Canada 38 Day Land & Sea
A cowboy hat isn’t necessary as long as you bring some good old Western spirit when you join Fantasy’s all new Canada Land & Sea tour, traveling through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world in western Canada’s Rocky Mountains. We’ve got 38 days to enjoy these breathtaking mountain landscapes, capped by our final stops throughout the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
Our tour begins in the small Canadian village of Hill Spring, Alberta – population 142. After our orientation and party to get acquainted with our fellow travelers, we enjoy an Alberta-style Country Buffet dinner followed by some toe tappin’ hand clappin’ musical entertainment – right in the prairie barn at our campground!
There’s more fun the next day with a guided tour of Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump, followed by a delicious lunch. Before horses and guns were used for hunting in Alberta, ancient native peoples used to hunt bison by stampeding them over cliffs and rock ledges. This particular precipice was a prime slaughtering ground, providing sustenance to people for about 5,700 years – hence its rather unusual name.
Next stop is Fort MacLeod – the first settlement of Canada’s famed Northwest Mounted Police. We visit the Fort Museum and then music fills the air as scarlet coated riders on beautiful high stepping horses enter the arena for the Mounted Police’s celebrated musical ride. This spectacular demonstration has been taking place at Fort MacLeod for nearly 140 years.
The following morning we head to Waterton Glacier International Peace Park, the world’s first international peace park adjacent to Glacier National Park in the United States. We cruise the clear blue waters of Waterton Lake – traveling through both Canadian and American waters. Later, we marvel at the amazing scenery of the Park while we enjoy a lakeside lunch.
We begin our drive northward, heading to Cochrane, Alberta where we spend a day visiting the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, which was formed to rescue, rehabilitate and hopefully rehome pet wolfdogs. As these animals became more popular as pets throughout Canada, many owners were not prepared to handle their specific needs. The 160-acre sanctuary is one of the largest facilities in Canada and balances their educational programs about wolves and wolfdogs with a highly successful adoption program.
We continue on to Rocky Mountain House, where we begin our journey through the “real west” on the legendary Cowboy Trail, a scenic route through Canada’s Rocky Mountain foothills offering rugged mountain scenery and pristine wilderness right outside our windows. During our two nights in town, we visit Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site, with exhibits about Canada’s fur trade as well as the archaeological remains of four forts.
We follow the Cowboy Trail to Hinton, just a few miles from the entrance to Jasper National Park. We’ve got time to explore and potentially shop in the quaint Jasper downtown area, not to mention reveling in the dramatic mountain scenery throughout the Park. Wildlife thrives here and it’s possible to see black or grizzly bears, bighorn sheep, deer, mountain goats, cougars, wolves, coyotes, beaver and more. We may choose to drive to Athabasca Falls – one of the most powerful falls in the Canadian Rockies. Flowing from the glaciers in the Columbia Icefield, the Athabasca River is the largest river system in the Park and the falls have carved intricate features into soft limestone on their journey.
Our final day at the Park is spent cruising Maligne Lake, Jasper’s most famous tourist destination. We enjoy lunch on board and cruise to the famous Spirit Island, enjoying the lake’s tranquility and the surrounding beautiful glaciers and breathtaking high mountain peaks.
Our journey only gets better. We travel to Banff along the spectacular Icefield Parkway, paralleling the Continental Divide with views of glaciated peaks, turquoise lakes and waterfalls. Along the way, we stop at the Columbia Icefield, the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies. There, we board a gigantic Ice Explorer and travel over the Athabasca Glacier, stepping out onto the glacier and toasting ourselves with a glass of glacial water.
Our first full day in Banff consists of a guided bus tour of the surrounding areas. We visit Yoho National Park, home to towering rock walls and spectacular waterfalls including Takkakaw Falls, one of the highest in Canada, tumbling down 1,260 feet. We marvel at the spiral railroad tracks and tunnels built by the Canadian Pacific Railway at Kicking Horse Pass, a National Historic Site. When the railroad was originally built, it crossed the dangerous pass. Unfortunately, the first train to descend the pass in 1884 derailed, tragically killing three workers. Three spur lines were built to divert runaway trains in what became known as the “Big Hill”, but the descent was still extremely challenging. Uphill trains had problems as well – requiring extra locomotives to push them up the pass. Finally, spiral tunnels were designed and built and since 1909, trains have been making the descent and ascent up and down this gentler grade.
We stop at Natural Bridge along the way and view the Kicking Horse River carving a path through ancient rock, and then visit beautiful Moraine Lake, surrounded by the Ten Peaks Mountains, where there may be some bear and other wildlife sightings.
We’ve got another day left in this beautiful area. Our bus tour takes us through Banff National Park to spectacular Lake Louise, where we enjoy lunch in the ski area. The tour continues with a visit to Johnston Canyon, where we can walk along catwalks clinging to the canyon walls, feeling the spray from the beautiful falls tumbling past us.
The next day, we continue our journey west, crossing into beautiful British Columbia, or B.C. as it’s known in these parts. That night our WagonMasters prepare a delicious campground cookout in the town of Golden. And the next day, we’re on the water – aboard a raft on a float trip with a picnic lunch on the Kicking Horse River.
We journey south to Revelstoke, crossing the spectacular Rogers Pass — another National Historic Site. Revelstoke boasts Canada’s newest ski area, and although (hopefully!) we won’t encounter any snow, we can ride the gondola to the top of the mountain for a delicious breakfast buffet. We’ll see their newest attraction – the Pipe Coaster – which sails down the mountain on a single rail. Our next stop is the Revelstoke Hydro Dam, spanning the magnificent Columbia River. From the Visitors’ Centre, we can take in the breathtaking views of the Columbia River valley with the river cascading through it. And at our last stop of the day, the BC Forest Discovery Centre, there are 100 acres of forestry heritage as well as operating narrow gauge steam locomotives.
We set off for Vernon in the Okanagan Valley, home to lush farms which feed both locals and the rest of the world with fruit, honey, vegetables and more. We tour a local lavender farm, soaking in the rich aromas of both lavender and herbs. At Arlo’s Honey Farm, we follow the dance of honey bees pollinating flowers, fruits, berries and vegetables to produce their award winning honey. We tour and taste a local farm-to-flask distillery offering a selection of more than 25 internationally awarded spirits ranging from BC’s first Single Malt Whisky to Gins, Vodkas, Liqueurs, Fruit Brandies and even Aquavit and Absinthe. We cap off our day in the Okanagan with a boat cruise on Okanagan Lake – 84 miles long, 3 miles wide and up to 930 feet deep…some say this is where the legendary Ogopogo sea monster hides!
We continue south down the Okanagan Corridor to Oliver, aka the “Wine Capital of Canada.” Here, vineyards dot the landscape and produce some of Canada’s best vintages. Naturally, we take advantage of the many wineries, sipping our way through this beautiful area. At Tinhorn Creek Vineyard, we enjoy a tour with our tasting, topping it off with lunch at their Miradoro Restaurant where locally sourced fresh ingredients are prepared by their award winning chef. At Silver Sage Winery, we taste the differences between grape wines and fruit wines. Not into wine? We’re also stopping at a local cider house, where we can taste delicious ciders blended from fresh varieties of apples all sourced from local farmers in the Okanagan Valley.
It’s a short drive west to the small town of Hope, located between the Coast Pacific Mountain Range and the Cascades and at the confluence of the Fraser and Skagit Rivers. But wait! On the way we stop to board the Hell’s Gate Airtram, one of the steepest fully suspended trams in North America. It takes us from the Cascade Mountain Range to the Coast Pacific Range, high above Fraser River as it plunges its way through beautiful Fraser Canyon. After a night’s rest in Hope, we’ve got the next day to further explore this amazing canyon – with views of the mighty Fraser River, snowcapped mountains, narrow rock gorges and shimmering lakes. We conclude our day that evening with a campground cookout prepared by our Fantasy ambassadors.
We leave the rugged mountain scenery behind us and move on to West Vancouver. We’ve got three nights here, so there’s plenty of time to explore. We also enjoy a guided tour of the city of Vancouver, visiting Stanley Park, a magnificent green oasis in Vancouver’s urban environment, locals’ favorite Granville Island located right under the Granville Bridge and home to the Granville Island Public Market, the historic Gastown district with Victorian architecture, galleries and restaurants and also home to one of the world’s few working steam clocks and the third largest Chinatown in North America (right behind New York and San Francisco).
Next stop is Vancouver Island. We (and our rigs) board a ferry for the short cruise to this island just off the Pacific coast. After arriving, we enjoy a bus tour of downtown Victoria, British Columbia’s provincial capital. With sculpted gardens and London-style double-decker buses it retains its British heritage. We visit the Inner Harbour, a natural harbor surrounded by many of the city’s beautiful character buildings and a view of Washington State’s Olympic Mountains. We tour the Parliament Building, located on a 12-1/2 acre property which has served as the site of government in B.C. since 1864.
We leave Victoria behind us the following day for a guided bus tour of Vancouver Island. It’s dotted with local wineries combined with local markets, a rugged coastline and outstanding views. The highlight of the day is bound to be a whale watching cruise where we search for the majestic wildlife which lives in the local waters each summer. It’s a true thrill to see Orca whales breaching, dolphins jumping, as well as the sea lions and many different species of sea birds on this amazing sea adventure.
We return to Victoria on our final day on the island for a tour and a genuine English High Tea at Butchart Gardens, cultivated in the early 20th century by Jennie Butchart who wanted to make something beautiful out of her husband’s former limestone quarry. We’ll all have to agree she succeeded.
We depart Vancouver Island, again by ferry, cruising to Anacortes, Washington. This small community is located on Fidalgo Island, situated halfway between Vancouver and Seattle. It’s a fun island getaway and there’s time to explore its art galleries, unique shops and restaurants. We are able to drive off the island and head to our final destination of the trip just a short 80 miles away – America’s “Emerald City,” Seattle.
Fantasy has scheduled our stay in Seattle for three nights, and it’s a good thing because there is plenty to do! We begin with a tour of the Boeing Factory and the Future of Flight Aviation Center – the only public tour of a working commercial jet assembly plant in North America. We explore the interactive exhibits and displays in the Aviation Center Gallery, then watch 747s, 777s or 787 Dreamliners being assembled. After seeing the sites downtown, we continue our aviation experiences when we visit the Museum of Flight, with more than 175 aircraft and spacecraft on display, not to mention thousands of artifacts, rare photographs and exhibits. It truly brings mankind’s incredible history of flight to life.
Next stop is the Chihuly Garden Glass Museum, featuring the stunning glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly and his team of glass blowers, all housed in eight different galleries and a glass house exhibition center, surrounded by richly landscaped gardens. The site is adjacent to Seattle’s iconic Space Needle – a worldwide symbol of the Emerald City. We travel via high speed elevator to the Space Needle’s Observation Deck – 520 feet high and with a panoramic 360 degree view. We can see the bustling waterfront, mountain ranges covered in trees, the lively downtown area – all shadowed by Mt. Ranier in the distance.
We’re back to the sea on our final day together. Seattle sits on the shores of Elliott Bay and our cruise begins here. We continue through Puget Sound – a complex waterway of inlets, bays and harbors with charming small towns and islands with cultures all their own. It’s life at a relaxed pace, with sparkling blue waters, green forests and sandy beaches along the way. And it’s also a perfect ending to our Land and Sea Tour. We celebrate with a Pacific Northwest Farewell Dinner and the next morning bid adieu at our Goodbye Continental Breakfast, all the while relishing the gifts of land and sea in this marvelous part of the world.