The Rocky Road

Canada has given the world maple syrup, basketball, Superman, Justin Bieber and last but not least the sublime beauty of the Canadian Rockies. These mountain ranges are the main event on this trip, rewarding you with continuously magnificent vistas of vertiginous peaks, glacial valleys and azure waters fringed by hanging forests. These are landscapes that begged to be explored by any means possible – foot, raft, kayak, gondola, bicycle or horseback. Explore Banff, Yoho and Jasper National Parks. Drive the Icefields Parkway where the postcard scenery fills the car windows and mirrors to bursting. Take in the more sedate wilderness of Wells Gray Provincial Park whilst searching for moose and bears. Get soaked from the spray of thundering waterfalls and gaze up at a kaleidoscope of constellations in the night sky.

Hit the town of Whistler where a dazzling array of adrenaline fueled activities will leave the kids speechless. Adults are of course allowed to participate too. End your trip in the beautiful city of Vancouver. Pack your camera, hiking boots and a huge sense of adventure for you are about to go on a trip of a lifetime!

Family Adventure Holidays - Trip Duration

Family Adventure Holidays - Departure Dates
Canada Adventure Holiday - The Rocky Road
Family Adventure Holidays - Minimum Age

Family Adventure Holidays - Activity Level

What's included

  • Flights: International flights from UK to Calgary (YYC), Vancouver (YVR) to UK
  • Transport: Car hire from airport pick-up to airport drop-off
  • Accommodation: 14 nights in hotels, cabins & lodges with great wilderness views
  • Meals: Breakfasts where stated
  • Trip Pack: Key family-friendly information about the country you are visiting with recommended activity links, places to eat, travel blogs and fun facts

Trip highlights

  • Hike through Banff’s alpine meadows filled with wildflowers and surrounded by glacier carved mountains
  • Drive the famous Icefields Parkway and get up close to the Athabasca Glacier
  • Visit canyons and azure lakes in Jasper National Park
  • Explore stunning waterfalls in Wells Gray Provincial Park
  • Stay in Whistler and take advantage of a host of adventure activities
  • Spend time in Vancouver and explore the delights of Granville Island, Stanley Park, Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain
  • Add on as much adventure as you want, from zip lining to mountain biking, gondolas to horseback riding, white water rafting to canoeing and whale-watching to grizzly tracking

Key facts

  • When can we go? May to October
  • What type of tour is it? Private self-drive tour
  • Who is it suitable for? For active families that enjoy the great outdoors, hiking, adrenaline sports and wildlife (especially whales & bears!)
  • What is the minimum age? We would recommend a minimum age of 8 years for this trip but this is just a guide; our itineraries can be adapted, no problem, for families with younger children

Guide Price

We publish ‘guideline prices’ for both the high and low season to give a reasonable estimate of what you might expect to pay per person based on a family of four (two adults, two children) - to get an accurate price based on your estimated departure date and party size please contact us directly

Guide Price: April & Oct - £2,349 pp

Guide Price: May to Sept - £2,651 pp

Canada Adventure Holiday - Trip itinerary

DAY 1: Calgary – Cowboys & Olympics

Arrive on your flight from the UK to Calgary and check in to your nearby accommodation. Alberta’s largest city, Calgary is the product of oil culture and the gateway to the Rockies. Depending on your arrival time, visit Chinatown and Prince’s Island Park. Just outside the city is the 1988 Winter Olympics Park, where Eddie the Eagle and the Jamaican Bobsled Team became famous. Still a winter sports mecca it contains one of the world’s longest zip-wires.

Fun Facts: The Calgary Stampede is called The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. It is an annual 10 day event each July with rodeo competitions, chuck wagon races, a midway carnival & live music. The 2017 event runs between 7th to 16th July.

DAY 2: Banff National Park – Gondolas & Hot Springs

Less than an hour’s drive from Calgary, the serrated ridges of the Canadian Rockies started to take shape. A further 30 minutes on, Banff’s wide streets are home to art galleries, museums and a great selection of eateries. Opt to ride the gondola to the 7,500ft summit of Sulphur Mountain where the peaks appear to float untethered above valleys full of cloud.

Take the short drive to Lake Minnewanka; a perfect place for a picnic. Relax by the water or hike the 3km round trip by the shores of the lake. After your day’s activities, head to the nearby hot springs to soak your weary limbs in the hot mineral water. Make sure you check out the Banff Summer Events guide to see if any shows are happening in the evening.

Fun Facts: The area around Banff was settled at the end of the 19th century, having been “discovered” in 1883 by three workers building the Canadian Pacific Railroad who immediately recognized the commercial potential of its mineral hot springs.

Optional Activities: Sulphur Mountain gondola, hot springs, museums.

DAYS 3 & 4: Lake Louise – Blue Hues & Wildflowers

You have the option of spending the morning relaxing or hiking. Just outside Banff is Canada’s repeatedly ranked no. 1 hike – the Sunshine Meadow’s Trail. You can ride the gondola and chairlift then choose from a variety of trails to suit your level. In summer the meadows are a blanket of red Indian paintbrush and yellow alpine buttercups. Alpine bliss!

After lunch take the Bow Valley Parkway towards Lake Louise. Along the way, the Johnson Canyon hike is perfect for kids. Hike through a narrow limestone chasm past two thundering waterfalls. Afterwards take a late afternoon visit to Moraine Lake. This crystal clear vivid turquoise lake is hemmed in by ten lofty mountain peaks and a hanging valley of larches. One look from the rock pile on the lake’s edge, and the scene from the back of Canada’s old $20 bill will be emblazoned into your memory forever. This is one of the most photographed spots in Canada and the sense of peace and other-worldliness here is immense. You have the option of hiring kayaks from the docks and enjoying the view from a different perspective. Try not to fall in as this glacial lake rarely gets above 3 degrees.

Spend the next two nights in a characterful wooden lodge in the Lake Louise area. The next morning wake up early for your visit to Lake Louise. You can also rent a canoe here from the lakeside boathouse (yep, the water is still as cold!). We recommended skipping breakfast and taking a breakfast brunch at Chateau Lake Louise or taking the gondola up to the mountain top for panoramic views with full English served along the way. The Wildlife Interpretive Centre is also located here and is a great place to learn about the life of the local grizzly population.

Take some well-deserved free time this afternoon or go for an optional white-water rafting trip on the Kicking Horse River. Experience the “The Alarm Clock” rapid (sure to wake you up!) and the “Hopi Hole” whist negotiating the six adrenaline-pumping series of rapids. Soooo much better than the Xbox!

Fun Facts: Geologists say the shimmering hues of the Canadian Rockies lakes are caused by sunlight refracting against glittering silt-sized rock flour constantly deposited at the lake bed by thundering waterfalls.

Optional Activities: Hiking, kayaking, Lake Louise gondola, white-water rafting.

DAY 5: Yoho NP – Emeralds & Waterfalls

Often overlooked in favour of Banff or Jasper National Parks, Yoho National Park (meaning a Cree exclamation of awe) is an absolute gem. The Emerald Lake Trail is a flat 5km trail with beautiful views and the chance to canoe or have a picnic. The lake is as vivid as its name suggests. Another option is Takakkaw Falls, an easy 10 minute walk from the road. One of Canada’s highest waterfalls comes complete with a fabulous roar!

Fun Facts: From Emerald Lake, you can see Mount Burgess, where, in 1909, a palaeontologist discovered the earliest fossils in recorded history.

DAY 6: Icefields Parkway – Glaciers & Vistas

The Icefields Parkway cuts through the heart of the Rockies and runs for 143 miles from Banff to Jasper. It’s the most staggeringly scenic road you’ll ever experience; every winding curve filling the windshield with a succession of astonishing vistas - glittering glaciers hanging from lofty peaks, sweeping pine forests, sheer rock walls and mountain summits lost in cloud. Wildlife such as elk, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats and the occasional bear or wolf are also often spotted from the highway. Remember to look out for a ‘bear jam’!

Take the whole day to drive the route and stop at the many postcard-worthy sights, such as Bow Lake, Crowfoot Mountain, Mistaya Canyon, Sunwapta Falls, Athabasca Falls and Athabasca Glacier. Take in the mesmerising views of Lake Peyto (named after “Wild Bill” Peyto); a surreal shade of glacial turquoise that defies belief. For families with older children we recommend the Parker Ridge Trail which is a 3-4-hour round hike up a steep, well maintained path. At the top you are rewarded with breath-taking panoramic views of glaciers, azure lakes, meandering rivers and mountain peaks.

At the Athabasca Glacier a sheet of snow and ice appears to drop from the high ridge all the way down to the road. You can opt to take the massive all-terrain Ice Explorer directly on to a 10,000 year-old sheet of ice. Alternatively park nearby and take a stroll to the glacier edge. Arrive in Jasper at the end of a memorable day which will be your base for the next three nights. Stay in a cosy lodge by the lake.

Fun Facts: The huge tyres on the ‘Athabasca Glacier’ trucks cost around £2,500 each to replace.

Optional Activities: Athabasca Glacier Sno-truck.

DAYS 7 & 8: Jasper National Park – Canyons & Lakes

Jasper lies along the Athabasca River within sight of four mountain ranges. It was first built as a Canadian Pacific Railway town and is more laidback than Banff, and its surroundings even wilder. Home to many locally owned businesses - the lone McDonalds closed after being shunned by the locals. Take the highly recommend drive out to Maligne Canyon with its waterfalls, deep canyons, fossils, six bridges and springs bubbling up through limestone boulders. Nearby Maligne Lake has to be one of the world's most exquisite beauty-spots. You can take an optional cruise on the lake to Spirit Island. An evening visit to the Miette Hot Springs is the perfect way to relax at the end of the day.

After a great night’s sleep lulled by the gentle waves of the lake, you have a variety of options for the following day. You have another chance to take on the mighty river rapids on a drenching, freezing and utterly exhilarating aquatic bucking bronco down the Athabasca River. No need for a wake-up coffee this morning! Or if you’d prefer a more sedate affair you could go on a gentle horse riding trek in the Athabasca River Valley with horses of various ages, sizes, colours and personalities to choose from.

After your activities take a late afternoon drive to Clearwater which is the base for Wells Gray Provincial Park. On the way stop to view the majesty of Mount Robson and the Fraser Canyon.

Fun Facts: The Rockies has some wonderful microbreweries. The Banff brewery receives rave reviews and in Canmore the Grizzly Paw is another winner. Jasper has its own fine establishment opposite the railway station and if venturing west, Revelstoke's brewery is also recommended.

Optional Activities: Lake cruise, hot springs, white-water rafting, horse-riding, Jasper Skytram.

DAYS 9 & 10: Wells Gray Provincial Park – Canoes & Campfires

An oasis of green characterized by spectacular waterfalls, Wells Gray Provincial Park is a vast wilderness area guarded by the beautiful Caribou Mountains with peace and tranquillity in bucket loads.

Visit the stunning Helmcken Falls, which clatters 141 metres down from a narrow gorge and Spahat Falls reached after a short walk through a shaded cedar forest.

You can stay all three nights at a local ranch or take an optional guided canoeing trip spending one night camping. This trip takes you into the heart of a protected watershed with time to fish, picnic and swim. Tell stories around the campfire and star gaze in the clear night sky. On the second day visit a trio of impressive waterfalls in the National Park. There are also fabulous horse-riding treks in the surrounding are just in case you feel the need to release your inner cowboy!

Such tranquillity has a downside; black flies and mosquitoes can be pretty vicious in the summer season, leaving no man, woman or child un-tasted. Make sure you apply bug spray liberally.

Fun Facts: The height of Helmcken Falls at 141 metres is nearly three times that of Niagara Falls.

Optional Activities: Overnight caneoing trip, horse-riding.

DAYS 11 & 12: Whistler – Zip-Lines & Dreamcatchers

Today is the longest day of driving from Clearwater to Whistler so we would suggest breaking it up along the way. Head west on Route 24 past numerous pretty lakes, making a stop in Clinton, an authentic little Caribou town with a good community museum. Further along we recommend a stop at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park with its three lakes located along a trail, each more stunning than the last.

Whistler is the adventure sports capital of British Columbia and has a whole host of optional activities to keep families busy during the summer months. You could zip line through a rainforest, cycle down a mountain, ride the glass-bottomed ‘Peak 2 Peak Gondola’ or visit the Adventure Zone with its luge, climbing wall, go-karting and bungee trampolines. The kids will be in adrenaline heaven! Time your trip right in July and you could even ski the Horstman Glacier speckled with kickers and jibs to hone your skills. Families with older children could take a 4x4 guided bear trip to see the largest concentration of mother bear ranges in the area.

If your family would like to learn more about the First Nations then we would highly recommend a visit to the award winning Squamish Lil'Wat Cultural Centre. This showcases art, history and culture with interactive workshops teaching the art of dreamcatchers, necklaces and drums.

In the summer months there are a host of outdoor music festivals in the village. The epic Crankworx Whistler Festival takes place in August celebrating the world’s best mountain bikers!

Whistler will be your base for the next 2 nights.

Fun Facts: Whistler has been in the Guinness Book of World Records for two different feats; the highest cable car above ground and the longest unsupported span between two cable car towers.

Optional Activities: Zip Lining, mountain biking, adventure park, skiing, bear watching, Squamish Lil'Wat Cultural Centre.

DAYS 13 & 14: Vancouver – Parks, Theatres & Markets

Today take the Sea-to-Sky Highway from Whistler to Vancouver. Make an early morning start on one of the world’s most spectacular coastal drives. Take your time to explore the small communities along the way. Stop in Squamish to take the Sea-to-Sky gondola which soars 2,900ft besides the Chief (sheer cliff) into majestic coastal ranges. A vertigo inducing suspension bridge leads to easy interpretive trails that wind into the forest. The road from here follows the Howe Sound fjord. Make a stop at Shannon Falls then follow the route along the wilderness until you get to Brandywine Falls. Eventually you will hit the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver.

Vancouver sits with Sydney, Cape Town and Rio as ocean city’s you would most like to live in. It is celebrated for its natural beauty; perched on a peninsula on Canada’s Pacific North West coast and hugged by mountains, beaches and forest.

Vancouverites are infectiously outdoorsy and it’s easy to join in the healthy West Coast lifestyle. Bike on the seawall of the 1,000-acre Stanley park with stunning views of mountains and water; traverse the Capilano suspension bridge over a forested canyon; hop on the little Aquabus ferry from Yaletown or Sunset Beach to Granville Island, home to food markets, craft brewers, theatres and art galleries.

Spend the rest of day exploring and getting your city fix. Maybe some last minute gift shopping. Stay for the next two nights in a city centre apartment. Explore more of this vibrant city the following day.

Recommendations include Vancouver Aquarium, Science World at Telus World of Science and Kitsilano Beach and Pool. You could also take a whale-watching trip traveling through the spectacular Gulf and San Juan Islands. From amazing dining to a thriving art scene, this young West Coast city will have you hooked.

The following day, head to the airport for your flight home with a bag full of stories to tell around the dinner table.

Fun Facts: Greenpeace, one of the world’s oldest and most successful environment groups was established in Vancouver.

Optional Activities: Suspension Bridge, cycle hire, whale-watching.

Wandering Tribe has travelled to all of the destinations that we feature and we like nothing better than talking about them. If you would like further information about these tours or a tailor-made quote then please contact us on 07392 742333. Alternatively you can fill in the contact form and we will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible.