Take In Beautiful Glacier Views On This Canadian National Park's Popular Trail

If you're a nature lover and consider hiking your joie-de-vivre, then you definitely need to head to Canada. Our friendly neighbors to the north have a whopping 37 national parks and 10 national park reserves, each of which offer different opportunities to strap on your fave hiking boots and enjoy the glorious majesty of Mother Nature. In fact, Canada is the third most-forested country in the world, meaning that you can't swing a walking stick without bumping into a nearby hiking trail. And perhaps one of the most lauded, most awe-inspiring, and definitely most needed hike on your bucket list is the Stanley Glacier Trail located in Kootenay National Park.

The Kootenay region, named after the Kutenai First Nations,  is technically located in British Columbia, but Parks Canada (the government organization that administers Canada's national parks) reminds hikers that it's actually much closer to Banff or Calgary, which are both in Alberta. So if you're enjoying the gorgeous vistas of Banff and Lake Louise, here's why you should hop in the car and drive the quick 24 miles from Banff to Kootenay National Park for the most striking hike of your life. 

From fossils to hot springs, Kootenay is for the whole family

Words will definitely fail when trying to describe the stunning majesty of Canada's Stanley Glacier Trail in the Kootenay National Park — that's why you should just watch this hiker's YouTube video of the experience. Here, user Rise & Alpine films himself and his partner crossing a small waterfall along the rocky terrain, high above the valleys, overlooking the imposing mountains that follow along the glacier path. If those gorgeous visuals that span the 7-mile trail aren't enough to sway your road trip in the direction of Kootenay, maybe being able to hold a piece of history in your hands will do the trick. We're not talking history going back 50 years, we're talking 500 million years! Fossils litter the ancient glacier pass, including trilobites, hyolithids and brachiopods. Some fossils may even look like the Millennium Falcon from "Star Wars." Punch it, Chewy!

Fossil-hunting will definitely entice your kids; but for parents, there is also the opportunity to relax after the four-hour hike in the warm embrace of hot bubbles. Located just on the border of Kootenay National Park, the Radium Hot Springs offer both hot (naturally heated) and cold pools, and there's even scentless minerals included to ease your muscles and promote mega-R&R. Entry to the springs is rather economical, only costing $16.50 per adult, $14.25 for youth, and children under 3 are free!

Canoeing, kayaking, and white water rafting experiences await

Local news outlet Trail Times likes to publish reader photographs as they're hiking in the Kootenay National Park from time to time, and we cannot help but note the beautiful blue skies, steep ridges, gorgeous lush greenery, mountain vistas, and even the wild birds and flowers that abound. However, there's more to use than just your feet while in Kootenay. Kootenay Lake is perfect for canoeing and kayaking. For the avid thrill-seeker, there's also the opportunity to go whitewater rafting through the Kootenay National Park with Kootenay River Runners, where your raft will traverse relatively clam moving waters and even waterfalls! Luckily, the kids won't have to sit this one out, as the activity is safe for everyone five years and older.

If you're feeling overwhelmed at all the choices available at Kootenay National Park, there's an app for that! Download the Kootenay Lake Road Trip App suitable for both Apple and Android phones, which offers four self-guided tours (for the car or on foot) to get the most out of the region. Parks Canada  offers guided tours of the Stanley Glacier Trail from June to September of every year, mostly on the weekends. There's also a guided hike of the Burgess Shale, where those 500-million-year-old fossils can be found, but make sure you buy your national park pass ahead of time!