Canadian Rocky Mountain Adventures
On our most popular Western Canada itinerary spends 15 nights exploring the best of Alberta and British Columbia. Experience the beauty of the Canadian Rockies, BC's High Country and coastal regions. Begin your journey amid some of the most incredible scenery in the world, the Canadian Rocky Mountains. While here, drive the iconic Columbia Icefield Parkway and visit the awe-inspiring Lake Louise.
On your way towards the west coast, stop off at Wells Gray Provincial Park and Whistler before taking the ferry over to Vancouver Island. Stay in the remote area of Tofino & Ucluelet and explore the wilderness. Look out for bears and whales here too. Conclude your trip with visits to the cosmopolitan cities of Victoria and Vancouver.
- Banff & Jasper National Parks
- Columbia Icefield Parkway
- Lake Louise
- Wells Gray Provincial Park
- Vancouver & the Island
Banff National Park
Upon arrival in Calgary collect your rental car at the airport. The two hour drive to Banff is beautiful as you leave the rolling foothills of the Canadian Prairies and face the spectacular Canadian Rockies.
On your second day, take the time to explore Banff, a small town surrounded by one of the most beautiful parks in the world. One of its greatest assets is the accessibility of its natural wonders - most highlights are located close to the road system. For the more adventurous there is an excellent system of hiking trails that lead to alpine lakes, along glacial valleys and to spectacular viewpoints where crowds are scarce and human impact has been minimal. Head to the mountaintop by the Sulphur Mountain Gondola for fantastic views of Banff townsite, Bow Valley, Cascade Mountain and Lake Minnewanka. There are many outdoor activities including canoeing, horseriding and hiking to be enjoyed here and you can always end your busy day with a long soak in the Hot Springs at Sulphur Mountain. When considering hiking in this region, always visit the Banff Visitor Centre at 224 Banff Avenue where staff can advise you on the condition of the trails and any closures.
Take a short drive to Lake Louise. The actual village is still quite small, with only a few hotels, stores, and a visitor centre. Chateau Lake Louise, situated on the lakes shore, is a tourist attraction in itself and is visited by the millions who come to photograph the lake with Mt Victoria in the background. Rent a canoe from the boathouse and glide through the lake - take care not too fall in as even in August the lake only reaches about 4°C! Moraine Lake, though half the size of Lake Louise is just as spectacular.
For another fantastic view, take the Lake Louise Gondola on the 20 minute journey up the face of Mt Whitehorn to Whitehorn Lodge where you can see Bow Valley, Lake Louise and the Continental Divide. Also from Lake Louise, you can explore to the west of the Rockies into Glacier Park, Yoho Valley, Takakkaw Falls, Emerald Lake and the amazing Spiral Tunnels, built to keep the trains slow on their descent on the mountains.
Jasper National Park
Today you head towards Jasper on the Icefields Parkway which is 143 miles long. This road takes about 4-5 hours to travel but try not to rush as it is one of the most scenic and inspiring mountain roads ever built. There are 13 viewpoints along the trail -you can collect an Icefields Parkway brochure from the park information centre in Lake Louise. Bow Summit is the highest point along the parkway at 2088m and offers great views of Peyto Lake. The most popular attractions along the parkway are the glaciersthat spill down from the Columbia Icefield. There is an Icefields centre here and you can go up onto the Athabasca glacier either on the Snocoach or on one of the icewalks which offer a 3 or 5 hour walk. Don't miss the Athabasca Glacier Skywalk, a new and exciting cliff-edge walkway that leads to a platform where glass is all that separates you from a 918 foot drop! There are other stunning places to visit including, Bow Lake, Sunwapta Falls, Peyto Lake, Crowfoot Glacier and the Athabasca Falls. Basically this journey is one worth starting early so you can be sure of seeing all that you want to.
Jasper itself is located at the confluence of the Athabasca and Miette rivers and is surrounded by the peaks of Jasper National Park. Here you can take the Jasper Tramway up Whistlers mountain for great views of the mountain and valley, visit Maligne Canyon and Lake, relax in Miette Hot Springs, drive out to Mount Edith Cavell - one of the highest peaks in the area, or visit Patricia and Pyramid Lakes.
Clearwater / Wells Gray Provincial Park
Leave Jasper early for your drive to Clearwater and Wells Gray Provincial Park. As you leave Jasper through Mt Robson Park, you will have some fantastic views! Head south towards Valemount and on to Clearwater at the entrance to Wells Gray, British Columbia's third largest provincial park with an area of 520,000 hectares of wilderness with waterfalls, lakes, and the mountain ranges of the Shushwap Highlands and the Cariboo Mountains.
Hit the road early today to begin your journey to Whistler. Travel via 100 Mile House to Cache Creek. Here you will make a stop to visit the historic Hat Creek Ranch, which takes you back to the days of the gold rush. Continue your journey south to Lillooet, known as the land of the Gold Rush Trail. Departing Lillooet, travel the Duffey Lake Road to Whistler. On the upper elevations of this route you will enjoy breathtaking views of Joffee Glacier and snow capped Mount Currie that rises to a height of 2596 metres.
Located in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, Whistler is a world of tranquil forests, alpine trails, sparkling lakes, aqueous skies and shimmering mountain peaks. It is also one of the most popular ski resorts in the country and a year round playground with plenty to do here in the spring and summer including mountain biking or hiking the alpine trails, zip lining, canoeing, rafting, horseriding etc. The resort's enchanting alpine village is alive with festive entertainment, intriguing shops and European style cafes. Here you can choose from a bounty of recreational activities including riding the Peak 2 Peak gondola, the tallest gondola in the world!
"231 miles with ferry"
Departing Whistler, drive south on the scenic "Sea to Sky Highway" to Horsehoe Bay and your ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. The crossing takes approximately 1 hour and 35 minutes and there are four crossings per day. Nanaimo has many fine waterfront restaurants and is an ideal place to stop for lunch, including the Nanaimo Bar which is not to be missed. Take a relaxing stroll around the town - there are marked historical walkways, take a harbour cruise or watch the windsurfers in Departure Bay. If you really want to remember Nanaimo, the town is home to the Bungy Jumping Park! (It's a great spectator sport even if you do not want to experience it yourself!) Head west towards Port Alberni. Stop in Coombs for a drink and watch the goats graze on the roof of the Old Country Market!. Continue through Pacific Rim National Park to Tofino located on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Another adventure awaits you today, the possibility of viewing the majestic beauty of one of the world's largest mammals ~ the gray whale! The remainder of the day is at leisure to walk along famous Long Beach, try your hand at surfing, take a nature cruise, kayak through the sheltered waters of Clayoquot Sound, visit Hot Springs Cove or just explore this spectacular rainforest region.
You will travel back south on the Island Highway to Victoria. Enroute we suggest a stop in Chemainus, famous for it's many murals painted around the town. Just start at the information centre and follow the yellow footprints around the town! Duncan is located just north of Victoria and is known as the city of totems as you will find around sixty totems all over the town. It is also home to the Cowichan Native Heritage Center and is a good place to buy First Nation crafts.
Victoria is the provincial capital and stands at the southern tip of Vancouver Island. The best way to explore the city is by foot as all the downtown attractions are within a short walk of each other. Keep and eye out on the horizon for Orca, or book a whale watching trip. Visit the Inner Harbour, Beacon Hill Park, have afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel, and visit the Royal B.C. Museum. The city has well preserved inner city streets lined with well reserved old buildings, trendy shops in restored historic areas and horse drawn carriages to get you around. One of the main attractions is Butchart Gardens - a must see if you are at all interested in gardening.
"69 miles with ferry"
Depart from Schwartz Bay for the ferry to Tsawwassen. There are usually around 7-8 crossings per day and the crossing takes approximately 1 hour and 35 minutes. Downtown Vancouver is an intriguing mixture of steel, concrete, mirrored glass buildings, modern sculptures and old-fashioned fountains. There is so much to see and do in the city. You can rent a bike to ride around the Seawall in Stanley Park or try rollerblading if you are feeling adventurous! Don't miss the Flyover Canada - a virtual reality experience which will transport you all around Canada without leaving your seat! This has been described as a 'must do' in Vancouver and will tempt you to explore Canada all over again! Dinner can be taken at the top of Grouse Mountain for a spectacular view of the city lit up at night and you can reach the summit by the Skyride Gondola. You could take the ferry across False Creek to the refurbished Granville Island - the place to be on a sunny day. Here you can shop in the Public Market, walk round the marina, browse in the gift shops or sample some of the local food.
A visit to Lynn Canyon and the suspension bridge is well worth it. Take along your bathing suit and you can have a dip in Lynn Creek after a short walk in the forest. There will be plenty of time for shopping on Robson Street in its trendy shops and the Robson Public Market. Visit Chinatown - the second largest Chinese community in North America and home to the beautiful and peaceful Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden. No visit is complete without wandering through Gastown where Vancouver started. The brightly painted buildings date back to 1886 and old gas lamps and trees line the red cobblestone streets. There are many galleries, restaurants and gift shops here The Boathouse Restaurant is a great place for dinner, while watching the sunset over English Bay and people watching all the evening strollers. (Strolling in the evening is a local ritual!!)
- 15 nights' accommodation and room tax.
- International flights from London (please ask if regional airports are required).
- Ferries between Vancouver and Vancouver Island.
- Fully insured compact car hire (larger vehicles are available).
- A detailed and comprehensive travel pack with driving directions and maps.
Daily departures from May to September.