Canadian Rockies Winter Adventure
10 days with Intrepid Travel Rating:
Day 1 Canmore
Make your own way to Canmore, a charming mountain nestled in the Canadian Rockies. There are no airports here, so we suggest flying to Calgary as a number of companies offer frequent shuttles between the two cities (departing from either the international airport or major hotels in the downtown area). Your winter adventure officially begins at in Canmore with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Following the meeting, there’s an optional group dinner at a local restaurant where you’ll have to chance to get to know your fellow travellers. Otherwise, the evening is yours to enjoy as you please.
Day 2 Canmore
Tick the first item off your winter bucket list today as you head to Kananaskis Country for a day of snowshoeing. It’s about a 1.5-hour drive to Fortress Mountain, the filming site of several Hollywood blockbusters (such as The Revenant and The Bourne Legacy), and the location of your private guided tour. The hike is in an abandoned and closed ski area not open to the public, so take your time spend up to 5 hours looking around as you trek through untouched trails. Remember to dress accordingly and wear warm (preferably waterproof) boots, a proper winter jacket, hat and gloves. Return to Canmore in the afternoon for a free evening. A warming cup of hot chocolate from one of the many cafes is a great way to start.
Day 3 Canmore
Today, you’ll have the opportunity to experience a different kind of winter landscape as you embark on an ice walk through Grotto Canyon. See daredevil ice climbers scaling frozen waterfalls, and icy rock formations as you explore the creek bed floor with a local guide. Return to Canmore and grab some lunch before trading in your ice cleats for ice skates with a lesson at the Canmore Hockey Club. The time has come to let out your inner sporting superstar as local hockey players will show you the ropes and explain what you need to know to be a pro. You’ll have the chance don proper hockey gear and practice your new skills on the ice. The battle lines have been drawn, so it’s time to compete against your travel buddies!
Day 4 Canmore
In the morning, head to the Canmore Curling Club for an introduction to another Canadian sport. Curling is so much more than brushing the ice, so be ready to learn a thing or two about the rocks and sweeping techniques – it’s harder than it looks! The afternoon is free to explore more of Canmore, and there are plenty of winter activities to keep you occupied. Today is one of two opportunities you'll have on this trip to go dog sledding, cutting through the snow like a Canadian explorer. Otherwise, those who like to cycle might want to hire a fat bike – a specialised winter bike outfitted with extra-wide snow traction, hand warmers and modified frames, perfect for winter conditions. There are plenty of scenic trails to explore of varying difficulty, like the Bow River Loop or Horseshoe Loop. Alternatively, Canmore’s snow-covered trees, mountains and animal tracks provide the perfect backdrop for cross-country skiing.
Day 5 Banff / Invermere
After breakfast, take a short 30-minute drive to Banff, where there will be free time to stroll the main avenue and its shops, boutiques and art galleries. Though Banff’s main drag is touristy, the unfamiliar sight of snow-capped mountains framing the city is well worth it. After lunch, continue west to Canada’s main continental divide (a natural boundary of elevated terrain that separates the drainage basins of the country). This geological feature also happens to separate two provinces (Alberta and British Columbia) and two national parks (Banff and Kootenay). Explore the wilderness of this area on a guided 2.5-hour snowshoe hike through forests and secluded lakes. While out in this winter wonderland your leader will demonstrate how to make traditional maple taffy in the snow – a sugar candy made by boiling maple sap to a certain temperature. Afterwards, continue on to Invermere: a lakeside town in the beautiful Columbia Valley.
Day 6 Invermere
Today is a leisurely day in the Columbia Valley. Start the day skating in the great outdoors along frozen Lake Windermere. Measuring nearly 30 kilometres (18 miles) long, Lake Windermere is famous for being the world’s long’s ice-skating trail. Later on, warm up at the mineral-rich waters of Radium Hot Springs, located in the Kootenay National Park. Spend some time relaxing in the steaming pools, which are all surrounded by snow-covered pines.
Day 7 Invermere
Head to Panorama Resort in the Selkirk Mountains for another active day. Take a guided snowshoe hike at the with your group leader, and afterwards, perhaps hire a fat bike and explore the resort at your own pace, or strap on some skis for some cross-country action. There is no shortage of ways to get active and explore this park. Out of the cold, you must try the Canadian food specialty of poutine – hot potato chips covered in cheese curds and doused in gravy. After your day on the mountain, head back to Invermere and find a warm pub for the night.
Day 8 Banff National Park / Lake Louise
Journey back to Banff National Park (approximately 2 hours), arriving just in time for a hearty all-Canadian lunch at the Storm Mountain Lodge. Dine on meats from Alberta, cheese from Quebec and fish from BC in a rustic log cabin while a Canadian playlist croons in the background. After lunch, visit Johnston Canyon for an afternoon guided ice walk. A network of steel catwalks is built into the canyon wall, allowing you to walk right along this cathedral of ice. You’ll see staggering pillars of blue ice and frozen waterfalls towering 30 metres (98 feet) above your head. The magnitude, both above and below you, is a sight to behold.
Day 9 Lake Louise
Today, join your tour leader on a drive along the world-famous Icefields Parkway, seeing for yourself why this stretch of road connecting Lake Louise to Jasper is considered one of the most beautiful drives in the world. After travelling past snow-capped mountains, glaciers, waterfalls and valleys filled with pine and larch, you’ll stop for what is bound to be a trip highlight – a hike to Athabasca Glacier, one of the six principal ‘toes’ of the Columbia Icefield. Alternatively, you can choose to have a free day in Lake Louise for one last fix of winter activities. Ask your tour leader about where you can go for some dog sledding, skating, cross-country skiing or a sleigh ride. In the evening, perhaps gather as a group and head to the Station Restaurant: a heritage railway station serving Canadian food.
Day 10 Calgary
Journey back to Calgary in a private vehicle. While there are no activities planned for the day, you can be transported to Calgary Airport or downtown depending on your plans.
All This Included
Canada is stunning any time of the year, especially in winter, so why not fulfil all your snow-covered fantasies in the Rockies? This action-packed trip is winter at its best, with hearty Canadian food and cosy lodging to satisfy the most seasoned traveller. Hike past rugged mountain ranges, try some cross-country skiing, skate on a lake in Invermere and see frozen waterfalls at Grotto Canyon. You’ll have the chance to travel the world-famous Icefields Parkway and hike the Athabasca Glacier, and soak in a natural hot spring amongst the forests in the Columbia Valley. Learn a thing or two about curling and hockey – two proudly Canadian sports – from the pros in Canmore, and dine on Canadian favourites in Lake Louise. Keep warm because this 10-day Rockies winter adventure is frosty. Seriously frosty.
Hotel (9 nights)
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