(March 19, 2021). Great Divide’s 2020-21 winter operation began on December 1 with special measures in place. Our main priority is to keep our guests safe.
Our Safety Measures
We ran our 2020 summer guided hiking season successfully from June until early October, and our guided snowshoeing tours started at the beginning of December. Because our trips are conducted outdoors, in small groups, and with the ability to keep safe distances from one another, we can operate safely under current Covid restrictions. Here are our operational guidelines for our winter season:
we do our pre-trip “meet and greet” information sessions over the phone or by Zoom
at any indoor meeting location (hotel lobby, park visitor centre), guide and guests will wear masks. Masks are not required out on the trail.
guests are asked to print and sign waivers in advance
there will be no carpooling: guests will self-drive to the trailheads.
during our tours, we will stay at least 2 metres (6 feet) apart from our guests
we will provide hand sanitizer on the trail
The province of Alberta’s health department has also issued guidelines for outdoor fitness, which we are following.
Latest updates in Banff and Alberta
In mid-January, the province of Alberta modified its new restrictions, which were put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Outdoor activities continue to be permitted, including things like downhill skiing, outdoor skating, and snowshoe tours like ours. Since January 18, group sizes are limited to ten or fewer people, and we have capped our group trips at a maximum of eight people.
COVID-19 information from the province of Alberta, Parks Canada, and the town of Banff
For information from public health officials, you can visit Alberta’s Coronavirus page. Banff National Park is regularly updating its COVID-19 page to show what is open in the park, and what is closed. The same is true for Yoho and Kootenay parks. The town of Banff also has a very thorough COVID-19 page, which includes current case rates for Banff National Park. Thankfully, active cases of Covid-19 in Banff and Lake Louise have dropped dramatically from their peak in late November.
Information for International Travellers
For travellers from outside of Canada, the border between Canada and the USA is currently closed to non-essential travel. This closure has been extended multiple times this year, and is now in place until April 21, 2021 at the earliest. There is a strong chance there will be more extensions, and these extensions have typically been announced only 2 to 3 days before the closure is set to expire. Any international travellers who manage to come to Canada must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival here. Health Canada updates its travel info website regularly.
Our Cancellation Policy
We will accept, without penalty, any cancellations due to travel restrictions, public health advisories, national park closures, or your contracting of COVID-19. We do not want to cause any financial hardship for guests who are unable to make a trip to the Canadian Rockies.
If your guide contracts COVID-19, you will be notified, and any trips that fall within the recovery period of the guide will be cancelled.
Several Covid-19 vaccines have been approved in Canada, and these vaccines are currently being administered to the people with the highest risk, like health care workers and long term care residents. The vaccines are scheduled to become available to the general population starting in September.
Since the response to the COVID-19 outbreak is in constant flux, everything listed above is subject to change. We revise this information regularly as the situation evolves.
In the meantime, we ask you to look after yourselves, your loved ones, and your friends & neighbours.
Joel & Nadine