No doubt Alberta is one of Canada’s best places for scenic road trips. The province of the Rocky Mountains has many adventures to offer to the outdoor enthusiasts, photographers, hikers, and anyone who would like to enjoy breathtaking views. Invite your friends, get your car ready and head north!
There are many places to explore in Alberta and as with all places in Canada, you need to consider travel time. But if you have the time, take the road trip! You will love the ride since there will be many unplanned breaks to enjoy the amazing landscape, wildlife and of course take as many pictures as you can. Always remember to bring your TruBlue backpack filled with snacks, water, and your essentials, since you can find a place you love on the way and stop for a picnic.
A recommended place to start your trip is in the lovely city of Calgary, if you are flying from other provinces, plan your flight to take you to Calgary and rent a car to start your adventure. If you arrive in the morning or afternoon you can enjoy a brewery tour during the evening and explore the city. Prepare everything that you need for the trip, rest well and see you in the morning to start an unforgettable journey.
Leave from Calgary and head east towards Banff via the Trans-Canada Highway AB-1. The trip takes around one hour and a half, but plan to start your journey early in the morning to make the most out of your day, as mentioned before, you will want to stop on the stunning scenic road to take pictures and appreciate the view. On your way, you can make a quick stop at Cochrane, a charming wild west town with a rich history. This town is in the foothills; therefore, you can enjoy an amazing panoramic view of the Rockie’s skyline. The place is also known for delicious coffee, so grab a cup of coffee and get back to the Highway to resume your ride.
Once you arrive in Banff, get settled in a hotel or bed & breakfast and leave all your things. Remember to make reservations in advance since during peak seasons everything is sold out. Fill your TruBlue backpack with some sandwiches, snacks, drinks, and get ready to explore incredible Banff National Park. The place is huge and there are many things to do, so you might not be able to see it all. Choose your favourite activities and plan your days accordingly.
A popular tourist attraction is to take a ride on the Banff Gondola, you will have a complete view of the landscape of the park. The eight-minute ride will take you to the top of the Sulphur Mountain. Once at the top, you can enjoy a nice coffee, have lunch at one of the restaurants with that stunning view, and enjoy short hiking trails to explore the mountain. It is recommended to always dress warmly since even during summer the breeze is cool because of the altitude.
Other activities you can enjoy in the park are camping, canoeing, hiking, cycling, fishing, kayaking, swimming (only if the water has warmed up) and walking trails. Depending on your time availability you can stay for 1 or 2 days to enjoy the different activities the park offers. Nevertheless, whatever thing you choose, you will always have that impressive landscape of the Rockies.
The next morning, get back to the highway and continue heading north to keep exploring more of the natural gems and favourite tourist attractions that Banff National Park has to offer. Just 45 minutes away from Banff town, make a stop to visit the stunning Lake Louise. This unique turquoise lake is without a doubt one of the most spectacular places in the Rockies and attracts many people from all the provinces across Canada all year round.
When you arrive at Lake Louise you will want to take many pictures from different views. There are a couple of hiking trails you can take around the lake and get unique shots. Take the 1.5 hours Lake Louise Lakeshore trail and reach the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse, a cosy cabin that was turned into a teahouse and it is a real treat to rest while enjoying a nice hot beverage after that hike. You can also take the one-hour Lake Agnes Trail to the Lake Agnes Teahouse and enjoy a stunning landscape while drinking some hot tea.
During the summer season, you can also rent a canoe from the boathouse at Lake Louise and paddle around the lake. That is an incredible experience and your photos with your TruBlue backpack will be just amazing. Be careful to not fall overboard - the water is freezing even during summer. If you come during winter, the place becomes a favourite spot for skiing and ice skating.
You can stay the night at Lake Louise and the next morning you can go to the Moraine Lake just 30 mins away by car. This lake also has that amazing blue-green colour since it is a glacier fed lake. You can take the Rockpile Trail that goes along the lake, it is a tourist favourite. At the top of the trail, you will have a great photo location with the mountains behind the lake and this is known as a “Twenty Dollar View” since this picture was featured in the twenty dollars bills issued in 1969 and 1979.
Head back to the highway and continue your trip, there are still many things to do and see! About one hour away from Lake Moraine, you will reach the Yoho National Park. This park, named after the Cree word that means wonder, is full of natural gems. The main attractions of this park are the 400km of hiking trails and the many waterfalls this park has.
To make the most of your trip, we can focus on visiting the incredible Emerald Lake and the stunning Takkakaw Falls, these are the most notable highlights of Yoho National Park. From the main entrance to the park, you can go by car to the Emerald Lake just 15 minutes away. There is a lovely wooden pier on the lakeshore which is a perfect spot for pictures with the lake and the mountains that surround the place.
Continue your journey and head towards the Takkakaw Falls, the third highest waterfall in western Canada with 384 meters of free fall. The falls name comes from the Cree word that means “magnificent,” and it certainly is. From the parking lot, you can admire the greatness of the falls and the powerful sound of the water running down will take your breath away. You can get closer, but remember to protect your camera from the heavy mist. You can also take a hiking trail to have more views of the falls. Fill your backpack with snacks to have a picnic with that stunning landscape.
Continue your journey and this time head towards the largest National Park in the Canadian Rockies: Jasper National Park.
Make your first stop at the Columbia Icefields and experience an incredible glacial adventure. The road trip takes about 2.5 hours from Yoho National Park. These icefields are between Banff and Jasper National parks. There are many viewpoints along the Icefields Parkways to take some pictures of those scenic glacier views.
Reach the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre and you can take one of the great tours they offer. It is recommended to go with them since they have the necessary equipment for ice walking, or go on a tour on a special bus to see the impressive Athabasca Glacier closer, one of the six principal glaciers of the Columbia Icefields. This is one of the musts to see on your trip to the Rockies.
If you are not afraid of heights, you can also take an adrenaline feeding walk along the glass-floored Glacier Skywalk which is at the cliff’s edge. You will have a bird-eye view of the breathtaking landscape Sunwapta Valley and the glaciers that surround it. You will want to stay sometime admiring the view and taking many photos. Enjoy a coffee or dinner with the incredible glacial views at the Altitude Restaurant.
You can also take a short walk from the Glacier Skywalk to see the Tangle Creek Falls, it is a nice spot to take some great photos with your TruBlue Backpack. Continue your trip on the Icefields Parkway and choose among the many things you can do in Jasper, like canoeing, rafting, hiking, mountain bike, etc. You can also camp here or rent a cottage to spend the night and rest for the night.
End your road trip at Edmonton, the capital of Alberta. The travel time from Jasper National Park is about 5 hours. Your way back will also have that incredible scenic view of the Rockies’ landscape. There are some viewpoints along the road to take pictures.
If you came from another province, plan your flight back from Edmonton so you don't have to go back to Calgary. Keep us posted with all your adventures and don’t forget to tag us on your photos with your TruBlue Backpack!