Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks

Provinces of British Columbia and Alberta
N51 25 29 W116 28 47
Date of Inscription: 1984
Extension: 1990
Criteria: (vii)(viii)
Property : 2,299,104 ha
Ref: 304bis

The contiguous national parks of Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho, as well as the Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine and Hamber provincial parks, studded with mountain peaks, glaciers, lakes, waterfalls, canyons and limestone caves, form a striking mountain landscape. The Burgess Shale fossil site, well known for its fossil remains of soft-bodied marine animals, is also found there.

Renowned for their scenic splendor, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks are comprised of Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho national parks and Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine and Hamber provincial parks. Together, they exemplify the outstanding physical features of the Rocky Mountain Biogeographical Province. Classic illustrations of glacial geological processes — including icefields, remnant valley glaciers, canyons and exceptional examples of erosion and deposition — are found throughout the area. The Burgess Shale Cambrian and nearby Precambrian sites contain important information about the earth’s evolution.

Criterion (vii): The seven parks of the Canadian Rockies form a striking mountain landscape. With rugged mountain peaks, icefields and glaciers, alpine meadows, lakes, waterfalls, extensive karst cave systems and deeply incised canyons, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks possess exceptional natural beauty, attracting millions of visitors annually.

Criterion (viii): The Burgess Shale is one of the most significant fossil areas in the world. Exquisitely preserved fossils record a diverse, abundant marine community dominated by soft-bodied organisms. Originating soon after the rapid unfolding of animal life about 540 million years ago, the Burgess Shale fossils provide key evidence of the history and early evolution of most animal groups known today, and yield a more complete view of life in the sea than any other site for that time period. The seven parks of the Canadian Rockies are a classic representation of significant and on-going glacial processes along the continental divide on highly faulted, folded and uplifted sedimentary rocks.

Suggested base:

Canmore is a mountainous town located in the Alberta Rockies of Canada. Being only 80 km from Calgary, at the southeast entrance to Banff National Park and the northwest edge of Kananaskis Country, Canmore is a popular starting point for exploring the Canadian Rockies. The Canadian Rockies offer some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. It may seem a daunting task to try to see it all in a limited amount of time. Fortunately there is a host of companies available that eliminate the hassle, giving you the opportunity to sit back, relax and enjoy the view. The friendly guides offer fun and informative sightseeing tours in and around the Banff area in comfortable vehicles. The Canmore town centre is small, and you can walk just about anywhere you want to go. Taxis within the city limits will range in price from around $5. [read more]

Onward!, the official motto of Calgary, is more apt than ever in the wake of the major flooding the city experienced in June 2013. A year later, the casual visitor would have been hard-pressed to find any traces of the flood. As of November 2016, the only changes visitors may notice are the closure of boating through the Harvie Passage section of the Bow River, and a few remaining sections of bike paths that are closed as a result of flood damage or for riverbank stabilization. Calgary is Alberta’s largest city and Canada’s fourth-largest, and is near where the prairies end and the foothills begin. That makes it the eastern gateway to the Rocky Mountains and an important center of trade and tourism for the western prairies. It is your best point of access for Banff and Jasper, and a worthwhile destination in its own right. [read more]

Red Deer, Alberta’s third-largest city, is located in Central Alberta between Calgary and Edmonton. Red Deer (pop 100000) is located in aspen parkland, in a region of rolling hills that is a centre for grain, cattle, agriculture, oil and petrochemical production. The Bus is the only form of public transportation and is a good way of getting around the city. A couple of taxi companies (Alberta Gold and Associated Cab) operate in the city. They can get busy during rush hours or Friday nights, but are usually fast. [read more]

13 replies »

  1. These mountains are breathtaking…The cold ice crashes down tremendous cliffs to the very edge of deep, somber forests. No dust here—all is snow, ice, clean black rock and mossy earth covered with thick vegetation—all cool and calm and very strong in the primal aspect. These are the great mountains we dream about.


  2. Lake Louise and Banff are wonderful places to visit. I especially loved seeing the Bighorn mountain sheep everywhere. Have traveled all over Canada. Always enjoy the majestic scenery, the history, and of course our good neighbors, the Canadians! (Head north, eh?)


  3. Banff is considered one of the finest hiking locations in the world. The spectacular unique beauty of the glacial lakes makes every step worthwhile. The unusual light green hue of the lake water seems to change several times each day as the sun rises and falls with occasional fog adding to the mysterious atmosphere.

    Bears are mentioned in almost all information regarding Banff National Park. Many trails are closed to hiking groups of less than four people. Single hikers or smaller groups are encouraged to hike with others since bears are less likely to approach people in larger groups. Some trails are temporarily closed if the park rangers observe a bear regularly inhabiting a hiking area. We did see a black bear but, luckily, it was not while we were hiking on a trail. The bear crossed the street between our cars as we drove from Moraine Lake. We were kindly admonished by the ranger to “keep moving please” as we snapped photos.

    The logistics of parking near many of the trail heads requires an early starting time. Banff, the third oldest national park in the world, is popular due to the accessibility of the major sites within the park. Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, the Bow River, and Lake Minnewanka can all be visited and enjoyed by car thus parking is an issue.


  4. When you pull into the train station in Banff, you’re just steps from plenty of great shopping, outdoor activities and natural beauty. Surrounded by Banff National Park, Canada’s first National Park, there are plenty of easily accessible hiking trails and river experiences. Take the Banff Gondola to the summit of Sulphur Mountain for unforgettable views of the town and the surrounding six mountain ranges. Wander into the charming boutiques, adventure outfitters and restaurants along Banff Avenue and snap a photo of the dramatic Cascade Mountain, which appears to rise directly up out of downtown. Get your blood flowing with an easy 1.86-mile hike to see the Hoodoos, spooky-looking rock formations with arresting views.


  5. There is so much to see, like some of the most turquoise water you’ll ever see at Lake Louise, which is a glacier-fed lake.


  6. I see the beautiful, bright turquoise blue lakes of the park, fed by rushing streams and rivers which are in turn fed by glacial melt water. Banff national park is a real jewel in the crown of Canada and I highly recommend a visit!


  7. Banff National Park hiking is pretty special. There are trails to suit your energy levels, whether it be multi-day backcountry backpacking trips or gentler, more easily accessible Banff camping. Banff’s glowing-turquoise lakes and tumbling rivers will capture your heart. They did mine… and I’m always keen to return. A great place to start out learning about Rocky Mountain wildlife is by visiting the amazing, heritage collection of taxidermy wildlife at Banff Park Museum National Historic Site of Canada in the Village of Banff. Here you can examine a grizzly “up close and personal,” check out identification books in the library or watch videos in its Discovery Room.


  8. We spent every day of our stay meandering in beautiful serendipity. Stunning Lake Louise and baby blue Peyto Lake are a good hour’s drive north from Banff, and the Icefields Parkway, where you can walk directly up to limitless tons of pristine glacial ice, is a lot farther away. But we motored there along the jagged spine of the Canadian Rockies, seeing imposing mountain vistas that rewarded us tenfold. It was so scenic and filled with caribou that I would have been happy if we had crossed the route by dog sled.


  9. Icefields Parkway is one of the best places to experience the Canadian Rockies along a highway. The Icefields Parkway stretches 232 kilometers and connects Banff and Jasper National Parks. It is one of the world’s most spectacular driving tours, as people can’t help but pull over frequently and explore the many pristine lakes, glaciers, wildlife sightings, and valleys along the way. Recommended stops include Peyto Lake and Athabasca Falls.


  10. I took the Icefield Parkway trip once in April and the weather was miserable. But yet, it was glorious scenery all the way. I ponder how great it would be under more ideal condition.


  11. Banff’s more involved mountain trails boast clear alpine lakes, wildflowers, and unobstructed views of the Canadian Rockies—plus they tend to attract fewer tourists. “In-the-know” hikers hit the trail to Lake Agnes, where a walk through an old-growth forest culminates at a historic teahouse perched on the lake’s shores. A trail known as “Big Beehive” leads hikers past the lake and up a series of switchbacks toward unmatched views of the Bow Valley and Lake Louise.


  12. I did a 10 day trip to Canadian Rockies last September, and it’s up there with one of the best vacations I’ve ever gone on. I would highly recommend to anyone. We did a couple big hikes but there also scenic options for people of all abilities. I highly recommend Yoho National Park. The sights were stunning and much less crowded than Banff and Jasper.


  13. A great thing to do in Jasper in the winter is to check out Athabasca Falls. Located about 20 miles south of Jasper town – with a drop of about 75 feet – Athabasca Falls isn’t a giant by waterfall standards, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t dramatic and majestic in its own right.


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