Rail and drive: Canada Rocky Mountains trip

Trip ideas
Duration (in days): 7

From: Calgary

To: Vancouver

From

£1,955

Exc. International flights (per person, based on 2 sharing) 
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Overview

This week-long Canada Rocky Mountains trip takes you from Vancouver on Canada’s coast into the Rockies! Beginning with a self-drive, you can explore Calgary and Banff, take a dip in the hot springs and a scenic ride on the Banff gondola. Visit Lake Louise the ‘jewel of the Rockies’, take the Ice Explorer over the Athabasca Glacier before boarding the Rocky Mountaineer to finish your trip with a scenic rail journey. This Canada trip is the perfect combination of self-paced driving and some laid-back relaxation!

Highlights

  • Explore at your own pace with a self-drive from Calgary to Jasper
  • Relax on-board the scenic Rocky Mountaineer train from Kamloops to Vancouver
  • Take a reviving dip in Banff’s hot springs
  • Explore the Athabascar Glacier on board the Ice Explorer
  • End tour trip in Vancouver
Majestic Rail Drive | map
Itinerary

 

 

Itinerary in brief

  • 2 nights Banff
  • 1 night Lake Louise
  • 2 nights Jasper
  • 1 night Kamloops

Day 1: Calgary to Banff 

Today you’ll collect your hire car to begin your self-drive adventure. If you feel like exploring Calgary a little bit more, you can spend the morning exploring the city, before hitting the road and driving the hour and a half to Banff.

On arrival in Banff, check into your hotel for your two night stay, and the rest of the day is free for you to fill. We recommend visiting one of the many coffee shops, or hunting out a restaurant serving Poutine (a traditional Canadian delicacy)!


Day 2: Banff

Banff is a lovely Alpine town where you can spend time shopping and soaking up the relaxed charm.

Banff National Park is easily accessible. We recommend visiting the Cave and Basin national Historic Site, and we’ve included a ticket for the Banff Gondola where you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the Bow Valley below.

In the early evening, we’ve included admission to the Banff Upper Hot Springs – the perfect way to relax after some sightseeing. A word of advice; you get used to the smell of sulphur very quickly, so don’t worry about the initial ‘eggy’ smell!


Day 3: Banff to Lake Louise

Although it’s only a short 40 minute drive today make an early start so you can spend as much time as possible at Lake Louise. You’ll be driving along the Bow Valley Parkway, and en-route, you can stop at Johnston Canyon for a short nature walk.

Once you reach Lake Louise, known as the “Jewel of the Rockies” we recommend hiking the ‘Plain of Six Glaciers’ trail. Not for the faint-hearted, this trail takes you on a slow and steady route up above Lake Louise; trust us - the views are worth every single step! You’ll be greeted by the historic Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse just when you need a pit-stop… plus, coming back down is a breeze!


Day 4: Lake Louise to Jasper 

After a good night’s sleep, it’s time to hit the road for one of the most scenic drives of your whole trip (in our opinion!).

You’ll be driving over the spine of the Canadian Rockies along the absolutely amazing Icefields parkway. The wildlife, bright blue lakes and sparkling waterfalls will quickly fill up your camera’s memory card. We recommend a stop at Peyto Lake on the way.

You’ll come across the Columbia Ice field, where we’ve included a ride on board the Ice Explorer, your chance to get out onto the Athabasca glacier and experience this spectacular landscape.

The total drive takes around 3 and a half hours (not accounting for your stops) ending in Jasper. After this exciting day of beautiful scenery and landscapes, you’ll be glad to check into your hotel for your two night stay, where you can put your feet up and relax.


Day 5: Jasper

Today you have a whole day to explore Jasper and its National Park. A visit to Maligne Lake won’t disappoint – it’s one of the most photographed lakes in the world.  You could also take the tram ride up Whistlers Mountain; be prepared to witness some incredible views!

Jasper has some great shops and restaurants so if you are on the hunt for some Canadian souvenirs, here’s the place to partake in a spot of retail therapy.

Your car hire comes to an end today, so don’t forget to drop it off before heading out for drinks at the local bar.


Day 6: Jasper to Kamloops by rail

The next stage of your adventure starts today, as you’ll be boarding the famous Rocky Mountaineer train.

Your first day of rail travel takes you on a scenic journey to Kamloops in the interior of British Columbia. Leaving Jasper National Park, you’ll travel the “Yellowhead” route past the sprawling grandeur of Mount Robson, which is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, and then follow the mighty Thompson River to Kamloops. Prepare for some great views, a relaxed and inviting atmosphere, and a lovely care-free day.

Upon your arrival in Kamloops you will be taken to your hotel, where you will check in for your one night stay.


Day 7:  Kamloops to Vancouver by rail

Back on board the Rocky Mountaineer this morning, you’ll leave Kamloops and follow the Thompson River through Ashcroft.

Passing through Rainbow Canyon is a real highlight – as the name suggests, the cliffs are striped with pinks, greens and greys, creating a stunning rainbow effect. When you pass through Fraser Canyon, you’ll get to see Hells Gate and watch the water torrent pass the canyon walls at its narrowest point.

The last leg of your rail journey takes you through the fertile farming region of the Fraser Valley, and you will then be delivered into Vancouver by late afternoon.


 

Info

The best times to travel in British Colombia, Canada are from March to May and September to November, this is when you’ll find milder temperatures and bargain hotel rates. May until August is peak season with prices being at a premium and lots of tourist visitors, the summer brings beautiful weather however and is a very popular season to travel to this region. December to February is winter and temperatures can drop below freezing, for winter sports fans it is worth braving the weather to take part in winter sports activities particularly in nearby Whistler.

This itinerary is purely a suggestion, and can be tailor-made to your requirements, so please contact us with your dates and requests and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.

What's included: 

  • 6 nights’ hotel accommodation
  • 2 breakfasts and 2 lunches with the Rocky Mountaineer
  • Private transfer from Calgary Airport to hotel
  • 5 day car hire (please ask for details)
  • Banff Gondola
  • Admission to either Banff Upper Hot Springs or Miette Hot Springs Jasper
  • Ica Explorer ride onto the Athabasca Glacier
  • 2 days on-board the Rocky Mountaineer (Silverleaf, upgrade to Goldleaf is available upon request)
  • Taxi transfers to and from Rocky Mountaineer rail station in Jasper and Vancouver
  • Coach transfers to and from Rocky Mountaineer rail station in Kamloops
  • Travel documentation, including personalised maps, driving directions, and 1 480 page Canada guide

Not included: 

  • Activities, other than those mentioned
  • Meals, other than those mentioned
  • Optional car rental extras
  • One way car drop off fee (fee to be confirmed upon enquiry)
  • Parking and toll fees
  • National Park fees
  • Transfer to Vancouver Airport
  • Tips and gratuities
Accommodation

This package is based on 6 nights 3* standard accommodation. Accommodation in this category includes:

  • Irwin’s Mountain Inn, Banff

  • Lake Louise Inn, Lake Louise

  • Lobstick Lodge, Jasper

 

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