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25 BEST Stops on the Drive from Calgary to Vancouver (the BEST Route!)

25 BEST Stops on the Drive from Calgary to Vancouver (the BEST Route!)

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The drive between two of Canada’s most popular cities is a long one, and it’s not recommended to do it all in one go. It will take a minimum of 11.5 hours to drive from Calgary to Vancouver but because there’s so much to see along the way you really need at least two full days to do this road trip justice.

The views are changing constantly as you drive, from bright blue lakes to glaciers to giant mountain ranges, this truly is one of the most scenic drives in Western Canada, covering both Alberta and British Columbia!

My advice is to take your time and spend at least two nights along the way. There is even an alternate route through Whistler to add to your itinerary! Go hiking, explore one of the cities along the route, and above all else, create lifelong memories in one of the most beautiful parts of Canada!

Here’s your ultimate road trip guide to driving from Calgary to Vancouver!

Don’t have time to read the full article? Start your drive from Calgary to Vancouver by exploring Calgary on a scooter city tour! Once you hit the road, you can stop in Canmore to join an e-bike and brew tour, swing by the goregous Yoho National Park, and either head towards Hope or Whistler. Finish in Vancouver with a whale-watching tour or visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge!

About the Drive from Calgary to Vancouver

It’s a long drive from Calgary to Vancouver that will take 11.5 hours without stops. The route is 973 kilometers (604 miles) and follows Highway 1 for most of the way, besides the section between Kamloops and Hope which follows the BC Highway 5 South. We also threw in an alternative route that takes you through Whistler and Squamish, which are arguably the prettiest places in British Columbia!

This road trip is the most direct route between the two cities. It passes through some of the most iconic tourist destinations in Canada including Banff, Lake Louise, and Yoho National Park as well as larger towns and cities like Revelstoke, Kamloops, and Chilliwack.

This is a relatively easy drive because you are following the main (but busy) Highway 1 for most of the journey. This stretch of road can get pretty congested around Canmore, Banff, and Revelstoke, especially on weekends and during the summer months. So be sure to plan ahead!

If you plan to do this road trip during the winter, remember to have winter or all-weather tires, because despite this being a main highway it can get pretty icy when driving through Banff National Park and Yoho National Park.

It’s important to note that until spring 2024, there are significant roadworks on a section of the road east of Golden. It is called the Kicking Horse Canyon Project, and delays can be up to 30 minutes during the day, and this 5 km (3 miles) section is closed at night so you will need to take an alternative route via Radium Hot Springs. You can read all about the roadworks here.

Another route option that will take you from Calgary to Vancouver is to take the Crows Nest Highway, this will take over 14.5 hours and is 1,226 kilometers (761 miles) in length. This particular route passes through well-known places like Surrey, Abbotsford, and the ski resort of Fernie. However, for the purpose of this blog, I’ll focus on the shorter and more popular route via Kamloops.

If driving this route isn’t for you, there are also tours of the Rocky Mountains that go from Calgary to Vancouver!

In this blog post, I list 25 of the best stops between Calgary and Vancouver. Take your time doing this journey (I recommend 3 days and 2 nights at the very least – the more time the better!) and enjoy each of the unique stops listed here.

25 BEST Stops on the Drive from Calgary to Vancouver

1. Calgary

View of Calgary city and the Peace Bridge
Calgary is a beautiful city, especially from the Peace Bridge!

Before you rush off to Vancouver, be sure to properly explore Calgary first! Even if you only have one day to spare in Calgary it’s well worth your time.

It is the largest city in Alberta, and trust me, there are plenty of fun things to do in Calgary and tours to check out to keep you busy. With 333 sunny days a year, your odds of having nice weather are pretty good here! Even so, if there does happen to be a rainy day, or the winter cold is getting to you, there are still plenty of great indoor activities in Calgary too.

Visiting the Calgary Zoo is certainly a must-stop. It’s open year-round and has nearly 1,000 different animals and exhibits. Start here bright and early so you can get the chance to see the penguin walk (my favorite attraction!). The penguin walk happens each morning at 10 am. Watching them stroll through the zoo for their exercise is seriously so adorable!

If you find yourself visiting in July don’t miss checking out the Calgary Stampede! It’s a 10-day event that features one of the largest rodeos in the world! Not only that, but they also have a parade, a midway, shows, concerts, chuckwagon racing, and more.

Visiting Calgary in the winter? Be sure to skate at the Olympic Plaza skating rink located downtown. It was built for the 1988 Winter Olympics which was hosted in Calgary. Bring your own skates or rent a pair for $10 CAD.

Regardless of the season you visit, check out the best view of the city from the highest 360-degree observation deck on the globe at the Calgary Tower. You can see the downtown, as well as the Rocky Mountains in the distance. Feel free to step onto the glass floor if you’re brave. Take the experience a step further and enjoy a meal at the revolving restaurant Sky 360.

If you want to see the top sights of the city efficiently from the ground I recommend this 2-hour city scooter tour. You’ll cruise around on an electric scooter, learning all about the history and culture of Calgary from your local guide – how fun! The best part is that it only costs $92 CAD per person which is significantly cheaper than other Calgary city tours.

For art and beer lovers you could opt for this 3-hour craft beer and street art tour instead. You will hit the streets and learn the stories behind the artists and art you are seeing while making stops for some local beer samples! Calgary has an amazing craft beer scene, and its street art is up there too, so what a great way to do two things at once! You can reserve this tour in advance here.

Where to stay in Calgary

Within the central city area, the Wicked Hostels Calgary is a good choice for budget travelers. The hostel is clean, comfortable, and located in a good area. Plus you have the flexibility to book on either Hostelworld.com or Booking.com to snag a great deal.

If you can spend a bit more the Coast Calgary Downtown Hotel and Suites is perfect. The suites have a full kitchen which is perfect for homemade meals which can save you a lot of money.

For luxury travelers, check out the Sheraton Suites Calgary Eau Claire. This hotel overlooks the river valley and comes with an indoor pool (with waterslide), hot tub, fitness center, hair salon, and gift shop.

2. Kananaskis

A couple pose for a photo at Upper Kananaskis Lake
Enjoying sunset at Upper Kananaskis Lake!

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. It’s an area home to a couple of different provincial parks – some of the best parks in Alberta, at that. Plus, there are fewer people here than in Banff National Park, but there are still plenty of fantastic outdoor activities!

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.

This is also one of the best places to go stargazing, due to the lack of light pollution. I recommend staying the night here and booking this 2-hour stargazing tour, which includes an expert guide, snowshoeing, and hot chocolate to stay warm! This tour is only available during the winter (hence the snowshoes), but not to say you can’t go stargazing on your own during the summer.

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.

You can also check out the Blackshale Suspension Bridge on this guided sightseeing tour. This bridge is one of Alberta’s best-kept secrets and a lovely way to get into nature! A guided tour will teach you all about the flora, fauna, and history of the area, which always gives me a deeper appreciation for wherever I’m exploring. This tour is $200 CAD per person and operates during the summer – book it in advance here!

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 $130 CAD. This stay has cozy cabin vibes and is just 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) from the closest ski resort – a perfect winter stay! You can reserve this room on Booking.com or Hostelworld.

3. Canmore

Woman at a viewpoint in Canmore in the winter
Beautiful Canmore covered in snow!

Canmore is easily one of the best places to visit in Alberta. This small, but vibrant, mountain town is a popular tourist destination for both locals and international visitors. Once you see it for yourself, you’ll understand why.

Canmore is a less expensive and more accessible choice than Banff because it is not located within one of Canada’s National Parks. Canmore, located on the outskirts of Banff National Park, is an outdoor playground for visitors and has some of Canada’s most magnificent mountain peaks. The Three Sisters mountain range is iconic here.

Grassi Lakes is perhaps the most popular trek in Canmore, and as such, it is one of the town’s key attractions for hikers. You’ll be parked at the trailhead in less than 5 minutes from Canmore town, ready to explore some of the most vibrantly colored lakes you’ve ever seen!

This 4 km (2.5 mile) trail only gains 230 meters (750 feet) in elevation and takes most people roughly 2 hours to complete there and back. It’s a family-friendly path that’s excellent for people of all athletic levels. It’s also open all year round!

If you visit Canmore in the winter, cross-country skiing is a must. Canmore is known across the globe for its Nordic Centre, which is home to some of Canada’s top cross-country ski tracks! Afterward, warm up with a coffee from one of the delicious local cafes in Canmore.

Besides that, there are tons of fun things to do in Canmore and tours to go on to keep you busy for even a few days. Here are some more suggestions!

  • Caving – One of the coolest things you can do in Canmore is explore the caves! 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 $199 CAD but it is an experience you can’t replicate.
  • Visit the local breweries – Canmore is one of the best places to try amazing craft beer and there are lots of local breweries in Canmore to visit! One of my favorites is The Grizzly Paw. They have a bar on 8 St and their brewery is located on Old Canmore Road on the outskirts of town (called Tank 310). You can also join this e-bike and brew tour for even more fun! You get to bike 15 kilometers (9 miles) through the mountains and then be rewarded with a beer flight for $133 CAD.
  • Hit the trails at the Nordic CentreThe Canmore Nordic Centre offers a variety of trails for hiking, biking, or even cross-country skiing. The area was developed to host cross-country skiing events at the 1988 Olympic Games and is now an active training center as well as a recreational area.
  • Rafting down Bow River – 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. Tours are a steal at only $45 CAD!

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

Bailey at the The Nancy Pauw Bridge in Banff
Bailey at the Nancy Pauw Bridge
Bailey and Daniel ride horses along a gravel road in Banff

Banff is a very popular town in the Rockies, attracting thousands of visitors each year. And it’s no wonder why – it’s absolutely beautiful and there are tons of things to do in Banff in winter, spring, summer, or fall.

The downtown area is very quaint and there are many awesome options for places to eat, drink, and shop. With the mountains as the backdrop to Banff Ave, it’s a beautiful place to base yourself in Banff National Park.

Many visitors base themselves here for a ski holiday due to the fact that you have great access to Sunshine and Norquay ski resorts – both are within a 15-minute drive of town.

Plus, when you’re done on the slopes, you can enjoy all that Banff has to offer including some Apres Ski drinks at a couple of the breweries in Banff. One of my favorites for beer is Banff Brewing Co.

Did you know that 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. What a unique activity for foodies!

Banff is more than just a ski town though, and regardless of the season you visit, Banff town is an amazing place with plenty to do. Some of the best things to do in Banff include:

  • Relax in the Banff Upper Hot Springs – Just a short 5-minute drive up Sulphur Mountain you’ll find the Banff Upper Hot Springs. These public hot springs in Alberta have incredible mountain views! The hot springs are easy to get to and very affordable. At only $17.50 CAD per adult and $56.75 CAD for a family, even those on a budget can enjoy one of the best Banff attractions. (It’s even a great activity to do in Banff when it’s raining).
  • Ride the Banff Gondola up Sulphur Mountain – The Banff Gondola is possibly the singular most popular thing to do in Banff – and for good reason! From the top of the Banff Gondola, the views of the mountains and Banff town are out of this world. The first time I rode the gondola was during my first Christmas in Banff and I loved it! At the top of the gondola, you’ll find a restaurant and cafe, a gift shop, lots of information on the area and wildlife, as well as my personal favorite, the boardwalk!
  • Check out the Bow Falls Lookout – The Bow River is a stunning river that runs through the heart of Banff. Turquoise in color, it is nothing short of picture-perfect. A short 1.5 km (0.9 mi) scenic walk from Banff town (or drive) you’ll come to the Bow Falls viewpoint on the river’s edge. Here, not only will you see the river, but also the Bow River Waterfall!
  • Cave and Basin National Historic Site – Another great place to visit in Banff is the Cave and Basin Historic Site. Here you can see some historic hot springs that are home to a rare species of snail. The museum is the main attraction in my eyes and it is very interactive and fun, especially for kids. You’ll find lots of information about Banff and the surrounding area.
  • Visit Mt Norquay – 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.

Where to stay in Banff

There are lots of amazing hotels to choose from in downtown Banff. My personal favorite is Moose Hotel & Suites which has a great location, is reasonably priced for the area, and has all the amenities you could want including two rooftop hot tubs.

If you’re on a tight budget, consider checking out High Country Inn. It quite possibly could be the most affordable place to stay. Plus, it is located right in town on Banff Ave!

And for a little luxury, the Rimrock Resort Hotel is a must! With an onsite spa, balconies with amazing views, as well as a restaurant and bar this hotel is a must! Plus, it is located a couple of minutes from town in a quieter location.

Alternatively, there are a few other great areas to stay in Banff National Park including Lake Louise and remote areas.

5. Bow Valley Parkway

The Bow Valley Parkway is the road that connects Banff with Lake Louise and is one of the most spectacular highways in Canada. This 50-kilometer-long highway (31 miles) takes around 1 hour to drive without stopping but allowing half a day is recommended. In fact, one of the best things to do in Lake Louise in summer is surprisingly the drive to get there from Banff – the drive between Lake Louise and Banff truly is spectacular!

Scenic views of an open field and snow capped mountains at Moose Meadows along the Bow Valley Parkway
Fall in the Bow Valley Parkway!

Some of the best places to check out on the Bow Valley Parkway in the summer include:

Castle Mountain Viewpoint – Castle Mountain is one of those mountains you simply can’t miss. At the roadside viewpoint, you get amazing views. However, those who want a closer look can hike 6.5 km (4 miles) out and back to the viewpoint.

Morant’s Curve – This is my favorite place to photograph on the Bow Valley Parkway. Morant’s Curve is a famous viewpoint in the Bow Valley, where the train passes through the valley. It’s stunning and a must-visit!

Moose Meadows – Moose Meadows isn’t home to many moose these days, but it’s a nice place to stop with spectacular views.

Baker Creek Mountain Resort – Looking for a beautiful cabin getaway? The Baker Creek Mountain Resort is the perfect place to stay on the Bow Valley Parkway. Choose a romantic Jacuzzi Suite for couples or a one-bedroom loft for families!

Of course, you can drive this road in any season but summer is the best time to take this particular road trip because the days are longer – there are 16 hours of daylight in the summer months meaning you can take your time and not worry about it getting dark. Plus, the weather conditions are ideal for driving – there won’t be any snow or ice on the highway like there is in the winter.

6. Lake Louise

Bailey stands on the edge of Lake Louise in Banff National Park
Lake Louise!

Lake Louise, in my opinion, is a must-see destination! If you can take a tour from Calgary to Lake Louise and spend a night or two or at the very least a few hours. Not only is there a lake here, but also a little village and the world-famous Lake Louise Ski Resort. Here are just a few of the best things to do in Lake Louise!

During the summer, Lake Louise is a haven for hikers. My favorite hike is the Lake Agnes Tea House, which is 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) roundtrip and takes about 3 hours to complete. It’s a rather steep climb (about 400 meters/1,313 feet) so a reasonable level of fitness is best. But, the views are absolutely worth any effort and then you can relax at the historic tea house, built in 1901, when you’re done. 

If you aren’t an avid hiker but still want to explore the area, you can take a guided hiking tour! This is best if you’re staying near Lake Louise for a day or two to break up your road trip. This tour is six hours of hiking, exploring, catching incredible views, and learning about the area from your local guide. If this is your first time at Lake Louise, this is a great way to get the full experience, you can book this tour in advance here.

There is even more to do around Lake Louise in the summer, such as going canoeing on the lake, cycling, or hiking the easy lakefront trail. However, a trip here isn’t complete without riding the Lake Louise Gondola, which gives incredible views of the lake below and the Victoria Glacier in the distance. Lake Louise is incredibly busy, so it’s best to purchase your gondola tickets in advance

If you’re visiting Lake Louise in the winter, be prepared for a winter wonderland – it’s gorgeous! There are plenty of activities to do here, but of course, hitting the slopes is one of the best. I recommend purchasing a SkiBig3 Lift Ticket, which allows you to ski at three different resorts near Banff, covering three individual days. You can enjoy Lake Louise, Mt Norquay, and Sunshine Village Resort for a great ski holiday. 

While here, be sure to grab a bite to eat at The Station, which not only has incredible food but is also within a historic train museum. Or, if you’re feeling fancy you can dine at the Fairview Bar and Restaurant, located in the Fairmont Lake Louise Hotel. There are many restaurants in Lake Louise to choose from, so refuel from all your adventures here!

Where to Stay in Lake Louise

There are lots of different places to choose from when it comes to accommodation in Lake Louise.

If you want to stay in Lake Louise town, consider the Lake Louise Inn, or the budget-friendly HI Lake Louise Hostel. Dan and I often stay at the HI Hostel and think it’s clean, comfortable, and great value for money.

For a little luxury or to spoil yourself, don’t miss the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. This is arguably the most beautiful hotel in Canada set in the most beautiful location (right on the lake!)

Related Read: Check out our guide to parking in Lake Louise including fees and how to score a spot!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

7. Yoho National Park/Field

A lady sits on the dock at Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, Canada
With no cell service, you’ll have to just enjoy the view!

Yoho National Park is without a doubt one of the most beautiful National Parks in all of Canada. It’s home to the teal-colored Emerald Lake which gets its unique color from the sunlight refracting on the glacial water of the lake. So, one of the best times to visit the lake is in the summer when it’s at its most blue!

At Emerald Lake, you can stretch your legs and walk the hour-long loop trail around the lake to see wildlife like moose, elk, and even bald eagles. Or, rent a canoe and explore the lake from the water. In the winter you can snowshoe across the lake! If your itinerary allows, I highly recommend spending the night at the iconic Emerald Lake Lodge which sits right on the edge of the lake.

The small town of Field is also located within Yoho National Park and has a few shops, cafes, and restaurants. Another must-visit location within the park is the Natural Bridge which is a historic rock formation on the Kicking Horse River that almost looks like a waterfall.

In fact, it was once a waterfall but was sculpted into what you see today thanks to erosion. It’s an easy 3 km (1.9 mi) walk from the car park on Emerald Lake Road to the Natural Bridge. You can also book a guided tour of the fossil beds found here, some of which are 500 million years old!

From the Natural Bridge, you can access the Kicking Horse Fire Road trail a hiking trail also popular with mountain bikers that leads to a spot known locally as the ‘Meeting of the Waters’. This is where three rivers merge (Amiskwi River, Emerald River, and Kicking Horse River).

8. Wapta Falls

Wapta Falls in Yoho National Park
The huge Wapta Falls on a sunny day!

Only 15 minutes from Yoho National Park is one of the nicest waterfalls I’ve ever seen. Wapta Falls is gorgeous and the hike to get there isn’t too bad at all. It’s a short hike of about 2 km (1.2 miles) and it’s easy enough for kids. This makes it a perfect quick stop to stretch your legs on the drive from Calgary to Vancouver.

You’ll find the start of the trail at the Wapta Falls turnoff right off the Trans Canada Highway and within Yoho National Park. Bring your lunch or a snack to really take some time and enjoy the view of this magnificent waterfall. It’s worth it!  

9. Golden

Walking along the Golden Sky Bridge in Golden, BC
The Skybridge is one of Golden’s newest attractions.

Golden is another small town in the Rockies surrounded by national parks, mountain ranges, and many outdoor activities, so there’s never a dull moment. Not to mention the amazing restaurants, unique shops, bustling pubs, and intriguing cultural attractions.

Your stop in Golden can be as interesting or relaxed as you like! Here are a few spectacular activities in Golden to consider:

I’ve been lucky enough to visit Golden many times both in the summer and winter months allowing me to create an epic list of things to do in Golden, but here are some highlights:

  • Walk the Golden Skybridge – Why not start off with Golden’s newest attraction? The Golden Skybridge is Canada’s highest suspension bridge! At 130 meters (426 feet) above the canyon, you’ll experience such a thrill walking over it and taking in all the amazing views of the Columbia Valley. If walking along a suspension bridge is not enough for you, there is also a zipline experience, a ropes course, and a super-cool canyon swing that fits two people!
  • Explore downtown Golden – You’ll be pretty busy with all the different outdoor recreation activities around Golden, but don’t forget the town itself! Downtown Golden is a quaint, historic-looking town with a bunch of things to do! A good place to start your exploration is 9th Avenue, which has a lot of shops, cafes, and restaurants to explore. You can learn more about the city at the Visitor Centre or Golden Museum.
  • Visit the Wolf Centre – Wolves are only one of the many magnificent creatures that may be found in the Canadian Rockies. While you probably don’t want to run into any in the wild, the Northern Lights Wolf Centre in Golden is an excellent location to learn about wolves and even see them.
  • Go whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse – The best way to experience the river is to go whitewater rafting! Whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse River is such an adrenaline rush. With grade 3-4 rapids, it’s one of the best rivers in Canada to go rafting. There are a number of tour groups that you can join, such as this full-day tour. For $109 CAD, you will get a 5-hour experience out on the river. All equipment is included, along with a buffet lunch! You will also have an expert guide leading the way and keeping you safe.
  • Hit the slopes at Kicking Horse Resort – Golden’s Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is a very popular ski resort in Canada, and for good reason! It’s known for the huge amounts of annual snowfall and expert terrain that will challenge even the most experienced riders. It’s a must-visit if you’re in Golden in the winter months.

Where to stay in Golden

So now that you know about all of the amazing things to do in Golden, you’re going to need somewhere to stay a few nights. There’s just so much to explore in the area that you might as well book a great hotel and enjoy a few days in one of Canada’s most underrated mountain towns.

Best Western Mountainview Inn is a great choice if you’re looking for something in town. This hotel is clean and comfortable and has everything you could want including an indoor pool and an included breakfast. The reviews are great and the price is modest.

For a more private stay that is only half a mile from town and a rate that won’t break the bank look into Glenogle Mountain Lodge and Spa. Not only does it have exceptional views of the mountains, a hot tub, and a billiard table but it is also quiet – except for the stream that flows past the property.

Related Read: If you aren’t quite ready to leave Golden just yet, check out the best places to stay in Golden.

10. Glacier National Park

the monument at the summit of Rogers Pass in Glacier National Park
This monument is at the summit of Rogers Pass, the highest point you’ll drive through Glacier National Park.

This road trip takes you right through the middle of Glacier National Park as you drive out of Golden and make your way toward Revelstoke. The road through Glacier National Park is called “Rogers Pass” as you climb through the mountain pass. On this stretch of road, you may observe plenty of wildlife including bears and mountain goats in beautiful ancient forests with old cedars and alpine meadows which really set the scene.

The park is accessed by the trans-Canada highway (between Golden and Revelstoke) and all the hiking trails and campsites are located in parking lots just off the road. There is a range of hiking trails in the park.

From Golden, it takes around 40 minutes to reach the entrance of the park and another 30 minutes or so to drive through the park.

Make a point of visiting the park’s Rogers Pass National Historic Site which is where the visitor center is located. The visitor center has a plethora of historical information about the area as well as the wildlife you can find in the area.

You’ll also have the opportunity to check out some amazing hikes in the park like the Hemlock Grove Boardwalk, which is a series of boardwalks through the forest. Or, Bear Creek Falls which provides lovely waterfall views. Bear Creek Falls only takes around 15-20 minutes so it’s the perfect short hike on your road trip from Revelstoke to Banff!

Note: If you plan on stopping in either Mount Revelstoke National Park, Glacier National Park, Yoho National Park, or Banff National Park you’ll need to purchase a Parks Canada Pass. There are various types of passes you can buy that range from $11 to $151.25 CAD depending on the number of parks, people, and amount of time the pass covers.

11. Mount Revelstoke National Park

Sitting on a viewpoint in Mount Revelstoke National park
Mount Revelstoke National Park is stunning!

Mount Revelstoke National Park is a great place to stop on the drive from Calgary to Vancouver if you love to hike. It’s home to several awesome trails such as Eva Lake Trail (pictured above), the Giant Cedars Boardwalk, and Heather Lake Trail.

My personal favorite – the Eva Lake Trail is a 12 km (7.5 miles) return and is a great hike for wildlife spotting, in particular for bears! If you do this hike in Spring/Summer be sure to take your camera because there are colorful wildflower meadows to be seen along the way! Plus once you reach Eva Lake, provided it’s a calm day you can get a great shot of the mountains reflected on the lake’s surface.

The next hike I recommend here is the Giant Cedars Boardwalk which starts from the Giant Cedars Picnic Area about 30 km (18.6 miles) before you reach Revelstoke just off the highway. What’s cool about this hike is that the entire trail takes you along a wooden boardwalk surrounded by giant trees, some of which are over 500 years old. Because of its flat nature, this trail is suitable for the whole family.   

The best thing about Mount Revelstoke is that you can drive right up to the top of Mount Revelstoke via the Meadows in the Sky Parkway. At the top, there’s a car park from where many of the hiking trails start. Even just the drive itself is worth a few beautiful viewpoints along the way.

12. Revelstoke

Eva Lake in Mt Revelstoke National Park, Canada
Eva Lake!
The rail of the Pipe Mountain Coaster in Revelstoke traveling down the mountain
The rail coaster goes down the steep mountain!

Revelstoke is a small town between the Selkirk and Monashee mountains and is easy to get to on the Trans Canada Highway on the drive from Calgary to Vancouver. It’s a nice spot all year, but Revelstoke in the winter truly transforms into a winter paradise. The town holds the record for the most snowfall in Canada in a single winter with 80 feet of snow!  

The Revelstoke Mountain Resort is a must-visit and is literally right in town, so it’s easy to get to. The skiing is fantastic and the ski hills aren’t too busy when compared to other hills in Canada.

If you haven’t yet learned how to ski or aren’t great at it you can still enjoy cross-country skiing which is much easier and still gives you the chance to explore some snow-covered trails.

The Revelstoke Nordic Ski Club where you can rent skis and access groomed trails (perfect for beginners). They have lots of information on which winter trails are accessible and the last time they were groomed, all of which can be found on their website.

If you’re here in the summer, the ski hills transform into downhill mountain biking courses. You can rent bikes right from the resort for a fun activity in Revelstoke. Also, try out the Pipe Mountain Coaster – a cool gravity-fed roller coaster that flies down the hill. It feels like a real roller coaster and was super fun!  

At Revelstoke Mountain Resort, they also have a gondola ride up to the top of the resort to give you an amazing view. Make sure to take both gondolas to see a panoramic view of the valley – it’s incredible! 

If you want to enjoy the cool glacier water of the Illecillewaet River there is an opportunity to book a whitewater rafting adventure for $141 CAD. Or opt for a more gentle river float tour for $77 CAD on the Colombia River – one of Canada’s most famous rivers! Either way, the abundance of natural scenery in either location is sure to make you feel alive!

Where to stay in Revelstoke

Stoke Hotel is a very good budget option that includes breakfast. It’s located right in town and has really good reviews!

Another option is Coast Hillcrest Hotel is a highly rated hotel that offers guests a comfortable stay at a reasonable price. They have an onsite fitness center, sauna, hot tub, as well as a restaurant. The location is central and the large selection of room types means there is something suitable for everyone including families.

For more ideas on where to stay, you can check out our blog on the best places to stay in Revelstoke.

13. Sicamous

A house boat on the Shuswap Lake in Sicamous, BC
A houseboat on the Shuswap Lake

Your next stop is interestingly known as the ‘houseboat capital of Canada’, that’s because every year during the warmer months (June to October) thousands of tourists come to town to try out houseboating on Shuswap Lake. So, if you have the time it’s a truly unique accommodation option on your road trip from Calgary to Vancouver.

Shuswap Lake is huge at over 309 square kilometers (119 square miles) and here you can try kayaking, canoeing, or SUP.

If you’re visiting in the winter, this small town borders four mountain ranges and is known for having the best snowmobiling in western Canada. If that sounds a bit too adrenalin-pumping for you there are also some nice snowshoeing trails near the town.

The town of Sicamous itself is small, with just a few stores, cafes, restaurants and accommodation options. It’s also home to the famous D Dutchmen Dairy which produces on-site and sells cheese, ice cream, and other dairy products.

You can’t miss the bright red building on the side of the road! It’s a family-run business that has been in operation since 1978 and they are perhaps most famous for its ice cream. They sell over 62 different flavors, and it has been voted time and time again as BC’s Best Ice Cream!

14. Salmon Arm

Salmon Arm Wharf
The Wharf in Salmon Arm is huge!

I lived in Salmon Arm for a few years and fell in love with this small city. There is so much to do in Salmon Arm, especially if you love the outdoors! Explore stunning natural attractions, or spend a relaxing day at the lake, Salmon Arm has something for everyone.

Aside from the outdoor activities, there is also plenty of amazing food (lots of fresh produce!) and even delicious wine. On the off chance I haven’t quite sold you yet, check out some of the top things to do in Salmon Arm including:

  • Go hiking – This region has some pretty stellar hikes if you’re ready to get outside and get active. One of my favorites is Mt. Ida, which is a large 1,564-meter (5,131 feet) mountain south of Salmon Arm. There are a few routes to take up the mountain, but if you are up for a challenge, try the Mount Ida Loop. It’s a 33 km loop (20.5 miles) with 1,598 meters (5,242 feet) of elevation gain – quite the trek, but so worth it. If you are looking for a more low-key hike, try out Raven Trail or Shuswap North Rail Trail, both of which are fairly easy, and go around Shuswap Lake.
  • Visit the most Northern winery in BC – Larch Hills – You absolutely cannot visit this region of BC without trying out some local wines. Larch Hills offers some of the most delicious wines, and you can try them out during a free cellar-door tasting. Once you’ve learned a little about the wine, how it’s made, and what your favorite is, you can go to the tasting room, enjoy a glass, and take in the stunning views from their property.
  • Walk the largest wooden Wharf in North America – I bet you didn’t think going to Salmon Arm meant visiting a record-setting wharf! As the longest wooden wharf in North America, it’s got a pretty interesting history. You can enjoy walking on the wharf year-round, taking in the scenery of Shuswap Lake. If you’re around during the summer, you’ve got to go and enjoy some live music and meals from food trucks! It’s got a fun, community feel to it, so make sure to get in on the action.

Where to stay in Salmon Arm

If you feel like you want more time in Salmon Arm (I don’t blame you!), stay overnight at one of Salmon Arm’s hotels. Because it is such a small town there aren’t too many choices but the Hilltop Inn is a popular one, especially with the larger rooms that can fit small families. This hotel also has a pool, free parking, and breakfast included.

If you’re traveling with your significant other or are after a luxury stay The Inn at the Ninth Hole Bed & Breakfast is really the only option. The rooms here are beautiful and surprisingly cheap. Of course, this place includes an exceptional breakfast and is in a beautiful area outside Salmon Arm.

15. Kamloops

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie at Kamloops Lake View Point 
At Kamloops Lake Viewpoint!

Kamloops is a great place in any season with winter activities like downhill skiing or snowshoeing. Or, take advantage of long summers with nice weather and go hiking or paddling on the nearby lakes and rivers. The truth is, there are lots of fun things to do in Kamloops!

There are lots of amazing things to do in Kamloops in every season, but if you plan to drive this route during the winter months, be sure to try out snowshoeing or downhill skiing. Sun Peaks Ski Resort is my personal favorite place to go because it gets about 6 meters (20 feet) of snow every year and it’s only 45 minutes from Kamloops!

There are more than 100 lakes within an hour of the city! These are great for a canoe, kayak, or even to try stand-up paddleboarding. Go to the gorgeous Kamloops Lake and see it from out on the water. You’ll see old stone train bridges and tunnels, rock bluffs, and may even spot an eagle’s nest. 

In the summer, there are plenty of hikes, including the popular Kenna Cartwright Nature Park, which boasts more than 40 km (25 miles) of trails – some of which offer epic views of Kamloops and the Thompson Valley. There are even several beaches and picnic areas here. My top tip is to come here for sunset to take some truly breathtaking photos. 

Speaking of Thompson Valley, this area is also home to four wineries. Make sure to visit at least one while you’re here! I love spending an afternoon at a winery to sip great wine and savor the view. A couple of my favorites are Monte Creek Winery and Privato Winery & Vineyard.

See wild animals up close at the BC Wildlife Park. It’s a rescue and rehabilitation center and most of the animals here are rescued. There are more than 60 different species including Clover the Spirit Bear, a rare white bear that is the only Kermode Bear in captivity in the world. There’s also a splash park, playground, and mini-train for the kids. Admission to the park is $18.95 CAD for adults.  

Where to stay in Kamloops

As I mentioned, it’s a great idea to spend a few nights in Kamloops if you have time. There are plenty of hotels to choose from here. Personally, I love the Prestige Kamloops Hotel only a couple of minutes from town which is complete with a waterslide and brand new restaurants or if you’re on a budget, the Rodeway Inn & Suites which includes a continental breakfast.

16. Merritt

Breakfast sandwiches from Kekuli Café Coffee & Bannock- Merritt
Breakfast sandwiches from Kekuli Café Coffee & Bannock- Merritt

Merritt is a small community off the highway that is a great place to stop for food or fuel on the drive. It’s known as the “Country Music Capital of Canada” and you can easily see why while wandering through the town.

There are murals of country music legends throughout the town, including many that are tributes to artists who have performed here including Keith Urban, Leeann Rimes, Johnny Reid, and Aaron Pritchett.  

Too Much Info is a great hiking trail. Located off the 97C highway, there are a couple of great viewpoints of Merritt and the surrounding Swakum Mountain on the climb up. It should only take about 25 minutes each way to complete this trail, and it’s considered an easy hike.

For the whole family, the Tom Lacey Trail is a 7.9 km (5 mi) return trail with a 250-meter (820 feet) elevation gain. It’s an ideal hike if you want to see wildlife like moose, deer, and grouse.

If you’re in a hurry, there are a variety of fast-food restaurants here to choose from. If you have a bit more time, visit Kekuli Café. They serve yummy Indigenous food in a coffee shop environment. The fresh, handmade Bannock (including Bannock sandwiches) is raved about by locals and tourists alike!  

To break up the trip, Merritt has some good hotel options. The Comfort Inn and Suites is the best place to stay with an indoor pool and hot tub, a fitness center, and free breakfast daily. If you stay here, the nearby Nicola Lake is another great area to explore to extend your road trip.  

17. Hope

A lady poses for a photo at Kawkawa Lake in Hope, BC
How beautiful is this place!?

The small town of Hope is interestingly known as the Chainsaw Capital of the World! And as you walk around town you will come across numerous unusual wooden sculptures that have been erected as part of the International Chainsaw Competition which is held in Hope in August, every year!

There’s a surprising amount of awesome things to do in this little town with a population of just 6,000 people. One of the best things to do on a nice day is to visit Kawkawa Lake which has a beach, picnic area, and a dock. It’s a popular spot with locals who come here for swimming, waterskiing, and stand-up paddleboarding.

The Othello Tunnels, just a 15-minute drive from Hope are a must-visit attraction in the area. You can walk through these historic man-made tunnels which were once a part of the Canadian rail network. Back in the 1870s workers used a series of explosions to blast through the cliffs here thus forming the Othello Tunnels. The trains no longer run through here and you walk the 3.5 km (2 miles) tunnel trail in just under an hour. The trail is relatively easy and suitable for the whole family.

Back in town, why not grab a drink at Hope’s first craft brewery – Mountainview Brewing Co. All their craft beers are brewed in Hope using fresh mountain water! Try “The Dark Side of Town” with a classic dark German lager or “Main Squeeze” a sour ale brewed with organic peaches and plums. They also serve some delicious snacks and sandwiches if you’re hungry.

Consider spending the night in Hope because it has some great bed and breakfasts and hotels. Situated high up on Thacker Mountain, the High Hopes Bed and Breakfast boasts guest rooms with private balconies. The nightly rate also includes a delicious homemade breakfast.

18. Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls on the drive from Vancouver to Edmonton
The mighty Bridal Veil Falls!

One of my very favorite stops on the drive from Calgary to Vancouver is Bridal Veil Falls. This huge 60-meter tall waterfall (197 feet) cascades over a large rock face, creating an appearance like a bridal veil. It’s beautiful and impressive. In fact, it is the 6th largest waterfall in all of Canada!

This is the perfect place to pull off the highway and go for a hike to a spectacular waterfall. From the parking lot, it’s a short hike of only 15 minutes on a relatively easy path to reach the Bridal Veil Falls waterfall. 

While you’re here, plan to stay a bit to enjoy the park. Bridal Veil Falls is located within a provincial park. There’s a great area here for a picnic, so bring lunch!  

You can find the fall’s location on Google Maps.

Note: The falls are only open during the summer months

19. Harrison Hot Springs

View of Lake Harrison from Harrison hot Springs, Canada
Lake Harrison in Harrison Hot Springs

Harrison Hot Springs is a town, named after some of the most famous hot springs in BC. You’ll have to take a short 20-minute detour off the highway to visit. But if you ask me, the detour is worth it because Harrison Hot Springs has plenty of fun activities to offer. You’ll find lots of cafes and restaurants, as well as a beach area, a kids’ waterpark, and plenty of unique shops selling work from local artisans.

A great place to spend a night is at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort. This way, you can try out the famous hot springs for free as a hotel guest and join other well-known past guests like Clark Gable, John Wayne, Michael Bublé, and Liam Neeson.

There are five different hot mineral springs pools including indoor and outdoor pools. The water here has among the highest concentrations of dissolved mineral solids of any mineral spring!  

If you don’t want to stay at the resort, there is also a public hot springs pool in town you can visit for a couple of hours. Or head down to Harrison Lake to enjoy the beach which has areas for swimming, playgrounds, and lots of other water activities.

20. Chilliwack

a field of tulips in Chilliwack BC
This is well worth a stop!

Just 25 minutes from Harrison Hot Springs is the small city of Chilliwack. Located within the scenic Fraser Valley, this is the perfect spot to get out and explore the great outdoors.

A short drive from Chilliwack there are many farms that you can visit. Klasassen Farms is famous for the delicious blueberries they grow! You can buy pre-picked berries here, or if you have time, pick your own blueberries.

I love their delicious blueberry ice cream, in fact, I always make a point to stop here when I’m driving between Calgary and Vancouver.

If you’re planning to do this road trip in the spring, then be sure to stop at Chilliwack Tulips to check out BC’s only tulip festival which is held here in April every year! Would you believe that during the festival there are 6 million flowers on display here, if you love flowers or gardening this is a must-do!

Back to Chilliwack city itself, there are a few boutique stores here as well as several highly-rated restaurants and cafes such as the casual Red Swan Pizza on Vedder Road and the more up-market Greek Islands Restaurant on Hocking Avenue.

Chilliwack is also a nice place to spend the night and break up your journey. There are a few hotels in Chilliwack that I would recommend including popular chains like Comfort Inn and Holiday Inn Express & Suites.

Finish the stay here with a meal of authentic German food at The Black Forest Restaurant. Book a table on the large balcony overlooking the lake and try one of their famous Schnitzel dishes!  

Alternative Scenic Route

While this route to reach Vancouver is to head south from Kamloops on Highway 5 is the most direct, there is an alternative scenic route to finish your road trip! Continue toward Highway 99, which will take you to Whistler, Brandywine Falls, Squamish, and the Sea to Sky Gondola – our 4 bonus stops!

21. Whistler

Daniel and Bailey pose for a selfie on the Peak to Peak Gondola in Whistler, BC
The Peak to Peak Gondola!
The view out the window of the Peak to Peak Gondola in Whistler, BC
Views from the gondola!

There are plenty of fun things to do and see in Whistler in both the winter and the summer, so many that you could easily spend weeks here exploring. In Whistler, there is pretty much every type of outdoor adventure activity that you could think of!

One of the most popular winter activities is skiing or snowboarding at Blackcomb Moutain, Whistler’s pride and joy with over 200 different runs, 3,307 hectares (8,171 acres) of terrain, and 36 different lifts. The Whistler ski season typically runs from November to March and various passes are available including single-day passes, multi-day passes, and season passes. Lift passes for adults start at $150 CAD.

This is also where you’ll find the HUGE Peak 2 Peak Gondola that holds the world record for not only the longest gondola but also the highest and longest unsupported span of any lift in the world. It connects the top of Blackcomb Mountain with Whistler Mountain and spans across the valley and offers some of the most beautiful views you’ll have ever seen.

While at the top of Whistler Mountain, add a little adventure to your itinerary! The Skywalk is a thrilling hiking and climbing experience that is suitable for all ages. You will be clipped into a harness and cables as you climb rock faces, over suspension brides, and experience the mountain in a whole new way. You can pick up tickets in advance with 24-hour cancellation, so it’s a flexible activity.

Snowmobiling through the winter wilderness is another way to keep you enthused! This 3-hour snowmobiling tour is an awesome option with impeccable reviews but it is expensive at $282 CAD, if you can find the room in your budget then I wouldn’t skip this Whistler adventure!

If you enjoy ziplining then you have to check out this particular zipline called the Sasquatch®! This huge zipline will have you reaching speeds of well over 100 km/hr (62 mph) – we had a huge adrenaline rush for sure! This zipline experience starts at $147 CAD per person and can even be done in Spring, Summer, and Fall (until mid-October). It’s only one zipline but is well worth it if you ask me – book it in advance here.

Daniel at the top of The Sasquatch zipline in Whistler
It’s actually a bit scary!

In winter, you can still have the zipline thrill by taking on the Superfly Ziplines, which is just as popular. This includes a 4×4 ride through the snow to reach the top and 4 ziplines back down for $198 CAD. Maybe you can even try both during either season and let us know which one is your favorite!

In summer, one of the best ways to spend a good chunk of the afternoon is by exploring one of the nearby lakes! Green LakeAlta Lake, and my favorite, Lost Lake are accessible via easy walking trails through the surrounding pine forest.

No matter the time of year, wandering around Whistler Village is always fun! Check out the many local restaurants and boutique shops. Be sure to visit Purebread, an amazing bakery and coffee shop. There are also a few different museums to check out – if you want to learn about the culture of the Skw̲xw̲ú7mesh and Lílw̓at people head to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Center.

A few more of the best things to do in Whistler are below:

  • Go on a distillery tour – Deep in one of Whistler’s hidden neighborhoods you can take a tour of Montis Distilling for $88 CAD and taste all of their available products! There’s the option to upgrade your tour to include a curated charcuterie box from another local company Picnic Whistler that will pair well with all of your samples. How could you say no? I know I couldn’t! At the end, you can be dropped off at one of the best cocktail bars in Whistler, The Raven Room.
  • Kayak the river of Golden Dreams – this kayaking tour travels between two of Whistler’s biggest lakes starting at Alta Lake. From here, you’ll head off down the river mouth while floating along casually paddling in the currents. Along the way, you’ll see geese, navigate past beaver dams, and enjoy overhanging greenery and stunning views. It’s a great self-guided tour that’ll cost you about $149 CAD for 3-hours on the lake with all of your equipment included.
  • Via Ferrata – Whistler is another great place in Canada to try Via Ferrata, an introduction to rock climbing. Challenge yourself to climb the entire 2,160-meter (7,086 feet) summit of Whistler Mountain with safety cables and metal rungs. The scenery is indescribable and well worth the $209 CAD price tag. You can read our full experience on Whistler’s Via Ferrata if you want to know more!

Where to stay in Whistler

Even though you’re close to your destination, Whistler is worth a few day’s layover! You could easily spend weeks here doing all of the fun activities and there are some awesome places to stay in Whistler.

For budget travelers, the Pangea Pod Hotel is a great option. It’s a basic hotel with pod-style rooms with clean, well looked after facilities. The location is also really good and you are within walking distance to the ski lifts in Whistler Upper Village. We also really like the flexibility to book on either Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

For luxury travelers, I obviously love the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, they nail every detail including the accommodating staff, beautiful rooms, and a list of amenities to take advantage of. Another option slightly cheaper is the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre. Its location is perfect for luxury skiers because it’s only 250 meters from the closest gondola.

22. Brandywine Falls

Brandywine Falls, Squamish, BC
It’s one of the most accessible and most beautiful waterfalls near Squamish!

You’ve seen a lot of beautiful outdoors during your road trip from Calgary to Vancouver, but Brandywine Falls is not to be missed, and it’s a quick stop! The stunning 70-meter (230-foot) can be seen from a viewpoint that is just a quick 1 km (0.6 mile) walk away from the parking area and back again.  

The short walk to the viewpoint is flat and well-maintained, making it very accessible to most travelers. If you’re doing this road trip with your family, it’s a great short walk for kids too.

And the view? Well, just look at the photo! Brandywine Falls is truly gorgeous and well worth checking out if you ask me.

Brandywine Falls is located only a 15-minute drive from the town of Whistler, so it’s an easy addition to your itinerary!

23. Squamish

Bailey sits at the top of the Stawamus Chief, Vancouver
Views from The Chief!
Squamish town from above
Squamish town

Squamish is known as heaven for the outdoorsy crowd, with a lot of people attracted to the outdoor lifestyle, with plenty of hiking, rock climbing, and windsurfing enthusiasts living here. Located just 45 minutes from Whistler, you can explore this area on a day trip, make a quick stop along your road trip, or spend a few days exploring!

If you’re just stopping for a bite to eat or a drink, try the Howe Sound Brewery or Zephyr Café – both fun, local stops to stretch your legs for a bit. If you want to check out some culture and history, try the Railway Museum of British Columbia!

It’s also fun to just walk around the downtown area, as there are a ton of cute little shops to check out.  

One of the best things to do in Squamish to enjoy its natural beauty is to hike the Stawamus Chief Trail (pictured above). This is one of my favorite hikes in BC, and while it’s a bit of a workout, the views make it all worth it.

If you didn’t try this in Whistler, you can try Via Ferrata in Squamish! Via Ferrata is where you can get the feel of rock climbing with the safety of a harness and extra handholds. You’ll climb up granite cliffs with a fixed cable system and hold onto large steel rungs. It’s just like climbing a giant ladder… but on a cliffside!  

The Via Ferrata climbing experience in Squamish can be booked online and is led by a certified guide. It starts at the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola (mentioned below), so you’ll need to book gondola tickets separately. 

For an adrenaline rush whitewater rafting needs to be on your agenda! See Squamish from the water while navigating rapids on the Elaho and Squamish Rivers.

This whitewater rafting tour includes transportation, a guide, and all the gear you need. You can simply grab a paddle with your group and head out for some outdoor fun on the river!  These rapids are Class 3-4 and feature some exhilarating twists and turns including the “Devil’s Elbow” section of the river. You’re going to ride big waves here and catch some air on the choppy rapids.

The entire journey is about 16 kilometers (10 miles) and it costs about $210 CAD but is worth every penny. You can book this rafting experience in advance with free cancellation 24 hours before your tour takes off, just in case plans change!

Where to stay in Squamish

Staying in Squamish is always a good time and it puts you right next to the action. We really like the Mountain Retreat. This hotel features many different styles of rooms from a standard queen all the way to a one-bedroom family suite. There is a pool, fitness center, and on-site restaurant.

Higher-end travelers can’t pass up the Sandman Hotel and Suites Squamish. The queen and king rooms here are clean and comfortable and a delicious breakfast is included. The property has a hot tub, pool, waterslide, and gym. It is also pet-friendly if you are road-tripping with your 4-legged friend!

24. Sea to Sky Gondola

The Sea to Sky Gondola travels up the mountain near Squamish in BC, Canada
On the way up!
Bailey stands on a viewpoint at the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola, BC
This is such a great viewpoint!

The Sea to Sky Gondola is your last stop before Vancouver, and one you really shouldn’t miss. For $71 CAD you can ride in a gondola all the way to the top of a mountain – gaining over a whopping 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) in elevation! Once at the top, you’ll be impressed with the views of the Howe Sound and surrounding mountain peaks.

There are also various hikes you can do at the summit as well as a stunning suspension bridge, souvenir shop, and restaurant and bar.

You only need a couple of hours to ride the gondola, explore the summit, and return back down. It’s one of those “must-do’s” if you’re in the area, and a fantastic end to your road trip! It’s best to book tickets in advance, as this is a popular activity and you don’t want to have to wait. Plus, booking ahead of time allows for cancellation 24 hours before you go as well as “reserve now pay later” so you can fit it into your budget – book the gondola tickets in advance here.

Budget-saving tip: You can hike up instead of taking the gondola, which is completely free. However, while it is one of the best hikes near Vancouver, it is challenging so I only recommend it for those who have plenty of time and are up for the challenge.

25. Vancouver

Bailey poses for a photo at the front of the boat on our sunset cruise in Vancouver
Bailey on a sunset cruise in Vancouver
Two Totum Poles at capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver
Totum Poles from the First Nations people

Whichever route you chose, you’ll end your road trip in Vancouver! I’m originally from the neighboring province of Alberta and so I’ve visited Vancouver numerous times throughout the years. Vancouver can indeed be an expensive place to visit, but thankfully there are loads of cheap and free things to do in Vancouver too for those on a budget!

Vancouver is often rated as one of the best cities to visit in Canada and for good reason, there’s something for everyone in this bustling, scenic city. This city offers the best of the great outdoors from the incredible beaches at English Bay to the nearby mountains where you can go skiing in winter. It’s also home to the 1,000-acre Stanley Park, which is a great place to chill out in nature and bike the iconic seawall trail.

This specific bike tour goes through Stanley Park and the seawall trail and is done on e-bikes so you won’t spend all your energy on one activity! It costs $150 CAD and goes for 4 hours which is plenty of time to cover many more areas including historic and modern neighborhoods. Be sure to book this tour in advance (especially during the summer) as it’s a fantastic way to get to know the city. For more recommendations, there are other great tours in Stanley Park including a horse-drawn carriage ride!

Another one of the areas you can’t miss while in Vancouver is Granville Island. Granville Island is a small island that you can reach by ferry, drive to from downtown Vancouver, or join one of the popular tours to Granville Island to get there. 

There are lots of different things to do on Granville Island with my personal favorite being the huge indoor market here which sells everything from cakes to groceries to coffee. Spend a few hours on the island and watch the many street performers performing outside the markets, or visit the Kids Market if you’re traveling with little ones. And if you’re a craft beer lover like me you just have to check out Granville Island Brewing.

Speaking of beer, this behind-the-scenes craft beer tour will take you to a handful of different breweries around Vancouver, where you can try tons of local beer. At each brewery, you will get a behind-the-scenes look at how the beer is made – a super cool brewery tour in Vancouver if you ask me! Plus, it includes transport so you can drink as much as you want without having to worry about a designated driver. Having taken this tour ourselves, we can tell you it is well worth your time and money – book it in advance here.

Some of the other most popular things to do in Vancouver include:

  • Visit Capilano Suspension Bridge – Just a 20-minute drive from Vancouver city center is the Capilano Suspension Bridge. This area is not only home to the huge bridge which is 137 meters long (450 feet) and hangs 70 meters (230 feet) above the Capilano River but there are also various hiking trails here too. As well as that, there’s a treetop walk and a glass floor lookout! Tickets cost $66 CAD per adult.
  • Go Whale Watching – By far one of Vancouver’s top activities! From out on the open water, you’ll have to opportunity to spot various types of whales, including Humpback whales and, my favorite, Orcas. But besides whales, you’ll also have the opportunity to spot other wildlife, including seabirds, seals, and otters. You can expect to pay about $236 CAD for this half-day whale-watching tour that includes tea and coffee as well as expert naturalists to teach you all about the whales and area.
  • Visit Grouse Mountain – For the best views of Vancouver catch a cable car the 1,200 meters (3,900 feet) up Grouse Mountain or if you’re keen for a workout complete the ‘Grouse Grind’ to reach the top, this involves climbing up over 2,800 steps! It’s an especially popular activity with local Vancouverites, some even do this as their daily workout! The views from the top of Vancouver CBD and the Howe Sound are well worth the climb – this is one of the best hikes in Vancouver. If you want to catch the cable car to the top you can buy your tickets here for $80 CAD
  • Ride in a Seaplane – This has been the most exciting thing I have done in Vancouver! Taking off and landing on the water was new and a little scary but don’t worry, the pilots are trained professionals. While this scenic flight is only a 20-minute Vancouver city seaplane tour, it was such a fantastic experience and we got to see so much of the city and surrounding mountains. The best part is that it only cost $167 CAD! Can you believe that?

Where to Stay in Vancouver

A view of Yaletown from an highrise apartment
Yaletown as seen from a friend of mine’s apartment! Not a bad place to call home!

Vancouver is one of the most popular cities in Canada. The fact is that in the summer and winter, the city books up in advance very fast! Booking your hotel or hostel well in advance is the only way to secure the best place to stay for you!

Some great hotels and hostels in Vancouver that we love are:

Hyatt Regency Vancouver – $$$

Can’t decide whether you’d prefer to stay near Stanley Park or Gastown? Well, the Hyatt Regency might just be right for you, as it’s located right between them! Rooms here enjoy gorgeous floor-to-ceiling windows that help to bring in light and there is a small fridge, work desk, and toiletries in the bathroom too.

You can also conveniently enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner at their beautiful Mosaic Bar and Grill just off the lobby. As you can imagine, it’s a luxury stay in a large hotel chain that is highly reviewed! So if you’re looking to celebrate something special, or just fancy taking your vacation to a whole new level, then staying here will definitely do the trick.

I’ve seen a one-night stay at the Hyatt Regency going as low as $232 CAD per night, although the rooms here on average are more around the $300-$500 CAD mark. So, for the best price, don’t forget to reserve your room in advance.

Times Square Suites – $$

For a beautiful hotel close to Stanley Park, the Times Square Hotel is a fantastic choice! It’s very hard to fault this hotel, and the location really is perfect. The fully equipped kitchens and gas fireplaces are a nice touch in all of the rooms, plus the suites have living rooms and a washer and dryer.

For being pretty affordable, it has a lot of amenities, which is just one of the reasons we love staying here! You can book a room here from $232 CAD per night, but as this is a popular stay, I recommend checking your dates and booking ahead of time to secure your preferred room type!

The Cambie Hostel Gastown – $

The Cambie Hostel is a great budget-friendly hostel that’s located right in the heart of Gastown and close to lots of bars and restaurants and attached to the hostel is a very lively bar too. The rooms are clean, although the bathrooms are a little on the small side (part of the fun when you’re staying cheap, though!).

It’s perfect for backpackers on a budget and is considerably cheaper than others offering comparable quality. A bed in a dorm here starts at around $50 CAD, and you can book a stay here through Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

Didn’t find exactly what you’re looking for? Click here to browse all hotels in Vancouver!

For more info on the best areas and hotels, check out my complete guide on where to stay in Vancouver. It breaks down everything you need to know before choosing the right hotel!

Related Read: Check out the best restaurants in Gastown, Vancouver while you’re in there!

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 $11 CAD
  • Senior (65+) is $9.50 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.)

  • $22.00 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) – $75.25 CAD
  • Senior (65+) – $64.50 CAD
  • Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $151.25 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.

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!

Two friends pose for a photo on the Vancouver Sea Wall
Thanks for reading!

One of the best things about the drive from Calgary to Vancouver is the variety of the stops along the way. By this I mean there are cities, lakes, waterfalls, and no less than three National Parks along the way. So, as I said earlier, make sure you take your time to enjoy the road trip between these two beautiful cities,

Thanks so much for reading! If you have any other epic stops that should be added to this list, leave a comment below. And as you plan your further travels, check out our Canada blogs! As a Canadian native, we are experts in this area and love sharing our favorite places. Here are some below:

15 BEST Day Trips from Calgary for an Epic Adventure

32 BEST Things to do in Vancouver When it Rains

33 Fun Things to do in Vancouver in Winter

How to Get from Calgary to Banff +15 BEST Road Trip Stops

Annie

Tuesday 30th of April 2024

Oh wow I just love your blogs!! We're planning a 3 weeks road trip from Calgary to Tofino and I've been reading alot of your suggestions and adding them to my planning. Your beautiful pictures and great descriptions have been putting a smile on my face... can't wait for our trip but love the planning part! Thanks for sharing :)

Destinationless Travel

Tuesday 7th of May 2024

Hey Annie!

Enjoy your trip and thank you for the kind words!

Thanks Daniel

CM

Monday 26th of February 2024

Thank you!! Great info and very inspiring!!

Sharon Sheppard

Saturday 24th of February 2024

This is great just what I'm looking for for out trip next year thank you so much for sharing ☺️

Destinationless Travel

Monday 26th of February 2024

Hey Sharon,

Glad you like it!

Enjoy your trip!