Circle Tours: Rock the Rockies

Banff National Park sunrise

Arrival Airport: Calgary International (YYC)

Overnight Stops: Calgary – Invermere – Golden – Jasper – Banff – Calgary

What to See & Do in the Canadian Rockies?

Heading west from Calgary, you approach the stunning Rocky Mountains, rising a mile above you. See the hotspot of Banff, with easy hikes in a near the town, Lake Louise and Morraine Lake. Head southwest via Kootenay National Park, pass through a tunnel into Radium in the Columbia Valley on its northwards journey. Head north to Golden, and up the rugged Kicking Horse Valley and the Spiral Tunnels, and then up the Icefields Parkway to Jasper, passing the massive Columbia Icefields. (and lots of other glaciers) before returning to Canmore and Calgary.

Arrive in Calgary (1), home to the Calgary Stampede, Heritage Park, Canada Olympic Park, the Olympic Hall of Fame, and the famous Calgary Zoo and Prehistoric Park.

From there, travel west through Kootenay National Park to Radium where you can enjoy the renowned Radium Hot Springs, and then to Invermere (2) to see the magnificent Rockies from the British Columbia side.

Travel up the wide Columbia River Valley to Golden (3), which is known as Kicking Horse Country and home to mountain recreation like hiking, horseback riding, and white water rafting. And see a black bear (“Boo”) at Kicking Horse Resort, or visit a wolf preserve just west of town.

Drive east on the Trans-Canada through Yoho National Park, passing several amazing avalanche abatement walls and devices. You’ll cross the stunning Park Bridge, which is as high above the river below as the rock cut on the east end of the bridge rises above the highway.  Inside the park, stop at the Spiral Tunnels, an engineering marvel of their time, and catch a training crossing over itself on either the way east (uphill)  or west (downhill) before crossing the Continental Divide back into Alberta.

view of summertime Snowboarders on Mt Whistler, at Jasper
Head north in a breathtaking steep mountain-walled valley, heading up the switchback Bow Summit  driving past stunning glacier-fed Peyto Lake and then past massive Columbia Icefields Glacier. Marvel at many other scenic wonders including the Endless Chain, a 20 kilometre long knife-edge of majestic mountain peaks before arriving in the picturesque community of Jasper (4) in the heart of Jasper National Park to enjoy its variety of wildlife and recreation. in Jasper, you can head up the Jasper Tram, just south of town, for views of  pyramid-shaped Mount Robson which is 100 km away to the northwest.

Trans-Canada Highway, Climb To BC border
The next day, take in the entire Icefields Parkway in the reverse direction and, visit lovely Lake Louise and stay overnight in Banff (5), Canada’s first national park and host to fabulous winter and summer activities all within the spectacular Rocky Mountains. Some of the more unique experiences here besides skiing are: sleigh rides, whitewater rafting, zip lining, ice climbing, heli skiing, dog sledding and cave tours.

Start driving back east with a short stop in charming Canmore before returning to Calgary (6) for a last day of sightseeing and shopping. If you are athletic, take a hike up Mount Ha Ling ( 3 hour up and back), just south of Canmore, for stunning views of the town below and the peaks around, instead of more time in the city.

Holy cow it’s beautiful out here. Wanna move? Jasper, Banff, Radium, Invermere and Kicking Horse – you wouldn’t believe the skiing. – Boris

Route Map

Arrival Airport: Calgary International (YYC)

Overnight Stops: Calgary – Invermere – Golden – Jasper – Banff – Calgary