Day 1: You are met at your Calgary arrival point and transported across Alberta's rolling countryside to a western guest ranch, where you will spend the next six nights. The guest ranch is in Alberta's high cattle country, located conveniently between Calgary and Banff. Bears, deer, coyotes, elk and other wildlife are frequently seen here. After a hearty lunch, where you meet and get acquainted with the other tour guests, you'll have the opportunity to take a trail ride in the area (arrival time permitting). Riding varies from mountain valleys to high foothills, crossing numerous streams, mountain meadows and old Indian trails. This type of terrain allows you the chance to periodically trot or canter if desired. The guest ranch has horses available to satisfy the expert to novice rider. The wranglers will spend time showing you how to become comfortable and work with your mount. If you wish you can come out in the mornings to help feed and groom the horses. Once back from your trail ride you can relax on the deck or take a hike in this wilderness wonderland. Then it’s time to enjoy the very best of western hospitality, including our welcoming dinner, before spending a restful night in this western hideaway. Includes: (L), (D).
Day 2: Get up early to help with feeding and grooming the horses, or spend a little extra time relaxing in your comfortable bed. Then, after a satisfying breakfast, it’s off on another trail ride. Or you may decide that you would like to spend the time hiking or just sitting back and soaking in the peace and tranquility of this mountain hide-away. After another wholesome lunch, it’s off to a Traditional Rodeo, or perhaps a Native American Powwow and Rodeo. For those who are not familiar with the Native American culture, powwows are celebrations, social gatherings and friendly competitions of traditional dancing, drumming, singing, ceremonies and feasting, and the bringing of many nations of people together. Everyone is welcome regardless of race, creed, religion, or color. And at the rodeo, you will experience the adrenalin rush of the cowboys' eternal battle to overcome the raw power of the untamed animals of the west. You will spend the day enjoying the exhilaration and excitement of bucking broncos, bull riders, steer wrestlers, calf ropers, and barrel racers. In addition, you may have the opportunity to meet some of the rodeo cowboys and clowns for conversation and photographs. At the conclusion of the rodeo we head back to the guest ranch for dinner, and another restful night. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 3: After your morning trail ride or leisurely meander around the guest ranch, and another of those wonderful lunches, we’re off to the town of Banff. You’ll take an eight minute ride in a glass enclosed gondola to the 2288 m (7500 ft) summit of Sulphur Mountain, where three levels of outdoor observation decks offer a panoramic 360 degree view of Banff and the surrounding area. We’ll introduce you to the majestic Banff Springs Hotel. A unique blend of opulence and seclusion, it has been a symbol of Rocky Mountain magnificence for more than a century. Styled after a Scottish baronial castle, the Banff Springs offers stunning vistas, timeless beauty and luxurious comfort in a pristine wilderness. Then it’s on to the Banff town site, where you can tour the many fine museums and natural history centers, in addition to sampling the extensive and unique shopping opportunities. Once back at guest ranch you'll savor another delectable western dinner. But don’t stay up too late as tomorrow another full day. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 4: We spend today in Calgary. Sitting at an elevation of 1,139 m (3,740 ft) above sea level, Calgary is located at the junction of the Bow and Elbow Rivers and has a population of 904,987 (April 2002), making it the fifth largest city in Canada. Today's first stop is at The Canadian Wilds Exhibit at the Calgary Zoo. You will be guided on a walk through this immersion habitat featuring animals from the Aspen Woodlands to the Rocky Mountains. It is a perfect location to start your wildlife viewing - you are guaranteed to see animals here that you may not have a chance to see anywhere else during your trip. Get a close-up view of mountain goats, cougars and grizzlies, wolves and wood bison, as well as one of North America's most endangered species - the whooping crane.
Your lunchtime dining experience features a revolving view of the city. The Calgary Tower's famous revolving dining lounge offers a unique setting. All tables enjoy an unrestricted panoramic view through large 2.13 meter by 1.5 meter tinted windows. You can see every angle of the City, the Rocky Mountains and the surrounding areas without leaving your chair. After lunch, it's off to Heritage Park. You will receive a guided tour of this real frontier town. And the people are as real as their town. From the baker to the blacksmith, they're lovers of the true West. Travel back in time and discover the treasures of Western Canada's past. All the sights and sounds of pre-1914 life are recreated at Canada's largest living historical village. You can cruise the lake aboard the S.S. Moyie steam wheeler, or tour the town by steam train, horse-drawn wagon, carriage or old-fashioned bus. Or just take a stroll down Main Street. And the funs not over yet! Get ready for a special treat as you enjoy dinner at Ranchman's Restaurant. Often referred to as Canada's Greatest Honky Tonk and Country Night Club, Ranchman's is the Official Hospitality Location of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association.
Ranchman's proudly displays over sixty championship trophy saddles of Canadian and World champions. The walls spring alive with daring and danger-packed action photos of legendary showdowns between man and beast. Many of Country Music's greats have also performed here. And, Ranchman's is proud to have been voted the Canadian Country Music Association's Country Club of the Year on three occasions. Ranchman's authenticity has also attracted many movie location shoots; including Cool Runnings and Unforgiven. In addition, Ranchman's offers a full country-style menu featuring AAA Alberta beef, chicken and ribs, all slow-cooked to perfection and tender-spiced with their own brand of western barbecue sauce. Entertainment starts at high noon and features an all-Canadian lineup of the best bands north of the 49th parallel. Then it's back to the guest ranch for a great night's sleep before another full day of fun and enjoyment. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 5: After another of the wonderful breakfasts that you’ve become accustomed to, you have the opportunity to enjoy another trail ride. Or, if yesterday’s activities were just too much fun, you can relax on the deck or take a quiet hike before lunch. The afternoon provides you with a choice of activities. You may want to go whitewater rafting in the Kananaskis Valley. This is a great experience for families, or as a group outing. Both the Kananaskis and Elbow Rivers are beautiful rivers consisting of grade I - III rapids (gentle to intermediate) and appropriate for first time paddlers. Approximately 2 - 2.5 hours will be spent surfing, splashing and floating on a professionally guided raft on one of Western Canada's mountainous rivers. Or you have the opportunity to enjoy a trail ride, relax on the deck, or take a leisurely hike around the familiar environment of the guest ranch. Oh yes, and after all that excitement, we haven’t forgotten to have another terrific dinner ready for you. And as always, it’s topped off with home-baked bread and pastry. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 6: Today you will experience the incomparable beauty of the rugged and majestic Rocky Mountains on your journey along the Ice fields Parkway. Our first stop is the Columbia Ice fields, an area of glacial ice covering some 390 sq. km with a maximum depth of 365 m (1210 ft). Bigger than the City of Vancouver, the continuous accumulation of snow feeds eight major glaciers and its melt water feeds streams and rivers that pour into the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans. You will take a tour of the icy slopes in a specially designed Ice Explorer that goes to the middle of the glacier on a 5 kilometer round trip journey. Your driver/guide will explain how glaciers are formed and point out interesting geological features as you travel in safety and comfort.
At the icefall below the glacier headwall, you will have the option of stepping out onto ice formed from snow that fell as long as 400 years ago. After lunch at the Ice fields, it's a short trip to your first view of the imposing Victoria Glacier nestled behind beautiful Lake Louise. You will be left with no doubt as to why this is known as the "Jewel of the Rockies." Not only have international royalty, Hollywood stars and heads of state come to Lake Louise to relax, but increasingly the rest of the world is discovering its simple charms as well. Lake Louise, with its blue-green water set against the stark backdrop of Victoria Glacier, is probably the most beloved and most photographed scene in the Canadian Rockies. Chateau Lake Louise presents lake-side views of the glacier, while offering old-world charm and elegance amidst the wilderness. Then it's back to the guest ranch. Where, after a leisurely dinner, you can settle into your comfortable accommodations, and enjoy a good night's rest as tomorrow is your last chance to enjoy all of the pleasures of your western experience holiday. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 7: After breakfast, you can go on a trail ride, savor the majestic scenery on the beautiful hiking trails as you watch for birds and wildlife, or just sit back and soak it all in. The morning and the choice is yours (flight arrangements permitting). Then, after lunch the next leg of your journey is a drive through Kananaskis Country. This is an unspoiled paradise of towering mountains, pristine lakes, evergreen valleys, and glacial streams. The name Kananaskis is rich with history. Captain John Palliser, an early explorer of the valley, identified the area by taking the name of a local Indian. Palliser wrote that he had heard of an Indian named Kananaskis, "giving an account of a most wonderful recovery from the blow of an axe to the head - which stunned, but failed to kill him." At the end of the day you arrive back in Calgary, where we'll be happy to deliver you to your onward location. We’re going to miss you, but you’ll carry away memories that will make you the envy of your family and friends back home. And these memories will provide a quiet and tranquil place to retreat to during the more hectic times of your life. Includes: (B), (L).
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