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Canadian Rockies & Northern Lights

You are viewing the 2024 itinerary. Select your departure year
10 days From $3,345 $3,045 per person
4.0 stars(3 reviews)

Discover why winter is the best time to visit Canada on this journey, highlighting the dramatic scenes of the Canadian Rockies and nature’s most theatrical display, the aurora borealis.

Travel on your own following a well-planned itinerary

2024 Tour code: PR-RNLW-24

About the tour

Two national parks, endless mountain scenes, and remote landscapes clad in fluffy white snow set the stage for an adventure like no other in Canada this winter. This independent rail vacation offers ten days of exploration split between Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon Territory. Each location provides a new look at why this time of year is so special in the Great White North. Soak in naturally occurring hot springs surrounded by beautiful winter scenery in Banff and go on a winter wildlife viewing expedition in Jasper. Connecting the two national parks, Icefields Parkway offers breathtaking views from every angle.

From the Canadian Rockies, your journey continues west to Vancouver aboard VIA Rail's Canadian, a beloved overnight train. Spend a day wrapped in big city amenities before heading out into the backcountry once more - this time in the far north. Southern Lake Resort in Whitehorse, Yukon, is an idyllic environment for those that crave a respite from the daily grind. Its remote location is perfect for outdoor adventures, like snowshoeing, and for watching the northern lights during their nighttime performance. Spend this winter surrounded by nature's beauty in Canada.


What’s included


Day 1 - Arrive in Calgary/Transfer to Banff

Arrive at Calgary International Airport and join your transfer for the drive into the Canadian Rockies and the resort town of Banff. Urban scenery fades into the backdrop as the route becomes increasingly wild. Though it is located less than two hours outside Calgary, Banff's ethereal alpine beauty is otherworldly, with its lush conifer groves, vibrant glacier-fed lakes, and towering mountain peaks. These sights clad in snow and ice set the perfect tone for the wintertime adventures ahead. Check into your hotel on arrival, then feel free to explore your new surroundings. Overnight Banff.

Day 2 - Banff Upper Hot Springs & Banff Gondola

Begin your journey with a heavy dose of relaxation at Banff Hot Springs. Panoramic views of snow-covered mountains and frosted evergreen forests make for quite the contrast to the warmth you feel from the pool of natural mineral water. The water maintains a temperature of 98 to 104 degrees throughout the year, meaning even today's wintertime soak is nice and toasty. No wonder these "healing waters" are a favorite of locals and visitors alike.

Following your time at the hot springs, walk to the Banff Gondola for a fresh perspective on your surroundings. The glass-enclosed carriages climb to the summit of Sulphur Mountain in eight short minutes. Marvel at six mountain ranges and the Bow Valley as you gain elevation. At the top, the views are even more astounding. Take them in from the Summit Building's 360-degree viewing platform or follow the Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk to Sanson's Peak to experience more. Enjoy interactive exhibits and a multi-sensory theater experience at the Summit Building. Once you are firmly back on land at the mountain's base, you can continue your day as you please. Banff has many shops and restaurants throughout its central business district and plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures. Overnight Banff.

Day 3 - Banff to Jasper via Icefields Parkway

The vastness of the Canadian Rockies unfolds before your eyes today as you travel from Banff to Jasper National Park. There is no better - or more scenic route - between the two destinations than Icefields Parkway.* On arrival in Jasper this evening you are welcome to head into town to get acquainted with its amenities and grab dinner. Overnight Jasper. 

*Early fall departures will include a tour of the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper.

  • Lunch
Day 4 - Jasper National Park Wildlife Discovery Tour

Jasper National Park is the largest in the Canadian Rockies, with over 4,200 square miles of pristine lakes, forests, and mountainscapes. The area's wildlife further punctuates the untamed feel of this park, which is precisely the focus of this morning's excursion. Alongside a knowledgeable guide, head to some of the park's most beautiful and active destinations in search of winter animals. Look for creatures like moose, elk, deer, lynx, big-horned sheep, wolves, and foxes. Your tour guide offers fascinating facts about Jasper's history and ecology as you travel, immersing you in this enchanting natural world.

Following your tour, continue exploring the charming town of Jasper at leisure. If you are feeling active, speak to your hotel about additional winter activities available based weather and the season. Overnight Jasper.

Day 5 - VIA Rail’s Canadian to Vancouver

Make your way from your hotel to Jasper's train station this morning to board VIA Rail's beloved cross-country train, The Canadian. Your overnight train journey takes you through gorgeous stretches of the country that are not accessible by car and that you certainly would not see from a plane. Wind past mountain peaks, alongside waterways, and through wide-open prairies as the train navigates toward the West Coast. The train's domed-glass observation cars are the perfect place to watch over the ever-changing topography. Overnight train.

Day 6 - Vancouver at Leisure

The final miles of your journey present themselves this morning as The Canadian approaches Vancouver. Scenes of the North Shore Mountains and coastal rainforests become increasingly more metropolitan, then the varied skyline of Vancouver comes into sight. On arrival, transfer on your own to your downtown hotel for check-in, then enjoy the remainder of your day at leisure in the city.

Vancouver is a treasure trove awaiting your discovery. Stanley Park is magical in the winter, as is Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. You may wish to wander through one of the city's diverse neighborhoods, including Gastown or Chinatown, or visit one of the fascinating museums, such as the Museum of Anthropology or the Vancouver Aquarium. Grouse Mountain and all its activities are just outside the city if you crave even more outdoor adventures. Overnight Vancouver.

Day 7 - Travel to Southern Lakes Resort

The next leg of your Canadian expedition begins today as you transfer independently to Vancouver's airport. Your scheduled flight takes you deep into Canada's remote Northern Territories to Whitehorse, the capital of Yukon. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to Southern Lakes Resort. Because the resort is far away from big cities and the light pollution that comes with them, it is the perfect place to relax in nature and search the skies for the northern lights. Your three nights here are spent in a private lakefront cabin.

Once you've settled into your accommodations, grab your included winter clothing rentals to keep you warm during your adventures over the next few days. Venture to the onsite restaurant to grab dinner, which is included in your stay. Daylight hours are brief at this time of year, and as darkness overtakes the sky and the conditions align, you may catch your first glimpse of the aurora borealis. It is a magical experience to see these phantom colors dancing in the atmosphere. Your cabin has sizable panoramic windows to ensure your viewing experience is as cozy as it is exciting. Overnight Southern Lakes Resort. 

*Winter clothing package included during winter months.

  • Dinner
Day 8 - Yukon Snowshoeing Experience

One of the most traditional ways to get around during the winter months, snowshoeing is on the agenda. Enjoy a self-guided snowshoe exploration of the resort. Your expedition through the secluded resort property is filled with serene landscapes and breathtaking views. The resort will provide instruction on how to use the snowshoes and recommendations on what trails are particularly beautiful. Trek through boreal forests and endless frozen landscapes with mountains framing the backdrop.

Back on the property, fill your day with as much excitement or relaxation as you please. Try your hand at snowmobiling or dog-sledding, which can be arranged through the resort. There is a comfortable lounge with lovely views of the frozen lake and snowy land. Tonight holds another chance for you to capture the colors of the aurora.

Overnight Southern Lakes Resort.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9 – Southern Lakes Resort at Leisure

The day is yours to spend as you wish at Southern Lakes Resort. Perhaps join one of the onsite activities or rest in your cabin for tonight's final chance at viewing the northern lights. Enjoy the property and take in this winter wonderland. Overnight Southern Lakes Resort. 

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 10 – Return Home

After breakfast at the resort this morning, enjoy an included transfer to Whitehorse's airport for your return flight to Vancouver. Your epic journey through the Canadian Rockies and Yukon Territory concludes as your plane touches down. You are welcome to return home from Vancouver at your leisure or extend your stay to explore more of this cosmopolitan city. Speak to your rail specialist about extension options. 

  • Breakfast

Additional information

Pricing Plans

• Hotels include Elk and Avenue Hotel, The Crimson, Delta Hotels by Marriott Vancouver Downtown, and Southern Lakes Resort & Restaurant or similar; subject to availability at the time of confirmation.
• VIA Rail accommodations are in Sleeper Plus Class in a semi-private berth featuring a wide couch-style seat during the day that folds out into a bed at night with heavy curtains for privacy, public washroom including shower facilities in the same car.
• Meals are included onboard the Canadian in the dining car and you will have access to the Park Car. Your stay at Southern Lakes Resort includes daily breakfast, 3-course dinner, in-room snack, and coffee/tea set.

• Hotels include Rimrock Resort, The Crimson, Sheraton Vancouver Wall Center, and an upgraded room at Southern Lakes Resort & Restaurant or similar; subject to availability at the time of confirmation.
• VIA Rail accommodations are in Sleeper Plus Class in a private cabin featuring two comfortable sofa chairs during the day that are replaced by an upper and lower bed at night, with en suite washroom and access to shower facilities.
• Meals are included onboard the Canadian in the dining car and you will have access to the Park Car. Your stay at Southern Lakes Resort includes daily breakfast, 3-course dinner, in-room snack, and coffee/tea set.

• Hotels include Fairmont Banff Springs, Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, and an upgraded room at Southern Lakes Resort & Restaurant or similar; subject to availability at the time of confirmation.
• VIA Rail accommodations on the Canadian are in Prestige Class in a private cabin featuring a large, comfortable leather couch, fold-down double bed, private washroom with shower, flat-screen TV with video selection, fully stocked minibar, and personalized service by the Prestige Concierge.
• Meals are included onboard the Canadian and you will have priority access to dining car reservations. You will have access to the Park Car. Your stay at Southern Lakes Resort includes daily breakfast, 3-course dinner, in-room snack, and coffee/tea set.

Departure times

Departure times vary based on selected rail vacation. This information will be provided in your final documents. For more information please speak with your rail specialist.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular vacation with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.


VIA Rail's Canadian


4.0 stars4.0 / 5 · 3 reviews

  1. 5 stars
  2. 4 stars
  3. 3 stars
  4. 2 stars
  5. 1 star


5 stars

Submitted 12 Mar 2024

Very comfortable schedules

from Vacations By Rail
Awesome photos! We would love to share to our social media if we have your permission.
Sure go ahead

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4 stars

Submitted 07 Feb 2024

We had a wonderful time on our trip to the Canadian Rockies. However, the quality work of the travel agent who did the scheduling needs improvement. We were given 3 different travel dates from the beginning, which made me nervous. We never had this happen before. Then, prior to our trip, I made a number of phone calls and found out that there was no reservation for us on the bus to take us from Banff to Jasper. This would have left us stranded in Banff. Then, we also had no reservations at the hotel in Jasper and were not on the list for the Wildlife Tour. This is pretty bad. I’m just glad I found this before the trip!!! The travel agent was not very apologetic and actually made the statement, “Well, I am human.” I really don’t know that I would recommend Vacation by Rail to my family and friends. Also, the number of times we had to “transfer on your own”, meaning you find a way to get to your hotel, to the airport, or to the planned excursion, was ridiculous!! At the very least, contact information for taxi’s in the area or an explanation about the local bus system would have been great. Again, the travel agent said well, you just have to Google for the information. They need to remember that the age of people taking this trip are retirees and not everyone is skilled with the computer. He was very out of touch with the needs of the older population. The travel agent left me with the feeling that he really did not care. Luckily, everything was “fixed” before we left for our trip. We did end up calling every hotel, lake resort, airline, and planned excursion to verify that we had the reservation! You really can do better than this!!

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3 stars

Submitted 26 Jan 2024

Due to via rail being more than 5 hours late, the ride through the Rockies was done in the dark so no spectacular scenery. The hotel in Vancouver was very far from the airport with an early flight booked and no transfer included in the trip. Unfortunately no Northern Lights

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