lake louise, hiking, winter, banff national park, alberta,

5 cool activities at Canada’s national parks

lake louise, hiking, winter, banff national park, alberta,

Hiking along the trails around Lake Louise in Banff National Park is one of the joys of winter. (©Julia Pelish/

Story by Lori McNulty

One of the interesting things about our national parks is how we perceive them. For some people, they’re great places to camp. For others, they’re an awesome place for a picnic or outdoor fun. And for some, parks are simply there to get quiet with nature.
Of course, there’s no wrong way to enjoy the beauty of a park. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that you can take part in all sorts of wonderful activities in Canada’s national parks. You can go cross-country skiing, dog sledding, or rock climbing — and enjoy other cool outdoor fun you may not have thought of.
Below are amazing activities you can try at five of Canada’s national parks.

1. Poles fit for a prince

Cross-country skiing: Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta

Lake Louise is for lovers — ski lovers, that is. You can check out tree-lined cross-country trails or fly downhill in waist-deep powder, all under gorgeous blue skies. And if you’re up for a more rustic adventure, try the famous Skoki Lodge, where Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine, visited in the summer.

TIP: Bring a camera to take great snaps of deer and elk as you shush by on your Nordic skis.

2. Get seriously soaked

Hot springs: Radium Hot Springs, Kootenay National Park, Alberta

You can get me into hot springs at any time of year but on cool, crisp winter days, just try to get me out. Surrounded by snow-covered trees and the icy Mount Rundle, I love to wade shoulder-deep into the soothing mineral-rich waters of Radium Hot Springs and just smile.

TIP: For more warmth, try Banff Upper Hot Springs in Banff National Park.

3. Mush ado about winter  

Dog sledding: Kluane National Park and Reserve, Yukon

Here’s one for the bucket list. A chance to mush a team of gorgeous huskies through Kluane National Park and Reserve. Contact a local dog-sled tour operator for itineraries, or try Tourism Yukon (867-667-5340).

TIP: Canada’s highest mountain, Mount Logan (5,959 metres; 19,545 feet), is located within the park.

4. Cold Climb

Waterfall ice climbing: Banff, Jasper, Yoho, and Kootenay National Parks, Alberta and British Columbia

If you were born with a silver pick-axe in your hands, here’s news. Some 1,000 waterfalls exist through the Canadian Rockies, making it one of the world’s premier waterfall ice-climbing destinations. Experienced climbers have easy access and incredible options.

TIP: Massey’s and Pilsner Pillar are classic climbs near the village of Field in Yoho National Park.

5. Plan a below-zero family boil-up

Winter picnicking: Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

Bundle up the family and head out for a picnic along the lake, stopping at one of the park’s enclosed camp kitchens. Cook lunch over a wood stove, seasoned with a dose of the stunning Rocky Mountains.

TIP: Snowshoe up and over the Akamina Pass and have a picnic on the continental divide.

Click here for five more activities to put the wonder back in winter.



Vicky is the worldly publisher of Having graduated from McGill University in Montreal, she has set about building a talented team of travel experts to deliver to you words and images of the very best places to see and experience in Canada. Based in Yorkville in Toronto, Vicky regularly jet sets around Canada — be sure to catch up with her when she's in your part of the country.

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