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8 BEST Alberta Road Trip Itineraries (From 1 Day to 14 Days)

8 BEST Alberta Road Trip Itineraries (From 1 Day to 14 Days)

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Road trips in Alberta are a great way to see some of the most beautiful places this province has to offer. Take it from me, I’ve racked up the kilometers crisscrossing the province. There are some drives I never get tired of!

So if you’re thinking of hitting the road in Alberta, I’m here to help! As exciting as planning a road trip can be, it’s also hard to know where to start with so many places to explore. That’s where our itineraries can help narrow it down.

Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a longer drive, there will be a road trip on this list for you. We’ve done more road trips than we can count around here, especially when we were living in Canmore, so we’ve got eight different itineraries to help you craft the perfect adventure!

About the Best Alberta Road Trips

Stunning highway through the Kananaskis in Alberta
Highway through the Kananaskis in Alberta
Bailey stands on the edge of Lake Agnes on the Lake Agnes Teahouse hike
Seeing Lake Agnes on the Tea House Trail!

We’ve designed these itineraries as a base to work off of, but of course, feel free to make them your own. Add extra stops, skip places you’ve already been to, or spend a few extra days in must-see locations (I’d recommend Jasper or Banff for sure). And if you’ve never been, you can read my top reasons to visit Banff to get a feel for the place.

We’ve specified a certain amount of time for each trip, but again, there’s no hard and fast rule here. We’ve chosen the time frames based on what has worked for us on our many road trips across Alberta, but you can adjust the pace. 

Another thing to note is that all of the trips start in Calgary because it’s home to the most convenient airport for accessing the Rockies. You can fly into Calgary from all over Canada or from another country since it’s an international airport.

1. The Icefields Parkway (1 to 2 days)

Icefields Parkway Calgary to Jasper roadtrip map

Start: Calgary 
Finish: Jasper
Duration: 1-2 days
Distance: 413 kilometers (257 miles)

Stops are:

  • Banff 
  • Lake Louise 
  • Crowfoot Glacier
  • Bow Lake 
  • Peyto Lake 
  • Waterfowl Lakes
  • Mistaya Canyon
  • Saskatchewan River Crossing 
  • Weeping Wall 
  • Big Bend Viewpoint
  • Columbia Icefield
  • Tangle Creek Falls
  • Sunwapta Falls
  • Goats and Glacier Lookout
  • Athabasca Falls
  • Valley of the Five Lakes 

This itinerary may be short but boy, is it sweet! The Icefields Parkway is one of the most epic roads in the world, with insane beauty around every corner. We think it’s also a pretty convenient choice in the sense that it goes right from the airport in Calgary to Jasper, in the heart of the Rockies. 

If you looked at all the stops I listed above and are wondering how on Earth you’re going to fit them into 1-2 days, then don’t worry! A lot of them are quick stops at viewpoints or really short hikes. With that being said, it would be a lot to fit in a single day, which is why we recommend staying overnight or camping on the Icefields Parkway during the summer.

Scenic road down the Icefields Parkway in Canada
The Icefields Parkway!
This is your ride onto the Athabasca Glacier!

For us, the main highlight of this road trip is the Columbia Icefield, where we always stop to marvel at the magnificent Athabasca Glacier. Our personal recommendation is this Ice Explorer tour. Not only did we drive right onto the glacier for the best views, but it also included admission to the glass-bottomed Glacier Skywalk high above the valley.

Or, if you’re short on time and aren’t sure whether it’s worth renting a car, our pick is this Icefield adventure tour from Calgary. It hits all the best stops along the way and because you’re not driving, you really get to enjoy the scenery the whole time! 

Related Read: Make sure you have your camera ready to capture the most Instagrammable spots in Banff.

2. Badlands Explorer from Calgary (2 to 3 days)

Calgary to Drumheller roadtrip map

Start: Calgary
Finish: Drumheller
Duration: 2-3 days
Distance: 155 kilometers (96 miles) plus driving to attractions

Stops are:

  • Drumheller
  • Horseshoe Canyon
  • Midland Provincial Park
  • Horsethief Canyon
  • Willow Creek Hoodoos
  • Atlas Coal Mine

Drumheller is the world’s dinosaur capital and over 50 different species have been unearthed here, so if you’re interested in prehistoric fossils, museums, and stark landscapes, there’s a ton to explore here. For ideas, check out our guide of things to do in Drumheller – we have 26 on our list!

It only takes 1.5 hours to drive from Calgary to Drumheller and to be honest, there’s not a lot to see between the two. So on this road trip, we typically just blast the tunes for the drive up to Drumheller and explore from there. We’d suggest staying for two nights to give yourself more time to see everything the badlands have to offer. 

Bailey poses with the Drumheller hoodoos
The hoodoos in Drumheller!
Dinosaur fossil at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller
Fossils at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller!

Speaking of which, there is plenty to keep you occupied once you get to Drumheller! If you’re visiting with kids, the Royal Tyrrell Museum has lots of interactive exhibits (which we enjoyed a lot, too!), and make sure to snap a family photo inside the mouth of the world’s largest dinosaur.

It’s also worth driving up to the Horsethief Canyon viewpoint or getting off the official trail to explore this arid valley. And don’t miss the chance to check out the Hoodoos, which are easily the best I’ve ever seen in Canada. 

3. Taste of the Rocky Mountains From Calgary (5 to 6 Days)

Calgary to Canmore to Banff to Lake Louise to Jasper back to Calgary roadtrip map

Start: Calgary
End: Calgary
Duration: 5-6 days
Distance: 961 kilometers (597 miles)

Stops are:

  • Canmore (on the drive to Banff)
  • Banff
  • Lake Louise
  • Icefields Parkway (on the way to Jasper)
  • Jasper
  • Nordegg (on the way back to Calgary)

For a road trip that hits all the highlights of the Rockies, look no further than this one! You’ll spend two nights in Banff, one in Lake Louise, and two more in Jasper, effectively ticking off Alberta’s most iconic destinations.

Make sure that you ride the Banff gondola, take a soak in the hot springs, and hike from Surprise Corner to the Hoodoos. We always enjoy taking a canoe out on Lake Louise during the summer and it’s an activity that doesn’t take too long if you’re on a time crunch. Then, when you get to Jasper, make sure to walk around Pyramid Lake, and we loved this whitewater rafting tour on the Athabasca River! Meanwhile, the drive along the Icefields Parkway is just magnificent.

Bailey stands on a rock at Lake Louise, Canada
Lake Louise!
view of Banff town from up above on the Banff Gondola
The view of Banff on the Banff Gondola!

Even though this drive ticks off many popular places, what we also love about this road trip is that it loops back to Calgary via Rocky Mountain House. This takes you off the beaten track to see the Nordegg area, which is seriously underrated and is home to stunning sites like Crescent Falls and Abraham Lake. However, if you prefer, you can just drive back along the Icefields Parkway and tick off any stops that you missed on the drive toward Jasper. It’s a win-win! 

4. Rocky Mountain Highlights From Calgary (7 to 8 days)

Calgary to Banff to Radium Hot Springs to Golden to Revelstoke to Lake Louise back to Calgary roadtrip map

Start: Calgary
End: Calgary
Duration: 7-8 days
Distance: 922 kilometers (573 miles)

Stops are:

  • Banff
  • Kootenay National Park (visit while driving)
  • Radium Hot Springs
  • Golden
  • Glacier National Park (visit while driving)
  • Revelstoke
  • Yoho National Park (on the way to Lake Louise)
  • Lake Louise

This road trip is perfect if you have an entire week to immerse yourself in the wild beauty of the Rockies. It goes from busy Banff and through Kootenay National Park where you can stop to see the beautiful Marble Canyon and check out the Paint Pots! From there, it’s onto the quiet town of Radium Hot Springs, where you can enjoy beautiful hikes and then reward yourself with a soak in the namesake hot springs. 

We also recommend staying overnight in Golden, where you can check out the new suspension bridge. Tickets for the Skybridge are available here and are good for an entire day, so it doesn’t matter when you arrive! Plus, if you don’t want to stay in Golden, there are washrooms and food here so it’s the perfect pitstop.

Then, the route heads through Glacier National Park for epic alpine views towards Revelstoke. This scenic mountain town is way less touristy than Banff but there’s still plenty to do. We enjoyed everything from chasing waterfalls to soaring through the Aerial Adventure Park and hiking. 

Bailey walks across the Golden Suspension Bridge in Golden, BC
The Golden Suspension Bridge in Golden
A person canoes on Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, Canada
Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park!

You’ll head to the last overnight stop on the tour, Lake Louise, via Yoho National Park where you can visit the striking Emerald Lake and Natural Bridge. We highly recommend hiking the Lake Agnes Teahouse trail in Lake Louise and making a quick detour to Johnston Canyon on your way back to Calgary. 

5. Southern Alberta Trip from Calgary (7 to 9 days)

Calgary to Waterton Lake National Park to Fernie to Radium Hot Springs to Lake Louise to Banff back to Calgary roadtrip map

Start: Calgary
End: Calgary
Duration: 7-9 days
Distance: 960 kilometers (597 miles)

Stops are: 

  • Waterton Lakes National Park
  • Fernie
  • Radium Hot Springs
  • Kootenay National Park (on the way to Lake Louise)
  • Lake Louise
  • Icefields Parkway (on a day trip)
  • Banff

Southern Alberta sometimes gets overlooked in favor of more central destinations, but we think it’s got its own unique charm, with prairies, mountain vistas, and historic towns to explore. This road trip will take you through the lesser-visited side of Alberta, starting with Waterton Lakes National Park, where the prairies meet the peaks in a very dramatic display of natural beauty. 

Then, it’s onto Fernie which we think has to be one of the most underrated towns in the Rockies. We loved the visitor center here, and it’s useful for getting information on the area’s best trails. We recommend staying overnight at Radium Hot Springs before journeying through the beautiful Kootenay National Park on your way to Lake Louise, where we say plan to stay for at least two nights. As well as exploring this picture-perfect town, you should also take a day trip halfway along the Icefields Parkway, up to the Athabasca Glacier.

Bailey relaxes on a rock at Lake Louise
Lake Louise!
Daniel on one of the large Ice Explorers on the Athabasca Glacier on a tour
Athabasca Glacier!

The final stop on this road trip is Banff, and you can also stop in Canmore (our home!) to hike the Grassi Lakes (we think it’s the easiest and best hike in Canmore) or visit the gorgeous Grotto Canyon on your way back.

6. Calgary to BC Loop (8 to 10 days)

Calgary to Jasper to Valemount to Vernon to Revelstoke to Golden to Lake Louise to Banff back to Calgary roadtrip map

Start: Calgary
End: Calgary
Duration: 8-10 days
Distance: 1,532 kilometers (952 miles)

Stops are:

  • Icefields Parkway (on the drive)
  • Jasper
  • Mount Robson National Park (on the drive)
  • Valemount
  • Vernon
  • Revelstoke
  • Golden
  • Yoho National Park (on the way to Lake Louise)
  • Lake Louise
  • Banff

This looping road trip is a super-comprehensive overview of the Rockies, and it even takes you beyond the Alberta border over to British Columbia! It’s perfect if you want to see all the best the Rockies have to offer and you aren’t in a rush. This drive includes the chance to explore the Icefields Parkway, spend time in Jasper, and head through Mount Robson National Park to reach the very underrated town of Valemount. It’s one of the best places in the Rockies to go mountain biking, and we also enjoy exploring via ATV and visiting Overlander Falls whenever we’re in town. 

Next on the itinerary is Vernon. Here, you can eat your way through the Davison Orchards, and check out Ellison Provincial Park, which we consider to be one of the Rockies’ best-kept secrets. Then, in Revelstoke, you can explore Mt. Revelstoke Provincial Park and soothe your muscles with a soak in Canyon Hot Springs afterward.

Mount Robson, Berg glacier and Berg Lake in Mount Robson Provincial Park
Berg Lake and Glacier at Mount Robson
A grizzly bear eats grass on the Icefields Parkway
Grizzly spotting on the Icefields Parkway!

Meanwhile, in Golden, we’d recommend making time for a ride on the sightseeing gondola. We couldn’t get over how amazing the landscapes were! While you’re here, it’s also worth booking this rafting tour on the Kicking Horse River. There are different options available for families or thrillseekers and we had a blast.

Then, you’ll pass through Yoho National Park on the way back to Lake Louise and Banff. You’ll go through them both at the start and the end of the trip, but we tend to head straight for the Icefields Parkway and save them for the way back. 

7. Rocky Mountain Explorer From Calgary (10 to 12 Days)

Calgary to Banff to Radium Hot Springs to Revelstoke to Golden to Lake Louise to Jasper back to Calgary roadtrip map

Start: Calgary
End: Jasper
Duration: 10-12 days
Distance: 1,389 kilometers (863 miles)

Stops are:

  • Canmore (on the drive)
  • Banff
  • Kootenay National Park (on the drive to Radium)
  • Radium Hot Springs
  • Revelstoke
  • Glacier National Park (on the way to Golden)
  • Golden
  • Yoho National Park (on the way to Lake Louise)
  • Lake Louise
  • Icefields Parkway (on the way to Jasper)
  • Jasper

The Rocky Mountain explorer might just be our favorite of all of the road trips we’ve listed because it covers all of the must-see spots in Alberta. So if you’ve always dreamed of a road trip through the Rockies, this is going to knock your socks off. 

We’ve included a stop in Canmore on the way to Banff because it boasts fantastic mountain views, picturesque hikes, and the awesome 8 Street, which is the perfect place to grab some road trip snacks. We lived in Canmore for a while and think it’s a total hidden gem in the Rockies! We recommend spending a night or two in Banff or Canmore where hotels tend to be cheaper (check out our top hotels in Canmore here!). Then, drive through Kootenay National Park (maybe stopping to hike the Boom Lake Trail) to Radium Hot Springs, where you’ll encounter far fewer crowds. 

Hemlock Grove Boardwalk in Glacier National Park Canada
Hemlock Grove Boardwalk, Glacier National Park
Canmore Hoodoos in summer in Banff
Canmore has some amazing hoodoos!

Our route also takes you to Revelstoke and Golden, which are two underrated towns that we absolutely love, and back through Yoho National Park onto the more typical tourist track. But don’t get us wrong, just because Lake Louise, the Icefields Parkway, and Jasper are touristy certainly doesn’t mean they aren’t worth visiting – the reason that they’re so popular is because they’re home to some of the most stunning scenery the Rocky Mountains have to offer! 

Related Read: Since this road trip ends in Jasper, our top tip is to visit the breathtaking Spirit Island. It’s been featured in commercials by Apple and Kodak, so that should tell you how beautiful it is.

8. Calgary to Vancouver Adventure (10 to 14 days)

Calgary to Vancouver roadtrip map

Start: Calgary
End: Vancouver
Duration: 10 to 14 days
Distance: 1,100 kilometers (684 miles)

Stops are:

  • Canmore (on the way)
  • Banff
  • Lake Louise
  • Icefields Parkway (visit for the day)
  • Yoho National Park (visit on the way to Golden)
  • Golden
  • Glacier National Park (on the way to Revelstoke)
  • Revelstoke
  • Vernon
  • Kamloops
  • Whistler
  • Squamish and Sea to Sky Highway (on the way to Vancouver)
  • Vancouver

Of course, you don’t have to drive around the Rockies in a loop. Another way we suggest is to go from Calgary all the way to Vancouver! As you make your way across Alberta and British Columbia, you’ll watch the dramatic landscapes of the Rockies give way to the coastal beauty of BC. We think it showcases just how diverse Western Canada’s scenery is.

You’ll start by ticking off many of the Rockies’ bucket-list-worthy destinations, with overnight stays in Banff and Lake Louise, as well as a day trip along the Icefields Parkway. It’s also nice to check out some less commercial destinations, such as Golden, Revelstoke, and Vernon, where you can enjoy a wine tour through the Okanagan Valley. 

Two people come down the Sasquatch Zipline as seen from the bottom
Sasquatch zipline near Whistler!
The Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge, Sea to Sky Gondola
The Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge, Sea to Sky Gondola

We added a stop in Kamloops, where you can check out all of the different landscapes that converge here by walking the Rivers Trail and exploring Kenna Cartwright Nature Park. After that, continue towards the coast, but first, stay in Whistler, which is a world-class ski resort and outdoor hub. If you’re looking for a thrill, make sure to tackle the Sasquatch zipline, which is hands down the scariest (and most exciting) one we’ve ever done! 

The final leg of the journey takes you along the Sea to Sky Highway towards Vancouver, which is a road trip in itself. It’s an incredibly scenic drive with tons of beautiful stops, but the Sea to Sky gondola is a must. Then, you’ll arrive in Vancouver, where there’s even more to do (our list of things to do in Vancouver has 50 things on it!) …traveling in Canada really does keep you busy! 

Renting a Car in Alberta

A car drives along the Icefields Parkway
The drive is mesmerizing!

If you’re arriving in Alberta via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. Canada is a large country and traveling between cities and even just getting out to some of the best places to visit in Alberta requires transport. Although you can use public transport, on some occasions, it means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.

Renting a car will definitely make exploring all of the fun things to see and do in Alberta easier.

Car rental in Canada isn’t super cheap, but it isn’t overly expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year and the type of car that you rent. For car rentals, I use the website DiscoverCars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used them all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.

Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie at Peyto Lake Viewpoint in Banff National Park, Canada
Thanks for reading!

Taking a road trip through Alberta is an epic experience thanks to its beautiful scenery and stunning natural features. Whether you have a few days or much longer, we know you’ll enjoy exploring just as much as we do! Hopefully, these itineraries have helped you pick the perfect route!

If this guide was helpful, make sure to check out more of our blogs about Canada filled with tons of travel tips and advice. You can get started with one of the related links below:

21 BEST Things to do in Downtown Banff

5 BEST Moraine Lake Tours from Calgary to See All the Highlights!

How to Spend ONE DAY in Calgary