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Canadian Rockies

12 Quintessential Canadian Road Trips

By SHANNON KELLY

Trans Canada Highway, Alberta (Photo: Gord McKenna)

It’s time to think about planning your summer vacation, and if the open road is what you’re craving, Canada—with its stunning scenery and wide open natural beauty—has plenty of options. In fact, one of our best drives, the Banff-to-Jasper route (see Icefields Parkway) in the Rockies, was included in National Geographic’s Drives of a Lifetime book.

Start the slideshow of quintessential Canadian road trips »

Meet Outdoor and Adventure Travel Writer Meghan J. Ward

Meghan near Everest Base Camp in Nepal (Photo: Paul Zizka)

Adventure travel specialist Meghan J. Ward lives in one of the best locations on the planet for outdoors enthusiasts: Banff National Park. The content specialist for Banff Lake Louise Tourism, editor of Canadian Rockies culture publication Highline Magazine, and freelance writer for Parks Canada, Travel Alberta and numerous outdoors publications, Meghan is someone you want to listen to if you’re planning a trip to Canada’s adventure capital. You can also read her musings on everything from waterproof sneakers to climbing Mt. Everest at her blog, The Campsite.

Born in Calgary and raised in Ottawa, Meghan headed back west for summer jobs in Banff during university and relocated to Banff for good in 2008. She travels extensively throughout Canada (to six provinces and Nunavut in the past two years alone!) and recently spent nine weeks in Nepal, where she hiked to Everest Base Camp and through Upper Mustang, among other adventures. (more…)

Wildlife Viewing Tips in the Canadian Rockies

By Peter A. Dettling

Although archeologists have determined that First Nations used the Canadian Rockies regularly for 11,000 years, the idea that bears, cougars and other ‘predators’ were vermin to be eliminated was a European notion that arrived with the explorers in the late 1700s. As the non-Native presence in the Rockies grew, over hunting brought these large carnivores to the brink of extinction, and also depleted the ungulate population including elk and moose.

Thanks to the creation of protected areas, re-introduction efforts, hunting restrictions and changing attitudes towards large carnivores, we now find all pre-European settlement species in the Rockies, except free roaming bison. But don’t take a grizzly or wolf sighting for granted. Seeing large animals in their natural habitat is a privilege.

Since you are a visitor in their home, treat animals with respect by giving them space to decide what to do and where to go. When viewing wildlife from your car, pull off of the road, shut off the engine and silently enjoy the sighting. Stay in your vehicle, especially when watching wolves or bears. It will ensure a safe and pleasant experience for both you and the animal you’re observing.

Wildlife sightings in our mountain parks are frequent and widespread occurrences. Elk are common. In fall, visit Vermillion Lakes, Lake Minnewanka Loop or Golf Course Dr near the town of Banff, or Athabasca River flats near Jasper, to see bugling elk. Your best chance to see bears is in early summer north of Lake Louise on Icefields Parkway’s avalanche slopes and in roadside dandelion patches, or beside Jasper’s Maligne Lake Road (Map 5, 5P). Elusive wolves can sometimes be spotted early summer west or south of the Jasper townsite. Kananaskis Country often hosts moose, bears and wolves.

Try walking scenic mountain trails to feel truly connected with your surroundings and yourself. It is especially exhilarating to see animals on slopes and meadows away from the road.

Editor’s Note: Peter Dettling owns Canmore’s Terra Magica gallery and is the author and photographer of The Will of the Land. Visit TerraMagica.ca for details on his award-winning work.

Rockies Dreamin’: Lake Louise—Banff, Alberta

Submit your photo to our Flickr Group to see your favourite travel shot as part of our Photo Friday feature on Where.ca! We’ll credit you and link to your photo.

Why We Chose It

Pure eye candy. This photo perfectly showcases the drama and natural beauty that’s right at your fingertips in the Rockies. And at a time when some of us are sweltering in the summer heat and humidity, those snow-capped mountains look downright irresistible. The photographer has done an excellent job with scale: the canoers against the mammoth mountain peaks captures exactly how we remember our trips to Banff! (more…)

Book Now for the Best National Parks Campsites this Summer

By WAHEEDA HARRIS

Waterton Lakes' busy Townsite campground (Photo: canoe too)

For those of us who plan to commune with Mother Nature at one of Canada’s National Parks this summer, it’s time to pick a date and make a reservation.

Parks Canada has started accepting summer reservations for popular camping spots across the country through its reservation system. While booking for most parks’ campgrounds opens the first or second week of April, campers can already call dibs on sites at Elk Island and Pacific Rim national parks. (more…)

Once-in-a-Lifetime Trips

By CARISSA BLUESTONE

Dempster Highway (Photo: S. Stuart/NWTT)

What defines the ultimate Canadian adventure is a matter of individual taste, but some trips, whether due to extravagance, effort, rare glimpses of life in far-flung corners, or unremitting “The hills are alive…” catharsis, fall firmly into the once-in-a-lifetime category. (more…)

16 Summer Vacations to Book Now

Prince Edward Island; photo courtesy of Tourism PEI/John Sylvester

By Carissa Bluestone

Winter is far from over, but if you plan to visit one of Canada’s most popular summer destinations this year, don’t waste any time snatching up the choicest hotels and tours. If you do, you may miss out on early-bird discounts or have to postpone your dream vacation altogether. (more…)

The Smithsonian Guide to 12 “Evotourism” Hot Spots

BC's Burgess Shale, one of the Smithsonian's Evotourism sites. Photo by Daniel Arndt.

We’ve seen our share of niche travel sites and guides—a website for California dog lovers, the Chocolate Travel Guide, a blog about amusement parks, mobile surfing apps—but this is a first. (more…)

What’s Hot in January Across Canada

Halifax

Roots-rock legends Blue Rodeo return to the Halifax Metro Centre on January 28, performing concert classics like “Hasn’t Hit Me Yet” and “Diamond Mine,” along with their newest material.

Vancouver & Whistler

The 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games are almost here, and they’re bringing a lot more than just sports to Vancouver and Whistler. The Cultural Olympiad 2010 (Jan 22 – Mar 21) is the culmination of three years of Cultural Olympiads on the West Coast, and it features some of the world’s best artists, musicians, dancers, actors and performers. Vancouver highlights include Joni Mitchell’s The Fiddle and the Drum at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre (Jan 22 – 24), Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe at the Granville Island Stage (Jan 21 – Feb 6), and Steve Earle and Joel Plaskett at The Orpheum (Jan 23).

Whistler highlights include Canada’s first theatre of snow and ice, Nix (Jan 22 – Feb 27), Corb Lund at Whistler Village Square (Feb 19), and the Nunavut-based circus Artcirq at the Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre (Feb 20).

Ottawa

During the Carleton Cup Triathlon on Jan 30, fearless participants—athletically inclined or otherwise—skate for nearly 7km up and down the Rideau Canal, run through the ByWard Market, then slide into The Aulde Dubliner & Pour House to pound back a drink. First one in gets the bragging rights, but the real winner is the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Led by controversial-yet-charismatic frontman Axl Rose, the newest incarnation of Guns N’ Roses will tour to promote Chinese Democracy, an album that was 15 years in the making.  They stop into Ottawa Jan 31.

Calgary

Known for its memorable songs like, “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” the Tony Award-winning musical, Fiddler on the Roof plays at the Jubilee until Jan 17. Throughout the month of January, One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo offers theatre-lovers innovative plays, skits and acts from around the world. Highlights include Kawasaki Exit, a play about the dark-side of Japanese social networking sites and The Pajama Men, a comedy duo who perform their act in their pjs.

Winnipeg

World-class men’s curling talent sweeps into Winnipeg for the BDO Canadian Classic Open Jan 20 – 24. Top names like Canada’s Olympic representative Kevin Martin and Scotland’s reigning World Champion David Murdoch are expected to participate.

Edmonton

Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie, one of Canada’s most accomplished dance organizations, brings three brilliant performances to Edmonton Jan 20: In Paradisum; Soudain, l’hiver dernier; and Fifteen Heterosexual Duets, all choreographed by James Kudelka.  Artistic Director Laurence Lemieux promises “an exhilarating voyage to the heights of paradise and the depths of the heart.”  Edmontonians revel in the winter months at the Winter Light Festival. Every weekend brings a blizzard of family fun with many events such as ice carving, ice-skating, art shows and much more. On until Mar 12, free admission.

Canadian Rockies

The Olympic Torch Relay comes through Banff Jan 20 and the town is celebrating outdoors with live music. Watch as teams carve massive blocks of ice into glittering sculptures at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise during the Ice Magic Festival, Jan 22 – 24 (if you can’t catch the carving, admire the art until it melts away in a few months). Or hit up Jasper in January for ski lift ticket and hotel discounts, plus fun events like the polar bear dip, Taste of the Town, music and skating parties, Jan 15 – 31.

Toronto

Important figures of history continue to draw crowds in the present. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart looms large over the city on select dates between Jan 13 and 24 as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra presents the Mozart@254 Festival, its annual concert series commemorating the 1756 birth of the Classical Era’s greatest composer. This year’s program features guest artists including famed baritone Russell Braun, violinist Pinchas Zukerman and many others. Or, have an archeological encounter with the great rulers of Egypt, by visiting the Art Gallery of Ontario’s ongoing exhibit, King Tut: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs. The massive display showcases rare artifacts from the days of Khafre, Amenhotep IV, Rameses II and other significant monarchs, as well as more than 50 exquisite treasures from the tomb of Tutankhamun. On until Apr 18.