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CANADA: Canadian Rockies & Columbia Mountains parks

Canadian Rockies and Columbia Mountains park photo galleries

The Canadian Rockies rival any mountains in the world for breathtaking beauty. This article helps plan your hikes and sights:

Enjoy these wonderful parks by camper, bicycle, feet, and canoe. See many wild animals in their natural home: wapiti (elk), osprey, Mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus), Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis), black bear, grizzly bear, Columbian Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus columbianus), Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel.

CANADA: mountain park favorite photos

Above are Favorite images automatically played in a show. Below, view more extensive galleries. (PAUSE || or START SLIDESHOW as desired with buttons at lower right.) But mobile devices just display a fixed image, so click center to enlarge as a set of images with full captions in GALLERIES mode (where Add to Cart button lets you buy photos).

Rockies: Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, and Yoho National Parks: photo gallery

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Rockies: Hikes and tips for Banff National Park, Alberta

Rockies: Hikes and sights in Jasper National Park, Alberta

Rockies: Yoho National Park, British Columbia

Rockies: Kootenary National Park, British Columbia

The Rockwall’s east-facing cliffs form the backbone of the Vermilion Range, which stretches nearly 40 kilometers (24 miles). The Rockwall soars 1000 meters (3300 feet) over Floe Lake, an excellent backpacking destination, 10.7km one way.

Rockies: Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, British Columbia

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Photos include Lake Magog, Sunburst Lake, Cerulean Lake, Nub Peak trail, and a Columbian Ground Squirrel. Hike from Banff National Park to Rock Isle Lake via Sunshine Meadows.

Assiniboine Lodge and Naiset Huts

A helicopter can optionally carry you and/or your backpack to Assiniboine Lodge in the remote wilderness at Lake Magog with great views of Mount Assiniboine (11,871 feet, the “Matterhorn of Canada”). Comfortable private rooms in the Lodge are pricey. A cheaper option is to book your group into the dormitory style Naiset Huts and use their Wonder Lodge Cooking Shelter for comfortable indoor communal cooking (gas cookers provided) and socializing. Or carry a tent and camping gear about 25 minutes further to Lake Magog Campground.

Mount Assiniboine backpacking trip

The optional Citadel Pass route to Mount Assiniboine starts at Sunshine Village (7200’), reached via bus in in Banff NP. Hike 8.7 miles to Porcupine Campground, then 9.5 miles to Assiniboine Lodge Naiset Huts (at 7100′ elevation). The hardest part is a steep descent from Citadel Pass (7740’) to Porcupine Campground (6000’).

Rockies: Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia

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Camping near Mount Robson trailhead
Berg Lake, Mt Robson backpacking

In 2008, Carol and I fondly revisited Berg Lake, our first international backpacking destination together (1995), plus other parks, with a group of friends. Backpacking to Berg Lake is 22 kilometers (13 miles) one way. All campsites have bear poles, pit toilets, washbasins and grey-water pits. Reserve backcountry sites at 1-877-737-3783, change at 1-800-689-9025, 7am-7pm.

Rockies: Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta

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Staying in Elkwood Campground gives you quick access to Mari Lake Trail and other hikes in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. Images include: Rawson Lake trail, Mari Lake reflections, Sarrail Creek waterfall, and Upper Kananaskis Lake. Kananaskis Country is an improvement district (rural municipal administration) west of Calgary in the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies.

Rockies: Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

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Images include: A stream flowing through colorful sedimentary geology in Red Rock Canyon, and mountains reflected in Waterton Lake.

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada and Glacier National Park, Montana, USA comprise Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, which is honored by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. See related articles:

Columbia Mountains, Purcell Range: The Bugaboos, British Columbia

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Bugaboo Provincial Park lies in the Purcell Range of the Columbia Mountains south of Golden, British Columbia. Most tourists are distracted by nearby Canadian Rockies parks along fast paved highways and skip gravel logging roads, thereby leaving the stunning “Bugaboos” as a quiet retreat for hikers, climbers, and helicopter guests of luxury CMH Bugaboo Lodge. Hike in late September to see the glow of golden fall colors of tamarack larch, whose deciduous needles turn from green to bright yellow-orange. Stay in expensive accommodation at CMH Bugaboo Lodge and CMH Bobby Burns Lodge just outside the park, or camp free at 4 primitive sites in Bugaboo Septet Recreation Area. The following view hikes are best on a sunny day:

Geology of the Bugaboos and Purcell Mountain Range

The ancient Purcell Mountains (a subrange of the Columbia Mountains) formed from sediments around 1.5 billion years ago, a time on earth when only algae grew. Not until the age of the dinosaurs did the much younger Rockies appear east of the Rocky Mountain Trench. Near the end of the Rocky Mountains creation, masses of molten rock pierced the old metamorphic rocks of the Purcells and cooled into hard crystalline granodiorite batholiths of the Bugaboos, 135 to 70 million years ago. Glaciers and water chiseled away weak overlying rock and revealed spectacular granite spires of the Bugaboos. Mining peaked in nearby Bugaboo Falls around 1906 — miners described a deadend mineral lead as a “bugaboo,” the park’s namesake. (Some USA maps label the “Percell Mountains” where their southern limit protrudes into the states of Idaho and Montana.)

Columbia Mountains: Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks, British Columbia

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Columbia Mountains: Bowron Lake Provincial Park, British Columbia

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See: “Pardon Me, I’ll Run to my Ambulance Now.” This true story from Bowron Lake Provincial Park recounts our adventurous 73-mile canoe trip paddling a rectangular circuit of wilderness lakes, where we portaged by rolling the canoe on wheels.

See related articles

Recommended Canada and Montana guidebooks from Amazon.com:

Search for latest “Canada Rockies travel books” at Amazon.com. Search for latest “Montana travel books” at Amazon.com.

2003: 2011: 2010: 2010:

2012: 2011: 2011: 2010:

The following Canadian Rocky Mountains parks comprise a spectacular World Heritage Area listed by UNESCO in 1984:

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