Welcome to Calgary, the largest city in the western Canadian province of Alberta. While you are here to experience this bucket list adventure of travelling through the breath-taking Canadian Rockies, take some time to explore the award-winning architectural masterpiece of Calgary’s Public Library, walk along the scenic Bow Valley River pathways or experience the buzz of downtown Stephen Avenue with its stores and restaurants. Calgary’s dining scene is incredibly diverse and absolutely the best in western Canada and the included Calgary foodie walking tour will give you an excellent introduction.
Today a drive south takes you to the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site that preserves and interprets over 6,000 years of Plains Buffalo Indigenous culture. Through vast landscapes, exhibits, and diverse programming, you will learn from a Blackfoot Nations guide about the cultural significance of this cliff to the Plains People. From the Interpretive Centre, you can venture out along a paved trail that leads you to spectacular views of Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Cliff, Calderwood Buffalo Jump & Vision Quest Hill to the north, the great prairies to the east, and the Rocky Mountains to the south. A final 100 km drive south will take you close to the USA border and the Waterton Lakes National Park. A stay in Waterton set amidst the unparalleled scenic beauty of the Canadian Rockies is the perfect unwind after this day of adventures.
Waterton Lakes National Park has an incredible mountainous landscape. A tour of the park could include a leisurely boat cruise on Waterton Lake and some time at leisure. There is something for everyone in Waterton Lakes: great hikes, horseback riding, canoeing, Red Rock Canyon, and even scooter rentals.
Today take the famous cowboy trail north towards the picturesque mountain resort of Kananaskis. Your First stop for the day as at the Bar U Ranch. The Bar U Ranch is your opportunity to live like a cowboy! Ride into history on a wagon pulled by Percheron horses to discover the life of a ranching cowboy from the late 1800's. Try your hand at roping a steer or repair a bridle, learn the old-style ranching ways. Wander the trails and dirt roads to see the cattle, saddle horses, chickens and other farm animals. Venture into the 100-year-old barns, slaughterhouse, post office, and of course the cookhouse to experience "home on the range". Continue North to the artisan town of Black Diamond, which along with Turner Valley boasts a lively arts community. Tour the galleries and shops and then have lunch at Marv’s Classic Soda Shop – a 1950s style diner complete with retro candy store. Continue north to Turner Valley, where oil was first discovered in 1914 and Bragg Creek where you can stop of a short hike and explore the many antique shops, galleries , gift shops and restaurants. You will continue deep into the Kananaskis country before you settle for the night.
Take a short drive through stunning landscapes to the town of Banff. The town of Banff is a spirited place and you are surrounded by strikingly beautiful and rugged mountains that seem to burst straight out of the ground. Banff is flanked on all sides by towering mountains, including Mount Rundle, Sulphur Mountain, Mount Norquay, and Cascade Mountain. You may see a herd of elk wandering down the main street during your early morning walk. The lively streets of downtown are lined with top-class restaurants, bars, and shops, as well as a vibrant range of art galleries and museumsDrive along the famous Bow Valley Parkway, where wildlife sightings of caribou, elk, and occasionally, bears, are common so keep your cameras handy. Take time to stop at Johnston Canyon for a walk through the deep rugged canyon with several waterfalls.This evening continue west to British Columbia where you will spend the next two nights in the hidden gem of the Emerald Lake Lodge.
Emerald Lake Lodge is the only property on secluded Emerald Lake, surrounded by the breathtaking Rocky Mountains. The lodge is twenty minutes west of Lake Louise. Originally built in 1902 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, this historic property includes 85 comfortable units situated in 24 chalet-style cabins. The units feature cozy duvets, wood burning fireplaces and balconies or patios with magnificent views of the property and the lake. Ease your stress in the gorgeous outdoor hot tub while enjoying the stunning surrounding; or savour the internationally renowned ‘Rocky Mountain Cuisine’ in the Mount Burgess dining room. You can take short trips into Yoho National Park, Lake Louise, Moraine Lake and Banff.
Travel through the heart of the Canadian Rockies including a drive along the famous Icefields Parkway which has been voted one of the most spectacular drives in the world. You will see for yourself why this mountain road is famous for its unique landscape rich in history and natural beauty. At the summit of Bow Pass, take a quick side tour to see the turquoise blue waters of Peyto Lake and the beauty of the Mistaya River Valley below. Later, make a stop at the famous Columbia Icefields whose waters feed three oceans; visit the Interpretive Centre then have the experience of a lifetime - a ride on the Ice Explorer vehicle for a close up look at the Athabasca Glacier. Finally, at the end of this exciting day, you can see the powerful Athabasca Falls before arriving at the charming town of Jasper, your home for the next two nights. Pyramid Lake Resort is set on the a picturesque Pyramid Lake on a terraced hillside surrounded by the Canadian Rockies. This chalet-style alpine resort is open year-round and features 62 guest rooms with views of both Pyramid Lake and Pyramid Mountain and offers a wide variety of accommodation styles including kitchenettes and loft suites. They've re-designed the experience at Pyramid Lake Resort with industry-leading distancing and cleaning standards so you can safely relax.
Originally a tiny railway town, Jasper's small-town charm is very different from the alpine resort style glamour of Banff. Surrounded by towering mountains, crystal clear lakes, and abundant wildlife its obvious why Jasper National Park is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Start the day with a ride up Whistler Mountain on the Jasper SkyTram. Explore Maligne Valley including Maligne Canyon to see how the water has carved spectacular crevices out of the mountain. A further scenic drive will take you to Maligne Lake, the largest natural lake in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Enjoy an amazing lake cruise on Maligne Lake to wrap up a day in a place of stunning natural beauty.
Travel through scenic valleys, the Coast Mountains range and the Fraser Canyon with its spectacular white-water rapids and dramatic landscape. You will follow the route of the Fraser River, home of British Columbia’s largest salmon run, pass by the Alberta Glacier and magnificent Pyramid Falls, and hopefully see wildlife on the way. The highlight of this route is majestic Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.
Today explore Vancouver at your own pace. Pick up your car rental and visit Stanley Park for a walk or a bike ride along the seawall, visit the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge, take the gondola to the top of Grouse Mountain and enjoy the beautiful views or one of the many activities available.
Take the ferry to Vancouver Island and drive up to Campbell River, from there board the ferry to Quadra Island. Quadra Island is surrounded by breathtaking wilderness scenery, blessed with a mild temperate climate and a healthy and vibrant community. The Island is becoming known for its art community and one of the prime attractions of Sportfishing. Activities such as hiking, diving, sea kayaking and wildlife viewing are popular here.
Today enjoy your included whale watching excursion. The friendly guide will take you out on zodiac looking for one of the many resident whales. Keep your eyes open as there is plenty of other wildlife such as seals and even bears hiding in the beautiful landscape surrounding you.
Enjoy the sights of Little Qualicum Falls along Highway 4 before you reach Cathedral Grove. This BC Provincial Park has impressive waterfalls and walking trails. Just before you reach the Port Alberni Summit, there is a chance to stop and view the towering giants of Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park. The town of Port Alberni is the final stop to fuel up on gas before the final stretch of your journey. There are also many picturesque places to stop and stretch your legs. As you turn onto Pacific Rim Highway, your final stretch into Tofino, you will finally catch a glimpse of the ocean as you descend the hill towards Long Beach.
Today drive to Tofino and enjoy your choice of a half day activity. Chose between a bear watching excursion, whale watching excursion or a guided sea kayaking experience.
Drive south to the very bottom tip of the island where you will spend your last night in the seaside town of Sooke. Relax by the water, walk along local trails or take a sea kayak excursion before you start your journey home.
You return your car rental in Victoria and conclude this eventful tour of Western Canada