Rocky Mountain Hot Springs Adventure
With stops at some of Canada’s most iconic destinations, this jam-packed 11-night trip will allow you to discover the very best of the jagged mountain peaks, pristine lakes and endless stretches of highway that the country is so famous for. Combined with stops at some of the best mineral hot springs in the world, this holiday will provide the perfect balance between excitement and relaxation.
On arrival in Calgary, pick up your RV anad begin your drive towards Banff National Park. You will travel along some of Canada’s most iconic highways, through vastly contrasting landscapes and alongside some of nature’s most miraculous achievements. On arrival in Banff, the remainder of the day is yours at leisure. Overnight in Banff.
Banff National Park is considered to be the jewel in the crown of Canada's National Park system and is one of the most visited in the entire of North America. We suggest you spend at least a couple of nights here in order to really soak up the atmosphere and see everything the town has to offer. From the famous Hot Springs to the iconic Banff Gondola, tumbling waterfalls to countless mountain trails, this resort town will capture your heart from the moment you arrive.
Today we recommend a short drive in order to explore the heart of Banff National Park. Your first stop will be at Lake Louise itself. Make sure you take a walk along the waters edge, and perhaps treat yourself to a luxurious afternoon tea or a stroll through the flower-filled gardens of the Chateau Fairmont Lake Louise. We also strongly suggest that you travel part way up the Icefields Parkway; travelling as far as Bow Summit will provide you with a taste of the scenery and wildlife in the area. Later, take a short drive to see the other-worldly blue waters of Peyto Lake and the rugged beauty of the Mistaya River valley stretching out before your eyes.
Take a turn to the right as you return to Lake Louise, which will take you to Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks. Moraine Lake is the sister lake to Lake Louise and the 12.5km drive (closed in winter) has a number of pull-offs where you can stop to take photos and view the jagged peaks beyond the lake. Your day comes to a close as you return to your campsite at Lake Louise. If you don’t feel like cooking your own meal tonight, there are a number of options in around the village for high quality dining. Overnight in Lake Louise.
If you are passionate about photography and don’t mind waking up early, there's no better way to start your day than Lake Louise for the sunrise. You’ll enjoy the solitude of the lake with no crowds and the reflections in the water are unforgettable. We also suggest you see the resort from the sky with a gondola or chairlift ride up Whitehorn mountain.
Today’s final destination is Revelstoke but there’s so much to see before you arrive there. Continuing west on the Trans-Canada Highway you’ll soon find yourself crossing the Alberta/British Columbia border and leaving Banff National Park. Here you will enter Yoho National Park. The first point of interest is at the Spiral Tunnels. From the viewpoint off Highway 1 you have the opportunity to witness, when the train is long enough, the engine exiting the tunnel while the end of the train is still entering.
Make sure you stop at Natural Bridge before continuing on to Emerald Lake, formed by the erosion of solid rock by the Kicking Horse River. Emerald Lake is the largest of Yoho’s 61 lakes and ponds as well as one of the park’s premier tourist attractions. Every view is a photo opportunity.
You may decide to end your day at Canyon Hot Springs and soak in one of the two natural mineral hot pools there. Set in the Columbia Mountains between Glacier and Mount Revelstoke National Parks, Canyon Hot Springs also has an excellent RV Park, if you would prefer to conclude your day here.
On your departure from Revelstoke, travel to the alpine meadows of Mount Revelstoke National Park or visit Boo the bear at the Grizzly Bear Refuge at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Your journey today will have you skirting numerous lakes and passing through many small towns. Highway 23 crosses the water at Shelter Bay where you board a free ferry to Galena. In the village of Nakusp, the local museum highlights the town’s pioneer history. For a peaceful retreat, stroll along the waterfront Japanese gardens then enjoy a dip in the soothing hot springs.
New Denver and Silverton sit on the eastern shore of Slocan Lake, where you’ll find museums, artisan studios and plenty of outdoor activity options. Hike or bike along the abandoned rail line which forms part of the Galena Trail. You can start this easy 13km (8 mi) trail from Three Forks or the lakeshore at Rosebery. Then visit Sandon, an historic gold rush ghost town that was once known as the ‘Monte Carlo of the North’. You will then follow Highway 31A to Kaslo, whose natural harbour once bustled with activity as ore barges, rowboats, steamships and sternwheelers jostled for a place alongside the busy wharf. Overnight in Kaslo.
Continue south along Highway 31 to Ainsworth Hot Springs to sink into more soothing mineral waters.. Explore the cave or relax in the main pool overlooking picturesque Kootenay Lake. From Ainsworth Hot Springs take the short drive to Balfour to await the 35-minute ferry for your crossing to Kootenay Bay. There are no ferry terminals – just drive up and get in line. Plan a visit to the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area – a refuge for more than 250 bird species. Take the boardwalk trail to a three-story viewing tower or enjoy the nature programs at the Interpretive Centre.
From Creston, travel east on Highway 3 to Cranbrook, which has transformed from a thriving railway town to become the largest city in the Kootenay Rockies. Fuelled by the railway, the city’s 19th century heritage homes reflect the opulence of the city’s early years. If you want to end the day here try Mount Baker RV Park, a nice campground located in downtown Cranbrook with large shade trees, a creek and a warm family atmosphere. Ask for your CanaDream Club discount (subject to some blackout dates).
Take Highway 93 to Fort Steele Heritage Town a restored Northwest Mounted Police Fort. Today, over 60 restored or reconstructed homes and buildings are waiting to take visitors back to the 1890’s. Take in the live street dramas, visit the blacksmith, ride a horse drawn wagon or steam train, or take in a Wild Horse Theatre show. Alternatively, drive north along Highway 95A to Kimberley, a Bavarian themed community with a four-season alpine resort. Overnight in Kimberley.
Head north on Highway 93/95 to Fairmont Hot Springs. The Fairmont’s year-round, crystal-clear hot spring pools beckon travellers with their irresistible mineral-rich waters. The resort also offers golfing, skiing, hiking, biking, horseback riding and spa services. Continue on to Invermere and browse through charming shops and visit the Pynelogs Cultural Centre, host to theatrical products, concerts and workshops year-round. If you’re in the mood for an ATV adventure, check out Toby Creek Adventures; half and full day tours will take you to see some spectacular high alpine scenery.
Tonight’s destination is Radium Hot Springs, located in Kootenay National Park. This is one of the largest hot spring mineral pools in Canada. Soak away your tensions while gazing up at the red cliffs of Sinclair Canyon. Keep watch for bighorn sheep, which have long been local residents of the community. Overnight in Radium Hot Springs.
Your route today takes you over the Banff Windermere Parkway through Kootenay National Park. The road passes through spectacular mountain scenery west of the continental divide and follows the valleys of the Vermilion and Kootenay rivers. These two valleys form the core of Kootenay National Park. There are plenty of pull-offs and lookout points along the way where you can get out and admire or explore the virtually untouched wilderness.
Later we suggest you walk across the road to Johnson Canyon and take a hike to the Lower and/or Upper Falls. This is Banff National Park’s most popular hiking destination. The path takes you into the depths of a canyon along catwalks and amongst spectacular waterfalls. See the impressive lower falls and walk through a tunnel to get an even closer look at the powerful effects of water. An early morning start may help you avoid the crowds. If you’re still looking for something to do after hiking to the Falls, consider a trip northbound on the Bow Valley Parkway (you’ll be doing the southbound trip tomorrow). The Bow Valley Parkway offers exciting opportunities for wildlife viewing and is a beautiful scenic drive. Overnight at Johnson Canyon.
It’s another easy drive today, allowing you plenty of time to stop along the way. Head south on the Bow Valley Parkway, admiring the scenery as you wind your way along this road at a leisurely pace. If you didn’t visit Lake Minnewanka during your stay in Banff, take the turn-off to the Lake and follow the Minnewanka Loop trail. Lake Minnewanka (meaning ‘Water of the Spirits’) is a man-made lake, having been flooded in 1941 for a hydro-electric dam. The dam raised the lake 30m and submerged the town beneath it. Because of the presence of the submerged village, the lake is popular among recreational scuba divers. During the summer you often see big-horn sheep licking the salt from the road beside the lake.
From Minnewanka, the loop continues on to Two Jack Lake, a sheltered lake with facilities for picnickers. Further on a road branching off the loop runs to Johnson Lake, another day-use area cantered on a shallow lake ringed with trails. South of the junction on Highway 40, you’ll come to an area on the right called Canoe Meadows. This is a popular place for kayakers and white-water rafting. Take a walk down to the water but be careful as the river level can rise rapidly in a short time due to hydro-electric operations up-river. Overnight in Kananaskis.
Today there’s the opportunity for a trail ride at Boundary Ranch. The two-hour Ridge Ride travels high above the valley to capture a breath-taking view of the entire Kananaskis area. As you wind your way down around the pond, you might catch a glimpse of a moose and her calf sunning themselves!
If you’re travelling back to Calgary between June and December, you can take Highway 40 south through Peter Lougheed Provincial Park to Longview. Once at Longview, explore the area and discover Diamond Valley – the heart of the Cowboy Trail. If you take this route, we suggest you then take Highway 7 east then Highway 547 and 24 to Mossleigh where you can spend your last night at Aspen Crossing RV Park. While it may seem a little out of the way, it will give you an easy commute back into Calgary in the morning to drop off your vehicle
Sadly, today your unforgettable exploration of Canada’s wonderland has to come to a close. Return your RV in Calgary and make your way to the airport for your return flight to the UK.