Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Pedal the Canadian Rockies on this self-guided cycling tour
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Highlights

  • Bike the Bow Valley and Icefields Parkways, amongst the world’s most scenic rides
  • Visit the vibrant mountain towns of Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper
  • Pedal through UNESCO Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site
  • Experience the grandeur of the Rockies from iconic glaciers to wildflowers
  • Watch for wildlife: big horn sheep, bear, elk, caribou, and mountain goat

Cycle through the heart of the Canadian Rockies, from Banff to Jasper, on the Bow Valley and Icefields Parkways, a renowned route.

The Canadian Rockies are known for stunning scenery, from jagged peaks and thundering waterfalls to colorful wildflowers and towering glaciers. You’ll gain a unique and deep appreciation for the landscape as you slowly climb each mountain pass, and coast joyfully down each descent. Spend evenings in mountain lodges a day's ride apart, and you'll understand why the Canadian Rockies are a cyclist’s dream.

Complete your ride in the frontier town of Jasper, a fitting end to a memorable journey through one of the last large wilderness areas in the world.

Day 1: Arrive Banff

Fly into Calgary, Alberta, and take a shuttle (2 hours) west to Banff, where you’ll spend the first two nights of your trip. In addition to its glacier-studded peaks, Banff National Park boasts the title of being Canada’s first national park and the third in the world. It is now part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site, making up the world’s largest contiguous national park area.


Spend the evening strolling the streets of Banff and check out one of its many outstanding restaurants - perhaps fuel up on poutine (French fries with gravy and cheese curds), a Canadian classic.


Overnight: Banff


Day 2: Rental bike orientation & ride Legacy Trail


You’ll get a quick orientation to your rental bike, make any necessary adjustments, and head out for a warm-up ride. Today’s 30-mile out-and-back ride along the Legacy Trail will give you a chance to get used to the altitude (Banff is Canada’s highest town!) while getting a taste of the landscape. Enjoy lunch or a coffee and return to Banff for an afternoon soak in the Banff Upper Hot Springs just outside of town (entrance fee payable locally). Or simply walk the bustling streets of downtown, where you won’t be hard-pressed to find a refreshing pint, a souvenir shop, or art gallery.


Cycle: 30 mi +/- 650 ft


Overnight: Banff


Day 3: Ride Banff to Lake Louise, optional canoe

Departing the hustle and bustle of Banff, you’ll be embraced by the quiet, wildness, and expansiveness of the Rockies. The Bow Valley Parkway winds north to Lake Louise, originally named Ho-rum-num-nay or “Lake of the Little Fishes”. A sheer, stone amphitheater rises above the lake’s turquoise waters.


If you can time it right, head to the lake in the late evening or early morning to avoid the daytime crowds for a taste of mountain solitude. You may even choose to rent a canoe and paddle the waters of this famous lake for a different perspective of the cirque, topped by Victoria Glacier.


Cycle: 36 mi + 1100 ft/- 650 ft


Overnight: Lake Louise


Day 4: Ride Lake Louise to Saskatchewan River Crossing


Your first day on the Icefields Parkway is also your longest day of riding. Start climbing as you head north, taking your time and drinking in the views of surrounding peaks and glaciers. You’ll pass plenty of great stopping points along the way, including Bow Lake, Peyto Lake, and Mistaya Canyon. You’ll ascend to Bow Summit, the highest point of your trip. The second half of your day will be a coast down to the Saskatchewan River Crossing, where you’ll spend the night. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for wildlife as you descend into the river valley.


Cycle: 49 mi +2190/-2500 ft


Overnight: Saskatchewan River Crossing   


Day 5: Ride Saskatchewan River Crossing to Athabasca Glacier


You’ll be glad for a morning of riverside riding, as you cruise along gently rolling terrain, a warm-up for the long ascent ahead. Soon you’ll be climbing to Sunwapta Pass and the border between Banff and Jasper National Parks. Just after the summit, you’ll descend to the Columbia Icefield Discovery Center. The icefield measures 125 square miles and is 1,000 feet thick in places. Although you’ve finished your ride for the day, if you have time and energy to spare go explore the Athabasca Glacier, one of the icefield’s main outflows. You can easily hike to the glacier’s toe and get a close up look at the crevasses, pools, and moraines or opt for a guided tour (payable locally).


Cycle: 31 mi +2500/-780 ft


Overnight: Athabasca Glacier


Day 6: Athabasca Glacier to Sunwapta Falls


After two big days cresting the highest passes on the Icefields Parkway, today will feel like a breeze. But you’ve earned it, so take pride in how far you’ve come as you explore more of Jasper National Park, the largest park in the Canadian Rockies. With less climbing, you may be inclined to stop along the way and explore some of the viewpoints, short walks, and interpretive stations en route. Finish your ride at Sunwapta Falls (a descriptive name meaning “turbulent water”), where a short walk will earn you a view of the spectacular 60-foot cascade of glacial meltwater. Soak in your final evening in the Icefield Parkway’s wilderness!


Cycle: 30 mi +390 ft/-2290 ft


Overnight: Sunwapta Falls


Day 7: Ride Sunwapta Falls to Jasper


Although a net downhill ride, the terrain is rolling today and you’ll spend half of it on a quieter, lesser-used stretch of road. The vibrant frontier town of Jasper provides a fitting end to your tour, where the remote setting and trading post roots shine through, giving the community a laidback and welcoming character. Spend the afternoon exploring this friendly destination; grab a drink at the brewery to celebrate or enjoy locally-inspired cuisine like elk or caribou burgers. There is plenty to do and see in Jasper, so consider extending your stay for some hiking, hot springs, or just relaxing in this charming mountain town.


Cycle: 35 mi +1050/-2150 ft


Overnight: Jasper


Day 8: Onward Travel

Depending on your plans, take our pre-arranged private transportation back to Banff, hop on the train to Vancouver, or rent a car for further exploring.


Accommodation

Stay seven nights in hand-picked accommodations, chosen for their
character, comfort, and Rocky Mountain charm. While each accommodation
differs in style - from B&Bs to cabins, lodges, and boutique hotels -
they all offer outstanding service, excellent food and warm
hospitality.


As a highly popular summer destination with a short hiking season,
lodging in this region fills very early. The properties shown below are
the ones we use most frequently. If we are unable to secure you a room
in the following properties at the time of your booking, we will do our
best to accommodate you in alternate locations which we have selected
for their standard of comfort and will let you know this before we
confirm your booking. If your daily mileage changes as a result, we will
notify you to discuss any changes.


Single Rooms

This trip is based on two people sharing a room. If
you’d like separate rooms, a single supplement is required. If you would
like to request a twin room (same room with two separate beds), please
notify us during booking so we can request this option where it is
available. This trip is not available to solo cyclists.


Meals


Breakfast is included each morning. Typical breakfasts include juice, tea, coffee, yogurt, granola, breads, jams, eggs or a choice of hot dish. Please notify us of any dietary restrictions at the time of booking.


Lunches and dinners are not included. If you would like a picnic lunch, some of your accommodations will be able to prepare this for you for an additional fee. Should you choose this, be sure to order it the evening beforehand. Alternatively, there are places to purchase picnic provisions in most of your overnight destinations if you’d like to make your own lunch. For dinner, choose from the nearby restaurants, or if you are on the parkway, eat at the on-site restaurant.


Extra Nights

You may opt to add extras nights during this itinerary. For further details and pricing, please ask us at the time of booking. 



 



Le Beaujolais B&B at Thea's House



Le Beaujolais B&B at Thea's House

Described as Elegant Alpine - think spacious, king rooms with gas fireplaces, jacuzzi tubs, and mountain view balconies - let the Moser family treat you. Wake up to an indulgent spread including daily signature dishes from the kitchen. Swap hiking stories with the Mosers and walk just two blocks to downtown Banff.



 

 

 



Buffaloberry B&B



Buffaloberry B&B

Hosted by Theresa and James, this boutique B&B boasts 4 cozy bedrooms, a great room with wood-burning fireplace, expansive outdoor patio, spectacular views, and western country design. Fuel up on a hearty, healthy two-course breakfast before you head out for the day.



 

 

 



Deer Lodge

A quintessential rustic mountain lodge, Deer Lodge was originally constructed in 1923 as a teahouse, Now it welcomes guests to sleep, eat, drink, and relax in the rooftop hot tub with views of Victoria Glacier.



 

 

 



Crossing Resort

A true Canadian roadside lodge, the Crossing Resort has everything from a place to sleep to groceries to automotive service. Rest up and fuel up in this unpretentious basecamp; when you get here you’ll know that you’ve finally made it to the real Canadian Rockies!



 

 

 



Glacier View Inn

Occupying the top floor of the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre, the Glacier View Inn is truly a unique accommodation located facing the Athabasca Glacier. Enjoy the on-site restaurant, gift shop, and bustling roadside attraction during the day – then at night relish the quiet of one of the most remote parts of the Parkway.



 

 

 



Sunwapta Falls Lodge

In addition to comfortable, unassuming accommodations, there are a couple of hidden gems at Sunwapta Falls Lodge. One is the powerful glacial waterfall only a short stroll from your room – a definite must-see. Then there is the restaurant experience; treat yourself to an award-winning fine dining meal to finish off the day, before retiring for a restful night’s sleep.



 

 

 



Tekarra Lodge



Tekarra Lodge

Tucked in the pines just outside Jasper, the Tekarra Lodge offers tranquillity without sacrificing comfort – lodge rooms and cabins are both adorned with rustic Canadian décor. Grab breakfast (or more) at the lodge restaurant, comfort food with a focus on local ingredients.



 

 

 



Jasper Park Lodge



Possible Upgrade - Jasper Park Lodge

This luxury resort encompasses a historic lodge, signature cabins, and a lakeside location. Truly get away from it all and celebrate your trip’s end in style!

Availability

This trip is available mid-June through early-October (ending
Canadian Thanksgiving, the second Monday of the month). As this region
is a highly popular tourist destination, we suggest booking as far in
advance as possible for a better chance at securing your desired dates.
This tour is available to start any day of the week.


When To Go?

The cycling season in the Canadian Rockies is relatively short as snow can remain in the mountains until early summer and autumn arrives early with cool temperatures and higher chances of snow falling (although it can snow during the summer months here too).


June and July bring the longest days, with July and August being the warmest months. However, weather is variable in the Rockies, and you should be prepared for a range of conditions. The optimal months for wildflowers are mid-July to mid-August, which also brings higher numbers of tourists. September and early October are characterized by typically drier weather and fewer crowds, making this a great time to visit. Depending on your adventure goals, any time between June and October offers a memorable Canadian Rockies experience!


Navigation


Navigating is easy using the Macs Adventure Navigation App. Your daily rides will be mapped in the app with GPX tracks, route notes, and turn-by-turn directions. You can download all of the routes for use offline, which means you won’t need cell service or Wi-Fi (which are often unreliable outside of your accommodations). Written turn-by-turn driving directions are included in the app. You will also have 24/7 Macs Adventure telephone support.


Experience, Fitness & Grade


This tour is considered moderate to challenging. The daily mileage averages 35 miles and the longest day is 49 miles. There is significant elevation change throughout the trip, so ascending and descending will significantly impact ride times, but you are likely to spend 4-6 hours on the bike each day.



You should be an experienced road cyclist accustomed to sharing the road with vehicle traffic. There is a shoulder of varying width along the route. The road is paved, but surface conditions change yearly and seasonally, so gravel, pot holes, and frost heaves are a possibility. Use caution while descending. You will be provided with a basic repair kit and will need to know how to maintain your bike (change a flat, etc.). There is not reliable cell service for most of the route.


Note: You will be riding in bear country.  Your pre-departure information pack will walk you through the best practices for responsible travel in bear country and other wildlife-specific practices.


Equipment

Our pre-departure information pack has detailed advice on what to bring. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, including but not limited to, proper rain gear, sunscreen, and appropriate cycling clothing, as the weather can vary greatly. If you have any questions, we would be happy to share our tips and advice.


Bike Rental

A bike rental is included in the cost of this trip. This includes a Cannondale Quick One hybrid bike, a helmet, flat repair kit, water bottle cage, and lock. If desired, De Rosa carbon road bikes are available for an additional charge. If you would like them, please provide your own clipless pedals, shoes, and saddle. These can be installed and adjusted for you upon rental.


Please supply us with your height for your bicycle rental.


Travel Insurance

Travel insurance helps protect your travel investment, your
belongings and most importantly you, from unforeseen circumstances that
may arise before or during your trip. For more information, please visit
our travel insurance page by clicking this link.


Getting to & from Banff


Fly into Calgary International Airport (YYC). There is an easy 2–hour shuttle from Calgary to Banff and can help to arrange this for you (additional fee payable). 


At the end of your ride, private transportation back from Jasper to Banff (3.5 hours) is included with the tour. We'd be happy to arrange private transport all the way back to the Calgary International Airport for an additional fee. 


If you choose not to return to Banff after you ride, it’s possible to shuttle from Jasper to Edmonton (5.5 hour shuttle) and fly from Edmonton International Airport (EIA). Alternatively, you may opt to continue your Canadian adventure and take the train to onward Canadian destinations.  


Visas

For US citizens traveling to Canada for less than 180 days, no visa is required. You are required to have a valid passport with a blank passport page.



For non-US citizens travelling to Canada, an electronic travel authorisation (eTA) is required to enter. For more information about the eTA system, and to apply online, visit the official Canadian government website. See Entry requirements.

Included

  • 7 nights in characterful accommodations (B&Bs, lodges, & cabins)
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • National Parks Passes
  • Bike rental
  • Luggage transfer between accommodations
  • Transportation from Jasper to Banff at trip end
  • Detailed pre-departure information pack
  • Turn-by-turn route notes
  • Macs Adventure Navigation App
  • 24/7 telephone support

Excluded

  • Travel to/from Banff
  • Lunches, dinners, snacks, and drinks
  • Personal equipment
  • Travel Insurance

Extras

  • Optional road bike upgrade
  • Accommodations upgrades where applicable
  • Additional nights before, during, or after the trip

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalized as this destination is extremely popular in the summer months. Please note you can start this tour on any day of the week.

What personal equipment do I need?

You will need comfortable cycling clothes (non-cotton is advised), padded bike shorts, waterproof raingear, and warm layers. We supply a detailed packing list with your information pack.

What is responsible travel in bear country?

When traveling in bear country, it’s important to act responsibly for the safety of bears as well as human visitors to the ecosystem. The Parks Canada information regarding bear country is a helpful place to start learning about best practices. You will also receive further bear country tips in your information pack. We advise you always carry bear spray and know how to use it. Since you cannot fly with bear spray, you’ll need to purchase it in Banff when you first arrive.

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Macs Adventure - Head Office: Skypark 5, 45 Finnieston Street, Glasgow, G3 8JU, UK

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