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The Canadian resort town of Banff was founded in the late 1880s as a retreat for the rich, so it’s no surprise that you can spend a small fortune in this hot spring haven. Still, with a little planning, a trip to the birthplace of Canada’s national park system can most certainly be affordable. Here’s how:
Canada features more than 3.8 million square miles of diverse landscapes ranging from rolling prairies to pristine glacial lakes. One of the best ways to explore the country is by train. Hop on board one of these lines for the rail adventure of a lifetime.
Rocky Mountain Routes: The Canadian Rocky Mountains serve as the backdrops for several incredible railway trips, including the incredibly popular Vancouver-to-Banff route offered by Rocky Mountaineer. Passengers travel by day, spend the night at a hotel in Kamloops and continue the two-day journey the next morning. Opt for the GoldLeaf package, which entitles you to watch the scenery from the glass-domed upper level and dine in an exclusive dining room in the lower level. Rates for the Vancouver-to-Banff experience begin at $935.
VIA Rail also provides service from Edmonton to Jasper. The scenery can be a little ho-hum as you head south, but once you hit the Rocky Mountains, you’ll “ooh and aah” the rest of the way. One-way travel on VIA from Edmonton to Jasper begins at $110. Read more
Rather than trying to escape the chilly weather this season, why not embrace it? Even in high season, many ski resorts offer lodging deals now, especially for travel on weekdays or toward the end of the season (late March and early April). Winter is also the cheapest time to travel to many cooler-weather metropolitan cities, both in the U.S. and abroad, so, if you can brave the lower temperatures, you’ll also enjoy reduced airfare and hotel rates.
Ski on fresh powder out West at major Colorado ski resorts like Breckenridge and Keystone, where individual condos through ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals start from just $119 per night. Most of Fairmont Hotels‘ 4-star properties throughout Canada offer rooms for 20 percent off this season, including the Jasper Park Lodge in Alberta, which sits at the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. Not only can you ski at the nearby Marmot Basin, you can also enjoy ice skating, tobogganing, snowshoeing, and dog sledding. Read more
Proof that Canada’s VIA Rail train is so much more than a basic commuter train? When you disembark, you’ll feel sad saying goodbye to the conductors.
Two of our favorites, who held court in touring class on VIA Rail’s “Skeena” route across mountainous, snow-capped British Columbia, were Patrick and Gilbert. They helped us with our bags, sure, but they also offered historical factoids, let us browse the library of provincial history books that they kept on board, and served wine. Gilbert even brought along flowers from his garden for the curved, vintage caboose car.
All the while, we traveled along the thundering Skeena River from Jasper, just over the British Columbia boarder in Alberta, to the charming coastal town of Prince Rupert. The entertainment, besides Patrick and Gilbert? Hundreds of miles of breathtaking scenery – untouched forest, show-capped mountains, the occasional ancient petroglyph, and the rusting remnants of Skeena River canneries. Read more
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