Stand on the narrow pass and catch your breath – only to lose it to the spectacular view. Rugged Canadian Rocky Mountains, brilliant white glaciers and a lone rocky hut. It’s a daunting route past pristine lakes and up treacherous scree slopes or a technical mountaineering route with glacier travel, but a visit to the Abbot Pass Alpine Hut is a must for mountaineers and a triumph for hikers. Built by Swiss-born mountain guides using stone from the surrounding mountains in 1922, the rustic hut is your home for the night. Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin National Historic Site is administered by Parks Canada and operated by the Alpine Club of Canada.
Establishing transportation corridors to the Pacific Coast was vital to the fur trade. Guided through the Athabasca Pass by Thomas the Iroquois, David Thompson was instrumental in surveying many routes through the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The first northerly route through Howse Pass was quickly blocked by the Pikani Tribe in 1810 forcing Thompson to trek through a more challenging route through Athabasca Pass near Jasper, Alberta. It was used for nearly half a century as part of the main fur trade routes from Canada to the coast.
Get face-to-face with Rocky Mountain wildlife, from vintage stuffed bears and bighorn sheep to birds and bees, inside western Canada’s oldest natural history museum. Located on Banff Avenue in the heart of the town of Banff, the Banff Park Museum – a.k.a. the “University of the Hills” – houses more than 5,000 historic botanical and zoological specimens. Explore the Victorian-era collection, while admiring the stately 1903 museum, a log masterpiece and the oldest surviving federal building in any Canadian national park.
Ride into history on a wagon pulled by Percheron horses to discover the life of a ranching cowboy from the late 1800s at the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site. Try your hand at cowboy skills, learn about the old-style ranching ways, wander through the rustic and authentic buildings or sit around the campfire and listen to old-time tales. Back-dropped by the Rocky mountains – it’s a true Alberta experience!
Visit the Cave and Basin National Historic Site to experience the birthplace of Canada’s national parks and learn about the natural and cultural history of the mountains. Touch the hot water that seeps from the rocks, smell the minerals and explore the trails. Discover it on your own or enjoy one of the many guided tours.
Drilled in 1902, Western Canada’s first oil well was short-lived but ignited Alberta’s passion for petroleum exploration. Investigate the site and explore for nearby traces of the town in the forests of Waterton Lakes National Park. Learn how the entrepreneurs discovered and drilled for the oil and why they ultimately abandon their dreams.
Just inside the Alberta border, the site of this tragic event is laden with memories of lives lived and lost: archaeological remains, a cemetery, and depressions in the earth representing the church, the mill, the milk house, stables… remnants of old wagon trails still exist. Frog Lake became a rallying cry for the Canadian Militia who were sent west to deal with the rising conflicts. Frustrated with the Canadian Government, especially the provision of food rations, Kah-Paypamhchukwao, also known as Wandering Spirit, and other warriors take control of Mishtahimaskwa’s (also known as Big Bear’s) Cree band and come to Frog Lake to take up issues with the Indian Agent. Tension erupts in the small settlement and nine people are killed and the rest taken hostage. The deaths at Frog Lake drive the Canadian Government to take a stronger law and order stance in the West.
Used by generations of First Nations as a route east from the Columbia River Valley through the rugged Rocky Mountains, Howse Pass now sees fewer travelers. It served the First Nations as a route through the mountains to bison, and was a short-lived gateway for European traders to the interior of British Columbia from trading posts in the foothills of Alberta. Blocked by tribes east of the pass, the traders, lead by explorer and fur trader David Thompson, found a more northerly route.
Gaze across the Athabasca River and envision 50 years of fur trading history located at the junction of towering mountain ranges and mountain passes. For almost half a century Jasper House was the main stopping place for fur traders using the Athabasca, and Yellowhead passes, and an important meeting place for adventurers, voyageurs, artists and missionaries. A short, beautiful walk leads you to the Jasper House viewpoint and interpretation panels.
At the heart of Jasper townsite is a log and stone building, a classic example of Rustic architecture found in many Canadian national parks. Here, in the Jasper Park Information Centre, friendly park experts offer insights on front and backcountry exploring, hiking trails, camping, paddling, wildlife viewing and skiing. To help you make the most of your stay, you can also get details on special events, weather conditions, and pick up maps and permits. The Friends of Jasper Gift Shop and Tourism Jasper are also on site, making the Info Centre a one-stop destination to plan your adventure.
Maligne Lake Chalet and Guest House National Historic Site
The chalet and guest house represent the prominent role played by outfitters, guides and the competing interests of railways in the development of the national parks.
Jasper National Park of Canada, Alberta
Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site is one of Canada’s finest examples of how the fur trade helped shape the nation. Enjoy exhibits, walk through archaeological remains of the four forts, get hands on with Métis skills of the fur trade. Stay awhile, camp in Indigenous trapper’s tents and tipis.
Skoki Ski Lodge has been welcoming skiers and hikers to the idyllic Skoki Valley for nearly a century. Built as a backcountry ski lodge in the 1930s, it is both a beautiful example of the rustic building tradition and a living link with the earliest days of ski tourism in Canada. The lodge and its cabins and outbuildings are located along the banks of Little Pipestone Creek, more than 10 kilometres from the nearest road. Today it is a popular overnight retreat for hikers and skiers offering legendary backcountry hospitality, comfort and conviviality.
A cosmic ray station was built on Sulphur Mountain as part of the International Geophysical Year in 1957-1958 and Canadian scientists made important contributions to the research. Geophysicists studied cosmic rays and space particles entering the atmosphere from the station perched above the town of Banff, until 1978. Today, all that remains is the building’s concrete foundation and a bronze plaque to commemorates the station’s national historic significance.
Today the Yellowhead Pass is a valley corridor containing a highway and railway beside crystal clear rivers, through dense forests under rugged peaks links Jasper town site and the provincial border of British Columbia. In the past the low elevation made for easy movement for Indigenous people, fur trappers, railways and explorers. The name Yellowhead is the nickname of a fair-haired Metis-Iroquois-freeman named Bostonais, active here in the early 1800s.