Day 1: Lillooet - Fraser Canyon, B.C. After departing Vancouver at 7:30 am, we drive through the scenic Fraser Canyon, following the mighty Fraser River, Canada’s second largest river. At the section of the river referred to as “Hells Gate”, near Boston Bar, the canyon walls rise 1,000 metres above the rapids. Here huge volumes of water from the Fraser River squeeze through a 34 metre wide thundering passage known as “Hells Gate”. We take a specially-built air-tram, similar to those used in ski resorts, that descends just above Hell's Gate. Here we witness the boiling rush of the Fraser's waters flowing by century old fish ladders.
On the other side of the river, pavilions with shops, a cafe and unique displays await us. Continuing our drive, we follow the Fraser River to the historic town of Lillooet (pop. 2,800), in honour of the Leelwat First Nations people who live in the region. Founded as Mile 0 on the wagon road leading to the Cariboo and Barkerville gold fields, Lillooet was borne from the 1860’s gold rush. After checking into our accommodation we take a walking tour of the town’s historic sites. Overnight: 3 star lodge/motel.
Day 2: Revelstoke - Glacier National Park, BC. After breakfast we head east to the village of Pavilion (pop. 528), a ranching and First Nation reservation, home to the Tskwaylaxw First Nation. Here the Fraser River’s gorge is at its maximum depth, with the river throttling through a series of narrow gorges flanked by high cliffs. Enroute to the settlement of Cache Creek (pop. 1,100), we stop at some fascinating geological features that make this area unique, including a lake with fresh water coral, Marble Canyon, and the vibrant green Marble Lake. From Cache Creek we ascend from a desert environment to the forests and mountains surrounding Revelstoke (pop. 9,000).
In Mount Revelstoke National Park, we take a backcountry road to ascend to one of the few places in Canada where it’s possible to drive directly into a subalpine meadow. Several viewpoints along the route allow us to take in some great views of the town of Revelstoke and the surrounding area. At the top of this 1860-metre mountain, we can enjoy a panoramic stroll along a boardwalk trail to the “Meadows in the Sky”, a one kilometer loop boardwalk trail through flowering alpine meadows. Overnight: 3 star lodge/motel. Includes: (B).
Day 3: Banff - Yoho, National Parks. In Mt. Revelstoke Park we take a short walk into the heart of an old growth forest along the Giant Cedars Boardwalk – some cedar trees we see are up to half a millennium old. Signs along the way relate the importance of functioning ecosystems. Benches invite visitors to relax and breathe in the serene forest air. Continuing along the highway, we stop at Rogers’ Pass National Historic Site in Glacier National Park. The visitor centre here relates the trials and tribulations of constructing a transcontinental railway line through the “impenetrable peaks” of the Selkirks and Rocky Mountains.
Next we visit the Wolf Rescue Centre for a close up look at a pack of gray wolves. Nestled between the Rockies and the Purcells, the Centre provides interpretive talks about the role of wolves in a healthy ecosystem. Our journey into wilderness areas continues into Yoho National Park. Yoho, named for a Cree word expressing awe, is a park of rock walls, waterfalls and glacial lakes. Here, snow-topped mountain peaks rise above roaring rivers and silent forests. Yoho is a park whose history is bound up with a railroad: stories of runaway trains, spiral tunnels inside mountains, and other engineering feats. At Kicking Horse Pass we leave the large coaches behind and drive into the Yoho Valley, ascending narrow switchbacks to the trailhead of Takakkaw Falls.
Here a 1.5 km paved trail takes us to the base of these giant falls. Nothing captures the awe and wonder of Yoho National Park like the tremendous thunder of Takakkaw Falls. Plunging from above at a height of 380 metres with a 254 meter freefall, Canada's second highest waterfall leaves every visitor humbled. As the day winds down, we stop at Emerald Lake before continuing on to Lake Louise (pop. 500), home to the magnificent Chateau Lake Louise. At Lake Louise passengers will have time to wander along the lakeshore and stroll through the grounds of the majestic chateau. We arrive in the town of Banff (pop. 8,721) at the end of the day. Overnight: 3 star hotel. Includes: (B).
Day 4: Banff National Park, AB. We've set this day aside to explore Banff and its environs. Individual activities can include: Lake Minnewanka boat tours, entrance to Sulphur Mountain Gondala, Upper Sulphur Mountain Hot Springs, horseback riding, golf, mountain bike rentals, scenic helicopter tours and caving. Your driver/guide will be happy to make arrangements for you for any of these optional excursions. As well, those wishing hike in the great outdoors can take the day to themselves to explore nearby trails. Your driver/guide will offer suggestions as where to hike and help you get to the trail head. After lunch passengers have the option to meet their guide for a driving tour of the Banff area. Sights include: Bow Falls, Vermillion Lakes, Sulphur Mountain, Cave and Basin boardwalk, Lake Minnewanka and Johnson Canyon. Overnight: 3 star hotel. Includes: (B).
Day 5: Kootenay National Park, BC. We depart Banff in the late morning and travel along the backroads to Castle Mountain Junction. From here we head south through Kootenay National Park in the south-western region of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. From glacier-clad peaks along the Continental Divide to semi-arid grasslands of the Rocky Mountain Trench, where cactus grows, this is a park rich in diversity of landscapes and ecology. Once in the Park we stop to view some its interesting geological features, explore interpretive sites and take short nature trails. An example of an interesting stop is the Paint Pots, a sacred ceremonial site of the Ktunaxa First Nation’s People.
With a history of use by both Aboriginal groups and Europeans, this area and its associated ochre beds form an area of unusual physical and chemical activity. In the late afternoon we arrive at the Wilderness Centre, an Eco-friendly mountain retreat located on 100 acres of secluded pine trees nestled in Kootenay National Park. A theme running throughout our stay is the staff’s devotion to all aspects of the interrelationships between humans, culture, and the natural world. The Centre’s log cabins provide our accommodation and meals are taken in a central dining area. Overnight: Cabins. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 6: Kootenay National Park, BC. Today is a free day for everyone to relax and sample the selection of trails at the Wilderness Centre. This area offers some of the most accessible and spectacular alpine walking and hiking in the world: tranquil alpine meadows, secluded forests, and glacier-fed lakes and rivers are all within walking distance. The trails range in ability from very easy strolls, to short day hikes, to full day hiking. Many trails lend themselves well to mountain biking and bikes can be rented from the office. Along these trails are birds and animals unique to the Canadian Rockies. Cutthroat trout, bull trout (dolly vardens), rainbow trout, and mountain whitefish are native to rivers and streams in the area. Fishing rods are available at the office. Overnight: Cabins. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 7: Shuswap Lake. In the morning we encounter the Columbia River Valley and the village of village of Golden (pop. 4,020). The large, lush Columbia River wetlands, a fertile wintering ground for elk, deer, moose and many other creatures, spans over 180 kilometres. It is the longest continuous running wetland remaining on the continent. Each year, during the first week of May, the valley celebrates the return of about 250 species of birds to the wetlands. At Golden we take a gondola ride and float above the clouds as we are whisked upwards to 2,400 meters. Arriving at the top of Kicking Horse Mountain we take in panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains, the Columbia River Wetlands and Golden.
A short walk takes us to the home of the world’s largest enclosed and protected grizzly bear habitat where resident orphaned grizzly bears live and play. Visitors are given the opportunity, as part of an interpretive tour, to view a grizzly bear interacting much as they do in the wild: foraging, hunting, playing, swimming, snoozing and exploring. These tours are educational and interactive, allowing guests a unique opportunity to view this elusive animal. No Kicking Horse Mountain top experience would be complete without a culinary experience at the Eagle Eye Restaurant.
After our descent (always a different view!) we take a few minutes to explore the quaint town of Golden’s before heading west into the arid area encompassing the Shuswap Lakes. On our final night we settle into our lakeside resort on the south shore of Little Shuswap Lake. Here, we are treated to an experience that is rich in Native history, culture and tradition, all set amidst an abundance of natural beauty. Overnight: Lakeside resort. Includes: (B).
Day 8: Vancouver, BC. Our final drive takes us through the sunny and scenic Nicola Valley. We stop at the town of Merritt (pop. 7,000) before continuing on over the Coquihalla Highway to Hope and then onto Vancouver. We arrive in Vancouver from our Rocky Mountain holiday at approximately 6:00 pm. Includes: (B).
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Canada British Columbia Alberta Nature & Wildlife Wildlife Viewing Ecotourism