Summer is coming, and it is time to head north and explore the best Canada has on offer. Undoubtedly, one of the most spectacular regions of Canada and all of North America is the eye-watering Rocky Mountains of Canada. Best of the Rock Mountains are preserved in four National parks and three provincial parks.
These national parks and provincial parks are collectively listed as a World Heritage Site since 1984. They are famous the world over for their alpine landscapes dominated by glaciers, lakes, rugged mountain peaks, canyons, and unspoiled nature. So while there, take the time to not only visit Banff and Yoho, but the other national and provincial parks as well.
The National Parks of The Canadian Rocky Mountains
The Canadian Rocky Mountains National parks are Banff, Yoho, Kootenay, and Jasper National Parks. All of these national parks are contiguous with each other and one can think of them as subdivisions of the same area. The three provincial parks are Mont Robson, Hamber, and Mount Assiniboine Provincial Parks.
- National Parks: Banff, Yoho, Kootenay, and Jasper
- Listed: These Canadian Rockies are World Heritage Listed
These national parks are found to have an abundance of wildlife. Species found there include the; moose, caribou, elk, porcupines, lynx, river otter, grizzly bear, coyote, bighorn sheep, black bear, timber wolf, bald eagle, great horned owl, cougar, wolverine, mule deer, and more.
While there are plenty of winter sports like skiing and snowboarding, summer transforms the landscapes. In the summer enjoy outdoor recreational activities such as rafting, kayaking, camping, trekking, fishing, wildlife viewing, or just relaxing in the thermal springs of the region.
The parks are open year-round, but the main tourist season is just being to heat up with the season lasting from June to September. Most campgrounds are open from around early May to late September, although there is also some limited winter camping around the Rockies too.
Banff National Park
Of this cluster of national parks, Banff is the oldest national park (it is also the oldest national park in Canada having been established in 1885 as Rocky Mountains Park). Banff preserves Alberta's Rocky Mountains and has some of Canada's most iconic Rocky Mountain landscapes.
- First: Banff Was The First Canadian National Park Est. 1885
- Located: Albert Rockies
- Size: 6,641 km2 (2,564 sq mi)
The land is marked with many glaciers and ice fields with dense coniferous forests. Banff is connected to the Jasper National Park by the Icefields Parkway. Banff also borders Kootenay and Yoho National Parks.
Yoho National Park
Yoho is the smallest of the four national parks and is located on the western slope of the Continental Divide in British Columbia. It borders Kootenay and Banff and has some of the highest peaks in the Canadian Rockies.
- Located: British Columbia Rockies
- Size: 1,313 km2 (507 sq mi)
- Yoho: Cree Word For Awe or Amazement
The sight of Yoho can be summed up in its name. Yoho is a Native Cree word for awe and amazement - see these Rockies and one may be exclaiming "Yoho!" too.
Jasper National Park
Jasper is the largest of the three national parks and is located in Alberta on the eastern side of the Continental Divide. It was established in 1930 and is famous for its Columbia Icefield, springs, waterfalls, springs, and abundant wildlife.
- Size: 11,000 km2 (4,200 sq mi)
- Established: 1930
Some of the park's most popular scenic attractions include Pyramid Lake, Medicine Lake, Tonquin Valley, and Mount Edith Cavell.
Jasper is famous for its hiking, but it has more than just hiking. While in the park consider going for a Snocoach tour of the Athabasca Glacier or explore the Miette Hot Springs. When staying in the Jasper Townsite, keep an eye out, Grizzly Bears roam the little town.
Kootenay National Park
The fourth national park of the Rockies is Kootenay National Park which is also on the western watershed of the Continental Divide in British Columbia. It is also a smaller park and was established in 1920. The park includes parts of the Kootenay and Park mountain ranges, the Kootenay River, and all of the Vermillion River.
- Size: 1,406 km2 (543 sq mi)
- Established: 1920
Kootenay is a place where one can spend the day exploring deep canyons and tumbling waterfalls that are just a short stroll from the road. The mountain ranges vary between 918 m (3,012 ft) and 3,424 m (11,234 ft).