In 2013, two friends and I did a train trip across Canada from Vancouver to Toronto; the central part of the trip, in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, had to be cancelled and we missed seeing that area–which would have been the highlight of the whole trip. So we've been saying that we needed to go back and see what we missed. This trip was just that.

  This 8-night bus tour was offered by Gate 1 Tours, an agency I've used in the past and have been very happy with, and this trip confirmed my opinion. We picked the perfect time to go: all the roads were open, weather was pleasant, and places were not yet overcrowded with tourists (a surprising number of whom were European, attempting to drive with campers and trailers along the 'tourist trail', with limited success). The itinerary was well-planned and efficient without seeming rushed, and we did it in a comfortable, spacious coach–leaving at reasonable hours of the morning with 'rest stops' about every two hours. We had sufficient time at every destination to enjoy the sights both with the guided group and individually; our full-time guide managed the group of 45 very well and was a font of information, some of it better left unsaid. We enjoyed a tram ride in Glacier National Park, a rafting 'adventure' on the Bow River, a lake cruise on Waterton Lake, and a cable car ride up to the summit of Sulphur Mountain in Banff. Two-night stays in comfortable, well-located hotels followed several day-long rides watching the magnificent scenery go by. And magnificent it was indeed! Endless evergreen forests cut by clear streams and placid blue lakes; awesome layered rock walls thrust up towards the sky, capped by snowy peaks and glaciers —this was without doubt one of the most impressive landscapes I've had the pleasure of seeing.

  This is one of those destinations where it is, in my opinion, preferable to take a packaged tour instead of trying to drive it oneself. To deal with hotels/campsites in an area where they are few in number and quickly filled for the season, national park entry fees, confusing or nonexistent signage, and unknown distances between restaurants, bathrooms, and gas stations would be a nightmare of logistics and a real test of patience. Better to let someone else worry about all the details and just sit back and enjoy it!

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18 June 2016....Chicago  ORD — Calgary, Alberta, Canada  YYC

19 June.............Waterton Lakes National Park

20 June.............Glacier National Park

21 June.............Banff National Park

22 June.............Banff National Park...Sulphur Mountain

23 June.............Lake Louise…Icefield Parkway…Jasper National Park

24 June.............Jasper National Park…Spirit Island

25 June.............Columbia Icefield…Calgary

26 June.............Calgary  YYC Chicago  ORD

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WORLD HERITAGE SITES

Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks

Waterton Glacier International Peace Park

ALBERTA, CANADA—the Great Plains of Alberta, south of Calgary
ALBERTA, CANADA—the Great Plains of Alberta, south of Calgary
ALBERTA—a great place for wind towers
ALBERTA—a great place for wind towers
ALBERTA—getting closer to the Rockies, there are few foothills
ALBERTA—getting closer to the Rockies, there are few foothills
ALBERTA—the Rockies just kind of pop out of the plains
ALBERTA—the Rockies just kind of pop out of the plains
ALBERTA—vast distances, big skies
ALBERTA—vast distances, big skies
ALBERTA—Waterton Lake is surrounded by Canadian and U.S. Rocky Mountains
ALBERTA—Waterton Lake is surrounded by Canadian and U.S. Rocky Mountains
ALBERTA—beautiful peaceful view
ALBERTA—beautiful peaceful view
ALBERTA—two parts of the land are connected by a shallow channel known as the Bosporus
ALBERTA—two parts of the land are connected by a shallow channel known as the Bosporus
ALBERTA—rivers thunder over waterfalls to enter the lake
ALBERTA—rivers thunder over waterfalls to enter the lake
ALBERTA—the tilted upthrust of the Rockies is well evident
ALBERTA—the tilted upthrust of the Rockies is well evident
ALBERTA—Prince of Wales Hotel, opened 1927, overlooks the lake
ALBERTA—Prince of Wales Hotel, opened 1927, overlooks the lake
ALBERTA/MONTANA—see the line going through the forest...
ALBERTA/MONTANA—see the line going through the forest...
ALBERTA/MONTANA—...that's the U.S./Canadian border, the 49th parallel...no wall
ALBERTA/MONTANA—...that's the U.S./Canadian border, the 49th parallel...no wall
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, MONTANA—enclosing 1,000,000 acres, the park was established in 1910
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, MONTANA—enclosing 1,000,000 acres, the park was established in 1910
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—A fleet of restored 1930s White Motor Company coaches, called Red Jammers, offers tours on all the main roads in the park
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—A fleet of restored 1930s White Motor Company coaches, called Red Jammers, offers tours on all the main roads in the park
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—the surrounding mountains are impressively rugged
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—the surrounding mountains are impressively rugged
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—The U-shaped valley was carved out by a glacier
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—The U-shaped valley was carved out by a glacier
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—occasionally, burned areas of forest are visible
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—occasionally, burned areas of forest are visible
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—the 'Going-To-The-Sun' Road offers spectacular views
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—the 'Going-To-The-Sun' Road offers spectacular views
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—a river seen along the 'Sun' Road
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—a river seen along the 'Sun' Road
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—in the background, Going-To-The-Sun mountain
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—in the background, Going-To-The-Sun mountain
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—the park has many flocks of bighorn sheep
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—the park has many flocks of bighorn sheep
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—a bighorn sheep poses for a portrait
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—a bighorn sheep poses for a portrait
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—the trio at Logan Pass, highest point reachable by road
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—the trio at Logan Pass, highest point reachable by road
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—June 20: the snow is still visible at the pass
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—June 20: the snow is still visible at the pass
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—flowers of a mountain meadow
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—flowers of a mountain meadow
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—my feets on the Continental Divide at 6646 ft in Logan Pass
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK—my feets on the Continental Divide at 6646 ft in Logan Pass
CLARK RANGE, ROCKY MOUNTAINS—the southernmost range in Canada
CLARK RANGE, ROCKY MOUNTAINS—the southernmost range in Canada
CLARK RANGE—the lower mountains are forest-covered
CLARK RANGE—the lower mountains are forest-covered
CLARK RANGE—many lakes were formed at the eastern base of the mountains
CLARK RANGE—many lakes were formed at the eastern base of the mountains
CLARK RANGE—the higher peaks are above the tree line and have some snow year-round
CLARK RANGE—the higher peaks are above the tree line and have some snow year-round
CLARK RANGE—the layers formed at the bottom of an ancient sea were tilted upwards...
CLARK RANGE—the layers formed at the bottom of an ancient sea were tilted upwards...
CLARK RANGE—...by plate tectonic collisions some 80-90 million years ago.
CLARK RANGE—...by plate tectonic collisions some 80-90 million years ago.
CLARK RANGE—erosion and periods of glaciation in the past 2 million years formed the sharp peaks and steep valleys
CLARK RANGE—erosion and periods of glaciation in the past 2 million years formed the sharp peaks and steep valleys
CLARK RANGE—the ever-changing landscape was fascinating to drive by
CLARK RANGE—the ever-changing landscape was fascinating to drive by
CLARK RANGE—we spot another herd of bighorn sheep
CLARK RANGE—we spot another herd of bighorn sheep
CLARK RANGE—they watched us as we watched them
CLARK RANGE—they watched us as we watched them
BANFF, ALBERTA, CANADA—the stripes are ski slopes during the winter
BANFF, ALBERTA, CANADA—the stripes are ski slopes during the winter
BANFF—the Banff Gondola takes visitors up to the top of Sulphur Mountain
BANFF—the Banff Gondola takes visitors up to the top of Sulphur Mountain
BANFF—Judy and Dee don't look too thrilled by the gondola ride
BANFF—Judy and Dee don't look too thrilled by the gondola ride
BANFF—the views from the top are pretty spectacular
BANFF—the views from the top are pretty spectacular
BANFF—'lone pine' on the side of Sulphur Mountain
BANFF—'lone pine' on the side of Sulphur Mountain
BANFF—the town wraps around Tunnel Mountain
BANFF—the town wraps around Tunnel Mountain
BANFF—the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, another early 20th century grand Canadian railroad hotel
BANFF—the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, another early 20th century grand Canadian railroad hotel
BANFF—the surrounding mountains are visible from everywhere in town
BANFF—the surrounding mountains are visible from everywhere in town
BANFF—horse carriage for the delight of tourists
BANFF—horse carriage for the delight of tourists
BANFF—a small market and food fair provided local lunch
BANFF—a small market and food fair provided local lunch
BOW RIVER, ALBERTA, CANADA—the river runs through Banff and eventually empties into Hudson Bay
BOW RIVER, ALBERTA, CANADA—the river runs through Banff and eventually empties into Hudson Bay
BOW RIVER—the river winds through the landscape and is a major fishing and canoeing destination
BOW RIVER—the river winds through the landscape and is a major fishing and canoeing destination
BOW RIVER—a tangle of logs at a bend of the river
BOW RIVER—a tangle of logs at a bend of the river
BOW RIVER—a pleasant way to while away an afternoon
BOW RIVER—a pleasant way to while away an afternoon
BOW RIVER—daisy-type flowers along the banks
BOW RIVER—daisy-type flowers along the banks
BOW RIVER—one section of the river flows past 'hoodoos' formed from the soft stone
BOW RIVER—one section of the river flows past 'hoodoos' formed from the soft stone
BOW RIVER—these formations are more commonly seen in desert settings, like Bryce Canyon in Utah
BOW RIVER—these formations are more commonly seen in desert settings, like Bryce Canyon in Utah
BANFF NATIONAL PARK, ALBERTA, CANADA—Canada's oldest national park, established 1885
BANFF NATIONAL PARK, ALBERTA, CANADA—Canada's oldest national park, established 1885
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—the landscape as we drive by was always beautiful
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—the landscape as we drive by was always beautiful
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—from Banff to Jasper, the 140 mile (230 km) road is known as the 'Icefields Parkway'
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—from Banff to Jasper, the 140 mile (230 km) road is known as the 'Icefields Parkway'
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—many glaciers are visible from the road
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—many glaciers are visible from the road
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—many glaciers means many lakes, each more beautiful then the last
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—many glaciers means many lakes, each more beautiful then the last
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—the turquoise colour of Lake Louise comes from rock flour carried into the lake by glacial melt-water
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—the turquoise colour of Lake Louise comes from rock flour carried into the lake by glacial melt-water
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—the Lefroy Glacier is the main source of water for Lake Louise
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—the Lefroy Glacier is the main source of water for Lake Louise
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—early summer wild flowers
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—early summer wild flowers
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—early summer wild flowers
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—early summer wild flowers
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—glacier off in the distance
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—glacier off in the distance
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—another glacier and glacial lake
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—another glacier and glacial lake
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—Peyto Lake, fed by a glacier off to the left
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—Peyto Lake, fed by a glacier off to the left
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—mountain and lake
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—mountain and lake
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—we're at about 6000 ft elevation and the tree line is clearly visible
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—we're at about 6000 ft elevation and the tree line is clearly visible
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—lake in the mountains
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—lake in the mountains
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—really neat seeing the vegetation fade off onto the rocks
BANFF NATIONAL PARK—really neat seeing the vegetation fade off onto the rocks
ATHABASCA GLACIER, ALBERTA, CANADA—one of six glaciers descending from the Columbia Icefield, largest in the Rockies
ATHABASCA GLACIER, ALBERTA, CANADA—one of six glaciers descending from the Columbia Icefield, largest in the Rockies
ATHABASCA GLACIER—end of the glacier and start of Athabasca River whose waters ultimately end in the Arctic Ocean
ATHABASCA GLACIER—end of the glacier and start of Athabasca River whose waters ultimately end in the Arctic Ocean
ATHABASCA GLACIER—the very edge of the glacier with the deposit of rocks carried down from on high
ATHABASCA GLACIER—the very edge of the glacier with the deposit of rocks carried down from on high
ATHABASCA GLACIER—'snowcoaches' take visitors to the surface of the glacier for a slippery stroll
ATHABASCA GLACIER—'snowcoaches' take visitors to the surface of the glacier for a slippery stroll
ATHABASCA GLACIER—the paths are clearly marked to avoid hidden crevasses
ATHABASCA GLACIER—the paths are clearly marked to avoid hidden crevasses
ATHABASCA GLACIER—my feets on the icy glacier
ATHABASCA GLACIER—my feets on the icy glacier
ATHABASCA GLACIER—morning dew melting off a dandelion-like glower
ATHABASCA GLACIER—morning dew melting off a dandelion-like glower
JASPER NATIONAL PARK, ALBERTA, CANADA—the awesome landscape continues into this park north of Banff National Park
JASPER NATIONAL PARK, ALBERTA, CANADA—the awesome landscape continues into this park north of Banff National Park
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—Spirit Island, in Maligne Lake
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—Spirit Island, in Maligne Lake
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—Medicine Lake appears only in summer–in winter, it is a stream
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—Medicine Lake appears only in summer–in winter, it is a stream
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—Athabasca Falls on the river of the same name
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—Athabasca Falls on the river of the same name
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—I think this is part of Sunwapta Falls on the river of the same name
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—I think this is part of Sunwapta Falls on the river of the same name
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—this river has carved out an intricate canyon below
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—this river has carved out an intricate canyon below
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—a short walk in the forest near the river
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—a short walk in the forest near the river
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—rocks and trees, and moss and lichens
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—rocks and trees, and moss and lichens
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—closeup of lovely textures of bark, lichen, and needles
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—closeup of lovely textures of bark, lichen, and needles
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—spotted a deer snacking
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—spotted a deer snacking
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—and more of the bighorn sheep
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—and more of the bighorn sheep
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—more glaciers
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—more glaciers
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—the glaciers appear to flow out of the cloudy sky
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—the glaciers appear to flow out of the cloudy sky
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—the land never fails to delight the senses
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—the land never fails to delight the senses
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—
JASPER NATIONAL PARK—

92 PHOTOS

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