Check out how we spent a magical summer week exploring and camping in in the Canadian Rockies, featuring Wells Gray Provincial Park, Jasper, and Banff. Enjoy hiking, waterfalls, wild life, and summer super blooms.
The Rocky Mountains are an icon of this beautiful country. With turquoise lakes, towing peaks snowcapped peaks, and abundant wildlife, the Canadian Rockies Despite my somewhat extensive international travel, and joy in exploring British Columbia, I have visited sadly little of the rest of Canada. Thus, while I have driven through the Rockies, I have never actually stopped and explored. With a week of free time after my summer finals, I knew this would be the perfect last-minute adventure.
Well Gray Provincial Park
While not technically in the Rockies, Wells Gray Provincial park is en route to Jasper when driving from Vancouver. We wanted to break up the drive, as well as explore this Provincial Park that few British Columbians have even heard of. Our primary reason for visiting was trophy meadows, famed for a summer super bloom of a variety of wild flowers. The area also has a number of gorgeous waterfalls.
We camped at Silvertip Falls recreational site, which had no facilities but was right next to these gorgeous falls.
Trophy Meadows were the primary reason for our visit to Wells Gray. The flowers bloom in full force and variety at the end of July to mid-August.
Wells Gray had SUCH gorgeous waterfalls that had relatively few people visiting them. We were blown away in particular by Helmcken Falls.
Jasper National Park: 2 – 3 Nights
Jasper is a town in Alberta, located in the MASSIVE Jasper National Park. We didn’t realize quite how massive it was until we had to drive end to end trying to find a campsite. The drive from Clearwater to Jasper took us five hours. Google maps said it would be three, but traffic significantly extended our day. We wished we had more time in Jasper, considering the size of the park and distance between hikes and attractions. The highlight of our time in Jasper with hiking the Sulphur Skyline.
Derek, an avid outdoorsman, had never seen a bighorn sheep for more than a few seconds until this trip. In Jasper, they care traffic hazards by walking on the street and liking the salt from the roads! Make sure you keep your distance, the males especially are aggressive!
The Sulphur Skyline hike is at the North East end of the park, and offers amazing views of the variable peaks of the Canadian Rockies.
The drive from Jasper to Banff is arguably the most beautiful drive I have ever done. We had to rush towards Banff in order to secure a campsite, but wished we could have taken a whole day to stop and take pictures. We did however stop at Athabasca Falls which has a natural rock archway, and to take pictures of some frolicking mountain goats on the side of the highway!
Banff and Yoho National Park: 2 – 3 Nights
Banff is a place we feel we need to return to on the shoulder season. We stayed at a great campsite at Waterfowl Lakes that took walk-in campers and was on the edge of an idyllic turquoise lake. Our experiences exploring Banff were challenging in that everything was SO CROWDED even very early in the morning. We really wanted to canoe on Moraine Lake, but arriving onsite at 7am, we were turned away as the tourbusses arriving at 6am causes the lake to reach maximum capacity only moments after sunrise. Our favourite spot in Banff National Park was Peyto Lake. This lookout was absolutely gorgeous and our favourite sunset of the trip.
Our best experiences during our stay near Banff were actually in Yoho National Park. Located on the British Columbian side of the Rockies, this park was slightly less crowded, and offered turquoise lakes along with the best waterfall of our trip – Takakkaw Falls.
Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park is GORGEOUS. They also offer canoeing, and is a much less crowded alternative to Moraine Lake.
Takakkaw Falls was super impressive! The walk to see it was flat and easy, and there were very few people visiting!
Overall, spending a week in the Canadian Rockies was incredible, and definitely another checkmark on my bucket list. In the future, I would definitely make some changes, but the breathtaking beauty of this amazing country is my main takeaway.