WHERE
Itinerary map here

Itinerary:
Roadtrip Through the Canadian Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast

2 nights: Calgary for exploring downtown neighbourhoods and using the city as a base for daytrips to the Foothills, Drumheller or Kananaskis
3 nights: Canmore or Banff in the Rocky Mountains for outdoor activities and breath taking natural landscapes
2 nights: Okanagan stay overnight between Vernon and Kelowna to enjoy fruit and wine country
2 nights: Vancouver for hip neighbourhoods, expansive city parks, the Pacific Ocean, and a mouth-watering selection of bars and restaurants
2 nights: Victoria for a relaxed vibe, botanical gardens and whale watching
5 days: Optional Return to Calgary along south route Crowsnest Pass with stops at Frankslide and Waterton National Park



" Ease yourself into the grandeur of the majestic Rocky Mountains by starting this epic roadtrip in Calgary, heading west through the mountains and Okanogan lake country, before finishing up at the Pacific Ocean cities of Vancouver and Victoria. On your way, enjoy the quaint downtowns of Banff and Canmore, dip your feet in mountain fed lakes, and participate in a number of outdoor pursuits ranging from mild to wild. If you wish to return to Calgary, the Crowsnest Pass southern route is equally as beautiful. "


Some general information:

To take advantage of summer activities, do this trip between April and September. More attraction will be open during the peak summer months of June, July, August, but the crowds will also be out in Banff and Lake Louise! Don’t worry too much about being overrun by tourists though, because there is plenty of space for everyone in Canada’s Rocky Mountains. Take your own car, or rent one in Calgary. If you are feeling adventurous you can also rent an RV and camp along the way! If driving isn’t your style, research bus tours online or travel via the Greyhound bus.

Alternatively, you can complete this trip in winter to partake in skiing, heli-skiing, snowshoeing, and ice climbing. Be sure to give yourself a little extra travel time in winter due to potential snowfall and adverse highway travel conditions.

1

Calgary

2 nights

Introduction:

Calgary is a great starting place for this roadtrip, as it has a major international airport and is less than an hour drive from the Rocky Mountains. There are several eclectic neighbourhoods worth exploring, as well as several optional day trips a short drive from the city.

What to do:

Head to downtown Calgary and walk along the Bow River, crossing at the bright red pedestrian and cyclist only Peace Bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava. The south side of the bridge will deposit you into downtown Calgary and nearby Princess Island Park which hosts a number of summer festivals, while the charming neighbourhoods of Sunnyside and Kensington lay to the north. In the summer months it is possible to rent kayaks and tubes to float your way through the city on the Bow River. If your timing is right, you can head to the legendary Calgary Stampede, held each year in early July.

Other noteworthy central areas of the city worth exploring are 17th Avenue SW – home to an abundance of bars, restaurants, and independent stores; Marda Loop and the Big Rock Brewery at the nearby decommissioned military barracks; the up and coming Inglewood neighbourhood east of Fort Calgary for antique stores. If serious mall shopping is more your style, head north a short distance out of the city to Iron Mills mall or south along the C-Train route to Chinook Center. For a glimpse into the historical past of Calgary, head to Heritage Park Historical Village, the Military Museum, and Glenbow Museum. The downtown also has a number of small independent art galleries with constantly changing exhibits.

There are a number of beautiful day trips that can be taken using Calgary as your base. Step back in time with a visit to Drumheller – The Dinosaur capital of Canada. A little more than an hour northeast of the city, Drumheller has a world-class museum and opportunity to hike the colorfully layered hoodoo rock formations.

Kananaskis Country and Peter Lougheed Provincial Park are about an hour away, west on the Transcanada then south at the turnoff. Inside the park is Nakiska -- the ski hill for the 1988 Calgary Olympic Games (also watch for the ski jumps as you are leaving Calgary). Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is home to the beautiful Upper and Lower Lakes with plenty of hiking opportunities. If you want to get out on the water, rent kayaks before leaving Calgary.

Alternatively, Highway 40 offers quaint artisan towns and rolling foothill views. Stop in downtown Cochrane for locally made ice cream, or Bragg Creek for the cowboy feel. For those who really love driving, it is possible to loop through Kananaskis and back up highway 40. With a few stops scenic stops, this drive will take you 3-4 hours.

Next:

Head west along highway #1 towards the Rocky Mountains. The rolling foothills will give way to the Great Canadian Rockies, and soon you will find yourself enveloped between the towering mountains. There are plenty of scenic stops along the highway for photo opportunities. Get a hotel in either Canmore or Banff. Both towns have an abundance of accommodation options for all budgets, from hostels, to BnB’s, to exquisite hotels. You can easily travel between the two towns for shopping, dining, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

2

Banff

3 nights

Introduction:

Canmore and Banff are quaint towns nestled in the Rocky Mountains. Banff is located within the larger Banff National Park so you will have to pay an entrance fee, but it is worth every penny. If you enjoy hiking, skiing or extreme sports, you will want to spend several days in the area. The mountains are simply breathtaking.

What to do:

There are a number of local outfitters that can help you organize activities from the mild to wild. Possibly summer options include white water rafting, kayaking, hiking, mountain climbing, horseback riding, and helicopter tours. In the winter there are three world-class ski hills – Lake Louise, Sunshine, Nakiska. Backcountry skiing, heli-skiing, skating, and ice climbing are also winter activity options.

To relax, take a gondola ride up to the top of Sulpher Mountain, located in Banff National Park, or head to the Banff Hot Springs and pamper yourself with healing water, amazing views, and spa treatments.

Shop and eat in the downtowns of both villages, and head to Lake Louise a half hour west of Banff. The scenery here is amazing so be sure to enjoy a leisurely walk around the lake, rent a canoe, or challenge yourself on the Teahouse hike. I guarantee you won’t run out of hiking trails around Banff, Canmore, and Lake Louise! Try nearby Johnston Canyon to hike to the Inkpots.

Next:

Continue following the TransCanada highway then turn south at the town of Sicamous onto highway 97 towards Vernon. Stay between Vernon and Kelowna depending how far you want to drive today. This will take you between 4 and 6 hours, although there are many scenic places you may want to stop along the way, including the Shuswaps, Canada’s houseboating capital.

3

Okanogan

2 nights

Introduction:

With town names like Peachland, Summerland, and Salmon Arm, who can resist The Okanagan area - one of Canada’s premier fruit and wine growing regions.

What to do:

After a long day of driving, enjoy the evening with a nice meal and a glass of local wine. The following day, relax and explore nearby lakes and towns. Take a wine tour starting in Kelowna, zipline in Peachland, relax by any of the area’s many lakes, or check out the farmer markets in the area to sample juicy peaches and cherries when in season. Further south, in Penticton, you can enjoy a relaxing float down the river in an inflatable tube.

Okanogan Lake is home to the infamous sea creature Ogopogo -- See if you can spot him!

Next:

After all that nature, it is time to hit the big city again. It is a 4-5 hour drive from Kelowna to Vancouver depending on how many roadside attractions you would like to hit up enroute.

4

Vancouver

2 nights

Introduction:

Vancouver is a vibrant city with great parks, harbours, neighbourhoods, and restaurants. Spend your days in urban exploration along the seawall, through reformed industrial areas, and through the city’s massive urban parks.

What to do:

There is plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities in giant Stanley Park. Bike or walk the seawall then cut in among the redwood forest. Don’t forget to check out the hand carved Totem Poles as part of Canada’s indigenous heritage. Vancouver Aquarium – Canada’s largest aquarium - is also located in Stanley Park.

Granville Island is Vancouver’s rehabilitated industrial area turned tourist, entertainment, and market district. Shop to your heart’s content or enjoy a tour of Granville Island Brewing Company for some delicious micro-brewed beer. Granville Island has an abundance of summer activities - Check out their webpage for special events and theatre listings [http://granvilleisland.com].

Depending on your preferences, spend the rest of your time in Vancouver in nature at Queen Elizabeth Park, the Botanical Gardens, and English Bay; getting up close and personal with history at the Museum of Anthropology; visiting any number of Vancouver’s independent art galleries in Gastown; shop until you drop on Robson Street; or getting in touch with your inner foodie in False Creek, Gastown, and Robson Street.

Next:

Head to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal located 45 minutes south of downtown Vancouver. The trip to Victoria, including ferry crossing will take 3-4 hours and offers a great sight seeing and marine life spotting opportunity while onboard the boat.

Conclusion

The West Coast Canadian roadtrip takes you 1000 breathtaking kilometers from Calgary, Alberta to Victoria, British Columbia. The landscape is dramatic and stunning, taking you from the Canadian Plains, to the towering Rocky Mountain, then to the Pacific Ocean. Exploring the Urban Centers of Calgary, Vancouver, and Victoria, plus the quaint mountain and lake villages adds diversity to trip, and you are sure to see plenty of wildlife and sealife in between!