Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Ultimate Explorer Pass to the Canadian Rockies (with GIVEAWAY)

We're big fans of the Brewster Travel Canada attractions and last year we enjoyed some spectacular adventures with the do-everything passes we had. This year, the big combo package is called the "Ultimate Explorer Pass" and you'll get to try out some of the best tours across Banff and Jasper with this pass.

Soaring over the Rockies on the Banff Gondola (photo: Brewster Travel Canada)

Purchase an Ultimate Explorer Pass and gain one admission to the Banff Gondola, the Glacier Skywalk, the Glacier Adventure, and either the Banff Lake Cruise on Lake Minnewanka or the Maligne Lake Cruise in Jasper to Spirit Island.

Jasper Glacier Adventure (just one of the many adventures you can try!)

What to Expect from each Tour and Attraction

The Banff Gondola

Banff's best family interpretive centre - on top of a mountain!! Learn about the wildlife found in the national park, check out interesting displays about the history and culture of Banff (with lots of photos and videos,) interact with the exhibits (very touch-friendly,) and watch an extremely cool video where you get to soar over the park from the air.

Checking out the touch-friendly interpretive centre at the Banff Gondola

Also on site you'll find a 360 degree observation deck, a variety of dining options, and a fun little hiking trail that takes you to the top of a historic weather station on Sanson's Peak.

New for this season: Visit the gondola before 10am and receive one free child's admission per paying adult.

Hiking the boardwalk trail above the Banff Gondola

Why we love the Banff Gondola:

This is the easy peasy way to climb a mountain with kids that might be too young to summit a big peak on their own little legs. Sulphur Mountain was one of my son's first summits and he's always loved the hike to the weather station. Even now at age 8, he runs up those stairs with great enthusiasm to reach the little house on top.

It's a great option for rainy, cloudy, dreary, or even snowy days! And I know you're thinking, "What's the point of taking the gondola if there are no views?" But trust me, it's always beautiful up there - even when it's socked in and you can't see anything. The interpretive centre can also be enjoyed year-round regardless of the weather (and is worth  the ride up if for no other reason.)

My favourite visit to the gondola was on a snowy day last September (yes, this is September!)

I like to drink my coffee on top of a mountain. Don't you?? (And they definitely serve coffee up there. In fact, there's even a Starbucks Coffee shop at the bottom of the gondola so you can sip your tasty beverage on the ride up!)

Find me a child who doesn't love a gondola ride. This is the easiest way to entertain a family in Banff, hands down!

The easiest way to get a mountain top experience in Banff!

The Glacier Skywalk

This is a short little tour that you probably wouldn't do on its own, but it's fabulous when bundled together with the Glacier Adventure below. Hop a bus at the Icefields Centre and enjoy both tours at the same time.

This is a great opportunity for the kids to burn off some energy on the long drive between Banff and Jasper. And my son asks every time we drive by the Columbia Icefields Centre if we can take a walk on the glass sidewalk.

The Glass Sidewalk (Glacier Skywalk) with Mt. Athabasca in the background

Why we like the Glacier Skywalk:

Personally, I like the views of Mont Athabasca from the sidewalk (And I've climbed that bad boy!!)

My son thinks it's fun to walk on a glass sidewalk that hangs out over the valley. And while many tourists are crawling around on their hands and knees, too scared to stand up, my son things it's fun!

The Skywalk gets very busy so arrive early!

Recommendation when visiting this tour: Arrive Early!! It gets busy, tours fill up quickly, and you could be waiting for hours to catch a bus for the Glacier Skywalk and the Glacier Adventure. Pre-book your tour if you can!

The Glass Sidewalk

The Glacier Adventure

This is a real glacier!
Probably our favourite tour, this is the star attraction in the Brewster collection. Board a bus from the Columbia Icefields Centre and drive to a staging area below the Athabasca Glacier. Then, hop on a giant snow coach bus (with monster tires) to cross the glacier. You'll be taken to a safe place that has been checked for crevasses and allowed to walk around on the glacier.

It's a super cool experience and we enjoy doing this every opportunity we get. As with the Glacier Sidewalk Tour above, arrive early, try to pre-book your tour, and allow for several hours at the Columbia Icefields to wait for your turn and to do both tours.

Why we love the Glacier Adventure :

Who doesn't like riding a giant bus? That part alone will be a highlight for kids.

When will you get another opportunity to walk on a real glacier? Unless you have mountaineering experience, this is going to be your big chance to walk on one of these beautiful sheets of ice before they all melt!

Stunning views! 

We don't like "drive by sightseeing" and the Columbia Icefields Centre is the most beautiful point on the entire Icefields Parkway as you drive between Lake Louise and Jasper. Take the time to stop, to take a tour, and to fully explore your surroundings here.

It was overcast on our last visit but there's never a bad glacier outing!

Recommendations: Wear warm shoes or hiking boots with good grip (not sandals,) bring mittens or gloves, a hat, and a warm jacket. Think "winter" because chances are that's what it will feel like!

Our fist visit on the Glacier Adventure years ago (and I have no idea why I'm wearing sandals!)

The Banff Lake Cruise on Lake Minnewanka

Truth be told, I prefer the Maligne Lake Cruise because you get to step off the boat rather than staying on it the whole time. That being said, the Banff Lake Cruise is very beautiful and great for a low-energy day when you still want to take in the gorgeous scenery of Lake Minnewanka, one of Banff's larger lakes at 21 km long!

Devil's Gap as seen from the Lake Minnewanka Boat Cruise

Why we like the Banff Lake Cruise:

It's a great trip for the grandparents (my mom loved it,) or for visiting family when you want to take them somewhere special.

This is a great tour for those with limited mobility (again, bring the family when they visit,) or for families with young kids or babies (it's a relaxed tour in a covered boat to keep you out of the sun.)

Wildlife sightings are quite common from the boat and you'll get a rare opportunity to see Devil's Gap at the far end of the lake (unless you want to hike or bike there, camping along the way.) Trust me though, the boat cruise is the easiest way to get to the far end of the lake!

For those living in Calgary, this is the closest option for boat cruise if you have no plans go to go Jasper.

Interpretive tours are always better by boat, right?

My son enjoyed the ride and it was a great way to escape the summer heat for an hour

The Maligne Lake Cruise to Spirit Island 

This tour was a pleasant surprise for us when we tried it last summer. I guess I hadn't done much research before getting on the boat but I kind of figured we'd drive "near" the famous "Spirit Island," fight for deck space to take photos, and then drive back to the dock. Never did I expect that we'd get to step off the boat at a dock across from Spirit Island and that we'd have time to walk around the shoreline taking photos of Spirit Island from every conceivable angle!

It was an awesome tour and we all loved it. We'd happily do this tour again. The only thing I recommend is pre-booking your tour and arriving early so that you don't have to wait hours for your departure time.

As close as one can get to the famous Spirit Island

Why we Love the Jasper Lake Cruise:

The scenery around Maligne Lake is stunning!! And what better way to appreciate the views than from the deck of a boat where you can take dozens of photos as you motor acros the lake.

We could have kayaked to Spirit Island but it would have taken us 3-4 days, camping along the way. With a child, we kind of figured the Lake Cruise was an easier option!!

The boat is covered so this tour is great in all kinds of weather (just like with the Banff Boat Cruise above.) And although it was slightly overcast when we did  the cruise, it was still very beautiful.

Spirit Island!! Enough said right there. 

This island is on every calendar of the Rockies!

Details on Purchasing and Using your Family Ultimate Explorer Passes

Visit the Brewster Travel Canada website for more information on the Ultimate Explorer Pass.

You can either purchase the Banff Ultimate Explorer Pass or the Jasper Ultimate Explorer Pass. Both include the Banff Gondola, the Glacier Skywalk, and the Glacier Adventure. The only difference is which boat cruise you want to take.

You can also check out the Banff Explorer Pass or the Jasper Explorer Pass if only interested in the attractions in one park.

There's also a great section on Tips and Tricks on the Brewster website where you can find out how to make the most out of your tours.

Combo packages can be used on any day and time during the 2017 season.

Tour times must be booked online, at any Explore Rockies desk, or by calling 1-888-269-0524 before you visit each attraction.

Children 5 and under are free but you should mention them when booking your tours ahead of time to make sure there is a seat available for them.

The Jasper Maligne Lake Boat Cruise

The GIVEAWAY - Enter to Win Four Ultimate Explorer Passes for your Family

One family will win a set of four Ultimate Explorer Passes (two adult passes and two child passes.) This contest is open to anybody who will be able to use the passes during the 2017 season.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: This story was not sponsored and I did not receive payment to write it. All opinions are my own. I am running a giveaway in exchange for promoting the Brewster Travel Canada attractions this summer.


  1. Amazing giveaway! Would love to get up the gondola again, it's been years!

  2. Cool give away. I would love to do the glacier skywalk. Super fun.

  3. I would love to take my kids for their first trip on the gondola.....i haven't been on it in years

  4. We'd love to do the glacier walk!

  5. I'd like to do the Jasper Lake cruise!

  6. I'd love to do the boat tour! I didn't even know that was a thing to do! Thanks for this great give away!

    - N. McRae

  7. we love all of them but my favourite is the Maligne boat cruise to the spirit the scenic beauty

  8. Thank you for the little recommendations parts. Very useful! And what a fantastic giveaway.

  9. My summer bucket list just got longer... :)

  10. So great! All of it... if I have to pick one it would be the cruise to spirit island 😊

  11. We would love to do the Glacier walk!

  12. Tough decision! Have done the gondola before and we have a fabulous snowball fight at the peak a few years back! Would love to take the kids to the glaciers.

  13. We've lived in Calgary for three years now and have wanted to do each of these things. Most looking forward to the Gondola and Icefields!

  14. I'm sure my kids would love the glacier walk, but I'd like to do the Maligne Lake boat tour to Spirit Island :)

  15. I would love to do the glacier tour - I grew up in Calgary and have never done it!

  16. We would love to do the Minnewanka Lake Cruise as we are heading to Two Jack for some camping in July. My kids love boat rides!

  17. I have never been on the Jasper Lake cruise. I would love to take my family!

  18. I have never been on the Jasper Lake cruise. I would love to take my family!

  19. I'd love to take my son on the glacier tour...he would love it!

  20. I'd love to cruise the Maligne Lake in Jasper or do the Skywalk!!!

  21. We drove past the Glacier skywalk this winter on our first trip up to Jasper with the kids and they have been asking ever since when we will get to go back to try this out so that would definitely be a hit. When I was a child and we came camping out this way I thought walking to the foot of the glacier was the neatest thing and remember asking my parents if we could take the tour that goes out on the glacier. It has definitely receded a considerable amount and so it would be great to take the ride out and really experience the glacier before it is gone. The boat ride on Maligne lake sounds great for a quieter day with the kids as well though.

  22. Wow!! Amazing article, so many places to see and things to do! Thanks for the cont st :)

  23. I have never seen spirit island other then pictures. So that cruise sounds amazing for my Jasper experience this summer

  24. I would love to do the glacier adventure!

  25. Would love to use these passes on our trip to Jasper this summer!

  26. Thanks for the great overview of the Brewster attractions. I noticed you mentioned to bring along warm clothing when visiting the Icefield's Center. No matter how many times we've been there, we're always surprised by the different weather from Jasper... like travelling to a whole new world!

  27. I would love to do the Glacier Adventure.

  28. I'd do the jasper cruise!

  29. I'd love to do one of the boat cruises because it's out of the realm of normal for our family.

  30. I would love to do the Maligne Lake Cruise to Spirit Island

  31. I'd love to take the kids on the Lake Minnewanka boat cruise. They would absolutely love it! We haven't yet done the glacier skywalk either so this would be fantastic! :-)

  32. Awesome giveaway. All of these sound fun

  33. We'll be there for the first time this summer, the Glacier Adventure sounds amazing!

  34. The Maligne Lake Cruise to Spirit Island looks like fun...but all sound amazing!!

  35. The Maligne Lake Cruise to Spirit Island looks neat..but all sound wonderful!

  36. The new skywalk would be amazing to see as the latest and greatest attraction.

  37. The glacier skywalk is on my list!

  38. Always get such amazing ideas from you on what to do in Alberta!

  39. Would love to do each of these! What great adventures :)

  40. All of these are on the dream list. Great post Tanya.