The ultimate guide for crossing the Rockies


Lake O'hara region

The Lake O’hara region in the Yoho National Park

The Rocky Mountains are a gem in the crown of Canada and there is so much to see and do here. On a holiday to Western Canada and Alaska you can choose itineraries that include exploring the Rocky Mountains and on these trips you can marvel at spectacular mountains and coastlines, hear stories about the Gold Rush and visit the beautiful coastal cities of British Columbia.

From travelling on the Rocky Mountaineer train to travelling by car or RV, here at Canadian Affair, we know that there are so many different ways you can explore the Rockies. This is why we’ve created this guide about five different itineraries that encompass all the Rockies have to offer.

Five great ways to explore the Rockies

•A motorhome holiday

•An adventure-packed fly-drive holiday

•Driving from Calgary across the Rockies

•On the Rocky Mountaineer and an Alaska cruise

•A loop of the Canadian Rockies and northern British Columbia

A motorhome holiday

Crossing the Rockies on the Sea to Sky Highway
RV driving past Green Lake in Whistler, BC

One of the best ways to explore the Rockies landscape is on a motorhome holiday as it offers you the freedom to explore the area at your own free will whilst also being able to get a close-up view of the outstanding sights that are on offer.

With its wide roads, spectacular scenery and world-class campsites, there is no place more ideal for travelling via motorhome than the Rockies in Canada. You can also visit the locations that you want to visit rather than having to follow a pre-made plan or map.

Recommended motorhome holiday in the Canadian Rockies

Our Best of Canada’s West Holiday has it all as you’ll pick up your motorhome in Vancouver and get to explore all the top attractions that the city has to offer. You can then explore Western Canada and all the stunning beauty that this region has to offer.

On this holiday you can explore the world-famous wine region of Okanagan Valley, relax at Harrison Hot Springs, experience the stunning beauty of Revelstoke in the Monashee Mountains or the picture-perfect Lake Louise. Other great places you can visit include Jasper, the Athabasca Glacier and Clearwater.

READ MORE: Exploring the Canadian Rockies by Motorhome

An adventure-packed fly-drive holiday

Whitewater rafting in Jasper National Park
Image credit: Tourism Jasper
Whitewater rafting in Jasper National Park, Alberta

If you see yourself as a bit of an adventurer, then the Rockies is the perfect destination for you. There are so many activities that you can do throughout the whole year.

During the winter you can enjoy ski and snowboarding holidays in the Rockies, ice skating, dog sledging and snowshoeing whilst throughout the rest of the year you can enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, canoeing, white water rafting, gondola rides and lots more.

There are some great adventures that can be had during your time in the Rockies and one popular activity that many people enjoy is white water rafting. The activity is a great way to see the spectacular scenery and you might even spot some wildlife from the river such as elk, deer, moose, coyotes, wolves, eagles, ospreys, mountain sheep and bears. With so many raft tour operators based in and around the Rockies, you can pick a trip to suit your needs.

Recommended adventure holiday

With our Unlimited Adventures Holiday, a mosaic of landscapes awaits you as you will travel from the towering mountains of the Rockies to the rugged coastlines of the Pacific. As part of this fly drive Canada holiday you can explore the likes of Calgary, Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Whistler, the Pacific Rim National Park and Vancouver.

Another reason the Unlimited Adventures Holiday is a great option is that we include international flights from the UK, 15 nights’ accommodation, 16-day Intermediate car hire with Fully Inclusive insurance, tickets for the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo and the ferry from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen.

READ MORE: Why you need to visit Canada on a road trip

Driving from Calgary across the Rockies

Heading across the Rockies from Calgary towards Lake Louise
Overlooking a valley heading south through the Canadian Rockies towards Lake Louise

Hiring a car and driving across the Rockies is a hugely popular choice for many as there are so many places you can stop off at, places to see and activities to do.

If you want to drive along one of the world’s most scenic routes, then you should look to drive along the Icefields Parkway as it is considered one of the most scenic roads in the world. The route sits between Lake Louise and Jasper, but there are other stunning routes in the Rockies that you can travel on if you are driving from Calgary. The great thing about driving across the Rockies is the fact that you can stop off and enjoy lots of great hiking trails.

Tanya Koob, who is the writer behind the Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies blog, shares recommendations for hikes that you can try and one she recommends trying in Autumn or Spring is Nihahi Ridge, Elbow Valley, in Kananaskis, which is in the foothills of the Rockies.

“This is a great trail if you’re camped at the Little Elbow Campground. The hike is 5km return to the end of the official trail. It is a good hike for school-aged kids. Smaller kids may need some assistance. You’ll reach the shoulder of the ridge. Further hiking requires skills with off-trail scrambling. Note that the road does not open until May 15th each year.”

Recommended holiday from Calgary

Our Western Highlights Holiday begins in the Stampede City of Calgary and you will then drive on the most scenic highways in the world in the Rocky Mountains before arriving in the coastal city of Vancouver. Included as part of this holiday are flights from the UK, 13 nights’ accommodation, 14 days intermediate car hire with fully inclusive insurance, ferry tickets from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay and Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen as well as a personalised roadbook which contains essential information on routes and more.

READ MORE: 48 Hours in Calgary

On the Rocky Mountaineer and an Alaska cruise

Aboard the Rocky Mountaineer train
Image credit: Rocky Mountaineer
A man aboard the Rocky Mountaineer train

One of the best ways to explore the Canadian Rockies is by travelling on the Rocky Mountaineer train as you can take in the breathtaking views whilst relaxing in pure luxury. During your time on the train, you will be engrossed with the stories that the hosts will tell you about the region.

If you want the perfect combination of holidays, then you should look to cross the Rockies on the Rocky Mountaineer and then enjoy an Alaska cruise. This is a journey you’ll never forget as you will experience astounding scenery and potentially see wildlife such as bears and whales.

Recommended rail and cruise holiday

With our Alaska Cruise & The Majestic Rockies Holiday, you will be able to get the best of both worlds as this trip includes 7 nights on an Alaska Cruise with Holland America Line and two days on the Rocky Mountaineer. You will also get 8 nights of hotel accommodation, flights and transfers from Lake Louise to Banff and then Banff to Calgary Airport included as part of this holiday.

READ MORE: Why choose a Rocky Mountaineer & Alaska Cruise holiday?

A loop of the Canadian Rockies and northern British Columbia

Rocky Mountaineer train crossing the Rockies
Image credit: Rocky Mountaineer
Rocky Mountaineer train crossing the Canadian Rockies

Keeping in with the train and boat theme, you can go on a spectacular loop of the Canadian Rocky Mountains that incorporates the Rocky Mountaineer train and a voyage along the spectacular Inside Passage.

The Rocky Mountaineer is one of the best ways to see the Rockies in all its glory as it snakes through snow-capped mountains, forests and beside picturesque lakes, but there are more stunning adventures to be had in northern British Columbia and you can incorporate it all in one holiday.

Terri is the writer of the Mum’s Travel Blog and she highly recommends exploring the Canadian Rockies on the Rocky Mountaineer.

She said: “There are no words, no photos, no videos which can even come close to experiencing the Rocky Mountaineer for real, so if you have even so much as considered this trip my advice to you would be ‘DO IT’ I promise you won’t regret it.”

Recommended holiday

Our Rail and Sail Holiday will take you on a loop of the Rocky Mountains and northern British Columbia so you can see how diverse this region is. As part of this trip, you will enjoy two train journeys and a voyage along the scenic Inside Passage.

Some of the great features this holiday includes are a sightseeing tour in Vancouver, a 2-day trip on the Rocky Mountaineer, a drive along the famous Icefields Parkway, a ride on an Ice Explorer at the Athabasca Glacier, rail journey across British Columbia’s northern region to the waters of the Pacific Ocean on VIA Rail and a cruise along the Inside Passage.

READ MORE: What to expect onboard Rocky Mountaineer

If you want to book a dream holiday in the Rocky Mountains, we can help tailor it, no matter what you want to experience. For more articles like this, check out the blog section of our website.

Latest on Twitter

Canadian Affair on Facebook

Stay in touch & get regular updates

Sign up to our newsletter...

Invalid email

Thank you for signing up. Please enter your details below.

Please help us make your emails more personalised by filling in these extra details. Rest assured that your privacy is important to us and your details will not be shared with any 3rd party marketing companies. For more information, please read our Privacy Policy. Fields marked with an asterisk (*) are required.

Title is required.
First name*
First name is required.
Last name*
Last name is required
Email address*
Please enter valid email e.g

What are you interested in?

Please select all that apply



Visit Friends
& Family