Maps and Tourist Information
The best maps of the Canadian Rockies are produced by Gem Trek Publishing, a local company based between Calgary and Banff (www.gemtrek.com). Gem Trek maps of varying scales cover all of the Canadian Rockies, using computer-generated 3-D imagery to clearly define changes in elevation and GPS to plot hiking trails. The backs of maps are filled with trail information as well as tidbits of history.
Maps are available at bookstores, gas stations, and gift shops throughout the Canadian Rockies. In Calgary, Map Town (400 5th Ave. SW, 403/266-2241, www.maptown.com) is a specialist map shop worth stopping at as you pass through. In Vancouver, pick up maps at these specialty bookstores: International Travel Maps & Books (530 W. Broadway, 604/879-3621, www.itmb.com), The Travel Bug (3065 W. Broadway, 604/737-1122, www.travelbugbooks.ca), or Wanderlust (1929 W. 4th Ave., Kitsilano, 604/739-2182).
Each of the five national parks has at least one park information center. These are the places to head for interpretive displays, all park-related information, trail reports, weather forecasts, and wilderness passes. Individual addresses and websites are listed in the relevant travel chapters. The national parks are managed by Parks Canada (www.pc.gc.ca). On the Alberta side of the Canadian Rockies, all other parks are managed by Tourism, Parks, and Recreation (www.albertaparks.ca). British Columbia’s provincial parks are managed by BC Parks (www.bcparks.ca).
Begin planning your trip by contacting the government tourist offices of Alberta and British Columbia: Travel Alberta (780/427-4321 or 800/252-3782, www.travelalberta.com) and Tourism British Columbia (250/387-1642 or 800/435-5622, www.hellobc.com). Both will fill your mailbox with useful literature and maps, which can be ordered by phone or through their respective websites.
In Calgary, you’ll find an information booth on the arrivals level of the airport. The Vancouver Visitor Info Centre (604/683-2000) is at 200 Burrard Street. For general tourism information, the towns of Banff, Canmore, Jasper, Radium Hot Springs, and Golden have information centers that provide advice on local attractions, accommodations, and restaurants.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition