The Canadian Rockies are probably one of the most wonderful places in Canada, and so many of us have not seen it yet. It can be hard to plan a holiday in the Canadian Rockies because there is so much to do!
Let’s face it, how many times have you typed “What to do in the Canadian Rockies?” on the Internet? I certainly typed it way too many times and there are so many things to do!
We, at Canadian Rockies Rafting, have been here for almost 30 years. We’ve had a lot of time to explore the area for you. For that reason, we have created a quick list of 10 activities to do in the Canadian Rockies on a family holiday for you.
1| Hike along the Grassi Lakes Trail
This great family-friendly trail is a must-do. The Grassi Lakes are beautiful turquoise water lakes located just above Canmore. This trail is quite busy during the summer and weekends, but definitely worth it. You will walk through the forest and around the lakes, enjoy the views of Canmore, and capture the amazing colour of the lakes.
The hike is very family-friendly. There is an easy trail for families with young children and a more difficult trail for families with older children (only open during the summer). Through the more difficult trail only, you can see Canmore and a waterfall.
Extra: If your family is into climbing, the Grassi Lakes offer great climbing routes just above the lakes.
2| Go on a horseback ride in Kananaskis
Kananaskis Country is located an hour west of Calgary and borders Canmore and the Banff National Park. You can find many activities to do in Kananaskis, including hiking, biking, but also horseback riding.
There are many trails and ranches located there. Many of them offer group and personalised horseback riding tours. Rafter Six Ranch is a ranch owned by the Cowley family since 1976. They have many different tours starting at as little as $65. Our team has been riding horses with them over the years and we can only recommend this as a great experience!
Extra: They offer rustic wilderness camping to live an authentic ranch experience!
3| Spend the day at Lake Minnewanka
Lake Minnewanka is a large glacial lake located in Banff, 1h30 away from Calgary. During summer, the lake tends to be busy on weekends but is definitely worth visiting. The lake’s shore is filled with picnic tables, fire pits, and has even a small café. Lake Minnewanka is also very famous for hiking, kayaking, renting boats, or biking.
Banff & Jasper Collection by Pursuit offers cruises on the lake with a tour guide that tells you all about the rich history of the lake. We have done it, and honestly, this is really nice!
Extra: If you and your family have a powerboat or want to rent one, Lake Minnewanka is definitely the place to go. It is the ONLY lake in the Banff National Park that allows their uses.
4| Take a tour up the Banff Gondola
The Banff Gondola is one of the most popular attractions of the Banff National Park. The Gondola takes you up the Sulphur Mountain from which you can enjoy breathtaking views of Banff Town and the valley. At the top, you can enjoy the 360° view, sit around a fire pit with a coffee from Castle Mountain Coffee, or dine in the popular Sky Bistro.
You can also take a walk along the ridgetop boardwalk which leads you to even better views. This is about 1 mile long and lasts around 16 minutes round trip.
Extra: If you want to hike up Sulphur, you can download the Gondola for half the regular price of admission!
5| Relax on The Drake’s patio
Canmore and Banff have many restaurants with great food, patio (heated!!), and rooftops. With the sunny summer weather, you will definitely like spending some time on a patio.
We highly recommend our neighbours in Canmore. The Drake offers good food and drinks with a beautiful view of the mountains. They have a large menu offering that can satisfy both large and small appetites. Their specialty is slow-smoked, Alberta Style BBQ, and they source their ingredients locally as often as possible.
Extra: They have a large heated patio with many flowers!
6| Visit the Columbia Icefield and the breathtaking Skywalk
The Columbia Icefield is one of the remaining ice mass that covered most of Western Canada’s mountains. This is the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies. Banff & Jasper Collection by Pursuit offers an amazing tour of the Athabasca glacier on their Ice Explorer bus. You can even step out and walk on the glacier!
During the tour, you will learn about ancient stories, enjoy breathtaking views and make longtime memories. You will also have a great time walking out on the glass-bottomed Skywalk.
Extra: You can sometimes see wildlife, especially before 11 AM or after 3 PM.
7| Spend the day at Lake Louise
Visiting Lake Louise on a family vacation in the Canadian Rockies is a MUST-DO! Lake Louise is definitely very touristy and busy over summer, but the views are 100% worth it. This is as stunning as it looks in photos. There is so much to do in Lake Louise, like renting canoes, have a picnic, hiking, or climbing.
For families, we recommend the many hikes around Lake Louise, such as Lake Agnes Trail and Little Beehive. Lake Agnes Trail is a 7.4km moderate hike and Little Beehive is a 9km moderate hike. Those hikes are all family-friendly.
Extra: You can make a stop at Lake Agnes tea house for some quick food and drinks.
8| Explore Grotto Mountain’s caves
Did you know that you can visit underground caves just under Grotto Mountain?
Canmore Cave Tour is a small company that has been around since 1992. They offer tours at Rat’s Nest Cave that allow you to crawl past prehistoric bones and investigate ancient cave formations. Cave tours are designed for families with children over 10 years old.
Don’t worry if you have younger children, you can also enjoy a discovery hike. The hike will introduce you to the history of the Bow Valley. On this tour, you even get to visit the entrance of Rat’s Nest Cave where you will see ancient pictographs and bones.
Extra: The discovery hike also includes a free pass to the Canmore Museum and Geoscience Centre.
9| Fly over the Canadian Rockies Mountains
If you want to live the ultimate Canadian Rockies sightseeing experience, make sure to board one of Alpine Helicopters’ red helicopters for a breathtaking tour!
They offer different tours from their Canmore and Kananaskis bases to suit different budgets. The tours bring you all over Kananaskis Country and Banff National Park. This is definitely an experience that will remain in your memories forever.
You have many length options as Alpine Helicopters offer tours from 12 minutes to 1 hour.
10| Come rafting with us at Canadian Rockies Rafting!
Come and spend a half-day with us, and we promise you will create many memories!
We have been rafting for 25+ years on the Kananaskis and Bow River in the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies. We offer tours for all ages and abilities, including our most popular tour, the Kananaskis Whitewater, for ages 5 and up.
We also have our Bow River Horseshoe Canyon tour for families with children 12+. On this tour, you can even attempt a cliff jump from 8ft or 30ft!
Finally, for families with children 4+, we offer a Bow Nature Float, which is great for a first water experience.
Extra: Our guides are the best and most experienced in the Bow Valley!
There are still so many other activities to do in the Canadian Rockies like ziplining, paintballing, ATV touring or going on a Via Ferrata. But I do hope that this list will help you plan some of your activities when you come and visit the Canadian Rockies.
Make sure to stop by and take a tour with us! Our guides will tell you all there is to know about the history of our beautiful valley.
If you are interested in one of the activities above, give us a call at 403-678-6535 and we can book it for you!