Category Archives: Wildflowers

Sunshine Village gondola opens for summer

After an absence of 20 years, the Sunshine Village gondola will once again transport hikers to the Sunshine Meadows on weekends and holidays for the 2016 season. The gondola will commence its summer operation on July 1st with the bonus of a free ride on the Standish Chairlift to the summit viewpoint atop Standish Ridge. The 4.5-km (2.8 mi) gondola was a popular fixture back in the 1980s and early 90s […]

Best alpine wildflower hikes

It should come as no surprise that the best hikes to alpine wildflowers would be from the Icefields Parkway—Canada’s longest and highest year-round roadway. And this summer is producing one of the earliest blooms ever in the high country. First off, let’s be perfectly clear about alpine wildflowers. These are not the big, showy flowers that hikers find in lush, well-watered subalpine meadows just below the treeline. True alpine flowers only […]

Banff’s high trails open early

Brian and I have been monitoring the arrival of an early 2015 hiking season.   Neither of us, though, were prepared for just how quickly the snow at altitude would vanish, and neither of us can remember a season quite like it in the 40-some years we’ve been watching spring make its annual ascent to the alpine. Based on recent hiker and trail crew accounts, the snow on the high trails […]

Springtime hiking in Jasper

It may seem counterintuitive to head north for the earliest hiking in the Rockies, but Jasper’s Athabasca Valley is always the first to provide dry, snowfree trails and mild weather in May. Aside from being over 300 m (1,000 ft) lower in elevation than Banff, this section of the Rockies is less prone to those late-season, upslope snowfalls that always seem to plague the southern Front Ranges. As of this […]

Balmy days and dry trails in the Mountain Parks

  Back in the early days, people had a choice for cooling off during the heat of summer—go to a movie theatre (the first air-conditioned venues) or travel to the mountains. Air conditioning may be universal today, but the alpine trails of the Canadian Rockies are still superior to the shopping mall. I can only remember a couple summers when we could scamper about at 2400m in shorts and t-shirts. But […]

The last best wildflowers in the Canadian Rockies

Heading into mid-August hikers are looking for those final summer trips that will take them into the best wildflower meadows before the first killing frosts of the season. Many of the traditional destinations are out of reach this year because of flood-related road closures: Sunshine Meadows and Healy Pass (Banff National Park), Summit Lake (Waterton Lakes National Park), Ptarmigan Cirque (Peter Lougheed Provincial Park) are all virtually inaccessible due to […]

Cavell Meadows—Jasper National Park’s best wildflowers

The hike to the Cavell Meadows is probably the best half-day hike to wildflowers in Jasper National Park. And it certainly lived up to its reputation on Monday, July 29. The damage from the collapse of Ghost Glacier (see Path of the Glacie Reopens in Jasper National Park) had no impact on the Meadows trail, though the lower margins of the parking area are still being cleared of debris. The […]

Hiking Parker Ridge in Banff National Park

The switchbacking trail to the alpine summit of Parker Ridge in northern Banff National Park has a reputation for being the most scenic short hike in the Canadian Rockies. On Sunday, July 28, 2013, I recorded my 57th “ascent” of the ridge. Most of my Parker Ridge trips were completed when I worked as an interpreter in Banff’s north country for three seasons. I usually led walks to the ridge […]

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park wildflowers

The calendar has turned over to August and the wildflower season is at its peak in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, with an abundance of flowers along hiking trails. One of the brightest flowers to colour the landscape is Indian Paintbrush (pictured). To read about all the best trails in the park, we recommend the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide. Highway 40 over Highwood Pass is closed as a result of spring flooding, […]

Wildflowers along Banff National Park’s Boom Lake trail

Boom Lake has always been one of our favourite early-season hikes. And Thursday, July 18, was no exception as we made our way along the 5.1-km trail to the lake from Boom Creek Picnic Area. The lush forest was filled with wildflowers, and the trip took a lot longer than usual as we stopped to photograph dozens of different blooms. Tall white bog orchid, bunchberry, yellow columbine, and heart-leaved arnica […]