The Canadian Rockies, Up Close

Jasper to Vancouver via Scenic Rail

  • Banff National Park
  • Jasper National Park
  • Icefields Parkway
  • Maligne Lake
  • Rocky Mountaineer Train
  • Vancouver

Dates

August 10 - 18, 2022

Highlights

  • Drive the spectacular Icefields Parkway - one of National Geographic’s “Drives of a Lifetime"
  • Jasper National Park - Canada’s largest national park in the Rockies, and the second largest Dark Sky Preserve in the world
  • Sky-Tram ride to the top of Whistler Mountain in Jasper National Park
  • Boat ride on the crystalline waters of Maligne Lake
  • A two-day rail journey of a lifetime on the iconic Rocky Mountaineer train through the Canadian Rockies

Trip Description

Escape the summer heat north of the border with us as we explore some of Canada’s greatest natural wonders and cities. Drive along the famous Icefields Parkway as we make stops at the stunning Lake Louise, views of glaciers, and more as we pass through Banff en route to Jasper.  Jasper is Canada’s largest national park in the Rockies, and the 2nd largest Dark Sky Preserve in the world.  A highlight of the trip will be on board the Rocky Mountaineer train, for a 2-day, 1-night scenic rail ride through the Canadian Rockies to Vancouver.  Enjoy touring in Vancouver at the famous Stanley Park and Granville Island, walk across the Capilano Suspension Bridge, and discover why Vancouver is being touted as one of the most attractive places to visit.

Itinerary

Day 1 – 2

Begin our drive into the magnificent Canadian Rockies via the Trans-Canada Highway, which stretches nearly 5,000 miles from the Pacific to the Atlantic.  Keep your camera at the ready – we’ll have a day of impossibly beautiful scenery ahead, beginning with Banff National Park. Banff was Canada’s first national park, established in 1885 when a natural hot spring was discovered, and its popularity has only continued to skyrocket in the 21st century.  Our route will take us up the Bow River Valley deeper into the park, where we’ll encounter a true jewel of Banff: Lake Louise – an alpine lake named for a daughter of Queen Victoria, and famous for its turquoise waters.

Then, embark on the spectacular Icefields Parkway, one of National Geographic’s “Drives of a Lifetime.” Our route will be dotted with glacier-fed lakes, waterfalls, snowy peaks – including some of the highest in the Canadian Rockies – and over a hundred visible glaciers!  Watch for wildlife like bighorn sheep, elk and mountain goats. You’ll also get to walk on one of the largest non-polar icefields in the world: the Athabasca Glacier. The Icefields Parkway will bring us to our base for the next three nights:  the township of Jasper, located in the heart of Jasper National Park.  This national park is nearly twice the size of Banff, and sees a fraction of the visitors, thanks to its more remote location.

Day 3

This morning, ride the Jasper Sky Tram to the top of Whistlers Peak – not to be confused with the destination ski resort called Whistler in British Columbia!  Whistlers Peak originally earned its name from the whistling sound made by the native marmots here, so we’ll see if we can spot any, as we soak in the breathtaking panoramic views of Jasper National Park and the Canadian Rockies.  Enjoy opportunities to hike to the summit, talk with rangers about surrounding peaks and wildlife, or sip a coffee and relax with the view. This afternoon, enjoy a group hike that leads us through beautiful alpine meadows, or rest and relax in downtown Jasper. Overnight, Jasper.

Day 4

This morning, visit the crystal-clear waters of Maligne Lake – the second largest glacially-fed lake in the world.  Enjoy a guided boat cruise that will glide across the lake past jagged peaks, and dock at the isolated Spirit Island – an unforgettable morning. Or, if you prefer to paddle, we can gladly arrange for you to explore Maligne Lake by canoe instead.  Later today, we’ll see Maligne Canyon – a beautiful slot canyon of limestone rock that has been carved by the Maligne River for millennia.  Explore this intriguing landmark via a series of bridges, with views of churning waterfalls, ancient fossils, and rock formations.  Later, enjoy free time to peruse the galleries and shops of Jasper Township. Tomorrow, we’ll begin our journey further west!  Overnight, Jasper.

Day 5 – 6

Board the Rocky Mountaineer Train for a luxurious two-day, one-night scenic ride to Vancouver. Enjoy spectacular views and comfort with the GoldLeaf premium service level, in the Rocky Mountaineer’s famed glass-domed coach; with plated meals and drinks included. We’ll make our west through the mountains, passing jaw-dropping views on the way – many, like the cascading Pyramid Falls, can only be seen by rail. We’ll also spot Mount Robson – at nearly 13,000 feet, it’s the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Breakfast, lunch and complimentary beverage service will be included on the train, so sit back, relax, and take in the gorgeous scenery with commentary from the train conductor. We’ll spend the night in the city of Kamloops, which means “meeting of the waters” – located at the confluence of the North and South Thompson rivers, it was once a key trading post.  On the second leg of our journey by rail, we’ll pass through intriguing desert-like landscapes, coastal rainforest, and finally the scenic Fraser River Valley, before arriving in Vancouver. We’ll check into our centrally located hotel, and rest and relax after our travels.

Photo Credit: Vancouver Tourism – Rocky Mountaineer Train

Day 7 – 9:

Explore the streets of downtown Vancouver today with a guided walking tour to orient us to this eclectic, outdoors-oriented Pacific city.  Later, head to an area that was once an industrial center for the city in early 1900s, today it’s a foodie paradise and cultural hub!   In the afternoon, those who wish can visit the fantastic Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, acclaimed for its collection of First Nations art and artifacts, both historic and contemporary.

We’ll also visit Stanley Park, which offers a sprawling woodland setting just outside downtown. Here, you’ll find waterfront views, walking paths, and towering totem poles, which honor the traditions of local Indigenous people. We’ll then immerse ourselves in the coastal rainforest at Capilano Bridge Park, where we can walk through the cedar forests, cross the iconic Capilano Suspension Bridge, and discover local history, ecology, and First Nations culture through interpretive centers and demonstrations – from traditional weaving and beadwork, to ranger-led programs that highlight the raptors that hunt in these forests.

On the following morning, if you’re returning to the United States today, we’ll help coordinate your transfer to the airport. Otherwise, our adventure continues on Day 9 – to Vancouver Island!

What's Included

  • Comfortable ground transportation, including train ticket for the Rocky Mountaineer Journey Through the Clouds 2-Day Rail Route (GoldLeaf Level)
  • Accommodation for eight nights
  • Breakfast, 5 lunches and 4 dinners
  • All activities / admissions per the itinerary
  • Guide and concierge service throughout the trip

Trip Price

$7,950 / person (double occupancy; single supplement, $1,150)

What's Not Included

Price does not include airfare, alcohol, other meals, or trip insurance.

. . . well-planned, from interesting and fun excursions planned each day to comfortable lodging and transportation. Our trip leaders, Chumley and Khal, were impressive with their knowledge of each area we explored and gracious in their planning of every aspect of our respective trips.
I highly recommend Explore Up Close. Not only did we enjoy some beautiful cities and landscapes, we learned so much history. They are memory makers!
If you want first-class service within a small group of traveling companions that you can really get to know, then definitely consider Explore Up Close.

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Please note, all trip participants should wait for confirmation from Explore Up Close that the trip has the minimum sign-up required to be a “go” before purchasing airline tickets.

Explore Up Close will provide a recommended flight itinerary for your consideration, which is intended as a helpful suggestion. We encourage travelers to choose airfare depending on their personal preferences, as some travelers may prefer to travel independently and meet at our destination, or may wish to extend their travels at the beginning or end of the trip. Our travel agent is available to assist you with booking flights and trip insurance.

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