Canada’s Rocky Mountains are epic in every way. There’s just so much to discover. Stunning landscapes, adventure, relaxation, wildlife… and the friendly locals who are ready to welcome you into their amazing backyard.
We’re on a Rockies road trip to Jasper, and the scenery surrounding the Yellowhead Highway on which we’re travelling starts to reveal wide valleys and mountain ranges that get bigger around every corner.
The highest point in the Canadian Rockies regularly hides beneath a veil of cloud. However, today the fog’s lifted, the sun’s shining and Mount Robson is soon before us in all her glory. At 3,954m tall, it towers over its neighbouring peak.
It’s a spectacular welcome to the Rockies! Famous for their pristine beauty, adventure sports, lakes and wildlife, they’re high on the agenda of anyone travelling to Canada.
We soon cross into Alberta and Jasper National Park. Arriving in the early afternoon into the town of Jasper, the quaint alpine village is alive with locals and tourists, all here for a mountain experience.
A Harley Davidson tour of the area is a popular choice and I meet Ted, my driver, who immediately offers to get me dressed up in leathers. Then, with a roar of the bike’s engine, we take off down the main street of Jasper.
As we roll out of town, I relax in the sidecar, ready for adventure. We’re winding our way up into the National Park, and nothing could prepare me for the sights ahead.
Around every corner, mountain ranges present themselves, autumn colours highlight pine forests and, around one final bend, the sun speckles off one of Ted’s favourite views, Medicine Lake. It’s a picture postcard, with water so still clouds reflect off its surface. Filled with glacial waters during the summer, it drains through sinkholes in the bottom in autumn and winter.
Our afternoon adventure ends at The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. I sink into a chair in front of the lake. Elk roam freely around the grounds, the sun dips behind the mountains and in the main lodge, fires are being lit in grand fireplaces.
The next morning we’re back on the road and travelling along the Icefields Parkway, one of the world’s most scenic drives and a national treasure that stretches 232km through the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site.
Dotted with more than one hundred glaciers on either side, it’s home to the Columbia Icefield and the Athabasca Glacier. After an hour of jaw-dropping scenery, we rug up in our warmest gear. A snow shuttle delivers us to incredible ‘Ice Explorer’ vehicles, waiting to take us the rest of the way. These enormous 6WD vehicles have been custom-built to tackle the terrain, and only exist here and in Antarctica. We descend the steepest commercial road in North America, and then up and onto 300m of glacial ice, as deep as the Eiffel Tower is tall!
We spend around 30 minutes walking on ice that stretches 6km long and 1km wide. It melts at a rate of 2-3m per year, and over the last 125 years has lost over half of its volume. It’s an incredible feeling, walking on ice formed from snow that fell perhaps 400 years ago, and so pure that you can fill your drink bottle up.
Back on the road, we’re entering Banff National Park and arrive at one of the Canadian Rockies most iconic locations, Lake Louise. The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise sits proudly at the foot of the emerald lake – one of the most photographed sights in the world.
The hotel’s existed since 1890, when a mountaineering base was set up to cater to alpinists. It graduated in several different forms to the luxury retreat that it is today, welcoming thousands of visitors who come for hiking, skiing and simply, the views.
As the sun sets, I settle back in the lounge area of the hotel and marvel at the incredible scenery, which has welcomed us with big, wide, pristine arms, at every single turn.
We travelled to Canada thanks to APT.