My top 10 most spectacular sites I’ve visited: # 4


Sometimes I wonder why this isn’t Number 1 on my list.

Maybe it’s because it’s not that unique, only the best among a large number of similar settings.

Maybe because it’s not exotic enough for me.

Or maybe it’s just because I’m Canadian, and we have this reputation for being bashful about our own home.

But my uncle, who travelled much, and did so long before me, had declared it to be the most beautiful place on earth—or so I remembered it, anyway.

Back in 2008 already, Lonely Planet had named the Canadian Rocky Mountains as the world’s #1 most spectacular natural attraction. That conjures up images of Banff, Mount Rundle in the background, of Lake Louise, back-dropped with its majestic Victoria Glacier, Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks, serene Peyto Lake, Emerald Lake with Mt Burgess standing sentinel over it, or Spirit Island in the foreground of Maligne Lake or . . .

All of these are easily accessible by road. And that is why they have their reputations and zillions of jaw-dropping photos filling the travel books, brochures and internet promotions.

But, deliberately or by accident (probably some of each), the best has been protected from the millions of tourists who descend on the region every summer.

In my experience, Lake O’Hara and area tops them all! To be clear, mountains, lakes and waterfalls are the elements that most strongly influence my evaluation of beauty. When the three are configured together with colourful vegetation, wildlife, gurgling streams, glacial anatomy and sunny skies plus incredible hiking with jaw-dropping viewpoints, I can’t imagine anything more heavenly.

That’s how it was when my brother and I spent three glorious days there a few years back. Each day we hiked into a different lake-filled valley radiating out in three directions from Lake O’Hara itself. Each time we reached magical summits with spectacular views, encountered wildlife, breathed the clear, unpolluted air, exercised our legs and found places of tranquility.

If natural beauty was my only criterion, Lake O’Hara would be number 1.

Access to Lake O’Hara is quite restricted and by permit only, with a few first-come, first-served spaces reserved for those who want to stand in line for many hours, perhaps even overnight.

West Adventures cannot guarantee Lake O’Hara access to our guests but are hoping to get some permits the coming summer season. Regardless, you can hardly go wrong enjoying all the standard nearby areas, the ones identified above as the most spectacular natural attraction on earth.

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