The Canadian Rockies are a mountain range running through the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. In order to reach the Canadian Rockies, it is most common to travel to the city of Calgary first. From Calgary, there are airport transfers to Banff and Canmore, two towns often used as a base or stopping point when exploring the Rockies. The Banff Airporter offers transfer from the airport to hotels in both Banff and Canmore (available in the return direction as well), with shuttles available every hour.
When visiting the Canadian Rockies, you will need a car or van as this will provide you with flexibility to travel around different areas in the Canadian Rockies. Banff, Yoho, Jasper, and Kootenay are all national parks encompassing the Canadian Rockies. Since there is so much to see in the Canadian Rockies, I would recommend using a car to move around to different accommodations during your trip. This will allow you to take advantage of hikes and activities near the accommodations you are at rather than always driving longer distances to explore new areas.
Banff and Canmore are located about 15 minutes apart and about 1.5 – 2 hours from Calgary. Banff is a cuter town, but will be more expensive in comparison to Canmore.
This is a nice hotel about two miles up the hill from the Banff town centre, and very close to both the gondola in town and the Banff Hot Springs. The hotel is very nice, with beautiful panoramic views of the mountains around, nice accommodations, and friendly staff.
Luxury hotel in Banff, but outside the main town area, with architecture resembling a castle
Premiere Swiss style hotel located about 30 minutes from Moraine Lake. The hotel has a main lodge as well as cute little cabins along the river. The service here is excellent and staff are very kind. They offer afternoon tea and are home to Canada’s largest wine cellar. The hotel is equipped with a pool and spa, but note the rooms do not have air conditioning. 95% of the time, this is not an issue, but something to be aware of if visiting when it is warmer. The hotel also has a fantastic restaurant, serving a four course meal, where the menu changes daily.
The location of Moraine Lake lodge is spectacular, sitting right on the lake. As visitors flock to see and hike paths in the area during the day, staying here provides guests the opportunity to have the lake to themselves in the early hours of the morning and late evening.
A more casual set of accommodations, this place is ideal for its location. The hotel consists of numerous individual lodges, each with a few rustic rooms and sits right on Emerald Lake. This allows guests to have the lake to themselves in the mornings and evenings, much quieter than during the day when tourists flock to enjoy the beautiful lake. The rooms have balconies overlooking the lake or property, and the experience has guests feel like they are staying in a cabin in the wilderness. The rooms do not have air conditioning and wifi only works well in the main lobby.
Located about 1 mile from the airport, this hotel is cheaper than its Marriott property located right at the airport. The hotel provides shuttle services from the hotel to the airport and also reimburses taxis who drop customers off from the airport.
Located at the airport, this hotel is especially helpful for early or late departures from the Calgary airport as it is very convenient to stay close to the airport
The restaurant in the Rimrock Hotel, this is a mediocre dinner option. The restaurant has a fancy atmosphere, but the food was subpar. Only recommend for convenience if staying at the Rimrock Hotel and looking for an easy meal on the property. They do offer a nice breakfast service, both a la carte and buffet style.
Located in the Juniper Inn, this restaurant offers a gorgeous view of the surrounding valley and mountains. The food is pretty tasty, especially the short rib, and provides a nice dinner option when visiting Banff.
The Post Hotel has a delicious and fancy restaurant. The restaurant provides a four-course meal experience including choices for a cold appetizer, hot appetizer, main course and dessert. The food is excellent and service matches at a high quality. The menu changes daily, enabling guests to enjoy a different meal if choosing to dine more than one night in the hotel restaurant.
Situated in the same building as the lobby of the Emerald Lake Lodge, the restaurant provides nice views of the lake itself and offers a variety of nice options for dinner.
Only accessible by foot (or horse), these two teahouses sit 1000’+ ft above Lake Louise. They offer simple food options including sandwiches, soups, cakes and tea. All supplies are brought here and made by the teahouse employees who live at the teahouse during weekly shifts with the exception of a few deliveries by helicopter.
The best time of year to visit the Canadian Rockies is in the summer, between June and September. At this point, the weather has heated up and started to melt the snow around it, making it possible to hike, bike and raft in the region. The summer months offer longer daylight hours and warmer days to explore. Often the mornings and evenings will be cooler, which explains why many accommodations will not be equipped with air conditioning.
The duration of your visit to the Canadian Rockies is completely dependent on how much you hope to see and do during your trip. Anywhere from 7 – 14 days would be an ideal amount of time if looking to visit 2 to 3 of the following regions: Banff, Yoho, Jasper, and Kootenay.
Elk, moose, ground squirrels, marmots, mountain goats, grizzly bears, and black bears are all commonly seen in the Canadian Rockies.
Keep your distance from any wildlife and do not feed the animals. Although they look less intimidating than bears, moose and elk can both be very dangerous
When hiking, be sure to carry bear spray in case of an accidental run-in with a bear. Remember, grizzly bears are large brown bears with a hump on their back. Grizzlies are not to be antagonized, as they are fighters and will engage you if you challenge the bear. Instead, it is recommended to play dead if you do not have bear spray to help you get away from the bear. On the contrary, black bears are also the color brown (confusing I know!) but do not have a large hump on their back. They tend to be smaller than grizzlies, and are also less aggressive. If challenged by a brown bear, many suggest getting defensive and making yourself big and ready to fight if you do not have bear spray to help you get a safe distance away from the bear.
Transportation and Accommodations
Things to do and see
Food and Drinks