Alberta & Glacier National Park
With a backdrop of the western Rocky Mountains, Fantasy’s all-new 14-day summer swing through Alberta and Glacier National Park is where you’ll want to be. The beautiful scenery, amazing U.S. and Canadian national parks, quaint western towns, cowboy history and rodeo make this a tour one you’ll always remember! Five days at Calgary include Stampede reserved seats for two rodeo performances (and finals!) and the famous Chuck Wagon Races. A guided tour of Banff creates an exciting kickoff for this adventure!
Fantasy has been offering the Calgary Stampede Rally experience for many years, and it’s always been a wild and western fun time! We put on our boots, don our cowboy hats and let out a loud “Yahoo” to begin the ride! We join the Rally in time for Orientation, a Get-Acquainted Party and Welcome Dinner, where we are sworn in as Honorary Calgarians. The next day, we get right into the “swing” of things when we attend the World’s Richest Rodeo – the premier attraction of the Stampede, attracting world-class broncs, bulls, cowboys and cowgirls. No matter who we cheer for, we’ve got a great view from our reserved seats. This exciting day comes to an end with a delicious dinner in the Stampede Grounds Clubhouse Dining Room.
Downtown Calgary becomes alive during the Stampede – with local cowboys serving pancakes from chuck wagons parked around the city and welcoming visitors from around the world. The next morning we head to Rope Square to get our share of chuck wagon pancakes and enjoy the entertainment, parades and horse-drawn carriage rides. Not enough food? We enjoy breakfast at downtown’s famous Sky Tower, offering 360-degree views of the city and the surrounding mountains. Next, we visit the Glenbow Museum, which hosts remarkable collections of art and history, teaching us to appreciate the legacy of the people and events that have shaped this beautiful but challenging area.
That evening we’re back in our reserved seats for the Rangeland Derby Chuck wagon Races! Teams of cowboys must saddle their horses, load their wagon and race around the track as a team in order to win – there’s no telling what will happen in the process. The night continues with the legendary Entertainment Extravaganza and closes with a spectacular fireworks and laser show.
We take a break from the Stampede activities the following day because we are on a guided bus tour to Banff, located right in Canada’s famous Banff National Park. We enjoy a downtown lunch, but it’s the spectacular scenery along the way, including a stop at Bow Glacier Falls where the Bow River begins its journey, that makes this day so special. We return to Rally Headquarters that evening, leaving enough time for diehard rodeo fans to return to the Stampede grounds for another show and Midway activities. It’s easy to do – our Rally site is located right next to a C train stop, and we have 24-hour easy access to and from the Stampede grounds.
That’s where we head the next day – back to the Stampede grounds to enjoy all the rides, entertainment, craft shows and activities taking place on the Midway before returning to our reserved seats for the rodeo finals! Watch the world’s top cowboys and cowgirls tackle the best bulls and broncs in the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth!”
We leave the Calgary Rally on Day 6, heading south to Ft. McLeod, Alberta. We have a guided tour of Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It got its rather unusual name from the times before horses and guns were available in the Canadian west and native peoples hunted bison by stampeding them over rock ledges.
This particular precipice was a prime slaughtering ground, providing sustenance for about 5,700 years. Fort McLeod was the first settlement of the Northwest Mounted Police in Canada. At the Fort Museum, music fills the air and a troop of scarlet-jacketed riders on beautiful horses trot proudly into the ring. It’s the Mounted Police’s traditional musical ride showcasing these gorgeous animals and their confident riders – a tradition which has taken place at the Fort for nearly 140 years.
Our next stop is Hill Spring, a small Canadian village, population 142. And why are we here? First, we cruise Waterton Lake, part of Waterton Glacier International Peace Park, the world’s first international peace park. It’s actually an international cruise, as our boat takes us through both Canadian and American waters. But the real reason for spending three nights in Hill Spring is because it hosts the Great Canadian Barn Dance – a fantastic Alberta-style buffet dinner, a performance by talented musicians and dancing the night away to toe-tappin’ and hand-clappin’ music, all taking place in a prairie barn!
We visit the Remington Carriage Museum, which houses the largest collection of horse-drawn vehicles in North America. Its interactive galleries tell stories of turn-of-the-century lifestyles and the carriage industry and we enjoy our own carriage ride through the property.
Our final destination is East Glacier, Montana, right at the gates to renowned Glacier National Park, one of the most beautiful parks in the world. Often referred to as the Crown of the Continent, Glacier National Park offers visitors incredible views, 762 amazing lakes, 2,865 miles of streams, 175 mountains, 700 hiking trails and a variety of wildlife freely traversing through the Park’s more than one million acres. It’s a spectacular mountain landscape and we have several nights here. We board one of the iconic Glacier red buses, which have been providing motorized tours of the Park for more than 100 years. (Many of the buses the Park uses today have been in service since the 1930s.)
We travel over the Hudson Bay Divide on the 10,000-year-old North Trail, stopping at the historic Glacier Park Lodge for lunch. In the afternoon, we tour Glacier’s secret Two Medicine Valley, stopping at the historic Two Medicine Camp Store. On our return to the campground, we travel along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, stopping at the picturesque Wild Goose Island overlook.
Our final day of our tour is free to further explore Glacier’s amazing secrets. That evening we enjoy our Farewell Dinner in one of the most beautiful spots in the world. There’s a Goodbye Continental Breakfast the following morning, and we depart with a renewed appreciation for the Rocky Mountain west.