Haida Gwaii vacation by rail

Haida Gwaii and the Canadian Rockies



starting fromUS $8,195per person

  • Get this trip plan customized to cover everything you want to see.
  • Learn which places to go and which areas are best during certain times of the year.

Haida Gwaii Vacation By Rail

On this trip, explore the alpine treasures of the Canadian Rockies before traveling train through Northern British Columbia. Then, experience the raw, mystical beauty Haida Gwaii Islands. Stunning scenery, First Nations culture, abundant wildlife, and a choice of excellent guided experiences are all part of this incredible journey.

Trip at a glance

15 Days / 14 Nights

Arrive Calgary 2 nights Banff 2 nights Emerald Lake 2 nights Jasper 1 night Prince George 2 nights Prince Rupert 4 nights Haida Gwaii 1 night Vancouver Depart Vancouver

  • View Details Of Each Day

    Sample Itinerary

    Think of this itinerary as just a starting point. Our experienced Canadian Insiders will create a personalized experience for you that matches your schedule, travel style and budget.

    Day 1 – Arrive Calgary, Drive to Banff
    Welcome to Calgary International Airport! Pick up your rental car and drive through the Canadian Rocky Mountains to the town of Banff. The town of Banff is a unique destination – it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the charm of a small mountain community. Breathe in the fresh Canadian Rockies air – you’ve arrived!

    Overnight in Banff.

    Day 2 – Explore Banff

    Fill your lungs with cool, fresh Rockies air and head out for a day of exploration.

    Additionally, you have
    3 options to help you enjoy Banff to its fullest:

    • Option 1: Helicopter Tour
    Achieve an aerial view point of Banff and enjoy the astonishing sights of the snow-capped Rockies from the luxury of a Bell helicopter. Soaring 7,000 ft (2,300 meters) above sea level – truly exhilarating!
    Activity rating: Easy

    • Option 2: Scenic Ride to Sunshine Village + Standish Chairlift + Hosted Trail Walk
    Starting at the base (1,660m) take the Scenic Alpine Shuttle or Sightseeing Gondola (depending on the day of the week) up to the village at 2,164m, all while taking in the views of the valley. From the Village, ride the Standish Chairlift to over 2,400m and experience 360-degrees of breath-taking views. Once at the top, surrounded by the iconic peaks of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, join a hosted trail walk. With your knowledgeable guide, visit the Standish Viewing Deck, then take the Rock Isle Road back to Sunshine Village, stopping by Rock Isle Lake viewpoint to take in the beautiful vistas.
    Activity rating: Moderate

    • Option 3: Privately Guided Sunrise Photography Tour (additional cost)
    Wake up early to experience the magical wilderness of Banff National Park at sunrise. Explore with a private guide and learn how to take great photos. Ideal for the amateur photographer wanting to increase their skills with a manual camera. This is a sure way to make friends and family at home jealous!
    Activity rating: Moderate (some walking involved)

    Overnight in Banff.

    Day 3 – Banff to Yoho National Park
    After a leisurely morning in Banff, drive through scenic Banff National Park, across the border into BC. Arriving at the exquisite Emerald Lake Lodge, located in the heart of Yoho National Park. End your day in the gorgeous outdoor hot tub surrounded by towering peaks or in the dining room which features Canadian Rocky Mountain cuisine.

    Overnight at Emerald Lake Lodge.

    Day 4 – Explore Yoho National Park
    Today you are free to explore on your own. If you prefer to stay close to your hotel, Emerald Lake is one of the most admired destinations in Yoho National Park, with an unmatched diversity of both activities and landscapes. The hike around the lake, which will take about an hour, is one of the least strenuous but most rewarding in the park. Emerald Lake is a fantastic place to see wildlife, as animals are drawn to the important water source. Bald eagles, moose, and ospreys are a common sight, which can be seen from the lakeside or while paddling gently across the lake in a canoe.

    Overnight at Emerald Lake Lodge.

    Day 5 – The Icefields Parkway – Yoho National Park to Jasper
    Drive along the spine of the Rockies, on what is surely one of the most beautiful roads in the world – the Icefields Parkway.

    Along the way, you have
    2 options for exploring today:

    • Option 1: Guided Icewalk on the Athabasca Glacier
    A great afternoon on the Athabasca Glacier! Three hours allow you to go up the lower two kilometres of the glacier. You’ll be introduced to the concepts of active glaciation and the features of a glacially carved landscape. There are many examples of moraines, millwells and small crevasses. The surrounding peaks are amongst the most stunning in the Canadian Rockies.
    Activity rating: Moderate

    • Option 2: Ice Explorer and Glacier Skywalk Admissions
    Drive the Icefields Parkway at your own pace and stop for a guided ride on the Ice Explorer out onto the Athabasca Glacier, where you’ll be able to spend some time walking on the glacier and filling your bottle with ice cold glacial water. Further down the Parkway, your admission to the Glacier Skywalk is included, giving you the chance to experience one of the newest attractions in the Canadian Rockies.
    Activity rating: Easy

    After your time on the Icefields Parkway, your day ends in the small mountain town of Jasper.

    Overnight in Jasper.

    Day 6 – A Full Day in the Rockies – Discover Jasper
    Spend the day exploring the jewel of the Rockies, Jasper. You have
    3 options today to help you enjoy Jasper to its fullest:

    • Option 1: Evening Canoe Paddle
    The ambiance of an evening on a mountain lake is breathtaking - fish breaking the surface of the still water, the call of a loon, the sighting of beaver, or perhaps a moose grazing. Paddle with a guide across the lake, in a large canoe. What a peaceful way to end your day, with the sun setting behind the surrounding mountains.
    Activity rating: Moderate

    • Option 2: Jasper Evening Discovery Tour
    Join a knowledgeable guide on this small group tour to learn about the ecology and rich diversity of Jasper National Park. Travel through the Athabasca Valley to some of the park’s most beautiful scenery – have your camera ready to capture some amazing photos and possible wildlife encounters!
    Activity rating: Easy

    • Option 3: Best Hike of the Day in Jasper
    Enjoy a professionally guided hike today in Jasper National Park. Going at a leisurely pace will allow you to take in the amazing scenery surrounding you. Depending on the day you may be strolling through wildflowers, gazing at the glaciers above, taking in the stunning colors of the mountain lakes and seeing wildlife! Enjoy a picnic lunch (bring your own) surrounded by spectacular scenery and crisp fresh mountain air!
    Activity rating: Moderate

    Overnight in Jasper.

    Day 7 – Jasper to Prince George onboard VIA Rail’s Skeena Train
    Start your train vacation onboard VIA Rail’s Skeena train. Enjoy the rugged beauty and pioneering character of a landscape once solely traveled by First Nation and fur traders. The train follows the turbulent currents of the Skeena River traveling through the spectacular canyons and open valleys in the presence of ever-present mountain ridges.

    Overnight in Prince George.

    Day 8 – Prince George to Prince Rupert onboard VIA Rail’s Skeena Train
    Continue your train journey, bound for the coast today. All around you are windows – 360 degrees of spectacular scenery surround the Skeena train as you travel through the dense forest of British Columbia. Endless mountain ranges, remote communities and native history are just outside your window, so don’t take your eyes off the horizon. Arrive into the small port town of Prince Rupert tonight.

    Overnight in Prince Rupert.

    Day 9 – Explore Prince Rupert
    Enjoy exploring spectacular Northern British Columbia. You may wish to visit the Museum of Northern British Columbia, where First Nations artists work in the carving shed, open to the public.

    Insider tip: From May to late July, ask your vacation specialist about adding a cruise to the untouched wilderness of Khutzeymateen Valley, home to the highest population of Grizzlies in North America. Here you can spot your first grizzly bear grazing in a meadow or tending her cubs, in a completely natural environment.

    Overnight in Prince Rupert.

    Day 10 – Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii
    Today your Haida Gwaii adventure begins. Board a float plane in Prince Rupert and fly to the northern Haida Gwaii town of Massett. Enjoy the scenic flight as you soar over the Hecate Strait. Upon arrival in Haida Gwaii you will be met by a representative and driven to the Haida House at Tllaal, your base for the next four days. An orientation with Cultural Services and a delicious dinner from local chefs is the perfect introduction to Haida Gwaii, also known as the ‘Islands of the People’.

    Insider Tip: Want to experience the extremely remote West Coast of Haida Gwaii? Ask your Vacation Advisor to substitute Haida House for a brand new 12 room floating Lodge accessible by helicopter!

    Overnight on Haida Gwaii.

    Day 11 – Cultural Day in Haida Gwaii
    The archipelago of Haida Gwaii offers numerous opportunities to dive into ancient culture and traditions. Start off with an escorted drive along the scenic coast to Skidegate Village, and Queen Charlotte City. Then immerse yourself in history at the Kay Lnagaay Heritage Centre and learn about the famous Haida Totem Poles and carvings. After a picnic lunch, visit a Haida artisan’s home studio to see weaving or jewelry making in action. Top off your day with a traditional Haida Feast; including locally harvested food served tapas style by a renowned Haida Chef.

    Overnight on Haida Gwaii.

    Day 12 – Zodiac Adventure to Skedans (K'uuna Llnagaay)
    Join a marine guide on a thrilling Zodiac tour to the remote K'uuna Llnagaay, a place with 12,000 years of human history. The main stop on this tour is the Haida village site of Skedans. Enjoy a guided tour of the totem poles and house pits that remain in the village which was abandoned in the 1880s. Chances to see marine wildlife and bears makes for an exciting zodiac ride back.

    Overnight on Haida Gwaii.

    Day 13 – ExploreOld Massett Village Totems, Port Clements & Tlell
    Sit back and enjoy a guided drive north to the town of Port Clements, known for the once famous Golden Spruce; walk along a gentle, canopied trail as you learn about the tragic felling of the ancient tree. Your tour continues north to Massett where you can enjoy a boardwalk hike to the top of Tow Hill to achieve views of endless beaches and the Alaskan Islands. Depending on the tides you may have the chance to view the naturally formed Blow Hole. Next, visit Old Massett, an area known for its 18 totem poles, each with a unique design and history. After a picnic lunch, visit the artisans of Tlell and their enchanting studios.

    Overnight on Haida Gwaii.

    Day 14 – Fly from Haida Gwaii to Vancouver
    Savor one last breakfast at the Haida House before being transported to the airport in time for your flight. Enjoy the stunning scenery from the window of the plane as you fly two hours south to Vancouver. Soar over endless mountain ranges, shimmering oceans, and massive glaciers.

    Overnight at a Vancouver Airport hotel.

    Day 15 – With Fond Memories Made – Depart Vancouver
    Much too soon, you leave the clean air and colorful sights of Canada behind as your Canadian vacation comes to an end.
Haida Gwaii and the Canadian Rockies  – Map



Places Visited

CalgaryBanffEmerald LakeIcefields ParkwayJasperPrince GeorgePrince RupertHaida GwaiiVancouver

Accommodation Style


Your Train Experience

VIA Rail

Activity Level


What you'll love about this trip

  • Two days on the comfortable Skeena Train by VIA Rail

  • Taking a float plane over Hecate Strait

  • Exploring Haida Gwaii and the stunning Rocky Mountains

  • Exploring the totems of remote K’uuna Llnagaay by zodiac

  • Staying at the scenic Emerald Lake Lodge

  • Wildlife of the Pacific North West and Rocky Mountains

Common Questions

  • Where am I staying on this trip?

    You'll be staying at various local three to five star hotels or lodges along your route, some of which are very iconic properties with great locations, views and history. All our accommodations are carefully selected by our Canadian Insiders. We'll make sure that wherever you stay, you get the best value and comfort based on the seasonal availability.

  • What is included in the price?

    Typically we include and pre-book all your main trip components so you don't have to worry about your connections, places to stay, or activities on your trip. You'll receive a complete travel package with detailed documentation and our Canadian Insiders remain at your disposal before and during your trip to answer your questions.

  • Can I customize this trip?

    Your trip can be as rich as you'd like, and completely arranged around your interests and needs. The greatest benefit of working with us is our local knowledge. You can request your personalized trip plan to decide what you'd like to see and do.

    If your trip is a special occasion, we'll make sure it is unforgettable. Or if you're traveling with a group, we'll take care of the logistics so you can share time together stress-free.

  • What are the best ways to travel around Canada?

    Canada has a network of spectacular roadways, train routes, ferry crossings, and float planes. We can arrange for you to travel by car or to sit back and relax.

  • What is the train experience like?

    Because most Canadians typically do not use the train for commuting (as in the US or Europe), the two main rail providers here are driven by tourism. You'll experience the romance of true trans-continental rail travel, with a wide selection of services, accommodation types, and great food.

    Featured train experiences:

    • VIA Rail is Canada's national train provider, with routes running Coast to Coast and through remote parts of northern Canada. The type of train depends on your journey, and can vary from the classic trans-continental sleeper trains to daylight trains with overnight stops.
  • Is it safe to drive in Canada?

    New visitors will drive with ease because of the wide and well maintained roadways. We'll ensure your trip includes the most spectacular and safest routes throughout your trip.

  • When is the best time to see wildlife?

    That depends on the destination and type. As a rule, the main feeding and migration seasons are best for wildlife experiences. Tell us which animals interest you and we'll make your trip coincide with the best viewing season.

  • Is this an escorted tour?

    With the exception of our guided wildlife trips, our vacations are not typically 'escorted.' We combine the best of both worlds – the reassurance of seamless connections, customer service support, and scheduled activities, plus the freedom of 'independent' travel. You are not tied into a specific group, or a rigid daily itinerary. This allows us to personalize your trip to suit your occasion, interests, and timeframe.

  • Will it be cold when I visit Canada in summer?

    The temperature varies from mild to hot, depending on location. Northern Canada will range between 50°F to 64°F (10°C – 18°C) in summer. The interior of BC, prairies, Ontario and Quebec can reach temperatures around 95°F (35°C). Canada's west coast, mountain regions, and Maritimes enjoy milder summer temperatures. They range on average from 59°F to 77°F (15°C – 25°C).

  • How much does my trip cost?

    All our trips can be customized to fit your schedule and budget. The price depends on travel season, train service, hotel level, and the sightseeing tours you choose. Request your personalized trip plan and quote which will provide you with a detailed cost estimate.

  • What's Included

    What's Included in the Price

    These are the places and experiences to look forward to on this trip.

    • 14 nights hotel accommodation

    Train Experiences:
    • 2 days on VIA Rail’s Skeena train, from Jasper to Prince Rupert

    Banff Experiences:
    Choose 1 of 2:
    1. Helicopter Tour
    2. Scenic Ride to Sunshine Village + Standish Chairlift + Hosted Trail Walk
    3. Privately Guided Sunrise Photography Tour (additional cost)

    Icefields Parkway Experiences:
    Choose 1 of 2:
    1. Guided Icewalk on the Athabasca Glacier
    2. Ice Explorer and Glacier Skywalk Admissions

    Jasper Experiences:
    Choose 1 of 3:
    1. Evening Canoe Paddle
    2. Jasper Evening Discovery Tour
    3. Best Hike of the Day in Jasper

    Haida Gwaii Experiences:
    • Haida Cultural Day Tour
    • Visit of local Haida studios
    • Traditional Haida Dinner
    • Visits to Balance Rock, Jungle Beach, North and South End Totems on Haida Gwaii
    • Narrative tour of the village of Skidegate and Queen Charlotte
    • Marine Zodiac Excursion to K’uuna (Skedans) with Interpretation
    • Discover the North Island – Old Masset Tour
    • Tlell and Port Clements Tour

    Meal Inclusions:
    • Meals on VIA Rail
    • All meals on Haida Gwaii

    Transfer Inclusions:
    • All transport and water transfers to and from activities and airports on Haida Gwaii
    • Float plane transfer between Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii
    • One-way flight between Haida Gwaii and Vancouver

    Car Rental Inclusions:
    • 7-day intermediate car rental between Calgary Airport (YYC) and Jasper
    • Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) on car rental, airport surcharges, Third Party Liability Insurance Coverage (up to $1 million) and vehicle licensing fee
    • Unlimited kms & GPS
    • Fee for 1 additional driver

    Other Inclusions:
    • Parks Canada Pass
    • Digital Travel Documents
    • Gratuities for private transfer and tours (unless otherwise noted)
    • Haida House Welcome Gift, orientation with Director of Cultural Services
    • Fresh Tracks Canada customer service support – from the time you book, you will be assigned your own personal Vacation Coordinator with whom you can reach out to with any questions or requests.

    Important Schedule and Trip Notes:
    • Train schedules are subject to change and delays may occur
    • Some activities may not be available on all trip start dates, due to seasonal weather conditions. Your Vacation Advisor can provide further details.
    • Hike in Sunshine Meadows is available from the July 1 to September 15, 2019 departure dates.
    • Activities on Haida Gwaii are based on a minimum of 2 people.
    • All marine excursions on Haida Gwaii require the ability to climb in and out of a vessel (cruiser or zodiac) on to the shore, as many ancient villages are only accessible by ‘beaching’ the vessel (no dock).

    Not Included
    • Meals, other than those mentioned
    • Fuel, and parking for rental car
    • Airfare, other than those mentioned (but don’t hesitate to ask for help)
    • Train station and other transfers in Prince George and Prince Rupert (quick taxi ride)
    • Gratuities for rail, hotel, tour & transfer staff
    • Trip Cancellation & Travel Medical Insurance (highly recommended)
    • Canadian Sales Taxes

    Ideas to customize this trip

    Think of this trip as just a starting point. These are some of the experiences you can add-on to personalize your trip.

    • For a full loop of British Columbia and the Canadian Rockies, add a Rocky Mountaineer train journey back to Calgary at the end of your trip
    • Add on a few days in Vancouver, Victoria, or the Olympic town of Whistler
    • Extend your stay in the Canadian Rockies with an unforgettable Heli-Hiking Mountain Lodge Adventure
    • Fully immerse yourself in a bear or whale watching experience by including a day tour in Prince Rupert
    • Extend your stay on Haida Gwaii with an all-inclusive fishing lodge experience
    • Continue your journey across Canada by adding a VIA rail journey eastbound through the Prairies and over the Canadian Shield
  • Prices & Dates

    Trip Start Dates

    2019 Calgary Start Dates*
    June 10, 24
    July 8, 22
    August 5, 19
    September 2

    * Only Westbound itinerary option available due to trip component availability. If you’d like to travel outside of these dates, please call us for a customized trip to fit into your time frame.

    Pricing For This Trip

    Prices listed may vary by departure date, hotel class and degree of personalization. Please speak with one of our travel advisors to get a personalized quote.

    Superior Hotels and Lodges
    from US $8,195 to US $8,851 per person

    Our Superior Level provides amazing value for clients wanting something more upscale but not at the price of a top-end 5 star resort. Superior level hotels are some of our favorites because of the character and unique charm that you won't find at the average chain hotel. Unique tours and seamless transfers complete your itinerary.

  • Accommodations

    Accommodation Options

    These are examples of this trip's accommodation choices. Please call us for the full list or advice on how to customize your experience.

    Juniper Hotel & Bistro - The exterior of Juniper Hotel with Mt. Norquay

    Juniper Hotel & Bistro

    An example of our Boutique accommodations

    The simple, comfortable Juniper Hotel is like nowhere else in Banff. Panoramic views, plentiful sunshine, and vintage architecture make this the perfect mountain retreat. Set away from the busy townsite yet close enough to be convenient, mountains rise straight up from the back door, while elk, coyote, or deer pass by every day. The wall-to-wall glass at the Juniper Bistro looks out over one of the most renowned vistas in North America. Locally-inspired food served in the bistro is perfect after a day of adventure.

    Tekarra Lodge - View of the Athabasca River from the lodge

    Tekarra Lodge

    An example of our Rustic Mountain Lodge accommodations

    Stay in one of the Tekarra Lodge's rustic, charming cabins a stone's throw from the town of Jasper but snugly nestled in nature. Tekarra Lodge's tranquil and peaceful setting will immediately let you relax without the distractions of telephones or televisions. Walk out onto your private deck, be greeted by breathtaking mountain views, and watch the wildlife which often includes deer, elk, squirrels, and pine martins. Tekarra accommodations are equipped with wood burning fireplaces, perfect for cozying up with a book and a glass of wine. As well, each cabin has a kitchen or kitchenette for convenience. The Tekarra Restaurant is right onsite offering amazing fine dining in a relaxed casual atmosphere amongst the evergreens. Other amenities include bike rentals, plus an onsite gift shop.

    Haida House - The forested grounds of Haida House

    Haida House

    An example of our Wilderness Lodge accommodations

    Nestled on the banks of the serene Tlell River, surrounded by forest, sand, and surf, Haida House the ideal base from which to enjoy the many adventures, attractions, excursions and cultural sites available on Haida Gwaii. The spacious post and beam lodge features 10 comfortable guest rooms, each with a double and twin bed and private facilities. The lodge features a lounge, patio, and dining room where delicious Northwest Coast cuisine is served.

    Emerald Lake Lodge - Exterior of Emerald Lake Lodge

    Emerald Lake Lodge

    An example of our Mountain Lodge accommodations

    An exclusive year-round destination, the historic Emerald Lake lodge is located in Yoho National Park, just 25 miles west of Lake Louise. Built of hand-hewn timber and featuring massive stone fireplaces, the Lodge includes a formal dining room, quiet reading and sitting rooms, and a games room. The lounge is enhanced by an oak bar salvaged from an 1890's Yukon saloon. The lodge features an outdoor hot tub which offers dazzling views of Emerald Lake, or gather around the firepit in the evening to appreciate the beauty and serenity of the area.

This Trip in Pictures

Rugged Haida Gwaii coastline
Rugged Haida Gwaii coastline
On this trip you get to discover ancient cultures, history, dramatic scenery, and stunning wildlife
Banff sits beneath Tunnel Mountain
Banff sits beneath Tunnel Mountain
Begin your trip in bustling downtown Banff, tucked right beneath the impressive face of Tunnel Mountain
Hiking adventure in the Rockies
Hiking adventure in the Rockies
Explore the natural scenery of the Canadian Rockies up close on a hiking adventure
Canoe trip on Lake Louise
Canoe trip on Lake Louise
Spend a day paddling on the serene turquoise waters of Lake Louise
Peyto Lake in the Canadian Rockies
Peyto Lake in the Canadian Rockies
Savour some of the most gorgeous scenery Western Canada has to offer on this great adventure
VIA Rail train trip through the Rocky Mountains
VIA Rail train trip through the Rocky Mountains
Glide through the majestic Rockies on a comfortable and luxurious VIA Rail train
Canadian grizzly bear
Canadian grizzly bear
On your journey you will have the opportunity to spot bears, elk, deer and moose
The rugged shores of Haida Gwaii
The rugged shores of Haida Gwaii
Marvel at the rugged shores of Haida Gwaii as you arrive by floatplane
Seal spotting in Haida Gwaii
Seal spotting in Haida Gwaii
Exploring the inlets of the Haida Gwaii archipelago by zodiac is the perfect chance to see wildlife
Eagle spotting on Haida Gwaii
Eagle spotting on Haida Gwaii
On your daily adventures, keep an eye out for the large number of sea birds that call Haida Gwaii home
Historical presentations in Haida Gwaii
Historical presentations in Haida Gwaii
On your tours of the islands become immersed in Haida culture
Haida Gwaii art carving
Haida Gwaii art carving
With a knowledgeable guide spend the day discovering exquisite examples of Haida art and carvings

Get your personalized trip plan organized and arranged for you

Get your personalized itinerary
  • Get a trip that covers everything you want to see.
  • Know which places to go and which areas are best during certain times of the year.
  • Have someone local who knows the area to suggest trains, hotels, dining, sightseeing, etc.
or call us directly toll-free
call1 877 395 5771

Customized Trips

All our trips can be personalized to match your dates, travel style, and budget.

Canadian Insiders

Advice From Canadians

Make the most of your time in Canada with advice from our local Insiders.


Everything Arranged

Feel in control with all the details of your trip organized and booked for you.