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Canadian Rockies & Northern Lights

11 days with Intrepid Travel   Rating: Budget

Itinerary
Click for Dates and Prices Day 1 Edmonton
Welcome to beautiful Edmonton, Canada. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. If you arrive early, perhaps visit the biggest mall in North America: West Edmonton Mall, or instead, learn about Canadian living history at Fort Edmonton Park, visit the nearby Ukrainian Cultural Village, and 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 the Royal Alberta Museum, the largest in western Canada. Learn about the heritage of Alberta’s people and natural environment through the exhibitions on display. Then, drive through spectacular wilderness to the town of Peace River (approximately 6 hours). After dinner you will head out in search of a view of the spellbinding northern lights (clouds permitting). Enjoy a bonfire under the darkness of the night sky and cook some s’mores while you’re waiting.

Day 3 Peace River
Today you are free to choose your own adventure in Peace River. Perhaps head to the 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 later in the trip. You could stroll along the Peace River, which may or may not be frozen, and breathe in mountain air. You may even try your luck at ice fishing. After dinner, head back again to look for the unpredictable northern lights in your second dedicated night of sky gazing. The lights occur when several factors, including local cloud levels, solar flares on the sun or solar wind, converge to produce magical hues dancing in the winter night sky.

Day 4 Jasper
Drive to Jasper National Park (approximately 6 hours), arriving at your hotel in the late afternoon. Once settled in, go searching for wildlife such as moose, elk, deer, bears and coyotes. In the evening, perhaps take yourself 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 caves, icicles and frozen waterfalls of Maligne Canyon on an ice walk in the morning. The canyon’s name refers to its ethereal beauty in winter, where waterfalls freeze over and icicles cascade like teeth in the mouths of the park’s many caves. 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. Included today is lunch at Jasper Brewing Co: Canada’s first National Park Brewery. The rest of the afternoon is free. Try one of Jasper’s short walking trails, admiring the scenic mountain ranges that greet you in every direction.

Day 6 Lake Louise
Prepare yourself for an unforgettable drive as you set out on the Icefields Parkway. The world-renowned roadway between Jasper and Banff stretches 232 kilometres (144 miles) through a landscape of jagged mountaintops and past 100 ancient glaciers. At its heart is the Columbia Icefield, the largest ice field in the Rocky Mountains. The massive Athabasca Glacier, measuring 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) long and 1 kilometre (.62 mile) wide flows within walking distance of the roadway, so take a hike to its toe (the current lowest endpoint of a glacier). Tonight, arrive at Lake Louise to relax and ready yourself for another active day tomorrow.

Day 7 Lake Louise
Lake Louise is an iconic snapshot of Canada, and today you’ll experience one of its many beautiful moods. There are many options on how to spend the day, including an optional horse-drawn sleigh ride past the glacial lake. You’ll be able to take a snowshoe hike along one of the lake’s many trails, or perhaps pop on a pair of skates and practice some figure eights (or ice stumbles) while gliding across the surface of the lake. Included today is lunch at The Station Restaurant – a heritage railway station which serves hearty Canadian favourites. If you’re looking to continue to put your feet up, the Fairmont Chateau does a beautiful afternoon tea. For those lucky enough to be in Lake Louise during its annual Ice Magic Festival in January, be sure to take a look at 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 distract you from the surrounding natural beauty. 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 ice walk to see this all on display. Hike along steel catwalks built into the canyon walls and wander among massive pillars of ice. With all this adventuring, you must be hungry, and so it’s a perfect time for a Beavertail tasting experience. Beavertails are a deep-fried sweet dough made with whole wheat flour and pulled by hand to resemble the long flat tail of a beaver. Order a classic cinnamon and sugar or go a little bit wild with some whipped cream and decadent Nutella – you’ll be licking your lips for hours!

Day 9 Banff National Park
Enjoy a free morning in Banff before an included snowshoe hike with your group at Sunshine Village Ski Resort, about 20 minutes out of town. To start, head above the tree line, and then put on your snowshoes and trek across the white powder with a professional guide. Your backcountry hike will be made extra sweet with a stop for hot cocoa and cookies on top of the (Sunshine Village) world.

Day 10 Banff/Canmore
In the morning, take a short drive to Canmore, which is within the Kananaskis Country park system, and embark on an included ice walk at the Grotto Canyon, using special hiking crampons to grip the smooth frozen creek beds. Alternatively, you could book yourself a dogsledding adventure with a trusted provider, where you’ll meet and greet the dogs on your team before being pulled along the frosty trails by these canines. Return to Banff for the night – a group dinner in town may be on the cards.

Day 11 Calgary
Enjoy breakfast at the lodge before a drive back to Calgary (approximately 1.5 hours). Your trip will end at Calgary International Airport, the arrival time depends on each group however If you decide to fly out this day, please don't book a flight before 3pm. Drop off in Calgary city can be arranged, please discuss this with your Trip Leader.


There are no activities and accommodation planned for the day. If you have the rest of the day here, why not visit the giant pandas at the Calgary Zoo, check out the urban neighbourhood of East Village, or walk across Peace Bridge and explore Prince Island’s Park on the Bow River.
Map
All This Included
Experience the rugged mountains of Canada and go in search of the northern lights in the night skies of Alberta. Watch for moose, white-tailed deer and elk as you drive through pristine Canadian wilderness. Admire curtains of ice along a steel catwalk built into the rock walls of Johnston Canyon. Meet and greet a team of canines before ticking dogsledding off your bucket list – one of the many optional activities on offer. Otherwise, just wrap your hands around a mug of hot chocolate and lose yourself in the beauty of the Rockies. Packed with eye-popping views of snow-capped mountain ranges and frozen wonderlands, this 11-day adventure is the ultimate great white north escape.
  • Meals - 10 breakfasts, 2 lunches
  • Transport - Private vehicle
  • Edmonton - Royal Alberta Museum
  • Peace River - Bonfire and Smore's
  • Peace River - Snowshoeing
  • Jasper National Park - Entrance Fee
  • Jasper - Maligne Canyon Icewalk
  • Jasper - Lunch at a National Park Brewery
  • Icefields Parkway - Hike to toe of Athabasca Glacier
  • Lake Louise - Snowshoeing
  • Lake Louise - All Canadian Lunch
  • Banff National Park
  • Banff - Johnston Canyon Icewalk
  • Banff - Guided snowshoe hike on Top of the World
  • Canmore - Grotto Canyon Guided Icewalk
Highlights
  • Spend time exploring Edmonton, Peace River and Banff at your own pace, stopping to admire the surrounding mountain ranges.
  • Navigate the frozen waterfalls, ice caves and ice formations of Maligne Canyon on a guided exploration of the deepest accessible canyon in Jasper National Park.
  • Gaze at the clear night skies of Peace River and witness the natural phenomenon of Aurora, often referred to as the northern lights.
  • Cruise from Jasper to Banff driving on the Icefields Parkway and enjoy the roadside views – made even more scenic when you’re not the one driving.
  • Discover the natural beauty of renowned Lake Louise, and perhaps join an optional sleigh ride around its snow-covered banks.
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.