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Canadian Rockies & Northern Lights 2018

11 days with Intrepid Travel   Rating: Budget

Itinerary
Click for Dates and Prices Day 1 Edmonton
Welcome to ruggedly beautiful Canada. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you're going to be late, please inform hotel reception. If you arrive early perhaps visit the nearby Ukrainian Cultural Village or explore the small theatres and diners of the University District.

Day 2 Peace River
Get a full-on sense of Alberta’s past with an included morning visit to Fort Edmonton Park, an interactive living history museum along the North Saskatchewan River. The park replicates the region’s fur-trading era with an 1846 fort, the settlement era on 1885 Street, the municipal era on 1905 Street and metropolitan era on 1920 Street. Ride a fully functional steam train, interact with actors in period costumes or maybe barter for beads at the trade store. You’ll next drive through spectacular wilderness to the town of Peace River (approximately 6 hours). After dinner you will head out in search of—conditions permitting—a view of the spellbinding northern lights.

Day 3 Peace River
Today you are free to choose your own Canadian winter adventure. Perhaps head to Peace River Wildland Provincial Park, an important wildlife corridor for elk, deer and bears. This is a perfect place to practice snowshoeing before your excursion to Lake Louise on Day 7. Or maybe meander along the Peace River, which may or may not be frozen, and breathe in pristine mountain air. You may even try your luck at ice fishing. After dinner it’s back to looking for the highly unpredictable northern lights, which occur when several factors—including local cloud levels and solar flares on the sun or solar wind—converge to produce lights described as nature’s winter magic.

Day 4 Jasper
Drive to Jasper National Park (approximately 6 hours) arriving at your hotel in the late afternoon, maybe go for a walk to spot wildlife such as moose, elk, deer, bears and coyotes. If you have time, take the Jasper SkyTram, the highest guided aerial tramway in Canada. Its 7-minute ride elevates 2277 metres (7472 feet) to a magnificent vantage point that includes views of six mountain ranges and Mt Robson in British Columbia (conditions permitting). In the evening head out for dinner in Jasper, as there are a variety of restaurants to choose from. Ask your local leader for suggestions on where to go.

Day 5 Jasper
Experience the frozen caves, teeth-like icicles and towering frozen waterfalls of Maligne Canyon today. A local guide will safely escort you through this maze of natural ice sculptures (tread-enhancing cleats will be provided) while you learn about Jasper’s karst topography and the mystery of disappearing Medicine Lake. The rest of the day is free. If you didn't do it yesterday, a ride on the Jasper SkyTram is highly recommended, or perhaps try one of Jasper’s short walking trails. You can also have some indoor fun at the Jasper Brewing Company sampling local beers.

Day 6 Lake Louise
Prepare yourself for the drive of a lifetime—and make sure your camera’s fully charged—as you set out on the Icefields Parkway. The world-renowned roadway between Jasper and Banff stretches 232 kilometres (144 miles) through a mind-blowing landscape of jagged mountaintops and over 100 ancient glaciers. At its heart is the Columbia Icefield, the largest ice field in the Rocky Mountains of North America. As the massive 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) long and 1 kilometre (.62 mile) wide Athabasca Glacier flows to within walking distance of the roadway, your 3-hour trip includes a hike to its ‘toe’. You will arrive in Lake Louise, inside Banff National Park, after nightfall.

Day 7 Lake Louise
What better way to explore a postcard-perfect glacial lake than from the back of a horse-drawn sleigh? Better yet, your sleigh ride is one of two included activities today—the other’s a snowshoe hike along one of the lake’s many trails. Later, perhaps pop on a pair of skates and practice some figure eights (or ice stumbles) while gliding across the surface of frozen Lake Louise. Afternoon tea at the towering Fairmont Chateau is an option if you’re looking to put your feet up. For those in Lake Louise during its annual Ice Magic Festival in January, be sure to admire the precision and delicate skill on display in the various ice sculptures by the lake.

Day 8 Banff
Drive to nearby Banff (approximately 1 hour), Canada’s most famous mountain resort town. While located inside a national park, Banff offers plenty of shops, restaurants and bars to temporarily distract you from the surrounding natural splendour. Gain a sense of Canadian Rockies culture at the Whyte Museum, where over 200 years of artwork tells the story of the rugged men and women who settled in Banff. Sub-zero temperatures turn Banff’s waterfalls into glittering ice sculptures, and today you will visit Johnston Canyon Icewalk to see this natural display. Hike along steel catwalks built into the canyon walls and wander among massive pillars of ice. Have you ever been curious about the peculiar Winter Olympics sport of curling? You have the option of booking curling time at the local recreation centre. Just ask your local leader, who will be happy to help organise a time for you.

Day 9 Banff National Park
Enjoy a free morning in Banff before an included trip to the Sunshine Village Ski Resort. First a chairlift ride will transport you above the tree line. Then you’ll don snowshoes and trek across a white powder paradise with a professional guide. Your backcountry hike will be made surreal with a stop for hot cocoa and cookies on top of the world. Note that weather conditions may present challenges and if conditions are unfavourable an alternative activity will be arranged.

Day 10 Canmore/Calgary
At this point in your Canadian Rockies travels you might think you’ve done and seen it all. That’s where you’re wrong. This morning take a short drive to Canmore, which is within the Kananaskis Country park system, and embark on an included dogsledding adventure. Meet and greet the dogs on your team before being pulled along idyllic trails by these magnificent canines. Return to Banff for the final night of the trip. Calgary boasts a budding dining and nightlife scene so when you arrive gather the group and perhaps head out for a final night’s dinner.

Day 11 Calgary
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Map
All This Included
Go in search of the elusive ‘northern lights in the night skies of Alberta. Watch for moose, white-tailed deer and elk as you drive through pristine Canadian wilderness. Admire stunning curtains of ice along a steel catwalk built into the rock walls of Johnston Canyon. Meet and greet your team of canines before ticking ‘dogsledding’ off your bucket list of wintertime activities. Or just wrap your hands around a mug of hot chocolate and lose yourself in the grandeur of the Rockies. Packed with eye-popping views of snow-peaked mountain ranges and frozen wonderlands, this is the ultimate Great White North escape.
  • Meals - 10 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners
  • Transport - Private vehicle
  • Peace River - Snowshoeing
  • Jasper National Park
  • Jasper - Maligne Canyon Icewalk
  • Jasper - Jasper Tramway
  • Icefields Parkway - Hike to toe of Athabasca Glacier
  • Lake Louise - Sleigh Ride
  • Lake Louise - Snowshoeing
  • Banff National Park
  • Banff - Johnston Canyon Icewalk
  • Banff - Guided snowshoe hike on Top of the World
  • Canmore - Dog-sledding
Highlights
  • Navigate the frozen waterfalls, ice caves and imposing ice formations of Maligne Canyon on a guided exploration of the deepest accessible canyon in Jasper National Park.
  • The world-renowned drive from Jasper to Banff on the Icefields Parkway is astonishing. Even better when you don’t have to do the driving.
  • Join an included sleigh ride around stunning Lake Louise, a bucket-list Canadian experience in Banff National Park.
  • Meet your canine crew in Canmore before setting out on an unforgettable dog sledding experience.
  • Take a backcountry snowshoe hike in the mountains above Banff that includes a unique picnic of cookies and hot chocolate in the snow.
Accommodations
Hotel (10 nights)
Notes
  • Ages: Min 15
  • Group size: Min 4, Max 12
  • This trip covers a lot of ground, as Canada is a huge country. Please be prepared for some long days of driving. The drive between Peace River and Jasper, for example, takes about six hours.
  • You'll be spending a lot of time in a van with other travellers. This is all part of the adventure though and you might even make some long-term friends.
  • It might be stating the obvious, but winter in the Rockies is cold! You will need good gear, including boots, snow pants and a jacket. This cannot be hired so you'll need to buy or borrow it before leaving home. It can be expensive so it is best to shop around and see where you can find the best price. See the Packing section of our Essential Trip Information for a full list of suggested gear.
  • Winter weather can be unreliable. Roads in these areas are well-maintained and regularly ploughed, but in the event of unusually heavy snowfall there may still be delays and closures. The weather may also mean that some events are cancelled or scheduled activities become unsafe. We will attempt to rearrange the itinerary or schedule replacement activities if this is the case.
  • Please be aware that this itinerary does not allow time for skiing and snowboarding, and due to the safety risks inherent in these activities, we are unable to offer them as optional activities. If you wish to ski or snowboard while in Canada we suggest you arrive early in Whistler or stay in Banff after the trip. If you wish to ski or snowboard during free time during the trip, that's up to you, but please note that our leaders are unable to help you book these activities as per Intrepid's safety policy.
  • A single supplement is available on this trip.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
For Intrepid Travel terms and conditions, please click here.

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.