When viewing spectacular landscapes like the Rocky Mountains in Banff, there is really only one way to truly understand the magnitude of their beauty – from the air.
Yes, hiking through the mountains, taking a dog sled tour or driving up to lookouts can offer outstanding views, but it's from a helicopter that you really get to see how massive, awe-inspiring, and extraordinary the Rocky Mountains are.
We met with our pilot Ralph Sliger of Rockies Heli Canada for one of their Banff Helicopter Tours on a crisp and clear winter's morning for the most impressive helicopter tour we have ever taken.
Banff Helicopter Tours with Rockies Heli
Located just an hour from Calgary and a short drive from Canmore or Banff, Rockies Heli is one of the premiere helicopter tour companies in Alberta.
Our helicopter tour was taking us over Banff National Park to witness the famous peaks like Mt. Assiniboine, The Three Sisters and Mount Lougheed, but we also had the added bonus of landing on a peak just outside the park to go snowshoeing where nobody else dares to go. When landing a helicopter on the top of a mountain, you can be sure you won't see crowds of people during your hike!
The helicopter is state of the art with headsets and bubble windows giving everyone inside great views of the rockies.
A helicopter tour is on our list of the most unforgettable things to do in Banff. See what else there is!
It was our last day in Banff and we stopped for our flight with RockiesHeli en route to the airport. We couldn't believe our luck that our last day just so happened to be the clearest day of our entire trip. The skies were blue with just enough clouds in the sky to create the perfect scene.
Enjoy This Video Journey Through the Rocky Mountains
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After going through our safety check and being weighed, we were escorted to the helicopter where we were strapped in and suited up with our headsets so we could hear the commentary of our captain and talk to each other.
Dave managed to snag the front seat giving him an excellent vantage point but I felt that my backseat view was equally extraordinary. I could look out both sides of the window and even look ahead as the bubble windows bulged out enough letting me see the side of the helicopter. Our chopper pilot Ralf, made sure that he circled around each sight enough to give each person on each side of the helicopter a birds eye view.
There were so many sights to see, I could have soared through the air all day. Spray Lake, endless mountains, and extraordinary glaciers. It was the glaciers that really took my breath away. I could see deep into the crevasses carved out in the side of the mountain and Ralph flew so close it felt as though we could reach out and touch the peaks.
The beauty of a helicopter tour is that it is never the same. We were originally planning to fly over one part of Banff National Park, but a low cloud came in making it impossible to land. I didn't mind that we couldn't land because the mountains peaking out of the top of the clouds made for the most breath-taking views.
Check out our helicopter tour over Victoria Falls at our Top 5 Adventures in Zambia
Our flight lasted for about 45 minutes mixing together two of RockiesHeli most popular tours, the Ultimate Alpine Glacier Tour and the Grand Rocky Mountain Tour. The flight was smooth, comfortable and we were toasty warm and safe inside from the winter air outside. But soon it was time to face the elements.
Part 2, The Exclusive Snowshoe on a Rocky Mountain
The second part of our tour took us to a peak where we landed high on a mountain just outside Banff National Park. (no helicopters are allowed to land within the park boundaries) We put on our snowshoes and set out on a 30 minute hike through the forest.
Ralph pointed out animal tracks as we hiked and showed us different viewpoints to witness the Rockies. It was a fun walk through the woods, hiking over a few logs and making some fresh tracks.
The best came when we stopped for hot chocolate and Baileys. This was the spot. The clouds opened up to let the most beautiful landscape unfold before our eyes.
We could have used a blanket had we wanted to, but with our blood pumping from the hike, we felt warm and comfortable as we looked on at Mother Nature's finest work.
Enjoy our Helicopter Tour of Maui
It was a special feeling to land in a secluded spot at the top of a mountain. Normally when you do a helicopter tour, you take off and arrive only at the launch pad of the company. But when doing a heli/hike tour, you get to feel what it's like to land and take off in the wilderness. It also makes for some pretty sweet photo stops!
Rockies Heli offers many different helicopter tours over Banff and Canmore. They also have another branch for helicopter tours over the Columbia Icefields near Jasper. If you go to Alberta make sure you take a helicopter tour over Banff. Seeing Spray Lake slice through the snowy peaks of the Rockies is something you won't soon forget.
See our helicopter tour over the Great Barrier Reef in Australia
Fall in Love with the Rocky Mountains
During our time in Banff Lake Louise, we went on a backcountry tour with fellow travel lover Johnny, of the Banff Lake Louise tourism board. While skiing, he asked us what mountains we thought were more beautiful, The Rocky Mountains or the Alps. We replied “Both are beautiful there is no doubt about it.” But if we had to choose, it would be the Swiss Alps.” But after doing our Banff helicopter tour, we'd like to change our answer. We've now seen the Rocky Mountains in a whole new light and our heli/hike tour through Banff was definitely more extraordinary than anything we saw in the Alps. So if you ask us again what is more beautiful? Our answer will be, “The Rocky Mountains forever”
For more information on Banff Helicopter Tours visit Rockies Heli Canada.
Tours start at $195 per person for a 20 minute flight (we've done 20 minute flights before and they are plenty too if you are on a budget) and range to $395 for the 55 minute ultimate glacier tour. You can also book private charters and even weddings! There are plenty of upgrades you can do too like Front Seat Upgrade $25 and a 1 Hour Exploration Hike/Snowshoe (Dec-March) $75/person