Canada Trekking: 15 things to know
Sunny woods, very wide streets and turquoise colored lakes. Do you know the classic imagery you have about Canada?
Well, Western Canada is exactly like that and going trekking in this vast part of the world is a dream for every hiker, for every nature lover, for any tourist or traveler who gets excited in front of a landscape. Almost all then!
In the hope that you too are going or going to Canada just to walk in the rocky mountains, I show you the 15 things I wanted to know BEFORE going to Canada to go trekking. And instead I discovered only there …
Useful suggestions for those who want to walk in the Canadian Rockies
1. Canada is largely flat
The famous Rocky Mountains are found only in the western part: British Columbia and Alberta, on the border (these are the two main states).
All of Eastern Canada, Quebec, Montreal or Toronto? Flat land.
2. The Rocky Mountains are one of the main tourist attractions of all of Canada
Which means that if we (mountain lovers) are used to going to places where there are not many people, in Canada there are panoramic points or sections of paths so full of people that it seems to be in the square in Florence. In every period of the year it seems, it does not come out.
3. Choose the trekking to do
In a vast country like this, at the beginning, it risks really making one feel uncomfortable: and now where do I go?
For a first experience maybe you can evaluate the most famous and decidedly spectacular parks where you can spend a number of excursions in them.
These are the main ones:
- Banff National Park – the most famous of all.
- Jasper National Park – here there are so many animals and it is the second very famous.
- Yoho National Park – UNESCO Heritage.
- Kootenay National Park – UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Glacier National Park (not the USA, not to be confused) – another famous park known for its spectacular glaciers.
If you already want to discover something less known:
- Kananaskis Park – near the famous Banff, here there is definitely less influx of people, many animals and we are really close to the most famous areas so the scenarios are those.
- Mount Robison Park – north of Jasper, here too we are very close to one of the most famous, but it is less crowded.
4. Study routes already from home on the BIBLE of trails in Canada
There is a guide that they consider to be the best and the only valid that I bought only arriving on site. And I must say with my infinite joy.
Made very well and clearly, here are all the most important or suggested routes to do in the “Rockies”.
And since you can also find it on Amazon I recommend buying it first if you want to study well, otherwise you will find it at the visitor center.
5. Canadian Parks have a daily or annual entrance fee
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Canada, an anniversary that took place in 2017, the Parks were offered free of charge to all tourists throughout 2017.
Now instead we are back to normal and every single national park has a daily cost or if you plan to do more than 5 days you need the annual card. But this money is necessary for the sustenance of these (spectacular and well-kept) parks. Money well spent!
NB: to remember always to expose the card on the car when you park in the parks.
6. Canada Trekking means simplicity!
Canada Trekking is simple, but I explain what I mean by that. Parks are managed by Parks Canada, which is one of Canada’s most important national institutions. A government institution set up specifically for the management of the Parks and already here we find the “dimension” of the thing.
Thousands of people who work there and the minister of the environment at the head of all this. What does this mean in practice? The paths are all traced. Well reported. In excellent condition. And when are not they? It is reported.
Information centers are efficient and able to give EXCELLENT information.
And then there are the rangers and many other working figures, in short: there is always the way to get information, maps and advice. (This does not mean that it is easy to get on top and h, another matter).
7. Praise to visitor centers
I have never considered them so much in general, but in Canada they are for me one of the unmissable stages when it comes to excursions. Here is perfection (possible).
Useful information from people who really walk (now it’s something to which I care a lot), materials and MAPS for excursions. Of all kinds. Some for free and very good, others for a fee … But let’s say that every necessary material is found. And all the updates on the state of the trails.
8. If you want to walk more days and do long treks … Plan it months in advance!
This is the most painful, most disappointing and tough to deal with … but then understanding the reasons, more correct.
There are really many options for trekking for several days in the various parks and some are simply spectacular, but to do these long treks you need to camp during the trek (a dream for me). There are no facilities within the Parks except for very few shelters. So what’s the problem?
The problem is that free camping is not allowed (you need to ask for special permits) and Parks Canada allows accommodation in the innermost parts of the Parks (and therefore more natural and wild) only to a very limited number of tourists per day.
In a campground sometimes only 4 are allowed and I say 4 tents a day … Understand that finding a place, even if we are talking about an activity that is certainly not mass, is not something obvious. Here are millions of tourists a year.
In July and August it is good to book months before if you want the certainty of the place.
9. Try it though … that sometimes there is still room
There are cases in which people cancel their reservations made months and months before and so it is also located in the backcountry campgrounds, so always try to ask if they have vacated places for trekking you are thinking about.
10. You can not do free camping without authorization
Unless you have permissions. And know that here are very careful also because we talk about safeguarding people. The rangers know the most dangerous areas, those with risk landslides, bears or falling trees. Not to mention the fact that these places are subject to avalanches as soon as a bit of snow goes down, so that’s why free camping can not get here.
Out of respect (first of all), due to the sacrosanct application of the rules (to follow) and for the safeguard of one’s own person.
11. Campgrounds for long treks are already similar to free camping
I will talk about it later on, but do not worry that in Canada you must forget the concept of “camping” to which many are accustomed in Europe.
12. Trekking in Canada means taking a course of cohabitation with wild animals: learn everything!
Many animals that live in the Parks and at the moment in which they embark on a journey within their habitat need to be prepared, that not always meeting them is synonymous with “beauty” as bears can be very dangerous. Yet they are there. And they are many.
To follow therefore very carefully the indications that are given continuously inside the parks through leaflets, posters (leggeteli eh) and a thousand continuous inputs designed to teach tourists to live with wild animals in general.
Remember: NEVER and NEVER give food to animals, nobody. Not even for squirrels!
You risk a fine of $ 25,000 because it is illegal in Canada because you are the evil of animals by giving human food.
(This rule is always valid in every place in the world with any animal that is not domestic and therefore lives in HOME with humans).
13. Canada Trekking: Beware of bears
Impossible to talk about trekking in Canada without talking about bears. There are those blacks Black Bear and there are also the Grizzlies that are giants for the record! I could not believe it … And if you walk in the woods and in the mountains, they live there.
Even here you do not fear that you will make a culture on how you live and on what you need to do and do NOT (but soon I’ll talk better).
14. The paths are generally frequented
If the points too scenic are totally “occupied” by tourists, the paths fortunately not. We find a normal situation. They are frequented (many hikers who leave from all over the world to go to Canada rightly), but not too much.
15. The best month for Canada trekking is September!
I strongly advise against August: it is years that British Columbia finds itself having to deal with the problem of fires which means hectares of destroyed forests, evacuated and closed areas, but above all smoke. Smoke that wraps an entire gigantic state and reaches km and km (even the north of the USA has the same problem).
This year declared a state of emergency, but even last year the situation was serious and the first smoke was the same.
This is going to affect a lot of trekking and because in fact the mountains are hidden (and the landscapes disappear) and why go to Canada to stay inside a “fog” even no and why walk full lungs in the smoke, trust, not it’s nice.
June and July, on the other hand, are months in which there are so many but many mosquitoes in the backcountry. In August less, in September they tell me almost zero.
If I had to choose between mosquitoes and smoke? Better mosquitoes. I do not recommend the month of August.