Welcome to Calgary, the largest city in the western Canadian province of Alberta. While you are here to experience the bucket list adventure experience of travelling through the breath-taking Canadian Rockies, take some time to explore the award-winning architectural masterpiece of Calgary’s Public Library, walk along the scenic Bow Valley River pathways or experience the buzz of downtown Stephen Avenue with its stores and restaurants. Calgary’s dining scene is incredibly diverse and absolutely the best in western Canada and the included Calgary Foodie Walking Tour will give you an excellent introduction.
This morning head south to the famous Bar U Ranch National Historic Site where you can discover the life of a ranching cowboy from the late 1800s. The Bar U Ranch has the largest collection of historical ranch buildings in Canada. Time permitting, aim to stop at Turner Valley, and discover Eau Claire Distillery. The new distillery is housed in the circa-1929 Turner Valley Movie Theatre and Dance Hall that in early days served as a town hall, political rally centre, dance hall and community gathering spot. Located in a place of storied history, the distillery can talk to Turner Valley’s checkered and illustrious past. To the east was a famous house of ill repute, to the west a general store. In the hills, an aptly named landmark feature called Whiskey Ridge hid moonshine stills. On the north end of town was the notorious street called Whiskey Row. A further 145 km. drive south takes you to the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site that preserves and interprets over 6,000 years of Plains Buffalo Indigenous culture. Through vast landscapes, exhibits, and diverse programming, you will learn from a Blackfoot Nations guide about the cultural significance of this cliff to the Plains People. From the Interpretive Centre, you can venture out along a paved trail that leads you to spectacular views of Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Cliff, Calderwood Buffalo Jump & Vision Quest Hill to the north, the great prairies to the east, and the Rocky Mountains to the south. A final 100 km drive south will take you close to the USA border and the Waterton Lakes National Park. A stay in Waterton set amidst the unparalleled scenic beauty of the Canadian Rockies is the perfect unwind after our days’ adventures.
Have an easy day to soak in the surroundings. Waterton Lakes National Park has an incredible mountainous landscape. A tour of the park should include a leisurely boat cruise on Waterton Lake and some time at leisure. There is something for everyone at Waterton Lakes: great hikes, horseback riding, canoeing, Red Rock Canyon, and even scooter rentals.
Follow the back roads to Kananaskis where you can explore the foothills of the Rockies on a horseback ride, enjoy a delicious BBQ lunch or join a professional guide for a raft down the Kananaskis River.
Short drive through stunning landscapes to the town of Banff. The town of Banff is a spirited place and you are surrounded by strikingly beautiful and rugged mountains that seem to burst straight out of the ground. The town site of Banff covers almost 4 sq. kms. and is at an elevation of 1,383 mtrs (4,537 feet), making it the highest town in Canada. Banff is flanked on all sides by towering mountains, including Mount Rundle, Sulphur Mountain, Mount Norquay, and Cascade Mountain. You may see a herd of elk wandering down the main street during your early morning walk. The lively streets of downtown are lined with top-class restaurants, bars, and shops, as well as a vibrant range of art galleries and museums. Explore Banff with a stop at Cascade Gardens and beautiful Bow Falls, then ride the gondola up Sulphur Mountain for an unparallel view of the mountains and valley below. Take time to visit the Cave & Basin National Historic Site, which tells the story of the hot springs that drew visitors to Banff and led to the creation of the National Park.
This morning drive along the famous Bow Valley Parkway, where wildlife sightings of caribou, elk, and occasionally, bears, are common so keep your cameras handy. Take time to stop at Johnston Canyon for a walk through the deep rugged canyon with several waterfalls and then drive cross the Continental Divide to the western slopes of the Rocky Mountain range and into Yoho National Park in British Columbia. Visit the awe inspiring Takakkaw Falls and Emerald Lake, filled with glacial run-off water that makes Emerald Lake glisten with the blue-green hue of an emerald. Drive back to Alberta and your final destination of the day at Lake Louise, a jewel of the Rockies surrounded by glistening glaciers and towering snow-capped mountain peaks. You may have seen photos of the lake but you will not be prepared for the experience of rounding the corner, getting the first sight of the emerald green waters and the rugged peaks as a backdrop. Late in the day, with the glowing sun dropping behind Mount Victoria, you will likely have never seen anything so dramatically beautiful.
Overnight: Lake Louise
Travelling through the heart of the Canadian Rockies, drive along the famous Icefields Parkway which has been voted one of the most spectacular drives in the world. You will see for yourself why this mountain road that boasts a unique landscape rich in history and natural beauty second to none is so famous. At the summit of Bow Pass, take a quick side tour to see the turquoise blue waters of Peyto Lake and the beauty of the Mistaya River Valley below. And later arrive at the famous Columbia Icefields whose waters feed three oceans; visit the Interpretive Centre then have the experience of a lifetime - a ride on the Ice Explorer vehicle for a close up look at the Athabasca Glacier. Finally, at the end of this exciting day, you can see the powerful Athabasca Falls before arriving at the charming town of Jasper, your home for the next two nights.
Originally a tiny railway town, Jasper's small-town charm is very different from the alpine resort style glamour of Banff. Surrounded by towering mountains, crystal clear lakes, and abundant wildlife, Jasper town located within the Jasper National Park is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Start the day with a ride up Whistler Mountain on the Jasper SkyTram. On your day of sightseeing drive to Maligne Canyon and take a gentle walk down Maligne Canyon to see how the water has carved spectacular crevices out of the mountain. A further scenic drive will take you to Maligne Lake, the largest natural lake in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Enjoy an amazing lake cruise on Maligne Lake to wrap up a day in a place of stunning natural beauty.
Have an easy morning in Jasper exploring the town centre, and then head east on a leisurely drive through the towns of Hinton and Edson, to Edmonton, Alberta`s capital, and one of the popular cities in Canada to visit.
Explore Edmonton’s scenic riverfront pathways, have an immersive experience at the Royal Alberta Museum or the Art Gallery of Alberta, or have some fun (and shopping) at the famous West Edmonton Mall. There is much to do in Edmonton. We suggest you explore Edmonton’s culinary scene that is known across Canada and beyond.
Drive to Drumheller, the heart of Dinosaur Valley, to explore some of the world's richest deposits of dinosaur bones. Visiting the Royal Tyrrell Museum and the landscape around it is like stepping into another world. Explore badlands on self-guided trails, or participate in an authentic dinosaur dig. Be amazed at the world class displays in the Royal Tyrell and by the abundant fossils, and stunning landscapes of this location in Alberta. This evening, continue your drive back to Calgary.
Say farewell to your Alberta drive adventure and depart Calgary with fond memories of a fantastic experience.