How to get around the Canadian Rockies
For such a large and expansive area, the Canadian Rockies are surprisingly easy to get around with walking, cycling, driving, and catching public transport all great and convenient ways to navigate the wondrous region. Whether you're on a budget or have limited time, here's everything you need to know about the best ways to get around the Canadian Rockies.
Walking/cycling in the Canadian Rockies
Walking or cycling around the Canadian Rockies is one of the best ways to soak up as much natural goodness as this region has to offer. From your base in any one of the national parks or surrounding towns, there are plenty of walking and hiking trails to wander along including the breathtaking Plain of the Six Glaciers Trail in Banff National Park and Floe Lake Trail in Kootenay National Park.
The town of Jasper is also quite small (as are some of the other towns in the Canadian Rockies) so it's perfectly reasonable to walk or cycle from place to place. If you didn't bring a bicycle with you, you can always hire them from several companies in Banff, Canmore, or Calgary with prices usually starting from around AUD$45per day.
Driving in the Canadian Rockies
Driving in the Canadian Rockies is the easiest and most convenient way to get around not only because it allows you greater flexibility with your itinerary but also because it's the quickest way to get from national park to national park. If you didn't drive to the Canadian Rockies, you can hire a car from several car rental companies (including National Car Rental, Enterprise-Rent-A-Car, and Thrifty) located at Calgary International Airport (YYC) which is the closest airport to Banff National Park. You can also hire a car from towns within the Rockies such as Jasper or from other nearby airports like Cranbrook-Canadian Rockies Airport (YXC).
Driving might be the most popular mode of transport due to the ease of getting from A to B but it's also a great way to see the spectacular Canadian Rockies landscape. The Icefields Parkway is an iconic scenic drive between Banff and Jasper National Parks - you'll be completely glued to your window as you watch the impressive conifer and broadleaf trees whip past and enjoy a stunning view of turquoise-colored lakes and mighty snow-capped mountains.
Catching public transport in the Canadian Rockies
While there is limited public transport in the Rockies, it does exist, and if you're on a budget, it's a great way to get around. The public transportation system in the form of a bus network (Greyhound) connects you with popular destinations around the Rockies including Jasper National Park, Lake Louise, and Banff National Park, however, there are no public transport options available between Jasper National Park and Lake Louise. If you want to go between these two destinations, it'll take you around 11 hours via Edmonton and Calgary so we suggest you arrange alternate transportation.
Greyhound bus tickets usually start at around AUD$7 and go up from there depending on availability and how far in advance you book your tickets.
In addition to the Greyhound service, there are quite a few operators (Brewsters and Sundog just to name a few) that offer day tours to and from national parks.