With nearly 100,000 lakes and rivers throughout the province, the opportunities for water-based activities are endless. Hike through beautiful wilderness, play games with friends and family or settle around a crackling campfire at any of Saskatchewan & Alberta's many national, provincial and regional parks.
Enjoying air so fresh you can taste it, glorious star-lit skies (both Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park and Grasslands National Park have been designated as Dark Sky Preserves) and the room to roam freely can be yours to enjoy in these two provinces.
Duration: 21 Days Total Distance: 3325 km / 2066 miles
The best part of hiring a motorhome is the freedom of the open road the following itinerary is a suggested route.
Glorious Parks of Saskatchewan & Alberta includes:
- Return UK flights
- Overnight accommodation on arrival (recommended)
- Your choice of motorhome. Price based on Run of fleet with unlimited kilometers, 2 x linen kits, 1 x kitchen kit
Day 1 - Calgary
Overnight in Calgary before picking up your motorhome on Day 2
Day 2 - Journey to Waterton Lakes National Park (273 km)
Alberta's beautiful natural landscape will leave you spellbound today as you make your way to Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta's south. En route, pass through historic Fort Macleod, home of the first North-West Mounted Police settlement in western Canada.
Stop here to visit The Fort Museum, a re-creation of the original Fort built in 1874. If you're travelling in July or August, arrive in time to see a performance of the original NWMP Musical Ride which takes place four times daily. Within the walls of the Fort, you'll find all sorts of artifacts and memorabilia relating to the history of the NWMP and the First Nations of Southern Alberta.
You'll see wind turbines galore dotting the hills around Fort Macleod - this is one of the windiest parts of Alberta and the electricity generated from these wind farms powers the C-Train system in the city of Calgary!
Take time to spot the local wildlife such as antelopes, coyotes, eagles and moose. At Waterton Lakes National Park, you'll definitely have the chance to enrich your photo album. Campground wise, you have a choice of private and National Park campgrounds to make your base for exploring the park and its surrounds. The Townsite campground is handy to downtown Waterton but is popular and reservations are required in peak summer months.
Day 3 - Explore Waterton Lakes National Park
Take a drive out on the Red Rock Parkway to Red Rock Canyon. Numerous interpretive pullouts along the way will provide an insight into the history of the area. Stop to admire the colourful roadside wildflowers and views of jagged mountain peaks and alpine meadows. Parking can be a challenge at Red Rock Canyon so we suggest you go early or late in the day to avoid congestion. Short, self -guided hikes, both at the Canyon and to a nearby waterfall, provide you with an understanding of the unique formation of the Canyon.
After visiting Red Rock Canyon, head out on the Akamina Parkway (Cameron Lake Road). It's a half hour drive each way but plan to spend time stopping along the way. Stop at the Discovery Well National Historic Site, commemorating western Canada's first producing oil well. At Cameron Lake, a number of short trails are worth discovering, including a 1.6 km walk around the lake.
Back in Watertown township, a number of short easy hikes are available. For the more adventurous, take the short, strenuous trail from the Waterton Visitor Resource Centre up Bears Hump. At the end of the climb you'll be greeted by spectacular views of the Waterton Valley. Allow an hour.
Cruise down Waterton Lake with the Waterton Shoreline Cruise Company to Goat Haunt in Northern Glacier Park, Montana. With proper ID, you can spend the day hiking in the Goat Haunt area before returning on a later sailing. Cruises operate from early May to mid October.
If you have more time to spend in the area and are travelling in July and August, consider a trip across the border to Glacier National Park. Book a Red Bus tour and relax as you travel the famous Going to the Sun Road. Half and full-day tours are available and passports are required
Day 4 - Journey to Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park (362 km)
Today you cross the provincial border and drive into Saskatchewan, Canada’s prairie province. Evergreen splendour awaits you as you prepare to explore Saskatchewan’s Cypress Hills. The forested plateau vaults itself above the prairie, creating an unexpected mountain-like oasis. Enjoy tranquil accommodation in the comfort of your RV in this idyllic setting. Biologically unique, with lodge pole pine forest, rare wild flowers and animal species, the park sits at 1,392m and has some of the highest points East of the Rockies.
Day 5 - Explore Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park
In the hilly Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, enjoy days filled with hiking, canoeing, fishing, golfing, rides on horseback, swimming in the lake and zip lining through the forest canopy. If you wish to explore local taste and a bit of Canadian history, venture back to Maple Creek where quaint restaurants and coffee shops await and then proceed north on Highway 271 toward Fort Walsh National Historic Site.
Fort Walsh was another North-West Mounted Police site, built in June 1875, to curb the illegal whisky trade and protect Canada's nearby border with the United States. Visitors can tour the fort's buildings, the former townsite, cemeteries and the whisky trading post.
Day 6 - Journey to Grasslands National Park (320 km)
Today’s route ends with you arriving at Grasslands National Park, one of Canada’s most unique ecosystems. Carved out of the rolling prairie landscape is a 730 sq. km expanse of land where mixed prairie grasses are preserved and endangered species are protected. Catch a glimpse of a black-footed ferret, short-horned lizard, black-tailed prairie dog or bison. When night falls, gaze into the sky to enjoy one of nature's greatest star-light displays. With no light pollution, Grasslands National Park is one of the largest and darkest Dark Sky Preserves in Canada.
Day 7 - Explore Grasslands National Park
A trip to the Visitor Centre, located outside the park in Val Marie, will outline all of the amazing activities available to you, Park experiences range from family-friendly interpretive walks to remote backcountry adventures for only the most experienced of hikers.
If you're more into driving and spotting wildlife, plan to do so around dawn and dusk when there is more likelihood of seeing animals. The Ecotour Scenic Drive will provide you with stunning landscapes through the Frenchman River Valley in the park's West Block. Information panels along the way provide interpretation of the prairie landscape. Look out for some of Parks Canada's famous "Red Chairs" as you travel and take a picture.
Other options include geocaching, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, cycling and bird watching.
Day 8 - Explore Grasslands National Park
Travel to the East Block and discover astonishing dinosaur bones exposed in the eroding layers of earth. The East Block badlands are the richest resource for dinosaur fossils in Canada. Take a hike and look for evidence of the dinosaurs or take a drive to the Badlands Viewpoint for panoramic views of the prairie land surrounding you.
As you are travelling in the East Block today, you might like to overnight at Rock Creek Campground and experience a more rustic style of camping. Rock Creek is home to the McGowan Visitor Centre where you'll find a wealth of information about the area and things to do in the East Block. The campground offers amazing skies, both day and night, the leopard frogs' symphony at dusk and the meadowlarks' serenade at dawn. 50 amp electric sites are available and we recommend reserving in advance.
Day 9 - Journey to Regina (397 km)
Prairie towns abound as you travel north-east today to rejoin the Trans Canada Highway. Take some time to explore the quaint city of Moose Jaw. Park and walk the cozy downtown streets of this beautiful city. Admire heritage buildings, take a trolley or underground tunnels tour or stop for lunch at their many unique dining choices. This small prairie city boasts the highest number of tourist attractions per capita in Canada!
From Moose Jaw, it's only just under an hour's drive to your overnight destination at Regina.
Day 10 - Explore Regina
Regina, Saskatchewan’s capital city is located near the geographic centre of North America. The unique training academy of the “Mounties”, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, with its impressive ceremonies and parades, should not be missed.
When Alberta and Saskatchewan were originally part of the Northwest Territories, Regina was the seat of government. Previously known as Wascana ("Buffalo Bones" in Cree), the city was renamed to Regina by Queen Victoria's daughter Louise. Daytime places of interest include Government House, the Legislative Building, the MacKenzie Art Gallery and the Royal Saskatchewan Museum.
Choose the Wascana Centre for your evening stroll. The park is larger than Vancouver’s famous Stanley Park and offers shelter for many wild birds. If you’re looking for dessert, visit the Milky Way, a popular locals’ go-to spot for creamy ice cream treats.
Day 11 - Regina to Saskatoon
On your way to Saskatchewan’s largest city, you pass the geographic centre of North America.
En route, it is worth stopping into the Lumsden Valley. Making a quick stop into the several farmers’ markets in the area as you travel north would be a great opportunity to stock up on farm-fresh vegetables and homemade jams and pies.
Popularly known as “The Paris of the Prairies” due to the seven bridges that span the South Saskatchewan River, Saskatoon is a picturesque city full of restaurants and cultural attractions. In the evening, stroll along the riverside walkway to enjoy the sunset.
Day 12 - Explore Saskatoon
Begin your day with a wonderful boat tour aboard the Prairie Lily on the South Saskatchewan River and let yourself be carried away by the beauty of the prairie city.
A walk through Saskatoon’s city centre offers many shopping opportunities as well as cultural attractions.
On the city’s northern edge sits Wanuskewin Heritage Park, a National Historic Site that has yielded evidence of human occupation dating back 6,400 years. Traces of every cultural group that existed on the Northern Plains have been discovered here. Authentic First Nations culture and traditions are experienced through dance performances, exhibitions of Indigenous art and hands-on activities. An onsite restaurant serves traditional First Nations cuisine with a contemporary twist.
Day 13 - Saskatoon to Prince Albert National Park (231 km)
The transitional landscape of Prince Albert National Park will take your breath away as aspen parkland changes into boreal forest with pockets of grasslands. The grasslands are considered ecologically important due to their rarity as, outside of the park, most of the fescue grasslands have been lost to farming and urban development. Call in at the visitor centre, located close to the Waskesiu Heritage Museum and learn about the tranquil surroundings and the wildlife that call this area home. Take part in interpretive programs, guided hikes and outdoor theatre presentations. The park offers both serviced and unserviced camping at five front-country vehicle-accessible campgrounds in the park.
Day 14 - Explore Prince Albert National Park
The Park offers countless recreational opportunities for both adventurous and more sedentary travellers.
On-water activities, in the form of swimming, motor power, paddleboarding, canoeing and kayaking are some of the most popular options for family fun in the Park. With six well-serviced beaches, you're sure to find a spot to spend the day.
For golfing enthusiasts, the Waskesiu Lobstick Golf Course offers one of the finest golf experiences in Saskatchewan.
19 trails in the park offer short and long hikes from easy to difficult. An easy climb to the top of the Height-of-Land Lookout Tower will put you 100 metres higher than Waskesiu. Here you will have interrupted views of King Island, Shady Lake and Beartrap Creek.
One of the more popular, but difficult, trails in the park is the 'pilgrimage' to Grey Owl's Cabin. The one-way distance from the parking lot at the end of the Kingsmere Road is 20km. The trip can also be made by canoe or kayak, with portages being necessary on some sections
Day 15 - Explore Prince Albert National Park
Experience the exhilaration of zooming through the treetops with Treeosix Elk Ridge ziplining canopy tours located on the property of the Elk Ridge Resort.
Scenic driving tours are possible within the park, although care is advised and on some routes passing is difficult.
The Narrows Road offers opportunities to see many species of wildlife, particularly at dawn and dusk. The Kingsmere Road follows the northern shore of Waskesiu Lake and passes through mixed forest dominated by tall spruce trees. The perfect photograph may be just around the corner.
Following a day of outdoor pursuits, look for the comforts of home in the Waskesiu townsite. Pick up some summer fashions and keepsakes at unique boutiques and shops and enjoy a delicious dinner at one of the many locals restaurants.
Day 16 - Prince Albert National Park to Edmonton (683 km)
It's a full day of driving today as you head westward along the southern border of the boreal forest right across Saskatchewan.
Join Highway 3 and meander west through small prairie towns before joining the Yellowhead Highway (16) just east of Lloydminster. Lloydminster is Canada's only border city with residents and businesses west of 50 Avenue being in Alberta and those east being in Saskatchewan.
Further west on Highway 16, you'll reach the town of Vegreville, home to the largest Ukraninian Easter egg in the world. The egg was created to commerorate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1974 and to celebrate Vegreville's ethnic heritage.
From Vegreville, it's only another hour's drive to reach Alberta's capital city, Edmonton, your home for the next two nights.
Day 17 - Explore Edmonton
Welcome to Alberta’s capital city with its long industrial history. Especially worth seeing is the Royal Alberta Museum, which tells stories of nature and First Nations history.
A short drive east of Edmonton will take you to the Ukranian Cultural Heritage Village, an open-air museum recreating life in a turn-of-the-20th-century Ukranian immigrant village. Nearby is Elk Island National Park, home to the densest population of hoofed mammals in Canada. Year-round resident wildlife include coyote, bison, moose, deer, lynx, beaver, elk and porcupine. While bears and wolves roam in the park, they are not commonly seen.
For shopping lovers, an excursion to the West Edmonton Mall is an absolute must. The largest shopping mall of North America wows with its countless shops and its indoor amusement park with an indoor river, swimming pool with artificial waves, and bungee tower
Day 18 - Edmonton to Jasper (370 km)
The Yellowhead Highway continues west from Edmonton, the flat prairie land giving way to more mountainous terrain as you get closer to Jasper National Park
The eastern entrance to the Park is just past the town of Hinton but it's still another hour's drive from there into Jasper townsite. As today's drive isn't overly arduous, consider a diversion to Miette Hot Springs en route and relax in the hottest hot springs in the Canadian Rockies. The Springs are located 51km west of Hinton and 61 km east of Jasper townsite. Turn off at the Pocahontas Bungalows and follow the Miette Road south.
Campgrounds within the park, particularly those close to Jasper, are generally booked out in peak Summer months so it's important to reserve ahead. If nothing is available within the park, the Hinton/Jasper KOA campground in Hinton is a great alternative option.
Spend the late afternoon and evening exploring Jasper. If you don't feel like cooking, there are some great dining options available in the town
Day 19 - Jasper National Park
Today you can take some time to discover the Canadian Rocky Mountains with all senses. Hiking, mountain biking, canoeing or rafting – options are endless and the adventure is yours to choose
Take a short drive up the Pyramid Lake Road and hike the 2 km lakeshore trail. Early morning will enable you to enjoy the lake and its surrounds in relative peace and brings the possibility of mirror reflections of the mountains on the lake surface.
One of the most iconic images of Jasper can be viewed on a 90-minute boat ride on Maligne Lake. The cruise is an experience in itself, allowing guests to disembark at Spirit Island to take their own photos. Maligne Lake is reached after a one-hour drive down the Maligne Lake Road. Other points of interest en route are Maligne Canyon, a popular hiking spot, and Medicine Lake. Wildlife, including bears, are often spotted on this road.
Close to Jasper itself, a trip on the Jasper SkyTram will take you 1258 metres above sea level for some of the best views in the Canadian Rockies.
Reservations for all Jasper attractions are strongly recommended during peak summer months.
Day 20 - Jasper to Lake Louise and Banff (302 km)
Your first 'not to be missed' stop is at the Athabasca Falls. While not overly high, the falls are impressive for the volume and force of water thundering down from them. Various viewing platforms and walking trails are here so you can find your perfect spot for picture taking.
Sunwapta Falls is also impressive, particularly in late spring and early summer when the snow pack run off is high. There's a small convenience and souvenir store at the turnoff to these falls where you can stock up on anything you may have forgotten.
The most popular attraction along the Parkway has to be the Columbia Icefields. These fields of ice are the largest glacial fields south of the Arctic Circle. During the summer months, visitors can travel onto the glacier in the comfort of large 'snowcoaches' to experience an easy way of standing on a glacier or you can simply admire the view from the roadside parking lot. If heights don't worry you, consider taking the shuttle bus from the Icefields Centre to the Glacier Sky Walk. Here a glass-floored observation platform suspends you 280 metres over the Sunwapta Valley below.
If you have time for a little hiking en route, Parker Ridge is a must do for anyone who wants a little elevation to take in a multitude of mountain ranges and the Saskatchewan Glacier. This is a 2 hour hike, rising 250 metres.
Stop at Big Bend to take in the expansive views of the valley and river below. Big Bend is the start of a hairpin bend which rapidly brings you down in elevation to the valley floor. A little past Big Bend, weeping wall has water cascading from it in a series of waterfalls. Some say it resembles a mountain with a river of tears.
The North Saskatchewan River, the Howse River and the Mistaya River meet at Saskatchewan River crossing. Known as "The Crossing", this is the only place on the Icefields Parkway where you can get gas and other basic services.
35 km south of "The Crossing", look out for the turnoff to Peyto Lake. This lake is the most visited and photographed lake in the Canadian Rockies and is best seen from Bow Summit, the highest point on the Icefields Parkway. The viewpoint over the lake is reached from the parking lot via a easy to moderate uphill hike. For anyone not able to hike the trail, limited disabled parking can be accessed from a paved level trail at the the coach car park further up the hill.
Close by Peyto Lake is Bow Lake and the Crowfoot Glacier. There's a large pull out here for parking, although at peak times you may still find it a challenge finding a spot. Bow Lake is at the headwaters of the Bow River which runs through the city of Calgary. The glacial blue-green of the water, combined with spectacular peaks surrounding the lake, offer a picture-perfect opportunity for some great photographic shots.
Before long you're back on the Trans Canada highway and only a short hop to Lake Louise. This pristine lake, overlooked by the Victoria Glacier, is the most popular tourist destination in Banff National Park. A visit before 10.00am or after 6.00pm should be considered. Likewise, Moraine Lake, reached from the Lake Louise road, is popular. Parking at Moraine Lake is severely limited and Parks Canada staff often close the road once the parking lot is full. Again, a visit before 9.00am or after 6.00pm is recommended.
Your final destination today is the picturesque township of Banff. Parks Canada operates a campground close to the town on the Tunnel Mountain road. It's possible to park your RV here and take public transport downtown and this is strongly recommended during the peak tourist season.
An overnight stay here is not enough to enable you to see and experience everything Banff has to offer. If you have more time, consider a 2-3 night stay and check out the many sights and scenic drives available. On a clear day, a trip by gondola to the top of 2,451 high Sulphur Mountain should be on your list.
Day 21 - Banff to Calgary (129 km)
With only a short driving distance today, you might like to spend more time exploring Banff and surrounds before heading back to Calgary. full details
If you'd rather just head out, how about an alternative route back to Calgary? Highway 1A is slower but offers more picturesque views of the surrounding mountains with plenty of places to stop for photographs.
A longer diversion will take you back to Calgary via Kananaskis.
Whichever route you choose to take, we recommend staying tonight at Calgary West Campground on the city's western fringe. From here it's a short trip back on Stony Trail to drop off your RV in the morning
Day 22 - Calgary
After three spectacular and unforgettable weeks, it's time to say goodbye to your home away from home and drop off your RV at your pick up point.If you have more time before you leave from home, spend some time exploring Calgary. To get the best view of the city, visit the Calgary Tower. Get a taste of early Alberta at Heritage Park Historical Village or simply walk the banks of the Bow. If you're in Calgary in the first two weeks of July, a trip to the Calgary Stampede is a must.
With its sophisticated Euro-modern style, world-class service and convenient location near the Calgary Airport, the award winning Acclaim Hotel Calgary Airport is the ideal choice for both business and leisure travellers alike.
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