When I was 23, my friend and I did a 2-month roadtrip down the coast from Vancouver to Baja California and then back up through the Rockies where my friend dropped me off to start a new life in Banff. I can still vividly remember stepping out of the car and even after all the amazing natural beauty that I’d seen on the roadtrip, being absolutely awestruck by sheer majesty of the epic mountains on all sides of the town of Banff.
While I originally planned to just stay for the ski season, I completely fell in love with Banff and I couldn’t bring myself to leave. That summer, I convinced a bunch of friends to move out and we spent the warm summer days exploring and camping in the epic backcountry of Canada’s 5 Rocky Mountain National Parks: Banff, Kootenay, Yoho, Waterton and Jasper.
There are cozy tea houses nestled deep in the mountains, communal cabins overlooking the highest mountains in the Canadian Rockies and a trail system that goes for thousands of miles. The scenery is spectacular everywhere you go and the massive glaciers, lakes, waterfalls and mountain peaks are the stuff of travel legends.
1. Moraine Lake
The surreal blue waters of Moraine Lake and the backdrop of snow-capped peaks in the Valley of Ten Peaks are a sight to see. The colour of the water is due to the refraction of light off the glacial rock flour that is continually deposited in the lake. The ten mountain peaks behind the lake run along the Continental Divide, which marks the border of British Columbia and Alberta.
Moraine Lake graced the back of the Canadian Twenty Dollar Bill until the early 1990s. Since the lake is at such a high elevation, approximately 1,885 m (6,183 feet), the road is only open from June to September. The rest of the year you have to ski in, which takes about two hours (no snowmobiles are allowed in Canada’s National Parks). This may be the most beautiful single place that I’ve ever visited in Canada.