Parks & Mountains of Western Canada
All content by World Expeditions
Explore western Canada's best national parks on foot
This comprehensive journey from Vancouver to Calgary uncovers the natural splendours of some of Canada's finest National Parks. At night we stay in comfortable hotels while during the day our fully supported walks reveal the diverse landscapes that this area is famous for from the prairies to the heights of the Rocky Mountains. We discover a vast wilderness of countless alpine lakes and pristine conifer forests set beneath a backdrop of high peaks and tumbling glaciers. A land of elk, moose, caribou, bighorn sheep, black and grizzly bears of which our guides can spin a tale or two. We also visit the oldest and biggest Buffalo jump that Blackfoot Indians have run for thousands of years. Time in the beautiful Canadian cities of Vancouver and Calgary round off this superb touring adventure.
- Sightseeing in Vancouver
- Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park
- Waterton Lakes National Park
- Unique landscapes and abundant wildlife
- UNESCO World Heritage Site: Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump
- Banff & Kootenay National Park
- Lake Louise
Day 1 Arrive Vancouver
If you are arriving on the group flight you will be met by your guide and transferred to the hotel. You may also elect to have a prearranged transfer that can be organized with us before departure. In the evening there will be a short group briefing where you'll meet other participants of your group and details of the itinerary will be discussed. Overnight in Vancouver.
Day 2 Hiking the North Shore Mountains in Vancouver
The Coast Mountains rise dramatically on the north side of Vancouver and there are numerous excellent walking trails that begin within the actual city limits. The mountains are known for their steep sided canyons with suspension bridges spanning the chasms, temperate rain forests with huge Douglas Firs, and for the dramatic views they offer of the city of Vancouver. An excellent way to begin a hiking trip! Overnight Vancouver
Day 3 Sightseeing Vancouver, to Manning
Vancouver is the most attractive city in Canada – its natural beauty derived from its superb location between the Coast Mountains, Fraser River and the Pacific Ocean. We spend the morning sightseeing in Vancouver including Chinatown, the old Gastown, Stanley Park, the Aquarium and the Lions Gate Bridge. From Vancouver we drive up the Fraser Valley towards the Cascade Mountains crossing the Allison Pass. Overnight Manning
Day 4 Cascade Mountains
The Skyline loop trail begins at Lightning Lake with a gradual ascent to the ridge. The rewards of this climb come with a spectacular view of the Cascade Mountains whose foothill meadows are adorned with an amazing display of wildflowers. From Despair Pass we hike down to Strawberry Flats to the trailhead and continue on to our hotel. Overnight Manning.
Day 5 To Nelson via Greenwood
We leave the Cascade Mountains and enter the northern tip of the American Great Basin Desert, which extends as far south as Mexico. The hot and dry climate is perfect for growing apple, apricots, peaches, grapes and cherries. We enjoy lunch on the patio of a vineyard. Further on we may pause for a swim in one of the several warm lakes before continuing on to Nelson where we make a short stop in the historic town of Greenwood for coffee and cake in an old style bakery. The day ends at the picturesque town of Nelson on the west arm of Kootenay Lake. Overnight Nelson
Day 6 Kokanee Glacier Park
Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park is an undeveloped wilderness area with over 30 high altitude lakes and an extensive network of trails. The Park covers a variety of climatic zones, with vegetation ranging from dense forest to alpine grassland. It is rugged and hauntingly beautiful. From Gibson Lake we ascend to the alpine lakes where we are presented with a fantastic view of Kokanee Glacier. Overnight Nelson
Day 7 To Fernie in the Rocky Mountains
After breakfast there is an optional visit to Ainsworth Hotsprings on the outskirts of Nelson after which our journey continues on to Kootenay Lake with a 45 minute ferry ride. Crossing the water reveals astounding views of the Selkirk and Purcell Mountains as we approach Fernie in the Rocky Mountains, where the visual outlook just keeps getting better. Overnight Fernie
Day 8 To Waterton Lakes National Park
Crossing the Crow's-nest Pass we enter the Province of Alberta, where just south the rugged, windswept mountains that characterize the Waterton Lakes National Park rise from gentle prairie grassland. Here, several different ecological regions meet and interact in a landscape shaped by wind, fire, flooding, and abundant plants and wildlife. In the early afternoon we hike through sub-alpine forests and emerge onto slopes where the plentiful food supply attracts bears and mule deer. The trail leads to the shores of the upper lake where the Krumm-holz forest (a crooked wood or elfin timber) hems the shoreline. The gnarled trees lend a fairy-tale look to the area. Overnight Waterton
Day 9 Waterton Lakes National Park (optional walk up to 8 hours)
Waterton Lakes has its own special scenery: red canyons, hundreds of deep blue lakes, bear grass (vegetation found nowhere else in the Rockies) as well as caves and coves that were formerly used by whisky smugglers. This dramatic landscape is supplemented by diverse wildlife including mountain goat, Bighorn sheep, black and grizzly bear and cougar amongst other species. Today's walk begins at Cameron Lake where we ascend a forested hillside with switchbacks to Summit Lake (1930 metres) and then on to Carthew Pass (2360 metres). The trail then descends to the Carthew Lakes where it winds along the shoreline to Alderson Lake. The final seven kilometres of trail descends through the forested valley with views of Waterton Lake and the town of Waterton itself. This is probably the most demanding walk on the trip and is completely optional. There are shorter alternative walks which offer a superb experience. Overnight Waterton
Day 10 To Banff via Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump
En route to Kananaskis Country we pause to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump - a museum dedicated to the First Nations People. The site preserves North America’s oldest and largest Buffalo Jump, used for thousands of years by Blackfoot Indians to run bison. Enjoying the sweeping prairies we drive back along the foothills into the Rockies and time permitting, meander through a high alpine meadow. Overnight Banff
Day 11 Day Walk to Burstall Pass (optional walk 5 hours)
Today's hike takes us to Burstall Pass in the southern tip of the Banff National Park where the views are splendid. The trail climbs steeply as we ascend and some sturdy walking boots are an important investment that you should make before departure. At the top, the trail plateaus out into a hanging valley where the views are expansive; Mount Assiniboine, only 20 km away; to the south, Mount Sir Douglas; to the east, Mount Birdwood and an eagle's-eye view of the valley of Burstall Creek. Mt. Assiniboine however always steals the limelight with its great ridges and sheer faces that have earned it the name of Canada's Matterhorn. Overnight in Banff.
Day 12 Banff and Kootenay National Parks
Today we will tour the area surrounding Banff and cross back into British Columbia and Kootenay National Park for an easy day hike to Stanley Glacier. This trail traverses areas recently burnt by forest fire and then enters a steep-sided valley with Stanley Glacier lying above us. It is an exciting contrast of fire and ice! Overnight Banff
Day 13 Lake Louise and Sentinel Pass
The vicinity of Lake Louise offers some excellent walking opportunities. We embark on one of the classic day hikes in this Canadian Rockies region. We start our walk at Moraine Lake near Lake Louise and walk up the Larch Valley for an incredible view over Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks as well as Sentinel Pass. We walk under the watchful Mount Temple; at 3543 metres it is the third highest peak in Banff National Park, and down the beautiful Paradise Valley along Paradise Creek. Overnight Banff
Day 14 Conclude, Calgary
We watch the Rocky Mountain vistas dissipate as we drive on to our final destination at Calgary where our trip concludes.
- 13 breakfasts & 12 lunches
- 13 nights hotels/lodges ranging from 2 to 4 star category
- private transport for road journeys
- experienced guide who also drives
- all entries to National Parks and sight seeing as specified
- 14 day trip
- 13 nights hotel/lodge
Trip Main Activities
- Adventure Touring
- Day Walking
Group Size Min
Group Size Max
Specialist gear required include walking boots and day pack (a comprehensive gear list is provided in the pre-departure information provided on booking).
What You Carry
In your daypack you will need to carry extra warm clothing (depending on the altitude, location and weather), a rainjacket, water bottle, film and camera gear, valuables and personal items such as sunscreen, lip-eze etc.