walking, hiking or just wandering — enjoying the lakes, downtown Banff or the countless trails. There's also low-key cycling adventures and mountain biking, which is permitted on designated trails throughout Banff and Jasper national parks. Other hot spots include the Canmore/Kananaskis region (both are close to Banff), especially near the Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park with its sprawling network of over 100 kilometres of trails, including diverse tracks suited to all abilities. Road bikers will love the paved Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail linking Canmore to Banff and then the Bow Valley Parkway. If water activities are more your passion, try canoeing on Lake Louise, rafting along Banff's Bow River, or, near Jasper, taking a boat tour on Maligne Lake to Spirit Island.

GET CULTURED

Delving inside the culture and history of a destination never fails to enrich any travel experience. The celebrated Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity offers an outstanding array of programs and events showcasing the best in local music, literature, visual arts and more, with regular hosted events as well as arts and film festivals. For a fascinating insight into First Nations culture, the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum shows what life was like before European settlers arrived in Banff. The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies — founded by beloved Canadian artists Peter and Catharine Whyte — offers wonderful exhibits detailing Indigenous history, art and culture.

RIDE ROCKY MOUNTAINEER

Take a luxury train journey to Banff, Lake Louise or Jasper onboard Rocky Mountaineer.

Take a luxury train journey to Banff, Lake Louise or Jasper onboard Rocky Mountaineer. Photo: Rocky Mountaineer.

Combining a trip to the Canadian Rockies with a visit to Western Canada and cosmopolitan cities like Vancouver or Calgary has never been easier. If you're searching for the ultimate way to see some of the most remarkable landscapes in the world, look no further than luxury rail company Rocky Mountaineer, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. The award-winning train traverses three unforgettable rail routes between Vancouver and Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper. There are two levels of service, GoldLeaf Service and SilverLeaf Service, with the former featuring bi-level cars with dome windows, a dining room on the lower level and an outdoor viewing platform, while the latter offers spacious, single-level rail cars with oversized windows and meals served seat-side.

Witness everything from lush rainforest landscapes to desert-like canyons, plunging valley gorges and some of Canada's highest mountain peaks as you pass through diverse regions in British Columbia and Alberta. Depending on the season, with a keen eye you may spot wildlife like eagles, bighorn sheep, elk and maybe even bears. Each train journey also features impeccable service and memorable storytelling by onboard Hosts, opportunities for guests to relax and chat with each other, and delicious cuisine created by onboard chefs. Rocky Mountaineer works with carefully selected travel partners and experts, so you can add local tours and activities — including an Alaska cruise from Vancouver with Holland America Line — to your train journey and explore even more of Western Canada.

Canada's Rocky Mountains are a truly remarkable landscape that should top the bucket list of any discerning traveller. Experience it now for a journey you will never forget.

Rocky Mountaineer is a family-owned company that offers luxury train journeys between Vancouver and the Canadian Rocky Mountains, showcasing the best of Canada's scenery. Travel in spacious, glass-dome train coaches, while enjoying pristine wilderness, local gourmet cuisine and attentive service. Since it was founded in 1990, Rocky Mountaineer has welcomed more than two million guests and become the largest privately owned, premium tourist train in the world. Visit Rockymountaineer.com to learn more or speak to your travel professional.

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