Celebrating Canada 150 in the Canadian Rockies

It’s Canada’s 150th birthday, and in honour of the milestone, Parks Canada is offering free admission to its national parks throughout the year. If you’ve never seen them, now is the time to visit the Canadian Rockies, a natural marvel that climbs through British Columbia and Alberta national parks like Yoho, Banff and Jasper. Here are just a handful of the once-in-a-lifetime experiences you can enjoy in the Canadian Rockies this year, just in time for a very special birthday:

Year-long celebrations
Mountain towns including Banff, Jasper and Whistler are amping up their Canada Day celebrations, but there will also be special events, performances and art installations throughout the year. In Banff, for example, Parks Canada’s team of interpreters will share stories about the park’s wildlife, history and all the details that make this place special. Interpretive programs and activities are offered around town, at campground theatres and in day-use areas (the full program listing will be available in June).

While there, don’t miss out on the Banff Gondola, one of the park’s top attractions, with a 360-degree rooftop observation deck at the summit of Sulphur Mountain, or a scenic boat cruise on Lake Minnewanka — the only lake in the park to allow power boats. Keep your eyes peeled for a temporary sculpture installation on the rocks adjacent to Lake Minnewanka, visible from June until the end of August. This Canada 150 Signature Initiative, called Landmarks 2017, is led by Partners in Art, and will showcase multidisciplinary art projects inspired by nature at various Parks Canada locations.

Picture perfect
Lake Louise, located in Banff National Park, is one of the most photographed in Canada: a postcard-perfect turquoise lake set against a forested mountain backdrop . Also consider a jaunt to nearby Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks; the lake doesn’t typically thaw until June, when it reveals its surreally blue waters. Or head further north, to Jasper, the largest (and wildest) national park in the Canadian Rockies. It’s one of the most beautiful places on Earth and a UNESCO World Heritage site. While here, don’t miss the Columbia Icefields and the glass-floored Glacier Skywalk, 900 feet in the air.

Take the train
It’s easy to see more than one of these iconic destinations if you ride the rails. Rocky Mountaineer, Canada’s luxury tourist train, offers four different routes that cover the highlights of the Canadian Rockies in a bi-level, glass-domed coach in GoldLeaf Service. There are also custom packages, self-drive options and add-on tours, such as traversing the Columbia Icefields on the all-terrain Ice Explorer. Guests can spend additional time in Banff and Jasper, or add days in Vancouver and Calgary, to take in the best of Canada’s national parks during Canada 150 celebrations.

City to city
Anyone travelling through the Canadian Rockies is likely to start or end their journey in one of Western Canada’s major cities, which offer plenty of ways for visitors to celebrate Canada’s anniversary.

Vancouver is hosting several Canada 150 events with the theme of celebrating First Nations (dubbed Canada 150+), including The Drum is Calling Festival and the Gathering of Canoes, where 5,000 families will travel by canoe to Jericho Beach on their journey to Campbell River. From July, public artworks and murals celebrating Canada 150+ will be displayed across the city.

In Calgary, the cowboy city is celebrating with everything from neighbourhood street parties to a traditional pow-wow — not to mention a Canada 150-themed Calgary Stampede parade. For train aficionados, Heritage Park (a living history museum) is restoring a 1905 wooden Colonist rail car — one of just two left in the country.

If you’re looking to explore the Canadian Rockies, there’s no better time than the sesquicentennial, with free entrance to national parks and plenty of signature events to mark the occasion. It’s Canada’s birthday, and everyone is invited.

Calling all travellers. Click here to take our Toronto Star travel survey. We would love your input.

Go to Source