Prepare to be dazzled... from the coastal seaport of Vancouver… to the view from your room on Victoria’s waterfront… a stroll through one of the finest gardens in the world… a fabulous rail journey across Western Canada's rugged mountains… famed alpine resorts in the heart of the national parks...
A comprehensive journey through Western Canada includes a classic overnight rail journey from Vancouver into the Canadian Rockies, a floatplane excursion over the Gulf Islands, a ferry cruise to Victoria, an Ice Explorer ride across a glacier, and a float trip down the Bow River in Banff National Park. Explore the cities of Vancouver and Victoria... travel the Icefields Parkway... visit Victoria's celebrated The Butchart Gardens and the Royal BC Museum... Vancouver's Gastown district and Bill Reid Gallery... and discover Banff and Jasper national parks from legendary inside-the-park Fairmont resorts.
Tour begins: 6:00 PM, Fairmont Waterfront, Vancouver. A transfer is included from Vancouver Int'l Airport to Fairmont Waterfront in the heart of the city. Meet your Tauck Director and travel companions at the welcome reception followed by dinner.
Aboriginal Art and Flightseeing
Home to an active cultural scene and abundant natural resources, Vancouver is a city steeped in pleasures. On a sightseeing tour this morning, enjoy a docent-led tour of the Bill Reid Gallery, a showcase for contemporary Aboriginal art of the Northwest Coast. One of Canada’s greatest artists, Bill Reid was an acclaimed Haida master goldsmith, carver, sculptor and writer, whose work is on display here. Continue on to Stanley Park, a stunning green oasis in the midst of the city, and enjoy lunch on your own at your choice of Granville Island’s tempting eateries. This afternoon, travel by float plane and enjoy flightseeing over the pristine Gulf Islands en route to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, for a two-night stay at a gracious landmark hotel with stunning waterfront views.
Gardens and Afternoon Tea
Throughout your stay in Victoria, you’ll discover more than a bit of British influence in its double-decker buses, horse-drawn carriages and formal gardens, all surrounded by the rustic beauty of the Pacific coast. You’ll find floral beauty in exceptional form at The Butchart Gardens, begun over a century ago. During your visit this morning, explore what has grown to encompass 55 magnificent acres of flowers and show gardens; each year over a million bedding plants in some 900 varieties promise an uninterrupted bloom from March through October. During your visit, see the Sunken Garden, the first to be planted by Jennie Butchart, and stroll through the Rose Garden, Japanese Garden and the Italian Garden. Following your return to Victoria early in the afternoon, and afternoon tea at the famed Fairmont Empress, the remainder of the day is free to spend as you please. Downtown restaurants and shops, as well as the attractions of Fisherman’s Wharf, are within walking distance.
A Rail Journey to the Mountains
Board a ferry this morning across the Strait of Georgia to the city of Vancouver, crossing from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen; travel to the train station for an afternoon send-off aboard VIA Rail’s The Canadian – and your journey to the awe-inspiring Canadian Rockies begins. Celebrate the start of your overnight journey to the Canadian Rockies with a champagne toast; dine aboard the train this evening and sleep on board the train tonight – you will be nothing less than stunned by the spectacular alpine scenery that dawn reveals!
Waterfalls of Maligne Canyon
Have breakfast aboard your train and enjoy the natural spectacle that unfolds outside your window. Arrive in Jasper National Park; travel to lakeside Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, in the heart of the park for a BBQ lunch in the Clubhouse. Explore Maligne Canyon, the deepest canyon in the Rockies, where ravens and black swifts nest and fossils can be found. Return to your lodge mid-afternoon and spend the remainder of the day as you please. Your lodge is a small village linked by picturesque paths. The lake shimmers, evergreens are abundant, and rugged mountain peaks surround you.
A Day in Jasper National Park
The day is yours to spend just as you wish among the carefully protected ecosystems – and "photographer's paradise" of Jasper National Park, where optional choices at your resort (at additional cost) include horseback riding or tennis. Rent a canoe or paddleboat on Lake Beauvert; go on a trail ride or a guided nature walk; play a round of golf on a top-rated course; or visit the historic town of Jasper on your own. This evening, a presentation by a Parks Canada official precedes dinner at your choice of restaurants at the lodge.
The Icefields Parkway to a Glacier
Drive the Icefields Parkway, featuring 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. View Athabasca Glacier flowing from the Columbia Icefield, and take a memorable climb across the glacier's surface on an Ice Explorer, a specially designed vehicle. Continue on to your chateau-style hotel on the edge of Lake Louise overlooking Victoria Glacier, for a night in a Lake View room.
Lake Louise As You Like It
Spend the morning at leisure indulging in the amenities and natural beauty of your Lake Louise resort. This afternoon, enjoy a change of scenery and resorts when you settle into your resort in Banff National Park. It was the discovery by Canadian Pacific Railway workers of wonders like the Cave and Hot Spring Basin that led to this park’s establishment in the early 1880s – and of your castle-like hotel in the park in 1888, when the railway first opened tourism to the Rocky Mountains. Enjoy dinner this evening at leisure at The Fairmont Banff Springs.
Rafting in Banff National Park
The day begins with a float along the Bow River where the natural beauty of Banff National Park unfolds around every bend of the river – viewing it from the river is special, an entirely different experience to land. Spend the remainder of the day as you wish from your grand alpine resort – it was built more than a century ago in the style of Scottish baronial castles. You might choose to explore the town of Banff... or your resort offers a full range of optional activities (some available at additional cost); perhaps you’ll take a guided nature walk, book a treatment at the renowned Willow Stream Spa, enjoy horseback riding or a round of golf... perhaps explore the town of Banff or ascend into the mountains aboard the scenic Banff Gondola. Join us tonight for a farewell reception and dinner at the fabulous Fairmont Banff Springs.
Travel from Banff National Park to Calgary, Alberta this morning, approximately 80 miles. Tour ends: 10:00 AM, Calgary International Airport. Tauck can arrange additional nights at The Westin Calgary for guests wishing to extend their stay; an airport transfer is included for these bookings. Allow a minimum of three hours for flight check-in.