We explore seven provincial and national parks including Banff, Jasper and Yoho. Collectively, these parks feature a wide variety of terrain including spectacular alpine meadows, sweeping glaciers, hanging valleys and mountain forests and streams. This varied terrain provides great opportunity for wildlife spotting opportunities including black and grizzly bears, moose, elk, deer, Bighorn sheep and wolves. We include a hut-to-hut hike or overnight canoe trip, and spend our last night in the luxury of a lakeside resort. Hot showers are available on all nights, except for the first night.
June: 10 to 20;
June: 24 to July 04;
July: 08 to 18;
July: 22 to Aug 01;
August: 05 to 15;
August: 19 to 29
September: 02 to 12.
Vancouver, BC, Return.
Day 1. Fraser Canyon, B.C. Sunday
Departure time: 8:30 am
After departing Vancouver we drive to the scenic town of Hope BC (pop. 6700) nestled at the confluence of the Fraser and Coquihalla Rivers. Against the backdrop of the Cascade Mountains, guests can witness commanding views of the Fraser River as it emerges from a narrow canyon to envelop a lush and expansive flood plane. Hope is well known for its annual chainsaw carving competitions. Our visit will include a tour to the downtown core to view various carvings on display from previous events.
From Hope we follow the Fraser River, Canada's second longest river, into the million year old Fraser Canyon. As the road climbs up the mountains and clings to the sides of the canyon, the lush vegetation morphs into an arid landscape. Just south of Boston Bar we stop at Hells' Gate and board an aerial tram and descend to the base of the canyon. Here, the 1,370 kilometer length of the Fraser River squeezes through a 34 meter wide passage, creating thundering masses of water. The Fraser is also the worlds' largest supporter of spawning Sockeye salmon and, if we're lucky, we'll catch views of spawning salmon as they thrust themselves up the river.
Turning south at Boston Bar. we take a logging road to Nahatlatch Provincial Park, established in 1999 to protect a representative sample of an undisturbed Coastal Mountain drainage system. While this area contains scenic mountain peaks and glaciers, old growth forests, and lake and river systems like no other, it often goes unnoticed by the casual traveller. This park offers habitat for species that are dependent on old growth ecosystems and a high degree of wilderness. A variety of wildlife can be found in the park including: grizzly bears, black bears, lynx, cougars, wolves, coyotes and deer. Smaller species and birds include; beaver, bald eagles and osprey. Spotted owls are also found in the valley. We set up camp next to the river.
Accommodation: Camping. River bathing (please remember to bring bio-degradable soap).
Day 2, 3 and 4. Wells Gray Provincial Park.
In the morning of Day 2 we hike to Mehatl Falls, near Nahatlatch Provincial Park. Mehatl Falls is nestled in a sub-alpine bowl – a great setting for wildlife spotting. Later we hike the winding trail along the creek, which leads to breathtaking photographic opportunities at the Mehatl Cascades. We make our way north, following the Thompson River to Caribou Country, a region of rolling hills and prairies, thick forests, granite-walled canyons and river valleys. Here, ranching, logging and mining are the mainstays of the local economy. We settle in at our bunkhouse just outside of Wells Gray Provincial Park and prepare for our canoe trip or hut-to-hut hike. Group members need only carry a change of clothes, a share of the group's food, and a sleeping bag - all told about 10 kilo's.
On Day 3 we drive for one hour on a backroad to the trailhead that begins at 1630 meters. The 4 kilometer hike from here takes about two and a half hours and provides an elevation gain of 523 metres. The trail ascends through mature forest and into lush meadows of alpine flowers. As we climb, our alpine guide will point out flora and fauna unique to the area. Wildlife sighting opportunities include bear, wolves, cougars, lynx, bobcat, moose, deer and mountain goat plus a host of smaller mammals such as fisher, marten, mink, weasel and squirrel. The bird checklist for this area notes 219 species. After about an hour on the trail we stop for a snack near a beautiful mountain stream. About one half hour later, we reach a flowery meadow overlooking Raft Mountain.
From this point on, the hike is pure alpine to Trophy Mountain Chalet which sits at 2153 metres and offers a superb view of the valley. Chalet amenities include a living area with a fully equipped kitchen, a dining area, shower, propane heat and solar lights. After lunch we take a short day hike to the top of Look-out Peak for a panoramic view of Caribou and Monashee Mountains. We overnight in our Trophy Mountain Chalet.
On the morning of On Day 4 group members can choose to relax at the chalet, take short nature walks near the cabin, hike in the surrounding Trophy Mountains, climb to the tops of Marmot and Ptarmigan Peaks, or swim one of the many local lakes. Wherever you go, you will be treated to fantastic views all day and a splendid feeling of being immersed in pure wilderness. Individuals are encouraged to speak to their guide has to how they would like to spend this part of the day. We'll take lunch either at the Chalet or on the trail as we hike down the mountain to our vehicle. One the way to camp, we stop at the famous Helmcken Falls, a 141 meter waterfall and one of the major causes for the development of Wells Gray Provincial Park. We'll make camp at a nearby ranch and enjoy a hot shower and some home cooking.
Accommodation: bunkhouse and camping. Showers available at the bunkhouse.
Day 5 & 6. Jasper National Park, AB.
After breakfast we'll pack camp and head further north. We continue our drive, rejoining the North Thompson River to meet up again with the mighty Fraser River near Mt. Robson Provincial Park. The 3,954 meter high mountain for which the park is named guards the park's western entrance. Here we'll stop at the visitor centre to admire the view and take a refreshment before entering the Rockies. After crossing the BC/Alberta border we stop at Jasper to shop for local groceries before setting up camp.
Spanning 1,078 square kilometers of broad valleys and craggy mountains, Jasper is the largest of Canada's Rocky Mountain National Parks. On Day 6, we drive out to Maligne Canyon and Lake where many a grizzly has been seen wandering its isolated hillsides and lakeshores. There is also potential for black bear, elk, moose, mule and white-tail deer, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat. Passengers will have the option to hike the Bald Hills or enjoy a scenic boat tour on Maligne Lake. If you're up for a swim, we know of the only warm water lake in Jasper - who says pure mountain waters have to be cold? And at some point in this day, we fit in an aerial tram ride to the top of Whistler Mountain.
Accommodation: Camping in Jasper National Park. Showers available on both days.
Optional Activities on the Icefield Parkway; Guided Ice-walk or snow-coach ride onto the Athabasca Glacier.
Day 7 & 8. Banff National Park, AB.
On Day 7 we get an early start and make our way along the famous Icefield Parkway to Banff National Park. Our first early morning stop will be at Mount Kerkeslin viewpoint, a known salt lick for mountain goats. We also stop at Athabasca Falls, one of the most powerful falls to be found in the mountain national parks. Travelling through Sunwapta Pass we’ll look for the elusive moose. Other wildlife often seen on the Icefield parkway include, elk, deer, and grizzly bears.
We stop for lunch at the Icefield Centre and take in commanding views of the Athabasca Glacier, part of the Columbia Icefield. The Columbia Icefield is the largest of the chain of ice fields along the Great Divide separating Alberta and British Columbia. This 325 square kilometer accumulation of ice feeds six large glaciers. You can see three of them - the Athabasca , the Dome, and Stutfield - the Icefield Parkway, it is also the headwaters for the mighty Fraser River. In the company of certified mountain guides, clients will have the option to strap on crampons and join a naturalist for a two hour guided walk on the surface of the Athabasca Glacier, a massive river of ice riddled with an estimated 30,000 crevasses. Afterward, we’ll have free time to visit the Icefield Interpretive Centre. In the late afternoon we arrive in Banff National Park. This park encompasses 6,641 square kilometers of mountains, glaciers, forests and alpine meadows.
We start the morning of Day 8 with a tour of the town of Banff including Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk Trail, Banff Springs Hotel, Bow Falls, the Hoodoos and Lake Minnewanka. We then take a leisurely drive along a secondary road, passing Castle Junction, looking for wildlife. If group so desires we can stop for a hike of Johnston Canyon but its trails tend to crowded - we recommend hiking the hills around Banff or an optional activity such as horseback riding, kayaking or mountain biking. Upon returning to the town of Banff passengers will be dropped at the Sulphur Mountain Hot Springs to enjoy a refreshing soak in an outdoor pool. Later we will have free time for shopping in the downtown area and take in the local nightlife of Banff. The evening of Day 8 marks our last night of camping.
Accommodation: Camping in Banff National Park. Showers available on both nights.
Optional Activities: Trail riding, helicopter scenic flights with and without glacier landings.
Day 9. Golden via Yoho National Park B.C. & Lake Louise AB.
On Day 9 we head west making our first stop at the beautiful turquoise blue glacier fed waters of Moraine Lake. Here passengers have the option to rent a canoe or walk along the lakeshore to the famous "Rock Pile" for stunning views and great photographs.Our next stop will be Canada's most recognized hotel: the famous Chateau Lake Louise on Lake Louise. Here we can stroll along this lakeshore of incredible vibrant sky blue waters, take a hike, tour the Chateau, rent a canoe or go horseback riding. We can also enjoy a refreshing libation on the outdoor patio overlooking the lake, grab a coffee or ice cream from the deli and stroll the property and surrounding area. From Lake Louise we head back into BC stopping at the historic Kicking Horse Pass and Spiral Tunnel Viewpoint.
We drive out ot Takakkaw Falls. With a high point of 384 meters from its base these falls are Western Canadas' second highest. Takakkaw loosely translated from the First Nation language of Cree, means "it is magnificient". The falls are fed by the Daly Glacier which is part of the Waputik Icefield. We'll also visit glacier fed Emerald Green Lake. Here we can rent a row boat from which we peer through the refraction of emerald green light down to the bottom of the lake. Other options include a self interpretive hike around the lake shore. Other stops include Spiral Tunnel Lookout ;Meetngs of the Rivers;: a viewpoint at the confluence of the Yoho and Kicking Horse River and the Natural Bridge. We make our way to the town of Golden a small town at the base of Yoho National Park where we overnight in the local hostel. In the evening passengers can mingle with the locals, play pool and enjoy a pint.
Accommodation: Guesthouse / Hostel. Shower available.
Day 10. Chase, B.C. (via Glacier National Park)
We leave the Rockies - but not the Mountains and head west to Glacier National Park. Here we’ll stop at the visitor centre and enjoy a hike in an old growth forest. Crossing both the Columbia and Monahsee Mountain Ranges, we drop down to the Shuswap Lake area and spend our last night in a First Nation’s Resort nestled on the shores of this great lake. We’ll arrive in plenty of time to enjoy the facilities and a have a fun, last meal out together.
Accommodation: Lodge, a unique 72-room lakefront resort hotel on the shores of Little Shuswap Lake, owned and operated by the Little Shuswap First Nation. Facilities include licensed dining, indoor pool, lakeshore swimming, golf, steam room, whirlpool and an exercise room.
Day 11. Vancouver, BC.
Our last leg of the journey takes us along the Trans Canada Highway from Salmon Arm to Kamloops and over the scenic Coquihalla Highway to Hope. We arrive in Vancouver, bordered by the majestic Coastal Mountains and Pacific Ocean.
We return to Vancouver by approximately 5:00 pm.
A local payment of $200 CDN is paid to the guide on Day 1. This amount provides for all meals during the camping component of the tour. We welcome vegetarians and others with special diets.
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