Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.
Review received from MP of Toronto on 02/09/2019
Please note: Due to the early start time for this ride it is recommended that you arrive the day before and stay in a hotel locally. Hotels in Banff fill up very quickly in the summer.
6 Day Programme
You meet your guides and fellow riders at the stables at 8:30am. You will collect your rain slicker (just in case) and saddle bags, and hand over your bags to the guides. A separate team of horses will deliver your belongings safely to camp so that they are there ready when you arrive. You will meet your horse for the adventure ahead and drive to the start of the trail at Lake Minnewanka on the edge of the wilderness. You’ll pass through the cool, craggy peaks of Brewster Mountain and Cascade Mountain (with a lunch stop along the way where Stony Creek meets the Cascade River), then head down into Stoney Creek Camp. This historic camp was named by the First Nations people and is deeply historically and culturally significant. It’s only day one and you’re already more deeply immersed in the backcountry than most Banff visitors will ever get. Although rustic, the camp is well equipped. Under the shadow of the Palliser Mountains it is a stunning and peaceful spot with only the sound of the horses, birds and the nearby creek. A hearty cowboy feast is served up in the main kitchen tent before gathering around the fire to watch the stars come out before getting into your sleeping bag.
Wake up in the surreal stillness of the camp ready for breakfast. After breakfast you’ll mount up in the fresh morning air and ride the 10 miles to Flint’s Park Camp. The pristine wilderness stretches in every direction from this visually stunning trail with no signs of civilization anywhere. Out here you can really feel the immense scale and power of the Rocky Mountains. The sure-footed horses pick their way expertly along the trails and you are bound to form a close bond with your partner. These trails were once used by the wardens patrolling the boundaries of Banff National Park, and take you higher into the mountains. Lunch is taken along the waterways with spectacular mountain views all around. There are some technical sections along the mountain ridges today, but they are worth it for the vistas stretching out below you. After a full day of exploring you ride to camp for another sumptuous dinner and an evening sharing stories around the fire. At night, take a moment to look up and notice how many more glittering stars you can see out here far from the city lights. Then, curl up in your warm tent and enjoy the blissful quiet of the forest.
Today you will be exploring the area around the camp, which is situated close to many beautiful points of interest such as Block Mountain and Cuthead Viewpoint. Your guide will create a customized route for the group depending on what everyone’s interests are; you could ride along the valley floor amongst the wildflowers and butterflies, or climb high above the tree line into the mountains. Whichever direction you ride in, you will be surrounded by pristine wilderness and incredible scenery. Your guide will create a customized ride for your group, tailored to your interests and experience. This ensures that your adventure is a bespoke, VIP experience that is just right for you. At the end of the day you’ll return to the familiar camp to relax and chat around the campfire once more.
Your second full day at Flint’s Park Campsite gives you another opportunity to explore the area with a backcountry day ride. After breakfast you’ll saddle up and explore a new trail with a casual picnic lunch along the way, and return for a hot shower and a delicious home-cooked meal.
On our last morning at Flint’s Camp it’s time to say goodbye to this stunning campsite but the trip is far from over! Once saddled up, you’ll ride 10 miles along a different river trail route on your return to Stoney Camp, stopping for lunch stop for lunch on the banks of Cascade River. You’ll settle back into this familiar campsite, marveling at how much you have seen and experienced in the few days since your first night here.
It’s an early start today for a 13 mile ride back through the wilderness to Banff and through the stunning scenery of Elk Lake Summit which is a highlight of the trip for many. The climb to Elk Lake Summit is jaw-dropping, you’ll be wide-eyed with awe at the larger-than-life mountains with their jagged edges piercing the sky. This is a truly exciting and epic ride and it’s also a chance to reflect on everything you have experienced in the last 6 days. It is an exciting ride to finish your holiday with, and by now you are so in tune with your horse you can really enjoy your surroundings as well as the riding. A shuttle takes you begrudgingly back to the stables and civilization, arriving at approximately 5:30-6pm. Say farewell to your new friends and take away some wonderful memories as you return to the airport or your hotel in Banff.
3 Day Programme
You meet your guides and fellow riders at the stables at 8:30am. You will collect your rain slicker (just in case) and saddle bags, and hand over your bags to the guides. A separate team of horses will deliver your belongings safely to camp so that they are there ready when you arrive. You will meet your horse for the adventure ahead and drive to the start of the trail at Mount Norquay on the edge of the wilderness. You mount up ready for a 13 mile trek off the beaten track through the stunning scenery of Elk Lake Summit, a jaw-dropping climb surrounded by jagged mountains stark against the sky. Passing the cool craggy peaks of Brewster and Cascade Mountains, the trail leads to your camp for the next two nights. A deeply historical and culturally significant site, you are already deeply immersed in the ‘real’ Banff already. Although rustic, the camp is well equipped. Under the shadow of the Palliser Mountains it is a stunning and peaceful spot with only the sound of the horses, birds and the nearby creek. A hearty cowboy feast is served up in the main kitchen tent before gathering around the fire to watch the stars come out before getting into your sleeping bag.
Waking up in the wilderness, the park is your playground for the day. This camp is perfectly situated to start on many different rides into the backcountry, each more spectacular than the last. You will be traveling along the trails that were once used by the wardens to patrol the boundaries of Banff National Park, the true outskirts of the Canadian wilderness. Your guide will create a customized ride for your group, tailored to your interests and experience. This ensures that your adventure is a bespoke, VIP experience that is just right for you. There’s no feeling quite like being deep in the Canadian wilderness like this. No matter which direction you headed in, you could wander for miles in pristine, unspoiled wilderness without seeing another building, person or trace of human civilization. It gives you a sense of the immense scale and power of nature in the Rocky Mountains. A cowboy trail lunch will be served along the way, so you can sit and enjoy while admiring the mountain views. After a full day of exploring, you’ll arrive back at the camp and your comfortable heated tent for the night – after another tasty camp dinner.
Arise early and say goodbye to your pristine backcountry surroundings – it’s time to head back into Banff and rejoin civilization. Most guests are reluctant to leave the isolated, tranquil beauty of this off-the-beaten-track spot. Unfortunately, every adventure has to come to an end. You’ll top off this trip with a thrilling 8 mile ride from Stoney Creek Camp to the Minnewanka Pack Station, stopping for lunch by the riverside along the way. It’s time to say goodbye to your guide and your horse. You’ll have plenty of wild Banff backcountry stories to tell and you will have earned the bragging rights to say that you spent 3 days deep in the Canadian Rockies. The shuttle will be waiting to take you back to Warner Stables for approximately 5pm, where you’ll say goodbye to the new friends with whom you shared this unforgettable adventure into the wild.
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
There are about 300 horses and mules available for trail riding and as pack horses. There is a large variety of sizes, breeds and temperaments within the herd, and there is something suitable for any level of rider. The riding is all done at a walk, although the terrain can be steep or rocky in places. On occasion riders may need to dismount and lead their horse for short periods.
No previous experience is necessary for this ride, the guides will be happy to teach beginners the basics that they will need on the tour. The riding is all done at a walk and the horses are well trained. A good level of general fitness is required and riders should have an adventurous nature. The minimum age for this ride is 9 years, and the maximum weight is 250lbs (113kg). These restrictions are strictly adhered to for the safety of the horses and all riders, guests may be asked to provide proof of age for children and be weighed before being allowed to ride.
The weight limit for this ride is 250 lb/114 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
The accommodation on this ride is in A-frame tents at 2 different camp sites in the Banff National Park. The tents are on raised wooden platforms and fitted with camp beds and thermarests and have heaters inside. There is an outhouse at each site as well as a communal kitchen tent where meals are taken and can also be used to relax in. There is an electric fence around the campsite to keep larger animals out. The 3 day programme only visits 1 camp site.
Meals are cooked on-site by professional chefs with expertise in backcountry cooking. Breakfast and dinner will be served in the kitchen tent each day, while lunches will be packed in saddlebags and taken on the rides. Meals are hearty and traditional 'cowboy' fare; steak cooked over the fire or roasted game birds served with fluffy mashed potatoes and vegetables are examples of what you might expect on this trail.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request. General information: All travellers are required to provide details online 72 hours prior to travel.
Visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to or transit through Canada are expected to have an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Exceptions include U.S. citizens and travellers with a valid Canadian visa.
To visit Canada, you will need to meet some basic requirements, such as:
• have a valid travel document, such as a passport,
• be in good health,
• have no criminal or immigration-related convictions,
• convince an immigration officer that you have ties—such as a job, home, financial assets or family—that will take you back to your home country,
• convince an immigration officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your visit, and
• have enough money for your stay. (The amount of money you will need can vary. It depends on things such as how long you will stay, and whether you will stay in a hotel, or with friends or relatives.)
Citizens of a few countries may also need a:
• medical exam and
• letter of invitation from someone who lives in Canada.
For further information please visit http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp
The Canadian High Commission in the U.K is at Macdonald House, 1 Grosvenor Square, London W1K 4AB. Telephone: (020) 7258 6600. Email: email@example.com.
The British Consulate in Canada is at 80 Elgin Street, Ottawa, K1P 5K7. Telephone: + (1) (613) 237 1530. Email: generalenquiries@BritaininCanada.org.
Summer is generally 15-30 Celsius each day with cooler mountain mornings. It is warmest in July and August. The climate here is generally dry. Stunning autumn colours are best seen in September.
Giardiasis is present so do not drink water from streams. Tap water is safe to drink. Rabies is endemic in Canada, do not approach stray dogs. Lyme disease can be a risk in wooded regions; it is a rare tick borne disease. Check with your doctor for details but apart from general precautions against tick bites no prophylaxis is usually required.
For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org and the Deprtment of Health also gives medical advice on their web site at www.dh.gov.uk
The voltage is 110-120V, 60Hz in Canada as in the USA and you will need a flat blade plug and possibly an adaptor depending on the appliance.
There is no electricity for recharging equipment at the camps so please bring extra batteries or a power pack to recharge your camera.
Bags/luggage – Waterproof bags are the best option. Drysacks, favoured by canoers, or a gym bag lined with garbage bags work well.
A warm sleeping bag — We recommend a bag rated to -15 degrees Celsius or 5 degrees Fahrenheit. You may not need it, but it sure comes in handy if you do. A favourite cowboy trick for extra warmth is to tuck a flannel sheet or non-bulky blanket inside your sleeping bag.
A warm coat — Essential to ward off chilly nights or a windy day. Also bring a heavy sweater (wool is a great insulator) or fleece jacket.
Rain gear — A rain coat and waterproof trousers, and if possible, coverings for your boots and hat. Please DO NOT bring rain ponchos, they flap in the wind and can scare the horses. If you have one, we recommend a slicker. There is a limited supply of full-length slickers (traditional cowboy rain coat) available. These are available for pick up upon check in based on a first come first served basis. Clothing that is easily layered works the best. You can always remove what you don’t need, but you still have it just in case. Also, bring your most comfortable gear — this is not the time to break-in new boots or a new hat.
Shirts – long sleeve and t-shirts to your preference.
Jeans – a cowboy classic. Jodhpurs are also acceptable. Also important is a pair of long underwear for chilly nights.
Riding boots — A boot with a heel that can easily slip in and out of stirrups. Alternatives would be a narrow style of hiking boot or solid sneaker. For safety reasons, clunky hiking boots are not recommended. Water (rain) resistant boots are recommended.
Sneakers — or an extra pair of shoes for wearing around camp, an extra pair of DRY socks is also recommended.
Toiletries — towel, facecloth, biodegradable shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, disposable razors, etc. Please note that we do not have any electricity at the camps. Toilet paper and hand soap are provided at the camps.
Hat — A cowboy hat offers the most protection from the elements. Baseball caps or canvas-type hats are also fine. Please ensure that your hat fits snug or ties on and will not blow off in the wind. Chin straps are recommended. If you prefer to wear a riding helmet, there is a selection available upon check in on a first come first served basis.
Gloves — Lined leather or suede gloves provide protection from the elements and a sure grip on the reins (bring two pairs just in case one gets wet).
Scarf — A silk or cotton scarf is recommended for extra warmth.
Your camera – extra batteries.
Torch — Remember to check your batteries!
Cellular phones do not work in the areas you’ll be riding in so leave them somewhere safe. If you will be using the camera on your phone, please note there is no charging station in the backcountry.
Water bottle – for refreshment while you are riding. You will be able to refill your water bottle at each camp.
Saddlebags – You are welcome to bring your own; saddlebags are available at check in. Please fill them with only those essential items that you would need during the day, such as lip balm, your camera, sunscreen, etc. We reserve the right to limit the amount of gear in the saddlebags for weight. Daypacks, backpacks or other bags are NOT allowed — they are hard on your back and hard on the horse’s back, and do not tie properly to the saddle.
Cash – you may want to bring some cash to purchase drinks or leave a gratuity for your cooks. You can also use credit cards to purchase liquor.
Equipment Rental Email Bactrax/Snowtips at firstname.lastname@example.org, for information regarding sleeping bags/liners, luggage bags etc. Located at 225 Bear Street (just a block away from Banff Trail Riders), Snowtips offers a convenient rental service. They are open from 8am until 8pm, and would love to receive your inquiries. If you would prefer to contact them by telephone, they can be reached at (403) 762-8177, or fax at (403) 760-6289.
This is a 6 day/5 night programme with riding on 5 days available between June and September starting on Mondays and Fridays. There is also a 3 day/2 night programme with riding on 3 days.
2020 6 Day: Monday and Friday departures between 22 June and 7 September - cancelled for 2020 season
2020 3 Day: Wednesday departures between 24 June and 9 September - Many dates sold out, please contact for availability
2021 6 Day: Monday, Wednesday and Friday departures between 21 June and 6 September
2020 3 Day: Wednesday departures between 23 June and 8 September
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2020 6-Day Programme||6d/5n||5||double pp||1,405|
|2020 6-Day Programme||6d/5n||5||single supplement||195|
|2020 3-Day Programme||3d/2n||3||double pp||699|
|2020 3-Day Programme||3d/2n||3||single supplement||79|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2020 6-Day Programme||6d/5n||5||double pp||1,549|
|2020 6-Day Programme||6d/5n||5||single supplement||219|
|2020 3-Day Programme||3d/2n||3||double pp||769|
|2020 3-Day Programme||3d/2n||3||single supplement||87|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2020 6-Day Programme||6d/5n||5||double pp||1,809|
|2020 6-Day Programme||6d/5n||5||single supplement||255|
|2020 3-Day Programme||3d/2n||3||double pp||899|
|2020 3-Day Programme||3d/2n||3||single supplement||105|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2020 6-Day Programme||6d/5n||5||double pp||16,335|
|2020 6-Day Programme||6d/5n||5||single supplement||2,279|
|2020 3-Day Programme||3d/2n||3||double pp||8,125|
|2020 3-Day Programme||3d/2n||3||single supplement||915|
Banff is an excellent location for outdoor activities. Some available options are:
White Water Rafting
The Rocky Mountains are home to an array of mammals and birds. Most commonly seen are elk, bighorn sheep and deer, less frequently spotted are bear, mountain goats, coyotes, wolves and moose and rarer still are lynx, mountain lions (cougars) and wolverine. The birds that are often spotted are Clark’s Nutcrackers, Stellar Jays, ravens, falcons and white-tailed ptarmigan. orcupine, marmots, pika, pine martens, rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks are some of the smaller wildlife you might come across in various terrains of the mountain parks.
People migrating from Asia crossing the Bering Strait first settled the North American continent. They formed a number of tribes that can be distinguished by language: the Algonquian in the eastern sub-arctic and maritime areas spreading into the prairies and plains of the mid-west; the Iriquioian speaking tribes mostly in the St Lawrence Valley and around Lakes Ontario and Erie; the Salishan, Athabascan and other linguistic groups lived along the rivers and coastline of British Columbia. Small, isolated Inuit bands developed a unique culture in the harsh environment of the Arctic.
John Cabot, a Venetian working in the service of the English sailed to Newfoundland in 1497. This and later explorations formed the basis of the English claim to Canada. The Frenchman Jacques Cartier undertook a series of explorations, mainly along the route of the St Lawrence River during the 1530s and 1540s and he claimed the land for France.
It's the edginess between Canada's indigenous, French and British traditions that gives the nation its complex three-dimensional character. Add to this a constant infusion of US culture and a plethora of traditions brought by migrants, and you have a thriving multicultural society.
Canada is between 3.5 and 8 hours behind GMT depending on where you are in the country. They use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram.
The international dialling code is +1.