When I travel abroad I always come home to Vancouver with a greater appreciation for my city and Canada as a whole. However, this trip I was able to be a tourist in my backyard, Western Canada. I travelled with my sister and we took a 7 day trip from Vancouver to Calgary and return. The first 5 days were part of a Rocky Mountain Trip. We spent the first night in Vancouver at Fairmont’s Heritage Property Hotel Vancouver. This castle in the city was built in 1939 and is located in the heart of the shopping, business and entertainment district in downtown Vancouver. The next morning we boarded the Rocky Mountaineer train in elegant fashion. The Rocky Mountaineer allows you to be taken back to a time where train travel was all that existed!
Aboard the train we were in the Gold Leaf Coach. I highly recommend this level of service if you are looking for a luxury product with incredible views, freshly cooked food and impeccable service...don’t forget the open bar! The first day we journeyed from Vancouver to Kamloops. It is incredible that you can travel from the city, to the canyons and to the semi-arid desert in just one day and just one province! You do not sleep on the train so we disembarked in Kamloops and spent the night. We boarded the next morning bright and early on our way to Jasper. This day we viewed the beautiful pyramid falls as well as Mt Robson, the highest peak in the Rockies at 3950m.
We spent the evening in Jasper. It is a small town with a population of around 5,000. There are high chances of seeing wildlife in the area such as elk, deer and bears. The next morning we were on a guided group tour through Jasper National Park on our way to Banff. I personally do not prefer coach tours however I found this tour quite enjoyable. Our tour guide/bus driver was incredibly knowledgeable. Any questions I had regarding the surrounding area, the geology, climate or ancient traditions he was able to answer. We stopped at all the waterfalls along the way as well as the Columbia Icefields. When at the Icefields we took a trip up to the Athabasca Glacier. This is done by driving in the 1.2million dollar Ice Explorer. Atop the glacier I was able to collect fresh glacier water....definitely a highlight of my day!
The day ended in Banff at the RimRock Hotel. This hotel offers incredible service and views that face the mountains. The hotel is slightly out of town, but there is a complimentary shuttle service for all hotel guests in and out of town. Also, this hotel is a walk from the Sulphur Mountain Gondola and the Sulphur Mountain Hot Springs. The hot springs are open until 11pm so I spent the evening lounging in them and taking in the springs curative powers. The hot springs are excellent for healing of the skin as well as treating aches and pains. The original hot spring facility was operated by a doctor. It was decorated with canes and crutches because people would come to the hot springs with a limp and they would leave able to walk without pain! Incredible!
The final day was spent enroute to Calgary. We stopped in Kanaskis Country and took a helicopter around the surrounding area. It is quite the experience to travel by helicopter. I was quick to learn that this company offers heli-snowshoeing, heli-nordic skiing, heli-yoga and more!
Then came time to leave the group; Carly and I rented a car and headed back up to Lake Louise. We couldn’t get enough of the Rockies. On our way we stopped in Canmore. Here we went to the Nordic centre and went mountain biking. Even though it was raining, Carly and I had a great time. We rode through the alpine meadow and came across quite a few deer. After Canmore, we continued to Lake Louise via the scenic 1A route. Upon our arrival at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise we were blown away with our room. We had a centre lake view. I used to think that the beach was for romance, now I am convinced that the mountains are for romance!
Carly and I decided we needed to wake up a little before dinner so we went for a dip in Lake Louise. It was mighty cold but it just looked so inviting. Everyone visiting the Lake or staying on property were in such great spirits. The magic of nature! Our last day we hiked up to Agnes Lake and Agnes Tea house; I highly recommend this walk and I would allow at least 3 hours round trip maybe a little more as you are more than likely to meet some friends at the top!
That was Carly’s first visit to the Canadian Rockies and my second. Carly had visited Tahiti before she had seen the Rockies. It is hard to believe that many Canadians don’t even think about taking a holiday in their own country! This country has so much to offer and it is important to be grateful for the land we live in.