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Spirit Island in Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Canadian Rockies holidays

Magnificent mountains and charming resort towns

The Canadian Rockies mountain range is vast, stretching along the Alberta and British Columbia border for 1,600 kilometres. The landscapes here morph from turquoise lakes and snow-topped mountains to pine forests and dramatic river canyons. Its national parks of Banff and Jasper are a haven for outdoor lovers with Lake Louise and the towering Mount Robson just a couple of the must-sees. You can also travel between the parks via the 230-kilometre Icefields Parkway, which is lined with jagged peaks, glistening glaciers, and soaring heights of snow and ice.

There are several ways to take a Canadian Rockies holiday with Saga. You could explore under your own steam on an independent self-drive road trip or enjoy a sociable escorted group tour. The iconic Rocky Mountaineer train draws many visitors, offering a luxurious ride through the Rockies to Vancouver. From here you’ve got options to take the ferry to Victoria on Vancouver Island or explore Alaska on a cruise along the super scenic Inside Passage.

Nothing beats a holiday in the Canadian Rockies for sensational scenery and unforgettable travel experiences. Here’s our pick of the highlights.

Banff

Tucked away on the Alberta side of the Canadian Rockies, the mountain resort of Banff is considered one of the most charming small towns in North America. It’s the perfect place to ski in winter and explore outdoors in summer with numerous hiking trails, hot springs, and cosy cafés. Surrounded by the peaks of Banff National Park – Mount Rundle and Mount Cascade – this is where you can browse in boutiques and craft stores or enjoy day trips to nearby Lake Louise or scenic gondola rides to the 7,500ft summit of Sulphur Mountain.

Columbia Icefield

The journey from Banff National Park to Jasper National Park is as exciting as the destinations themselves. The Columbia Icefields Parkway connects the parks by 225 kilometres (140 miles) of scenic road. It’s a stunning section of the Rocky Mountains, lined with melt-water lakes, waterfalls, and the amazing Athabasca Glacier. Stopping off at the Columbia Icefield is always a highlight. This is the largest collection of snow and ice south of the Arctic Circle. You can travel across parts of the icefield on an all-terrain Ice Explorer vehicle and step out onto the icefield, itself – weather and footwear permitting.

Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park shows off quintessential Rocky Mountain scenery with deep canyons, vast pine forests and natural hot springs framed by snow-capped peaks. As the oldest and largest national park in Canada – it’s a whopping 13,000sqkm – Jasper is home to some of the Rockies’ most recognisable landmarks. This is where hikers head to the trails, waterfalls, and bridges around the 50-metre depths of Maligne Canyon. This limestone gorge is the deepest in the Rockies and sustains another of Jasper’s natural highlights, Medicine Lake. The mountain peaks reflected in the shallow glacial waters here are a dream for budding photographers.

Rockies by train

Discovering Canada’s Rocky Mountains by train is an immersive experience. And there’s no finer railway ride in the Rockies than the Rocky Mountaineer. This is where you can recline in luxury seats and enjoy first-class cuisine and VIP service as the forested slopes and narrow canyons between Banff, Jasper and Vancouver gently trundle past your window. You’ll also benefit from knowledgeable onboard hosts who’ll point out all the sights and expand on the area’s natural history. Why not build a two or three-day rail ride into a tour of the Canadian Rockies and enjoy overnight accommodation at a choice of hotels?

What’s the flight time to the Canadian Rockies?

The flight time from the UK to Calgary is just over nine hours. Most tours start from Calgary before travelling through the Canadian Rockies en route to Vancouver.

What’s the best airport to get to the Canadian Rockies?

Calgary International Airport is just 90 minutes’ drive from Banff. Lots of tours start from Calgary before making their way through the Rockies and departing from Vancouver. It’s also possible to do the trip in the other direction.

What’s the best time of year to visit the Canadian Rockies?

Summer – June to October – is the best time of year to visit the Canadian Rockies. The weather is warm and dry, and all the small towns and large mountain resorts will be open and ready for business. Either side of summer is also a good time to visit. The fiery autumnal foliage is a sight to see in autumn.

Where are the Rocky Mountains?

The Canadian Rocky Mountains straddle the western provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. The Rockies are roughly 600 kilometres northeast of Vancouver and about an hour’s drive east of Calgary.

Which is better, Canadian or American Rockies?

The Canadian Rockies are more compact and accessible for travellers. They’re easier to explore by road and by rail and offer overnight accommodation in mountain resorts like Banff and Jasper. The Canadian Rockies are also sharper in shape and more dramatic than the American Rockies. This is because the peaks and canyons have been forged by glaciers which has resulted in a less rounded appearance when compared to the American equivalent.

Can you combine a tour of the Canadian Rockies with a trip to the USA too?

Yes, you can combine a tour of the Canadian Rockies with a trip to the USA. For instance, you can experience the amazing Alaskan coastline on a cruise after travelling from Calgary to Vancouver. This presents an opportunity to voyage along northwest America’s scenic Inside Passage where fjords, forests and snow-capped mountains line the route to Juneau, Skagway, and Glacier National Park.

How high are the Rocky Mountains?

The tallest point in the Canadian Rocky Mountains is Mount Robson that stands at 3,950 metres (12,970 feet). There are also around 50 Canadian Rocky Mountains that are higher than 3,350 metres (11,000 feet). Colorado’s Mount Elbert – 4,400 metres (14,400 feet) – is the tallest peak in the entire Rocky Mountain range.

How long is the Rocky Mountain range?

The section of the Rocky Mountains that runs through Canada is approximately 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) in length. This is about a third of the overall length of the Rockies.

What wildlife can you see in the Canadian Rockies?

You can hope to see plenty of wildlife in the Canadian Rockies including moose, elk, mountain sheep, and caribou. Grizzly and black bears can also be seen in the region as well as golden eagles, black swifts, ospreys, owls, and hawks.

Can you drive through the Canadian Rockies?

Yes, you can drive through the Canadian Rockies. The section of roadway – the Icefields Parkway –between Banff and Jasper is considered one of the world’s most scenic drives. Roads are open all-year-round however, during the winter, many will be closed due to avalanches and excessive snow.

What’s the best Canadian Rockies itinerary?

Depending on how much time you have on a Canadian Rockies tour the best itinerary will take you from Calgary to Vancouver or vice versa. This gives you a chance to spend at least a couple of nights in Banff and Jasper as well as undertaking the Rocky Mountaineer train ride for two or three days. Highlights will include a drive on the Icefields Parkway and a trip to Lake Louise which is located just outside of Banff.

How many days should you spend on a Canadian Rockies tour?

10 to 14 days is the right amount of time to experience a Canadian Rockies tour at a leisurely pace.

What’s included in your Canadian Rockies tour packages?

Saga’s Canadian Rockies tour packages include accommodation, selected meals, excursions, and visits.

Discover a holiday created with you in mind. We take care of all the finer details, so you can sit back and relax, safe in the knowledge that you’re getting the high quality and personalised service you’d expect from Saga, every time.

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