Exploring the Rockies On Foot
To say that there are hiking opportunities in the Canadian Rockies is an unbelievable understatement.
The Canadian portion of range stretches for nearly 1,500 km from the border with the USA up into northern British Columbia. In total, the Rockies cover approximately 180,000 square kilometers and you can find nearly any terrain or landscape you could want. There are river canyons, rolling foothills, craggy peaks, glaciers, forests, lakes, wetlands and more.
Some of the best places to go hiking and backpacking in the Rockies are in any of the National and Provincial Parks that run along the length of the mountain chain. Some of the larger ones are the Jasper National Park, Banff National Park, Glacier National Park, Wells Gray Provincial Park, Northern Rocky Mountains Provincial Park and the Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Provincial Park. This is by no means a full list of parks, as there are literally several dozen in the region.
Outside the parks, areas such as Canmore, Golden, Kimberly and Kootenay Lake offer even more wilderness to explore.
You can choose whatever hiking trail you wish, and tailor your wilderness time to just a few hours or all day long. Most parks will provide a rough idea the time it will take on their trails so you can plan your day.
If you are looking for a longer adventure in the Rockies, there are many places where you can camp but the specific details will vary from park to park. You usually have to pitch your tent in a designated camping area, rather than just any place by the trail. There are parks that permit “backcountry camping” in some areas, where you can just settle down wherever you wish. Either way, there may be fees associated with overnight stays.
You don’t necessarily have to tackle the Rockies on your own either. Many tour operators offer guided treks that can range from a short nature walk, to a full day of hiking.
There aren’t that many dangers when out on a trail, but when you are spending time away from civilization, you should always take care to be safe. Depending on where you are hiking, there may be bears and the danger they pose should need to explanation. Any bears you see while hiking are wild animals and should never be approached for a photo op.
Moose and caribou may not seem too threatening, but they have been known to charge if provoked. Again, keep your distance if you should see any.
Given the size and scale of the Rockies, there is no easy way to summarize the climate or weather. Snow is expected during the winter months, and longer if you are at higher altitudes. There have been reports of summer snow. Nights can be cold in spring and fall, and rainfall can sweep in without much warning. If you plan on being on a trail for more than an hour or two, it’s a good idea to plan for a possible change in weather.
With a solid pair of broken-in hiking shoes, a backpack with some basic supplies and a bottle or two of water is all you need to see the Rockies firsthand.