Category Archives: Banff National Park

Backpacking Banff’s remote Front Ranges

  Each summer, Calgary hiker Jim Shipley organizes a multi-day backpacking trip into the remote valleys and passes of Banff or Jasper Park, exploring country that he and his buddies haven’t visited before. While Jim contacts us for pre-trip tips, we always receive more information than we provide. Following his trek, he composes a detailed report with photos and sends it along for use in this blog—reports that always provide revisions for […]

Fire hazard forces closure of BC parks

As British Columbia experiences its worst wildfire season ever, the BC Wildfire Service has closed access to the backcountry in the Rocky Mountain Forest District in the province’s southeast corner, which includes Mount Assiniboine, Elk Lakes and Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Parks. This closure also restricts access to most of the trails in the Sunshine Meadows area of Banff National Park, including the popular hike to Rock Isle Lake, Larix and Grizzly Lakes. […]

Castleguard Meadows revisited

The trail to the Castleguard Meadows via Alexandra and Castleguard Rivers has never been easy. But since we first included it in the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide, there has been no maintenance and things have only gotten worse. A few intrepid backpackers make the journey each summer, either via the 35-km trail or cross-country over the Saskatchewan Glacier. Here is a current look at the entire route, trail and glacier, as travelled […]

Wildfire closes Banff, Kootenay trails

Update July 31, 2017—Trails in the Sunshine Meadows and north along the Bow Valley Highline (Simpson Pass, Healy Pass, Egypt Lake, Whistling Pass) reopened Wednesday, July 26. But increased fire activity prompted Parks Canada to close the trails and Sunshine Village again on Monday, July 31st. For the latest on fire activity and closures, check Parks Canada’s daily Verdant Creek Fire Update.  A lightning-ignited wildfire in Kootenay Park’s Verdant Creek valley has forced Parks […]

High country snow lingers on park trails

An above average snowpack in the Mountain Parks will likely plague many high trails until late July this year. Trails above 2200m (7,200ft) on north and east facing slopes will be particularly vulnerable to lingering snow banks. While snowpack tracked close to normal through the first half of the winter, there was a big surge in accumulations at all recording stations in March and near-record peaks by the beginning of May. Warm weather […]

New eBook guides to National Park trails

A new series of trail guides in eBook format has been published by Summerthought. Designed for Kindle readers, tablets and iPhones, and utilizing the free Kindle app, the series works as an affordable alternative or supplement to the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide. Each guide includes trail summaries, descriptions, and km-by-km distance outlines from the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide plus two features lacking in the print edition—a colour photo and  map for each […]

More free shuttle buses in Banff for 2017

There will be more Roam buses and Parks Canada shuttles plying the roads of Banff National Park this summer as the park and Town of Banff gear up for the busiest summer ever. Parks Canada shuttles will be free, and Roam bus fares nominal. The expanded shuttle services, announced by Parks Canada on May 12, will serve not only general sightseers but also hikers looking to access trailheads around Banff, Lake […]

Aileen Harmon: Requiem for a hiker

January 14, 1912-January 9, 2015 Aileen Harmon was a pioneer hiker and naturalist in Banff National Park—the first child of Banff landscape photographer Byron Harmon and the last of the pre-World War I Banff “kids” who would become the park’s first climbers, skiers and hikers. When she passed away at the age of 102 (five days shy of her 103rd birthday), a flood of memories came back to me. Not just […]

Coping with gridlock in Banff

Planning a trip to the mountain parks this summer? Prepare for gridlock. Canada, the Canadian Rockies, and particularly Banff, are everywhere you look these days. On the cover of the December-January issue of National Geographic Traveler and as the subject of a flattering feature article. And as a full, two-page photo spread in Lonely Planet magazine’s “Best in Travel 2017”. Just two examples of the flood of publicity lauding  travel to Canada, particularly […]

A hiker’s bucket list

      Despite what many people believe, Bart and I haven’t hiked all the trails in the Canadian Rockies. There are still trails we’ve missed and would dearly like to hike before we get too creaky to manage them. When I was making up a “bucket list” for myself, I suddenly realized there aren’t many day hikes in the mountain parks that I haven’t done at least once. Most of my […]