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If you’re looking for an epic Canadian road trip, it doesn’t get much better than the drive from Calgary to Invermere! This route is popular for tourists and Calgary locals alike. Because Invermere is a beautiful ski destination in the winter, and a magnificent relaxing lake destination in the summer, many Calgary locals often make this road trip several times a year!
Calgary and Invermere are both amazing destinations, but what about all of the epic stops in between?! The route for this road trip passes places like Banff, Kootenay National Park, Radium Hot Springs, and more!
For tourists, I know that it can seem overwhelming trying to decide what stops are worth it, and what to do at each of the stops – which is exactly why I completed this guide that compiles the 15 best stops on the drive from Calgary to Invermere to save you the trouble! I’ve included the best stops, general tips, fun activities, and even where to stay in this ultimate guide!
Note: While this guide is created for the drive from Calgary to Invermere, it’s important to note that it can also be done in reverse order from Invermere to Calgary!
About the Drive from Calgary to Invermere
Sure you can do this drive quickly, without stops you can get there in just a little over 3 hours, but why rush it?! The route that I am going to take you on for the drive from Calgary to Invermere passes through some of Alberta’s best destinations!
You’ll get to explore Banff and Kootenay National Parks, as well as some charming underrated towns, gorgeous lakes, and thrilling hiking trails!
So take your time as you embark on this 277 km (172 miles) journey, and enjoy as many of the fun activities in this guide as time allows. There are a few areas that I suggest stopping at along the way, and I will provide some accommodation recommendations.
Tips for Driving from Calgary to Invermere
Because you are going to be passing through and stopping in Banff and Kootenay National Parks you will need a Park Pass. Daily passes start at $10.50 CAD per adult, but it may be worth it to pick up a Discovery Pass for $72.25 CAD for unlimited entry to all national parks for a year if you plan to do multiple days! There are also discounted rates for families/groups. Park Passes can be bought online in advance or at the park entrance.
You’ll also need a Conservation Pass to explore the Kananaskis area. I recommend a day pass (although yearly passes are available) for $15 CAD per car. Passes can be purchased online ahead of time or in person at any Kananaskis Visitor Information Center. If you don’t plan on stopping in the Kananaskis area, a pass is not required to simply drive through.
To handle any ice and snow you may encounter if you’re traveling in the winter, make sure your car has winter tires or at the very least all-season tires.
15 BEST Stops on the Drive from Calgary to Invermere
Cochrane has an old Western feel to it and is a lovely first stop on the drive from Calgary to Invermere. Visit the Historic Cochrane Ranche here – where Alberta’s first large cattle ranch was located back in the 1880s. Now, it’s a massive public park with walking trails, fire pits, a quaint museum, and a reconstructed corral.
Explore downtown Cochrane and stop at MacKay’s Ice Cream. They’ve been serving ice cream in this location for over 70 years! The ice cream is locally made and has 50 flavors including unique ones like Haskap berry made from berries grown nearby.
For something a bit stronger, visit Half Hitch Brewing Company to try out locally-brewed craft beers paired with delicious appetizers and smoked meats. The specialty beers include their signature Papa Bear Prairie Ale made with local barley, wheat, rye, and oats, which won a gold medal at the 2018 Alberta Brewing Awards. There are actually a couple of other breweries in Cochrane you can check out too.
Cochrane is also a good place to stay outside Calgary as the hotels here are typically cheaper than in Canmore or Banff. The Days Inn and Suites Cochrane is a nice option that’s just off the highway, perfect for a road trip stay. The hotel has an indoor pool, free breakfast, and is close to some nice walking trails if you need to stretch your legs. Rooms start around $130 CAD, but do go up in price for the busy summer season. You can check availability and book a room online here.
2. The Kananaskis
Explore Kananaskis Country by taking a short detour onto Highway 40. It’s known as “Alberta’s Mountain Playground,” and with so much to do, it’s no surprise. It’s easy to spend a few days exploring all that this area has to offer. There are fewer people here than in Banff National Park, but there are still plenty of fantastic outdoor activities in Kananaskis!
The Nakiska Ski Resort, which was created for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, is well-known for its winter activities. The ski resort has groomed slopes that are Olympic-sized and cutting-edge snowmaking technology. Nakiska is one of the first ski resorts to open in the country and one of the final to close, thanks to its great snow coverage.
Troll Falls is one of my favorite treks in the Kananaskis region. It’s a 3-kilometer (1.9-mile) round-trip hike with a lovely waterfall at the finish. You can approach really close to the waterfall, and there’s even a big rock nearby fashioned like a troll’s head. It’s just as beautiful when the waterfall freezes over during the winter in Kananaskis — just bring ice cleats or spikes with you.
If you’re considering spending a night in the Kananaskis area you might be fully convinced when you hear about the stargazing here. Thanks to the lack of light pollution out here, the Kananaskis have some of the darkest skies in the world!
Ever seen the Milky Way? Well, you can spot it here. If it’s the right time of the year, you might even see the northern lights dancing in the sky! To really experience the beauty of the night sky here, we love this guided stargazing tour. You’ll get the chance to snowshoe through the forest with an expert guide on a moonlit hike to the best stargazing spots.
The tour is only $85 CAD and lasts around two hours also includes a hot chocolate and a cookie to warm up after your hike!
Important note: All vehicles stopping in parks or public areas in Kananaskis Country and the Bow Valley Corridor require a Conservation Pass. Buy a daily pass online for $15 CAD or in person at any Kananaskis Visitor Information Center.
Where to stay in Kananaskis
If your itinerary allows, stay a couple of nights at The Crosswater Resort – a very family-friendly resort that won’t break the bank with a large indoor pool in the heart of the Kananaskis. Staying here also gives you access to the Kananaskis Nordic Spa, which is famous for its innovative hydrotherapy treatments. Here there are several hot and cold pools with epic mountain views.
If you want something super affordable there is actually a hostel called HI Kananaskis Wilderness Hostel with bunks starting at 41 CAD and private rooms for around 100 CAD.
Canmore is one of Alberta’s best mountainside tourist towns and definitely worth a stop on your drive from Calgary to Invermere. With a range of fun and exciting things to do in Canmore, it’s a popular destination for both local and international tourists.
Since Canmore isn’t actually located within one of Canada’s National Parks, it’s a cheaper and more accessible option. Sitting on the edge of Banff National Park, Canmore boasts some of Canada’s most impressive mountain peaks and is an outdoor playground for visitors.
If you’re into hiking, Grassi Lakes is probably the most popular hike in Canmore, and as such, it is one of Canmore’s main attractions. Only a short 5-minute drive from Canmore town will have you parked at the trailhead ready to explore some of the brightest-colored lakes you’ve ever seen!
One of the best things about the hike to Grassi Lakes is how accessible it is. This 4-kilometer (2.5-mile) long trail only gains 230 meters in elevation and takes most people about 2 hours to complete there and back. It is a very easy trail that is family-friendly and suitable for all fitness levels. Plus, it’s open all year round!
If you want more of a challenge try summiting Ha Ling Peak – the views are seriously outstanding and in my opinion, it is the very best hike in Canmore!
Right from town you can hop in a raft and gently float down the Bow River for an hour. Your eyes will be glued to epic views of the Rocky Mountains, forests, and valleys while keeping watch for some native wildlife. Rafting tours are a steal at only $45 CAD!
Caving is one of the more unique activities you can do in Canmore! This Canmore caving adventure tour takes you through the beautiful yet mysteriously named Rat’s Nest Cave. You’ll rappel down 18 meters (59 feet) and spend several hours navigating challenging passageways and learning about how these caves were formed. It is pricier at $180 CAD but it is an experience you can’t replicate.
The Nordic Centre in Canmore was actually where cross-country ski events were held for the 1988 Olympic Games, and since then, they’ve maintained the facility for recreational and training uses. That’s right, you can go cross-country skiing here and maybe even see some professionals practicing for the next Olympic games too!
After you’re done exploring or back from a Canmore adventure tour, kick back a relax with a nice cold brew. There are some excellent breweries in Canmore that you really need to check out – they serve good food too! Or for coffee lovers, there are plenty of amazing cafes in Canmore that serve strong coffee and delicious snacks.
Where to Stay in Canmore
In case you want to spend a couple of nights in Canmore (and you should!) there are plenty of hotels to choose from.
For budget travelers, I love the Canmore Rocky Mountain Inn. If you don’t mind spending a little more you can certainly get a nice hotel closer to town. The Grande Rockies Resort-Bellstar Hotels & Resorts is still a short walk from town (but it only takes 5 minutes) and the hotel itself is beautiful complete with a pool, hot tub, fitness center, and restaurant and bar.
4. Banff Town
Banff is a major tourist destination in the Rockies, with thousands of tourists each year. It’s easy to see why: Banff is breathtakingly gorgeous, and there’s much to do in the winter, spring, summer, or fall.
The downtown area is charming, and there are plenty of great places to dine, drink, shop, and even get an Instagrammable pic. Banff Ave is a great area to stay in Banff National Park, with the mountains as a backdrop.
The views from Mt Norquay are unlike any other. In the summer, ride the sightseeing gondola and visit the restaurant at the top for a beer with a view. If you visit Banff in the winter, you can’t miss hitting the slopes or testing out their famous tube park (fun for the whole family!) If you buy the SkiBig3 Lift Ticket Mt Norquay is the third ski resort you’ll have access to.
Plus, once you’ve had your fill of the slopes, you can take in everything that Banff has to offer, including some Apres Ski cocktails at one of Banff’s breweries.
Banff is more than simply a ski town, and no matter what season you visit, there is always something to do in Banff. The following are some of the top things to do in Banff:
- Ride the Banff Gondola up Sulphur Mountain — I initially rode the gondola during my first Christmas in Banff, and I really loved it! It’s no wonder The Banff Gondola is one of the most popular activities in Banff because the views of the mountains and Banff town from the top of the Banff Gondola are breathtaking. There’s a restaurant and cafe at the top of the gondola, as well as a gift store, loads of information about the region and ecology, and my favorite, the boardwalk!
- Indulge in food and drinks – Banff has many delicious restaurants and bars. For beer, head to Banff Brewing Co. For a delicious meal with crafted cocktails, head to Parks Distillery. Fun fact, you can also join this food tour that explores the many different rooms inside the historic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel! Food and drink pairings are included from 4 of the property’s high-end restaurants for $206 CAD. If you are a foodie I can’t think of an activity more suited to you!
- Relax at the Upper Banff Hot Springs – The Banff Upper Hot Springs is a public hot spring with magnificent mountain views, and is just a 5-minute drive up Sulphur Mountain. The hot springs are both accessible and inexpensive. Even those on a budget may experience one of the top Banff attractions for only $16.50 CAD per adult and $53 CAD for a family. It’s also a fun thing to do in Banff when it’s raining!
- Cave and Basin National Historic Site – Cave and Basin Historic Site is another fantastic spot to see in Banff. There are several ancient hot springs here that are home to a unique snail species. In my opinion, the museum is the primary attraction, and it is quite interactive and entertaining, especially for children. You’ll discover a wealth of information on Banff and its surroundings.
Where to Stay in Banff town:
There is plenty to do in Banff alone, so if you decide you want to stay here there are a few good options.
For the budget-conscious traveler, Banff Inn is a great option. It has all of the necessities, plus added perks like a hot tub and spacey rooms. It’s also one of the best hotels in downtown Banff, within walking distance to bars and restaurants.
If you truly want an experience and a hotel all in one, then you MUST stay at the Fairmont Banff Springs. This luxurious hotel is actually an old Scottish Castle built in 1888 and declared a National Historic Site. The Fairmont is the most prestigious of all of the hotels in Banff National Park offering a range of restaurants on-site to choose from as well as tons of activities. Guests can go bowling, play tennis, or swim in the large lap pool.
5. Johnston Canyon
Just outside of Banff town as you make your way towards Invermere you’ll pass the famous Johnston Canyon trailhead. The hike through Johnston Canyon is an easy walk with huge rewards. The boardwalk along the path leads you right into a canyon filled with seven glacial waterfalls that cascade over rocky cliffs. You can get right next to the water flowing from Johnston Creek and close enough to waterfalls to feel the spray of the water on your face!
This is also a special place in the winter! The waterfalls freeze over and create layers of giant icicles, which are incredible to see. The ice on the Lower and Upper Waterfalls here also takes on a blue color that is quite beautiful.
Johnston Canyon is open all year and it’s free to get to – including free parking in one of two parking lots. It is one of the more popular hikes in Banff National Park and is great for families as the path is wide and not too steep. The hike is about 2.5 km (1.6 miles) to get all the way to the Upper Falls.
Hot Tip: If you’re visiting in the winter, you really need ice cleats or spikes. If you don’t have them, then consider joining a guided ice walk tour that will safely lead you on the ice and supply all of the safety gear you’ll need.
Note: There will be some closures to vehicle traffic on sections of the Bow Valley Parkway this year (2023). From May 1-June 30 and then again from Sept 1-Sept 30 vehicles will NOT be able to drive the 17 km/11 mi stretch of road from the TransCanada-Highway junction to Johnston Canyon, it will be restricted to cyclists’ use only. This is the eastern part of the road that is affected if you’re traveling to Johnston Canyon from Banff. You will still be able to access Johnston Canyon and the Bow Valley Parkway via the intersection near Castle Mountain Chalets.
6. Stanley Glacier Trail
As you leave Banff National Park you’ll enter Kootenay National Park. As you drive through Kootenay National Park towards Invermere you’ll pass plenty of different attractions, and the first one I highly recommend is Stanley Glacier Trail.
The Stanley Glacier Trail is a must-do adventure between Calgary and Invermere. The hike takes you through an area that was burned in forest fires in 1968 and 2003 and is now regrowing with lovely wildflowers, willows, and lodgepole pine trees.
The hike to the trail’s finish is 4.2 kilometers (2.6 miles) long and should take around three hours round trip. It leads to a large area with rocks where you may relax and take in the view of Stanley Glacier and one of the waterfalls. Once you’ve arrived, you may continue trekking through the boulder field to obtain a better perspective of the glacier! Bears are commonly sighted in this region, so keep a lookout for them.
7. Marble Canyon
Another gem located in Kootenay National Park, is Marble Canyon. It’s great because it’s easy to get to and absolutely spectacular to see. Park in the Marble Canyon parking lot right off the highway and start your walk along the bright, blue waters of Tokumm Creek.
The trail along Marble Canyon is less than 1 km (0.6 miles) and lets you hike along the edge of the canyon and across seven different bridges. These bridges let you view the steep drop into the canyon where the powerful waters of the creek have carved out the limestone rock walls.
At the top of the trail, there’s a stunning waterfall. You can stand right above it and watch the water as it disappears into a large hole in the rocks below. It’s incredible to see.
Since Marble Canyon is such a short and easy hike, it’s the perfect place to stop and stretch your legs for an hour to break up the drive from Calgary to Invermere.
8. Paint Pots
The Paint Pots may be one of the most unique stops on your drive from Calgary to Invermere! Like nature’s paint pots, these mineral-rich pools of water come in a rainbow of colors. The hike to get to the Paint Pots is a short walk of less than 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) and should take no more than 30 minutes to complete. This entire region is also important to the Ktunaxa people, who have been making ochre paint here for millennia.
The trail begins at the Ochre Beds, where the brilliant yellow/orange dirt guides the way, with wooden planks to keep you from getting too wet. Iron oxide bubbles up from cold mineral springs in the vicinity, forming the Paint Pots at the end of the route.
The pools are rich in colors like green, yellow, and orange and are loaded with iron ore. It’s pretty wild that these colors are totally natural!
9. Numa Creek/Falls
Hiking the Numa Creek Trail is a great way to explore Kootenay National Park. It’s easily accessed from the highway (making it an easy stop!) and the terrain isn’t too difficult for beginners.
The trail takes you along Numa Creek with some dramatic views of mountain peaks and the cascading waters of Numa Falls. While the waterfall isn’t extremely large, it’s set in the Vermillion River and surrounded by rugged landscape – you’ll most definitely want a few photos!
10. Floe Lake
Floe Lake is a beautiful alpine lake nestled at the base of a massive rock wall. It’s one of those breathtaking sights that you simply must experience in person.
From the Floe Lake parking area, the trek is roughly 21 kilometers (13 miles) roundtrip. The walk comes to a conclusion at the Floe Lake Backcountry Campground, where you may relax by the lake before returning to your car. If you’re doing this in one day, start early so you may spend as much time as possible at the lake!
If you have the opportunity, I recommend making it an overnight trip! This allows you more time to admire this beautiful lake and shoot it at the most spectacular times of day – dawn and sunset. This is when the lake takes on the appearance of glass and reflects the mountains. To stay the night, you’ll need to make a camping reservation through Parks Canada website. Camping is inexpensive, costing less than $10 CAD per person, per night, plus a $12 CAD reservation fee.
Keep in mind, hiking to Floe Lake is a challenge, and although only around 11 km (7.5 mi) each way, the elevation gain is a lot and makes for a tiring day. There is also little shade along this trail, which is important to know before you go.
11. Radium Hot Springs
You’ll come to Radium Hot Springs on your left just before you reach Radium Town. These beautiful hot springs are nestled right in the mountains with beautiful surroundings.
The springs are man-made pools fed by natural spring waters and provide a place to relax and unwind. You can jump right into the cool pool to take a swim, or just relax and warm up in the hot pool.
The hot springs are open year-round and sit within Kootenay National Park. Because they are owned by Parks Canada, the cost is kept low at about $16.50 CAD. You can even purchase a punch pass and go multiple times!
12. Sinclair Canyon
This canyon is right on the border of Kootenay National Park and Radium Town. It’s a unique spot where you drive right through the canyon with the walls rising up on either side of the road.
There’s a nice viewpoint of the canyon here. Keep an eye out for a small parking lot right after you pass through the rocks. You’ll be able to walk up to an impressive view of the deep canyon and marvel at the highway built through it!
There are also lots of longer trails in the area here that wind along Sinclair Creek. The Juniper Loop trail is a great one at the edge of the park that has an impressive view peering into the Columbia Valley. It’s a 5.6-kilometer loop (3.5 miles) that is considered to be moderate in difficulty. This is also a great spot to see some bighorn sheep!
13. Radium town
On several occasions, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Radium. And, to tell you the truth, I adore this place! It’s cute, and it’s surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery that begs to be explored.
There are plenty of fun things to do in Radium, BC to make your visit unforgettable! This charming community is surrounded by breathtaking scenery, numerous golf courses, miles of hiking trails and lakes, and adrenaline-pumping sports like whitewater rafting!
Without a doubt, as I previously mentioned, soaking in the Radium Hot Springs is the most popular thing to do in Radium. You can also go hiking (Old Coach Trail is one of my favorites), go whitewater rafting with Kootenay River Runners, or just explore the cute boutique shops in town. I can assure you you won’t run out of exciting things to do in Radium!
Where to Stay in Radium:
You can choose from a variety of hotels in Radium but personally, the Radium Chalet is my favorite go-to. It is super affordable while still providing some awesome features including rooms with amazing mountain views, fireplaces, kitchens, and more.
But if you’re looking for a pure luxury resort that’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, then you can’t pass up Prestige Radium Hot Springs Resort. This brand-new resort is simply stunning!
14. Valley Zipline Adventures
As you leave Radium you’ll come across Valley Zipline Adventures – the perfect place for adrenaline junkies! With 7 zip lines spanning 610 meters (2000 feet), Valley Zipline Adventures is not for the faint of heart. You can take in the breathtaking vistas of the Dry Gulch Valley from high above.
Check out the 10-meter (32 feet) climbing wall or the 11-meter (35 feet) Jump Tower if you want to attempt another height-defying activity! This involves climbing up and leaping from objects! This one will definitely take you back to your childhood.
The Zipline adventure costs $89 CAD per adult. Valley Zipline Adventures connects with other companies in the region, so you may combine your Zip experience with a Segway tour, massage, beer tasting, ATV adventure, or white-water rafting, among other activities. Depending on what you pick, these extras can range from $30 to $100 CAD on top of the zipline charge.
You’ve made it! Invermere, BC is one of the most beautiful places in BC surrounded by mountain peaks, two stunning lakes, more golf courses than one can handle, and a huge range of natural and manmade attractions; Invermere is a paradise that needs to be explored.
Despite the area’s beauty and the sheer number of things to do in Invermere, the town has remained off the beaten path for international visitors. Instead, the area is commonly enjoyed by Canadians who come for summer fun on the lakes, or the ski hills and hot springs in the winter.
Here are some of the top attractions you aren’t going to want to miss out on:
- Enjoy a beach day – James Cabot Provincial Park right in the town of Invermere is the perfect place to enjoy a lakeside beach day.
- Columbia River float – This is by far the most beautiful river float I’ve done in Canada and a highlight of my time traveling the world (I know that’s a big statement, but this river float is seriously stunning!). The river float starts in one of two locations and has you drifting at a slow pace on the Columbia River through the town of Fairmont along the golf courses and houses. The entire way there are breathtaking views of the mountains.
- Book a tubing/wakeboarding tour – If renting your own boat sounds a little stressful you can also book this Airbnb experience with our Airbnb host named Mike. That way you can relax while someone else does all the hard work. He has a beautiful ski boat and their experience costs around $200 CAD per person (depending on group size) for 4 hours of fun on Columbia Lake. The boat is much nicer than the rentals and you won’t need a designated driver or need to rent extra equipment for wakeboarding and tubing. Because the tour is on Airbnb Experience it’s much cheaper than you’d expect to pay elsewhere. The best part? You only need two people to book the tour.
- Go skating or cross-country skiing on Lake Windermere – If you’re in Invermere during winter, skating or cross-country skiing on Lake Windermere is (literally) a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! It holds the Guinness Book of Records for the longest skating pathway in the world, so you can’t find anything else like it.
Related Read: Be sure to eat at a couple of the best restaurants in Invermere while you’re in town!
Where to Stay in Invermere, BC
Holiday Homes in Invermere
On our visits to the Columbia Valley, we always stay in an Airbnb or holiday home. We usually travel in a large group and love the fact holiday homes have us all in one house together with everything we need to bbq and hang out.
On our last trip, we stayed in arguably the best Airbnb in the region. This large family home was perfect for us and it sleeps up to 8 people. Although a little out of Invermere, we spent the nights on the deck under the stars away from the crowds (pictured above) sitting in the hot tub!
Plus, the home is located only minutes from Columbia Lake with mountain views!
Another very popular option that some friends recommended to us is the Merlot Mountain House. This holiday home has two bedrooms and is located right in Invermere -perfect for anybody who wants to be close to restaurants and shops. Since it sleeps up to four people, this home is great for smaller groups or even a family.
Hotels in Invermere
Invermere Hostel – This is a great budget-friendly option. The location is also ideal and within walking distance of James Cabot Provincial Park.
Copper Point Resort: Located on the Copper Point Golf course this is a great mid-range option for travelers. Although a few kilometers out of town, the views are spectacular and the hotel has really good reviews.
You can browse all of the hotels available in Invermere here!
Other Places to Stay Near Invermere
Renting a Car in Alberta
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!
Parks Canada Pass Quick Info
If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Kootenay, and more) then you’re going to have to pay for a Parks Pass.
Single Daily Admission:
This type of pass is valid for one person for one day. It is ONLY the best value if you are traveling alone and only plan to visit a national park for a couple of days.
- Adult (ages 18-64) is $10.50 CAD
- Senior (65+) is $9.00 CAD
- Youth/Child (17 or younger) is FREE
Group Daily Admission:
If you’re traveling in a group or with family, you can buy a single-day admission for your entire vehicle (up to 7 people in one vehicle.)
- $21.00 CAD gets your entire vehicle entry for one full day
Parks Canada Discovery Pass
The “Discovery Pass” is what Parks Canada calls their year-long (365 days from the purchase date), multi-park entry pass. This pass will give 365 days of access to all participating national parks in Canada. This includes the most popular parks like Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and so much more.
- Adult (age 18-64) – $72.25 CAD
- Senior (64+) – $61.75 CAD
- Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $145.25 CAD
Hot Tip: Although more expensive up front, if you plan on spending more than 7 days in different parks in Canada within a 12-month period, then the Discovery Pass is actually the better deal!
Parks Canada Passes can be bought online here or at one of the Visitor Centers or booths at the entrance to many national parks.
Canada Travel Essentials
Before you decide to head off and explore the gorgeous mountains, lakes, towns, and cities around Canada it’s important to have the right equipment. Of course, it’s likely you’ll have most of the basics already but there are some common items people forget that I never travel without.
Crampons: In winter, crampons are super handy, but what people don’t realize is that they come in handy in summer too. In fact, up until mid-July, you can still expect icy conditions in the mountains. The pair I use is only $37 CAD and they have lasted me 3 seasons so far!
Waterproof shell: Most people will have this item but I thought I’d include it anyway since it’s so handy in Canada. The Columbia waterproof jacket is a lightweight windproof jacket that will seriously save you in many situations. The best part, though? It comes in pink!
Scent-proof bag (for bears): Most people think you only need to keep the smell of food away from you when you’re overnight camping. However, bears can smell the food in your bag while you’re hiking and the best way to avoid an encounter is to use a scent-proof bear bag. Basically, you put your food in the bag and the bear cannot smell it while you’re hiking. This is one item most people never have (I never hike without it) but it could save you and the bear.
Buff: I love my buff! Seriously, I go nowhere without it both in winter and summer. There are a few brands around but I always buy the original Buff (you know, the one from Survivor!) They’re a little more expensive but the material is good quality and both breathable and quick drying.
Dry bag: I have expensive camera equipment, so I always travel with a dry bag large enough to fit some of my equipment. It can be a camera, book, binoculars, or even my keys. Regardless, a dry bag gives me peace of mind! The MARCHWAY bag is really good quality, and when not in use, takes up only a small amount of room.
Binoculars: I love my binoculars! Seriously they have come in handy so many times, especially when I’m looking for wildlife. The best part is, I use a set that only costs $25 CAD and they serve my basic needs without any issues!
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
I’d say you are all ready to hit the road! I hope that this guide to the best stops on the drive from Calgary to Invermere got you super excited (and prepared) for your upcoming road trip. There really is so much beauty to be seen in Canada, and road trips are the PERFECT way to do it!
If you have any other questions, feel free to drop them in the comments! And feel free to check out some of our other guides before you go: