Our #ExploreAlberta adventure begins!
Have you ever noticed that Canadians always rave about their homeland? Not with a bragging tone, but in an appreciative, Canadian kind of way.
When we travel overseas and talk with other travelers, we’re always proud to say, “you’ve got to visit Canada. You’ll LOVE it!”
Back in 2010, when we returned to Vancouver after over a year of perpetual travel, we were inspired to see more of our country. Our time overseas reminded us how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful, diverse country. It also made us realize how little we had actually seen in our own backyard. At that moment, we made it a priority to take advantage of our west coast location and explore as much of Western Canada as possible.
Of course, this meant packing up our trusty black Honda Civic and road tripping to the Canadian Rockies. We labeled that adventure “The Great Canadian Road Trip“. I know, the creativity is mind-blowing.
We spent close to two weeks driving from Vancouver to Banff and back again. It was our first taste of the Rockies and our first time exploring Alberta. I remember that trip vividly, like it happened just last year. We vowed to return, knowing we were about to start a family and that road trips would soon become a big part of our evolving travel style.
Little did we know it would happen so soon!
For this trip, we’ve partnered with Travel Alberta, VIA Rail and a variety of hotels and tour operators. When the itinerary was first emailed to us, we were still in Mexico sweating in the tropical heat. The thought of exchanging the dusty beach for glaciers and rocky mountains was very appealing. We like the beach, but we love the mountains.
Our adventure begins with a bang.
We board an overnight train with VIA Rail that will travel through British Columbia and drop us off in Jasper, an alpine town located in the heart of the majestic Canadian Rockies. Braydon is soooo excited to spend the night on a train. He loves trains and has been telling everyone about his upcoming trip. It’s so cute.
We’ve talked about taking the train through the Rockies for as long as I can remember, so when we learned the overnight train was going to be part of our #ExploreAlberta itinerary we did a happy dance (it wasn’t pretty).
While in Jasper, we will be staying at the Lobstick Lodge, a recently renovated family friendly resort. We will take a peaceful boat cruise around Maligne Lake (picture above) before jumping in the sidecar of a Harley Davidson motorcycle with Jasper Motorcycle Sidecar Tours. Needless to say, we’re pretty stoked to have the opportunity to ride through the mountains in the sidecar of a motorcycle!
We then hit the open road and do what all visitors to Alberta must do – drive the Columbia Icefields Parkway from Jasper to Banff.
This world famous drive will take us through the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site, recognized by UNESCO in 1984 for it’s “exceptional natural beauty”.
On our road trip, we will stop at the Athabasca Falls before arriving at the Columbia Icefields Glacier Discovery Centre, home to the adrenaline fueled Glacier Skywalk (pictured above). I’m not the best at dealing with heights, so this glass floored cliff-edge walkway will surely get my heart pumping.
After we soak up the panoramic views of ice-capped peaks and glacier-formed valleys, we will join the Columbia Icefield Glacier Adventure. We will hop on the massive Brewster Ice Explorer while it drives us through the icefield and stops to let us walk on the Athabasca Glacier. You can see what these bad-ass vehicles look like in this short video clip.
After the glacier tour we continue south to Simpson’s Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, a legendary Rocky Mountain lodge that sits on the shores of Bow Lake. From there, we travel south to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, two of the most iconic lakes in Canada (that’s Moraine Lake in the above photo with Nicole in the canoe).
We arrive in the town of Banff just in time to celebrate Canada Day.
I can’t think of a more perfect place to celebrate our nation’s 147th birthday. Banff will host a Canada Day Parade and we’re told there will be plenty of family activities planned for the big day.
We will be staying at the Banff Rocky Mountain Resort during our time in Banff. The big adventure for Banff is the Via Ferrata Experience on Mt. Norquay, an assisted mountain climbing experience that will have us climbing ladders and crossing a 30 metre suspension bridge.
The road trip continues south to Canmore Kananaskis, where we’ll be staying at the mountain paradise that is the Delta Lodge at Kananaskis (pictured above). We’ve heard great things about this mountain lodge and look forward to an afternoon of hiking, exploring and photography.
From there, we travel east to Calgary. We’ll be in Cow Town just in time for a “Sneak-a-Peak” at the Calgary Stampede, an annual rodeo, exhibition and festival held every July. We’ll be staying at the Hotel Blackfoot, a landmark hotel in south Calgary located just minutes from downtown.
We only have one night in Calgary, so we’ve decided to visit the Heritage Park Historical Village, said to be Canada’s largest living history experience. From what we’ve seen and read, it looks a fun transport back in time.
Our final leg of the road trip will take us to Drumheller, home to the peculiar hoodoos and Dinosaur Valley. Braydon is VERY excited about the opportunity to see dinosaurs. He’s going through a big dinosaur phase right now so this should be a fun experience for him. Although, I’m not sure he fully understands that the dinosaurs aren’t actually alive. I think he thinks we’re visiting a dinosaur zoo.
During our time in Drumheller we’ll be staying at the Ramada Inn and we’ll visit the Royal Tyrell Museum, Canada’s only museum dedicated exclusively to the science of palaeontology. It’s also home to 40 dinosaur skeletons and more than 110,000 fossil specimens.