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Extreme Adventures in Canada’s National Parks

by K Gordon Schultz

Canada’s National Park Extreme Activities

Because the mandate of Canada’s national parks is to preserve and protect the parks for all to see, it is no surprise that anyone in search of extreme adventures will often have to venture outside of the main parks. The few that are licensed to operate within the park such as climbing guides and dogsled operators have to operate within strict park guidelines or risk losing their licenses. Here are a few guidelines to help you in your search.


If you have watched Cool Runnings so many times that you think it is time you tried to bobsleigh, then Banff might be the right place for you to give it a try. In winter, visit Calgary to plunge down Canada Olympic Park’s Olympic bobsleigh at speeds of up to 120 km/h (75 mph). The trip takes all of 60 seconds but when going around the corners at obscene speeds, it can really feel like a lot more! An experienced driver brings you down so at least you don’t have to drive.


In Canmore, Alberta area (just east of Banff National Park’s boundary), you can experience guided caving in a “wild cave”–one without lights or handrails. Expect to do some crawling and squeezing.

Dog Sledding

Finally a dog that can bring you for a walk instead of the other way around, albeit in some of the most extreme surroundings the world has to offer. With a pedigree that goes back well before European settlement, dog sledding is probably the oldest winter recreation in Canada. It’s one of the most different ways to experience the mountains in the cold season. Depending on what sort of a trip you are after, you can enjoy it as a passenger or lead a team of dogs yourself. To be even more adventurous, have a look at some of the tour operators that offer moonlight runs and overnight trips. Snowy Owl Dog Sled Tours and Banff Travel Dog Sled Tours are two of the bigger names or go to Lake Louise DogsleddingBanff Dog Sledding for more info.

Downhill Mountain Biking

Canada Olympic ParkBanff Biking in winter, it is a fantastic ski hill but when the snow melts, it offers extreme mountain biking in the summer. The mountain biking season opens in mid-May.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort Banff Biking near Golden, British Columbia, also offers mountain biking using its ski lift.

Heli-hiking, Heli-skiing, Helicopter Tours

Heli-hiking is an exhilarating way of seeing the Rockies. Recreational and tourism flights are not permitted in the national parks, but helicopters do have access to mountain areas outside the park boundaries.

Banff Heli-Hiking has a full list of companies that you can choose from to see the stunning scenery and with a little luck some of the rarer animals too.

Off-Road Vehicles (ATVs, Snowmobiles)

An awesome option for any season. Whether it be with snow mobile or four wheel drive, feel the power of being behind the wheels of such powerful machines. Banff ATV Tours, Toby Creek Adventures and Banff Travel ATV tours are some of the most popular companies.

Rock Climbing, Mountaineering, Ice Climbing, and Caving.

There are few better ways to see the hidden gems that The Rockies have to offer than by climbing to its highest peaks. If you are experienced, it is possible to organise your own trip through the park. For those just looking for a little bit of adventure, your needs are catered to also. Check Canmore Hikes for more details.

A guided icewalk on the Athabasca Glacier, halfway between Jasper and Lake Louise on the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93) is also a very unique opportunity.

Water Sports (Rafting, Kayaking, Jet Boats)

Maligne Rafting Adventures has more trips and variety than any of the other White Water Rafting Businesses thus making it the largest.

Kootenay River Runner is the most experienced and also has a delicious BBQ lunch to break up the day if your stomach can handle it.

Wild Water Adventures is based out of Lake Louise and Banff. Wild Water Adventures has carefully researched choices of runs to suit the needs of different passengers.

Wet’n’Wild Adventures offers white-water rafting and jet boat tours on the Kicking Horse River near Golden, B.C.

There are many more to choose from, here is a full list.

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