Alberta is best known for its breath-taking Rocky Mountains scenery. However, visit in summer and you’ll find Banff and Jasper National Parks brimming with tourists eager to look at the area’s brilliant blue-hued lakes.
At this time of year, the parks are crowded and car parks full with many of the most popular bucket-list stops full by sunrise. Travel Alberta’s focus is to encourage visitation to the Rockies outside the peak summer season with travellers arriving to explore in shoulder season (late April/May or Sept/Oct) or preferably winter instead, thus helping their goal to sustainably manage visitation and also encourage responsible travel to the Canadian Rockies.
Why not top and tail a visit to the Rockies with stops in Edmonton and/or Calgary. Visit in winter for world-class snow sports and winter wonderland scenery and experiences such as:
Dining under the stars and new ‘Night Owl’ ice walk through Maligne Canyon in Jasper NP past breath-taking frozen waterfalls – launched 13 December 2019. www.banffjaspercollection.com
Road trippin’ through the Rocky Mountains amidst snow-capped trees and driving along the iconic Icefields Parkway – regularly voted as one of the world’s best road trips. icefieldsparkway.com
Undertake the Johnston Canyon Icewalk with Discover Banff Tours to see epic frozen waterfalls. www.banfftours.com
Try snowshoeing at night at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise – come darkness, journey into the woods on snowshoes and enter a world of stillness and mystery. If the skies are clear, you might see some of the great constellations that wheel overhead: Cassiopeia, the Great Bear and Orion the Hunter. www.fairmont.com
Take a sleigh ride along the edge of frozen Lake Louise to feel as if you’ve stepped into a fairytale. Afterwards visit the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise’s Ice Bar or take in afternoon tea for some winter warmth. Alternatively go ice skating on the iconic lake or try cross-country skiing. www.fairmont.com
Hit the slopes at one of SkiBig3’s resorts (Sunshine Village, Lake Louise Ski Resort or Mt. Norquay) or try snowboarding at Marmot Basin in Jasper National Park www.skibig3.com
Get an adrenaline rush on an inflatable snow tube at Banff’s Mt. Norquay Resort – it boasts Canada’s longest, fastest sliding lanes and offers a downhill thrill of a different kind. www.banffnorquay.com
Ramp up the luxury element of your winter adventure and see frozen Alberta from the air with a tour with Rockies Heli. www.rockiesheli.com
Go ice-climbing on a 30 metre frozen waterfall with Rockaboo Mountain Adventures at Maligne Canyon – no experience necessary! www.rockaboo.ca
Join Pursuit for their ‘Icefields and Ice Bubbles’ tour through remote David Thompson Country to navigate a winter wonderland setting to see the spectacular Cline River Canyon (featured in Hollywood movies like Togo) before heading to Abraham Lake to see the ice bubbles phenomena. www.pursuitadventures.ca
Visit Edmonton’s majestic Ice Castles in Hawrelak Park - this award-winning frozen attraction is built by ice artists using hundreds of thousands of hand-placed icicles to create ice castles with LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels. They’re only available in six locations in North America and Edmonton is home to the only one in Canada. www.icecastles.com/alberta
Combine a visit to Edmonton with a day trip to Elk Island National Park – this is Canada’s only fully enclosed national park and is the cornerstone of Alberta’s bison recovery story. Find it just 40 minutes from Edmonton. www.pc.gc.ca
Relax at the recently opened Kananaskis Nordic Spa at the Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge. www.knordicspa.com
Try fat-biking through a winter wonderland landscape such as a Goat Creek Trail or at Tunnel Mountain. www.banfflakelouise.com
Visit Calgary’s Winsport to see the original bobsled used by the Jamaican bobsled team at the 1988 Olympics. www.winsport.ca
Get there: Bon Voyage (0800 316 0194) www.bon-voyage.co.uk offers an 11-night self-drive multi-centre holiday to Alberta from £2,795pp based on travel in Jan/Feb 2021.
The package includes 11 nights room only accommodation in a suite (2 nights at Fairmont Palliser, Calgary, 2 nights at Fairmont Banff Springs, 3 nights at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, 2 nights at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and 2 nights at Fairmont Hotel McDonald, Edmonton), return economy flights from LHR to Calgary and 4x4 car hire for the duration.
The price also includes a selection of winter activities (a day trip ice climbing with Rockaboo Mountain Adventures at Maligne Canyon in Jasper National Park, snowshoeing at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and a tubing session at Mt. Norquay in Banff). Cost is based on two adults travelling and sharing a room.