Canadian Rockies Bucket List

“And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count.
It's the life in your years.”
Abraham Lincoln

Looking for a bucket list of the Canadian Rockies? Here's mine... in no particular order! Have fun making yours!


What a breathtaking sight this mountain lake is with a backdrop of Victoria Glacier! Yes, the colour is real; the glacial rockflower that is suspended in the water gives it that deep green-blue hue. In summer - go for a stroll along the lakeshore, hike up to the teahouse or rent a canoe. In winter - go for a skate on the lake or take a horse-drawn sleighride for a magical experience! Photo courtesy Travel Alberta.


Drive or take a motorcoach tour up the Icefields Parkway for the scenic drive of a lifetime! The views are remarkable. Breathe in the fresh mountain air and gaze upon the ancient glaciers that are now endangered in our world. Mountain lakes such as Peyto Lake (see above) as well as Bow Lake are must-sees! There are many viewpoint where you can stop and take some beautiful pictures. Photo courtesy Travel Alberta.


Just a short drive from the townsite of Banff in Banff National Park is the stunning Castle Mountain. Known for its many peaks and interesting history, both geological and historical, this is one mountain you won't want to miss. Stay at the picturesque Castle Mountain Chalets and enjoy championship golf courses and beautiful hiking trails just minutes away. And yes, it really does look like a castle! Photo by Marcel Finnigan.


Take a trip up the Icefields Parkway and discover the colors of the Jonas Rockslide. Park your car and walk down the old highway to fully appreciate the orange, pink and purple shades of the Gog Quartzite. Dating back to the early Cambrian period, it is this Gog Quartzite, covered by grey lichen, that is typical of the Main Ranges of the Rockies. This age-old act of nature, whose impact is still very noticeable today, is a true gem of Jasper National Park. Photo by Marcel Finnigan.


Spend a summer afternoon hiking to Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. It is an easy hike and the view that awaits you is breathtaking - it was even on the back of the old $20!! If you are more ambitious, hike in a group of six (be cautious of wildlife) to Lower Consolation Lake. There you will discover beautiful ancient rock and a stillness that is remarkable. There is even a treat along the way: a meadow covered in wildflowers to amaze you. Photo by Marcel Finnigan.


Looking for a place to dine that will be the perfect ending to the perfect day - Simple... The Bow Valley Grill at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. If you are more of a breakfast person, take in their Sunday Brunch - it is a true delight! Make the Springs your new home and go skating on their private pond, take a dip in the bubbly outdoor hottub and enjoy the views of the Spray Valley. End the evening with a candlelight Blueberry Tea in the Rundle Lounge. Ahhhh. Photo courtesy Fairmont Banff Springs.


Take a drive out to the Icefield Centre, located on the Icefields Parkway, and venture out on an Ice Explorer on Athabasca Glacier. These huge machines are used for exploration in the Actic and are made right here in Canada. Once there, walk to a glacial stream and dip your empty bottle in! Would like a little more adventure? Take a guided Ice Walk - equipment provided - come only with enthusiasm! Photo courtesy Brewster Transportation.


Are you planning to visit Jasper National Park? If you are, make sure to make a trip out to Maligne Lake. There you can cruise the bluest waters you can imagine with mountain panoramas surrounding you. Picturesque Spirit Island awaits you - once featured as a mural at Grand Central Station, the tourists have been coming ever since. You can reserve campsites at several points along the lake which are reachable only by canoe. Photo by Marcel Finnigan.


Rail travel is a beautiful way to experience the Canadian Rockies. Visit Banff National Park and/or Banff National Park and board a train that will take you through the mountains. Travel to Vancouver and take in the coastal city and do some whalewatching. From Vancouver you can also travel by rail to Whistler, site of three competitions of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. There are so many options to travel by rail! Photo courtesy of Travel Alberta.

I recently sat down with a bowl of popcorn and watched The Bucket List, the 2007 Rob Reiner film about two terminally ill men (Morgan Freeman & Jack Nicholson) who go on a world adventure in an attempt to cross things off a list of inspirational things they would like to see and do before they die. This reminded me of a couple of passengers I had on my bus.


It was a perfect day for a motorcoach tour down the Icefields Parkway. The sun was shining and the crisp and clear mountain air provided my passengers with great mountain vistas.

Arriving in Lake Louise at the Lake, everyone got off the bus and walked to the lake shore. The view of the lake and the backdrop of Victoria Glacier are always stunning - even for me - but if it is your first time to Lake Louise, it is truly magical, no matter what your age.

One of my passengers that day was a grandmother who had always wanted to see the Canadian Rockies. She had planned her trip to include her young grandson and the places she had always heard about in the Rockies. After walking the lakeshore and admiring the Chateau Lake Louise located right at the lake, her grandson said, "Grandma, do you think we could one day stay here at the Chateau and spend some time here at Lake Louise?"

The grandmother immediately came to me and asked, if I thought they would be able to get a room at the Chateau and if they could continue the tour tomorrow. She told me about her grandson asking her if they could one day stay here and enjoy this majestic place together. She told me that there wouldn't be a one day - the time was now and this was why she wanted to do the trip with her grandson NOW.

I took their luggage off the motorcoach and waited. The two came out of the Chateau with huge grins on their faces. She had just checked this off her Rockies bucket list! This was years ago - but I am sure that litttle boy never forgot his stay at the Chateau Lake Louise with his Fairy Grandmother, who graciously granted his wish and loved every minute of it!

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