It has always been a dream of mine to hike in the Canadian Rockies, and if you share the same ambition - this tour is the perfect opportunity to turn that dream into a reality. Intrepid’s Canadian Rockies tour spends 15 days taking you through all the National Parks of the Rockies; starting in Vancouver I visited 5 National Parks, including Banff, Jasper, Grey Wells, Yoho & Whistler.
Intrepid offer a number of different tours throughout Canada, but I chose this Candian Rockies tour because of the variety of National Parks and activities on offer. Tour sizes vary – and on this occasion we had a mixed group of different ages and nationalities, English, American, Australian and Canadian Ages ranged from 21 to 50.
Beginning in Vancouver, Canada, the tour’s first stop is in Whistler. Contrary to what you might think, Whistler certainly isn't just a ski resort - the summer activities are endless. In the summer months, Whistler is best known for its world class mountain biking which is exciting to watch from the bottom of one of the ski lifts.
As part of the tour, you’ll have options to try different activities including mountain biking - but not wanting to break any bones at the beginning of the tour I opted to go zip-lining instead - not for the fainthearted. It was brilliant fun and I highly recommend anyone in need of an adrenaline shot to give it a go. Hurling yourself off a ledge and zip-lining high in the air from mountain to mountain is an experience you will never forget.
Zip-lining on Canada's longest Zipline, through the mountains in Whistler [credit: www.straight.com]
One of the benefits of exploring with a small group tour is being driven by your guide in a very comfortable van in between each National Park. Given the size of the country, some of the distances are long but this affords you the opportunity to get to know each other better and play some silly games along the way.
As this is a camping tour, we stayed at campsites throughout - most of which had facilities. In my opinion, there is no greater way to experience the Rockies than by waking up in the great outdoors with the stunning views like we had at Lake Clearwater. If you’re after a bit more luxury I would recommend the ‘Classic Canada’ tour where you get stay in lodges and cabins instead.
The scenery amongst the Rockies does change hugely, from the rolling hills of Wells grey to the huge imposing mountains in Banff. It isn’t all about Mountains though; we saw beautiful waterfalls, raging rivers and stunning lakes, all mixed in with different types of flora and fauna.
Its hard to choose one single favorite National Park, so I would have to choose two; Banff and Wells Grey, because of the very different experiences I had there.
For our first night in Wells Grey National Park, we stayed at a ranch with real-life cowboys and sat round the campfire at night under the stars. We then took an overnight canoe trip on Clearwater Lake and although the weather came in on us so we didn’t make it as far as planned, we managed to set up camp for the night.
This night of the tour is one of the few where you’ll only have basic facilities. We cooked our dinner over a campfire, ate s'mores and watched the storm roll out. At the end of the evening, we finished with a night paddle in the dark. It’s an amazing feeling – being in the middle of nowhere, with no light pollution and no noise… it was magical.
Banff was another of my favourite parks, because of the hiking opportunities. You can do some truly beautiful hikes here, my favorite being the 6 glacier walk from Lake Louise. In Banff you can also visit the hot springs where you have the chance to hire yourself some vintage 1920s bathers. We were lucky enough to be here for Canada day, so we spent the morning doing yoga by a lovely lake and the afternoon in town, watching the Canada Day parade.
If you’re less inclined towards group-exploration, independent travel is certainly possible – it’s easy to hire a car or a campervan and drive from park to park. If travelling independently you’ll need to think of pre-booking your accommodation as it gets busy in summer and you will also need to organise park permits. That said, having the knowledge of a guide as part of a small group tour does in my opinion lead to a better experience, especially if you’re looking for a more “off the beaten track” experience, away from tourist crowds.
If you’d like to explore Canada and want to get out of the cities and spend sometime in the National Parks, I can help. I can show you how to include Canada in your round the world ticket and find you a small group tour or vehicle hire to get you started, just call us +44 1273320580 or request a quote by email.
(Although this Canadian Rockies Overview tour from Intrepid isn’t currently on our website, we can book it for you or find a similar tour if you prefer)