Welcome to Calgary, the largest city in the western Canadian province of Alberta. While you are here to experience the bucket list adventure experience 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. Our Tour Leader will join you for an evening pre tour briefing and you will meet your fellow travellers. Calgary's dining scene is incredibly diverse and absolutely the best in western Canada.
This morning we drive through the heart of the city and see some of the highlights including the Calgary Tower, the Stampede Park and Princess Park area of the riverfront before we make our way past Olympic Park and then through the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. We will drive through the scenic town of Canmore and then to Banff, at the centre of Canada’s very first National Park. After checking into our hotel, there will be some free time to browse through Banff village centre before dinner with our travel companions. Nestled high in the Canadian Rockies, the town of Banff is located within the Banff National Park. Once “Siding 29” on the Canadian Pacific Railway, the town of Banff was intended to be a tourist town from its very inception. The park’s first superintendent, George Stewart, even oriented the town’s first street so that it offered the best possible view of Cascade Mountain. With easy access to pristine wilderness, outdoor adventures, jaw-dropping landscape, and a vibrant history, there are many places to visit in Banff and Lake Louise.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
The town of Banff is a spirited place and in every direction you are surrounded by strikingly beautiful and rugged mountains that seem to burst straight out of the ground. The town site of Banff covers almost 4 km2 and is at an elevation of 1,383 meters (4,537 feet), making it the highest town in Canada. 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 museums. We will explore Banff on a sightseeing tour with stops at Cascade Gardens and beautiful Bow Falls, then ride the gondola up Sulphur Mountain for an unparalleled view of the mountains and valley below. Also included is time at Cave & Basin National Historic Site, which tells the story of the hot springs that drew visitors to Banff and led to the creation of the National Park.
This morning we drive along the famous Bow Valley Parkway, where wildlife sightings of caribou, elk, and occasionally, bears, are common so keep your cameras handy. We stop at Johnston Canyon for a walk through the deep rugged canyon with several waterfalls and then cross the Continental Divide to the western slopes of the Rocky Mountain range into Yoho National Park in British Columbia. The awe inspiring Emerald Lake, filled with glacial run-off water that makes it glisten with the blue-green hue of an emerald is also one of our stops today. We drive back into Alberta and our final destination of Lake Louise, a jewel of the Rockies surrounded by glistening glaciers and towering snow-capped mountain peaks. You may have seen photos of the lake but you will not be prepared for the experience of rounding the corner, getting the first sight of the emerald green waters and the rugged peaks as a backdrop. Late in the day, with the glowing sun dropping behind Mount Victoria, you have likely never seen anything so dramatically beautiful.
Overnight: Lake Louise
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Travelling through the heart of the Canadian Rockies, we 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 that boasts a unique landscape rich in history and natural beauty second to none is so famous. A short distance later at The Crossing, one of a few stops along this spectacular highway, we take a short detour to the shores of Abraham Lake to experience the Rockies from a completely different perspective with a thrilling helicopter ride over the Rocky Mountains. We rejoin the parkway and later arrive at the famous Columbia Icefields whose waters feed three oceans; we 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, we see the powerful Athabasca Falls before arriving at the charming town of Jasper, our home for the next two nights.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
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, Jasper town located within the Jasper National Park is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. We start the day with a ride up Whistler Mountain on the Jasper SkyTram. A full day of sightseeing follows including a gentle walk down Maligne Canyon to see how the water has carved spectacular crevices out of the mountain. A scenic drive takes you to Maligne Lake, the largest natural lake in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. This evening, we enjoy a float trip down the Athabasca River to wrap up a day in a place of stunning natural beauty.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
After an easy morning in Jasper, we head east through the towns of Hinton and Edson, to Edmonton, Alberta`s capital, and a popular Canadian city to visit. Summer and Fall in Edmonton is the time to explore the city’s scenic riverfront pathways, enjoy immersive experiences at the Royal Alberta Museum and the Art Gallery of Alberta, or embrace some fun (and shopping) at the famous West Edmonton Mall. There is much to do in Edmonton. Edmonton’s culinary scene is known across Canada and beyond. The evening is ours to explore at leisure.
Our epic Rocky Mountain journey comes to a close this morning as we head home with memories of the stunning landscapes that we have passed through and the hospitality of the people who call this home.