The Canadian Rockies span the British Columbia/ Alberta border, heading south into the United States through Idaho and Montana. Within its boundaries lie some of the best winter sport destinations in the world. Equally popular with summer sport enthusiasts, the Rockies offer endless opportunities for both active and leisure vacations.
Among the oldest mountain ranges in the world, the Canadian Rockies are considerably older than their American counterpart. The continual of glacial movement has defined their nature, resulting in numerous parks, lakes and valleys ideal for towns and small cities. The mountains are home to five national parks, all of which have become major tourist destinations. Of these, Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho National Parks are registered World Heritage Sites.
The Alpine Club of Canada maintains a series of retreats for mountaineers and back country adventurers. Skiing and snowboarding have gained popularity, with some of the freshest, lightest and deepest powder available on the continent. The highest point is Mount Robson, with an elevation of 3,954 meters (12,972 feet), making the Rockies a perfect location for both beginner and experienced mountain enthusiasts. Mount Robson is also of interest as it marks the Continental Divide. Mount Columbia, the second highest peak in the Rockies, is the highest peak in Alberta, and maintains a popular but somewhat challenging hike crossing the Columbia Icefield.
Picturesque lakes and rivers further captivate both the active and the imaginative. Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park, for example, is 24 km (15 mi) of glacial lake and one of the largest lakes in the Canadian Rockies. Legend has it that the lake formed around, and eventually covered a first nations village dating back some 10,000 years.
Banff National Park, the oldest national park in the country, is home to the ever popular township of Banff. The park is a haven for hikers, rock climbers and mountain bikers, while the city itself offers excellent dining, nightlife, aboriginal arts and crafts, and one of the most popular candy shops in the country. Banff plays host to such events as the Banff Mountain Film Festival and the Rocky Mountain Music Festival. Sightseers must not miss the gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain.
Jasper National Park began as a trading post for the North West Company. The park itself was established in 1907, and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. In addition to natural wonders such as lakes, glaciers, canyons and caves, Jasper National Park is popular with fossil hunters.