Canadian Rocky Mountains
ome of the best-known mountain scenery on Earth is concentrated in a set of seven parks in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. There are four national parks in the Canadian Rockies – Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay, and three British Columbia provincial parks – Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine and Hamber. The seven preserves located along the Alberta-British Columbia border attract more than nine million people annually.
Banff National Park became Canada’s first national park in 1885, and the birthplace of Canada’s national park system. It is home to a variety of distinctive natural features and cultural and historical sites. Rugged mountains, glaciers, icefields, alpine meadows, beautiful blue cold-water lakes, mineral hot springs, deep canyons and hoodoos compose the natural landscape and habitat for a great variety of mammals such as elk, bighorn sheep, black and grizzly bear, and caribou.
Jasper National Park is the largest and most northerly of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks. The park is less commercialized than Banff, so it can still keep many natural beauties and scenery. Its scenery includes deeply gouged Maligne Canyon, picturesque Maligne Lake, the thunder of Sunwapta Falls, the serene beauty of glacier-covered Mount Edith Cavell, and Miette Hot Springs.
As one of 39 national parks in Canada, Kootenay National Park represents the south-western slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. From glacier-clad peaks to semi-arid grasslands, where even cactus grows, Kootenay is rich in variety and is one of the largest protected areas in the world.
Yoho National Park, representing the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains region, holds the secrets of ancient ocean life, the power of ice and water, and unique plant and animal communities that continue to evolve today. Awe and wonder is a natural response for this place of rock walls, spectacular waterfalls and soaring peaks. The Burgess Shale contains one of the world’s most significant finds of soft-bodied, Middle Cambrian-age marine fossils, with about 150 species, including some bearing no resemblance to known animals.
These four Canadian National Parks account for 14,300 square miles. The four National Parks along with the three British Columbia provincial parks form the UNESCO Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site-one of the largest protected areas in the world.