There is something simply magical about the Canadian Rockies that keeps tourists from across the globe coming back again and again. Perhaps it’s the alpine meadows, the lush forest, or the glacier-fed lakes reflecting the mountain scenes – a breathtaking scenery that will be entrenched in your memory long after you return home.
Indeed, the area boasts some of the most amazing natural landscapes in the Great Wide North. But, beyond that, it gives you the chance to spot a diverse array of wildlife and embark on thrilling activities. That’s why this destination has always been on the bucket list of many outdoor-loving families.
Nonetheless, planning a family vacation can be stressful sometimes. A single mistake can make your trip go off the rail, especially when you travel with excited children. Understanding that, the Enjoyfuntrip team has put together a list of the best family adventures in the Canadian Rockies. With this guide in hand, you and your loved ones can marvel at the best of the Rocky Mountains while making lifetime memories together!
Go On One Of The Family-Friendly Hikes In Banff National Park
There is no better way to explore the Canadian Rockies than by hiking! When I first planned for my family vacation in Canada, though, looking for easy hiking trails for kids turned out to be troublesome. Luckily, I was introduced to some fantastic locals who helped me find the most amazing hikes in the area.
My favorite is the Johnston Canyon. The trail is paved and stroller-friendly, making it great for children and amateur hikers alike. With the creek’s waters flowing beneath your feet, you will walk over solid iron catwalk catwalks that are suspended from the canyon wall. Tourists will come across lookout lookouts where they can enjoy the scenery and snap pictures.
Sure, the trail can be a bit touristy. Still, it’s one of the best attractions in the Canadian Rockies for a reason: It’s thrilling to walk right above Johnston Creek on an elevated walkway bolted to the edge of the canyon. Equally exciting is to go through a dark cave knowing that you are so close to the Johnston Canyon Lower Falls – watch out because you might even get soaked!
Another easy yet rewarding trail for families in the Banff National Park is Peyto Lake Lookout. The hike is around 2.7 km, with an elevation gain of 80 m, and can be completed in half an hour. Once you get to the lookout, you will be blown away by the wonderful view of a bright blue, turquoise lake with surrounding mountains.
Family Adventures In The Canadian Rockies – Try Out A Horseback Ride In Kananaskis
Bordering the town of Canmore and the Banff National Park, the Kananaskis is a year-round playground that offers a great deal of outdoor activities. From classics like hiking and biking to canoeing and ice skating, you and your kids can spend years here and never get bored!
Many trails and branches can be found here, most of them provide guided horseback riding tours. If your family is up for some adventures, why don’t saddle up for a journey through the celebrated landscape of Banff? You will spend about an hour admiring the magnificent Rocky Mountain views on a sturdy horse who knows the trail well. Tourists who want to experience authentic ranch life can also opt for rustic wilderness camping.
Walk Across The Blackshale Suspension Bridge
The Blackshale Suspension Bridge is one of those amazing findings not many know about. Even some of my Canadian friends admit that they’ve never heard of it!
Once you’ve made your way to the trailhead, it’s only a short walk of around 450m until you reach the main attraction. Your family will still enjoy the hike with lovely wildflowers and stunning mountain vistas along the way.
Greeting tourists at the end of this small adventure is an impressive suspension bridge that takes you high above the trees and features forest views on all sides. Don’t miss out on this chance to take a peak over the side at Blackshale Creek!
Take A Roadtrip Along The Stunning Icefields Parkway
If you like road tripping, you will fall in love with the Icefields Parkway. Being entitled to the “most stunning road in Canada”, the 230km mountain road connects Lake Louise to Jasper. Thanks to the endless number of great hiking trails, glaciers, waterfalls, and alpine lakes along the way, it’s one of the best family adventures in the Canadian Rockies.
You might want to stay the night in mountain lodges or campgrounds. I’d recommend spending at least two days on this road trip so you can fully delve into the area and enjoy the scenery. Some of the most beautiful sites to explore include Peyto Lake, Saskatchewan River Crossing, Columbia Icefield/Athabasca Glacier, and the Valley of the Five Lakes.
Although the road is open all year round, the best time to drive along the Icefields Parkway is from July to August. The weather is much colder in June and September, which is not ideal for a family vacation. Also, keep in mind that all services on the parkway (including the only fuel station) are closed from November to April.
Family Adventures In The Canadian Rockies – Admire The Takakkaw Falls
The name “Takakkaw” comes from the Cree people, which means “magnificent” in their language. And they are absolutely right!
As the second-highest waterfalls in Canada (just after Della Falls on Vancouver Island), Takakkaw is very different from other falls along the Icefields Parkway. The immense drop of more than 250 m blasts waters out in a huge spurt that sprays the whole area with mist.
The route to Tak falls is more of a short walk than a true hike. Still, for a family adventure, that’s a huge plus: It’s extremely accessible even for wheelchairs and strollers, allowing any visitor to witness the majestic view close up.
One of my favorite activities at the Takakkaw waterfalls is going camping. The campground features a clear view of the falls, and to make it better. You can see 3 glaciers from the site! To the west, the tip of the Emerald glacier can be seen peeking out of President Moutain. To the north, the Yoho glacier stretches its tongue down the Yoho Valley. And to the east, the Waputik Icefield serves as a natural boundary between British Columbia and Alberta.
The air here is pure and clean. There are no cars or light pollution, and the night sky is just spectacular. That makes for one of the best Canadian Rockies vacation ideas, I’d say!
Family Adventures In The Canadian Rockies – Marvel At The Moraine Lake
Chances are, you have seen photos of Moraine Lake plastered across Instagram or even postcards. When you set foot on the shore of this iconic lake, take a moment to savor the euphoria and excitement in the air: You finally make it to one of the most photographed destinations in the world!
Set in the heart of a valley, surrounded by rock piles, waterfalls, and mountains, the scenery at Moraine is so striking it almost seems surreal. Thanks to the rock flour that reflects light, the alpine lake is well-known for its gorgeous turquoise color that changes in intensity through the summer.
The last time I was here, I spent the whole day by the lake (and I had visited it more times than I can count) just to take another picture and wait for the magical moment when the sun rays kissed the water’s surface and turned it into an even deeper shade of blue. But hey, there is so much more to do than just take in the scenery! You can go for a hike, climb, ski, or canoe to explore the Moraine Lake from a new perspective. After a day of outdoor activities, your family can slow things down and relax by getting a coffee at the cafe while watching the sunset!
Family Adventures In The Canadian Rockies – Go Wildlife Watching
Wildlife is often the first thing that attracts visitors to the Canadian Rockies. I suggest going to the Rockies in the spring if you want to see momma bears and the cubs. They usually hang out in the Maligne Lakeshore or Kananaskis, but sometimes you might spot brown grizzly bears along the Icefields Parkway, too.
Where to see bears and wildlife in Banff?
The best time to take your kids to wildlife watching is in the morning or just before sunset. Keep in mind that they are wild animals, so you can’t approach or feed them.
Making noise while going hiking is recommended to avoid startling any bears. During the trip, you might also spot mountain goats, moose, bighorn sheep, elk, foxes, and coyotes.
Discover Secrets, Legends, And Culture In Historic Downtown Fernie
The Fernie’s downtown is a treasure trove of interesting discoveries. Drop by the Fernie Museum’s fascinating exhibit “This Is Our Fernie” to learn more about the area’s legends, including the tale of the Griz and the Ghostrider.
Then, get your sweet tooth some treats at Beanpod Chocolate. This is one of a few chocolate factories that still make chocolate the old-fashioned way using machines that date back to the 1940s. You can observe the entire production line through the enormous viewing windows while enjoying fresh hot chocolate and tasting some of the exquisite chocolate bars.
Go On A Guided Float Trip On The Bow River
Finally, there is no better way to embrace the call of the wild than by going on one of the scenic guided float trips on the serene Bow River. Soak yourself in the beauty of the Rockies while your guides help you learn more about the region’s history!
For a family-friendly option, go for Class II or Class III, which come at a relaxing pace suitable for first-time rafters. Tours are available from May until late September, and the cost may range from $30 to $70, depending on which tour you choose.
“What I wish I knew before going on a guided float trip”
Adventures Can Begin At Any Age!
For parents, vacation helps them break out of their regular life, relieving them from hours of work and endless pressure. For the kids, going on a trip provides them with many chances to learn more about the world and the benefits of being open-minded.
Beyond that, traveling together encourages you to spend quality time with each other and strengthens the family bond. So, now is the time to put down those screens and embark on these exciting family adventures in the Canadian Rockies! Go make yourselves some memories.