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Waterton Lakes National Park

Alberta's Buffalos and Badlands

11-day tailor-made self-drive from £1,695 pp incl. flights


Short description

Combine Alberta's Wild West heritage and myriad natural wonders


  • Explore the Royal Tyrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta’s Badlands
  • Visit Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump, one of the oldest bison-jump sites in Canada
  • Take in alpine beauty of Waterton Lakes National Park
  • Explore Calgary, home to Canada's cowboy culture

In Brief

  • 2 Nights Banff
  • 1 Night Calgary
  • 1 Night Drumheller
  • 2 Nights Elkwater
  • 1 Night Lethbridge
  • 2 Nights Waterton


Recommended for:
Mountains | Natural world | Self-drive

Alberta is renowned for the soaring peaks, turquoise lakes and mighty glaciers of the Rocky Mountains, the resorts of Jasper and Banff synonymous with this outdoor playground. Less well known are the 'badlands' – a landscape of towering hoodoos and ancient fossils from when dinosaurs roamed the earth. This fly-drive perfectly encapsulates these two, very different regions, beginning with a stay in Banff before heading on to Calgary, the brash, beating heart of Canada's cowboy culture. From there, the landscapes change dramatically, from the wind-sculpted valleys of Drumheller – Canada's dinosaur capital – to the prairies and plateaus of Cypress Hills provincial Park and the lush green valleys and granite peaks of Waterton Lakes. 

Day by day itinerary

Days 1-2

Relax in style with included airport lounge access before your daytime flight to Calgary. On arrival, collect your hire car for the scenic two-hour drive to the Rocky Mountain resort of Banff. The next day is free to explore, with everything from optional gondola rides to rambling hikes and hot-spring soaks making the most of your spectacular surroundings.

Stay: Buffalo Mountain Lodge (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 3

Returning across the plains, perhaps stopping at Stoney Nakoda Resort for an optional helicopter flight, you’ll arrive back into Calgary. With a night’s stay on your side, you’ll have time to explore, enjoying included entry to the 190-metre Calgary Tower for bird’s-eye city views before comparing its cutting-edge innovation with its rich cowboy heritage, both showcased across a dizzying array of galleries and museums. And, if you time your trip right, you might just have the chance to experience that ultimate celebration of Canada’s Wild West inclinations at the annual Calgary Stampede.

Stay: International Hotel Calgary (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 4

Head northeast to Drumheller in the Alberta Badlands for an included visit to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, which, since 1985, has held the largest collection of artefacts from the nearby Dinosaur Provincial Park. Here you can trace the history of the planet back to the time of the dinosaurs, through a series of fascinating displays and interactive exhibits.

Stay: Canalta Jurassic Hotel (Superior)

Days 5-6
Cypress Hills Provincial Park

A morning tour brings you into the Dinosaur Provincial Park to explore a landscape of ancient fossils, deep river canyons and wind-sculpted hoodoos. You’ll then head south to Cypress Hills Provincial Park, a region of plateaus and plains in Alberta’s spectacular southern reaches. Perhaps hire a mountain bike, paddle board or kayak for a day of independent exploration, or join an interpretive hike before heading to the Camp Cookhouse for an optional gourmet dining experience prepared by a top Canadian chef.

Stay: Elkwater Lake Lodge & Resort (Superior)

Day 7
Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park

Today’s drive brings you along the Red Coat Trail to the Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, home to the largest concentration of rock art on the Alberta plains. Options abound for exploring this archaeological preserve, with interpretive-centre visits and aboriginal-led hikes bringing you along ancient hoodoo trails and past rushing rivers before your final drive of the day, a short hop to Lethbridge, where you’ll spend the night.

Stay: Coast Lethbridge Hotel (Superior)

Days 8-9
Waterton Lakes National Park

Pausing to visit the frontier outpost of Fort Whoop-Up, whose erstwhile inhabitants of illegal whiskey and firearms traders were ably policed by Canada’s fist Mounties, today’s journey sees you through the Great Plains to Waterton Lakes National Park. Mirroring the vast landscapes of Montana’s Glacier National Park, which itself is just a short drive across the border, this is a vast region of alpine forests, plunging cliffs and soaring peaks peppered by rushing waterfalls and sparkling rivers. It’s best explored on a network of hiking trails that range from challenging full-day treks to gentle lakeside strolls. And, if that all sounds too much, perhaps take it all in with a visit to the Prince of Wales Hotel, famed for its spectacular views and indulgent afternoon teas.

Stay: Bayshaw Inn (Superior)

Days 10-11

Travel north to take in the wonderfully named Head-Smashed-in Buffalo Jump. Included entry brings you right into this World Heritage site, where a local guided will share the story of the region’s native people and their unique hunting practices. Then, head back to Calgary to board your overnight flight home, arriving in the UK on day 11.



Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.

Accommodation rating: Superior

11-day tailor-made self-drive from £1,695 incl. flights

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