In this article we would like to give you an idea for a trip to the Canadian Rockies, basically a fly and drive from Calgary, Alberta, to Vancouver, British Columbia.
We had this trip end of spring 2015, it lasted 2 weeks, and trust us, is a must for nature lovers and North America addicted. Driving through lakes, mountains, forests, National Parks, animals and also cities like Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria, is an incredible view, corner after corner, turn after turn.
You have two main gateaways for this incredible trip, Vancouver or Calgary, the two major international ariports. We decided to drive east-to-west so that we landed at Calgary International Airport. We arrived late afternoon so that we decided to have a walk in the town only the day after. But, the day after was Sunday… Downtown was completely desert but a lot of noise came from the Prince’s Island Park. It was a sunny day, and all families and kids were there enjoying the atmosphere. We walked accross the city to take a look at the main landmarks and we went to the top of the Calgary Tower.
After half a day in Calgary we decided to move toward Banff, our next destination. Going there we stopped in Canmore and had a wonderful Poutine at the The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company, together with a chilling craft beer of this brewery. Ok, ok the poutine is more Québécois, but still is indicated as one of the National Recipes of Canada. Proceeding north we decided, holy idea, to stop for a photo shooting at the Minnewanka Lake and Two Jack Lake… what a view!!!
Honestly was a last minute stop, but truly amazing. After that we reached Banff City, developed all around Banff Avenue, the main city road. When you are in Banff you can’t miss the Gondola up to Sulphur Mountain, the Cave and Basin National Historic Site (where the Banff National Park was established), and a view of the Fairmont Hotel. And for dinner, book a table at The Grizzly House, sooooo tasty guys.
As a note, for all main activities including the Gondola, and other attraction all along this trip, we really appreciated the service and the competences of Brewster Canada, they are really great.
After Banff, you have to drive to Lake Louise, but, while on the Trans-Canada Highway (that later on will become the Icefield Parkway) exit right to the Bow Valley Parkway. Here the chance to meet bears, bighorn goats, caribous and other wildlife is much higher. Before reconnecting to the main highway, stop at the magnificent Castle Mountain. Wonderful place fellows.
Then you move toward Lake Louise with its crystalline water and the gorgeous Fairmont Chateau that frames the view as in the most perfect postcard you could sen in your entire life.
And here you can say: wow! What a clear and blue water! But… But… The next place will really leave you breathless. The bluest, most wonderful, clearest, most unbelievable, lake of Peyto. Friends, we’re not joking. This lake was evaluated as one of the bluest lake of the world. From the car parking to the view point you have to walk a bit (it was end of May but still with a lot of snow, so use warm and trekking shoes at any time), but when finally you arrive there, the view is truly amazing…
The above picture is something that we are still printing out for our home frames, calendars and whatever comes in your mind. But most of all, is one of the greatest view that we will keep in our eyes and hearts all life long.
Leaving Peyto Lake is hard, really hard, but at the end you need to proceed on this trip. While driving on the Icefield Parkway we arrived at the Columbia Icefield Discovery Center. Here you can jump on enormous trucks that will bring youn right on the Athabasca Glacier, one of the glaciers of the Columbia Icefield. It was so exciting! The ride takes its time due to speed limitation of this road-monsters, but it’s worth.
Great stuff to tell your friends, isn’t it? By the way, now we need to cross the border between Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, and drive toward Jasper town. When in Jasper do not miss Ahabasca Falls, Maligne Canyon and Medicine Lake. On the way from Maligne Canyon to Medicine Lake you’ll have the chance to see bears, caribous and mooses. And we had! Little tip: when driving on these scenic routes look carefully at roads’ sides, but, moreover, always slow down when you see other cars stopped. Maybe there is nothing, but maybe, as we experienced, there is a lot to see. Take a look at the picture below; we were so close to a black bear mum with her two cubs.
Another great memory to add to this journey. But more is yet to come. Leaving Jasper we had a 6 hours drive, crossing into British Columbia before arriving in Ashcroft, one hour west of Kamloops. The question is lecit, why in Ashcroft instead of maybe going down to Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley? The answer is… Horse riding. In Ashcroft there is the best, guest ranch you’ll ever find in this part of the world: The Sundance Guest Ranch. The staff, the way of staying there, the peace, the horses… Everything was perfect. Due to this we will write a separate post on this place, so, horse lovers, stay tuned for a new release about this ranch.
From Ashcroft to Vancouver is about 4 hours drive, and it is quite scenic may we say. Enjoy it, even because speed limits are not that generous.
Vancouver is an amazing city, full of contrasts, parks, things to do, from the sea to the mountain. Here you have absolutely to go for a bike ride all around Stanley Park, walk around downotwn, gastown (the historic district), and Canada Place; go up to the Vancouver Lookout for a complete view of the city, drive to North Vancouver for Grouse Mountain and the Capilano Suspension Bridge. A really lot of stuff to do!!!
When in Vancouver, we decided to take a whale watching day trip to Victoria, the Capitol City of British Columbia. We booked it early in advance with Prince of Whales. We arrived at the dock in Vancouver and we discovered that on that day we were alone on the boat! So that we had the chance to speak with a Biologist and a Researcher about the orca’s habits and features. And then.. We saw them… What a show…
We saw humpback and blue whales in Alaska, but killer whales (we prefer to keep calling them orcas) are much more fascinating. The way they behave, their strategies, their elegance, are incomparable.
Leaving our black and white friends back, we arrived in Victoria. It is a small, clean and quiet town, were you must visit the Parliament of British Columbia, the Butchart Gardens, and try the tasty halibut fish and chips in one of the restaurants at the port.
That’s all our friends, we hope that this itinerary sounds interesting to you. And for any further information or more details, do not hesitate to contact us!