Keep an eye out for moose and elk, and the northern lights, on a Rockies wilderness adventure.

Experience the rugged mountains of Canada and go in search of the northern lights in the night skies of Alberta. Watch for moose, white-tailed deer and elk as you drive through pristine Canadian wilderness. Admire curtains of ice along a steel catwalk built into the rock walls of Johnston Canyon. Meet and greet a team of canines before ticking dogsledding off your bucket list – one of the many optional activities on offer. Otherwise, just wrap your hands around a mug of hot chocolate and lose yourself in the beauty of the Rockies. Packed with eye-popping views of snow-capped mountain ranges and frozen wonderlands, this 11-day adventure is the ultimate great white north escape.


Start
Edmonton, Canada
Finish
Calgary, Canada
Destination
Canada
Style
Comfort
Theme
Explorer
Code
SWKW
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • Spend time exploring Edmonton, Peace River and Banff at your own pace, stopping to admire the surrounding mountain ranges.

  • Navigate the frozen waterfalls, ice caves and ice formations of Maligne Canyon on a guided exploration of the deepest accessible canyon in Jasper National Park.

  • Gaze at the clear night skies of Peace River and witness the natural phenomenon of Aurora, often referred to as the northern lights.

  • Cruise from Jasper to Banff driving on the Icefields Parkway and enjoy the roadside views – made even more scenic when you’re not the one driving.

  • Discover the natural beauty of renowned Lake Louise, and perhaps join an optional sleigh ride around its snow-covered banks.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Less time spent in a vehicle; more time to explore each destination. This trip has been carefully designed to give you the best experience of a region by reducing the number of one-night-only stops, giving you extra time in the places that matter.

  • This trip includes time spent travelling in a private vehicle with your group. Extra space can be tight, and conditions may feel a little cramped. It’s all part of the adventure and a great way to get to know your fellow travellers. Please read the itinerary carefully for travel time estimates.

  • The diversity of the seasons here makes for incredible scenery, but the weather in this region can be unpredictable. It’s best to wear layers at all times of the year in case conditions change during the day. At night the temperature can really drop, so bring your warm clothes. Camping can be especially cold at the start and end of the season. Even in the warmer months the temperature can be low in the mountains.

  • Winter weather can be unreliable. Roads in these areas are well-maintained and regularly ploughed, but in the event of unusually heavy snowfall there may still be delays and closures. The weather may also mean that some events are cancelled or scheduled activities become unsafe. We will attempt to rearrange the itinerary or schedule replacement activities if this is the case.

  • Please be aware that this itinerary does not allow time for skiing and snowboarding, and due to the safety risks inherent in these activities, we are unable to offer them as optional activities. If you wish to ski or snowboard while in Canada we suggest you arrive early in Whistler or stay in Banff after the trip. If you wish to ski or snowboard during free time during the trip, that's up to you, but please note that our leaders are unable to help you book these activities as per Intrepid's safety policy.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020.
View the 2019 itinerary
Welcome to beautiful Edmonton, Canada. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. If you arrive early, perhaps visit the biggest mall in North America: West Edmonton Mall, or instead, learn about Canadian living history at Fort Edmonton Park, visit the nearby Ukrainian Cultural Village, and explore the small theatres and diners of the University District.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for the group meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Get a full-on sense of Alberta’s past with an included morning visit to the Royal Alberta Museum, the largest in western Canada. Learn about the heritage of Alberta’s people and natural environment through the exhibitions on display. Then, drive through spectacular wilderness to the town of Peace River (approximately 6 hours). After dinner you will head out in search of a view of the spellbinding northern lights (clouds permitting). Enjoy a bonfire under the darkness of the night sky and cook some s’mores while you’re waiting.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Edmonton - Royal Alberta Museum
  • Peace River - Bonfire and Smore's
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you are free to choose your own adventure in Peace River. Perhaps head to the Wildland Provincial Park, an important wildlife corridor for elk, deer and bears. This is a perfect place to practice snowshoeing before your excursion to Lake Louise later in the trip. You could stroll along the Peace River, which may or may not be frozen, and breathe in mountain air. You may even try your luck at ice fishing. After dinner, head back again to look for the unpredictable northern lights in your second dedicated night of sky gazing. The lights occur when several factors, including local cloud levels, solar flares on the sun or solar wind, converge to produce magical hues dancing in the winter night sky.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Peace River - Snowshoeing
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Drive to Jasper National Park (approximately 6 hours), arriving at your hotel in the late afternoon. Once settled in, go searching for wildlife such as moose, elk, deer, bears and coyotes. In the evening, perhaps take yourself out for dinner in Jasper, as there are a variety of restaurants to choose from. Ask your local leader for suggestions on where to go.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jasper National Park - Entrance Fee
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Experience the caves, icicles and frozen waterfalls of Maligne Canyon on an ice walk in the morning. The canyon’s name refers to its ethereal beauty in winter, where waterfalls freeze over and icicles cascade like teeth in the mouths of the park’s many caves. A local guide will safely escort you through this maze of natural ice sculptures (tread-enhancing cleats will be provided) while you learn about Jasper’s karst topography and the mystery of disappearing Medicine Lake. Included today is lunch at Jasper Brewing Co: Canada’s first National Park Brewery. The rest of the afternoon is free. Try one of Jasper’s short walking trails, admiring the scenic mountain ranges that greet you in every direction.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Jasper - Maligne Canyon Icewalk
  • Jasper - Lunch at a National Park Brewery
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Prepare yourself for an unforgettable drive as you set out on the Icefields Parkway. The world-renowned roadway between Jasper and Banff stretches 232 kilometres (144 miles) through a landscape of jagged mountaintops and past 100 ancient glaciers. At its heart is the Columbia Icefield, the largest ice field in the Rocky Mountains. The massive Athabasca Glacier, measuring 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) long and 1 kilometre (.62 mile) wide flows within walking distance of the roadway, so take a hike to its toe (the current lowest endpoint of a glacier). Tonight, arrive at Lake Louise to relax and ready yourself for another active day tomorrow.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Icefields Parkway - Hike to toe of Athabasca Glacier
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Lake Louise is an iconic snapshot of Canada, and today you’ll experience one of its many beautiful moods. There are many options on how to spend the day, including an optional horse-drawn sleigh ride past the glacial lake. You’ll be able to take a snowshoe hike along one of the lake’s many trails, or perhaps pop on a pair of skates and practice some figure eights (or ice stumbles) while gliding across the surface of the lake. Included today is lunch at The Station Restaurant – a heritage railway station which serves hearty Canadian favourites. If you’re looking to continue to put your feet up, the Fairmont Chateau does a beautiful afternoon tea. For those lucky enough to be in Lake Louise during its annual Ice Magic Festival in January, be sure to take a look at the precision and delicate skill on display in the various ice sculptures by the lake.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lake Louise - Snowshoeing
  • Lake Louise - All Canadian Lunch
Optional Activities
  • Lake Louise - Sleigh Ride - CAD37
  • Lake Louise - Ice Skating including Hockey Stick - CAD20
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Drive to nearby Banff (approximately 1 hour): Canada’s most famous mountain resort town. While located inside a national park, Banff offers plenty of shops, restaurants and bars to distract you from the surrounding natural beauty. Gain a sense of Canadian Rockies culture at the Whyte Museum, where over 200 years of artwork tells the story of the rugged men and women who settled in Banff. Sub-zero temperatures turn Banff’s waterfalls into glittering ice sculptures, and today you will visit Johnston Canyon ice walk to see this all on display. Hike along steel catwalks built into the canyon walls and wander among massive pillars of ice. With all this adventuring, you must be hungry, and so it’s a perfect time for a Beavertail tasting experience. Beavertails are a deep-fried sweet dough made with whole wheat flour and pulled by hand to resemble the long flat tail of a beaver. Order a classic cinnamon and sugar or go a little bit wild with some whipped cream and decadent Nutella – you’ll be licking your lips for hours!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Banff National Park
  • Banff - Johnston Canyon Icewalk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a free morning in Banff before an included snowshoe hike with your group at Sunshine Village Ski Resort, about 20 minutes out of town. To start, head above the tree line, and then put on your snowshoes and trek across the white powder with a professional guide. Your backcountry hike will be made extra sweet with a stop for hot cocoa and cookies on top of the (Sunshine Village) world.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Banff - Guided snowshoe hike on Top of the World
Optional Activities
  • Banff - Cable Car up Sulphur Mountain - CAD52
  • Banff - Hot springs - CAD8
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning, take a short drive to Canmore, which is within the Kananaskis Country park system, and embark on an included ice walk at the Grotto Canyon, using special hiking crampons to grip the smooth frozen creek beds. Alternatively, you could book yourself a dogsledding adventure with a trusted provider, where you’ll meet and greet the dogs on your team before being pulled along the frosty trails by these canines. Return to Banff for the night – a group dinner in town may be on the cards.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Canmore - Grotto Canyon Guided Icewalk
Optional Activities
  • Canmore - Dog-sledding - CAD200
  • Canmore - Fat Biking Tour - CAD65
  • Canmore - Cross-Country Skiing - CAD50
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Intrepid's commitment to animal welfare means we have chosen trusted dog sledding companies that adhere to strict ethical guidelines and can prove the humane treatment of the working dogs. Dog sledding in North America is a very popular winter activity, however we understand the personal hesitation travellers may have towards this, and so that is why it is up to you to decide if you would like to participate or not.
Enjoy breakfast at the lodge before a drive back to Calgary (approximately 1.5 hours). Your trip will end at Calgary International Airport, the arrival time depends on each group however If you decide to fly out this day, please don't book a flight before 3pm. Drop off in Calgary city can be arranged, please discuss this with your Trip Leader.


There are no activities and accommodation planned for the day. If you have the rest of the day here, why not visit the giant pandas at the Calgary Zoo, check out the urban neighbourhood of East Village, or walk across Peace Bridge and explore Prince Island’s Park on the Bow River.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
If you wish to spend more time in Calgary, we'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

If you plan to stay longer in this beautiful part of the world, shuttles between Calgary Downtown and Calgary International Airport run fairly frequently throughout the day, though they can vary in price. Banff Airporter (banffairporter.com) or Brewster Express Bus (banffjaspercollection.com/brewster-express/) are two good choices. Taxi and Uber are also available.

Meals

10 breakfasts, 2 lunches

Transport

Private vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (10 nights)

Included activities

  • Edmonton - Royal Alberta Museum
  • Peace River - Bonfire and Smore's
  • Peace River - Snowshoeing
  • Jasper National Park - Entrance Fee
  • Jasper - Maligne Canyon Icewalk
  • Jasper - Lunch at a National Park Brewery
  • Icefields Parkway - Hike to toe of Athabasca Glacier
  • Lake Louise - Snowshoeing
  • Lake Louise - All Canadian Lunch
  • Banff National Park
  • Banff - Johnston Canyon Icewalk
  • Banff - Guided snowshoe hike on Top of the World
  • Canmore - Grotto Canyon Guided Icewalk

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip.
2. Seeing the Northern Lights is of course dependant on weather and geomagnetic activity, clear sky and dark nights. Warm clothing is a must.

Essential trip information

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