Canadian Rockies & Northern Lights
11 days with Intrepid Travel Rating:
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.
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.
Hotel (10 nights)
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.