You’ve probably heard of Banff, Canada. But do you know about the other park that flanks its northwestern border? Jasper National Park is known as much for its beauty as it is for how you get there: by way of the Icefields Parkway, a world-class journey that you’ll never forget. And the hikes along the way are simply unparalleled. You’ll experience some of them if you come along for the ride with Backroads, or you can tap into the park’s majesty on your own with a few of our favorite Jasper hikes—we’re sharing our top five!
Ask somebody if they know of the Gulf Islands, and chances are they don’t. Nestled in Canada’s southwest corner, below the 49th parallel, this exquisite archipelago is the unsung vacation hero of Canada (and maybe even North America!). It is, hands down, my favorite place to spend a summer. And I don’t say that lightly: having lived, worked and traveled in 15 countries on 4 continents, this place still takes the cake. Perhaps it’s because I came here as a child, spending endless hours building sand castles to the sound of eagle calls and running with wild deer through the islands’ untouched coastal forests. You never forget things like that.
After exploring the Canadian Rockies for more than three decades, many of us now live among them. Backroads Regional Manager Alison Iles, who raised her kids in Banff, not only designed many of our Rockies trips but has also served on park development committees and chaired both the Interpretive Guides Association and the Heritage Tourism Association. Having helped set the standards for all travel in the region, she knows how to ensure our trips exceed all expectations.
Backroads pioneered the active river trip, partnering with AmaWaterways, the leader in river cruising, to create a new kind of travel experience featuring biking and walking explorations from an elegant floating hotel. Our Danube River Cruise Bike Tour takes you through the heart of this culturally diverse region from Prague to Passau, Vienna to Bratislava and on to Budapest. Pedal through the Bavarian forest, stroll among baroque architecture, sample local beers and discover tucked-away hamlets. Then luxuriate on board the ship as it carries you to your next adventure.
There isn’t a trail to be missed in the Canadian Rockies. Bold statement? Yes. True? Absolutely. So you can’t go wrong. But to help you get the most from your precious time in this magical region, let me give you the lowdown. From Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks to Kananaskis Country, here are my ten favorite hikes in the Canadian Rockies.
Take a deep breath in. That’s the literal definition of ‘inspire.’ And it’s what The Banff Centre does best. Their mandate is ‘Inspiring Creativity’ and they do it like nobody else on the planet. I promise you this: If you venture off Banff Avenue for a short walk up Tunnel Mountain, you’ll find yourself in the most inspiring place on earth.
Beyond the obvious opportunity to explore some spectacular landscapes, the idea behind this trip is simple: why settle for just one renowned national park when you can explore two – and cross an international boundary in the bargain? Biking through Glacier National Park on the Montana side of the Rockies, then crossing the US-Canada border into Waterton Lakes, you enjoy stunning rides and stay at historic park lodges that are typically booked-up far in advance.
Oh, Canada…such a beautiful landscape, which we get to ride our bikes through! While the land of the maple leaf is known for its incredible scenery, what you don’t often hear about is the fantastic cuisine that can be found here.
I’m flying down the hill at 50 miles an hour. Trees blow past me as I rapidly descend in elevation. Suddenly, smack in the middle of the road, I see two grizzly bears. I slam on the brakes, skidding sideways on my road bike. Somehow, I maintain control and stop, a mere 20 paces away from the two grizzlies. Startled, one runs to the side of the road, but the other holds his ground.