Nelson To Banff
July 24 - August 1, 2022
Our crown-jewel gravel tour, this challenging week-long adventure treats you to an adventure through some of BC’s most rugged and picturesque terrain, ending each day in beautiful accommodations and lovely alpine towns.
“Magic Places exceeded my expectations time and time again. The Rockies Gravel Tour had endless variety of terrain and challenge and the organization and care taken by the guides makes for an experience you’ll never forget!”
- Steve Kipp, 2021 Nelson-Banff Gravel Tour
Combining the most inspiring off-road segments of the legendary BC Epic 1000 and Tour Divide Mountain Routes, our week-long adventure will see you riding through the heart of the BC’s wildest mountains, while staying each night in luxurious comfort.
From your starting climb up the epic Gray Creek Pass, to the memorable finish rolling into Banff along the Spray River Trail, each and every day delivers incredible views and amazing terrain. Through the tactful addition of a few key shuttles, we’ve turned a route normally reserved for the hardy ‘bike packers’ into an adventurous journey that you can enjoy safely, with full support from a ride guide, safety moto, and of course, our 14 passenger van and bike trailer.
- Cross the Continental Divide at Elk Pass, in one of the most stunning and remote mountain valleys in North America;
- Ride nearly 40 continuous kilometres of grin-inducing, smooth gravel singletrack along the purpose-built Chief Isadore trail between Cranbrook and Wardner;
- Enjoy a rest day in Canada’s hippest mountain town, Fernie. Whether white water rafting, exploring great craft breweries, or simply going for a hike, you won’t want to leave;
- Wake up beneath the towering walls of the Kananaskis range in Mt Engadine Lodge, while you sip you coffee and watch grizzlies roam the meadows below;
- Cross the Purcell Mountains via the mighty Gray Creek Pass. Averaging 9% for 17km, it’s one of the highest passes in Canada and a feather in any cyclists cap;
- Watch the dominating Rocky Mountains reveal themselves as you ride into Fernie via 15 kilometres of twisting, rolling singletrack;
- Relax in the soothing waters of Banff Hot Springs beneath towering mountains as you reflect on the best week of riding in your life.
- Seven nights double-occupancy accommodation at top rated lodges and hotels;
- Five (optionally 6) fully guided, vehicle-supported daily rides;
- Seven delicious breakfasts and gourmet picnic lunches, along with ride nutrition and drinks along your rides;
- Gourmet dinner at Mt Engadine lodge;
- Airport shuttles from Castlegar airport and to Calgary airport;
- 1 set of Magic Places professional-grade cycling bibs and jersey;
- Photo package to capture those once-in-a-lifetime memories;
- Our friendly and attentive customer service.
Optional Services Include:
- Single occupancy room supplement: $1299
Day 1: Arrive in Nelson, either by road, or via the Castlegar Airport, where we’ll be there to pick you up. We’re staying at the newly renovated Hume Hotel and Spa, a beautiful hotel and Nelson landmark. Today we’ll make sure bikes are ready to go and enjoy a welcome dinner at the Library Lounge.
Day 2: After an early breakfast, we’ll jump in the van for the short shuttle to Balfour, where we’ll ferry across Kootenay Lake to the start of your introduction to the Kootenays – the climb of Gray Creek Pass. Averaging 8.9% over it’s 17km, you’ll have plenty of time to take in the incredible views of Mt Bonner, Snowcrest, and Evans before the rolling, 30km descent to picturesque St Mary’s Lake. Take a well-deserved dip in the lake and enjoy a cold brew and gourmet picnic lunch to celebrate your achievement. A short shuttle brings us into the quaint Bavarian mountain town of Kimberley, where we’ll enjoy dinner at the Old Baurenhaus, an authentic 1800’2 German restaurant dismantled in the Alps and reassembled in Kimberley! Ride details: 81km/2100m
Day 3: After a hearty breakfast in the ‘Platzl’ we hop on the bikes for what will be one of your favourite days of the tour. Departing Kimberley, we head south on the recently completed Northstar Rail to Trail. For it’s 27km length, you won’t have to worry about any vehicles, but keep your eyes open for horses, hikers, and other trail users. Just north of Cranbrook, we join the Chief Isadore trail, a gorgeous 44km multi-use trail showcasing what an engaged community can create. The 17km Mayook Trail section with its 1.5m wide enhanced gravel singletrack will blow you mind! Finishing our ride in the hamlet of Wardner, we have lunch lakeside before loading up for the short shuttle to the Bull Creek Guest Ranch. Dinner tonight is prepared by your guides and promises to deliver. Ride details: 72km/400m
Day 4: With two big mileage days behind us, today we dial back the distance, and dial up the fun! After a short shuttle to Elko, at the foot of the massive Elk River Valley, we ride 20km of forest service road along the Elk River to Morrisey, site of a 1918 internment camp turned ghost town where the only residents today are a majestic stand of ancient cottonwood trees. Leaving Morrisey, we continue 6km on gravel before turning into the Elk Valley trail network, providing close to 20km of swooping, rolling singletrack all the way into Fernie. Cold beers and comfortable beds await at the Snow Valley Lodge, our home for two nights. A hearty, homestyle dinner at The Brickhouse, one of Fernie’s legends, awaits. Ride details: 44km/700m
Day 5: Today we enjoy a well-deserved recovery day in Fernie. Boasting four great breweries, multiple spas, great restaurants, a vibrant village centre, and more outdoor activities than cities ten times its size, Fernie offers up an incredible day of exploring. Chat with us about the many activities on offer and we’re happy to organize an amazing side trip!
Day 6: Crossing the Divide. After a hearty breakfast, we shuttle to Elkford, where we bid farewell to civilization and start our ride north to Elk Pass. Following a combination of gravel road, double/single track and mountain trails, this long, gradual climb into a massive wilderness valley will take your breath away. With towering mountain ranges on either side of you, you’ll truly learn the meaning of isolation as we follow the Elk River to its headwaters, and the crest of the continent. After reaching the Divide, surrounded by 3000+m peaks, a 5km descent brings us to the aquamarine waters of the Kananaskis Lakes, and our destination for the day. Dare to take a dip in the glacial waters, or simply enjoy the view as we pop a bottle of bubbly and celebrate a truly unique and monumental ride. A short shuttle to Mt Engadine Lodge, where a soak in the outdoor hot tub awaits before a celebratory feast in the lodge’s award-winning restaurant. Ride details: 80km/1400m
Day 7: A fitting end to a spectacular trip, our final ride follows the idyllic Goat Creek and Spray River trails from the Spray Lakes down into lovely Banff. After a deservedly leisurely breakfast at the lodge, we load into the van for an hour-long shuttle to the Spray Lakes, high above Canmore. From the trailhead, 30km of gently descending gravel trail and double track follows the creek and river down a deep alpine valley, hemmed in the massive Rundle and Goat escarpments. We finish at the foot of the iconic Banff Springs Hotel, where we’ll stop for a drink to celebrate the completion of our journey on the Hotel’s legendary patio. A quick spin into Banff Village takes us to the four-star Canalta Lodge, our comfy mountain retreat and home for the night. Spend the afternoon strolling the village, or maybe soaking in the famous Banff Hot Springs before our final dinner at Block, a casual asian-fusion restaurant that critics are raving about.
Day 8: Sleep in, have a relaxed breakfast and then we’ll pack up and depart for Calgary and your flight home.