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Height of the Rockies Provincial Park
About This Park
Height of the Rockies Provincial Park plays an important role in connecting a protected area network lying north and south along the Great Divide. This park has internationally significant biodiversity values and sustains quality habitat for a wide array of animals and plants including grizzly bear and mountain goats.
From the lower elevations, such as the Palliser River valley at 1,300 metres, to Mount Joffre at 3,449 metres, the area protects both lush forests and permanent icefields. Seven major mountain passes and several distinct drainages provide the geographical and visual diversity that characterize the magnificent southern Rocky Mountains.
Know Before You Go
- The park is closed to logging, mining and other resource uses. Existing grazing, guide-outfitting and trapping activities are permitted to continue at established levels.
- Height of the Rockies is a non-mechanized park. Motorized and mechanized recreational access is prohibited, including helicopters, snowmobiles, ATVs and mountain bikes.
- Float plane access is allowed only as authorized by a valid and subsisting park use permit.
- Trail Report [PDF] (November 8, 2022)
- Persons visiting Height of the Rockies Provincial Park are reminded that the park is a wilderness area, without supplies or equipment of any kind. All arrangements for supplies and transportation must be made beforehand.
- All park visitors should wear strong waterproofed, lug-soled boots and carry a daypack with raingear, extra warm clothing and food. Weather conditions can change suddenly in this area and lightning storms with hail and snow are common in summer. For overnight trips a sleeping bag, groundpad, waterproof tent or bivouac bag and lightweight stove are essential. Only experienced climbers practiced in crevasse rescue and properly roped, should venture onto snowfields and glaciers.
- Bring your own drinking water as potable water is not available in the park. Visitors who are day hiking should bring water with them. For overnight visitors, you are advised to boil or treat/filter water.
- Loaded logging trucks and other industrial traffic may be encountered while accessing this park. Drive with extreme caution and for your safety always yield to industrial traffic.
- Public communications are not available at this park.
Height of the Rockies park is adjacent to Banff National Park, Elk Lakes Park, and Peter Lougheed Park in Alberta. There are six major trailheads accessible by summer logging roads:
- from Canal Flats on Hwy 93/95 via the Whiteswan and White River roads ( turn east 4.5 km south of Canal Flats),
- from Sparwood on Hwy 3 turn north to Elkford, then follow the Elk River road, OR
- from Highway 93, from Kootenay National Park access Settlers Road through to the Palliser and Albert River roads.
- The park is also accessible by trail routes from Banff, Elk Lakes and Peter Lougheed parks.
The community of Elkford is the closest community when accessing Height of the Rockies from the southern portion of the park. Canal Flats and Radium Hot Springs are the closest communities when accessing the park from the west.
Maps and Brochures
- Park Map [PDF] (Updated 2015)
- Joffre/Palliser Trail Map [PDF 4.64MB]
- Queen Mary Lake Trail Map [PDF 3.36MB]
- Ralph Lake Trail Map [PDF 3.88MB]
- Middle Fork/White River Trail Map [PDF 3.95MB]
- Connor Lakes/Forsyth Creek Trail Map [PDF 3.87MB] (June 1, 2018)
- Connor Lake/Maiyuk Creek Trail Map [PDF 3.87MB] (June 1, 2018)
Nature and Culture
- History: Established as a Forest Service Wilderness Area in 1987 at the culmination of 12 years of dedicated work by naturalists, guide outfitters, the forest industry and government, this area became a provincial park in 1995.
- Cultural Heritage: The park includes routes used by Indigenous people to the plains over North Kananaskis and Palliser passes. Preliminary archaeological surveys have located two archaeological sites at the Middle Fork of the White River. There was also early European exploration over North Kananaskis Pass and down the Palliser River by Warre and Vavasour (1845), the Sinclair Settlers (1854), and the Palliser Expedition (1858-59).
- Conservation: Height of the Rockies Park contributes to the ecological integrity and viability of the large block of national and provincial parks extending along the spine of the Rocky Mountains There are numerous small lakes and outstanding natural features, including the Palliser River, the Middle Fork of the White River, the Limestone Lakes plateau, Conner Lakes, and the Royal Group of mountains.
- Wildlife: The Height of Rockies contains high concentrations of elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, moose, cougar, black and grizzly bears and exceptional numbers of mountain goats. The Connor Lakes are a significant source of eggs for the Kootenay Hatchery’s native cutthroat stocking program.
- Management Planning Information
The approved Elk Lakes and Height of the Rockies Management Plan Because of the large size of the file, the plan is divided into twelve separate files for ease of access.
- Introduction [PDF]
- Role of the Protected Area [PDF]
- Relationship with First Nations [PDF]
- Protected Area Zoning [PDF]
- Natural and Cultural Values Management [PDF]
- Outdoor Recreation Opportunities [PDF]
- Communications [PDF]
- Plan Implementation [PDF]
- Appendix A & B [PDF]
- Appendix C [PDF]
- Appendix D [PDF]
- References Cited [PDF]
Activities Available at this Park
There are many climbing and mountaineering opportunities in the park.
There is excellent cutthroat fishing in this park. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence.
This park has hiking and/or walking trails. For your own safety and the preservation of the park, obey posted signs and keep to designated trails. Shortcutting trails destroys plant life and soil structure.
- Most trails are user maintained. Expect difficult and/or muddy, bushy conditions. There is no signage in the park, navigational skills are essential, including experience with topographical maps and compass.
- This park also has several informal or unmarked “routes” that are not maintained and, at best, include intermittent stretches where a beaten path is visible. Moderate scrambling and travel through dense undergrowth and occasionallay through tangled slide areas is required. These routes offer excellent scenic opportunities; however, they are not recommended for small children or inexperienced hikers. Hikers travel these routes at their own risk. Route-finding skills and an aptitude for orienteering are essential, and hikers need to obtain the appropriate topographical maps prior to arrival. Off-trail travel increases your chances of encountering a bear – travel cautiously.
- The route leading to The Pass in the Clouds, Goat Lake and Deep Lake from the White Middle Fork, was severely burnt in 2003 and is indiscernible for most of its length.
- Trail Report [PDF] (November 8, 2022)
Horseback riding is permitted. There are some trailhead corrals. As grazing is limited, feed should be packed into Sylvan Pass, Queen Mary Lake and Middle Fork White River meadows. Use pellets as they do not contain weed seeds.
Routes are also not maintained and, at best, include intermittent stretches where a beaten path is available. Moderate scrambling and travel through fairly dense undergrowth and occasionally through tangled slide areas is required. These routes offer excellent scenic opportunities; however, they are not recommended for innexperienced riders. Route-finding skills and an aptitude for orienteering are essential, and visitors need to obtain the appropriate topographical maps prior to arrival. Off-trail travel increases your chances of encountering a bear – travel cautiously!
Attention Hunters – To avoid human-bear conflicts and out of respect for non hunters, please hang all game meat at least 75m away from all camps and cabins and hang game 10-15 feet above the ground.
Do not butcher your game animal or dispose of the carcass or entrails on or near any road or trail – this may endanger other hunters or recreationists!
The park is open to hunting. All hunters to the area should refer to the current BC Hunting and Trapping Regulations Synopsis.
Pets on Leash
Pets/domestic animals must be on a leash at all times and are not allowed in beach areas or park buildings. You are responsible for their behaviour and must dispose of their excrement. Dogs in the backcountry must be under control at all times. Backcountry areas are not suitable for dogs or other pets due to wildlife issues and the potential for problems with bears.
There are cold water swimming opportunities at this park. There are no lifeguards on duty at provincial parks.
There are cross-country ski-touring and snowshoeing opportunities within Height of the Rockies Park, including Connor Lakes and Abbot Ridge.
Facilities Available at this Park
Cabins / Huts
There are two cabins in the park for public use.
- At the north end of Connor Lake is a small cabin for public use on a first-come, first-served basis. The cabin will accommodate 6 people, has a wood stove and there is a pit toilet nearby.
- At Queen Mary Lake, an 8-person log cabin is available on a first-come, first-served basis. A wood stove is provided in the cabin. A pit toilet is nearby.
Firewood is not provided. Use only dead and downed trees for firewood; cutting of live trees is not permitted.
Please leave the cabins neat and tidy and pack out all garbage, including leftover food.
Fires are allowed; however, visitors should check with the Forest Service or at park trailheads to see if fires bans are in effect. Bring a portable stove for cooking and only have open fires when necessary, keeping them small to conserve firewood.
Fires are prohibited in the Limestone Lakes area
To mitigate impacts concerning conservational values, fires are prohibited within and around the Limestone Lakes area.
Pit or Flush Toilets
The park only has pit toilets – no flush toilets. There is a pit toilet at Connor Lakes cabin and Queen Mary cabin. Bury human waste in soil at least 6 inches deep and 30 metres from water if no toilet is provided.
There is a user-maintained wilderness campsite located at Beatty Lake. This site provides 5 tent pads, a food storage cache, and a cooking area with benches and a table, and a pit toilet. Please note: fires are not permitted at this location. Please camp only on the provided tent pads. Wilderness camping is only permitted outside a 2km radius of this site.
There are other wilderness campsites, but no facilities are provided. When toilets are not available bury human waste at least six inches in soil and 30 metres from water. To ensure drinking water is safe it must be boiled for at least 5 minutes. Register a trip itinerary with friends, check in and check out. When practical use impacted campsites, otherwise practice “Leave No Trace” camping ethics. If you have a fire build it on rocks, or remove sod, have fire, then replace sod. Height of the Rockies is open all year and is a non-mechanized park.
Winter camping is permitted in the park.