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 and experience the buzz of downtown Stephen Avenue with its stores and restaurants.
Upon arrival into Calgary, pick up your car rental and make your own way to the overnight accommodation. Download the GyPSy Guide app to your phone to use while driving throughout your trip. Based on your location the app automatically plays commentary filled with entertaining behind-the-scenes stories, local tips and driving directions to all the not to be missed things to see and do. It will also suggest side trips and lesser known spots, so you’ll be travelling like a local.
This morning, drive through the heart of Calgary and see some of the highlights including Calgary Tower, the Stampede Park and Princess Park area of the riverfront before you make your way past Canada Olympic Park and then through the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. On your way West, drive through the scenic town of Canmore and arrive in Banff at the very centre of Canada’s very first National Park. 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.
You start your Banff exploration with passes to the Banff gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain for an unparalleled view of the mountains and valley below and then have the rest of the day on your own. You also have tickets to the scenic Lake Minnewanka cruise. With easy access to pristine wilderness, outdoor adventures, jaw-dropping landscape, and a vibrant history, there are many places to visit in Banff.
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 including Mount Rundle, Sulphur Mountain, Mount Norquay, and Cascade Mountain. The town site of Banff covers almost 4 km2 at an elevation of 1,383 meters (4,537 feet), making it the highest town in Canada. You may even see a herd of elk wandering down the main street in the early morning. 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.
Today you will explore Banff and area on a self-drive sightseeing tour. Stop by the visitor centre to gather more information and maps if you choose.
Continue your drive to 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 and the rugged peaks as a backdrop. You have the rest of the day here to enjoy the surrounding sights and explore at your leisure.
Overnight: Lake Louise
Today you will drive along the famous Icefields Parkway, where wildlife sightings of caribou, elk, and occasionally, bears, are common so keep your eyes and cameras handy. Travelling through the heart of the Canadian Rockies, know that your drive along the famous Icefields Parkway 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.
Climbing from the valleys to nearly the tree line, experience three life zones, the montane, the subalpine and the alpine. Along the way, stop at major viewpoints including Athabasca Falls and the Columbia Icefield for the included Ice-Explorer sno-coach ride and Glacier sky walk. Finally, at the end of this exciting day, we see the Athabasca Falls before arriving at the charming town of Jasper, your home for the next two nights.
This morning, join a local guide in a minibus for an interpretive tour up the Maligne Valley. The tour will include a stop at Maligne Canyon for a guided walk overlooking the gorge, the disappearing Medicine Lake and finally, Maligne Lake where you can take the boat cruise to Spirit Island.
Later, use the included pass to get the best view in Jasper. The Jasper SkyTram provides an experience unlike any other in Canada by taking guests to a height of 2,263 metres with panoramic mountain views and easy access to a boardwalk and hiking trails in the alpine zone of the Canadian Rockies.
Renowned for its breathtaking dark sky, Jasper is also the perfect place to embrace the night and whether you want to stare into the Milky Way or watch an awe-inspiring aurora. Jasper’s dark sky is exceptional during late summer and the fall; you can gather under the dome of the Jasper Planetarium located within the Jasper Park Lodge. The Planetariums’ experienced astronomy guides will guide you on a tour of the cosmos. Specializing in the night sky above Jasper, visitors have the chance to see the stars above Jasper regardless of the weather. This is a great opportunity to take in a closer look at the heavens over the lakes, canyons, glaciers and mountain tops of the second largest Dark Sky Preserve in the world.
This morning board the Rocky Mountaineer train in its comfortable Silver Leaf Service for the two day journey from Jasper to Vancouver via Kamloops. As you travel westwards, you will experience the scenery changing from Canadian Rockies to ranch lands, rocky lakeshores, high mountain passes and remarkable tunnels, all of which form the rich rail history of train travel in Canada and the almost impossible task of cutting a route through the Canadian Rockies.
On the second day your journey will take you from the wild interior of British Columbia to the lush forests and valleys of the Coast and Cascade Mountains and finally the rich farmlands of the coastal belt.
You depart Vancouver after your rail and drive adventure through the Canadian Rockies.