Vancouver, British Columbia is a great place to start a tour. This city has a lot to offer. It is beautifully located with majestic mountains overlooking the English Bay (Pacific Ocean). It's clean and well kept with a stately British atmosphere.
While in Vancouver, walk downtown to Gastown (main shopping center) and Chinatown. Walk to Granville Island, a lively area with public markets, pubs, restaurants. Rent bikes and ride around Stanley Park for lovely views. The park is framed by a seven mile seawall path busy with roller bladers, joggers and cyclists. There are two lakes, a rose garden, totem poles and tide pools for children. The Japanese Tea House is a neat spot to stop for a treat.
Take the ferry to Victoria, western Canada's oldest city. It is known as the City of Gardens. The boulevards are planted with Japanese flowering cherry trees. Victoria has a long and proud seafaring history. Stop at the Empress Hotel(steeped in the timeless tradition of British heritage) for famous High Tea. Don't miss Parliament, another quite stately building. Check out Fan Tan Alley, and most important, visit the incredibly beautiful Butchart Gardens.
If you have more time, drive to or take a tour of the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge (230 ft. high with a 450 ft. span) across the raging waters of Capilano Canyon in North Vancouver. Take the cable car to Grouse Mountain, the peak of Vancouver and ride the ski lift to the summit.
From Vancouver, you can take the Rocky Mountaineer train ride which is quite spectacular, offering excellent service and good food. The train travels to different locations of your choice. Our route followed the Fraser River to the Thomson River, passing Hell's Gate. We stayed on the train for two days, stopping overnite at Kamloops and continuing on to Jasper in Alberta Province. Here we rented a car and stayed for a few days at Pyramid Lake Resort, a lovely scenic and rustic resort with chalet cabins; it was reasonable and convenient to town. Deer, elk, mountain sheep all abound here, bears too, but we did not see a bear. Our final day here we took the Jasper Tramway up 7500 ft. for great views.
Leaving Jasper and heading towards the Icefield Parkway, we traveled on to Maligne Lake, which is worth a stop. It is bounded by magnificent glacier-clad summits, and the water is turquoise. It presents a beautiful view of the Rockies. We stopped at Mt. Edith Cavell. Here you can hike to Angel Glacier and Cavell Glacier, very interesting formations created by the glacier. Continuing on you will come to the Athabasca River where the white water is so turbulent, forcing activity into the river (River of No Return with Monroe/Mitchum) was filmed here.
On our way to the Columbia Icefields, we stopped at the goat lick, where these guys congregate to lick the salt from the soil minerals that have drifted down the mountains. It's worth the stop for a photo. We spent the night at the Columbia Icefield Chalet, and next day we took the Snow Coach ride on this amazing glacier (about 1000 ft. thick and 3 ¾ miles long.) It drains into three oceans: Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic.
In this area, there are more great spots to stop and see. Bridal Veil Falls, Mistaya Canyon, Waterfowl Lake. Walk the trail at Bow Summit, and you can't miss fabulous turquoise Peyto Lake. Our next stop was
[Lake Louise, an outstanding beautiful turquoise lake, cradled by the magnificent Rockies. This is a very touristy area, moreso than Jasper. The hotel is in an exceptionally beautiful location. We took an hour or two hike here, had lunch and continued on to Canmore (ten miles outside of Banff) where we stayed a few more days. This was a good choice….to get away from the crowds. In Canmore, we found a great restaurant...Sinclairs.]
Don't miss Moraine Lake (near Lake Louise); it may be the prettiest turquoise lake of all. There is a trail around the lake shore where you can walk. If you continue on to YoHo National Park, go thru Kicking Horse Pass, across Continental Drive and back into British Columbia. View the railroad spiral tunnels from a distance; They were completed in 1909. From there, continue on to Takakkaw Falls.
Going back into Alberta, we took the Bow River Valley Parkway to Banff and drove up Tunnel Mt. for picturesque views and a great photo shot of Banff Spring Hotel. Take the Sulphur Mt. gondola for another spectacular view. The gondola holds four riders so the view is greater than the cable car which holds 80 riders. At the top, you will see the old 1903 weather tower and a large clan of mountain sheep that hang around, hoping tourists will feed them; however, it is illegal to do so.
Banff Springs Hotelis an elegant and grand Scottish Baronial castle resort nestled in the Rockies (45 minutes drive from Lake Louise). The grounds and views are beautiful within a background of Scots playing the bagpipes.
In this area, you can drive to Spray Lakes in Canmore and Kananaskis, site of filming for The Edge (Hopkins/Baldwin). This country area is filmed often for Hollywood productions because of the natural beauty and wilderness.
Drive on to Calgary (Cow Town). Big time here is in July when they have the annual Stampede. Go to Heritage Park for a glimpse of the frontier's past; there is an interesting recreation of a pre-1914 prairie community. Calgary centre offers a Chinatown community, and Olympic Park is nearby (site of 1988 Winter Olympics). And if you didn't see a bear or moose on your trip, go to the Calgary Zoo.
Canada Photo Gallery
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