Sunshine Meadows, straddling the Continental Divide, is a unique and beautiful region of the Canadian Rockies. It’s best known as home to Sunshine Village, a self-contained alpine resort accessible only by gondola from the valley floor.
But for a few short months each summer, the area is clear of snow and becomes a wonderland for hiking. Large amounts of precipitation create a lush cover of vegetation—more than 300 species of wildflowers alone have been recorded here.
The most popular destination is Rock Isle Lake, an easy 2.5-kilometer (1.6-mile) jaunt from the upper village that crosses the Continental Divide while gaining only 100 meters (330 feet) of elevation. From the lakeside viewing platform, a variety of options present themselves, including a loop around Larix Lake and a traverse along Standish Ridge.
It’s possible to walk the six-kilometer (3.7-mile) restricted-access road up to Sunshine Meadows, but a more practical alternative is to take the Sunshine Meadows Shuttle along a road closed to public traffic. This service is operated by White Mountain Adventures (403/762-7889 or 800/408-0005, www.sunshinemeadowsbanff.com). Through a June–September season, buses depart Banff (daily at 8:30 a.m., adult $55, child $30 round-trip) and the Sunshine Village parking lot (daily on the hour 9 a.m.–5 p.m., adult $15, child $15 round-trip).
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition