Canada's West: Top Routes for Explorers

Article excerpt

The landscapes of Canada's West may be vast and varied but the region's transport links - from ferries and floatplanes to self-drive options and railroads - make it surprisingly easy to discover British Columbia and Alberta.

Use our colourfully illustrated map to get a taster of some of the attractions and sights on offer. For added inspiration and to showcase what's possible in just one visit, we've included four fantastic holiday itinerary ideas, outlined on the map in red, purple, green and blue and explained in more detail below.

However you want to explore Canada's West, we can help you plan your perfect trip.

For more information, simply visit THE ICONS: CALGARY, ICEFIELDS PARKWAY, VANCOUVER Start in Calgary exploring the Western heritage and boutique shopping districts. As you head towards the Rocky Mountains, stop-off at Canada Olympic Park, where Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards made his famous appearance at the 1988 winter games. Onwards to Banff, where you can take a gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain, visit the Hot Springs and enjoy Bow Falls. Next stop is Lake Louise, Jewel of the Rockies. Drive the majestic Icefields Parkway to Jasper, allowing time for an Ice Explorer tour of the Athabasca Glacier en route. From Jasper, visit Maligne Lake and Miette Hot Springs. Board the Rocky Mountaineer to Vancouver via Kamloops. Highlights of Vancouver include Stanley Park, North Shore, Grouse Mountain, Capilano Suspension Bridge, False Creek and Granville island. From here, take the ferry to Vancouver Island and enjoy the colonial history and architecture of Victoria. Watch the floatplanes and rainbow-coloured water taxis dock in the harbour and visit Butchart Gardens. Drive over to the west coast, visiting Cathedral Grove, a stunning red cedar forest, on the way. With Tofino as your base, experience whale and bear watching or simply enjoy the vast beaches. Return to Vancouver via ferry from Nanaimo.

THE SCENIC TOUR: EDMONTON, ROCKY MOUNTAINS, PACIFIC COAST, VANCOUVER Begin your tour in Edmonton, Alberta's Festival City. Visit chic restaurants, soak up some of the city's arty vibe at events, galleries and concerts, shop in historic neighbourhoods like Old Strathcona or at the world's largest indoor shopping and entertainment mall, West Edmonton Mall. …