Rocky Mountain Vacations to Escape to Post-Pandemic

Encompassing mountains, prairies, desert badlands, vast forests, glaciers and more than 600 lakes, Alberta is a province of wide open spaces and stunning contrasts. And as we step out of a global pandemic and into what we hope will be a promising future for travel, we couldn’t think of anywhere more ideal to go.

After all, Canada has far more space than people, and in Alberta, everything is just a little more enhanced — particularly the Rocky Mountains. So before we get into our recommended Rocky Mountain vacations, let’s tackle a few of our frequently asked questions. Have more or don’t see yours answered? Get in touch with our team and they’ll be happy to chat!

Where are the Rocky Mountains?

The entirety of the Rocky Mountains spans some 3,000 miles from British Columbia and Alberta in Canada to New Mexico in the United States. Because they cut through the states of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado, it’s possible to have a Rocky Mountain vacation in the US — but trust us, you’ll want to come to Canada to see them at their most dramatic.

Just an overnight train ride or approximate 9-hour drive from Vancouver, the Canadian Rocky Mountains stun with towering peaks, turquoise glacial lakes, endless forests and ample wildlife. If you’re coming from Calgary, the trip is even shorter, at around two hours to the popular alpine town of Banff. Popular stops include Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff.

How to visit the Canadian Rockies

There are so many ways to visit the Canadian Rockies, but let’s start with getting there. Train travel is available from Vancouver to Jasper onboard VIA Rail or Rocky Mountaineer, and arriving by rail is truly magical. Once you arrive, you’ll officially be within the bounds of Jasper and Banff National Parks, meaning rail travel can’t continue and you’ll need to travel the rest of the way by car. We can easily arrange shuttles, rental cars or private SUV’s, based on your budget and preference.

Travel with Sundog Tours

One of our top recommendations is to travel between Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff with Sundog Tours. The drive will take you past sweeping glaciers, immense waterfalls and shimmering mountain lakes, all as your interpretive tour guide shares stories and explains the geographical and historical significance of the region. Sightseeing stops along the way include Athabasca Falls, the Weeping Wall, Bow Lake, and the Crowfoot Glacier.

At each town you’ll have your choice of incredible places to stay, from the iconic Fairmont properties to the Rocky Mountain resorts of Buffalo Mountain Lodge, Deer Lodge and Emerald Lake Lodge. Each of these resorts offers an experience only rivalled by its surroundings — think culinary excellence, copious activities and cozy rooms in stunning settings.

Emerald Lake Lodge

Set on its own private peninsula in the middle of Emerald Lake, Emerald Lake Lodge allows you to reconnect with nature and each other, offering WiFi service only in the main lodge, limited cell phone service and no televisions in the guest rooms. There are 24 cabin-style buildings on the 13-acre property, meaning you can socially distance that much easier — and just outside is Yoho National Park, where outdoor activities like canoeing and hiking abound.

Deer Lodge

Located in Banff National Park, Deer Lodge is just three minutes on foot from beautiful Lake Louise. Originally built as a teahouse in 1923, it still retains much of its original hand-hewn log structure and decor, creating an authentic, rustic atmosphere beloved by many. Enhance your stay by sampling Rocky Mountain cuisine at the lodge restaurant, which carries an artful assemblage of Canadian ingredients such as bison and elk raised on CRM Ranch, sustainable seafood, prairie-grown grains and locally sourced vegetables.

Buffalo Mountain Lodge

Distinct from other Banff hotels, Buffalo Mountain Lodge is perched above the town on Tunnel Mountain. Boasting post and beam construction and high open ceilings, the guest rooms feature wood burning stone fireplaces and the restaurant follows a farm-to-table philosophy. Think smoked, cured and roasted wild game, tasty root vegetables and fresh indigenous berries.

How many days do you need in Alberta?

If you’re only planning to visit Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff, a week in the Rockies should be sufficient. However, if you want to see other parts of Alberta such as the Canadian Badlands or spend a little extra time in cities like Calgary and Edmonton, you’ll want to up it to 10 days. It is possible to visit the Rockies with less than one week, however you’ll miss out on some experiences.

Where should I go for a weekend in Alberta?

For those who are short on time or perhaps just want a romantic weekend getaway, we highly recommend Banff, Alberta. Home to Canada’s ‘Castle in the Rockies’, the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, a lively little town with restaurants and bars, a hot springs, gondola for sightseeing and plenty of outdoor activities, it has everything you need to enjoy a weekend away.

Another fantastic choice is the city of Calgary, with its burgeoning restaurant and bar scene, Indigenous experiences, and festivals like 'The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth', Calgary Stampede. Taking place each July, professional cowboys compete for rodeo events like bull riding, roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing, while the midway offers great exhibits, fun shows, concerts and creative eats. Be sure to catch the incredible Grandstand Show that includes comedy, elaborate song and dance numbers, acrobatics and a spectacular fireworks finale.

What is the best month to visit Banff?

There are two times of year that are great to visit Banff, Alberta, depending on the experience you wish to have. In summer, July and August bring warm weather, plenty of wildlife sightings (including bears!) and activities like whitewater rafting, canoeing, horseback riding, hiking, zip lining and biking.

The alternative is to visit Banff in the winter months of December to March, when it transforms into an incredible winter wonderland complete with sparkling snow, frozen lakes and unique snow-based activities. Try skiing and snowboarding, iceclimbing frozen waterfalls or sightseeing from the Banff Gondola. Then, cap off the day at Miette Hot Springs, the hottest natural springs in the Canadian Rockies.

How far is Banff from Lake Louise?

The drive between Banff and Lake Louise is only 35 miles, and therefore takes about an hour and a half if you're enjoying stops along the way. Following the Bow Valley Parkway, you can enjoy the sights of Banff National Park including Johnston Canyon, Castle Mountain and Morant's Curve. Take a tip from us and book your travel with Sundog Tours, which offers comfortable transportation between Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff.

What is the best Canadian Rockies itinerary?

We’re glad you asked! We’re experts in planning the best Canadian Rockies itineraries, and can customize yours to suit all your unique needs and preferences. To inspire, here are a few to get started:

Journey through the Canadian Rockies Train & Drive Trip | Rocky Mountaineer

7 Days | View the Full Itinerary

Combine a road trip with a train journey on this 7-day trip in the Canadian Rockies. Beginning aboard Rocky Mountaineer for two days from Vancouver to Jasper, you can enjoy your train trip at a relaxed pace before exploring Lake Louise, Banff and Calgary by car.

  • DAY 1 Vancouver to Kamloops | Rocky Mountaineer
  • DAY 2 Kamloops to Jasper | Rocky Mountaineer
  • DAY 3 Jasper | Freedom of Choice - Choose 1 of 3 Excursions
  • Option 1. Maligne Lake Cruise
  • Option 2. Jasper River Float
  • Option 3. Jasper Nature Walk
  • DAY 4 Jasper to Lake Louise | Ice Explorer + Skywalk
  • Ice Explorer Ride onto the Athabasca Glacier + Glacier Skywalk
  • DAY 5 Lake Louise to Banff
  • DAY 6 Banff | Freedom of Choice - Choose 1 of 4 Excursions
  • Option 1. Banff Gondola
  • Option 2. Lake Minnewanka Cruise
  • Option 3. River Explorer Canoe Tour
  • Option 4. Bow River Horseback Adventure
  • DAY 7 Banff to Calgary

Majestic Canada Rail Vacation through the Rockies | VIA Rail

7 Days | View the Full Itinerary

Another 7-day tour option, travel from the coastal city of Vancouver to Calgary, Alberta. Spend a night on VIA Rail in your own cozy sleeper cabin, waking to the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains as you pull into Jasper. Stay here and travel by coach to the other resort towns of Lake Louise and Banff.

  • DAY 1 Vancouver to Jasper | VIA Rail
  • DAY 2 Arrive Jasper | VIA Rail
  • DAY 3 Jasper | Freedom of Choice - Choose 1 of 2 Excursions
  • Option 1. Morning Maligne Valley with Medicine Lake Tour
  • Option 2. Evening Discover Jasper & its Wildlife Tour
  • DAY 4 Jasper to Lake Louse | Sightseeing with picnic lunch
  • Ice Explorer Ride onto the Athabasca Glacier + Glacier Skywalk
  • DAY 5 Lake Louise to Banff | Coach
  • DAY 6 Banff | Freedom of Choice - Choose 1 of 3 Excursions
  • Option 1. Discover Banff & Its Wildlife Tour + Banff Gondola
  • Option 2. Discover the Grizzly Bears Lake & Waterfalls
  • Option 3. Cowboy Horseback Cookout BBQ Lunch or Dinner
  • DAY 7 Banff to Calgary | Coach

Spectacular Lodges of the Canadian Rockies Road Trip

7 Days | View the Full Itinerary

Breathe in the spirit of Western Canada through its rugged canyons, weeping waterfalls, unique wildlife and national parks, all while staying in luxury lodges with spectacular mountain scenery! The best thing about this 7-day road trip is you can travel entirely at your own pace.

  • DAY 1 Vancouver to Sun Peaks
  • DAY 2 Sun Peaks to Jasper
  • DAY 3 Jasper | Freedom of Choice - Choose 1 of 3 Excursions
  • Option 1. Maligne Lake Cruise
  • Option 2. Jasper River Float
  • Option 3. Jasper Nature Walk
  • DAY 4 Jasper to Moraine Lake | Ice Explorer + Skywalk
  • Ice Explorer Ride onto the Athabasca Glacier + Glacier Skywalk
  • DAY 5 Moraine Lake to Emerald Lake
  • DAY 6 Emerald Lake to Banff
  • DAY 7 Banff to Calgary

Discover Whistler and the Canadian Rockies Road Trip

8 Days | View the Full Itinerary

Explore Western Canada on a road trip through Whistler and the Rockies. This itinerary is ideal for those who want to travel at a leisurely pace, and includes the Whistler Peak 2 Peak Gondola, an Ice Explorer Ride on the Athabasca Glacier and your choice of tours in Jasper & Banff.

  • DAY 1 Vancouver to Whistler
  • DAY 2 Whistler | Peak 2 Peak Gondola Ride
  • DAY 3 Whistler to Sun Peak
  • DAY 4 Sun Peaks to Jasper
  • DAY 5 Jasper | Freedom of Choice - Choose 1 of 3 Excursions
  • Option 1. Maligne Lake Cruise
  • Option 2. Jasper River Float
  • Option 3. Jasper Nature Walk
  • DAY 6 Jasper to Banff | Ice Explorer + Skywalk
  • Ice Explorer Ride onto the Athabasca Glacier + Glacier Skywalk
  • DAY 7 Banff | Freedom of Choice - Choose 1 of 4 Excursions
  • Option 1. Banff Gondola
  • Option 2. Lake Minnewanka Cruise
  • Option 3. River Explorer Canoe Tour
  • Option 4. Bow River Horseback Adventure
  • DAY 8 Banff to Calgary

Vancouver & the Canadian Rockies Train Vacation

8 Days | View the Full Itinerary

Experience Western Canada and Vancouver on this popular Canadian Rockies train vacation. Start with your choice between a day excursion to Victoria or Whistler, then board VIA Rail's renowned Canadian train and travel overnight in a sleeper cabin to Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff and Calgary.

  • DAY 1 Vancouver | Arrival
  • DAY 2 Vancouver | Freedom of Choice - Choose 1 of 2 Excursions
  • Option 1. Victoria & Butchart Gardens | Coach | ferry | floatplane
  • Option 2. Whistler with Sea to Sky Gondola | Coach | floatplane
  • DAY 3 Vancouver to Jasper | VIA Rail
  • DAY 4 Arrive Jasper | VIA Rail
  • DAY 5 Jasper to Lake Louise | Sightseeing with picnic lunch
  • Ice Explorer Ride onto the Athabasca Glacier + Glacier Skywalk
  • DAY 6 Lake Louise to Banff | Coach
  • DAY 7 Banff | Freedom of Choice - Choose 1 of 3 Excursions
  • Option 1. Discover Banff & Its Wildlife Tour + Banff Gondola
  • Option 2. Discover the Grizzly Bears Lake & Waterfalls
  • Option 3. Cowboy Horseback Cookout BBQ Lunch or Dinner
  • DAY 8 Banff to Calgary | Coach

Feeling inspired? Chat with one of our travel designers to create a custom trip that's just for you. Prefer to simply stay in touch? Subscribe to our newsletter for up-to-date deals, trip ideas and more!

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