Each of the five Canadian Rockies’ national parks has at least one park information centre (see Information Centres below). These are the places to head for interpretive displays, all park-related information, trail reports, weather forecasts, and wilderness passes. The national parks are managed by Parks Canada (www.pc.gc.ca). On the Alberta side of the Canadian Rockies, all other parks are managed by Alberta Environment and Parks (www.albertaparks.ca). British Columbia’s provincial parks are managed by BC Parks (www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks).
Begin planning your Canadian Rockies hiking trip by contacting the government tourist offices of Alberta and British Columbia: Travel Alberta (780/427-4321 or 800/252-3782, www.travelalberta.com) and Tourism British Columbia (250/387-1642 or 800/435-5622, www.hellobc.com). Both will fill your mailbox with useful literature and maps, which can be ordered by phone or through their respective websites.
In Calgary, you’ll find an information booth on the arrivals level of the Calgary International Airport. The Vancouver Visitor Centre (604/683-2000) is at 200 Burrard Street, although information on the Canadian Rockies is limited.
Each town in the Canadian Rockies has a visitor centre, and most have a local tourism authority. While the centres operated by Parks Canada hand out information on the parks themselves, the centres operated by local tourism authorities handle requests for information on commercial facilities, such as guided tours, hotels and restaurants.
In most cases within the Canadian Rockies, Parks Canada and local tourism authorities work together and both sources of information are found under the same roof.
In the heart of downtown, Banff Visitor Centre (224 Banff Ave., 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily mid-June to Aug., 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily mid-May to mid-June and Sept., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily the rest of the year) combines both Parks Canada (403/762-1550) and Banff Lake Louise Tourism (403/762-0270) under one roof.
Lake Louise Visitor Centre (Samson Mall, Village Road, 403/522-3833, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily mid-June to Aug., 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily mid-May to mid-June and Sept., 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily the rest of the year) is dominated by Parks Canada-related information desks, but also has a summer-only desk operated by Banff Lake Louise Tourism.
The residence of Jasper’s first superintendent, a beautiful old stone building dating to 1913, is now used by Parks Canada as the Jasper Visitor Centre (Connaught Dr., 780/852-6176, www.pc.gc.ca, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily in summer, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily the rest of the year), right downtown. The staff provides general information on the park and can direct you to hikes in the immediate vicinity. Also within the building is the Parks Canada Trail Office (780/852-6177), which handles questions for those going into the backcountry and issues the relevant passes.
A short distance along Highway 40 south from Highway 1 (but north of Barrier Lake), Kananaskis Visitor Information Centre (403/673-3985, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily in summer, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily the rest of the year) is a good place to start your trip into Kananaskis Country. Continuing south, the excellent Peter Lougheed Discovery Centre (4 km/2.5 miles along Kananaskis Lakes Road from Hwy. 40, 403/591-6322; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily in summer, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily the rest of the year),
The best source of information for visitors to Kootenay National Park is Kootenay National Park Visitor Centre (250/347-9615, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily in summer, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily in spring and fall), outside the park in the town of Radium Hot Springs, at the base of the access road to Redstreak Campground.
The main source of Yoho National Park information is the Yoho Visitor Centre – look for the distinctive blue roof beside the TransCanada Highway at the turn-off to Field (250/343-6783, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily in summer, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily the rest of the year). Inside you’ll find helpful staff, information boards, interpretive panels, and a Friends of Yoho bookstore. This is also the place to pick.
Waterton Lakes Visitor Centre (404 Cameron Falls Dr., 403/859-5133, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends) is in the heart of the village and is surrounded by natural gardens and walking paths.
Canadian Rockies Webcams
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