Going to the Sun
Get ready to get off the beaten track and explore the real Canadian and American West. Starting in Calgary, Alberta, you’ll be travel South over the US border into Montana where you will find some of the best scenery in the whole of North America, including the famous ‘Going to the Sun’ Highway. This is also one of the most unspoiled part of America. Although Yellowstone National Park is the oldest National Park in the US, it is still one of the most thrilling.
Leave yourself time to explore each of the towns you’ll be visiting, for they are as much a part of the story as the mountains and monuments. The culture you’ll find out here lends itself to a timeless way of life and fits seamlessly into the landscape.
- Glacier National Park
- Going to the Sun Highway
- Coeur D'Alene
- Nez Pierce County
- Yellowstone National Park
Calgary is an attractive and dynamic city situated on the banks of the Bow River and close to Alberta’s majestic Rocky Mountains. The City is young and modern, having recreated itself from regional town to major Canadian city over the past 25 years.
The downtown core is a mass of modern steel and glass high-rises built during the oil boom of the 70’s and 80’s. Crisscrossing downtown is the ‘Plus 15’ walking system – a series of interconnecting, enclosed sidewalks, which are at least 5m above ground. In total there are 47 bridges and 12km of public walkway that link downtown stores, four malls and office buildings to protect pedestrians from the weather.
Well worth a visit is the Calgary Tower. This building is a landmark and symbol of the city. The 191 metre tower houses a revolving restaurant, an observation gallery and at the top a cocktail lounge. These offer spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains, Olympic Park and the Saddledome as well as the city itself. Eau Claire Market is a colourful indoor market filled with stalls and speciality shops and restaurants.
The Calgary Stampede, held in July, is undoubtedly Calgary’s best known visitor attraction and features a large parade and a world class rodeo. Hotel and event bookings at this time are essential.
Depart Calgary early after breakfast as the beautiful drive ahead of you is stunning, as you leave the rolling foothills of the Canadian Prairies and face the spectacular Canadian Rockies.
Spend the rest of today and tomorrow exploring the lovely Mountain town of Banff and the surrounding area. Check out the Cave and Basin National Historic Site and the Banff Gondola, where you will see a panoramic view of the Bow Valley. Enjoy a dip in the hot mineral springs at Upper Hot Springs.
Meantime, in the town itself you’ll find excellent shopping, museums and many cafes, bars and restaurants.
Take the short drive from Banff to Lake Louise. Choose the Bow Valley Parkway, beside the Bow River with an option for you to take a stop at Johnston Canyon and walk along the paved footway to either the lower or upper falls. Continuing on to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake your scenic drive takes you through the spine of the Canadian Rockies. View a never ending procession of mammoth mountains, jagged peaks and over 100 glaciers as well as emerald colour lakes. Along the way you will sights such as Sarbach Glacier, Peyto Lake and Bow Lake with the Bow Glacier providing the backdrop. Arrive at the Columbia Icefield for an Ice Explorer ride out onto the glacier. Leaving the Athabasca Glacier, your camera should be ready to capture the majesty of Athabasca Falls prior to your arrival into Jasper.
Clearwater & Wells Grey
This morning set out for Wells Gray Provincial Park along the scenic Yellowhead Highway and take in the breathtaking vistas of the steep-walled gorges and crashing falls of the North Thompson River. With a full day at leisure in the area, you will find much to see and do with plenty of photo opportunities as you enjoy more beautiful views to enjoy at your own pace.
Later arrive at the town of Penticton, which lies at the lower end of Okanagan Lake amidst the lush orchards and vineyards of the Okanagan Valley.
A full day at leisure to explore the stunning Okanagan Valley. Perhaps take a tour of one or more of the regions vineyards or alternatively spend the day relaxing on the beaches of Lake Okanagan.
Coeur d’Alene is the hub of the Panhandle region of northern Idaho. It is a fun resort town that offers visitors a multitude of activities to enjoy including golf, hiking, biking and water-skiing. Spend some time on the 3,000 ft lakefront boardwalk people watching, or get out on the lake for some water based activities. Take an evening stroll through Tubbs Hill, a beautiful 120-acre wood that offers panoramic views and is a great spot for a sunset. City Beach and City Park are the places to hang out and watch people skating, swimming and playing Frisbee.
A city steeped in history, Lewiston traces its beginnings to the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In 1805, the famed explorer team came to the confluence of the Clearwater and Snake rivers, now the site of twin cities Lewiston, Idaho, and Clarkson, Washington. Pick any weekend of the year for your stay: Lewiston has a uniquely dry, temperate climate, ideal for year-round recreational activities. Whitewater rafting, kayaking, swimming, fishing, tubing, canoeing and jet boating opportunities are plentiful - and that's only the water sports. Landlubbers can golf, camp, hike, jog and bicycle. For the truly adventurous, a trip to Hells Canyon, the deepest canyon in North America, is a must. Those who venture into the gorge, via raft or jet boat, will discover 2,500-year-old Native American carvings on the canyon walls. Try your hand at indoor risk with a visit to the Clearwater River Casino. Whether braving the rapids or browsing through pioneer artifacts in the city's museums, you're sure to get a taste of the indomitable spirit of the early American settlers.
Surrounded by the Lolo National Forest, Missoula, Montana is known as the “Garden City” for its lush forests and abundant fresh water.
Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness, less than five miles from the city, offers endless mountain trails and bike paths on 61,000 acres of glaciated topography.
Whether you want a walk in the woods or an intense mountain bike ride, you’ll find high mountain lakes, crystal clear waterfalls, hanging valleys, and slopes of sub-alpine fir, pine and spruce leading to open parklands. Be on the lookout for deer, elk, coyotes, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, black bears, grizzly bears (rare!), moose, and mountain lions, as well as eagles, hawks, ospreys, and a variety of songbirds. In the park’s northern region, the Flathead Indian Reservation protects sacred lands that were once vision-quest sites for the Salish Indians, so be sure not to trespass.
Before the arrival of European settlers, Western Montana was home to the Salish, Pend d'Oreille, and Kootenai tribes. Lewis and Clark passed through the Missoula Valley in 1805, but Europeans did not settle here until 1860 when entrepreneurs C.P. Higgins and Francis Worden opened a trading market called the Hellgate Village (now Wordens Market on Higgins Street). The name hellgate originated with French trappers who found carnage from warfare between the Blackfeet and Flathead tribes in the canyon on the east edge of town. Following on the success of Hellgate Village, a flour mill, sawmill, the gold rush and better roads brought people to Missoula, named for the Salish Indian name for the area, Nemissoolatakoo, or “near the cold, chilling waters.” By 1866 it was the county seat, in 1871 the first newspaper was published, and in 1883 the Northern Pacific Railroad reached Missoula.
Learn about all these developments and more on an historic walking tour and at the city’s excellent heritage museums.
As delightful as it is today, Butte began as nothing more than a bunch of mining camps back in the early 1870’s. Then, silver and copper were discovered. This discovery began to bring in a flood of new companies and new people to Butte. By the late 1870’s, a large and bustling city center had emerged – and was growing larger literally by the day. Then, as fate would have it, a fire in 1879 burned down the entire central business district. Following this disaster, the Butte city council passed a law that required all new buildings downtown (known as "uptown Butte") to be built from brick or stone – most of which still stand today and make Butte the historic and unique city it is.
While silver and gold were actively mined in Butte, it was copper that truly put the town on the map - it is estimated that Butte supplied around 1/3 of the copper for the United States in the late 1800’s and the early part of the 1900’s. The most interesting and entertaining way to see the town is to take a narrated tour on the Trolley. You’ll see where miner, scoundrels and famous characters lived, and worked, and made Butte the lively urban center it was.
Yellowstone National Park
Established in 1872 as America’s first national park, Yellowstone is located in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, and contains natural wonders that must be seen to be believed. In addition to Old Faithful, many of the world’s most incredible geysers and hot springs are located within Yellowstone National Park. Each area of the park has its own unique features. The bubbling, boiling surface of Mammoth Hot Springs appears to be covered with white chalk. Norris Geyser Basin is the hottest, oldest and most dynamic of Yellowstone’s thermal areas, with few of its features under the boiling point. The hottest recorded temperature here was 459F, just a little over 1,000 feet below the surface. See the world’s tallest geyser at Steamboat Geyser.
In the Madison Natural Area, thermal action bubbles up in many colors. A one-mile trail takes you through the colorful hot springs and the two large mud pots of the Artist Paint Pots just south of Norris Junction. The Old Faithful Area is actually made up of four different geyser basins surrounding the famous geyser, where 60% of the world’s geysers share a small space. There are nearly 150 of these thermal wonders within one square mile of Old Faithful.
The Grant Village Area and the Lake Area are both adjacent to Yellowstone Lake, the largest high elevation lake in North America. The bottom of Yellowstone Lake has the same terrain as Yellowstone Park, namely geysers, hot springs. A hot spot at Mary Bay got high as 252F. Formed by erosion rather than glaciation, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River features as an awe-inspiring attraction in Native American lore, pioneer travel accounts, and in early tourist descriptions. Three main falls can be viewed from locations along the Canyon such as Lookout Point, Uncle Tom’s Area, Red Rock Point, Artists Point, and Brink of the Lower Trails Falls.
In order to get the most from your visit, we highly recommend you spend one night in the Mammoth Hot Springs and 2 nights in the Southern half of the Park near Old Faithful or The Lake.
A short drive today will bring you to Montana's delightful capital city, Helena, home to one of the richest gold strikes - Last Chance Gulch. History has left Helena with a wealth of monuments and architecture. Take a trip on the Last Chance tour train for a quick drive by of Helena's historic areas and enjoy a leisure afternoon enjoying the town and surrounding area.
Whitefish & Glacier National Park
Get ready for some of the most spectacular scenery on earth today, as you head for Glacier National Park. Known to Native Americans as the "Shining Mountains" and the "Backbone of the World", Glacier National Park encompasses more than a million acres of forests, alpine meadows, lakes, rugged peaks and glacial-carved valleys in the Northern Rocky Mountains. The park is named for its prominent glacier-carved terrain and remnant glaciers descended from the ice ages of 10,000 years ago. The result of millennia of geological action is some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet. This diverse landscape is home to more than 70 species of mammals including the grizzly bear, wolverine, gray wolf and lynx, over 260 species of birds, including golden eagles, and an incredible variety of plant life. An absolute must while you’re here is the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road, truly the scenic drive of a lifetime.
With two days here, you may choose to spend one day exploring nearby attractions. Just over the Canadian border (remember your passport!) is Glacier’s sister park, Waterton Lakes National Park and the site of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. The first park of its kind in the world, the Peace Park symbolizes the long-standing friendship and cooperation between Waterton Lakes National Park and Glacier National Park. To the west of Glacier National Park is the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, home of the Museum of the Plains Indian. Take the 70-mile self-drive tour of Blackfeet Country, following 15 historical “Blackfeet Trail Tour” markers across the prairie, and you’ll understand why the Blackfeet felt so at home under this big sky. The Museum’s permanent exhibition illustrates the diversity of historic, social and ceremonial arts created by the tribal peoples of the Northern Plains.
Back in Alberta, Lethbridge had its beginnings with the notorious whisky trade. Fort Whoop-Up, which was located along the Oldman River, was an American trading outpost operating from 1869 to 1874 when the North-West Mounted Police arrived on the scene. A replica of the Fort can now be found in Indian Battle Park located in the river valley.
This park is the site of the last great Indian Battle in North America, which was between the Cree and Blackfoot people. The Blackfoot were victorious in the battle, and in the following year peace was made between the tribes.
In 1869, Nicholas Sheran discovered coal deposits near the original site of Fort Whoop-Up. In 1874 he started to quarry coal and later opened a mine just north of what is now Whoop-Up Drive. In 1882 Sir Alexander Galt and William Stafford began to develop coal mines as well, and began an industry that continued operation in the city until 1957.
The city continued to expand with the development of the agricultural service sector, and has grown from a small coal-mining town to an active population of over 80,000 people. Lethbridge is home to a college and university, as well as numerous industries and businesses, and is ranked one of the ten best places in North America to do business.
Today you will continue on to Calgary where you will drop off your hire car and fly home.
- Return flights from London (please ask about other departure airports)
- 21 nights hotel accommodation and room tax
- Fully insured compact car hire
- A travel pack containing a driving instructions and maps
Daily Departures 01 June to 25 September.
We can also offer this itinerary in a wide range of other accommodation types, including superior hotels, character properties and small inns.