Home » Canadian Rockies Hiking Guide » The Trail of the Great Bear in the Canadian Rockies
Home to the free roaming grizzly bear, this trail includes some of the most dramatic landscapes in the region. Starting in Yellowstone National Park, you have a choice of two spectacular routes through northern Montana and Alberta.
Driving through the eastern region of the Canadian Rockies, go north from Yellowstone National Park through Bozeman to the state capital of Helena. Continue to Great Falls where you can tour the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and then move on to Glacier National Park. Head west on Highway 5 to Waterton National Park, Montana’s first international peace park along with Montana’s Glacier National Park. Since 1979, UNESCO has recognized this area as a biosphere reserve. Waterton is full of spectacular trails where wildlife abounds. You can also take boat cruises across the border, go horseback riding, canoeing, bicycling, play tennis and golf, and take in the many sites that make this area one of the most sought after vacation travel destinations. Other recommendations include Cameron Lake, Cameron Falls, Akamina Parkway, Red Rock Canyon, and Kootenai Brown’s headstone.
Continue on the Trail of the Great Bear by going north on Highway 6 to the Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village in the area of Pincher Creek. From here you can drive along the eastern Rockies, following the Cowboy Trail through Kanansaskis Country to Banff.
Another option is to drive east on Highway 3 to Fort Macleod, which was created by the North West Mounted Police in 1874. Visit the historic downtown district which is home to the province’s oldest theatre, the Empress. Hop over to the Fort Museum and then to the oldest preserved bison jump in the world, the Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo Jump.
From Highway 2, go north to see Heritage Park, the Calgary Zoo, and the Glenbow Museum. Once you’ve arrived in Calgary and spent some time there, go west where you will be heading towards the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Here you can visit Kananaskis Country where you can enjoy all the outdoor activities this magnificent area has to offer. As you move on, you can spend a night or two in Banff, a charming alpine village, and visit Lake Louise before driving the breathtaking Icefields Parkway en route to Jasper. Once in Jasper, you can continue on the Trail of the Great Bear to Alaska through the towns of Hinton and Grande Cache.
Driving through the western region of the Continental Divide, you can follow Highway 287 from west Yellowstone, heading through Three Forks and then onto Interstate Highway 90 to Butte and Missoula. A visit to the Lewis and Clarke Caverns State Park and the Old Montana Prison, plus Grant Kohrs Historic Ranch in Three Forks is a must, as is the Elk Foundation Wildlife Centre in Missoula. Take Highway 93 north from Missoula through the Flathead Indian Reservation to Polson where you will follow the shoreline of Flathead Lake to Whitefish. Then pick up Highway 2 to West Glacier and Glacier National Park where you can hop aboard an antique touring bus to venture across Logan Pass and over Going-to-the-Sun Road before heading over to the Canadian border.
Both the easterly and westerly routes come together in St. Mary. From here you can continue to the Port of Piegan in Montana and then on to Calgary, Alberta. Once you’ve crossed the Canadian border, go to Cardston where you can view one of the largest collections of horse-drawn carriages at the Remington-Alberta Carriage Center. In Cardston you’ll also find the only Mormon temple in Canada, which was built between 1913 and 1923. Tour the grounds to see the leader of the Mormon community’s restored 1887 log cabin.
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