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Self-Drive: Mighty Parks of Western Canada

15 days from £1949 per person

Starting and ending in Calgary, wind your way through the magnificent National Parks dotted around Alberta and British Columbia in Western Canada on this ultimate self-drive adventure. The perfect itinerary for lovers of nature and the great outdoors with stays in central city and authentic lodge-style accommodation. Travelling at your own pace, you’ll venture through ever-changing scenery, from stunning glacial lakes to snow-capped mountain peaks and dense green forests. Enjoy wildlife watching, participating in outdoor activities and capturing picture-perfect images of Canada’s spectacular scenery.

Route: Calgary- Waterton Lakes National Park – Banff - Kootenay National Park – Yoho National Park – Jasper - Calgary

Itinerary Highlights

Examine the unusual geology of Waterton Lakes National Park as you embark on a self-led hike around the crystal-clear Waterton Lake that was naturally carved out of rock by ancient glaciers.

Hire bikes and cycle to hidden waterfalls, stop for a picnic next to bright turquoise lakes and relax in the natural mineral-rich hot springs in Kootenay National Park.

Examine the exposed Burgess Shale fossil deposit in Yoho National Park, as well visit the impressive Takakkaw Falls, which is arguably at its best in the late afternoon.

Itinerary: Self-Drive: Mighty Parks of Western Canada

Today you begin your journey by boarding your international flight to Calgary. On arrival you will collect your hire car and drive to your centrally located hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to relax or head out into the city and begin exploring the local sights at your own pace. (N)
Accommodation in Calgary: Delta Calgary Downtown (or similar)
Calgary is a cosmopolitan city set in-between the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and vast prairies. Calgary offers a wide variety of activities and attractions; from history and the arts to national sports and the great outdoors entwined with the charming local cowboy culture. Take a trip back in time when you visit the Heritage Park Historical Village, give bobsleighing a try at the Olympic Park, watch a live sports game or swing by the iconic Stampede Park. (N)
Accommodation in Calgary: Delta Calgary Downtown (or similar)
This morning you will leave the city skyscrapers behind as you journey around 3½ hours through Alberta’s rolling prairie landscapes until you reach the contrasting rugged peaks of Waterton Lakes National Park. Spend today soaking up the spectacular sights of the park, perhaps going for a self-led hike around the crystal-clear Waterton Lake that was naturally carved out of rock by ancient glaciers. (N)
Accommodation in Waterton Lakes National Park: Prince of Wales Hotel (or similar)
Waterton Lakes National Park is a hidden gem in southwestern Alberta that’s less frequently visited than other Rockies’ parks in Alberta, in part due to its location, but for those that make the journey, it is certainly worthwhile. A place like no other; with unusual geology, rare flora and a mild climate with plenty of wildlife roaming freely. Enjoy how blissfully quiet and uncrowded the park is as you participate in outdoor pursuits or simply just relax and take in the picturesque views of Waterton Lake from your stately hotel. (N)
Accommodation in Waterton Lakes National Park: Prince of Wales Hotel (or similar)
Today you will drive north through meadow flats, heading towards the dominating peaks of the Rocky Mountain range as you journey around 4½ hours to Banff. Although Banff town is small and pedestrian friendly, it’s the beauty of the surrounding National Park that draws people to it. Established in 1885, Banff is Canada’s oldest National Park and has since turned into one of the world’s premier destination spots. (N)
Accommodation in Banff: Hidden Ridge Resort (or similar)
From your cosy mountain retreat you can venture out into this characteristic resort that has plenty of activities on offer. Mountain peaks tower over the bright turquoise lakes and evergreen forests that house the endless opportunities for hiking, boating, climbing, canoeing and wildlife-watching. Take a trip into Banff Town, the park’s cultural core; a muse for artists that offers an array of boutique shops, restaurants and a lively nightlife scene. Go for a dip in the world famous hot springs or ride the Sulphur Mountain Gondola. (N)
Accommodation in Banff: Hidden Ridge Resort (or similar)
Just an hour and a half from Banff, Kootenay National Park is British Columbia’s equivalent of Alberta’s iconic Rocky Mountains and holds the same UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Kootenay offers the same pristine scenery but benefits from less crowds, low population numbers and wide open spaces, providing the perfect opportunity for you to really appreciate the surrounding nature and easily spot wildlife including bears, moose and elk. (N)
Accommodation in Kootenay National Park: Best Western Prestige Inn Radium Hot Springs (or similar)
You might choose to spend today hiking self-led nature trails, cycling to hidden waterfalls or stopping for a picnic next to a gleaming lake before hopping in a canoe and exploring further by boat. Kootenay National Park has a number of natural mineral-rich hot springs, some of which are located in Radium Hot Springs, where you will be staying. The natural rock pools are the perfect way to relax and recharge after a full day of activities. (N)
Accommodation in Kootenay National Park: Best Western Prestige Inn Radium Hot Springs (or similar)
Today you will spend around 2 hours driving through the Rocky Mountain range, crossing free-flowing rivers and passing by alpine forests until you reach the small town of Field, the only settlement in Yoho National Park. Yoho National Park is renowned for the Burgess Shale, a layer of half a billion year old valuable fossils as well as its impressive lakes and waterfalls; Lake O’ Hara, Takakkaw Falls and Emerald Lake, where you will be staying. (N)
Accommodation in Yoho National Park: Emerald Lake Lodge (or similar)
You might choose to spend this morning following easy walking trails around Emerald Lake, visiting Natural Bridge, enjoying roadside views and a bite to eat in Field before driving to the jaw-dropping Takakkaw Falls, which is arguably at its best in the late afternoon. (N)
Accommodation in Yoho National Park: Emerald Lake Lodge (or similar)
Before commencing your epic journey to Jasper along the Icefields Parkway, take a short detour to Louise Lake to admire the impressive views of the glacier-fed lake. Today’s journey along the Icefield Parkway will take around 8 hours, but will be one of the most impressive of the entire trip. Make sure you stock up on food and drinks before you leave as there is little else but nature until you reach Jasper. Jasper National Park is Canada’s largest and wildest park and home to a large proportion of the country’s grizzly bears. The park is one of the greatly protected ecosystems in the Rocky Mountains, and prides itself in homing a laid-back town that’s nestled amidst majestic peaks and offers endless outdoor adventures. (N)
Accommodation in Jasper: Mount Robson Inn (or similar)
Spend today exploring the beautiful surroundings of Jasper National Park. You might choose to take a ride on the Jasper SkyTram that whisks you up Whistler Mountain, where you can appreciate the impressive panoramic views; you even have the option of hiking to the summit if you are feeling adventurous. You might decide to spend this afternoon visiting the Columbia Ice Field which provides a great glacier experience, or head to the thunderous Athabasca Falls. (N)
Accommodation in Jasper: Mount Robson Inn (or similar)
Today will be spent driving back to Calgary which will take around six and a half hours. When you arrive, check into your hotel and enjoy the last night of your holiday by heading out for a bite to eat at a local restaurant or relaxing after your journey. (N)
Accommodation in Calgary: Delta Calgary Downtown (or similar)
Spend this morning at your leisure, taking in the last of Calgary’s scenic delights. Later on you will drive to Calgary International Airport where you will drop off your hire car and board your international flight back to the UK. (N)
Today you will arrive back into the UK, where you will continue your journey home. (N)
**KEY: N = No meals, B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

What To Do Next?

We design unique, tailor-made holiday itineraries to suit you, by combining your ideas with our knowledge and experience. Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, or if you require some advice, please call us or complete the enquiry form online for a quotation.

What's included

  • International flights from the UK
  • Hotel accommodation and taxes
  • Car hire as specified

What's not included

  • Cost of visas
  • Travel Insurance
  • Expenses of a personal nature
  • Meals unless specified

Guide to Price

The above price is based on two people travelling together and sharing accommodation in low season. The price is only a guide and can vary according to selected airlines, hotels and date of travel. If you wish to travel with your family, friends or on your own we will be very happy to assist you with your arrangements.

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For over 30 years, Pettitts Travel have led the way in creating authentic, tailor-made holidays. Our knowledgeable team have first-hand knowledge of our destinations and no two itineraries we prepare are the same.

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