Snow Shoeing Canadian Rockies

Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier National Park and Kananaskis, Canada

Day-Hikes and Multi-Day Trips with Lodge Base

Snow Shoeing Canadian Rockies Highlights

  • Winter wonderland in the Rockies
  • Solitude and Quiet!
  • Rustic lodges and alpine cabins
  • Banff and Jasper Park’s beauty
  • Beautiful, panoramic high level trails
  • All levels – great family trip

Experience the serenity of the spectacular winter backcountry in Banff, Jasper and Kootenay National Parks on snowshoes! Get away from the busy ski resorts and spice up your ski vacation in Banff or Jasper with a snowshoeing trip.

1) Half day trip close to Banff Daily departures at 1.30PM with pick-up at your hotel in Banff. Scenic walks with little vertical gain below tree line to Vista Lake and Paint Pots. Transport and snowshoe rental included. (For this trip we act as a booking agent for a licensed Banff operator).

2 ) Single day trips Custom trips from casual valley walks to challenging peak ascents eye to eye with the glaciers of the Canadian Rockies.

3 ) Multi-day trips with lodging in rustic backcountry huts or comfortable backcountry lodges with private rooms. Spend the evening with home-cooked food next to an open fireplace in a log cabin – the ultimate Canadian Rockies winter experience! Trips include excursions to the Bow Hut at the Wapta Icefields, Skokie Lodge close to Lake Louise or Elisabeth Parker Hut at Lake O’Hara.

Please see our itinerary tab for more detailed custom itineraries.

Itinerary

SINGLE DAY SAMPLE ITINERARIES

We have scheduled single day itineraries out of Calgary, Banff, Canmore and Lake Louise as well as daily trips on a custom basis out of Jasper, Rogers Pass, Golden and Revelstoke.

Here are some sample itineraries in the Canmore, Banff and Lake Louise areas.

Lake Louise Alpine Peaks / Banff National Park

Saddle Mountain, Banff National Park: Start and finish at Lake Louise and climb up to Saddle Mountain with great views of the north face of Mt. Temple and the glaciers around Lake Louise. Snow conditions permitting, it might be possible to even climb Mt. Fairview, the best viewpoint around Lake Louise, but a bit of a grunt to get all the way to the summit. Possibly return trip by descending to Paradise Valley. Time return trip: 5 hrs, add 3 hours for Mt. Fairview, 2 hrs for Paradise Valley.

Lake Louise Grand View Loop

Lake Louise – Lake Agnes – Beehive – Louise Falls, Banff National Park: One of the most popular hikes in summer renowned for its world class views tends to be quite a serene adventure trip in winter. Climb along the trail past the Lake Agnes tea house and up the steep slope to the Beehive view point (avalanche conditions permitting). Return trip via the six glaciers trail and Louise Falls. Return trip 5 hrs.

Kananaskis Provincial Park / Peter Loughheed Provincial Park

Burstall Pass and Snow Peak: Burstall Trail Head – Robertson Glacier – Burstall Pass, Peter Loughheed Provincial Park: A 30 min drive from Canmore takes you to a beautiful area called the Spray Lakes, which is a favorite for ski touring and snowshoeing with Canmore and Calgary locals on the weekends. After following a scenic forest road past a couple of lakes, we head into the alpine on a narrow hiking trail and eventually into a beautiful high valley. Great views of some glaciers and rugged mountains, like Mt. Robertson, Birdwood and Assiniboine in the distance. Optional ascent of Snow Peak, if you not tired out yet at Burstall Pass. Return trip 6 hrs, add 2.5 hrs for Snow Peak. Driving time from Canmore about 40 minutes, 1 hr from Calgary.

Chester Lake and Elephant Rocks: One of our most popular trips! A 1.5 hrs walk takes us into a beautiful alpine cirque surrounded by spectacular peaks at the base of Chester Lake. Another 30 minutes takes us higher to Elephant Rocks, an awesome playground to do downhill slides and jumps into the deep snow on snowshoes. Enjoy the spectacular view to the other side of the valley with Mt. French and Mt. Robertson. This trip can also be done as a loop walk and in spring for those who are keen, we could also do a couple of challenging peak scrambles in the area. Driving time from Canmore about 40 minutes, 1 hr from Calgary.

Kootenay National Park

Mt. Stanley Ice Wall. Easy trail hike in Kootenay National Park: A windy trail leads us into one of the most spectacular hanging valleys of the Rockies – countless frozen waterfalls (often with ice climbers hanging off them…..) and the glaciated north face of Mt. Stanley make for stunning views while wandering around up there. Return trip 5 hrs. Driving time form Banff and Lake Louise: 30 min.

Paint Pots, Vermillion River. The classic half day trip just west of the rockies divide on the BC side. An easy walk in great scenery that takes us by the paint pots.

MULTI-DAY SAMPLE ITINERARIES

In sequence from easier to more difficult.

Lake O’Hara / Yoho National Park

4 to 5 hrs hiking / day, mostly light forest and tree line terrain with some alpine bowls and many frozen lakes. Another trip in the Lake Louise area. Lake O’Hara is one of the prettiest and in summer busiest spots of the Canadian Rockies, but very quiet and serene in winter. The terrain is very suitable for snow shoeing. Only the 13 km walk-in (sometimes better done on nordic gear) is a bit mind numbing. For lodging, you have a choice between the Lake O’Hara Lodge (rooms, fully catered) and the rustic Elisabeth Parker Hut (dormitory sleeping, no running water). The day trips from the lodge or hut lead into beautiful alpine bowls with enormous rock walls and some of the tallest summit of Banff and Yoho National Park looming over your head.

Magnificent Skoki / Banff National Park

4-6 hrs hiking time/day, mostly forested – non glaciated terrain:
Lake Louise – Skokie Lodge, Banff National Park: A classic trip to one of the oldest and probably nicest log house lodges in the Rockies, the Skokie Lodge, which has been granted the protection of a world heritage site by the UNESCO. A very scenic trip into the lodge with vistas of frozen lakes and hanging glaciers to arrive at this magnificent place in the late afternoon. While there, as well as on the way to Skokie, there is the option of some easier peak ascents. We recommend to make this trip at least three days with two overnights at the lodge. Early reservation required, if you want to be sure to get a spot at Skokie. In early and late season, we’re often lucky even on shorter notice. One way to Skokie in winter will take approx. 5 hrs.

The Wapta Icefield / Banff National Park

Depending on itinerary chosen, 4 to 8 hrs hiking / day. All alpine, above tree line terrain, above the huts glaciated.
Peyto Lake – Peyto Hut – Mt. Thompson – Bow Hut – Mt. Crowfoot – Bow Lake, Banff National Park: The heart of the classic Wapta Traverse on snowshoes! Across vast glaciers with ascents of the two most prominent peaks visible from the Icefield Parkway. Lodging in Alpine Club Huts right at the glacier. A two day trip is also possible to Bow hut with one peak ascent the following day. Popular but more challenging is also the “Little Wapta Traverse” from Bow Lake to Peyto Lake (3 or 4 days).
Here’s some images of the Wapta terrain on our Wapta Ski webpage

Little Yoho / Iceline Loop – Yoho National Park
8-9 hrs of hiking on the approach day (all below treeline), then alpine and glaciated terrain:
Field – Yoho Valley – Takakkaw Falls – Stanley Mitchell Hut – Iceline Trail – Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park: Yet again, one of the most popular multi-day hiking trips in the summer but rarely a soul seen there in winter. This trip is rather challenging as to endurance and stamina. It requires one night in a tent or open shelter below Takakkaw Falls and at least one night in a simple, but very cozy log hut of the Canadian Alpine Club, the famous Stanley Mitchell Hut. Super-scenic trip – a marvelous winter adventure for the fit, which requires at least three days. The initial 8 hrs hut approach can be shortened by an overnight stay in an improvised shelter half way.

Curriculum

1) Half day trip close to Banff: Daily departures at 1.30PM with pick-up at your hotel in Banff. Scenic walks with little vertical gain below tree line to Vista Lake and Paint Pots. Transport and snowshoe rental included. (For this trip we act as a booking agent for a licensed Banff operator).

2 ) Single day trips: Custom trips from casual valley walks to challenging peak ascents eye to eye with the glaciers of the Canadian Rockies.

3 ) Multi-day trips with lodging in rustic backcountry huts or comfortable backcountry lodges with private rooms. Spend the evening with home-cooked food next to an open fireplace in a log cabin – the ultimate Canadian Rockies winter experience! Trips include excursions to the Bow Hut at the Wapta Icefields, Skokie Lodge close to Lake Louise or Elisabeth Parker Hut at Lake O’Hara.

Please see our itinerary tab for more detailed custom itineraries.

Detail and Logistics

Meeting Point and Time

Scheduled half-day trips: Pick up at your hotel in Banff around 1.30 pm
Custom Trips: Arrangements depending on chosen itinerary.

Climate, Weather, Temperatures

Winter mountain weather in the Canadian Rockies is often influenced by cold, continental air originating in the arctic. Be prepared and equipped for temps between 0 C to -25 C
(-32 F to -15 F).

Services Included in the Total Price

Scheduled half-day trips. Guiding by a certified hiking guide, transport from Banff to trail head and back, snowshoe rental, snack

Custom Trips. Guiding by a certified(ACMG and/or UIAGM/IFMGA) mountain, ski or alpine guide, snowshoe and telescope hiking pole rental. Depending on the planned itinerary also the use of avalanche safety equipment (transceiver, probe and shovel).Transport and lunches can be provided on request.

Can I Do It?

Scheduled Half-Day Trips. Good general fitness for a 2-3 hour walk on snowshoes. No previous snowshoeing experience required. Return trip distance about 3 km nearly level walking.

Single day trips. All levels! Custom trips only. Required fitness level depends on your objective chosen. No previous snowshoeing experience necessary.

Multi-day trips. Custom trips only. Same as above plus the requirement to carry overnight gear in your backpack. Trips into alpine terrain might require the use of avalanche safety equipment, the use of which we will train with you in a 30 minute avalanche safety exercise.

Gear List

SNOWSHOEING DAY TRIPS ALPINE

1. Technical Equipment

• Collapsible ski poles*
• Snow shoes
• Avalanche transceiver (475 Megahertz)
• Lightweight snow shovel
• Avalanche probe
• Backpack (30-40 liters) with rain cover. Some have built-in rain covers (eg. Deuter backpacks). Rain covers can also be bought separately. Otherwise bring a big plastic (garbage) bag as an inside liner for your backpack.
• Climbing harness for glacier travel
• One locking carabiner
• Crevasse rescue equipment, if you are familiar with it. (Prusik slings, webbing, pulleys, auto-locking device). Your guide will bring a full set.

All items marked with ‘*’ can be rented from a rental shop locally.

Harness, carabiner, transceiver, snow-shovel and avalanche probe can be provided by OnTop. Please bring your own equipment if you have it.

2. Clothing

Temperatures in the Canadian Rockies vary hugely.
Early season (December – February) temps can drop as low as –30C overnight, whereas in spring (mid-March – May) it can warm up to above freezing temps and overnight lows are not usually below –10C. The list is meant as a guide line, but we realize that our guests have their clothing priorities and substituting certain items with other equivalent pieces of clothing might be a valid alternative. If you do so, you should discuss it with your guide in the pre-trip briefing.

• Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore Tex or similar)
• Wind and waterproof over pants (Gore Tex or similar)
• Warm pants (insulated / fleece/ polypro)
• Fleece or wool pullover or jacket
• Medium weight fleece shirt
• Capilene, fleece or wool underwear, top and bottoms
• 2 Pairs of gloves (lightweight and heavier weight)
• Scarf or neck gaiter
• Socks: thick (wool) outer and thinner liners
• Wool or fleece hat, covering the ears
• Gaiters (unless pants lock tightly to your boots or ski pants have integrated gaiters)
• Sun hat, preferably with wide rim
• Bandana (optional)

3. Other items:

• Sun Glasses (with very good UV protection, extra pair is a good idea)
• Sun screen and lip protection
• Water bottle, preferably insulated, minimum volume: 1 liter or camelbak (if too cold, bladder tube might freeze up!)
• Head lamp
• Blister kit (optional)
• Zip-lock bag for wallet and other documents to keep them dry (recommended)
• Snacks (candy bars, dried fruit, sandwiches, nuts, etc.)
• Personal items (Prescription medicine, extra contact lenses and maintenance equipment, extra pair of prescription glasses etc.)
• Pocket knife or leatherman tool
• Goggles, camera, film and extra batteries (optional)

SNOWSHOEING DAY TRIPS BELOW TREE LINE

1. Technical Equipment:

• Collapsible ski poles*
• Snow shoes
• Backpack (30-40 liters) with rain cover.
Some have built-in rain covers (eg. Deuter backpacks).
Rain covers can also be bought separately.
Otherwise bring a big plastic (garbage) bag as an inside liner for your backpack.
• Gaiters (unless pants lock tightly to your boots or ski pants have integrated gaiters)*

All items marked with ‘*’ can be rented from a rental shop locally or OnTop and may already be included in your trip price.

Please bring your own equipment if you have it.

2. Clothing

Temperatures in the Canadian Rockies vary hugely.
Especially early season (December – February) temps can drop as low as –30C overnight, whereas in spring (mid-March – May) it can warm up to above freezing temps and overnight lows are not usually below –10C. The list is meant as a guide line, but we realize that our guests have their clothing priorities and substituting certain items with other equivalent pieces of clothing might be a valid alternative. If you do so, you should discuss it with your guide in the pre-trip briefing.

• Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore Tex or similar)
• Wind and waterproof over pants (Gore Tex or similar)
• Warm pants (insulated / fleece/ polypro)
• Fleece or wool pullover or jacket
• Medium weight fleece shirt
• 1 Pairs of gloves (heavier weight)
• For pants see Gaiters Technical Equipment
• Scarf or neck gaiter
• Thick wool socks
• Wool or fleece hat, covering the ears
• Sun hat, preferably with wide rim
• Bandana (optional)

3. Other items:

• Sun Glasses (with very good UV protection, extra pair is a good idea)
• Sun screen and lip protection
• Water bottle, preferably insulated, minimum volume: 1 liter or camelbak (if too cold, bladder tube might freeze up!)
• Head lamp
• Blister kit (optional)
• Zip-lock bag for wallet and other documents to keep them dry (recommended)
• Snacks (candy bars, dried fruit, sandwiches, nuts, etc.)
• Personal items (Prescription medicine, extra contact lenses and maintenance equipment, extra pair of prescription glasses etc.)
• Pocket knife or leatherman tool (optional)
• Goggles, camera, film and extra batteries (optional)

Booking

Please read and fill out this additional Reservation Form and FAQ.

GROUP SIZES
Client / Guides

Any size for custom trips!

DIFFICULTY
Snow Shoeing Canadian Rockies
  • All levels!
  • Perfect for families!
2018 DATES
Snow Shoeing Canadian Rockies

Custom Trips: Anytime from November – May

PRICES
Snow Shoeing Canadian Rockies

CA $70 (based on half day trip with partner company)
On request, we can quote you in your preferred currency