The Canadian Rockies in Winter Trip

11 Days in Alberta and British Columbia, in the wintertime

This is not a trip for the casual traveler. You won't enjoy warm, sunny days or sparkling water. But, for those willing to brave the cold weather, snow, icy roads, and potentially grey days, this forbidding place can be quite inviting.

Day 1

Starting in Calgary, the drive south

This day is mostly re-positioning -- getting you from the airport at Calgary to the wide-open spaces of southern Alberta. There's a bit to see on the way, but the real fun begins tomorrow.

Day 2

Crowsnest Pass and the drive over into B.C.

I was spending three nights in Pincher Creek, giving me two full days in the area, and two directions I wanted to go: south to Waterton Lakes National Park, and west, over the mountains into British Columbia. For this day, I chose to head west and explore.

Day 3

South to Waterton Lakes National Park

I devoted this day to Waterton Lakes National Park. It's about an hour's drive south of Pincher Creek. The drive down was nice, and the park was beautiful in the snow, although access is somewhat limited in the winter. The drive back to Pincher Creek was phenomenal, as the sun set, and fog rolled in.

Day 4

Back to B.C., then north

This was another day of necessary driving, in order to get me from the southern end of Alberta to the mountains in the middle. I drove back over Crowsnest Pass, then headed up Route 95, to finish the day in Radium Hot Springs. This positioned me for a drive into Kootenay National Park the following day, and the Icefields Parkway shortly after.

Day 5

Kootenay and Banff National Parks

Kootenay National Park was a snowy wonderland, with a few attractions still accessible (but requiring some effort). Then I crossed the continental divide into Alberta, and Banff National Park, for some time at Lake Louise and the town of Banff.

Day 6

Hiking on ice and snow, in and around Banff and Canmore

This day began with a hike up a frozen creek into a canyon to see a frozen waterfall. Then, I hit some of the major scenic areas around Canmore and Banff, like Spray Trail, Johnson Lake, and Stewart Canyon.

Day 7

Banff to Jasper

I had one objective on this day: make the drive, safely, from Banff to Jasper, Alberta. And the road that connects the two is the amazing Icefields Parkway. It's scenic, remote, and at this time of year, frozen, but oh what a drive!

Day 8

Another icy canyon hike, and more sightseeing around Jasper

The first part of this day involved fixing a flat tire. But that's okay, because it gave the roads enough time to clear slightly, and make accessing Maligne Canyon easier. Once frozen, the creek at the bottom of Maligne Canyon can be hiked, and it's one heck of an adventure. After that, I finished the day with some other attractions near Jasper.

Day 9

A drive east to Hinton, and a beautiful sunset

I wasn't sure what to do with myself on this day, so I started by driving over to Hinton, the next sizable city to the east of Jasper. The real treat, though, was the Athabasca River Valley in between the two towns. I ended up spending most of the rest of the day in this area, and found sunset-time to be most rewarding.

Day 10

Tackling the Icefields Parkway, one more time

What goes up the Icefields Parkway, must come down the Icefields Parkway. There really isn't much of an alternative, unless you want to drive all the way to Edmonton, then Calgary, and back over. Road conditions were not very good, and certainly worse than they were on the trip up, but I made the drive back down to Banff. I finished the day with a nice hike up Tunnel Mountain.

Day 11

Back to Calgary for the trip home

This had been a long trip, and the cold weather made it especially exhausting. I must admit, I was happy to be headed home. I spent some time checking out the newly-opened Peace Bridge in Calgary before ending the trip with a flight back to Florida.