No matter where we go, taking a helicopter tour is one of our favourite activities. It’s such a great way to see beautiful scenery from the sky and to get a different perspective of the area. We’ve taken helicopter rides in many different areas but one of our favourite places to take a helicopter tour is in Banff National Park.
We recently had the opportunity to go heli-snowshoeing with Rockies Heli Canada, which is located almost half-way between Jasper National Park and Banff National Park. It’s basically in the middle of the famous Icefields Parkway and right next to the Instagram-famous Abraham Lake. They offer a variety of helicopter tours and the one we did was the 20-minute flight with a 1-hour snowshoeing tour.
Since the Rockies Heli office is located a fair distance from town, they also offer a free meal as well as coffee and hot chocolate. After driving a couple of hours from Canmore, we were relieved to find such an array of delicious food. There was quiche, tomato soup, meat pie, cookies, muffins, oranges, and more. I had no idea that food was included so my tummy was happily surprised. I threw the protein bars back in my bag and opted for the good stuff. On such a cold day, the hot tomato soup was much appreciated.
After filling our tummies, we boarded the helicopter, threw on our headsets, and flew over some of the most stunning scenery on Earth. We flew over mountains, passed by glaciers, and looked down at long rivers snaking their way through lush snow-covered valleys.
Then, after about 15-minutes, we landed in the untouched backcountry, surrounded only by nature. After snapping some photos with the helicopter behind us, we strapped on the snowshoes and walked into the forest, going up and down part of the mountain while occasionally stopping to marvel at the various views. We also stopped for Bailey’s and hot chocolate, another great winter treat. Sometimes we followed a trail made by previous hikers and sometimes we made our own, using the snowshoes to stay above the 7+ feet of snow. Every now and then, we’d pass what looked like a baby pine tree when in fact it was a big pine tree buried in snow! There’s so much snow but it’s hard to realize how much of it you’re actually walking on until you have something like a tree sticking out to offer some perspective. Once you realize how big the trees are, you really appreciate the benefit of snowshoes! After an hour and a half of walking through a winter wonderland, we returned to the helicopter, taking some time to make some snow angels before flying back over the mountains and back to base.
Even though we loved every second of the experience, it was equally rewarding to see the four Americans who joined us having a great time. They had never seen something like this before and I can only imagine what it must have felt like. Even for Karla and I, who have been to six continents and live nearby, we find the Canadian Rockies to easily be one of the most spectacular natural areas on Earth. Whether it’s the winter, spring, fall, or summer, both Banff National Park and Jasper National Park are great places to explore.
Once back at the lodge, we grabbed more tomato soup and then drove to the nearby Abraham Lake, where we got to walk on “see-through ice” and marvel at the methane gas bubbles frozen beneath the surface. It was a really windy day so we didn’t stay long but I could easily see why this has become such a popular place for photographers. Next time we come, I’ll bring my skates!
Living in Alberta and not far from the mountains, I’m blown away by how many new places we find each and every year. Whether it’s a new activity like heli-snowshoeing or a lake with gas bubbles frozen beneath the surface, there’s nowhere quite like the Canadian Rockies to spend the winter months!
To learn more about heli-snowshoeing in the Rockies, visit www.rockiesheli.com.
Both Rockies Heli and Abraham Lake are located on Highway 11 (David Thompson Highway), just 25-minutes east of the famous Icefields Parkway Highway. The closest town is Nordegg, Alberta
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