The Rocky Mountain Range in Canada completely blew me away; like many natural areas of beauty, no pictures can do this place justice for what you will see. Last summer I had my first trip to Canada. I am currently planning another slightly different visit to the Rockies next summer. Even in 22 days, I feel I have to go back and see more, spend a bit more time at certain points. This trip was with my partner, we flew into Calgary then headed north to Edmonton and decided to loop back this way. This post will be an over view of our itinerary.
Calgary (1 night stay)
Edmonton (4 night stay)
Mt Robson & Jasper (2 night stay)
Berg Lake Trail
Golden (8 night stay)
Radium Hot Springs
Canada Day in Golden
Bragg Creek (5 night stay)
Calgary (1 Night with friends)
Between Jasper and Banff lies one of the most famous highways in the world synonymous with towering mountains and beautiful turquoise lakes. The Ice Fields Parkway, which we drove down to get to Golden from Mt Robson. The weather was really poor when we took this drive, with very little clarity and a lot of rain. However we still grabbed a few snaps and stopped along the way at a few points including Peyto Lake (below). Along the way you can also expect to see the Columbia Icefields, some other lakes and turn offs that we didn’t stop for this time and lots of wildlife (including many black bears and deers).
Access to the National Parks
In Canada it is mandatory to have a Parcs pass when driving into the national parks. These are a little pricey but absolutely worth it. There are so many sights to see in the parks and places to hike or climb, along with lots of wildlife calling this place home. It makes absolute sense that the government charge and check at the gates of the park for this. You will need to chose an appropriate pass for your vehicle, the number of people and the amount of time you want this valid for.
We went for the discover pass for a family that covers over 80 parks around Canada for 12 months for $139. However you can get a single location pass, single adult or senior citizen pass.
CLICK HERE for the official site for purchasing these Parcs Passes.
Driving in Canada
They drive on the right hand side of the road
If you are coming from the U.K or Europe you will be surprised how cheap the petrol is (less than half of the price it is here, but the Canadians we spoke to were clear this was high for them).
The petrol will cost more in the national park, I'd advice filling up before you get into the park and any time you leave.
Tips for the Road Trip
I've mentioned it on both of my Rocky Mountain, Canada articles (North and South), but I highly recommend downloading the Gypsy app bundle for the Canadian Rockies. This has 4 tour guides in one. As long as you have your location switched on when you set off it will track where your going, using less data and you get a tour guide in your car. The narrator will tell you about the history of the area including trading, exploration and often referring to its heritage with the indigenous people of the area. There is a cost of a $19.99 for the bundle but this is really worth it, and adds to the experience of the beautiful drives through the national parks and the Ice Fields parkway drive.
Try Poutine (Cheese curds, chips and gravy) or Brisket if you get a chance, both very popular and if you eat meat you will love them.
Vegetarian and Vegan options are limited outside of cities, so just be aware of this.
Check for events before you visit (you should probably do this everywhere). I usually check this, and try to join local events when visiting somewhere, however I didn't do this for this trip. We fell upon Canada Day and the Stampede, which were both fantastic but these type of events do generally effect the price of accommodations and tickets to other events at the same time.
Check out my other articles for more info on specific areas of the Rockies:
Golden & The Southern Rockies - including the famous lakes etc.
Via Ferrata in Mt Norquay - Climbing day trip with amazing views over Banff.
Mt Robson and The Northern Rockies - Including Jasper, more amazing lakes and mountains.
Accommodation and Overview
Calgary (1 night stay)
When we landed in Calgary we picked up our rental car and headed straight for an Air BnB in the city. We had a bit of a challenge on our hands as it was the middle of the night and we also discovered our phones data was not working once we set off (so we couldn’t retrieve the address and no say nav). So it was an amusing and slightly stressful start, with nowhere open. But we turned back to the airport car rental area and managed to log into the wifi, write down the address and directions. We eventually arrived at our basement apartment and got a good nights sleep, recovering from jet lag. It was lovely and overlooking a nature reserve. Our apartment was very clean and the host was really friendly during all contact before and during our stay.
Price: Approx £65 per night (price is slightly adjusted at other times of year and weekdays).
Edmonton (4 night stay)
The next day all things were go, we know we needed to head to Edmonton and we needed breakfast. We paid for data from our phone network, but knowing it would cost a lot we made a point to set up our directions into our one of our phones before setting off. The first day had unbelievable weather. It was scorching with blue skies, we stopped for food and went for a short walk in a random area halfway through our drive. Coming from the U.K. and after spending time living in Europe we really appreciated the wide and open roads, as well as lower cost of fuel (although Canadians feel it‘s very high at this time, it worked out cheaper than half price for us). Our accommodation in Edmonton is no longer listed with Air BnB however we were very impressed. We stayed in a self contained apartment that had a mezzanine bedroom, full kitchen and laundry facilities. It was a stones throw from river and in the Central Business District.
Price: £25 per night - £60 per night (prices for many stays were around the higher end of this range, with some luxury ones obviously exceeding this. Our stay was only £25 but a great price).
In Edmonton we spend a lot of time just wandering round the city, spending relaxed time together as a couple and ate out at a few bars. We also walked along the river meandering between the parks and green trails. One thing we did do due to the weather was head to the Edmonton Mall. This place had everything and took a big chunk of one of our days. Part of the reason for this trip was to check out Canadian towns and cities for potential immigration in future. We checked out the transport links (which were great), went shopping in the supermarket and smaller shops when cooking for ourselves and soon learned what would be a luxury (cheese and good chocolate) and surprisingly what was more affordable or better quality (most of the meat) compared to the U.K. or Europe. I liked Edmonton, it was laid back, friendly and didn't feel like typical cities (or as I perceive them; Manic).
Mt Robson and Jasper (2 night stay)
We stayed at Mountain River Lodge which looked out to to Mt Robson (the highest peak in the Rocky Mountain Range). The Lodge sat on the edge of a beautiful creek (as you can see in the video to the left).
Our stay was in the main lodge and had bed and breakfast. Dinner was also available and we booked in for this for one of our evenings. I have a number of allergies and also saw another 2 guests that had dietary requirements. The lovely owners that hosted us and cooked our meals were more than accommodating. They made such an effort to create delicious alternatives suitable for my needs without creating a fuss and the food was better than I had tasted in many restaurants. We stopped in Jasper a couple of times for food and visited the near by Maligne lake. Close to our accommodation was the Berg lake trail which leads up to glacier peaks. To find out more about this area and our stay click here.
Price: Approx £160 per night.
Golden (8 night stay)
Golden is a lovely town on the west side of the Rocky mountain range between Yoho National Park and Kicking Horse and Glacier National Park. This town is really pretty and the accommodation we stayed in Golden Acres Lodge, was perfect. This timber framed beautiful lodge looked out over the mountains and the wetlands just north south of the town. It has self catering apartments within the lodge, and options for bed and breakfast. We stayed in the loft which is separate from the main building just above the garage/workshop. It was beautiful one bedroom apartment, with a full sized open kitchen/living/dining area complete with log fire. Outside is a patio area with BBQ and fire pit. There is also a hot tub and a sauna (I believe this summer they have also added a tiki bar next to this). The hosts were so welcoming, and gave us advice on where to go, where to avoid the crowds, they invited the guests up for brisket one evening and went that little bit above and beyond as a hosts. They truly made this place special.
From here we visited Emerald Lake, Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Mt Norquay and Radium Hot Springs. We also inadvertently got to celebrate Canada Day in Golden. To find out more about the southern Rockies based from Golden click here Price: Approx. £120 per night via booking.com
We love this place that much, we are in the process of booking a stay with them next summer.
Bragg Creek (5 night stay)
Just 30 Minutes from Calgary, Bragg Creek was a lovely area, very charming and full of wildlife. I would love to go back to this area and visit again, the proximity to the national park and the city led to us choosing this area. We stayed in bed and breakfast on a ground floor apartment of a beautiful log cabin with peaceful garden. However our hosts we not particularly welcoming, so I did not feel right linking to their listed accommodation. To find out more try the visit Bragg Creek website.
Prices varied a lot around Bragg Creek, it was more expensive than Golden but cheaper than Banff as we were now getting into July, and Calgary during the Stampede.
Much like Edmonton, we loved the atmosphere of this City. We parked outside of the city and took a train in to the stampede and rodeo. This was an amazing highlight to see an entire city prepared for a full scale event where the centre of the city grounds were turned into a giant fair ground; complete with cattle markets, motocross riding competitions and a packed out rodeo with competitors from around the world. This event takes place for a week. The weather was changeable but we managed to get sun burnt and eat lots of Poutine. We later went out to a Casino and watched a concert whilst there, again it felt laid back, safe and just a fun place to be. There is so much to do here and it really is a beautiful city with lots to offer. I don't believe I have enough to write about this city from a couple of days spent there but we will be stopping there again next summer, and aim to provide a bit more useful info.