Two-Wheel Territory: The Tops in Mountain Biking

Canada: Rockies Cycling Adventure

If you haven't been to the Canadian Rockies yet, go. Don't worry about the expense; there is an extensive network of youth hostels, and you'll find campgrounds and lodges galore. The scenery is unequalled in all of North America. With four great national parks to ride through (Kootenay, Banff, Yoho, and Jasper), there are any number of options for a tour of a few days or a few weeks. If you want to cover a lot of ground in a short period on relatively flat roads, cycle the Icefields Parkway from Jasper south to Banff. Along the way you'll pass Sunwapta Falls, the Columbia Icefields and Lake Louise. There are excellent campgrounds along the route, and numerous great day-hiking trails right off the main road.
A more challenging ride will take you from Banff over Vermillion and Sinclair Passes, then south through Kootenay National Park. The road can be steep, but the scenery is fantastic. Stop at Radium Hot Springs for some R&R before heading north through the Columbia River Valley to Golden, a whitewater rafting hotspot. From there, you'll experience the best of Rockies scenery in Yoho National Park. Be sure to stop and hike up into the nearby mountains to see one of Yoho Park's many aquamarine alpine lakes. There are many trails in this area which are also open to mountain bikes. When you come down out of Yoho, head on to Lake Louise and back to Banff. There's a good youth hostel in Banff, but it's often full, so call ahead.

If you're really adventurous, you can start a Rockies trip in the United States, passing through Glacier National Park in Montana, before turning north through the Waterton Lakes National Park on your way up to Alberta. The scenery on both sides of the border is magnificent, and there are first-rate lodges inside both parks. The peddling can be tough, however; you'll have to use your lowest gears on Glacier Park's spectacular Going-to-the-Sun Highway, and there can be fierce westerly winds while you're in the border region.
Practically Speaking
Because there is so much to see and do in Canada's Rockies, and because good accommodations of all kinds are easy to find, we would not hesitate to do this trip by ourselves, as long as we were prepared to climb some serious mountain passes without sag-wagon assistance. There are many good touring books that can help you plan the best itinerary.

Paul McMenamin is the author, editor, and photo director of the original Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook.

Published: 2 Feb 2001 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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