Yes. Sadly it is true. Many Canadians who grow up on the East coast do not get an opportunity to visit the beautiful Western Canadian provinces. However, once you visit, you will want to keep going back for more. The views are simply spectacular. So, if you want to check out the Canadian Rockies and have only 4 days to spare… here is a plan that works.
Day 1 (am): Fly to Calgary. Drive to Lake Louise and enjoy the walk around the Lake. If possible, visit Moraine Lake as well. Stay overnight. Do check out the little plaza with unique stores. I thoroughly loved shopping for stones that are unique to Canada.
Day 2: Next morning, after a good breakfast (emphasis on good), head towards Jasper. On the way, take a slight detour and stop by Emerald Lake, Natural Bridge, and then on to Peyto and many lovely lakes along the Icefields Pwky. Stop at Columbia Icefields and enjoy becoming one with nature. Make sure you take the Athabasca Glacier tour. Continue on your journey and reach Jasper by evening.
Day 3: Explore Jasper and the surrounding areas. A MUST do… take the ride up Whistlers Mountain and walk to the summit…. unbeatable views. Later in the day (after lunch) head back towards Banff and reach by evening. Take the gondola ride and once again enjoy spectacular views from a mountain top. Spend the rest of your evening in downtown Banff.
Day 4: On your final day, enjoy the surrounding areas and head back to Calgary to catch a flight home 🙂
The must see list of places
. Lake Louise (Day 1)
. Lake Moraine (Day 1)
. Emerald Lake (Day 2)
. Natural Bridge (Day 2)
. Spiral Tunnels View Point (Day 2)
. Lakes along Icefields Parkway (Including Peyto) (Day 2)
. Athabasca Glacier (Day 2)
. Whistlers Mountain SkyTram and hike (Jasper) (Day 3)
. Maligne Canyon (Day 3)
. Medicine Lake (Day 3)
. Maligne Lake (Day 3)
. Athabasca Falls (Day 3)
. Sulphur Mountain (Day 3)
. Banff Cave and Basin National Historic Site (Day 4)
. Bow Falls (Day 4)
. Johnston Canyon Waterfalls (Day 4)
Points to consider
. We went in Mid-may which would be considered the shoulder season. There were tourists around but definitely fewer than normal. Access roads to some of the lakes were still closed due to snow and slippery conditions. But the good news is that there is enough daylight till almost 9pm giving you plenty of time to explore the area.
. Food is expensive, so budget accordingly. Carry the necessary snacks and water if possible. It was interesting to see the long line-up at Subway in Jasper (probably one of the few budget friendly options at that time). Later we felt we should have shopped for supplies in Calgary at the start of our trip.
. Wildlife sightings are pretty awesome in the area. Please use caution when trying to click pictures.