What are the Best Canadian Rockies Tours?

The best Canadian Rockies tours come in three types:

  • Local day tours
  • Package tours
  • Escorted tours

Below we describe the differences between each.

Local day tours

Through the Canadian Rockies are local companies that offer day tours. Generally, they use smaller buses (holding around 24 passengers) and offer a more intimate experience, with local guides and a wide range of options, including full-day tours that hit all major attractions to evening wildlife tours.

The region’s largest tour company is PURSUIT. They offer tours in and around Banff, to Lake Louise and Yoho National Park, and along the Icefields Parkway to Jasper, where they also offer day tours. What started out as two young guides in the 1880s taking visitors into the Banff wilderness has grown into an international tour company. In The Canadian Rockies, Pursuit owns many major attractions (Banff Gondola, Minnewanka Lake Cruise, Golden Skybridge, Icefield Explorers, Icefield Skywalk, and Maligne Lake Cruise, as well as many hotels and restaurants. Check their website for day tour options.

In Banff, DISCOVER BANFF TOURS operates a dozen or so tours in all seasons from Banff. This company uses smaller buses and does a wonderful job of interpreting the park for visitors. Check their website for options, or stop by their downtown ticketing office at 215 Banff Avenue. In Jasper, check out SUN DOG TOURS and MALIGNE ADVENTURES.

A Pursuit tour bus at the Columbia Icefield.

Canadian Rockies Package Tours

Canadian Rockies package tours are a way to buy the airfare, accommodations, and other elements of your trip at the same time and often at a discounted price. There are companies that bundle every aspect of your trip, including tours to various sights, but most deal just with selected aspects. This allows you to get a good deal by putting together an airfare and hotel arrangement, say, or a lodging and tour package.

Most packages tend to leave you a lot of leeway, while saving you money. For Canadian Rockies package tours, they may include airfare, hotel, and transportation to and from the airport at a lower price than if you book individually. That’s because packages are sold in bulk to tour operators, who resell them to the public.

Every guest travelling with KEY WEST TRAVEL AND TOURS gets one of our customized hardcover Canadian Rockies coffee table books, so maybe we are biased, but this Vancouver-based company does a wonderful job packaging all elements of a Canadian Rockies vacation together, including the Rocky Mountaineer train trip, local day tours, and accommodations.

AIR CANADA VACATIONS and WESTJET both offer a wide variety of flight, hotel, and tour combos. In winter, they offer ski package tours.

The Canadian Rockies largest tour operator, PURSUIT, has a huge number of possibilities, always including their own hotels, attractions, and day tours, at decent discounts. On hotel websites, you’ll often find packages user a Specials or Stay & Play link. Try BASECAMP RESORTS, with properties in Canmore, Banff, and Golden, or CANADIAN ROCKY MOUNTAIN RESORTS, with lodging in Banff, Lake Louise, and Yoho National Park. BANFF LODGING CO., with hotels in Banff and Canmore, usually has ski packages and lodging/food packages at company-owned restaurants.

Canadian Rockies Escorted Tours

We go into more detail here: Canadian Rockies Escorted Tours, but, basically, an escorted tour means fully guided. Escorted tours range from cushy bus trips, where you sit back and let the driver worry about the traffic, to adventures that include biking along the Icefields Parkway—adventures where many can use a bit of guidance. The main point is you travel with a group. In general, your costs are taken care of after you arrive at your destination, but you have to cover your airfare to get there.

Many people love escorted tours. The tour company takes care of all the details and tells you what to expect at each leg of your journey. You know your costs upfront and, in the case of the tame tours, you don’t get many surprises. Escorted tours can take you to the maximum number of sights in the minimum amount of time with the least amount of hassle.

 Picking the right escorted tour is a very personal choice. We don’t pretend to know what you like, but many escorted tour companies visit the Canadian Rockies. COLLETTE VACATIONS is a Canadian-based company that visits destinations worldwide, including the Canadian Rockies. Other options are COSMOS, GLOBUS, TAUCK, and TRAFALGAR.

TIMBERWOLF TOURS has multi-night tours through western Canada that are for small groups. BACKROADS is renowned for its variety of itineraries, as well as quality accommodations. They also operate bike tours along the Icefields Parkway.