Explore five National Parks – from the inside, out... craggy peaks, buffalo jumps, stunt-riding cowboys and vintage “Jammer” buses set the tone throughout the timberlands of the Canadian Rockies and Montana’s Glacier National Park... Kootenay’s canyons and hot springs... alpine vistas and glaciers along the Icefields Parkway... a cruise on ice-blue mountain lakes... a ride in an Ice Explorer on Athabasca Glacier... luxury mountain resorts in Banff National Park, Jasper National Park and at Lake Louise... and so much more.
Kick up your heels at a Wild West welcome dinner where cowboy stunt riders and Calgary fiddlers raise the bar in uplifting live entertainment. See the vertical drop that spelled doom for buffalo being hunted by the Blackfoot people for some 5,500 years and enjoy soul-stirring views of an alpine lake in Glacier National Park. Red "Jammers" have been the mode of choice for travelers “going-to-the-sun” since the 1930s, the timberlands lead the way to the mountains, canyons and hot springs of Kootenay, scenic landscapes provide a natural high on a drive along Icefields Parkway and wilderness resorts from Lake Louise to Jasper and Banff national parks ensure the “peak” of awe-inspiring discoveries.
Tour begins: 5:00 PM, The Fairmont Palliser. A transfer is included from Calgary Airport to The Fairmont Palliser. Meet your Tauck Director and travel companions tonight at a private, after-hours Wild West welcome reception and dinner at the Heritage Park Museum, featuring cowboy stunts and Calgary fiddlers.
Waterton Lakes & Glacier National Parks
Kick off your Canadian Rockies and Glacier National Park tour by traveling south to Canada's Waterton Lakes National Park, where the prairie abruptly hits the mountains. En route, visit Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a prehistoric site used continuously by First Nations peoples for over 5,500 years, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site; visit its interpretive center. Continue to Waterton Lakes, where you'll have lunch at the celebrated Prince of Wales Hotel. Then cross the border to Montana's Glacier National Park, which in 1932 was joined with Waterton Lakes to form the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park – a world first; it's now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve, where you might see grizzly or black bears. Your rustic accommodations in a historic lakeside hotel built in 1915 are the best available within Glacier National Park.
Take a private morning lake cruise to admire the reflection of snow-capped peaks on the water's surface in an area that's been called the "Switzerland of North America." Conditions permitting, in Glacier National Park tour the Going-to-the-Sun Road aboard a restored 1930s-vintage red touring bus; the road, a 50-mile-long engineering marvel, skirts the shores of St. Mary's Lake, and crosses the Continental Divide over Logan Pass. View many of the park’s mountains and glaciers on your way to Lake McDonald, the largest lake in Glacier National Park.
Kootenay National Park to Lake Louise
Conclude your Glacier National Park tour and head into the timberlands along the western slope of the Canadian Rockies to Kootenay National Park. See Radium Hot Springs, and Sinclair Canyon’s red walls. Continue on to your world-famous chateau-style hotel on the edge of emerald Lake Louise overlooking Victoria Glacier on steep, sculpted mountains in Banff National Park, for a two-night stay; your room has a lakeside view.
The Beauty of Moraine Lake
Join our naturalist guide today for an excursion (weather permitting) to lovely Moraine Lake, one of the most photographed spots in all of Canada, nestled in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. This glacially fed lake reflects the awe-inspiring beauty that prompted explorer Walter Wilcox, who named it Moraine Lake after the moraine, or rock pile, deposited by the Wenkchemna Glacier, to write “no scene had ever given me an equal impression of inspiring solitude and rugged grandeur.” In fact, Wilcox felt that the time spent contemplating the view was the happiest half-hour of his life! Learn the secrets of great alpine photography during a lesson from a professional photographer, then soak up more of the beauty of the area during an afternoon spent just as you please at Fairmont Château Lake Louise.
Photo Tips and the Canadian Wilderness
Today, drive along the spectacular Icefields Parkway as you make your way to Jasper National Park. Then put what you've learned into your pictures as you encounter jaw-dropping views of mountains, waterfalls, glaciers, and snowfields around every turn; watch for bears, elk, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats, especially in the spring and fall. Arrive at your lodge for a two-night stay in the heart of Jasper National Park.
Jasper National Park... Your Way
Your tour continues with a full day at leisure in your 900-acre resort within Jasper National Park. Optional activities at your resort (available at additional charge) include horseback riding, whitewater rafting, or fishing; renting a canoe or paddleboat; taking a guided nature walk; or playing a round of golf on a top-rated course. Prior to dinner at your leisure at your choice of the hotel's restaurants this evening, enjoy a National Parks presentation followed by a wine and cheese reception hosted by a local artist in The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge's Mountain Galleries, during which you'll learn about the history of art in the Canadian Rockies.
Icefields Parkway, a Glacier and Banff
View Athabasca Glacier on the Columbia Icefield, the largest icecap in the Canadian Rockies, then take a memorable ride across the glacier's surface on an Ice Explorer, a specially designed vehicle. Wind your way along the Icefields Parkway to Banff National Park, the first national park in Canada; your grand hotel was built more than a century ago by the Canadian Pacific Railway to resemble a Scottish baronial castle.
Banff National Park As You Please
Today is your day to spend the way you wish in and around Banff. There are many optional activities (available at additional cost) to choose from at your wilderness resort or in the town of Banff itself. You can ride the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain, take a guided nature walk, go horseback riding, mountain biking, or canoeing on the Bow River. Play a round of golf, perhaps book an alpine aromatherapy massage at the Willow Stream Spa, ranked among the top spas in Canada, or visit the chic alpine village of Banff on your own. Conclude your Canadian Rockies and Glacier National Park tour by joining us for a festive farewell reception and dinner tonight.
Return to Calgary (approximately 80 miles.) Tour ends: 10:15 AM, Calgary International Airport. Allow a minimum of three hours for airport check-in.