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Picturesque Towns of the Canadian Rockies

The Canadian Rockies remain one of the world’s most pristine destinations. Julietta Jameson visits four of the region’s most picturesque towns.

In the realm of don’t-miss destinations, the Canadian Rockies rule. There’s a surreal quality to the scale, perspective, clarity and abundance of nature here. Huge panoramas of mountains with forests sweeping up their sides reach nearly 4000 metres into the sky. They feel extraordinarily close –a trick of the vivid light to the naked eye. 

Mountain sheep balance implausibly on high vertical crags while bear cubs play in the grass. Moose with massive antlers appear next to glacial lakes and grizzlies sit in crystal-clear rivers catching salmon. Even the access point - the city of Vancouver - is a gem, with its harbour waterfront and alpine backdrop. 
Vancover city skyline and harbour
Whether you board the famous Rocky Mountaineer train here or hit the road, every millimetre of your journey into the Canadian Rockies will dazzle. Here are just some of the highlights instore.

Banff

Banff was Canada’s first national park, and it remains one of its most breathtaking. Take the Banff Gondola to get a sense of the park’s 6641kmsprawl. You’ll see no less than six mountain ranges and a patchwork of lakes, rivers and forests stretching as far as the eye can see. In the middle of the park is Banff town, home to excellent restaurants, hotels and local art and craft stores, among big-name brands.

Lake Louise

Once just a railway stop, the hamlet of Lake Louise is one of the most romantic places on earth. The jewel-coloured lake itself is phenomenally pretty. 
Beautiful turquoise waters of Moraine Lake, Banff, Canada
Nearby Moraine Lake is surrounded by the Valley of the Ten Peaks, and it’s here you’ll also find the awe-inspiring Tower of Babel –a 450-metre quartzite spire looming over the landscape. 
Follow the ever-changing, gleaming ribbon of the Bow River towards Jasper. The 230-kilometre Icefields Parkway is one of the world’s great drives and will take you through two stunning national parks.

Jasper

In Jasper National Park, the wow starts with Athabasca Glacier, a toe of the massive Columbia Icefield. You can experience it by boarding an Ice Explorer vehicle which drops you off right on the glacier’s surface. Jasper town is a delightful place, with eco-conscious locals and a lively restaurant and bar scene, plus the beautiful Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge with its lake views. 
Just out of town is Mount Robson Provincial Park, bordering the east side of Jasper National Park. Mount Robson is the highest peak in the Rockies. The “giant among giants” is an enthralling sight, with soaring vertical faces and a powerful pre-eminence over the landscape.
Mount Robson on a sunny day with wildflowers in the valley, Canada
purple flowers on edge of lake with mountain in daylight
Maligne Lake is an exquisite, gentle contrast –the postcard-perfect, long, narrow body of water is the largest glacially fed lake in the Rockies and snakes through the landscape. It’s also home to the iconic Spirit Island, one of the most famous sights in the Canadian Rockies.

Whistler Blackcomb

Though Whistler is known as North America’s number-one ski resort, this beautiful area –just two hours out of Vancouver –is equally fantastic in summer. Wildlife is in abundance here (bear spottings are virtually guaranteed) and hiking reveals beautiful birdlife. There are several picturesque lakes, including Lost Lake, with a beach area that attracts locals for lazy afternoons spent basking in the gentle Canadian sun.
View of Athabasca Falls, Canadian Rockies
The region is also home to waterfalls, including mesmerising Athabasca Falls. Shannon Falls, a horsetail waterfall dropping an incredible 335 metres, is an hour out of Whistler on the way back to Vancouver.
Experience the magic of the Canadian Rockies for yourself with APT. On our 22 day Rockies Odyssey & Alaska Cruisejoin an expert Mountain Heritage Guide and learn about the area’s rich natural history on the shores of Lake Louise and take in views of Mt Robson as you travel along the Yellowhead Highway.