Lonely Planet Writer

Just back from: The Canadian Rockies

MM Maria, unable to contain her delight at being amongst such beautiful surrounds © Maria McKenzie

Maria McKenzie, Lonely Planet’s Social Communications Manager, recently returned from the Canadian Rockies.

Tell us more… My partner and I spent an adrenaline-pumping 10 days exploring the Canadian Rockies. After flying into Calgary and hopping into a rental car, we set out to Banff National Park where we based ourselves for a few days before heading along the Icefields Parkway to Jasper National Park. It was an amazing trip with beautiful vistas at every turn – it’s easy to see why Canada has topped our Best in Travel 2017 list!

Defining moment? It’s a tough one to call, but seeing my first bear in the wild was pretty special. Luckily it was all from the safety of our car, but we were no more than two metres away from him. A black bear had found his way to the roadside for the buffalo berries that had recently ripened. We sat there in awe for around 20 minutes before he climbed back up the rocks and into the forest. I was so convinced that we wouldn’t see any bears during our trip but we ended up seeing three! Thankfully they were all safe encounters.

MM2 Up close and personal: Maria's first sighting of a black bear © Maria McKenzie

Fave activity? We hiked over 100km in five consecutive days in Banff National Park, and while it was a challenge for my body there was something about the beautiful landscapes that just kept my feet moving forward. Just when I thought I’d had enough, another steep mountain would appear ahead to reveal an amazing view.

My favourite hike was the Plain of Six Glaciers which begins at Lake Louise and takes you along a rocky path through a series of glaciers. There’s a quaint teahouse near the end of the trail which serves homemade cakes and a selection of teas, but the real highlight was seeing the distant avalanches crashing down onto the glacier. It was hard to tell whether I was short of breath from the hiking or the awe-inspiring views!

MM3 A stunning view over Moraine Lake © Maria McKenzie

Quintessential experience? When in the Canadian wilderness, canoeing is a must. After arriving at Moraine Lake on a cold, misty morning we knew it would be the perfect place to give it a go. Canoeing across the still, almost luminous blue water to look up and see the dramatic snow-capped mountains ahead as a sprinkling of snow fell from the sky was a priceless moment.

If you do one thing… Make the most of every day in the Rockies and embrace the remoteness of it all. Switch your mobile off, go to bed early, wake up at sunrise and explore as much as you can – you won’t regret it!

Watch the interview