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Jasper & Area

Indoor Activities in the Canadian Rockies

By Where Writers

Too cold outside? Need a break from skiing? There’s another frontier to discover in the Canadian Rockies: the great indoors. Wind down or rope up with these favourite indoor activities in Canmore, Banff and Jasper.

indoor activities in the Canadian Rockies, things to do in the Canadian Rockies


What to do in the Canadian Rockies in Winter

By Where Writers

There are loads of things to do in Banff and Jasper national parks in the winter. Take a break from the ski hills to discover snowshoeing tours, ice walks, dogsledding, tobogganing and the best spots for a cozy fire pit picnic.

Canadian Rockies activities, Canadian Rockies things to do (more…)

Spring Skiing in the Canadian Rockies

March 11, 2016
By Naomi Witherick

Stay and ski for a few days at Sunshine Mountain Lodge (background), Banff's only on-hill accommodation. Image: Banff & Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka

Stay and ski for a few days at Sunshine Mountain Lodge (background), Banff’s only on-hill accommodation. Image: Banff & Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka

Spring skiing in Banff and Jasper is about BBQs, music and spring passes at killer prices. Expect great conditions too, with sunshine and late winter snowfall. Here are the deals and events not to miss.

The Annual Slush Cup Competition at Sunshine Village, Banff.

Sunshine Village’s Annual Slush Cup will be making a splash May 23. Image: Sunshine Village


Insider Tips: Canadian Rockies Ski Resorts

Jan. 7, 2016
By Where Staff

For Banff National Park ski resorts, read our previous feature.


Alberta’s Olympic Mountain: Nakiska Ski Area

Between Banff and Calgary, south of Hwy 1 via Hwy 40, this resort was built to host the 1988 Olympics. Beautiful Kananaskis Valley views abound, and Kananaskis Village is only minutes away.


4 Top Alpine Club Backcountry Huts

Dec. 14, 2015
By Afton Aikens

If you want to step outside the comfort zone of a hotel but aren’t keen on winter camping, an Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) backcountry hut may be an ideal choice—and a great base for skiing or snowshoeing. The huts vary from century-old log cabins in meadows to bunker-looking dwellings above treeline.

“The Alpine Club has put a lot of resources into them, so they’re well kept,” says the ACC’s Keith Haberl. “The great thing about (staying at a hut) is you don’t have to carry a tent or a stove, and the sleeping pads are there; just bring a sleeping bag and food,” he adds. “Huts open the door to a lot more terrain for a lot more people.”

Hut accommodation is dormitory-style; sleeping quarters, common areas and kitchens are shared with other guests. Huts can be booked up to 30 days in advance (or six months in advance for ACC members—and anyone can become a member). “There’s a high likelihood of meeting like-minded people who have some recreational objective that’s similar,” Haberl says.

Popular huts in winter include:

Photo by Tanya Koob

Photo by Tanya Koob

  • Elk Lakes Cabin, Elk Lakes Park, BC: This is the ACC’s closest hut to Calgary, accessed from
    Peter Lougheed Park in Kananaskis. The trailhead is 62 km south of Hwy 1 on Hwy 40, and it’s
    a 9-km (three to four hours) cross-country ski to the hut; the trail is track set in Peter Lougheed
    Park. Elk Lakes Cabin is a family favourite, with ski touring ranging from easy to advanced.


Road Tripping

Discover the Canadian Rockies, a world-renowned tourist destination on Calgary’s doorstep

By Sally MacKinnon

Lake Louise

From November to March, enjoy free public skating on Lake Louise.

The peaks of the Rocky Mountains tower over Calgary’s western horizon. Luckily, their proximity isn’t a mirage; Banff National Park is an hour’s drive from Calgary, and the town itself is only another 20 km.

The main draw of this region (apart from scenic views) is adventure sports. In winter, that means downhill skiing or snowboarding, which you can do at Nakiska, Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village, Lake Louise Mountain Resort, Marmot Basin and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. But, there are also a range of activities for fans of other winter sports, from cross-country skiing to dog sledding, snowshoeing to snowmobiling, ice skating to ice fishing. And for hard core adventurers, there’s heli-skiing and ice climbing.

But, that doesn’t mean the Rockies’ only attractions are outdoors. The shops of Banff Avenue and Canmore’s Main Street offer unique wares, and the Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise—majestic, 19th-century CP hotels—offer boutique shopping, dining and stately corridors to wander. History buffs can head to the Cave & Basin National Historic Site, the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, or the Canmore Museum & Geoscience Centre. And no visit is complete without a soak in their naturally heated mineral waters, which you can access at the Banff Upper Hot Springs.

Must-See Attractions


The outdoor whirlpool at the Fairmont Banff Springs, open to guests and spa patrons.

1. The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
This five-star hotel was built in 1888 in the Scottish Baronial style, making it a modern-day castle in the mountains. It is a magnet for both tourists and day-trippers, who can dine in its restaurants, wander through its corridors and banquet rooms, shop in its luxury boutiques, or take part in a guided walking tour.

2. Lake Louise
One of the most photographed locations in the Rockies, Lake Louise is a glacier-fed lake with a million dollar view. During the winter you can skate on a section of the lake, use the surrounding trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, or downhill ski at the Lake Louise Mountain Resort.

3. Columbia Icefield
Both Banff and Jasper National Parks share the Columbia Icefield, a 325-sq.-km mass of ice straddling the continental divide. This is the largest icefield in the Rockies, and nearly three quarters of Jasper’s highest peaks are within view. The icefield’s top attraction is the Athabasca Glacier, which you can access on a snow coach or guided walking tour.

Off the beaten path


The winter splendour of Maligne Canyon.

1. Maligne Canyon Icewalk
Jasper’s Maligne Canyon is a top summer attraction, but in winter the canyon is still a must-see. When the torrents of the Maligne River freeze, awe-inspiring columns of ice are created, some reaching 30 m high. Maligne Tours offers guided walks of this frozen wonderland, which you explore in ice cleats.

2. Kananaskis Country
K-Country has mountain peaks and tranquil valleys, but less human traffic than Banff or Jasper. It’s also located closer to Calgary, especially if you live in either the southwest or northwest. Highlights include Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes (featured in the movie Brokeback Mountain) and Kananaskis Village, which hosted the G8 Summit in 2002.

3. Caves, dogs and snowshoes
During the winter, downhill skiing reigns supreme in the Rockies. But there are also activities for non-skiers: you can explore the 4-km Rat’s Nest Cave system with Canmore Caverns, go dog sledding with a local outfitter, or rent snowshoes or cross-country skis and take on the trails at the Canmore Nordic Centre.

Before You Go…

• Dress in layers—you can peel off clothing as the temperature climbs, and you’ll trap warm pockets of air.
• Check the weather and road conditions. The highway between Lake Louise and Jasper, for example, is often closed due to winter storms.
• Have the right gear, including a first aid kit, maps and plenty of water. For backcountry excursions, consider taking a GPS personal tracking device.
•  Tell someone where you’re going, and for how long—search parties are sent out when a person is reported missing.

Rocky Mountain Meats


Elk, a local specialty in Banff, Canmore and Jasper. Photograph courtesy CRMR.

If you want to eat like a local, you’ll have to find a restaurant that serves Alberta beef, bison or elk. Luckily, most eateries serve each of these meats and more. Here are five of our favourites:
• Cilantro, Tunnel Mountain Drive, Banff (reopens Dec 17)
• Elk & Oarsman, 2nd flr, 119 Banff Avenue, Banff
• Iron Goat Pub & Grille, 703 Benchlands Trail, Canmore
• Maple Leaf Grill & Lounge, 137 Banff Ave, Banff
• Sage Bistro, 1712 Bow Valley Trail, Canmore

Did you know?

Compared to other mountain ranges, the Rockies are toddlers. They started their rise 75 million years ago, when a collision happened between two plates in the earth’s crust. The Himalayas, in contrast, began their ascent 180 million years ago.