The collection of national parks in Alberta and British Columbia, including Banff, Yoho and Jasper, are vast and rich with scenic treasure. There are so many mouthwatering sights to be had that it's challenging to create a shortlist of the best ones. However, after spending seven incredible days in the Canadian Rockies, I've gathered the most memorable hiking experiences and the best views I received into my top five. So, here we go.
Let's tick off the obvious one first. Lake Louise is the most visited natural sight in the entire park. The poster child for the Canadian Rockies, it draws in thousands of people to its shores every year.
The pristine turquoise water works together with the mountainous backdrop to perfectly represent what the entire region is all about. And if you’re hungry for more, you can always get higher…
The Little Beehive trail (see below for details) guides you up a steep but well-trodden path to the skies above Lake Louise, with some tasty scenic surprises along the way. Completion of the path to the top of the Little Beehive rewards you with this breathtaking view of Lake Louise, the surrounding mountains and a huge, beautiful chunk of the Banff National Park.
Mirror Lake and the Big Beehive
Speaking of the Little Beehive trail and the aforementioned scenic surprises, the trek to that Lake Louise viewpoint brings with it a shot of the Big Beehive along the way. What’s more, the Big Beehive doesn't come alone.
Standing tall behind an army of alpine trees, the Big Beehive overlooks Mirror Lake - a gorgeous greeny lake. Small yet effective, Mirror Lake does well to live up to its name as stunning reflections are found all the way around. This view made it into my list of favourites for being wonderfully unique compared to the traditional mountain scenes around the area. It was also completely unexpected but welcome surprise, with that epic view of Lake Louise dominating my mindset at the time.
It’s time to clear up some speculation. While Lake Louise seems to hold the local trophy for being the prettiest place around, and is often marketed as the number one place to be, it has nothing on Moraine Lake.
The true golden child of the Canadian Rockies, Moraine Lake is the holy grail of all things nature and the ultimate scenic escape. Lucky for me, I visited on a perfect summer’s day, and was rewarded with this view that defies perfection:
A stone’s throw away from Lake Louise, this wondrous accomplishment of nature ties together everything a scenery chaser could want. The Valley of the Ten Peaks rests calmly behind the trademark glacial lake with an alpine forest perfectly cutting around the edge, as if by design.
Ten minutes and a bit of legwork is all that is required to achieve this elevated view from ground level. No photograph could ever do this place justice. I just had to sit there and take it all in. Unfortunately, I sat for so long I developed a nasty sunburn!
Believe it or not, but Moraine Lake was just the starter course for this day. Branching off from the ground around the pristine lake, a two-hour beaten track leads travellers to yet another of Banff’s goodies in the form of the Consolations Lakes.
The easy trail led us to the southern lake’s shores, which played opposites with Moraine Lake. The water was perfectly clear with contents of the waterbed clearly visible. As seen in the picture, large rocks were scattered all along the shore. Groups of alpine trees swooped down either side of the valley, while a beastly rigid mountain complemented the entire scene.
I loved this view, as it took the picture-perfect, ‘postcard’ like setting at Moraine Lake and turned it on its head with an unpredictable view. You could say Moraine Lake looked designed or staged in comparison to the Consolations Lakes, and both are excellent ways of spending a day.
The clue is in the name. Boasting a beautiful, untouched lake bursting with a bluey-green colour, this stunning lake near the Yoho and Banff National Parks’ border.
Glistening beneath what was a beautiful summer sky, the water was a more than ideal spot to sit down and take stock of where I was. Back on my feet, a marked path took me around the entire lake in 90 minutes, with every step coming with an unparalleled view from whichever side of the water.
A noteworthy advantage of visiting Emerald Lake is that, due to its relatively close proximity to the better-known Lake Louise, it doesn’t see as much attention, meaning you can enjoy a peaceful stroll in pure undisturbed serenity (but get there early just to be sure!).