An MTS-exclusive escape to Western Canada’s high alpine backcountry!
The Canadian Rockies might bear a slight resemblance to their American siblings, but they couldn’t be more different. Heavily glaciated and rich in limestone, their jagged peaks enjoy more precipitation, and consequently offer greener valleys to explore. At the heart of these stunning mountaintops are Banff and Yoho National Parks, two of the Canadian park system’s flagship wilderness areas that straddle the border of British Columbia and Alberta. Like most national parks, they are also heavily visited…but leave it to MTS to find a way around the crowds!
We designed this exclusive trek to include the best natural, historical and cultural elements of the parks along with some of its most remote and far-flung terrain of the Purcell Range of the Columbia Mountains. Helicopter flights to the top of some of Canada’s most unforgettable vistas allow us to appreciate true wilderness without trails or roads, thereby maximizing hiking time and minimizing travel time substantially. We’ve handpicked our accommodations to reflect the charming, regional character of the Rockies. Our guides are some of the most highly qualified in the country; certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and The Interpretive Guides Association of the Canadian Mountain Parks, they are truly the best of the best. So, if you are in need of a mountain getaway but don’t have the time or the resources to get to the Alps, then look no further!
We’ll begin our journey in the bustling town of Banff, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, artists’ haven, and gateway to Banff National Park. We’ll take in views of iconic Lake Louise, surrounded by rocky peaks and cascading glaciers, and then hike above treeline to see the six glaciers that feed the lake. Crossing Kicking Horse Pass, we’ll bridge the Continental Divide southwest of Banff, and venture into the Purcell Range, an exquisite wilderness preserve of alpine meadows accessible only by helicopter. The following days, we’ll trek through lush meadows carpeted in wildflowers to summit Copperstain Mountain, set along the border of Glacier National Park. We’ll hike the western Purcells and enjoy views of the soaring, glacier-draped Selkirk Range while passing alpine tarns and creeks, and then whoosh…our helicopter swoops down to transfer us to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort at 7,041’. We’ll dine at Eagle’s Eye Restaurant atop Kicking Horse Mountain, and hop a chairlift ride to nearby Grizzly Bear Refuge to meet its most famous resident, “Boo.” We’ll end our journey in Yoho National Park, not far from Banff, where you’ll see breathtaking Takakkaw Falls, Canada’s second-highest waterfall! And since no trip to the mountains should finish without a bang, we’ll save our most challenging and rewarding hike for the last day, trekking from Yoho to Emerald Valley, where we’ll take advantage of a rare permit for a private, guided, and exclusive tour of the world’s best preserved fossil beds at Burgess Shale—off limits to most visitors!
If you bring along some motivation, a good fitness level, and a sense of adventure, our exclusive heli-hiking journey through the Canadian Rockies will reward tenfold. After eight days of outrageous views, memorable lodging, and quiet days spent away from the tourist throng, we’re guessing that you won’t ever want to hike any other way.
Heli-Hiking, Trekking, Luxury Lodging, expert local guides!!
- Trek the high alpine meadows of Canada’s Banff & Yoho National Parks on this MTS-exclusive itinerary
- Visit Grizzly Bear Refuge, and enjoy a rare tour of Yoho National Park‘s difficult-to-visit Burgess Shale, the world’s best-preserved fossil beds—we have exclusive permits
- Enjoy the comfort of mountain lodging, plus dine in a mountaintop restaurant with eagle-eye views of 5 different parks!
Duration: 8 days Start Location: Banff, Alberta End Location: Banff, AlbertaDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Banff
Meet your guides in the afternoon at Buffalo Mountain Lodge. Situated on the slopes of Tunnel Mountain just outside of Banff’s hustle, but only a pleasant walk to access the shops and amenities of Main Street. After you’ve checked in, join us for a cocktail and some hors d’oeuvres at 6:00 pm. We’ll get to know each other and discuss the exciting experiences and activities we’ll discover on our trip. Afterwards dine with your new friends as we enjoy our first dinner in anticipation of our next seven days.
Day 2 : Moraine Lake, Banff National Park
A short morning transfer to the west will deliver us to the heart of Banff National Park to Moraine Lake. Surrounded by the Valley of 10 Peaks, this stunning spot hosts some of the world’s best hiking! After admiring the view from atop the moraine, we’ll hike up into Larch Valley. These beautiful trees are deciduous-conifers; meaning their needles turn splendid colours in the autumn and then fall off for winter. Multiple trail options exist, and the most ambitious is the switch-backing path up to Sentinel Pass to gaze down into Paradise Valley.
This evening we’ll enjoy dinner and accommodation at the historic Deer Lodge. Be sure to enjoy the view of the Victoria Glacier and the Lake Louise peaks from the rooftop hot tub!
5-12 km (3-7 mi), 350-710 metres (1150-2350 ft) elevation gain
Day 3 : Lake Louise, Banff National Park
We’ll walk from our hotel rooms to one of the world’s most famous vistas: Lake Louise. As you’ll discover, the surreally coloured glacial lake surrounded by high rocky peaks and cascading glaciers is one of the most photographed spots on the planet – and for very good reason! We’ll stroll along the shores of the lake and then hike up above treeline for even closer views of the six glaciers that feed the lake. An historic teahouse makes a scenic viewpoint for a homemade fresh lunch and admiration of the peaks.
Your guides have climbed many of them and will be happy to explain the human and geologic history of the area. Continue hiking up a glacial moraine for a look up into the glaciated Abbot Pass, which straddles the Alberta-British Columbia border.
Once you’ve had your fill, it’s downhill back to the lake! Or if you have the energy, opt for an extra hike over the Beehive to the Lake Agnes teahouse - the effort is definitely worth the reward!
A wonderful drive further west across the spine of the Rockies will bring us to the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort perched on the edge of the Purcell Mountain Range. We’ll settle into the cozy and intimate Copper Horse Lodge for the next three evenings.
11-15 km (7-9.5 mi), 400-720 metres (1350-2375 ft) elevation gain
Days 4 - 5 : Heli-Hiking to different destinations in the Rockies and Purcell Mountains, BC
For the next two days, after a hearty mountain breakfast, we’ll fill our packs with delicious on-trail lunches then take off with the helicopter into terrain that would be very difficult to access by foot. This could be an alpine ridge, meadow filled with wildflowers, the toe of a mighty glacier or through a burnt forest. Wherever we end up, we’re certain to be the only humans around! Finally at the end of a fantastic day, the heli will return us back to civilisation. One evening we’ll enjoy the Lodge’s mountain dining room and the other you’ll be free to dine at your leisure in the resort area. Your guides will be happy to recommend restaurant options.
Copper Horse Lodge has an outdoor hot tub and fire pit.
8-16 km (5-10 mi), 300-700 metres (1000-2300 ft) elevation gain
Day 6 : Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
Reluctantly we’ll say goodbye to our mountain lodge, but with everything we have planned for today it will all be worthwhile! A scenic gondola ride will whisk us to the top of Dogtooth Ridge. We’ll hike on this ridge that divides the Rocky Mountains from the Purcell Mountains. The 360 degree views are astounding – on a clear day we can see as far as the Columbia Icefields, the hydrological apex of North America. We’ll lunch in mountain splendour in the Eagle’s Eye restaurant at 2350m (7700 ft). Afterwards, we’ll spare our knees the long, jarring descent and ride the gondola down to the base. A subsequent quick chairlift ride brings us to the Grizzly Bear Refuge where a private guided tour will introduce us to the resident grizzly bear. Boo isn’t tame though, he lives in a fenced 8-hectare refuge that recreates his natural habitat. We’ll safely view from outside the fence...
After a full day of special exploration and adventure only Mountain Travel Sobek can deliver, we’ll have a short transfer east to Yoho National Park. Founded in 1886, the year after Banff National Park, Yoho is a paradise of waterfalls, glaciers and hiking trails. Our hotel combines the rich history and rugged scenery in a tranquil inviting setting.
We’ll dine in the relaxed atmosphere at Cilantro on the Lake.
5-6.5 km (3-4 mi), 150-300 metres (500-1000 ft) elevation gain
Day 7 : Yoho Pass, Burgess Shale & Emerald Valley, Yoho National Park
Yoho in Cree roughly translates to “place of great beauty” and it’s a fitting name for this 1310 square kilometre park forming the western boundary of the Canadian Rockies’ UNESCO-designated contiguous national mountain parks. Takakkaw Falls tumbles 385 m (1260 ft) from the Daly Glacier making it the 2nd highest in Canada.
We’ll need to fuel up for today’s hike as it’s the longest of the trip. Of course if you’d rather do something shorter, plenty of equally beautiful options abound. We’ll begin our hike over Yoho Pass and into the Emerald Valley. On the western side of the pass lies one of the best preserved fossil beds in the world - 505 million years old Burgess Shale. Closed to the public, we’ve arranged a private guided tour to delve into this fascinating piece of our planet’s past.
This evening will be our farewell dinner in the hotel’s Mount Burgess dining room with substantive views of the Mt. Burgess and the surrounding peaks.
12.5-17.6 km (7.8-10.9 mi), 615-780 metres (2020-2600 ft) elevation gain
Day 8 : Back to Banff
Wake up early for a relaxing walk around Emerald Lake or sleep in and enjoy a leisurely breakfast - the choice is yours! After breakfast we’ll transfer to Banff and drop you off at the hotel of your choice by noon. Of course we recommend spending another day or two in the Bow Valley but regardless, private shuttle companies have multiple daily departures for the 1.5 hr trip to the Calgary International Airport. 4.6 km (2.9 mi), 0 elevation gain
The above itinerary may vary because of changes made by the guides due to weather, logistics or other conditions
DATES: Best time to go: August Departures: Jul 11 - 18, 2015 Jul 25, 2015 - Aug 1, 2015 Aug 8 - 15, 2015 Aug 22 - 29, 2015
Buffalo Mountain LodgeBanff, Alberta, Canada
Distinct from the majority of Banff hotels, Buffalo Mountain Lodge is situated on Tunnel Mountain – formerly called “Sleeping Buffalo” by native peoples. The main lodge complements its natural setting with square timber, post and beam construction, and high open ceilings. The decor pays tribute to old-world craftsmanship with custom-made cherry, pine, and bent-willow furnishings. Simple, elegant design is a hallmark of the resort – symbolizing the lifestyle at the lodge. Guest rooms feature wood burning stone fireplaces and private baths with all modern amenities.
Deer LodgeLake Louise, Alberta, Canada
With much of its original hand-hewn log structure and decor still in place – this is the classic definition of rustic mountain accommodations. Located just minutes by foot from the enchanting Lake Louise, this century old property has also seen substantial restoration of its early architecture. All rooms feature private bathrooms and feather comforters. The property features a rooftop hot tub with a captivating view of the Victoria Glacier.
Copper Horse LodgeGolden, BC
Located on mountain at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden, British Columbia, just 100 paces from the gondola. The Lodge offers stylish, modern accommodations and contemporary dining in a spectacular mountain setting with ski in luxury.
Nestled between Selkirk, Rocky and Purcell mountains, winter and summer travelers can enjoy year round activities, such as skiing, hiking, mountain biking, sightseeing, golfing, and fly fishing.
Emerald Lake LodgeBritish Columbia, Canada
A nod to the past characterizes accommodations at Emerald Lake Lodge. Dotting the property’s 13-acre peninsula are 24 cabin-style buildings each designed to reflect the traditional architecture of the lodge. Built of hand-hewn timber and featuring massive stone fireplaces, the lodge includes an elegant dining room, quiet reading and sitting rooms, conference facilities, and a games room. The lounge features an oak bar salvaged from an 1890′s-era Yukon saloon. From upper and lower verandas, the vistas of surrounding mountainscapes are breathtaking. Guest rooms feature private baths, balconies and wood burning stone fireplaces, balconies, and private bathrooms with all modern amenities.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom
leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure
everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and
take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your
experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step
of the way.
Raised at the foot of the Canadian Rockies, Ken Bélanger began instructing and guiding outdoor adventures while studying for his Kinesiology degree at the University of Calgary. Now over 20 years in the outdoor industry in many diverse aspects worldwide: from hiking & backpacking, road & mountain cycling, rock & alpine climbing including at altitude, backcountry skiing, to wilderness whitewater adventures. For the better part of 10 years Ken designed & guided active holidays internationally: specializing in Europe but also working in Central America, North Africa and Asia. Ken spends his winters backcountry ski guiding: heli-skiing, ski-mountaineering and ski touring adventures. He is certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and an accredited avalanche forecaster by the Canadian Avalanche Association. After many years of living & working internationally, Ken is now back in his home region and based in Canmore, Alberta. He is fluent in French and English, conversant in Spanish and Italian and regularly orders beer & wine in many others.