Canadian Badlands & Southern Alberta Self-Drive
Take a step back in time where the Head-Smashed-In Historic Site and Museum commemorates the oldest buffalo jump on the Canadian prairie. In contrast, you will also visit Drumheller and see the Badlands where dinosaurs used to roam.
Upon arrival into Calgary Airport transfer by scheduled shuttle to your Calgary Hotel, and the remained of the day is at leisure.
You have 2 full days to explore this wonderful city. Visit the Calgary Tower for panoramic views of the city and skyline. Take an interactive tour or watch the beauty of the sunset over the Rockies. Located at the top of the tower is the city’s only revolving restaurant which offers contemporary dining. Visit Calgary Zoo and experience black and white magic with the pandas! In 2018 the Zoo welcomes four giant pandas, giving you an exclusive opportunity to see these precious animals.
Today you will collect you hire car and take the short (2 hour) drive from Calgary to Banff on either the Trans- Canada Highway or the more scenic 1A Highway. Once in Banff proceed to
your selected hotel to check in and the rest of the day is yours to explore at your own leisure.
A full day to explore Banff and the surrounding area. In town you’ll find lots of excitement including shopping, cafés, nightlife and museums. Check out the Cave and Basin National Historic Site (not included), Banff Gondola (included) where you will see a panoramic view of the Bow Valley, and then take a dip in the restorative hot mineral pools at the Upper Hot Springs (included).
Drive to Calgary today, along the 1A Highway. Along the way, you may wish to stop at the Stoney Nakoda Resort to enjoy one of the exhilarating helicopter tours offering a bird’s eye view of beautiful Kananaskis Country and the glorious Rocky Mountains (not included). Arrive in Calgary, a place buzzing with innovative energy while embracing its rich western
heritage. Enjoy a visit to the iconic Calgary Tower (admission included). Another highlight worth visiting is the Heritage Park Historical Village (admission not included) on the city’s south side, a “living museum” representing turn off the-century Calgary with costumed interpreters, a steam train and scale-model sternwheeler, an old-fashioned candy store
and much more. In the evening, embrace Calgary’s vibrant entertainment and culinary scene.
Depart Calgary, heading east toward Drumheller. There is nowhere quite like the Drumheller Valley; Dinosaur Capital of Canada! Being here will take you into another world - the world of startling contrasts between the deep past and the exciting present. Rolling fields suddenly give way to steep, dry coulees ridged with the strata of hundreds of years of
erosion by time, wind and water. Don’t miss the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology (included) - Canada’s largest dinosaur museum where you can journey through time and come face-to-face with incredible creatures that lived millions of years ago.
From Drumheller, travel two hours to Dinosaur Provincial Park, where you will have a chance escape the ordinary and venture into the rugged Canadian Badlands. The Explorer’s Bus Tour (included) provides the opportunity to experience the stunning views of the park’s Natural Preserve from the comfort and safety of the tour bus. You will be getting off the bus at various stops to see the badlands and fossils up close and personal. One stop includes a full body (articulated skeleton) of a Corythosaurus, the “helmet headed lizard”. Continue to Cypress Hills Provincial Park – the hidden gem of Southern Alberta (about 2 hours and 40 minutes), you’ll overnight in Elkwater.
At Cypress Hills Provincial Park, you can visit the Interpretive Program Schedule to book an interpretive hike or Dark Sky Planetarium experience to learn how to navigate the bright stars and constellations. Enjoy an array of outdoor adventures for any activity level; head over to the Interpretive Centre in Elkwater, where you can rent a bike, canoe, paddleboard, kayak, pedal boat, and GPS system for geo-caching scavenger hunts. Try dinner at the Camp Cookhouse for a rustic gourmet experience with dishes prepared by one of Canada’s Top Chef’s and made with local ingredients (activities and admissions not included).
Travel west on the Red Coat Trail toward Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park to experience the largest concentration of rock art on the plains. Explore this National Historic Site with an interpreter, lounge by the bubbling Milk River and hike the hoodoo trails. Visit the Interpretive Centre for a behind the scenes guided experience with a local aboriginal guide to explore the Archaeological Preserve. Drive approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes from Writing-On-Stone to Lethbridge where you’ll spend the night.
On your way out of Lethbridge, you may wish to stop in at Fort Whoop- Up, an old fort and outlaw trading post, allowing visitors to step into life at a frontier outpost on the Great Plains, to discover exhibits about Canada’s first Mounties, whiskey and firearms traders and Blackfoot history and culture (not included). In Waterton, stroll through the town to shop, dine at the restaurants, visit the beach or hike the trails that start from the town site. You may wish to visit the Prince of Wales Hotel – a National Historic Site – for afternoon tea and lots of opportunities to take amazing photographs.
The day is yours to discover the wonders of this beautiful region. You may wish to travel to Montana’s Glacier National Park (the U.S. half of this International Peace Park) via the famous Going to the Sun Road, an astonishing feat of engineering and spectacular scenery as well. A popular activity is a 16-km drive from the Waterton townsite to Red Rock Canyon - a colourful canyon of red, green and white banded rock cliffs, green alpine forests and bubbling white waterfalls.
Travel north for 1 hour and 10 minutes to experience Head-Smashed‐In Buffalo Jump (included), a UNESCO World Heritage Site that tells the story of the hunting practice of the native people of the North American plains for the past 6000 years. A native guide leads you through the exhibit and out to the cliff jump, sharing the history and lifestyle of the first people. There may even be drumming in the plaza. Continue north for 2 hours to Calgary Airport where you will drop off your hire car and stay overnight.
Today you will leave the Province of Alberta behind and board your flight back to the UK