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Canadian National Parks
There are not superlatives enough to describe the stunning beauty one encounters on a British Columbia vacation or Alberta vacation. Those in search of majestic mountain peaks, rushing rivers, lush forests, crashing Pacific surf and unfettered wildlife will experience it all on a Canada family vacation here in the westernmost region of the country. We add these impressive provinces to its North America lineup of Pacific Northwest and National Parks vacation itineraries, opening up miles and miles of rugged terrain, quiet islands and cosmopolitan cities for your exploration. From the banks of aquamarine Lake Louise to the salmon-rich waters of Rivers Inlet to the tantalizing flavors of Vancouver, there’s a carefree spirit of adventure and a friendly, welcoming ambiance that inspires a sense of camaraderie and celebration of the surrounding nature’s bounty.
Popular Parks in Alberta
Banff National Park
As Canada’s first national park, Banff is as dramatic and awe-inspiring as you’ve imagined… and perhaps more so. Nothing can quite prepare one for the lofty peaks reaching for the clouds, the aquamarine glacial lakes and the unfettered wildlife that roams free in abundance. Your Banff vacation will introduce you to the park’s top treasures – such as Lake Louise and Miette Hot Springs – but also to its lesser-known gems. You’ll hike, bike, paddle, ski and more in deep forests, wildflower-strewn meadows, towering, regal mountains, and emerald lakes. There’s an immensity here, a serenity along a remote trail, a mystifying air when you glimpse a far-off grizzly in its natural habitat, that seems to quiet the mind and stir the soul. The best part? There’s simply so much to discover that one Banff vacation is never enough!
In a park as vast as Banff, having an expert guide along for the ride proves invaluable. Your Banff family vacation with us will give you an extra edge when it comes to sightseeing, hiking tips and wildlife spotting. Explore the renowned mountain town of Banff, then journey up the Banff Gondola for 360-degree views of the six mountain ranges that surround you. Continue on a private guided tour of the area and learn about the people, geology and wildlife. Check out a submerged village at glacial Lake Minnewanka. Take to the skies for a heli-hiking experience; you’ll trek through alpine meadows on a trail that’s as aggressive as you wish, as an experienced guide provides knowledgeable commentary on the area’s geography, flora and fauna. Raft along the Kananaskis River, keeping an eye out for sauntering elk, mountain goats perched on craggy ledges and bears foraging for berries. Saddle up for a horseback ride along the base of Sulphur Mountain, complete with genuine western hospitality, lassos, and horseshoe games at a covered wagon cookout.
For many, the very mention of a Banff vacation conjures mental images of vibrantly turquoise Lake Louise. And we agree, this phenomenal body of water is mesmerizing – topped off by craggy peaks that house the massive Victoria Glacier. From the boardwalk at the edge of the lake, it’s all in view, with the famous Chateau Lake Louise behind you. Explore by canoe – gliding through these glassy, blue-green waters in a bright red canoe is certainly a defining moment of your Lake Louise vacation.
Explore along the Lake Louise shoreline on a lovely family-friendly path or take to the vast network of trails above the lake. A perennial favorite is Lake Agnes and its historic teahouse, where a delicious cup of tea and fresh pie are the perfect antidote to tired legs. Not to be overlooked, neighboring Moraine Lake is just as captivating, sitting at the bottom of the Valley of the Ten Peaks (all over 10,000 feet) and the Tower of Babel. Lake Louise and Moraine Lake can easily be visited together in one day, the latter being a slightly quieter and less populated destination. Cruise by bike or car along the quiet Bow Valley Parkway between Banff Town and Lake Louise, a popular spot for wildlife sightings. Fly fish with a private guide on the Bow River. Those visiting in the winter months experience Lake Louise Ski Resort’s legendary terrain. In a setting as surreal as suggested, your Lake Louise family vacation will be nothing short of grand.
Amidst 800 species of wildflower, the resident grizzlies and cougars and a hilltop castle, your Waterton vacation encompasses two gorgeous tracts of wilderness: Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta and Glacier National Park in Montana, which together comprise the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Compared to its looming brothers, Banff and Jasper to the north, off-the-beaten-path Waterton is relatively tranquil, centered on a charming village where no more than about 40 folks reside during the winter months. And that castle? It’s the 1920s-era Prince of Wales Hotel standing sentry over the town on the shores of Upper Waterton Lake, its angular turrets and dormers boasting dreamy lake views in a fairy tale setting. Here, where Alberta prairie meets Canadian Rockies, revel in sunny summer weather, unfettered wildlife and verdant, tree-lined lakeshore. (And, fun fact, this is the only park in the world to have UNESCO World Heritage Site, International Peace Park and Biosphere Reserve designations.)
Popular Parks in British Columbia
Sandwiched in the verdant valley between Blackcomb and its namesake mountain, Whistler is a four-season outdoor playground. Whether you come for the adrenaline rush of heli-skiing or to bike leisurely through lush virgin forest, whether you’re traveling with young children or several generations of family, Whistler is sure to dazzle and delight all the senses. You’ll carve fresh tracks under blue skies in the very place winter Olympians trod in 2010, dine on hearty farm-fresh fare to fuel the action-packed days of your Whistler vacation and sleep soundly in everything from quaint lodges to world-class resorts.
Whistler family vacations are among our favorites to arrange – so much to see and do for all seasons, all ages and all interests. Any time of year, stroll through charming Whistler village, with its myriad art galleries and shops. Come winter, there’s much to do both on and off the slopes – starting, of course, with 8,100 acres of skiable terrain. Swish along Callaghan Valley’s Olympic-level Nordic ski tracks or embark on a dogsledding adventure, a decidedly Canadian way to embrace the winter wonderland. Tube down thrill-inducing runs or wander about the 2010 Winter Olympic sites. The après-ski is legendary, with award-winning restaurants and lively bars boasting fresh, organic fare, microbrews and local wines. When the mercury rises, search for black bears, tee off on four championship golf courses, swim in refreshing lake waters, whitewater raft on the lively Green River, fly-fish for rainbow trout and salmon and take in lively music and dance performances. Our knowledgeable local experts guarantee an off-the-beaten-path Whistler vacation showcasing the region’s spectacular natural beauty and inherent friendliness.
Glacier National Park
We’re talking about the other Glacier National Park, the Canadian version, often eclipsed in conversation by the GNP stateside. This was the second national park in Canada, after Banff, and one could argue that it’s the birthplace of recreational hiking in North America. Back in 1888, two British mountaineers took to the region’s lofty peaks we’ve been trekking ever since. Today, those with a penchant for brisk alpine air continue to flock to Glacier National Park. British Columbia’s Selkirk and Purcell mountains and spectacular Rogers Pass are some of the most coveted views. Ski enthusiasts have long loved the area for its 30-plus feet of fresh snow annually and deep-powder trails. Summer months bring endless miles of hiking beneath moss-draped, old-growth trees in the world’s only inland cedar rain forest.
Trek through towering trees and picnic in alpine meadows strewn with vibrant wildflowers. Stroll along the Hemlock Grove Boardwalk, tucking in to a cozy log cabin to warm up in the cooler months, or savoring the shade of the ancient forest in summer. Climb rock staircases on the Rockgarden Trail and snap photos of the Selkirk Mountain wilderness. Your Glacier National Park family vacation may also include rugged Revelstoke, a historic gateway to some serious wilderness. Beyond its adrenaline-infused hiking, skiing and kayaking opportunities, there’s a surprisingly vibrant artist community here to explore.
Jasper National Park
More remote, more wildlife-rich and definitely less trammeled, Jasper and Jasper National Park are beloved for iconic hiking and mountain biking, pioneering history and welcoming, western friendliness. Never trying to be more than it is – a magnificent example of the last great wilderness – Jasper wows even the most seasoned active traveler. To get there, most travel along the Icefields Parkway, certainly one of the world’s most scenic drives, stopping along the way to marvel at rushing rivers, gushing waterfalls, turquoise lakes and massive glaciers.
Here, an expansive ice field, there, a thunderous canyon … there’s a reason it often takes all day to drive from Banff to Jasper along the Parkway. One viewpoint is more stunning than the last and every one of them is worth a stop. Then, finally, you pull into the frontier town of Jasper, in the shadows of Mount Edith Cavell and The Whistlers Mountain, and you capture that feeling of adventure and discovery held by the pioneers of yesteryear.
Travel along the spectacular Columbia Ice Field, massive monuments of ice and rock left over from the last Ice Age. Board the unique glacial exploration vehicle, the Ice Explorer, and climb up the thousand-foot-deep Athabasca Glacier, then step out onto the ice itself and enjoy a picnic lunch in a location like none you’ve ever experienced. Or, join an expert climbing guide and embark on an equipped ice walk up the lower two kilometers of the glacier, checking out the moraines, millwells and small crevasses along your journey.
Explore Maligne Canyon on a gentle, guided walk to the bridges across this jaw-droppingly deep gorge and stop at “disappearing” Medicine Lake. Cruise across Maligne Lake to Spirit Island or hike along the Mary Schaffer Loop. Hike iconic Mount Edith Cavell, and listen for ice calving from a glacial mass crashing into the lake below. And always, train your eyes on the meadows and cliffsides around you for elk, caribou, moose and bears. This is their home, after all, and we’re simply passing through.