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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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. Perhaps try one of Jasper’s short walking trails. You can also have some indoor fun at the Jasper Brewing Company sampling local beers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Gather the group and perhaps head out for a final night’s dinner.
Enjoy breakfast at the lodge before a drive onto Calgary where your winter escape comes to an end. You can expect to arrive into Calgary Airport at approximately 11am.