Pause on your way down a carefully groomed run or while plowing a swath through fresh powder snow to take in the Rocky Mountains. For panoramic views from the comfort of a ski slope, it doesn't get much better than Banff and Jasper National Parks. This rough craggy range shows a rugged face that, illuminated by the glint of sun on snow and brushed by high clouds, just might make you fog up your goggles. Even if you're not in the National Parks Banff or Jasper to ride the lifts, snow or sun this destination has earned a reputation for stunning natural beauty and not undeservedly.
A quick drive over from Calgary, Banff and Jasper are worth the trip even if you don't have energy to do anything but take in your surroundings. Steer along the Icefields Parkway for a chilly reception at the Athabasca Glacier, relax by the shores of Lake Lousie or rise above it all with a trip up on the Banff Gondola. But to make the most of this wilderness playground some effort is in order. From snow sports like cross-country skiing, ice-skating, sleigh rides and sledding to summer trail rides, hiking, mountain biking, boating, climbing and camping, boredom is easily kept at bay. Banff Town, Lake Louise and Jasper Town are the three main destinations if you're after food and lodging or want to organize an adventure tour to area highlights.
Trains connect Banff to Vancouver BC and Calgary. The park is 80 miles from Calgary and 250 from Edmonton. Jasper, north of Banff, is 192 miles west of Edmonton and 256 miles northwest of Calgary.