Canadian Rockies, Vancouver and Via Rail

Canadian Rockies, Vancouver and Via Rail

The Canadian Rockies are one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. They are simply breathtaking- (even more stunning in reality than pictures show!). It was November when I travelled so I was able to enjoy the Rockies lightly dusted in snow AND beautiful Christmas decorations everywhere which made it all the more magical!
Our first stop was Banff, which is nestled in the heart of the magnificent Canadian Rockies. I loved everything about this township, it has a great feel- with lots of activity and so many things to do. It is surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks which looks so surreal, and wildlife (like elk) randomly wander down the street! There are many things to see from Banff- we enjoyed a Dream Catcher tour (to see a replica of a native village), Bow Falls, Cave and Basin National site, plus a gondola ride to the peak of Sulphur Mountain to see the spectacular view of Banff Township and Bow Valley.
I stayed at the infamous Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel which is known as Canada's ‘Castle in the Rockies’. It is a beautiful historic property with amazing views. You really do feel like you are staying in a castle! It is about a 15 minute walk to Banff town from here.
We then travelled by coach along the Bow Valley Parkway to our next stop, which was a bucket list item for me, the beautiful Chateau Lake Louise! I teared up as we turned the corner and saw the stunning chateau on the lakes edge. This hotel is considered the Jewel of the Rockies and I can see why. You MUST stay in a Lake View room as you simply cannot get enough of the amazing view! Many restaurants and lounges in the Chateau have large bay windows where you can sit and take in the view. The lake was blue when I was there but was just starting to freeze up.
We then travelled north along the Icefields Parkway, acclaimed as the most scenic highway in Canada. It was truly beautiful driving alongside towering jagged peaks, frozen waterfalls and wide valleys covered in snow. We arrived in the evening at Fairmont’s Jasper Park Lodge which was lit up with fairy lights and decorated in Christmas splendour!
Jasper Park Lodge is a series of log cabins set in a beautiful Jasper National Park. The wildlife casually stroll around the grounds so you often wander to dinner past elk and squirrels. The lodges are located around the edge of a lake which is so tranquil. Some of the more luxurious cabins have open fires, rocking chairs and are simply stunning. Queen Elizabeth has even stayed in one!
Next it was time for our overnight rail journey from Jasper to Vancouver! The glass domed carriages ensure you don’t miss one single bit of scenery which is all around, even above you with towering mountain peaks! We had dinner and breakfast onboard which was lovely, admiring the view and spotting wildlife along the way. Our private bedroom carriage was a set of bunks and you were rocked to sleep by the gentle motion of the rail, with the occasional bump- quite a unique experience!
My Canadian journey finished in beautiful, cosmopolitan Vancouver. I really enjoyed this city, it was easy to get around, the locals are friendly, the shopping was great, the nightlife was fun and there was plenty to see and do. We visit and crossed the Capilano Suspension Bridge which has stunning views- (just don’t look down), and took a gondola up Grouse Mountain which was covered in thick snow! There is a wildlife sanctuary there so we got to see a rescued Grizzly Bear as well as the beautiful views over Vancouver. Gas Town, Stanley Park Lonsdale Quay Markets, and the vibrant Waterfront were all great places to see.
TIP: I thoroughly enjoyed everything about West Coast Canada and would go back again in a heartbeat. It looks very different in each season so you need to choose if you want to see frozen or blue lakes, (both are spectacular), and plan your travel accordingly.