Canada 150th Heritage Tour
Alberta and British Columbia are home to thousands of amazing places just waiting to be explored. The natural waters found in hot springs throughout the provinces have been used for therapeutic purposes for thousands of years. Today, soaking in the hot springs remains a popular experience for generations of travellers. Take a road trip through the Canadian Rockies to relax, soothe your muscles, and soak in the history of Canada’s legendary national parks.
Day 1: Cave and Basin, Banff National Park
• Beginning from Calgary, head northwest to the Cave and Basin National Historic Site and learn how two European railroad workers’ discovery led to the creation of Canada’s first national park.
• Venture up Sulphur Mountain to experience the mineral waters for yourself at the Banff Upper Hot Springs.
• Enjoy an evening stroll along Banff Avenue. Numerous restaurants and local breweries give you plenty of options for dinner or a drink.
Day 2: Radium Hot Springs
• Pack a picnic and download the Explora Kootenay App before you leave Banff. Admire the incredible scenery and enjoy your personal guided trip through Kootenay National Park, narrated by Parks Canada staff.
• Hop out and stretch your legs – there are several roadside attractions detailed on our Kootenay Park map on pg 47 of our 2017 guide.
• Treat yourself to dinner at one of the excellent restaurants in the village of Radium Hot Springs then end your day with a soak in the historic pools. The facility also features a cool pool with a diving board, ideal for the kids!
Day 3: Golden
• Head north on Hwy 95 and watch for eagles and osprey as you admire views of the Columbia Valley Wetlands. Stop for a snack or pick up some locally-baked goodies at one of the shops in Spillimacheen.
• Enjoy a relaxing afternoon exploring Golden and its quaint and unique downtown riverside area. Test your skills on the local mountain biking trails, go para-sailing, or sign up for a thrilling, professionally-guided white-water rafting trip down the legendary Kicking Horse River.
Day 4: Jasper
• Pack a hearty lunch and some water for this breathtaking leg of the trip!
• From Golden follow the Trans-Canada Highway 57 km east to Field. Consider a side trip to stunning Emerald Lake or Takakkaw Falls, one the most impressive waterfalls in Canada.
• Continuing east on the Trans-Canada Highway, take the Icefields Parkway north to Jasper. The parkway, one of the most scenic highways in the world, features amazing sights and non-stop opportunities for adventure.
• Along the 230 km Icefields Parkway there are plenty of dayuse areas and pull-outs to explore. Local favourites include swimming in Herbert Lake, visiting the hidden Panther Falls from the Bridal Veil Falls pull-out, and taking in the view after a relatively easy hike up Parker Ridge. (See our detailed map on pg 34 of our 2017 guide.)
• Jasper has an abundance of first-class shopping and dining experiences. Explore the town and watch out for bull elk around the townsite. Also, be sure to take in the sparkling night skies that Jasper is famous for! To learn more, stop at the Info Centre and ask for a free copy of our sister map guide, Experience Jasper Visitor Map.
Day 5: Miette Hot Springs
• Head east on The Yellowhead, Hwy 16, to Miette Hot Springs. Keep your eyes peeled as bears and bighorn sheep are often seen along Hwy 16 and Miette Road.
• Get your heart pumping with a challenging hike on the Sulphur Skyline trail or take a gentle stroll to the ruins of Miette’s first aquacourt at the hot springs’ source.
• After an amazing day, relax your muscles in Miette Hot Springs, the warmest of the Canadian Rockies’ hot springs.
Day 6: Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site
• Continue northeast for 81 km on Hwy 16 to Hinton. This full-service town has a population of 10,000. Consider an exciting heli-tour with Peregrine Helicopters or a side trip to explore the wilderness. You can also explore a number of old coal mines in the area. Be sure to stop at Travel Alberta Info Centre for a copy of Experience Our Coal History, a free self-guided coal mine tour map.
• Located 2 hrs east of Hinton, at the crossroads of Hwy 22 (The Cowboy Trail), the Pembina River is the perfect place to cool your heels on a hot summer day.
• Turn right (south) onto the Cowboy Trail. It’s just 90 min to Rocky Mountain House, however, you’ll want to make a stop, or two, along the way. For example, you don’t want to miss Em-Te Town, a one-of-a-kind western frontier town with a saloon, jailhouse. For more information about this, and all of the attractions on Hwy 22, be sure to pick up a free copy of our Experience the Cowboy Trail magazine.
• Step back in time and learn about the role the fur trade played in the development of Western Canada at the Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site. After visiting the archaeological remains of 4 trading posts, camp in comfort in a tipi or a trapper tent while learning about Indigenous culture and fur-trading traditions.
Day 7: Calgary
• Enjoy a scenic three-hour drive back to Calgary along the Cowboy Trail. The highway, which curls through quaint country towns and meanders through Alberta’s idyllic ranchland, includes photo-ops around every bend. No doubt this won’t be the last time you visit these beautiful regions…and some of Canada’s storied National Parks and National Historic Sites!