Arrive in Calgary, pick up your BMW and drive off into the magnificent panorama of the Canadian Rockies. Continue on the Transcanada highway past Lake Louise to Emerald Lake, a beautiful glacial lake in a stunning setting. Enjoy lunch at the magnificent post and beam Emerald Lake Lodge, where you can peruse the gourmet delights of Rocky Mountain cuisine, the roots of which go back to both the lavish Victorian cooking from the CPR rail cars and the hearty meats prepared by Swiss and Austrian mountain guides.
In the afternoon, talk a stroll around the lake or hike up to the Burgess Shale Formation, a UNESCO world heritage site which contains the fossilized remains of more than 120 marine animal species dating back 515 million years. Alternatively, hop into your car and drive a short distance to the turquoise waters of Moraine Lake, a tiny gem encircled by ten peaks. The lake, set in the majestic Valley of the Ten Peaks, is a dramatic and striking ''little sister'' to larger Lake Louise, and its priceless view was once featured on the back of Canada's $20 bill.
In the late afternoon, drive to your hotel for the night, the romantic Chateau Lake Louise. Check in to your room and then consider treating yourself after a rigorous day in the captivating wilderness and relax in the calming ambiance at Escape Spa & Salon, where you can choose from an extensive selection of Aveda products and treatments that will leave you relaxed, refreshed and revitalized.
Dinner tonight is in the Chateau's Fairview dining room. Using the soaring mountains and shimmering lake as a enchanting backdrop to one of Lake Louise's premier dining experiences, the Fairview dining room celebrates the freshest treasures of North America's fields, seas and rivers. Choose from distinctive and modern dishes, like Cream of Jeruslam Artichoke, Roasted Venison Loin in elderberry demi glace and served with brioche dumplings, Roasted Zucchini & Coco Bean Savarin, Seared Atlantic Monkfish with lobster crushed potatoes, and Vanilla-Cardamom Panacotta.
Overnight: Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Driving: 2-3 hours
Day 2 - Lake Louise to Jasper (300 kms)
After sampling the delights of the morning breakfast buffet, climb into your BMW and set off for one of the most spectacular drives in the world along the Icefields Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper. The Parkway is virtually unparalleled for beauty as it runs alongside a chain of massive Icefields straddling the Continental Divide. We recommend a stop at tranquil Bow Lake for an easy walk along the glacial blue lake through fields of rare alpine flowers, evergreen forests and sparkling creeks. Try out the lunch at majestic Num-Ti-Jah lodge, where the chefs use local organic produce to create original Canadian cuisine against a stunning backdrop of mountains.
After lunch, return to your BMW and continue along the Ice fields Parkway, keeping an eye out for large herds of graceful Caribou. Stop at the Columbia Icefield, an area of glacial ice that is the hydrological apex of North America, covering some 200 square km with a maximum depth of 365 m (1210 ft). Explore the Athabasca Glacier, a tongue of ice 6 kilometres long and one kilometre wide, in a specially designed ice buggy, and then continue on to Jasper.
Arrive at the world renowned Jasper Park, one of Canada’s first national parks, home of the luxurious Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. It is difficult not to become overwhelmed by the rustic elegance and surrounding natural beauty of the hotel, which invites you to take a stroll to admire the lake, spectacular scenery and wildlife that inhabit this natural paradise. Enjoy a leisurely wander in the isolated splendour of the Park before returning to the Lodge for the evening. Tonight you are own your own for dinner, and thus you can either explore the hotel’s intimate restaurants or head over to Tekarra Lodge, which sits atop a ridge overlooking the convergence of the Miette and Athabasca Rivers in a mountain setting that has inspired artists, poets and countless guests.
Overnight: Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.
Driving: 4-5 hours
Day 3 - Jasper (0-250kms)
This morning is at leisure, and with the extensive selection of activities you will have your hands full trying to take in all that Jasper National Park has to offer. After breakfast, play a challenging round on the hotel’s 18-hole golf course, or cruise the placid emerald green waters of Maligne lake. Explore Maligne Canyon, which has been carved by the Maligne River to create one of the most spectacular gorges to be found in the Canadian Rockies. Alternatively, take a hike through the vast 6,000+ square kilometer forest to see some of the most beautiful, untouched ecosystems left on earth, or drive down the picturesque roads in your BMW as you travel to Miette Hot Springs, the hottest outdoor baths in the Rockies.
After lunch we have planned a gentle walking excursion through the Valley of Five Lakes. This guided nature walk features rolling hills, forest, meadows, marshes, streams and beautiful glacial lakes. Your licensed interpreter will lead the 4km walk as you explore the abundant flora along the route. A great opportunity to spot wildlife! The walking pace is leisurely and perfect for all ages.
At the end of a full day of activities in the wilderness of Jasper’s National Park, consider relaxing at Insignia Salon & Spa with a hot basalt stone massage. The heat of the stones penetrates the body gently at a deeper level to bring total peace and relaxation to your mind, body and spirit. For dinner tonight we recommend the Moose’s Nook Northern Grill, where rustic decor, wildlife paintings and artifacts create a dining atmosphere that celebrates the explorer spirit coupled with wildly inspired cuisine. Comfort foods pay homage to regional ingredients and Canadian specialties. Wild mushrooms, Arctic char and world famous Alberta beef are features of the menu.
Overnight: Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.
Driving: 1-5 (depending on preferences)
Day 4 - Banff (350kms)
Enjoy breakfast in bed and then a morning at leisure. If you didn’t get round to it the day before, take a ride up the Jasper Tramway. Boasting some of the best views in the Rockies, you’ll gaze out on lakes, mountains, glaciers, and the town itself from a vantage point of more than 7,400 feet above sea level. When you arrive at the summit, you’re free to wander along the boardwalk or hike in the area, also accompanied by a guide, if you’d like. Trees don’t grow this high, but there’s low vegetation and an assortment of wildlife, including the small mammals (hoary marmots) known as ‘whistlers’ for which the mountain was named.
After lunch, climb into the driver’s seat and head off down the pastoral Ice fields Parkway for the return journey to Banff. Some people never have the opportunity to drive this road even once in their life - you get to do it twice from two different angels! Take your time stopping en route to gaze at the majestic eagles that glide high above in the vivid blue sky.
Arrive in the late afternoon at your hotel for the night, the majestic Fairmont Banff Springs. We encourage you to immerse your body in a treatment at the spa and then stroll across the grounds in the early evening to the Waldhaus, Banff Springs’ "House in the Forest". The Bavarian cottage-style building was built in 1927 to be used as the Banff Springs Clubhouse and is set on the edge of the Golf Course and the Spray River. The atmosphere is reminiscent of an old hunting lodge with a large fireplace and a beautiful, temperature controlled wine cabinet which houses and excellent wine selection. The menu consists of authentic German and Swiss dishes such as venison ragout, Swiss cheese fondue, roasted pheasant breast, pan fried rainbow trout filets and warm apple strudel.
Overnight: Fairmont Banff Springs.
Driving: 5-6 hours
Day 5 - Calgary
After a relaxed breakfast, get into your BMW for the last time and drive through the mountains on your way out of the Rockies and back to the rolling hills of Calgary. Drop your car off at the Calgary airport and say goodbye as your journey comes to an end.
Driving: 1-2 hours
all accommodations on a shared twin/double room basis
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Canada Alberta Local Culture Self Drive National Parks