Day 1: Calgary
Wander through the Mavericks exhibit at the Glenbow Museum to learn about the risky adventures of Alberta’s incorrigible founders through hands-on activities and over 700 artifacts. After, head to the world’s highest 360-degree observation deck where you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the city skyline and Canadian Rockies.
Try the mountain bike trails and zipline at WinSport Olympic Park to get your adrenaline pumping. And, if you’re feeling adventurous the 1.8 km (5905 ft) long Skyline Luge offers fantastic city views.
Day 2: Calgary
Visit the Calgary Zoo and stroll through the Canadian Wilds and Prehistoric Park exhibits to view some of Alberta’s famous wildlife up close – from grizzlies, cougars and wolves to life sized animatronic dinosaurs.
Spend the afternoon at the country’s largest living history museum, where costumed interpreters populate streets and buildings depicting life in Western Canada between 1850 and 1950. Ride the steam train or take a spin on a paddle wheeler on the reservoir.
Day 3: Fort McLeod
The drive south to Fort MacLeod on Hwy 2 takes you through open prairie and rolling foothills, with the peaks of the Canadian Rockies on the western horizon. At the Fort Macleod Museum, the history of the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) and First Nations is preserved through lively programming, including the famous Red Serge VIP Groom-a-Horse Program and NWMP Musical Ride. Calgary to Fort MacLeod: 173 km (107 mi).
Take a short drive to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, where you’ll learn about the history, culture and geology of this ancient bison hunting ground. After, head south on Hwy 2 to Waterton Lakes National Park. Pop into the Visitor Information Centre to find out about this UNESCO World Heritage Site’s interpretive programs. Fort MacLeod to Waterton: 105 km (65 mi).
Day 4: Waterton
From the Waterton townsite take a short stroll to the impressive Cameron Falls to see the powerful water cascading over billion year old pre-Cambrian rock. Then drive to the red and green banded limestone walls of Red Rock Canyon and hike the topside loop alongside a paved path through the forest with the water bubbling along below.
Schedule a scenic cruise along the shoreline of Upper Waterton Lake to watch for wildlife and learn about the area’s geology and history from a local guide. Then visit the historic Prince of Wales Hotel for afternoon tea with sweeping views of Upper Waterton Lake and the Canadian Rockies.
Day 5: Bar U Ranch, Canmore, Kananaskis
On the way out of town, drive by the buffalo paddock to see the park’s protected herd of wild bison. Next, head north on the famed Cowboy Trail (Hwy 22) to the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site – a working ranch that once employed the notorious Sundance Kid. Take a horse-drawn wagon ride and tour the outbuildings in a place that stands in tribute to the ranching history of western Canada. Waterton to Bar U Ranch: 218 km (135 mi).
Continue north to the Eau Claire Distillery in Turner Valley to sample small-batch premium spirits from Alberta’s first independent craft distillery. Just outside of Cochrane, stop in at the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary for an experiential tour. You’ll observe wolf behaviour firsthand and gain a better understanding of how these elusive animals live in the wild. Head west on the Trans-Canada (Hwy1) to Canmore and drop by the Visitor Information Centre to learn about the area’s many recreational activities and exceptional restaurants. Bar U Ranch to Canmore-Kananaskis: 109 km (130 mi).
Day 6: Canmore-Kananaskis
Birds-eye views of mountain peaks, silver lakes, rich evergreen forests and the edge of a shimmering glacier are spectacular on a Kananaskis area helicopter tour. After, rent bikes at the Canmore Nordic Centre to explore the surrounding 100 km (62 mi) of trails and experience some of the best mountain biking in the Canadian Rockies.
Kananaskis Country offers an abundance of hiking options with varying difficulty levels. For a gentle hike that’s suitable for all ages, try the Grassi Lakes trail or drive to Grotto Canyon and walk along the narrow creek bed to see the unusual rock formations known as hoodoos and a sparkling waterfall.
Day 7: Banff
Take the short drive west along the Trans-Canada (Hwy 1) to Banff and explore the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. This restored landmark commemorates the 1883 discovery of the hot springs that led to the creation of Canada’s first national park. For panoramic views, ride the Banff Gondola up Sulphur Mountain. Complete your morning with a relaxing soak in the Banff Upper Hot Springs mineral pools. Canmore to Banff: 28 km (17 mi)
Learn about local wildlife, native folklore, early mountaineers and ancient glaciers, while cruising on a crystal blue mountain lake, just 15 minutes from the town of Banff. End the day with an early evening wildlife tour, which is the prime time for spotting Banff National Park’s animals, like deer, elk and bears.
Day 8: Banff
Take a ride on Mt. Norquay ski resort’s chairlift and stop for lunch at the historic Cliffhouse Bistro. The views are spectacular. If you’re feeling adventurous, try climbing on the new Via Ferrata, led by a certified guide – no previous climbing experience necessary.
Saddle up for a horseback riding trip along the scenic Bow River or through the Spray River Valley. For an authentic western experience, complete with hearty barbeque steak supper, try the Cowboy Cookout Dinner trail ride.
Day 9: Lake Louise
Set off on the scenic Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy 1A) to the hamlet of Lake Louise and watch for wildlife along the way. En route explore the amazing Johnston Canyon along catwalks high above the waterway below. Or enjoy an easy morning walk around the shoreline of the famous glacier fed Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. Then, head to the Lake Louise Gondola where you’ll experience some of the best grizzly bear viewing opportunities in the Canadian Rockies. Banff to Lake Louise: 48 km (30 mi.)
Take a 7 km (4.4 mi) round trip hike to the historic Lake Agnes Tea House for afternoon tea and scones in a spectacular alpine valley. After, rent a canoe from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and paddle across the lake to the base of Victoria Glacier, or take an easy stroll around the lakeshore.
Day 10: Icefields Parkway - Jasper
From Lake Louise drive north to the Glacier Discovery Centre along the scenic Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93). Here, you can board an Ice Explorer bus that will take you onto the Athabasca Glacier, where you can walk on ice up to 360 m (1,180 ft) thick. Then take the shuttle to the glass-floored Glacier Skywalk, suspended 280 m (919 ft) over the Sunwapta Valley, for stunning aerial views of glittering glaciers and rugged mountain peaks. Lake Louise to Glacier Discovery Centre: 135 km (84 mi)
Back on the Icefields Parkway plan to stop at Sunwapta Falls and then again at Athabsaca Falls, Jasper National Park’s most powerful waterfall. Once you’re in the town of Jasper, pop by the Visitor Information Centre to learn about the area’s attractions and guided tours, award-winning restaurants and shops. Glacier Discovery Centre to Jasper: 106 km (66 mi).
Day 11: Jasper
Ride the longest and highest guided aerial tramway in Canada for sweeping views of six mountain ranges, glacial fed lakes, the Athabasca River and town of Jasper far below. After, head to Maligne Canyon to explore what is considered to be one the most spectacular gorges in the Canadian Rockies.
Enjoy a scenic cruise on Maligne Lake, with a stop at Spirit Island – one the world’s most photographed scenes. End the day by exploring the Maligne Valley on a wildlife discovery tour. Keep a lookout for osprey, bald eagles, bighorn sheep, elk, deer and bears.
Day 12: Edmonton
From Jasper the Yellowhead Highway stretches east from the rugged Canadian Rockies through forested foothills and golden prairie farmland. On your way out of Jasper National Park, stop for a relaxing soak in Miette Hot Springs.
Continue on to West Edmonton Mall, which is the size of a small city and features over 800 shops, services, accommodation, indoor waterpark and amusement park. Jasper to Edmonton: 358 km (222 mi.).
Day 13: Edmonton
Visit the protected aspen parkland of Elk Island National Park for wildlife viewing. Watch for deer, moose, and herds of free roaming bison on a self-guided driving safari. Edmonton to Elk Island National Park: 40 km (25 mi).
Step back in time to the original Edmonton at Fort Edmonton Park. You’ll experience four eras in the city’s past as you walk through the 1846 Hudson’s Bay Fort, 1885 Street, 1905 Street and 1920 Street.
Day 14: Edmonton
Hop on a beautifully restored vintage streetcar for a scenic historic tour that crosses over the High Level Bridge, above the North Saskatchewan River. Then venture into the lush Edmonton River Valley for a guided Segway tour to explore some of the 145 km (90 mi) of trails and 22 continuous city parks.
Wander through original contemporary and historical art exhibits at the Art Gallery of Alberta in the heart of the city’s arts district. You’ll marvel at the gallery’s impressive architecture, which features a 190 m (623 ft) steel ribbon that swerves through the building’s interior and exterior.