Stuart Knob (not to be confused with Mount Stuart in the Kootenay River Valley) is situated between the Castle Mountain
massif and Helena Ridge in Banff National Park
, one of four connecting national parks in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Stuart Knob was officially named after the son of the geologist who discovered the Burgess Shale fossil bed. Stuart Knob is a highly visible peak from the Trans-Canada as one approaches Castle Mountain from the south.
It is a sharp feature further in and to the right of the Castle Mountain massif itself. Stuart Knob stands at the head of an impressive high valley full of mountain sheep. This is one of my favorite locations in the park and has a certain desert type remote feel to it.
The only published route up Stuart Knob is the moderate scramble that is best combined with an ascent of Television Peak as well, making for a long day
. The same approach via Rockbound Lake is used for Television Peak
, Castle Mountain
and Helena Ridge. Although there is not a published alpine ski route up to Stuart Knob, there is one to ascend Castle Mountain. Stuart Knob could make a grand ski day in appropriate conditions, but you would have to climb the final summit ridge with crampons and tools. The views are typical for the area, including Mount Bell
, Mount Temple
, Storm Mountain
, Copper Mountain
, Pilot Mountain
and Mount Ishbel
The Trans-Canada dissects Banff National Park east to west as you come in from Calgary. Drive to Castle Junction 31kms west of Banff via either the Trans-Canada Highway or Bow Valley Parkway (more Elk to be spotted along the Parkway). From Trans-Canada, take the Castle Junction exit and proceed east under a bridge (huge nest on the bridge houses an Osprey who has raised young every year I have lived here) and turn right at the stop sign and pull into the Rockbound Lake trailhead on your left. From Bow Valley Parkway, Rockbound Lake trail head will be on your right before the Castle Junction gas station.
You will be required to purchase a national park pass as you enter the park. This pass is good for all four national parks. If you plan many visits to Canadian National Parks within one year, you should purchase an annual pass. There are no permit requirements to climb in Banff National Park, but all camping is regulated. There is also a backcountry permit required if you plan on spending a night in the backcountry versus the town campsites. This can be obtained via the parks website which is included in the camping section below. Park headquarters are located in Banff and you will drive through the manned kiosks as you enter the park.
This is active grizzly country, therefore, you should always have bear spray on your person. I advise checking with Parks Canada
for any area and/or trail closures.
When To Climb
As with most scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I chose to climb Stuart Knob along with Television Peak in October and snow was plentiful. There are no published backcountry ski routes for Stuart Knob however the majority of the scramble route is conducive to back country skiing.
CampingIf you do Stuart Knob and Television Peak as a full traverse, there is actually a campground at the beginning and one at the end.
You basically start at the Castle Mountain Campground and end at the Protection Mountain Campground. You can go on line at Banff National Park
to pick your camp site and obtain your camping permit. Two other options are the Johnston Canyon Resort and Campground
several kilometers south on the Bow Valley Parkway and the Castle Mountain Hostel
located at Castle junction. You will also be required to obtain your backcountry permit, if you are going to use a backcountry site, which is separate, but can be obtained simultaneously.
The Banff National Park website
has weather, wildlife reports, trail closures, etc. Outside of the parks web site, Canadian Avalanche Association is also useful, particularly for winter travel. Canadian Alpine Accident Reports
is also extremely relevant.
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