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Rockies East Mini-Safari: Leg 1
8 days · Vancouver, B.C. → Banff, AB. · Easy
From Vancouver, this Rocky Mountain soft adventure tour sets out to explore small towns, the Okanogan, Manning Park and the national parks of Mt. Revelstoke, Glacier, Yoho, Banff, Kootenay and Waterton Lakes.
We also refer to Leg 1 as our “Parks a Plenty Trip”. This Rocky Mountain holiday explores the parks and rural areas of the southern Rockies of BC and Alberta. We visit five parks including the national parks of Mt. Revelstoke, Glacier, Yoho, Banff, Kootenay and Waterton Lakes. During our explorations, your guide will illustrate unique aspects of each park, including its wildlife, geography and natural history.
In between the parks, we head for small towns and villages - as you'll come to discover every town has it's own unique history. We stay at small scale properties and dine at local restaurants. During the day we often stop for picnic lunches, the ingredients of which we purchase from local fruit and vegetable stands. Led by your guide, our walks are easy, fascinating forays into front country wilderness. Wilderness at your doorstep, swapping stories will like-minded travellers ... a time when you can rejuvenate and relax.
- 8 days, 7 nights
- Vancouver, B.C.
- Banff, AB.
- Activity Level
- Max Group Size
- Maximum: 8. Minimum to confirm: 2
- The properties we stay at include motels, lodges, B&Bs, inns, cabins and small hotels. All rooms will have either a king, queen or double bed and a private bathroom. Our properties all underscore our philosophy to utilize small-scale accommodation that offer character and cleanliness, pursue sound environmental practices and support other local operators.
- Air conditioned 15 pasenger van.
- 7 breakfasts, 1 lunches, 2 dinners
- Activity Notes
- This tour enables guests to get out and explore the front country of the six parks we visit. Escorted hikes and walks vary in length from 20 minutes to one hour.
This Rocky Mountain Adventure Tour includes:
- Fully escorted with one driver/guide for an average of 8 people per departure
- 7 nights’ accommodation
- Tours of local villages
- Escorted walks and hikes
- Shuttle bus fees at Mt Revlestoke Park
- All entrance fees to provincial, national parks and protected areas
- Wine tasting in Okanagan estate wineries
- Entrance fees to Radium Hot Springs
- Two hour boat cruise in Waterton-Glacier National Park
- Meals where not indicated
- Optional activities
- Travel, cancellation and baggage insurance
- Driver/guide gratuities
- 5% GST
View Rockies East Mini-Safari: Leg 1 in a larger map
Schedule & Prices
Leg 1. Vancouver, B.C. to Banff Alberta.
|Jun 23–Sep 15, 2019||$4,350||—||$860|
Rockies East Mini-Safari: Leg 1 Itinerary
Day 1. Okanagan, BC.
By 9:00 am we’ve picked up everyone from their hotel in downtown Vancouver and are heading south- east along the Trans Canada Highway through the Fraser Valley. Bordered by the Cascade and Coastal Mountains, the Fraser Valley is a lush green oasis of rural and agricultural lands that follows the Fraser River.
We make our way along the mighty Fraser River and over the Coquihalla Summit and through the Cascade Mountains. We head across the Nicola Valley and then descend into the dry and arid Okanagan Valley. Here the scenery will change dramatically to vineyards, orchards, fruit stands and beaches that colour the landscape. We spend two nights in Kelowna on Okanagan Lake.
Accommodation: Small Hotel
Meals: none provided
Day 2. Okanagan, BC.
Our first stop will be at Mission Hill Estate Winery. Situated high up on the slopes overlooking Okanagan Lake, this unique winery will mesmerize you with its wine and especially its architecture. Bell towers, outdoor amphitheatres, long walk ways to viewpoints and large spans of archways are carefully placed to take advantage of the natural surroundings and fantastic vistas surrounding this estate. From Mission Hill we’ll make our way to the birthplace of the Ice wine. Passengers will have the option of enjoying a delicious lunch at one of the winery bistros.(Lunch is at guest expense)
After our tour of wineries it’s off to the beach to enjoy the sun and sand. We can lounge on the beach, swim or rent a paddle boat and explore the lake. Other options include golfing, hiking or renting a bike to explore the breathtaking scenery from Myra Canyon, a beautifully restored trail along the old Kettle Valley Trail that crosses several spectacular wooden trestles. The trail is an easy grade and fun to ride for all ages and skill levels. In the evening our driver/guide will escort the group for dinner or passengers can choose to enjoy dinner on their own at one of the many local restaurants.
Accommodation: Boutique Hotel.
Day 3. Revelstoke, BC
After breakfast we head north along the Okanagan Valley, we continue following the Okanagan Valley through the agricultural lands that flank the Shuswap River. Cattle, sheep, farms and orchards surround the two villages of Armstrong and Enderby. We stop in Armstrong to sample some local produce and tour the old town stores.
Eventually leaving the Okanagan Valley behind, we follow the Trans Canada Highway east skirting the shores of Shuswap Lake and into the Columbia Mountains and the town of Revelstoke (pop. 8,000). Situated between the Selkirk and Monashee Mountains, Revelstoke was founded in the 1880s when the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was built through the area. Near the town of Revelstoke we drive to the top of Mt Revelstoke Mountain walk the Meadows in the Sky Trail. The start of our drive takes us through lush rain mountain forest all the way up to subalpine meadows that burst forth in brilliant colour during the short summer season. For those interested in the mechanical side of things we’ll visit the Revelstoke Hydro Dam and take the elevator to a lookout over the massive 175 meter concrete dam.
After checking into our accommodation, we visit the local nightlife in Grizzly Square, the main downtown square, often bustling with live music, local markets and buskers.
Day 4. Kootenay National Park via Glacier and Yoho National Park, BC
Our first stop is at Rogers’ Pass in Glacier National Park. Famous for its 10 metres of snowfall in the winter, the steep mountain road through the Selkirk Mountain Range is protected by a series of avalanche and snow sheds along the highway. Once we drive to the far side of Rogers’ Pass, we drop down to the famous Rocky Mountain Trench, a major geological fault ranging in width from 3-20 metres. This unique fault can be seen in space by astronauts.
After Glacier National Park, the famous Rocky Mountains begin to come into view. We start our climb as we wind our way along Kicking Horse Pass through Yoho National Park. Enroute we stop at the beautiful Emerald Lake and Takakkaw Falls, the highest falls in the Rockies. After our visit to Yoho National Park we cross into the province of Alberta and Banff National Park. Just inside the park boundary of Banff we turn south, crossing the Continental Divide into Kootenay National Park.
Paralleling the mighty Rocky Mountains, Kootenay National Park is the most southern of the Rocky Mountain Parks and known for its semi-arid landscapes where cactus grow. We’ll stop at various scenic vistas stops including Vermillion Pass, Marble Canyon and the Paint Pots, an area with ochre beds and unusual geological and chemical activity was used by both Aboriginals and European settlers. We’ll also drive through the dramatic entrance of the west gate into Kootenay National Park. The iron rich cliffs tower over the road as we drive through a narrow gorge and into Sinclair Canyon. En route guests have the option to stop and take a soak in the hot and cool mineral pools at Radium Hot Springs.
Turning onto a gravel road, we travel into the back country to find our wilderness mountain retreat on the edge of Kootenay National Park. We stay in cabins surrounded by 100 acres of secluded pine trees, mountain views and plentiful wildlife.
Accommodation: Fully equipped cabins with private bathrooms in remote wilderness setting
Meals: Breakfast, dinner
Day 5. Kootenay National Park, BC
Today is set aside for guests to relax while wandering the great selection of trails to tranquil alpine meadows, secluded forests, and glacier-fed lakes and rivers. This area offers some of the finest and most spectacular alpine walking and hiking in the world. 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.
This is an excellent area to view and find signs of birds and animals unique to the Canadian Rockies. Abundant wildlife near the cabins include deer, moose, elk, coyote, rabbits, grouse, squirrels, chipmunks, pine martens and the mischievous whiskeyjack. Cutthroat trout, bull trout, rainbow trout, and mountain whitefish are native to rivers and streams in the area. Fishing rods are available at the office.
Accommodation: Fully equipped cabins with private bathrooms in remote wilderness setting
Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 6. Waterton-Lakes National Park, Alberta
After breakfast we head further south, following the Columbia River Valley, past incredible mountain landscapes, numerous national parks, hot springs and quaint small communities.
At the tiny community of Sparwood we turn east and head over Crow’s Nest Pass and the Continental Divide back into the province of Alberta. Crow’s Nest Pass, at an elevation of 1130 is the lowest pass in Canada south of the Yellowhead Highway. Once we are through Crow’s Nest Pass the landscape opens up from the steep Rocky Mountains to the big blue skies of Alberta.
At Pincher Creek near the USA border we enter Waterton National Park. Known as where “the prairies meet the mountains”, Waterton Lakes National Park is a place of unique contrasts. Located near the border of Montana and next to Glacier National Park in the USA, these two national parks of two nations are collectively known as Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve. This is the only park in the world that has all three designations. Encompassing an area of 505 sq kms, Waterton is a quiet, uncrowded National Park and the perfect place to view spectacular scenery, especially as the Rocky Mountains rise suddenly out of the rolling prairies. Here wildlife abounds amid the peaks and lakes carved out of rocks by ancient glaciers. This unique park is a blend of unusual geology, mild climate, rare wild flowers and an abundance of wildlife including, both black and brown bears, wolves, big horn sheep, moose and bison.
Along the road to the park entrance is one of the best places to view wildlife and take photographs of scenic views overlooking the Waterton Valley. We’ll make our way into the town of Waterton and check into our accommodation for the next two nights.
Day 7. Waterton-Lakes National Park, Alberta
Today we spend a full day exploring Waterton-Lakes National Park. After a delicious breakfast wel make our way to the Bison Paddock. Here, from the safety of our vehicle we’ll drive along a loop road looking for the magnificent buffalo in their natural grassland habitat. We also take a drive along Red Rock Canyon where the prairie and mountain geology is extremely evident. At the end of our drive we take a short walk to Blakiston Falls for a 2 km round trip or along the Red Canyon Loop trail in search of rare wild flowers. After our tour of the Red Canyon we head out to Upper Waterton Lake where we’ll board a boat for a narrated scenic cruise to the United States. Along our 2 hour cruise through the Rocky Mountains we pass towering cliffs, unique geological formations, beautiful waterfalls, snow clad mountain peaks and the International Border.
The boat tour will make photographic and wildlife stops; bald eagle, bear, moose, deer, mountain sheep, and mountain goats are often seen. The cruise includes a short stop on shore to view park history exhibits and the local flora and fauna. Guests have the option of taking a 4 km hike to a moose habitat and returning on a later boat or staying with the boat for the full tour. In late afternoon guests return to the town of Waterton where we’ll drive to the famous Prince of Wales Hotel to tour the grounds and take pictures of the panoramic views. We also have the option of enjoying a traditional English Tea at the hotel or an ice cold beverage in the Stewart Lounge. After touring the hotel we head into the town of Waterton where we have the rest of the day to relax, shop or take a stroll along the lakeshore.
Day 8. Drop–off Banff , Alberta
Today we head north to Banff National Park. Enroute guests will have the option to stop at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a First Nations’ Interpretive Centre (entrance fees are not included). From here we head to Fort Macleod, birthplace of the North West Mounted Police, now known as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Guests will have the option of visiting the old fort of the North West Mounted Police to view the exhibits and watch the famous red coated Musical Ride (July and August tours only). We’ll stop in Fort Macleod in time for lunch before making our final drive to Banff.
Those wishing to continue on with Leg 2 to Vancouver will have either made their own accommodation arrangements in Banff for two night or would have purchased Midnight Sun’s Banff Stay Package. Guests ending their tour in Banff can connect with a shuttle bus back to Calgary. Please let us know at the time of booking if you will be requiring a shuttle to downtown Calgary.
Accommodation is not included on this night.