by Janice Mucalov
Morraine Lake in Banff National Park - courtesy of Vanh/iStock
Visit Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper – and you’ll be struck with Rocky Mountain fever. It’s the ache you feel upon seeing the glaciers that cling like angel’s wings to mountains so lofty, they disappear into the clouds. It’s the longing that overtakes you after seeing the evergreen forests and astonishing, glittering aquamarine lakes. The only cure is to return, and revisit this world-renowned region in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains.
Courtesy of Zargondesign/iStock
Banff and Lake Louise are found in Banff National Park. Spanning 6640.70 sq. km. of wilderness, the park boasts 2,590 km. of hiking trails – more than any other mountain park in the world. We like hiking along the steel catwalks up Johnston Canyon and love the exhilaration of feeling the spray above the thundering waterfalls. And the wildlife? We’ve seen black bears, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, brilliant blue jays and cheeky chipmunks that grab bits of your sandwich and run. In winter, you can schuss down world-class slopes at Lake Louise Ski Resort and Sunshine Village.
Courtesy of Ronsan4d/iStock
Jasper National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is twice as big as Banff, but its postage-stamp size town, Jasper, is far quainter and has fewer visitors.
Yellow Aspen on the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park - courtesy of Kavram/iStock
Connecting the two parks is the 144-mile Icefields Parkway, which stretches between Lake Louise and Jasper. Watch out for the elk and be sure to stop at the Columbia Icefield, North America’s largest sub-polar body of ice. You can ride in a big red “ice explorer” on Athabasca Glacier, then walk along the glass-floored Glacier Skywalk, suspended a jaw-dropping 918 feet above glacier-formed valleys. Talk about a Rocky Mountain high!
Originally published in Cruise & Travel Lifestyles Winter/Spring 2017 issue.