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 MK of Toronto on 21/09/2018
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
Arrive at the stables for 9:30am to meet your guides, fellow guests, and your specially-chosen horse. The horses are all experts on these trails, allowing you to relax and tune in to the wilderness all around you. Everybody is working on ‘Western Time’, so the schedule is quite relaxed and you will have time to get to know your horse and ask any questions you might have before setting off. Once everything is ready you set out on the 10-mile ride to your first lodge. The path follows the rushing Bow River alongside which you will stop for a traditional cowboy cook-out lunch. Relax on the banks of the river as the food is cooked over an open fire and embrace the feeling of being free from the stresses of modern life. A gentle afternoon of riding brings you to the lodge at about 4:30pm where you can freshen up with a warm shower and relax for the rest of the day. Your host is exceptionally welcoming and will cater to your every need while you are there. While the professional chefs cook up something sumptuous in the kitchen you can enjoy the sights and sounds of this beautiful backcountry, safe in the knowledge you have a comfortable bed waiting for you.
After a hearty breakfast, you mount up and follow the historical Erling Strom Trail. The sun creeps above the rugged Sundance mountain range to the east as you follow in the footsteps of the early explorers of the Rocky Mountains. Enjoy a picnic lunch in an open mountain meadow where the plants start to indicate the change in altitude before continuing higher up through the trees in the afternoon. As you approach the lodge, the vegetation starts to thin and you emerge into a picture-postcard scene with the lodge nestled in a striking cauldron of mountains. With propane lanterns, candles and a woodstove for warmth, this lodge is brimming with rustic charm and completes the mountain retreat feel.
Today you can leave your belongings at the lodge as you set out on a loop along the Allenby Pass. By now you will be firm friends with your horse and they will continue to look after you as you climb to 8,100 feet (approx. 2470m). As you drink in the stunning panoramic views of the valleys and distant mountain ranges, remember to have a look at the rocks closer to hand as well. Many millions of years ago, the ragged mountain on which you stand was in fact the sea floor, and you can still see fossil remains trapped in the rock! Making your way back down the mountain pass you will return to the lodge, exhilarated from the experience. As the sun sets behind the mountains you can relax around the fire with a glass of wine and share stories with your fellow travelers.
Today the horses take a break and you have a choice of how active you want to be. If you feel like exploring the area more you can hike to a sparkling glacial-fed lake at the end of the valley which also offers up more spectacular views of the amphitheater-like valley around and below you. If you would rather take some time to relax then you are very welcome. This is an incredibly peaceful spot where you could sit out and get lost in a book, or perhaps spend some time grooming your horse to deepen your connection with them further. Don’t forget to look up every now and then though, you never know what you might spot munching in the meadow or taking a drink in the creek.
It is with some difficulty that you ride away from this idyllic spot today but there is still more to see in this wild backcountry. Follow the winding trail along Brewster Creek, criss-crossing the valley as the early pioneers did to find exciting new places and a different perspective of the mountains around you. Lunch is taken out on the trail and you arrive back to the original lodge in the afternoon. The hot shower and electric lights seem very decedent after the simpler lodge in the mountains, and another delicious meal is served from the professional kitchen to finish off the day.
Gather together for a final breakfast with your warm hosts before riding back to the stables. Follow the gently winding river trails through the backcountry of thick pine forest with the Rockies framing everything on the horizon. Stretch out on the riverbank one last time for lunch before making your way back to civilization, arriving at the stables at approximately 4:30pm.
2 Day Programme
You’ll begin your journey at 9:30am at the stables at the backcountry check-in area of the large barn. Your slickers and saddle bags will be handed out and you will meet the horse specifically picked just for you. Things happen on “Western Time” here so you’ll have time to get to know your horse and ask any questions. You’ll ride along a route that the early explorers of the Canadian Rockies blazed nearly a century ago. It’s the ideal way to dip your toe into horseback trekking in Banff, even if you don’t have a lot of time. Saddled up and ready to ride, you hit the trail for the ten mile journey to Sundance Lodge. You will follow the trail alongside the rushing glacier-fed waters of the Bow River, Healy Creek and Brewster Creek. Along the way you’ll stop for a simple, hearty cowboy-style hot lunch on the banks of the river. You’ll arrive at the lodge in the late afternoon, where your host will greet you. Settle into your room and freshen up from your day on the trail, then gather around the table for a gourmet meal and an evening of conversation.
After a deep and restful sleep in the peaceful quiet of the backcountry, you’ll awake to a hearty breakfast and a steaming mug of coffee. You’ll have the entire morning to wake up slowly and savor your time at this picturesque lodge. Sundance was built in 1991, near the original Ten Mile Cabin built in 1923 where the trail riders used to stop and rest on their way to Mount Assiniboine. (Ten Mile Cabin is still there and Sundance Lodge sits where the corral would have been.) With no emails to answer or errands to run, your time is your own. You can sit on the deck, get lost in the pages of a good book, have a chat with your horse or get to know your fellow adventurers. You will begin your ride back to Banff in the late morning. You’ll bring along handmade sandwiches for the journey, as well as fresh-baked goodies and fruit. You’ll return to the stables at approximately 4:30 pm, with plenty of stories to tell about your adventure in the backcountry.
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 18 st/250 lb/114 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
On the 6 and 4 day trails you will be staying in two different lodges. On the 2 and 3 day trails you will stay at Sundance Lodge.
Sundance Lodge: The first and last nights of your trip will be spent in this warm and cozy lodge on the edge of the mountain range. It is a modern upgrade of the original Ten-Mile Cabin that was built in the 1920s. Secluded and rustic, it is also warm and cosy with solar power and a wood-burning stove. Hot showers and electricity are available here, and the large professional kitchen allows the excellent chefs to offer a fully catered rotating seasonal menu for guests. There is a porch where you can sit out and watch for wildlife and a social area with comfortable chairs by the fireplace perfect for reading a book or swapping stories. The shared bathroom facilities are inside and there are 10 rooms available.
Halfway Lodge: The middle three nights of the trip will be spent at this lodge set at the base of the Allenby Pass. It was built in the 1920s for trail riders in their way to Mount Assiniboine. This a more basic lodge than Sundance but charming in it’s own way. Propane lanterns and candles provide the lighting while a woodstove provides the heat and keeps the coffee warm. There is a cosy kitchen, dining and living areas inside, and two shared outhouses and an outdoor shower on site. There are 4 bedrooms that have space for up to 4 people each.
Meals are cooked on-site by professional chefs with expertise in backcountry cooking. Breakfast and dinner will be served in the common dining areas each day, while lunches will be packed in saddlebags and taken on the rides. A traditional cowboy cook-out takes place on the first day which is usually a juicy AAA Alberta steak paired with home-made baked beans, baked potatoes and other fixings. Dinners at the lodges are more sophisticated than you might expect out in the wilderness with everything from braised beef short ribs to plump Cornish game hen matched with a side of fluffy mashed potatoes to crème brulee cheesecake.
Camps and lodges are licensed and offer a small selection of wine and beer.
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.
One lodge has solar power while the other has no electricity so please bring spare batteries or a powerpack for charging equipment.
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. Toilet paper and hand soap are provided at the lodges.
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.
This is a 6 day/5 night programme with riding on 5 days available between June and September starting on Thursdays and Sundays. Shorter stays also available: 2 days/1 night starting on Saturdays; 3 days/2 nights starting on Mondays; 4 days/3 nights starting on Wednesdays.
2019 6 Day: Thursday and Sunday departures between 23 June and 12 September.
2019 4 Day: Wednesday departures between 26 June and 11 September
2019 3 Day: Monday departures between 20 May and 7 October
2019 2 Day: Saturday departures between 18 May and 5 October
2020 6 Day: Thursday and Sunday departures between 21 June and 10 September.
2020 4 Day: Wednesday departures between 24 June and 9 September
2020 3 Day: Monday departures between 18 May and 12 October
2020 2 Day: Saturday departures between 16 May and 10 October
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2019 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||double pp||1,295|
|2019 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||single supplement||235|
|2019 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||Discount for sharing triple room||-58|
|2019 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||double pp||919|
|2019 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||single supplement||149|
|2019 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||Discount for sharing triple room||-37|
|2019 2 Day Programme||per night||2||double pp||425|
|2019 2 Day Programme||per night||2||single supplement||51|
|2019 2 Day Programme||per night||2||Discount for sharing triple room||-12|
|2019 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||double pp||659|
|2019 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||single supplement||99|
|2019 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||Discount for sharing triple room||-25|
|2020 2 Day Programme||per night||2||double pp||439|
|2020 2 Day Programme||per night||2||single supplement||51|
|2020 2 Day Programme||per night||2||Discount for sharing triple room||-12|
|2020 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||double pp||689|
|2020 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||single supplement||99|
|2020 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||Discount for sharing triple room||-25|
|2020 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||double pp||1,439|
|2020 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||single supplement||249|
|2020 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||Discount for sharing triple room||-62|
|2020 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||double pp||939|
|2020 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||single supplement||149|
|2020 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||Discount for sharing triple room||-37|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2019 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||double pp||1,569|
|2019 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||single supplement||285|
|2019 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||Discount for sharing triple room||-71|
|2019 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||double pp||1,049|
|2019 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||single supplement||175|
|2019 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||Discount for sharing triple room||-42|
|2019 2 Day Programme||per night||2||double pp||485|
|2019 2 Day Programme||per night||2||single supplement||58|
|2019 2 Day Programme||per night||2||Discount for sharing triple room||-14|
|2019 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||double pp||749|
|2019 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||single supplement||115|
|2019 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||Discount for sharing triple room||-28|
|2020 2 Day Programme||per night||2||double pp||499|
|2020 2 Day Programme||per night||2||single supplement||58|
|2020 2 Day Programme||per night||2||Discount for sharing triple room||-14|
|2020 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||double pp||785|
|2020 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||single supplement||115|
|2020 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||Discount for sharing triple room||-28|
|2020 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||double pp||1,645|
|2020 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||single supplement||285|
|2020 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||Discount for sharing triple room||-71|
|2020 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||double pp||1,069|
|2020 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||single supplement||175|
|2020 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||Discount for sharing triple room||-42|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2019 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||double pp||1,825|
|2019 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||single supplement||335|
|2019 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||Discount for sharing triple room||-82|
|2019 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||double pp||1,219|
|2019 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||single supplement||199|
|2019 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||Discount for sharing triple room||-49|
|2019 2 Day Programme||per night||2||double pp||565|
|2019 2 Day Programme||per night||2||single supplement||67|
|2019 2 Day Programme||per night||2||Discount for sharing triple room||-16|
|2019 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||double pp||869|
|2019 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||single supplement||135|
|2019 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||Discount for sharing triple room||-33|
|2020 2 Day Programme||per night||2||double pp||559|
|2020 2 Day Programme||per night||2||single supplement||64|
|2020 2 Day Programme||per night||2||Discount for sharing triple room||-15|
|2020 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||double pp||879|
|2020 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||single supplement||129|
|2020 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||Discount for sharing triple room||-31|
|2020 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||double pp||1,835|
|2020 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||single supplement||319|
|2020 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||Discount for sharing triple room||-79|
|2020 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||double pp||1,195|
|2020 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||single supplement||195|
|2020 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||Discount for sharing triple room||-47|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2019 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||double pp||16,899|
|2019 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||single supplement||3,075|
|2019 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||Discount for sharing triple room||-765|
|2019 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||double pp||11,289|
|2019 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||single supplement||1,845|
|2019 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||Discount for sharing triple room||-459|
|2019 2 Day Programme||per night||2||double pp||5,219|
|2019 2 Day Programme||per night||2||single supplement||615|
|2019 2 Day Programme||per night||2||Discount for sharing triple room||-149|
|2019 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||double pp||8,059|
|2019 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||single supplement||1,229|
|2019 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||Discount for sharing triple room||-305|
|2020 2 Day Programme||per night||2||double pp||5,375|
|2020 2 Day Programme||per night||2||single supplement||615|
|2020 2 Day Programme||per night||2||Discount for sharing triple room||-149|
|2020 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||double pp||8,445|
|2020 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||single supplement||1,229|
|2020 3 Day Programme||3d/2n||3||Discount for sharing triple room||-305|
|2020 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||double pp||17,669|
|2020 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||single supplement||3,075|
|2020 6 Day Programme||6d/5n||5||Discount for sharing triple room||-765|
|2020 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||double pp||11,519|
|2020 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||single supplement||1,845|
|2020 4 Day Programme||4d/3n||4||Discount for sharing triple room||-459|
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.