Bus tour. Does the term conjure up visions of a crowded vehicle with stays in a different city each night? Think again. How about mountain scenery, extended time for exploring and luxurious accommodations from an era when railroads ruled the travel world? That’ s what baby boomer travelers will find on a Tauck Canadian Rockies Tour.
Alan and I had never toured by bus when, on a last minute travel whim, we crossed our fingers for good weather and booked a late September “Best of the Canadian Rockies” tour with Tauck. At the conclusion of our own driving trip through several of the more famous U.S. National Parks of the Western U.S., we parked the car in Calgary and hopped on a Tauck bus.
Why did we give up our independent road-tripping for a guided bus tour? It was time to let someone else do the driving while we enjoyed the view. Plus, this travel princess wanted to try the grand Canadian hotels—Jasper Park Lodge, Chateau Lake Louise and Banff Springs, all operated by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.
So, what was it like to tour by bus? We had assigned seats, that rotated each day, giving all guests the opportunity to experience the best seats along with an introduction to new seat neighbors. Every other row of seats was left empty, giving riders plenty of space. Although baby boomers made up the majority of the group, our fellow travelers were a mix of ages, representing a variety of countries, couples, families and singles.
As the bus climbed over the Continental Divide, Andre, the Tauck tour guide, provided informative commentary interspersed with time to quietly enjoy the scenery. The well-planned itinerary included scenic photo stops, waterfall walks and a ride on the Ice Explorer atop the surface of Athabasca Glacier.
A two night stay at Jasper Park Lodge gave us time to explore on our own. Tour options included a hike in the Maligne Valley; wildlife tour to look for bear, elk and more; or a ride on the Jasper Tramway. Of course we could have added additional activities such as boating, fishing or horseback riding. One afternoon, Alan and I enjoyed a nature walk around Lac Beauvert at Jasper Lake Lodge, before settling into deck chairs to watch the sunset with a glass of wine.
The hiking opportunities continued at Lake Louise while at Banff we strolled through town exploring the shops, after a ride on the gondola. More active options included mountain biking, canoeing and golf.
Due to Tauck’s clout as a Canadian tour provider, our lodging came with the best views. Gratuities as well as most meals were included in the tour price. Alan and I enjoyed the freedom of dining options that Tauck provided. We chose where and with home to eat. The entire experience felt like an upscale land cruise.