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Canadian Rockies Facts

Did you know that the lakes in the Canadian Rockies are bright blue because of glaciers? From soaring mountain peaks that touch a cloudless sky to tranquil alpine valleys where wildlife roams free, this stunning landscape will captivate your heart and soul.

The Canadian Rockies offer some of the most spectacular views in the world, and there are many fascinating Canadian Rockies facts. For couples seeking an unforgettable vacation experience or families searching for a memorable bonding opportunity, the Canadian Rockies offer one-of-a-kind adventures and activities.

The travel experts at Canadian Train Vacations have spent a lot of time exploring the Canadian Rockies.

Mountains and trees surround the bright blue waters of Moraine Lake

10 Interesting Facts about Rocky Mountains

1. The Canadian Rockies Are Home to the World’s Largest Dark Sky Preserve

The Canadian Rockies have long been renowned for their breathtaking beauty and natural wonders. But the region has a hidden treasure that is sure to delight outdoor adventurers and stargazers alike: the world’s largest dark sky preserve.

That Jasper National Park is home to the Jasper Dark Sky Preserve is a Canadian Rockies fun fact. It is recognized as the largest accessible Dark Sky Preserve in the world. This means that it has some of the darkest skies in the world, making it an ideal destination for stargazers and astronomy enthusiasts. The Jasper Dark Sky Preserve also offers a unique opportunity to see the Northern Lights or Aurora borealis.

This natural light show is best viewed during the fall and winter months, and Jasper offers one of the best chances to see the Northern Lights in Canada. The Preserve is easily accessible by car or by taking a bus from Edmonton or Calgary. Both cities are located approximately 300km (186 miles) away from Jasper. Visitors can also take a train to Jasper via VIA Rail. The town of Jasper offers a variety of accommodations, from budget-friendly options to luxury resorts. Visitors can also camp in the park — this is a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area.

A starry night sky in the winter in Jasper National Park

#1 Travel tip: Night sky viewing

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Pyramid Island and Maligne Lake are top locations for stargazing in Jasper. Alternatively, head to the Jasper Planetarium to learn about the constellations and look through large telescopes.

Katherine Foxcroft
Product Manager, Tours and Vacations

2. The Rocky Mountains Have Bighorn Sheep

There are many facts about the Canadian Rockies. Did you know that there are over 10,000 bighorn sheep in the region? You can see these animals in canyons and the alpine slopes of this mountain range. Bighorn sheep live in upper elevations and are well-adapted to the rugged habitat.

Males, or rams, can weigh up to 300 pounds and have horns up to two feet long. Females, known as ewes, have softer and more curved horns than males. Bighorn sheep make little noise when moving through their environment.

Close up of a bighorn sheep eating grass
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3. Indigenous People have lived in the Rockies for more than 10,000 years

One important Canadian Rockies interesting fact is that the area has been home to many Indigenous nations since approximately 10,000 BCE, as shown by the archaeological data. 

Several of these Indigenous nations still have a strong cultural presence in the area and have been instrumental in its environmental preservation. Adding an authentic Indigenous experience to your trip to the Canadian Rockies can help you appreciate the region as a unique historical and natural wonder.

People on a Warrior Women guided tour

4. The Columbia Icefield, one of the largest in North America

The Columbia Icefield, located in the Rocky Mountains, spans over 325 square kilometers — another one of our Canadian Rockies mountains facts. The Columbia Icefield is the largest icefield south of the Arctic Circle and is a must-see for any traveler visiting the Canadian Rockies. The Icefield is also the source of the Athabasca, Sunwapta, and North Saskatchewan Rivers.

You can explore the glacier on foot or experience the thrill of an Ice Explorer tour. On the tour, you are taken onto the glacier in an all-terrain Ice Explorer vehicle and get the opportunity to learn about the glacier and its history. These tours only run between spring and fall. The Icefield is surrounded by some of the most beautiful mountains in the Canadian Rockies, including Mount Columbia.

On a clear day, you can see snow-capped peaks, glacial lakes, alpine meadows, and the Athabasca River. If you're looking for more adventure, you can explore some of the glaciers on a guided mountain trek or even try your hand at ice climbing. The Columbia Icefield is accessible by car via the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93), which connects Jasper and Banff National Parks. The road might be closed during the winter months due to heavy snowfall.

Three people walking on a large glacier

#2 Travel tip: Mineral-rich pools

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The Canadian Rockies national parks are also famous for having natural hot springs. Soak up the mountain views at Banff Upper Hot Springs, 1,500 metres (5,200 feet) above sea level.

Blog Author - Hannah Poaros-Mcdermott
Hannah Poaros-McDermott
Travel Writer and Senior Content Coordinator

5. The Highest Peak in the Canadian Rockies is Mount Robson

The Canadian Rockies are home to some of the highest peaks in North America, and the highest of them all is Mount Robson. This mountain stands at 3,954 meters (12,972 feet) above sea level.

Mount Robson is located in the heart of Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada. The mountain is a popular destination for hikers and mountaineers. The most popular trail is Berg Lake Trail, which leads to a beautiful glacier-fed lake at the base of the mountain.

For those who prefer not to hike, helicopter sightseeing flights are available. These provide visitors with a bird's eye view of nearby mountains, rivers, and valleys.

The mountain is easily accessible by car, and the trailhead is located at the end of the Yellowhead Highway, around 30km east of Jasper. The best time to visit is from June to September when the weather is typically the warmest and driest. Visitors should be prepared for any kind of weather and bring appropriate gear, including good hiking boots, warm clothing, and a rain jacket.

Mount Robson is free to hike, but there may be charges for parking or other amenities, such as guide services, camping equipment hire, etc. Before you set off, it’s a good idea to research the costs associated with your trip.

You might be able to spot Mount Robson while on a VIA Rail or Rocky Mountaineer train between Jasper and Vancouver. If you're lucky, it will be a clear day and you can see its snowy peak.

VIA Rail Canadian train passing Mount Robson in summer

6. The Rocky Mountains are part of the North American Cordillera

The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a spectacular mountain range that forms part of the North American Cordillera, which stretches from Alaska to Argentina. The Rockies run through the western parts of Canada and the United States and are known for their rugged beauty, diverse landscapes, and wide range of outdoor activities. Another of the Canadian rocky mountains facts is that the range stretches over 1,000 km through British Columbia and Alberta.

One of the most popular destinations in the Canadian Rockies is Banff National Park, which is the oldest national park in Canada and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can enjoy activities such as hiking, camping, skiing, and sightseeing. The park is home to many scenic drives, such as the famous Icefields Parkway, which offers breathtaking views of mountains and glaciers.

The Canadian Rockies offer a variety of winter sports, such as skiing, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing. Ski resorts like Lake Louise Ski Resort, Mt. Norquay, and Mt. Robson Ski Resort offer a range of slopes for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels.

The Canadian Rockies are the perfect destination for a family trip, romantic getaway, or an adventure vacation. With a range of activities, beautiful landscapes, and iconic national parks, the Canadian Rockies has something for everyone.

Sun shining through the clouds over mountains in Banff National Park

7. The Rocky Mountains are over 80 Million Years Old 

The Rocky Mountains range in age from 70 to 80 million years. The Rocky Mountains formed when two tectonic plates collided, pushing up the earth's landmasses and forming great mountains. The Canadian Rocky Mountains are a geological wonder, formed over 80 million years ago. These majestic peaks offer visitors a glimpse into the Earth's ancient past.

Jasper National Park, which is known for its ancient rock formations, such as Maligne Canyon and Mount Edith Cavell, is a popular tourist destination in the Canadian Rockies. Visitors can take guided tours to learn about the geology of the park and see the ancient rock formations up close.

The Rocky Mountains also have glaciers, cirques, waterfalls, hot springs, and alpine lakes. These mountain ranges, which span more than 3,000 miles and rise more than 14,000 feet above sea level, have always piqued the curiosity of travellers.

Three people standing in a cave in Maligne Canyon

8. Snow Dome is a unique “Three-Ocean Peak”

Snow Dome in the Canadian Rockies is a truly unique mountain peak. It is considered a "Three-Ocean Peak" due to its location at the intersection of the Continental Divide, which separates the waters flowing to the Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific Oceans.

Mount Snow Dome can be seen from Highway 93, more popularly known as the Icefields Parkway, the route between Jasper and Banff. A stop at the Columbia Icefield will provide views of the mountain from the skywalk.

People standing on the Columbia Icefield Skywalk looking out at the mountains

9. The Canadian Rockies Offer World-Class Skiing and Snowboarding

The Canadian Rockies are a winter sports paradise. The area offers world-class skiing and snowboarding for all skill levels. The region is home to several renowned ski resorts, including Banff, Lake Louise, Mt Norquay, and Revelstoke. Each offer a unique experience and have a variety of terrain for every level of skier or snowboarder.

In addition to the ski resorts, the Canadian Rockies also offer a variety of cross-country ski and snowshoeing trails for visitors looking for a more tranquil winter experience.

The ski and snowboard season in the Canadian Rockies is typically from early December to late April. Depending on the snowfall and temperatures, the season can start as early as late October and run all the way until May. So, pack your bags and experience the best of Canadian Rockies Skiing and Snowboarding.

Man in a blue jacket skiing down a mountain in the Rockies

10. The National Parks in the Rockies are a World Heritage Site

With four incredible national parks — Banff, Jasper, and Yoho — the Canadian Rockies offer some of the best outdoor experiences in the world. These parks are part of the The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site.

Banff National Park is the oldest national park in Canada, located in Alberta's Rocky Mountains. It's a stunning landscape of mountains, glaciers, and forests, with over 1,000 kilometres of trails and pathways. You can explore Banff's many hiking trails, ski down one of its many ski resorts, take a ride on the Banff Gondola, or go wildlife viewing in the park's expansive valleys.

Jasper National Park, located in Alberta's Rocky Mountains, is known for its stunning alpine scenery and wildlife. You can do a range of activities here, from camping to horseback riding, rafting, and more.

Yoho National Park, located in British Columbia's Rocky Mountains, is known for its impressive natural attractions. The park's many lakes, rivers, and waterfalls provide spectacular opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. You can hire a guide for adventure guided hikes and tours.

Kootenay National Park is located in southeastern British Columbia.

People canoeing on Emerald Lake on a sunny day

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Canadian Rockies known for?

The Canadian Rockies are well-known for being the source of several major river systems and the numerous rivers that run through the range. It is also famous for its beautiful national parks.

How old are Canadian Rockies?

The Canadian Rockies formed 70 to 80 million years ago.

How long are the Canadian Rockies?

The Canadian Rockies are about 1,000 miles (1,600 km).

Which is the oldest mountain range in Canada?

The Laurentian Mountain range in Canada is one of the oldest ranges in the world.

How tall are Canadian Rockies?

Mount Robson (3,954 m) and Mount Columbia (3,747 m) are two of the Canadian Rockies' high peaks and ranges.

What is Canada's most famous mountain?

Mount Logan is Canada's most famous mountain, and it is the highest peak in Canada and the second-highest peak in North America, after Denali (Mount McKinley) in Alaska. It is located in the Saint Elias Mountains in the southwestern part of the Yukon Territory, near the border of Alaska.

Are the Rocky Mountains only in Canada?

The Rockies stretch from northern Alberta and British Columbia in Canada south to New Mexico in the US.

What animal lives in the Rocky Mountains?

Grizzly bears, elk, mule deer, mountain caribou, grey wolves, lynx, and wolverines are common in the Rockies.

About the author: Hannah Poaros-McDermott is the Senior Content Coordinator at Fresh Tracks Canada. She has previously written for and shared her local knowledge in Where Vancouver, Where Whistler, and Essential Vancouver magazines. Originally from the UK, Hannah travelled... Read more

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