Throughout my world travels, I've been lucky enough to see some pretty damn epic landscapes.
The Southern Alps in New Zealand. Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. The island of Santorini in Greece. The Grand Canyon. Pretty much ALL of Iceland. The Isle of Skye in Scotland. Yosemite National Park.
And now I have one more place to add to my list: the Canadian Rockies.
Mountains in general lend a landscape a touch epic-ness, if you ask me. Snow-capped peaks and craggy cliffs. Crystal-clear lakes and spiny pine trees. And the Canadian Rockies are not lacking in any of those things.
I was lucky enough to be able to spend a whole day driving through some of Canada's most stunning national parks as part of the Great Coast Road Trip — from Calgary (Alberta) to Revelstoke (British Columbia), we drove through not one, not two, but THREE national parks in the Rockies, and skirted around the edge of a fourth.
That's a LOT of mountains and epic vistas in one day, people.
According to Google Maps, this drive along the Trans-Canada Highway should only take about 5 hours, but it took us much longer than that since we stopped frequently.
Here were some of the highlights:
Banff National Park
Banff is one of Canada'a most famous national parks, and one that I've been itching to visit for years. Approaching the park from Calgary had both Stephanie and I giddy — our driving definitely suffered as we craned our necks to see as many sun-drenched mountains as possible on a beautiful late spring morning.
Our first stop in Banff was in its striking resort village. In late May, the town was pretty quiet. But it was still oozing spectacular views and lots of mountain charm. We stopped into an old-fashioned candy shop, and then headed further into the park.
The plan had been to drive out to Moraine Lake and then have lunch near Lake Louise, but the road to Moraine Lake was unfortunately still closed (it doesn't open back up from the winter avalanches until early June, I'm told). So we headed straight for Lake Louise instead — and found it still mostly covered in ice! We were not expecting this at all, but it was still stupidly pretty.
Yoho National Park
Okay let me be honest here: I hadn't even heard of Yoho National Park before this trip. I knew Banff, and that was pretty much it. But what a beautiful surprise Yoho turned out to be! It's connected to Banff, and if you keep following the Trans-Canada Highway from Lake Louise (instead of taking the Icefields Parkway up towards Jasper), you'll drive through it, too.
We turned off from Highway 1 just past the town of Field for a little detour into the mountains to hopefully see another glacial lake. On the way, we came upon Natural Bridge, which is exactly what it sounds like — a natural rock formation that spans the Kicking Horse River like a bridge. This ended up being a fantastic stop!
After Natural Bridge, we continued on to Emerald Lake, the largest lake within Yoho. This lake, too, was still partially ice-covered, but we were nevertheless able to make out the color of the water — you can see how it got its name! I would love to come back here in the summer and rent a canoe.
Glacier National Park
As we continued on towards Revelstoke, the skies became cloudier and we happened upon a lot of mountain roads that were still closed from the harsh winter Canada is still recovering from. We did make one stop, though.
Trail of the Cedars
This short hiking trail takes you through a grove of trees on a raised boardwalk. It was wonderfully quiet and green — and Steph even spotted a bear that we startled (lucky for us, she only spotted its backside).
I can only imagine how much time you could spend in these parks in the summer, when everything is open!
Now that I've finally been to these places, I'm already ready to go back. Just maybe with less ice next time…
Have you been to any of these parks? Which of these sites would YOU most like to see?