Now Spring is finally underway, its time to start thinking about fresh adventures. There is no better place to spend time embarking on some of the most exciting and enticing outdoor experiences than in the great outdoors of western Canada. For a Spring getaway, Canada certainly breaks the mould. With its sweeping vistas of visual delights, such as crisp mountain tops and exceptional cherry blossom displays, Canadas 45 National Parks all boast natural beauty and supreme elegance. In the Rockies, Spring starts a little later and its not unusual to still be able to ski into May. Tours including the world-famous Rocky Mountaineer dont start until late April, when the thaw starts, bringing with it the freshness and radiance of Spring.
If thats not enough, to top it all off, every single National Park offers free entry in celebration of Canadas 150th anniversary. There is no time to lose – go and enjoy the great outdoors and take part in all the fun activities that each park has on offer this Spring! We have chosen our two favourite national parks that really showcase their beauty in Spring, providing you with the best things to do and most luxurious places to stay.
Banff National Park
As Canadas oldest national park, established in 1885, Banff National Park is top of our list! Located in the breath-taking Rocky Mountains, the park comprises of stunning alpine meadows rich with colourful wildflowers, which contrast with the majestic glacier lakes, subtly illuminated with lapis lazuli colouring. If the mesmerising lakes are drawing you in, why not explore Cave & Basin National historic sites. The turquoise waters foster a spa-like tranquillity as the rock formations that surround allow any movement of water to echo from within. If this intrigues you, join one of the Cave Lantern Tours. Here you can explore the caves after dark as you carry lanterns within the ancient grotto walls. Its a magical experience, one like no other, as the mysterious sounds and voices are a reminder that others, like you, have journeyed to these thermal waters for centuries. This is a family-friendly 40-minute tour. As the park encompasses a huge mountainous terrain with numerous glaciers, ice fields, dense coniferous forests and alpine landscapes, there are plenty of outdoor activities to do such as hiking, camping, skiing and the slightly gentler option of a scenic drive along the world-famous Icefields Parkway. For those looking for even more exciting activities, the park also offers scuba diving, camping and horse riding. Nestled in the heart of the Rockies, its no surprise that Banff doesnt have a coastline, so for a unique scuba diving experience, you should venture to Lake Minnewanka, five miles northeast of Banff town. The Lake has a rich archaeological history and was home to the town site of Minnewanka Landing, which was submerged after power-generation dams increased the depth of the lake. So, if youre feeling daring this Spring, take a dive and discover the submerged town site including a hotel, house foundations and bridge foundations!
Where to stay
If these all sound highly appetising, then try out our hotel recommendations available in the town of Banff and the nearby village of Lake Louise. We love Delta Hotels by Marriott Banff Royal Canadian Lodge. Nestled at the base of Sulphur Mountain, their lodge offers a perfect location for a romantic getaway, family holiday or a fairy tale wedding. Indulge yourself, as you unwind amongst natures pure beauty. Relaxation comes in all forms including a fitness centre, mineral pool and the full-service Grotto Spa. Their Evergreen Restaurant serves delicious local organic produce, which you can enjoy in a traditional setting. To enjoy pure luxury, stay at The Fairmont Banff Springs which is a year-round mountain resort offering the very highest levels of comfort. On site there is a championship golf course which is open during the Spring and Summer and also the award winning Willow Stream Spa, the perfect spot to ease any aches and pains after a day of action in the Rockies.
Jasper National Park
One of the crown jewels of western Canada is Jasper National Park, again, located in the Canadian Rockies amongst exhilarating vistas of forest, crag and glaciers which look their best in Spring as the snow starts to thaw and the wildlife starts to come out of hibernation. The park was established in 1907 and is known as the wildest of the national parks due to its vast number of back country hiking trails and varied terrain, including the famous Columbia Icefield the worlds only icefield accessible by road! Wildlife tourism is extremely popular here as the park is home to some of North Americas rarest animals. Get your binoculars out to spot the native wildlife such as elk, caribou, moose, bighorn sheep, black bears and even wolves. There are multiple ways to get around the park, from bike rides ranging from easy to challenging, to helicopter tours offering views you could only previously dream of, to gentler options such as the Skytram which whisks you 2277 metres up the mountains, for a whole new perspective on the stunning surroundings. Whether you fancy a more hands-on approach such as canyoning, horseback riding and white-water rafting, there are endless outdoor activities for you to enjoy this Spring.
Where to stay
The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is to die for. The luxury mountain resort which wraps around the shores of pristine Lac Beauvert is made up of a delightful village of cedar chalets and signature cabins, all connected by stunning paths that provide guests with a unique access to explore the natural environment that surrounds the resort. Here, you can enjoy a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities including golf, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding and mountain biking in the summer and ice skating, snowshoeing and skiing in the winter. Of course, the highlight of the hotel is the luxurious Fairmont Spa, inspired by the energy and beauty of Jasper National Park. The Glacier View Inn is also a delightful stay as its spectacular views of the Athabasca Glacier are stunning during the day and allow for the most incredible stargazing at night.
The best thing about both these national parks is that you dont have to choose between them, you can easily discover both as they are right next to each other! A great way to explore is by car on a romantic road trip or a road-trip with friends. Start your journey in Banff enjoying everything the town and national park has to offer before heading north along the scenic Icefields Parkway towards Jasper and its national park. Spring is the perfect time to enjoy both as the weather is pleasant and the roads are a lot quieter than when the summer seasons hits. It will be a Spring-adventure like no other!
Kathryn Munro is Managing Director at Canadian Affair.
Source: A Luxury Travel Blog