The question of questions after every vacation: "How was it??" And directly after: "What did you like best?" As simple as these questions sound, they are difficult to answer. Every vacation consists of so many individual impressions, highlights and just also the one or other mishap. So I count among the absolute highlights of our Canada trip the evenings in front of our camper at the campfire, with a glass of wine in hand, in the middle of nature. Or the first encounter with a bear. Or the most delicious steak cooked over a fire I've ever eaten – straight from the ranch where we were staying. Or or or… Such moments are hard to recount. You must have experienced. What you can share though are the places that touched you the most. So here they are: My 10 Western Canada Highlights.
Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park
Our first stop in a Canadian national park became directly something very special: Emerald Lake, shimmering in all shades of turquoise and green, lived up to its name (Emerald = emerald green). The color, the scale of the lake and the mountains towering around it – wow!
Tip: Make sure to do the 5,2 km long circular walk around the lake (hardly any difference in altitude). One view after another!
Two Jack Lake, Banff National Park
One place that isn't listed at the top of every travel guide, but has a special charm for me because of it, is Two Jack Lake. Not far from Banff, on the Lake Minnewanka Loop Road, lies this gem with a small island, curious earthlings and a true postcard view.
Tip: have a picnic or even better: stay overnight at the Two Jack Lakeside Campground (no electricity).
Icefields Parkway, Banff and Jasper National Park
The Icefields Parkway is not just any road, it is THE road in the Rocky Mountains par excellence. On 230 km it connects not only the two famous national parks Banff and Jasper but offers a panoramic drive of the extra class. One view follows the next, most of the time you don't know where you want to look first. Therefore I think you should take at least 2 days for the Icefields Parkway.
Bow Lake and Bow Glacier Falls, Banff National Park
At the picturesque Bow Lake with the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge a stop is worthwhile: From here a 5 km long hike leads along the lake to the Bow Glacier Falls at the foot of Bow Glacier. The waterfalls were completely frozen in our case, in May. A wonderful sight!
Tip: Take a picnic and enough water
Peyto Lake, Banff National Park
A short hike from the parking lot is the viewpoint of Peyto Lake, which takes your breath away with its azure blue color and its unbelievably beautiful location between mountains and forest.
Tip: On the right side below the viewpoint you have the possibility to take pictures without any railings in the way
Athabasca Glacier, Jasper National Park
Imagine turning a corner and suddenly standing in front of a gigantic glacier. This is exactly the case at Athabasca Glacier. Not long ago the glacier filled the entire valley, today it is retreating more and more (5 m per year). As a visitor you have the possibility to take a so-called snow coach directly to the glacier, to do a guided glacier hike or to do an independent one to the foot of the glacier.
Tip: I recommend the short hike from the summer parking area to the "Toe of Athabasca Glacier". If you keep to the right on the plateau you can see the ice cave. This one is not accessible, a river hinders the access. But this is also good, because this can collapse at any time.
Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park
A great day trip from Jasper takes you through Maligne Canyon and Medicine Lake to the beginning of the 22.5 km Maligne Lake. From here, boat tours lead across the lake and to Spirit Island, a real postcard island and one of Canada's most popular photo spots. Canoeing or hiking is also possible here.
Tip: I recommend the 3 km long and very varied Mary Schaffer Loop, which leads you on the traces of the discoverer of the lake. The hike to the Opal Hills with fantastic views of the Maligne Valley (elevation gain 460 m / 8.2 km round trip) is also highly recommended.
Kinney Lake, Mount Robson Park
The 3-day Berg Lake Trail at Mount Robson, the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, is considered one of the most beautiful hikes. If you don't have as much time as we do, you should hike the section to the crystal clear and turquoise shimmering Kinney Lake (9 km return, 2-2.5 hours).
Ranch stay in the Cariboo region
Where better to go cowboy or cowgirl?. Playing cowgirl as in Canada's Cowboy Country?! Talking about the Cariboo-Chilcotin region in British Columbia. Here clear lakes alternate with vast forests and pastures. The perfect place for horseback riding, canoeing and a lot of campfire romance.
Tip: Possible addresses for your ranch stay:
- The Free Rein Guest Ranch in Bridge Lake in Kamloops
- For RV travelers with sites: Kayanara Guest Ranch in Eagle Creek
A city in my Western Canada Highlights? Yes, indeed! Because Vancouver is not just any city, it convinced me with its great location between the sea and the mountains, with its love for outdoor activities and good food.
Tip: My tips for a culinary and also a little active day in Vancouver you can find in this article.
Place of honor: Lake Louise, Banff National Park
The legendary Lake Louise, which for many is THE hotspot in Banff National Park, has admittedly not knocked my socks off as expected. Yes, the view of the lake is beautiful. But: You have to share it with many, many tourists, due to the location directly at the parking lot and at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise the feeling of wilderness gets a bit lost and the late afternoon we chose for our visit is not the ideal time of day to see the lake in full colorfulness.
Tip: The best time of day for a visit is early in the morning – because of the hordes of tourists and the photos
Due to our trip in the low season (May) the roads to the surely stunning Moraine Lake as well as to Mount Edith Cavell were still closed. Therefore they are not included in this selection.