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Vancouver to Calgary Road Trip Itinerary +26 BEST Stops (2024!)

Vancouver to Calgary Road Trip Itinerary +26 BEST Stops (2024!)

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The road trip from Vancouver to Calgary may be one of the most popular Canadian road trips! Both airport hubs are extremely popular for international flyers. As such, many travelers fly into Vancouver and then fly home from Calgary (or vice versa.)

But besides that, many of the most beautiful and exciting places to visit in all of Canada are located between these two cities – so a road trip from Vancouver to Calgary makes perfect sense!

There are several stops between Vancouver and Calgary that deserve to be explored. You can enjoy quaint mountain towns, boutique wineries, vibrant cities full of culture and history, and so much more. In fact, for many, road-tripping from Vancouver to Calgary is the perfect way to get to know the most popular tourist destinations in Western Canada.

But the truth is there are a lot of different ways you can do this road trip. There are various different routes you can take and countless different places you can choose to stop. All of these options make planning a little tricky.

That’s why I’ve written this blog which is a complete guide to driving from Vancouver to Calgary. It includes the absolute best stops along the way, the best places to stay and spend a little more time, and important tips before you go. After reading this blog, my hope is that you’ll be ready to hit the road – enjoy!

Note: This blog can also be used in reverse order in case you are driving from Calgary to Vancouver!

About the Drive from Vancouver to Calgary

There are a few different routes you can choose from when driving from Vancouver to Calgary (or the reverse, Calgary to Vancouver.) The most direct route goes through the town of Hope, BC via Highway 5 and Highway 1. This route is roughly 985 kilometers (612 miles) and takes around 11.5 hours without stopping.

However, if you’re looking to plan the most epic road trip then I suggest that you take a slightly longer (but more scenic) route through Whistler. This is the route I focus on in this blog. It is 1040 kilometers (646 miles) and would take around 12.5 hours to drive without stopping.

But why rush it?

There are some really great stops along this drive, and I suggest taking your time as you make your way from Vancouver to Calgary to enjoy each of the 26 stops.

If you’re driving in winter, keep an eye on the weather and check road conditions before you go. The main highway you’ll be taking (Trans-Canada Highway 1) will be cleared first after a snowfall. But still, be prepared and check your map for any potential road closures or delays.

Make sure your car (or rental car) has winter tires or at least all-season tires to tackle any ice and snow you may encounter. If you need to, there are places to stop between Vancouver and Calgary to spend a night in if the weather changes and the road conditions become poor.  

If possible do your driving time during the day, the sights are more enjoyable, some of these roads have twists and turns, and it’s easier to watch for animals. Large animals like deer can be hiding in the ditches.

Note: The west isn’t the only place where road trips are popular in Canada. You can also go on some pretty epic adventures over east and road trip in Nova Scotia and other places on the East Coast!

26 BEST Stops on the Drive from Vancouver to Calgary

1. Vancouver City

Top of the Grouse Grind where the gondola is at Grouse Mountain, Vancouver
Grouse Mountain!
View of False Creek from a sea plane in Vancouver
View of False Creek from a sea plane in Vancouver

Vancouver is one of Canada’s most vibrant cities. So before you rush off on your road trip, be sure to stick around for a little while and enjoy all of the fun things to do in Vancouver.

I’m originally from the neighboring state of Alberta and so I’ve visited Vancouver numerous times throughout the years. It’s true Vancouver can 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 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 $133 CAD and goes for 4 hours which is plenty of time to cover many more areas including historic and modern neighborhoods. We have a few more Stanley Park tour recommendations if you’re more interested in walking or exploring the park in a horse-drawn carriage!

Another one of the areas you can’t miss while in Vancouver is Granville Island. This is a small island that you can reach by ferry, drive to from downtown Vancouver, or join a tour to Granville Island to see. On Granville Island, there are a few different things to do and explore, my personal favorite idea though is to book a guided tour through 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 the city, 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 tour 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.

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, 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 $73 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 $226 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. In fact, 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.
  • Relax at Kitsilano Beach – as I mentioned Vancouver is filled with urban beaches and one of my favorites is Kitsilano beach. It’s a nice, clean beach that’s a great spot to head for sunset. Surrounding the beach is the trendy neighborhood of Kitsilano which is home to lots of cool restaurants, bars, and stores. The Maritime Museum is also located here as well as a great waterfront public swimming pool.
  • Ride in a Sea Plane – 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, though; 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, it only cost $160 CAD! Can you believe that?

Where to stay in Vancouver

The Cambie Hostel Gastown is perfect if you’re looking for a budget option! There are not as many hostel options in Vancouver but this one in Gastown is a good option. While it doesn’t have super high ratings it is in an excellent location.

For something a bit more moderately priced in the West End in the middle of the action try The Listel Hotel Vancouver. There is an on-site restaurant and is a short walk to major attractions like Stanley Park or the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Or ball out at the Fairmont Pacific Rim if you are searching for luxury. It has a full-service spa and rooftop swimming pool, on-site restaurants that have live music, and an outdoor terrace. The views from this hotel are phenomenal, as it’s right at the waterfront. 

There are literally hundreds of places to stay in Vancouver. Read our blog about where to stay in Vancouver for info about the best areas to base yourself and the top-rated hotels.

2. Shannon Falls

Bailey at Shannon Falls, BC
Shannon Falls on the road between Whistler and Vancouver

Shannon Falls is the perfect pit stop to have a snack, stretch your legs, and check out the magnificent waterfall! Shannon Falls is located about an hour outside of Vancouver as you make your way along the Sea to Sky Highway (an iconic scenic drive between Vancouver and Whistler.)

There is a large parking lot when you arrive as well as picnic benches and bathrooms. Follow the signs along a paved trail to reach Shannon Falls. The walk is fairly flat and easy, about 1 kilometer long (0.6 miles) in total.

Shannon Falls is pretty spectacular at 335 meters (1100 ft) tall! The ideal time to go is the late spring and early summer when winter snow on the neighboring mountains has melted and the falls are at their most powerful.  

Personally, this is one of my favorite stops on the drive from Vancouver to Calgary. It’s also completely free to visit.

3. 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 viewing platform at the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola with a mountain backdrop in Squamish, BC

The Sea to Sky Gondola is your next stop, and one you really shouldn’t miss. For $67 CAD/person you can ride in a gondola all the way to a top of a mountain – gaining over 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 a worthwhile attraction and one I recommend to everyone.

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.

4. Squamish

Bailey sits at the top of the Stawamus Chief, Vancouver
Squamish town
Squamish town

Squamish is an awesome city and a great place to stop for a visit, or even stay overnight to really make the most of it and break up your road trip. It’s 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.

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.)

If you want to get even more adventurous you can try out assisted rock climbing with via ferrata 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 (previously mentioned above), 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 $190 CAD but is worth every penny.

For a more laid-back activity, I highly recommend setting sail on the Howe Sound where you will be offered the chance to take the helm or learn how to trim the sails (balance them). You could also just sit back and enjoy the views and if you get lucky you might spot some wild orcas or dolphins. This sailing experience lasts 3 hours and costs $179 CAD.

Where to Stay in Squamish

If you want to break up the road trip from Vancouver to Calgary then Squamish is the perfect place to spend a night or two. There’s plenty to do in Squamish and lots of hotels and holiday homes to choose from.

For a budget stay, check out the Adventure Inn. You can get a private room for an affordable price here as well as have access to shared communal facilities like laundry and a kitchen – super handy if you want to save money by cooking.

For something a little nicer, check out 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!

5. Garibaldi Lake

Bailey and Daniel take a photo on the edge of Garibaldi Lake
Such a fantastic place!

Garibaldi Provincial Park is home to Garibaldi Lake, which is one of the most beautiful alpine lakes in Canada! Even so, it remains much less visited compared to other lakes in Canada.

The grueling 9 km (5.6-mile) hike with a 900 m (2,950 ft) elevation gain may have something to do with it. While the hike to Garibaldi Lake is challenging, the payoff is definitely worth it.

If you can’t get enough of the views, camp overnight at Garibaldi Lake. When you wake up you can check out two other trails and viewpoints: Blacktusk and Panorama Ridge lookout. Both are another 5.5 km (3.4 miles) and 7 km (4.3 miles) further and incline more than 500 m (1,640 ft). These hikes are made for the skilled hiker.

If you do camp overnight, the campsite at the lake has over 50 campsites, toilets, and cooking shelters. Campsites are $10 a person per night and need to be booked online prior to arrival.

If you have trouble booking you can ask the Squamish visitor center to book it for you (that’s what we did).

6. Brandywine Falls

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

Not to be outdone by Shannon Falls is the other must-see waterfall on this drive from Vancouver to Whistler, the stunning 70-meter (230 feet) Brandywine Falls. It can be seen from a viewpoint that is just a quick 1km (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 easily one of the best summer activities in Whistler.

7. Whistler

Bailey walks along the Skybridge at the top of the gondola in Whistler, BC
Get the best view of Whistler on the Skybridge!
Two people come down The Sasquatch Zipline in Whistler, Canada
The Sasquatch zipline in Whistler!

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.

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 $250+ CAD, if you can find the room in your budget then I wouldn’t skip this Whistler adventure!

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

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) – it’s an 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 is only one zipline but is well worth it if you ask me.

You should book this ziplining tour in advance as it is one of the most popular activities in Whistler and often books up.

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 Dreamsthis 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 $139 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 2160-meter (7,086 feet) summit of Whistler Mountain with safety cables and metal rungs. The scenery is indescribable and well worth the $177 CAD price tag.

Where to stay in Whistler

If you decided not to stay at Garibaldi Provincial Park, Whistler is another great option for breaking up your road trip. As I said, 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, 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.

8. Lillooet Lake

Bailey stands at Lillooet Lake at sunset in Pemberton, BC
Not a bad place for sunset!
Bailey floats in Lillooet Lake in Pemberton, BC
The water is freezing!

You’ll find the beautiful, quiet Lillooet Lake at the bottom of Duffey Lake Road. This lake used to be a beautiful turquoise similar to what you see with other Canadian lakes, however after a landslide in 2010 the water was turned a murky shade of brown. The beautiful color it once was is finally beginning to come back. It’s easiest to see in the winter when the currents are slow.

Lillooet Lake is lined with recreational sites and campgrounds. Strawberry Point Campground is probably the most popular. It’s a walk-in campground with a forested day-use area. There’s plenty of space here, but facilities are limited (they have a pit toilet, but no picnic area or designated camp spots).

Twin One Campground is a semi-open drive-in campground. There’s a boat launch, beach access, and great views. For facilities, they have picnic tables and pit toilets. This is the only campground that has room for large recreational vehicles.

Lizzie Bay and Driftwood Bay Campgrounds are two other options as well!

Enjoy a campfire, or stargaze while you enjoy zero light pollution.

9. Joffre Lakes

Bailey poses for a photo at 2nd Joffre Lake in Canada
The water really is that color!
Bailey and Daniel take a photo together at 2nd Joffre Lake
Cheers!

This is a must-visit on the drive from Vancouver to Calgary! The highlight of the hike through Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is Lower, Middle, and Upper Joffre Lakes with stunning turquoise blue water. The color is due to “rock flour” or glacial silt that lies suspended in the water and reflects the blue and green wavelengths from sunlight – it’s breathtaking!

The hike is about 10 kilometers (6 miles) long (return) and goes uphill as you work your way to Upper Joffre Lake. Along the way, you’ll see the three amazing lakes, creek crossings, great views of the mountain range, a waterfall, and the Matier Glacier at the top overlooking Upper Joffre Lake. To get back, simply retrace your steps and enjoy the easier hike down and a second look at these stunning lakes.  

In the summer, this is a super popular destination and parking can be a problem. The parking lot often fills up and you’re not allowed to park on the road. Sometimes they run shuttle buses from a nearby overflow parking lot, but this isn’t always true. 

To avoid having any problems getting a parking space, get here at sunrise to get a spot in the parking lot. You’ll also be one of the first ones on the trail and enjoy it in peace (this is exactly what we did when we visited last summer).

Joffre Lakes Day Pass: In order to enter Joffre Lakes Trailhead between the dates of May 6th to October 9th, 2023 a free day pass is required for each person in your group. You can get your pass on the day-use pass website two days before your visit, starting at 7 am. Simply print it or download it to your phone from your email. If you are camping this is not required (just have your campground reservation with you).

I recommend staying in the nearby town of Pemberton (or camping at Lillooet Lake) the night before to make it easy to get to the parking lot first thing in the morning.

You can browse hotels available in Pemberton here.

10. Duffy Lake Viewpoint

Duffey Lake Viewpoint  
Duffey Lake Viewpoint!

Duffy Lake Viewpoint is just a quick stop on the drive from Vancouver to Calgary. You just need to simply pull off the road into a makeshift parking lot right beside Duffy Lake, grab a few photos, and take in the stunning scenery.

It’s not as easy to admire the views while you’re driving, and since the pull-off is so easy it’s definitely worth the stop. If you’re feeling brave you can even dip your toes in the chilly lake!

11. Lillooet

Seton Lake near Lillooet, BC
Seton Lake is a great place to cool off if you can brave the cold water!

Lillooet is a small town along the Fraser River with some really dramatic mountain scenery on the way to Calgary. During the Fraser River Gold Rush around 1858, Lillooet was one of the largest towns in North America as thousands of people flooded in looking to get rich. Now, you can see artifacts from the Gold Rush era inside the Lillooet Museum

Lillooet has a hot, desert-like climate with some of the warmest temperatures ever recorded in Canada. With a long growing season, you’ll also find orchards and wineries around here – try some of the award-winning wine from Fort Berens Estate Winery. While you’re here, walk across the Old Suspension Bridge. It was built more than a century ago and is just open to pedestrians now.  

If you’re wanting to stay a night here, check out the Reynolds Hotel for a nice place to stay with some historic charm (it was built in the 1940s) that has recently been updated. It has a great restaurant to eat at and a little convenience store to stock up on road trip essentials for the rest of the journey too.

12. Kamloops

Views from Tower Trail Lookout in Kenna Cartwright Nature Park, Kamloops
Views from Tower Trail Lookout in Kenna Cartwright Nature Park, Kamloops

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 from April to November and go hiking or paddling on the nearby lakes and rivers.

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!

While 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 Harper’s Trail Estate Winery.

One of the best things to do on a hot day in Kamloops is to cool down in one of the 100 lakes within an hour of the city. These lakes are a great place to canoe, kayak, or try out stand-up paddleboarding. My favorite lake in the region is Kamloops Lake, where you can explore historic stone train bridges and tunnels as well as rock bluffs – you may even be lucky enough to spot an eagle’s nest!

A fantastic family-friendly activity in Kamloops is to see wild animals like bears, cougars, bobcats, and arctic wolves at BC Wildlife Park. The park is actually a rescue and rehabilitation center because most of the animals here are rescued.

Would you believe there are nearly 200 animals and over 65 different species housed here, including Clover the Spirit Bear, a rare white bear – 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 $17.95 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.

For a more luxurious option, try the South Thompson Inn and Conference Centre. It’s located on 55 acres of green space surrounded by mountains and the South Thompson River. The rooms have great views, there’s a 24 hour hot-tub overlooking the river and nearby hiking trails.  

Side trip to Kelowna and Vernon:

From Kamloops, you can go on a bit of a detour if you want to explore the Okanagan Valley. The Okanagan is known for beautiful lakes, warm weather, delicious fruit, and most importantly, wine! Head to the cities of Kelowna and Vernon first, then if you want to venture further south you can check out Osoyoos or Peachland. I personally love going to all of the wineries in Kelowna!

13. Salmon Arm

A man at DeMille’s Farm Market, Salmon Arm
There’s a lot to see at DeMille’s Farm Market in Salmon Arm.

Salmon Arm is a small city easy to fall in love with. I lived there for a few years, and I certainly did. For those who love the outdoors especially, there is plenty to do! Explore, relax, or eat (and drink) your way through this charming city. There’s really something for everyone here.

Stunning hikes, fresh produce, and top-notch wineries can all be found in Salmon Arm, so where should we start? Here are a few of the top things to do in Salmon Arm:

  • 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 meal from food trucks! It’s got a fun, community feel to it, so make sure to get in on the action.

If time allows it, I would also consider checking out the nearby Okanagan Valley areas of Vernon and Kelowna!

Where to stay in Salmon Arm

This may be a good place to break up your trip a little bit. Not to mention I’m sure you’ve only skimmed the top of the incredible list of things to do here and are yearning for more time to explore.

The Hilltop Inn is a popular hotel choice as they offer 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 the way to go. The rooms here are beautiful and surprisingly affordable. Of course, this place includes an exceptional breakfast and is in a beautiful area outside Salmon Arm.

14. Sicamous

House boating in Sicamous
Sicamous is the home of houseboating!

This little town is the houseboat capital of Canada with people coming from all over to the beautiful lakes in the area. Houseboating on Shuswap Lake is a unique way to spend a few nights out on the water enjoying this area.  

Houseboating season goes from June until October. While there will be lots of houseboats, especially in July and August, this is a big lake with 1,000 kilometers (over 600 miles) of shoreline, so there’s lots of room.  

If you’re here in the winter, the community borders four mountain ranges and has been voted as having the best snowmobiling in western Canada. There are also some nice local trails for snowshoeing and hiking – two other fun outdoor activities in Sicamous.

Stop by for fresh milk, ice cream, and cheese from D Dutchmen Dairy where everything is produced on-site. It’s a small family-owned farm in Sicamous that focuses on high-quality ingredients. The milk is sold in glass containers to keep it cold for longer and you can even buy egg nog here at Christmas!

They also have 62 different flavors of ice cream which have been called BC’s Best Ice Cream (i agree with that statement!) – making this a must-visit if you have kids (or adults!) who love a treat.

15. Revelstoke and Mount Revelstoke National Park

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

Revelstoke, BC 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 is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Canada. It has everything you could want! Mountains, lakes, glaciers, vast forests, and friendly people!

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 24 meters (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’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 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 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!

As you can see, the best things to do in Revelstoke are all about the outdoors!

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.

16. Glacier National Park

The views along the trans-Canada Highway near Revelstoke
Taken just outside of Revelstoke in Glacier National Park

On your road trip from Vancouver to Calgary, you’ll actually drive right through the middle of Glacier National Park as you leave Revelstoke and make your way toward the town of Golden. As you drive through, keep your eyes open as it’s a great place to spot bears, mountain goats, and other wildlife. The ancient forests here with old cedars and alpine meadows make for beautiful scenery.

Make sure to stop at the Rogers Pass National Historic Site inside the park. Here, you can hike along the now-abandoned railway line that first connected Canada from coast to coast. The visitor center here is great and has lots of info about the history of the area.  

On the drive, you’ll go through the Rogers Pass which I think is one of the most beautiful stretches of highway in the entire country.  

There are also some nice spots for short hikes in the area including the Hemlock Grove Boardwalk, which is good for the whole family as it’s a series of boardwalks through the forest. If you want to see a waterfall on a relatively easy trail that isn’t too busy, visit Bear Creek Falls. It’s only about a 15-20 minute hike with a really impressive waterfall at the end.

Note: If you plan on stopping in Glacier National Park you’ll need to purchase a Parks Canada Pass. There are various types of passes you can buy that range from $10 to $145 CAD depending on the number of parks, people, and amount of time the pass covers.

17. Golden

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

Golden is a small town in the Rockies with around just 4,000 people but it still offers plenty of epic things to do as it’s surrounded by national parks, mountain ranges, and endless outdoor activities to enjoy. Not to mention there are amazing eateries, unique shops, fun bars, and interesting cultural attractions!

The town of Golden also has some amazing restaurants, shops, bars, and cultural attractions to offer.

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 and it only just opened in the summer of 2021! 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, ropes course, and an incredible canyon swing!
  • 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 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.

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

18. Yoho National Park

Two people canoe out on Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, Canada
Emerald Lake is stunning!

Yoho National Park, with the community of Field in the center, is an amazing place to explore – be prepared to spend at least a few hours here if not a whole day! The park is known for its towering waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, and the huge variety of activities that can be done in all seasons. Plus, there are shops, restaurants, and more to see in Field.  

A must-see is the stunning Emerald Lake with its vivid waters that are true to its name. You can easily walk around the entire lake in about an hour or snowshoe around it in the winter. It’s a great way to see wildflowers including wild orchids that grow around here as well as bald eagles, moose, and loons. You can also canoe or kayak on the lake with its calm and clear waters.  

Another impressive sight is the Natural Bridge – an ancient rock formation over the Kicking Horse River. It’s easy to get to by car as it’s only 3 km (1.9 miles) from Field along Emerald Lake Road. You can also take a guided hike to fossil beds in the area where there are fossils from 500 million years ago.  

19. Lake Louise

Bailey and Daniel with their dog rex at Lake Louise foreshore
Lake Louise is stunning!
A lady sits on a rock at Lake Louise looking out over the water at the glacier and mountains
Lake Louise!

Lake Louise Drive Construction Notice: This summer (2024), construction will be on Lake Louise Drive, causing significant traffic delays. This means you could spend well over an hour sitting in traffic just to be turned away for lack of parking (over a thousand people are turned away each day during the peak summer months!). To avoid this, consider booking this hop-on hop-off shuttle from Banff instead! Check availability for the shuttle here – it fully books out in the summer months!

Lake Louise is a small mountain village situated within the magnificent Rocky Mountains. It’s surrounded by untouched wilderness and stunning landscapes and has all the ingredients for a bucket-list place to visit.

I have been to Lake Louise numerous times throughout my years of living close to the Rockies. Each time ticking off all the best things to do in Lake Louise. From hikes to restaurants and all of the epic Lake Louise activities, I’ve pretty much done it all! Here are a few of my favorites to check out during your visit:

  • Relax at the Lake Louise foreshore – When it comes to enjoying Lake Louise, one of the easiest and most common ways is to enjoy the views are from the Lake Louise foreshore. Within minutes of arriving, you can have a coffee in hand and stare out at mountain peaks, glaciers, and the bluest lake you’ll ever see.
  • Hike to the Lake Agnes Tea House – My favorite hike in Lake Louise is the Lake Agnes Tea House trail. Starting right from the foreshore, the trail has you hiking high above Lake Louise where you can peer down and see parts of the lake from above. Lake Agnes Tea House Trail is a 7.3-kilometer (4.5 miles) return track that climbs 400 meters (1,312 feet) in elevation. The trail is moderately difficult but not technical at all!
  • Rent a canoe and explore Lake Louise – When I think of iconic Canadian activities a few come to mind. However, one of the most relaxing and breathtaking is paddling an alpine lake in a Canadian Canoe. You can do this throughout Canada, but there aren’t many places as beautiful as Lake Louise to enjoy this activity.
  • Go ice skating on Lake Louise – Lake Louise is the color of the sky in summer and that color has made the lake famous. But in the winter, the cold temperatures completely freeze the lake over and it now becomes an ice-skating dream! This is one of the best things to do in Lake Louise in the winter, and it’s completely free if you bring your own skates!

Note: From May until mid-October, you’ll be required to pay $36.75 CAD per vehicle per day to park at Lake Louise Lakefront (2024 updated price). The paid parking is in effect from 3 am until 7 pm daily. 

Where to Stay in Lake Louise:

If you decide you want to stay in Lake Louise, the Hi Lake Louise Alpine Center is the best budget option in Lake Louise Village. The location is right in town, they have a shared kitchen, basic but comfortable rooms, and friendly staff. Plus you have options to book on either Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

For those with a bigger budget, you can’t look past the Fairmont Château Lake Louise. The hotel sits on the shoreline of Lake Louise with epic views in the most stunning of locations. I’ve added spending a night or two here to my personal bucket list!

20. Moraine Lake

blue moraine lake
What a place!

Is there a lake more beautiful and spectacular than Lake Louise? In my opinion, there is, and it’s Moraine Lake!

Moraine Lake is located only a short 15-minute drive from Lake Louise and is a must-visit for anyone touring the Rocky Mountains. This alpine lake might just be the only lake with more color than Lake Louise, and the best part? Its backdrop is the famous 10 Peaks!

These huge mountains tower above the lake provide the ultimate view that’s now famous all around the world.

When you get to Moraine Lake there’s plenty to do and places to explore including visiting the Rock Pile (for that famous view) or walking the Lakeshore Trail for a nice leisurely stroll.

One thing to note is that Moraine Lake is only open from the end of May until mid-October due to avalanche risk in the colder months.

Important: Getting to Moraine Lake can be challenging as the Moraine Lake Road and parking lot closed in 2023 to all personal vehicles (except those with disability parking permits). Read our blog about parking alternatives at Moraine Lake for info on catching the shuttle or taking public transit.

Most people visit by taking a Moraine Lake shuttle either from Banff town itself or from Lake Louise. One of the most popular departures is the Park and Ride from Lake Louise Ski Resort.

The Parks Canada shuttles also only run during select hours so if you want to go early in the morning, you’ll need to be on the first shuttle around 6:30 am. You can also hop on this new shuttle to Moraine Lake that has departures as early as 4 am (and throughout the day for those who like to sleep in!). To me, the sight of Moraine Lake in those early morning hours is one of the most beautiful things to see in Banff.

The alternative to taking a shuttle is going on an organized tour like this one for around $100 CAD from Lake Louise. This way you get dropped off and picked up as well as shown around to the most beautiful spots with an experienced guide! You can also visit Moraine Lake for sunrise by joining this earlybird tour.

The only issue to note with this tour is that it departs from Banff or Calgary so you can’t book a tour from super close by, you would have to do it before or after your road trip.

21. Morant’s Curve

Morant's Curve on the Bow Valley Parkway in Banff National Park
Morant’s Curve in Banff National Park!

This is an excellent stop for a photo in Banff National Park as you make your way toward Calgary. This famous viewpoint is located along a bend in the Bow River where trains typically pass through with a spectacular mountain backdrop.

Morant’s Curve is only a short drive (about 5-7 minutes) along the Bow Valley Parkway after you leave Lake Louise. Keep an eye out for the signs indicating the viewpoint and park across the highway in the small parking lot.

The best photos are when a train is traveling around the bend and framed perfectly in the shot. Your best chance to catch a train is during a weekday – trains typically pass by around once an hour. The curve is named after a photographer (Nicholas Morant) who worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway and this was one of his favorite places to capture. 

22. Johnston Canyon

view of a bridge and waterfall at Johnston Canyon
This is an easy hike, but so beautiful!

Hiking in Johnston Canyon is one of Banff National Park’s most well-known free attractions. The best part about exploring this canyon is that it is open all year! During the summer, you may stroll along the boardwalk close to the turquoise-watered canyon. Two waterfalls can be seen along the route, one 1.7 km (1 mile) from the parking lot and the other 1 km (0.6 miles) farther on.

In the winter, the canyon freezes in several places, making the hike appear like something out of a winter wonderland! Imagine icicles dangling from cliffs and frozen waterfalls — it’s a sight to behold!

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.

The drawback to Johnston Canyon is that it may become quite crowded. It’s so popular that the large parking lot frequently fills up, forcing you to use the public bus!

Note: There will be some closures to vehicle traffic on sections of the Bow Valley Parkway this year (2024). From March 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.

23. Banff Town

The main street at Banff Town on a sunny day
Banff town is so beautiful!

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. Banff is sure to be one of your favorite stops on your road trip between Vancouver and Calgary.

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.

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. Ranked among the best hot springs in Alberta, the mountain views here are incredible! The hot springs are easy to get to and very affordable. At $16.50 CAD per adult and $53 CAD for a family, even those on a tighter budget could still 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 (5 miles) 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 – inside the Cave and Basin Historic Site 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.
  • Indulge in food and drinks – Banff has tons of tasty restaurants and bars. For beer, head to Banff Brewing Co. For a delicious meal with crafted cocktails, head to Parks Distillery. 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!

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.

There are lots of amazing hotels to choose from in Banff town. 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 lots of other places to stay around Banff National Park including Lake Louise and the Bow Valley Parkway.

24. Canmore

Hoodoos with Three Sisters Mountain Range in the background
The Hoodoos are just as much about the views!

Canmore is one of Alberta’s best mountainside tourist towns. But unlike Banff, Jasper, and Lake Louise, Canmore isn’t actually located within one of Canada’s National Parks – making it cheaper and more accessible for everyone.

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.

We’ve been lucky enough to visit Canmore on several occasions. In fact, we also recently lived in Canmore for a couple of months (I know, lucky us!). So, we know all of the best things to do in Canmore and the top tours, which include:

  • Go Skiing – Located about 55 km (34 miles) away from Canmore (a 45-minute drive), Nakiska is a popular ski resort known for its long seasons due to lots of snow. It has 64 trails with four chairlifts and costs $98 CAD for a day pass. Skiing is the most popular activity in the winter in Canmore.
  • 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 $180 CAD but it is an experience you can’t replicate.
  • 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!
  • Hike to Grassi LakesGrassi Lakes is also one of the easiest hikes in Canmore at only 5 kilometers long return (3.1 miles) with only a 125-meter (410 feet) elevation gain. This means it’s family-friendly and suitable for most fitness levels. 
  • 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.

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.

Related Read: There are some really incredible coffee shops in Canmore that you should check out while you’re there!

25. The Kananaskis

Bailey on the Blackshale Suspension Bridge with Mountain views in the Kananaskis
The mountain views are stunning!
Bailey walks into a pool at the Kananaskis Nordic Spa in Alberta, Canada
Kananaskis Nordic Spa!

Take a small detour onto Highway 40 to explore Kananaskis Country. It’s called Alberta’s Mountain Playground, and there’s so much to do. It’s easy to spend a few days exploring the region. It has fewer crowds than Banff, but all the same great outdoor activities!

Stay right in Kananaskis Village so you’re close to everything! The Crosswater Resort at Kananaskis is a great place for families with a large, indoor waterpark. Staying at the resort also gives you priority access to the Kananaskis Nordic Spa. At the spa, their unique hydrotherapy sessions involved going into a series of hot and cold pools, all while enjoying the mountain views.  

The Kananaskis is known for winter fun as it contains the Nakiska Ski Resort – built for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. This means the ski resort has Olympic-sized groomed runs and a state-of-the-art snowmaking system. With its excellent snow coverage, Nakiska is typically the first ski resort to open in the country and the last to close.   

One of my favorite hikes in the Kananaskis area is to Troll Falls. It’s around 3 km (1.9 miles) round-trip with a beautiful waterfall at the end. You can get quite close to the waterfall and even find a large rock shaped like a troll’s head nearby. It’s equally stunning when the waterfall freezes in the winter – just bring ice cleats or spikes as it can get slippery. 

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.

26. Calgary

Calgary Skyline from the sky tower
The view from the sky tower!

You’ve made it to the end of your road trip from Vancouver to Calgary!

Calgary is the largest city in Alberta, and trust me, there are plenty of fun things to do here and excellent tours 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 I recommend this 2-hour city scooter tour. The best part is that it only costs $55 CAD per person which is significantly cheaper than other Calgary city tours. At each stop, you’ll learn some history from your guide.

If you’re into street art and beer you could instead opt for this 3-hour craft beer and street art tour. You will hit the streets and learn the stories behind the artist and art you are seeing while making stops for some local beer samples! What a great way to do two things at once!

Related Read: Want to continue on another epic road trip? Consider the drive from Calgary to Jasper!

Where to Stay in Calgary

Calgary City in winter
Calgary city skyline view over the Centre Street bridge during a snowy winter day

If you’re spending more than one day in Calgary, then you’ll need somewhere to stay. Luckily, Calgary is a large city, so there are plenty of places to stay within the city. The trick is to pick a hotel with a great location depending on the activities you plan on doing.

For example, staying downtown is perfect for most visitors, however, those wanting to spend more time exploring the Kananaskis, Banff, or Canmore should stay on the westside of 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. There are cheaper places to stay in Calgary but this place is great value for money and can be booked on either Hostelworld.com or Booking.com which is handy.

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. The rooms are beautiful, breakfast is included, and they even have a fitness center. On top of that, the hotel’s location is perfect.

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

If you’re looking for a place in west Calgary Along River Ridge Bed & Breakfast is my choice. Located along the Bow River but also not far from Highway 1, the hotel will save you 15 minutes each way on adventures west. However, you’re still close enough to easily explore Calgary. It’s a small bed and breakfast with amazing reviews!

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.

Essential Info About the Drive from Vancouver to Calgary

Mountain highway on Duffey Lake Rd near Lillooet
Epic road trips begin with great places to stop!
  • There are numerous routes you can take, however this guide presesnts stops along the most interesting one. Taking this route, the drive from Vancouver to Calgary is about a 11 1/2 hour drive and around 1,040 km (646 miles).
  • Keep your eyes peeled for animals at all times of year when driving along this highway – especially in the early morning and evening hours. I suggest driving the route during the day if possible, so you can really take in all of the scenery.
  • If you do this drive in the winter be sure to check road conditions before you leave. Winter or all-season tires on the car are a must. There are plenty of places to stay along this route if you have to book a last-minute hotel due to changing weather conditions.  
  • Get a Parks Pass for the various national parks and a Conservation Pass for the Kananaskis area. Both are needed if you plan on entering the parks (you won’t need the Conservation Pass if you just plan on driving through). The Parks Pass starts at $10.50 CAD per day, and the Conservation Pass is $15 CAD per vehicle.
  • The Discovery Pass is another option if you plan to visit multiple national parks. It costs $72.25 CAD and gives you unlimited visits for a year ($145.25 CAD for a group of people in one vehicle.) You need to purchase this online ahead of time and it will be mailed to you.
  • From 8 pm to 8 am from March 1 through June 25 travel of any kind is banned on a small section of the Bow Valley Parkway. Be sure to keep that in mind when planning your timing and route in that area.
  • Bring a camera! This road trip provides some of the best views and places in the Rocky Mountains. It’s an epic trip, you’ll want to capture the memories you make on the way.    

Renting a Car in British Columbia

A rural road with Mt Currie in the background
Road trips are the best way to explore Canada!

If you’re arriving in British Columbia via plane, then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. British Columbia is a large province, and traveling between the best places to visit in BC requires transport. Although you can use public transport on some occasions, this means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.

Car rental in Canada isn’t relatively cheap, but it’s not that expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pick-up and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though, depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Discover Cars. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used Discover Cars all over the world, including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia. Read my honest review of Discover Cars here for more details!

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!

Bailey and Daniel Take a selfie in Canmore, Alberta on the Bow River
Thanks for reading!

Driving from Vancouver to Calgary is such a fun road trip! I dare say it’s among my favorites of all the epic road trips that start from Vancouver. You’ll experience some of the best hikes, lakes, and cities that Canada has to offer. Enjoy taking your time at each of these stops on the drive from Vancouver to Calgary!

Let me know the stop that you’re most excited about! I hope you feel prepared and ready to embark on this awesome trip. If there’s anything I missed, feel free to reach out. Be sure to check out some of our other Canada posts:

Icefields Parkway Itinerary

Things to do in Golden in Winter

Fun and Exciting Things to do in Lethbridge, Alberta

Mary Ann

Friday 21st of October 2022

Thank you so much for all the info. I was just wondering, did I miss how long your trip was? We're wondering how many overnight stops we can should make once we leave a 3 night stay in Vancouver before heading for Calgary. We plan a 15 day trip in the summer.

Mary Ann

Friday 21st of October 2022

@destinationlesstravel, Thank you.....I was actually just looking at some of those trips.

destinationlesstravel

Friday 21st of October 2022

Hey Mary,

I leave out the trip length, and these stops are based on years of driving this route. Everyone has different amounts of time, so I give the stops I love, and people can then choose what they really want to see and go from there. 15 days sounds epic. Be sure to check out some of our other road trip blogs on this route. We basically break down the small journeys with other stops.

Thanks Daniel