Your Travel Guide to the Canadian Rockies
It can be difficult to taste the great outdoors while living in Chicago. We have skyscrapers for mountains, aggressive squirrels for wildlife, and vast puddles left from shoddy drainage masquerading as lakes (apart, of course, from Lake Michigan). Over the summer, I escaped to the Canadian Rockies, the amicable equivalent of Yellowstone from our neighbors up north, and visited the legendary quartet of parks known as Banff, Jasper, Yoho, and Kootenay. Should you choose to escape Chicago and take a four hour flight to Calgary, here are some tips, tricks, and views that will make your time worthwhile.
1. For hiking, the best time to visit is June through August. I made the mistake of going in mid-September and was ruthlessly buried by clouds, rain, and 55 degree weather that turned below freezing after a two-hour summit. For summer travelers, make sure to bring warm and versatile clothing, as temperatures fluctuate vastly depending on altitude. For skiing, anytime in the peak of winter should suffice. For living arrangements, be sure to book as early as possible. Popular campgrounds and cabins are snapped up quickly.
2. National Parks aren’t really known for fine dining, so you may want to stack up on your favorite variant of CLIF Bars. However, really good food can be found in the town of Banff. Try the Grizzly House, which specializes in cheese, meat, and chocolate fondues. I played it relatively safe and ordered beef, bison, boar, and venison fondue, but for those with a more exotic taste pallets, grizzly, rattlesnake, and alligator are also available.
A blue kayak on Lake Moraine
3. Take advantage of the proximity of all four parks, and spend a couple days in each if you have the time. Be creative in your mobility. Rent a kayak if you can. There are locations and views that are only accessible if you’re willing to kayak a couple hours for them. Sometimes, the most difficult of journeys result in the most rewarding of sights.
All images courtesy of Justin Pan.