Exploring the Rockies By Helicopter
Want to enjoy the views from up in the mountains, without actually having to climb the mountain? Heli-hiking is a great option for anyone wanting to hike away from the beaten path, and enjoy the amazing landscapes up in the Rockies.
Heli-hiking is no different from regular hiking, except that you get to see more remote areas by taking a helicopter to your destination. Depending on the specifics of your trip, the helicopter portion may only be 10 to 15 minutes long, or you may be in the air for more than half an hour to reach your final hiking spot.
The Rockies range for hundreds of kilometers, offering a multitude of environments for you to explore. You don’t necessarily have to go rock climbing just because you are in the mountains. Though you often can choose mountaineering or rock climbing trips if you want that extra adventure.
Take a peaceful walk through rolling alpine meadows filled with wildflowers, enjoy the scenery at a mountain lake, or hike along high stony ridges. Certain areas may give you access to snow packs or glaciers for a little change of scenery.
You’ll find the most opportunities for heli-hiking in areas such as Banff, Canmore, Revelstoke, Jasper and Golden. From these starting points, you can fly to the peaks within the Glacier National Park, Yoho National Park, Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park, the Kootenay National Park and of course the Banff and Jasper parks.
Though the areas are more remote than your typical national park, there will be established trails to follow and you will have a professional guide with you. You don’t just hop off the helicopter to go fend for yourself.
Because you can usually choose the terrain for your hike, heli-hiking is an activity that is suitable for almost any age (children included) and any fitness levels. All you need is appropriate clothing and good hiking shoes. Some tour operators may even supply shoes or boots for you. Just remember that it will be much cooler up in the mountains, so pack accordingly.
Hike for a few hours, or arrange for a longer trek with a little camping thrown in too. Larger tour groups may have established lodges for camping, so you don’t have to rough it too harshly if you don’t want to.
Heli-hiking isn’t typically offered during the winter months due to snow and unpredictable weather, but some tour operators then offer heli-skiing or or even snowshoeing as a winter alternative to hiking in the mountains.
Just because you are hiking at higher altitudes, doesn’t mean you are above some of the usual risks of the Canadian Rockies. It may be thrilling to catch a glimpse of a bear while out walking, but don’t deliberately search them out or approach a wild bear. Take a picture and move on.
Heli-hiking of course costs more then regular hiking since you have to pay for the chopper-ride up into the hills. However, heli-hiking gives you a unique opportunity to see the Rockies in a whole new light.