If you’re looking for a scenic, outdoor adventure this summer, visit the Canadian Rockies. Zip down an Olympic bobsled run in Calgary, ride a gondola to the summit of Sulphur Mountain in Banff, and explore the trails in Banff National Park and around Lake Louise.
The Canadian Rockies, known for their ski resorts, are glorious in summer. Hike lush river valleys and make your way up mountain paths that wind through forests of tall spruce and larch trees to scenic overlooks. As part of Canada’s year-long 150th birthday celebration, admission to Banff National Park (and other parks) is free throughout 2017. If you need another reason to go, consider the exchange rate. Since one U.S. dollar gets you about $1.34 in Canadian dollars, a trip to Canada stretches your budget.
Calgary, the gateway to the Canadian Rockies, is situated about 90 miles east of Banff.
Calgary, a business center, remembers its wild west heritage with its annual Calgary Stampede, a 10-day festival of professional rodeo roping, bull riding, bronc busting and steer wrestling, kicked off by a grand parade with floats, marching bands and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police looking spiffy atop their horses. July 7 to 16.
WinSport at Canada Olympic Park
WinSport (the Canadian Winter Sport Institute), uses facilities of Canada Olympic Park, site of the 1988 Olympic games, to train athletes and entice tourists. Glide on a zip line, go mountain biking, and for adrenaline thrills, zoom and twist down the Olympic bobsled run at speeds up to 50 mph under the guidance of a professional bobsled pilot.
Banff and Lake Louise
Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, features some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in North America. With its abundance of summer visitors, the tiny town of Banff can feel crowded. That said, the national park offers 2,564 square miles of exquisite alpine scenery, from river valleys and forests to craggy, skyscraping peaks. You can canoe, rock climb, horseback ride and fish.
Banff Sightseeing Gondola
For panoramic views without the work of climbing, ride the gondola to the 7,486-foot summit of Sulphur Mountain.
Lake Louise is our favorite base for exploring the region. Situated at 5,000-feet and flanked by mountains, the emerald green/turquoise lake glistens in the sun. The peaks of Victoria Glacier, its slopes covered with ice, rise just behind the lake. For an easy trail, walk the 2.5-mile path that circumnavigates the lake. To avoid the crowds, start your walk early in the morning.
Where to Stay
The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise has an idyllic setting facing the lake. The hotel is an especially nice treat for those who crave a massage and a good meal after a hard day’s hike.