EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a first for me. This post is a guest post from my friend Genevieve Hathaway. I write regularly for the G Adventure’s Looptail blog and was offered a chance to explore Canada on one of G Adventure’s trips. The timing wasn’t right for me so I suggested my friend Gen as a replacement due to her writing and photography and social media skills. To help Gen with her social media ‘reach’, I offered to let her write a guest post about her experiences and post it here because I know it would be relevant to my readers (holy cats! There are 2300 of you!).
When I think of the great wildernesses of Alberta and British Columbia three words come to mind: big, bold, beautiful. Soaring peaks, high alpine lakes, glacier-carved valleys, abundant wildlife and seemingly endless adventure opportunities make Canada’s western provinces an exciting region to explore. To experience the national parks in Alberta and British Columbia I joined G Adventures on their National Parks Of The Canadian Rockies (Westbound) tour in mid-June. A 12-day journey by vehicle from Alberta’s Calgary, also known as the “Heart of the New West,” to British Columbia’s metropolitan Vancouver; we passed through many iconic national and provincial parks including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mt. Robson, Kootenay, Wells Gray, Pacific Rim, Green Lake, and MacMillan.
We traveled the 1600km journey overland, exploring western Canada’s natural beauty, seeing much of its iconic wildlife and having plenty of adventures along the way. Caribou, bison, moose and elk inhabited much of the meadowlands we passed through. Since it was spring, mother bears with their cubs were easy to spot. Gray Whales were migrating off the coast of Tofino. And we had the opportunity to visit seal and sea lion colonies along the coast.
In addition to spotting wildlife, we also had opportunities to walk with giants in the towering old-growth forests, hike above slot canyons, whitewater raft the powerful Wild Horse River, fly through the trees on ziplines, canoe the remote waterways of Wells Park, spot migrating gray whales off the coast of Tofino, get off-road with ATVs, hike near glaciers in Icefields Parkway, soak in mineral hot springs, and explore western Canada’s culture in its vibrant cities.
We began our journey in Calgary, located on the Bow River, is in the foothills of the great Canadian Rockies mountain range. It is also the largest city in Alberta and has a vibrant and colorful cowboy culture. From Calgary, it didn’t take long to get deep into the Canadian Rockies. A few hours drive and we were in Banff National Park exploring Icefields Parkway; from there traveling through Jasper National Park.
View of downtown Calgary and Prince’s Island.
View over Peyto Lake. One of Icefields Parkway’s many stunning turquoise lakes situated amongst the soaring peaks of the Canadian Rockies.
Hiking Maligne Canyon in Alberta’s Canadian Rockies provides a lifetime of laughs and memories.
Caribou inhabitant Alberta’s grasslands and often can be seen close to the road.
Exploring the Columbia Icefield in Icefields Parkway. A chance to get up close and personal with a glacier.
Mt. Robson stands as a lone sentinel on the border between British Columbia and Alberta provinces. This mammoth mountain is a sign that soon the forests will be changing from high alpine pines to thick, lush old-growth forests. We continued on through British Columbia’s Rockies, soon reaching the Columbia Mountains and then the Pacific coast.
Mt Robson, at 3,954 m, is the tallest peak in the Canadian Rockies.
Canoeing in Wells Gray Provincial Park provides a unique perspective on British Columbia towering mountains and peaks.
Ziplining through the trees and between the peaks in Whistler, one of the many summer adventure sports opportunities in the area.
The ziplines in Whistler take adventurers both peak to peak and through the forest canopy.
Sunset on Long Beach near Tofino. Vancouver Island. After nearly two weeks of being dwarfed by massive mountains and forests of Alberta and BC, the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean seems otherworldly.
Plan Your Own Adventure:
To thoroughly explore western Canada drive overland through the national parks. There are a few options for renting a car and planning your own roadtrip. You can drive from the United States into Canada or rent a car in Calgary or Vancouver and drop it at the other end of your trip. Grab a group of friends and make a memorable roadtrip out of exploring the best of western Canada’s stunning wilderness! Or let G Adventures do the driving and hop on one of their independent-style small group tours.
Gen’s travel during this trip was covered by G Adventures. The photos and words are all hers, please do not reuse without written permission.