Why go Guided in the Canadian Rockies?
Will Woods – ACMG Hiking Guide
Imagine this: You and your family pack bags and head to the airport. You do a little bit of research on your phone, sitting in the airport lobby and book some accommodation in Banff, and score a great deal online! You arrive and the hotel is everything that it promised on the website and more! The concierge at the hotel points you to all kinds of hidden hikes and secret spots that no one else knows about and to top it all off you never wait for a table at dinner at any of the up-and-coming restaurants in the Bow Valley. #bestvacationever.
Sound too good to be true? It is. The TV ads for travel websites make it seem like this kind of experience is easy and carefree if you use their website. The reality is that it takes a significant investment of time and energy to plan a vacation yourself, and if you only have a limited amount of time to enjoy the destination then sorting out what your family will and won’t enjoy can seem like a daunting task.
This is where a guided vacation really shows its value. Our guides in Canada live, work and play in the Canadian Rockies. They know which trails are worthwhile and which are overrated. They know which hotels actually look like the website pictures because they have visited them. They know which restaurants are the best because they eat there after a day of hiking or skiing on their own time.
Guides will have a detailed plan for your vacation that will go to handpicked locations at the best times of day. They will also have a Plan B (and a Plan C and D) in case it rains or there is a trail closure or something else unforeseen happens. Guides are also able to modify that detailed plan based on your family’s preferences. Want to sweat a little more? No problem. Want a little more time to stop and smell the Wild Roses (really, we have those in Canada), also no problem. Guides will also be carrying all of the equipment to deal with anything that might come up along the way and are trained to respond to everything from blisters to bear encounters. Advice from a hotel concierge is sorely lacking when compared to the benefits of traveling with a Guide (no offense to concierges, of course).
There are some places that you need to be with a Guide to access. Certain locations in the National Parks require you to be with a guided party because of the hazards present in the terrain, or because of the potential for delicate resources or living systems to be negatively impacted. Often these places are worth visiting and might be the highlight of your trip, but require that you travel with a Guide who understands how to properly and safely visit those areas.
Guided travel takes all of the logistical hassle out of traveling and leaves you free to enjoy spending time with your family on an adventure together, not worrying about whether an afternoon thundershower will derail your vacation plans. The stories you want to tell family and friends when you get home aren’t about how all of your time in the trenches with travel websites paid off, but about how you made lasting memories and didn’t have to worry about making restaurant reservations (because they were made for you). Your Guides might also have some extra special surprises planned for your trip to make it even more memorable.