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Edmonton is the second-largest city in Alberta and Vancouver is the largest city in neighboring B.C. and so, as you can imagine, driving between these two cities is an extremely popular road-trip option for both Canadians and visitors to Canada.
Planning a Vancouver to Edmonton road trip is a great way to enjoy the contrasts of both cities – the first is Vancouver, a vibrant, coastal city known for its great hikes and awesome food scene. The second is Alberta, an inland city located on the North Saskatchewan River which is known for its stunning River Valley and the huge West Edmonton Mall (which is home to over 800 stores!)
Thankfully the long 12-hour drive between these two cities is filled with some unique stops like hot springs, waterfalls, historic tunnels, and even a river safari experience to see grizzly bears. As well as that, there are some larger towns like Kamloops and Jasper dotted along the route that are home to some great restaurant and accommodation options. In fact, I highly recommend adding a night in both Kamloops and Jasper to your itinerary!
In this blog, I list 21 of the best places to stop on the drive from Vancouver to Edmonton (or Edmonton to Vancouver!) I’ve included some other important tips for this road trip so that after you’re done reading it, you’ll be ready to hit the road.
Choosing your Route from Vancouver to Edmonton (or Edmonton to Vancouver)
There are a few different routes you can choose from when driving from Vancouver to Edmonton. The first and most popular option is the 1,160-kilometer (720-mile) route which takes you via Kamloops and Jasper National Park. This drive follows along the Trans-Canada Highway for the majority of the route, which is a main highway and easy to drive. This is also the quickest route!
If you were to drive this particular route without stopping it would take you 12 hours and 15 minutes, however, I definitely don’t recommend that. There are just so many epic stops between Vancouver and Edmonton that I recommend allowing at least 3 full days to complete it – spending the night at a town or two of your choosing along the way!
Another popular route to get you from Vancouver to Edmonton is to drive via Banff, which is 1,263 kilometers (785 miles) and will take 13.5 hours to complete without stops. In my opinion, it’s not as scenic as the route via Jasper National Park so I would only recommend this route if you REALLY want to visit Banff. There are lots of fun things to do in Banff, but simply passing through will not let you take it all in.
For an even longer, more scenic road trip, consider driving from Vancouver to Banff first. Then, tackle the beautiful Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper. From Jasper, make your way back to Edmonton. This route is amazing, but it is significantly longer at 1500 km (932 miles). I only recommend it for those who have a couple of weeks to explore.
For the purpose of this blog, I’ve chosen to focus on the most direct route (and most popular) via Kamloops and Jasper. You can read about all of the epic places to stop on this drive below.
Tips for Driving from Vancouver to Edmonton
This can be a busy drive (it’s just so scenic), especially on weekends during the summer and winter seasons. Also, if you plan to drive either of the routes I’ve mentioned here in winter be sure to check road conditions before you depart as the roads can be icy in and around Jasper National Park. Winter tires are a must if driving here in the winter. Also worth noting, is that wildlife is abundant in Jasper National Park so be prepared that a moose, elk, or even a bear may appear on the road in front of you!
Because you will be driving through Jasper National Park on this route, you will need to purchase a Park Pass to stop in the park (which you’ll want to do.) A daily pass is $10.50 CAD per adult, but if you’re planning a longer stay (or will visit multiple national parks this year), get a Discovery Pass. These are around $72.25 CAD per adult and give you unlimited entry to all national parks for 12 months.
BEST Stops on the Road Trip from Vancouver to Edmonton
It’s essential that you take some time to explore Vancouver before departing on your road trip to Edmonton. Vancouver is, after all, known as one of Canada’s most vibrant cities and it attracts adventure enthusiasts, outdoor lovers, and foodies from all over the globe.
Being a Canadian myself, I have been to Vancouver numerous times and so I have come up with a must-do list for your time in Vancouver. Also, worth noting is that Vancouver is considered an expensive destination, but that’s not to say it can’t be enjoyed on a budget, in fact, there are heaps of awesome free things to do in Vancouver!
First up is a hike through Lighthouse Park in North Vancouver, which is incredibly scenic and offers the chance to see some of the largest Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir Trees in Canada! It’s just a 10-minute walk to the lighthouse and as such, is considered one of the best easy hikes in Vancouver.
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! This is one of the top Stanley Park tours and costs $133 CAD for 4 hours which is plenty of time to cover many more areas including historic and modern neighborhoods.
In my opinion, no trip to Vancouver is complete without checking out Granville Island – it’s a small island which you can drive to or catch a ferry from downtown Vancouver Island. On Granville Island, there are lots of things to do, I especially love visiting the huge indoor market here – which is especially popular with local Vancouverites.
For one of the best Granville Island experiences, you can book a guided tour of the market for a true insight into the different stalls! Other things to do here include shopping, watching street performers, going to the Kids Markets, or even checking out the brewery.
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, the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park 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 a budget hostel perfect for backpackers. The location is in the heart of Gastown and is close to lots of bars and restaurants and attached to the hostel is a very lively bar. The rooms are clean but the bathrooms are a little cramped.
For something a bit nicer, you can’t go wrong with the Times Square Suites which is close to Stanley Park. It is a good mix of being affordable as well as having amenities that a nice hotel would have.
For true luxury, the Hyatt Regency Vancouver is a trusted chain that is sure to add to your visit to Vancouver!
There are literally hundreds of places to stay in Vancouver. Read our blog about where to stay in Vancouver for more info about the best areas to base yourself and the top-rated hotels.
About 100 km (62 mi) east of Vancouver is the small city of Chilliwack, nestled in the scenic Fraser Valley. It’s the perfect first stop on your drive from Vancouver to Edmonton, with many of the activities here involving the great outdoors.
Not far from Chilliwack, there are lots of farms that you can visit like Klasassen Farms which is renowned for its delicious blueberries! You can buy pre-picked berries here, or if you have time, pick your own blueberries. They also sell yummy blueberry ice cream, which I loved!
If you plan to drive through the area in spring, you must stop at BC’s only Tulip Festival which is held in April every year at Chillwack Tulips. There are over 6 million different flowers on display here, so, bring your camera because you’re sure to get some awesome photos.
Downtown Chilliwack has a few boutique stores, as well as highly-recommended restaurants and bars like the casual Bubba’s Big Bites 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.
3. Harrison Hot Springs
Named after the famous hot springs in town, Harrison Hot Springs has plenty of fun activities on offer! Here, 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 just like past famous guests including Michael Bublé, Liam Neeson, Clark Gable, and John Wayne. A bonus to staying here is that you can try out the famous hot springs for free. There are five different hot mineral springs pools on-site 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 a public hot springs pool in the middle of 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.
Finish your time in Harrison Hot Springs 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!
Worth noting, it’s a 20-minute detour off the highway to get to Harrison Hot Springs!
The small town of Hope is the next stop on your road trip. Although small in size, there are plenty of fun things to do in and around Hope.
Hope has an unusual nickname – it’s known as the ‘Chainsaw Capital of the World’ thanks to an International Chainsaw Carving Competition that is held here every year. In fact, you’re likely to see lots of unique wooden sculptures dotted throughout the town during your time in Hope!
In town, be sure to visit the Christ Church National Historic Site. Built in 1861, it is the oldest church on the BC mainland. You can do a guided tour of the Church during the summer months.
There are also plenty of unique artisan stores, cafes, and restaurants in Hope to refuel before continuing on your road trip. One of my favorite places to stop in for food and drinks is Mountainview Brewing Co. on the Old Hope Princeton Highway, which is the first craft beer brewery in town!
They serve up some yummy snacks and sandwiches as well as exceptional beers which are brewed in Hope with fresh mountain water! Taste the Dark Side of Town” a classic dark German lager or “Main Squeeze” a sour ale brewed with organic peaches and plums. Grab your beers to go to enjoy once you’re done with your drive.
Outside of town – Kawkawa Lake is a nice spot to swim during the summer as the water is surprisingly warm for a glacier-fed lake. At all times of the year, it’s a popular spot with locals for waterskiing and stand-up paddleboarding. There’s also a beach, picnic area, and dock.
Bridal Veil Falls, a 30 km (19 mi) drive from Hope (on your drive to Hope from Vancouver) is the perfect place to stretch your legs on a short hike. From the parking lot, it will take just 15 minutes to reach the Bridal Veil Falls waterfall – which is the sixth-largest waterfall in Canada!
Think about spending the night in Hope because it has some great bed and breakfasts and hotels. Nestled high up on Thacker Mountain, the High Hopes Bed and Breakfast boasts guest rooms with private balconies. The nightly rate also includes a homemade breakfast that is quite delicious!
5. Othello Tunnels
Othello Tunnels is a must-stop on the drive from Vancouver to Edmonton, these epic tunnels are located a 12-minute drive east of Hope in Coquihalla Provincial Park.
The abandoned train tunnels and bridges were built back in 1914 by blasting through solid granite. The Canadian Pacific Railway needed a route to connect the Kootenay Region with the coast of BC and built the railway over three mountain ranges. It was considered one of the world’s greatest engineering feats at that time.
It’s free to explore the tunnels and is a fun adventure for the whole family. The tunnels start only 10 minutes from the parking lot and it takes about 20 minutes to walk through all five of them. It does get quite dark in some parts, so bring a flashlight (or your phone) as you wander through.
The scenery around the tunnels on the trail is beautiful too with the Coquihalla River, so make sure to have your camera on hand. This area has even appeared in several movies – look for the cliff above Tunnel #2 where the cliff jump scene was filmed for Rambo: First Blood.
Merritt has lots of hiking and biking trails and so is an essential stop for keen hikers and bikers. There are several main biking areas in the town including Swakum Mountain, Coutlee Plateau, Iron Mountain, and Sugarloaf Mountain. As well as that, the Rotary Bike Park in town (which was recently updated in 2016) is a great place to test your biking skills.
As for hiking, 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 will 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 a great hike if you want to see wildlife like moose, deer, and grouse.
This stop is a large city and so you’ll be spoiled for choice with loads of great things to do in Kamloops. To really enjoy all that Kamloops I’d really advise you to spend at least a night or two here.
Should you stop here on your drive from Vancouver to Edmonton in the winter be sure to try out downhill skiing or snowshoeing.
My personal favorite ski resort is Sun Peaks because it gets a lot of snow (about 6 meters (20 feet) of snow every year). It is 45 minutes outside of Kamloops but worth it if skiing is a priority to you!
In the summer, take advantage of the long hot summer days and go hiking or paddling on the nearby lakes and rivers. 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 to see old stone train bridges and tunnels, rock bluffs, and even an eagle’s nest…if you’re lucky!
The hiking opportunities in Kamloops are also endless. You can explore wide-open grasslands, ponderosa pine forests, sandstone canyons, and steep valleys. Try the Kenna Cartwright Nature Park with 40 km (25 miles) of trails. It has breathtaking views of Kamloops and the Thompson Valley and several beaches and picnic areas. Head out at sunset or sunrise for a particularly beautiful view.
Speaking of Thompson Valley, there are four boutique wineries in this area. Make sure to visit at least one while you’re here! I love spending an afternoon at a winery to relax, sip great wine, and treasure the view. A couple of my favorites are Monte Creek Winery and Harper’s Trail Estate Winery.
For the whole family, the opportunity to see wild animals up close at the BC Wildlife Park is a popular experience. 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 $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.
Clearwater is an outdoor lover’s paradise best known for its abundant waterfalls, rivers, and forests!
One of the most popular things to do in Clearwater is to book a whitewater rafting tour in the Clearwater River, it’s a great way to get the adrenalin pumping as the river is full of rapids and churning waves.
All safety equipment is included and your experienced guide is on-hand to assist at all times. If you book on this tour in spring or early summer your guide will take you to Candle Creek Falls, where you can walk behind a waterfall and jump off a 25-foot cliff if you’re feeling brave! This experience costs $131 CAD and lasts 3 hours.
Every Saturday morning from May until October, the Clearwater Farmers Market has the town buzzing with people. Located next to the Dutch Lake Community Center, you can buy everything from groceries to local coffee and handmade souvenirs here.
As for restaurants in Clearwater, you’re spoiled for choice – the Wild Flour Cafe and Bakery on Clearwater Valley Road serves up delicious homemade breads and cakes. Or if you’re after something more substantial, head to Hop “N” Hog for a true Canadian smokehouse experience. Try their birch-smoked beef that’s smoked for hours! They also have a large selection of beers on tap, including local craft beer.
9. Wells Gray Provincial Park
This is a bit of a detour off of Highway 5 on your way to Edmonton, but honestly, it’s totally worth it. To us, it’s one of the top stops on any road trip to BC and Alberta! Wells Gray Provincial Park is known as the “Waterfall Park” with DOZENS of spectacular waterfalls, stunning glacier-fed lakes, mountains, and forest for a truly special escape into nature. It’s easy to see why it’s one of the best places to visit in BC.
From Clearwater, the main park access is a 68-kilometer (42 miles) paved road known as the Wells Gray Corridor or the Clearwater Valley Road. Depending on where you’re coming from, there are also park entrances off Highway 97 at 100 Mile House or off Highway 5 at Blue River.
There are 41 named waterfalls here and many others tucked into the surrounding forest. The incredible landscape in the park was formed by ancient volcanoes and slow-moving glaciers that created rivers and lakes that supply the waterfalls. One of my favorite parts of discovering the waterfalls here is that moment when you hear the roar of the falls just before it comes into view, and you know you’re in for an incredible sight!
If you don’t have days to explore the park, these are the waterfalls you absolutely can’t miss out on seeing. These three are all just off the Clearwater Valley Road and each only a few minutes away from the parking area:
- Spahats Creek Falls – This is one of the most dramatic waterfalls in the park, with a 61-meter (250 feet) straight drop and water cascading down from a break in the rocks.
- Dawson Falls – This wide waterfall stretches 90 meters (295 feet) across and tumbles down into the Murtle River. There are two different viewpoints on the trail here – the first when it comes into view and then keep walking to get a different perspective at the top of the falls.
- Helmcken Falls – This is truly the centerpiece of the park! Helmcken Falls is the fourth largest waterfall in Canada, with water crashing down an impressive 295-meter (462 feet) drop. The viewing platform here juts out over the canyon, giving an almost panoramic view.
10. Blue River
Blue River is a cute town worth a stop on this road trip. It is home to Murtle Lake, which at 100 square kilometers (39 square miles) is the largest lake in North America not to allow motorized boats – only paddle boats or kayaks/ canoes are allowed here. It’s a popular spot in the summer months to fish for rainbow trout. If you want to swim head over to nearby Eleanor Lake, which has a sandy beach and children’s playground.
In the winter, Blue River is a popular backcountry skiing destination thanks to its 1.2 million acres of untouched skiable terrain across two mountain ranges. Adding to that – up to 9.7 meters (32 feet) of powder and you’ve got yourself one of the most unique places to ski in BC. You can book a range of heli-skiing tours from the town, but previous skiing experience is necessary as some of the runs are very steep.
A great place to see wild bears is at Blue River Pine Provincial Park, which grows lots of wild berries during the summer which attracts black bears. The park is set amount a dry lodgepole pine forest, which is rare for this area.
As for places to stay in Blue River, there are lots of campgrounds in the parks nearby, or check into the Blue River Campground and RV Park in the heart of the town.
For something not more comfortable the Glacier Mountain Lodge is located off Highway 5 and is a European-style mountain lodge hotel with an indoor hot tub.
11. River Safari
River Safari is a fun experience located just north of Blue River off of Highway 5 on your way towards Edmonton – look for the giant bear and billboard at the main entrance.
These trips explore the only inland temperate rainforest in the world via boat or jeep. The tours cover up to 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) of Grizzly Bear Valley to see the incredible scenery and wildlife (including bears!) that call this place home.
Boats run every 60 minutes during their season that starts in May, and while you can purchase tickets online in advance, you’re welcome to just show up with no reservation.
In the summer, finish off your experience with River Safari’s floating restaurant, The Forest Table. It’s on a large, floating dock overlooking the river with live edge giant tables and solid wood carved seating. All the dishes are prepared fresh and feature local ingredients.
A small town with a small population of just 1,000 people, you’ll be surprised at just how many epic activities are on offer in Valemount. One of the most popular activities here is to hit the 45 biking trails at Valemount Bike Park, which is suitable for all skill levels. FYI – you can rent a bike from Bikes & Bites on Main Street.
The lakes surrounding the town like Yellowhead Lake and Kinbasket Lake are good places to go fishing for rainbow trout. Worth noting is you need to purchase a BC fishing license before fishing here, they cost $20 CAD for a one-day pass.
If you’re a winter-lover (like me), you may be excited to learn that there’s a new ski resort earmarked for the area – which will have one of the steepest vertical drops in North America.
As well as that there’s backcountry snowmobiling available and ice-skating on Cranberry Marsh. Access the marsh from the McKirdy Road parking lot to access the part of the pond where the skating happens. Or go for an expert tour like this one from Alpine Country Rentals.
In town, be sure to check out the Valemount Museum, admission is by donation. It is located inside a historic railway station and has some interesting displays on local war heroes, Japanese Internment camps, and there’s even a replica of a trapper’s cabin in the basement!
As a craft beer-lover, I always pop into Three Ranges Brewing when I’m in town. They have over 10 craft beers on tap here; I love the Trail Slap IPA! Plus, there’s a lovely outdoor seating area for those sunny days. Another must-visit in town is the Valemount Swiss Bakery on Main Street; their displays of freshly-baked pastries and sourdough bread are mouth-watering. They also make excellent coffee!
As for accommodation in Valemount, check out the family-run Twin Peaks Resort where you can choose from a log cabin or a larger family home. Some other great options include Mica Mountain Lodge & Log Cabins and Canadas Best Value Inn, which is located on the main highway into town.
13. Rearguard Falls
As you leave Valemount and make your way toward Jasper you’ll pass a parking lot on the side of the road where you can access the stunning Rearguard Falls. It’s located a 20-minute drive from Valemount and is without a doubt one of the most interesting places to visit on your road trip from Vancouver to Edmonton.
Rearguard Falls Provincial Park was set up to protect the furthest salmon spawning area up the Fraser River around 1,260 kilometers (783 miles) from the east coast of Canada.
If you’re here in August you might be lucky enough to see salmon making their last jump up Rearguard Falls and finally into their spawning area. It’s such an interesting sight to see – they must be so relieved to get there!
14. Mount Robson Provincial Park Visitor Centre
Home of the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies (Mount Robson is a whopping 3,954 meters/12,989 feet!) the Provincial Park that surrounds it is a great place to go hiking.
The Berg Lake Trail is one of the most popular in the park, but it is a long one at 41.5 kilometers (26 miles) – you can do it in one day or turn it into a multi-day hike and stay at one of the campsites dotted along the trail. This hike is busy because it offers the chance to see Berg Glacier, Berg Lake, as well as the Valley of a Thousand Emperor Falls.
An easier option is the 4.5-kilometer (2.8 miles) Kinney Lake Trail, which follows along the Robson River to Kinney Lake. It’s a great trail for wildlife spotting with deer, elk, and even bears can be seen along the way. This trail should take approximately 2.5 hours to complete.
For a truly bucket-list experience, why not consider booking a helicopter tour to Berg Lake. Along the short 25-minute ride you will be treated to views of Kinney Lake, Valley of a Thousand Falls, plus the Mist and Berg Lake Glaciers. This experience is available to be booked with Robson HeliMagic and costs $995 CAD for an entire private helicopter that holds up to 4 people.
If you’re short on time, just stop in for a caffeine fix or a snack at the Visitor Center here. There’s a huge outdoor deck that offers jaw-dropping views of Mount Robson. TIP – There’s no cell service in Mount Robson Provincial Park, so use the WiFi at the Visitor Center or the public telephones here if you need to.
If you fancy spending the night surrounded by some of the best scenery in Canada, luckily for you, there are 180 vehicle-accessible campsites in Mount Robson Provincial Park that can be booked for stays from May to September. It’s essential to book in advance, however, there are a few first-come-first-served sites should you make a last-minute decision to spend the night.
2023 Update: Berg Lake Trail is currently closed due to flooding that damaged the trail in 2021. A portion of the trail to the Kinney Lake Campground will reopen in 2023. Check for updates here before you go!
Jasper is truly one of the most beautiful towns in Canada. It is often compared to the nearby town of Banff, but Jasper has a small-town charm and is nowhere near as busy as its uber-touristy neighbor. Plus, despite Jasper being a small town, there are so many different activities to try that you definitely won’t get bored! In fact, my favorite time to visit is in December when the town is often covered in snow and is especially pretty.
Connaught Street is the busiest street in town and is a lot of fun to wander around. You’ll probably notice the big train here and the historic train station behind it that is still used today. Stop at some of the unique shops along this stretch of road to pick up souvenirs or grab a bite to eat. I love having supper at the rooftop patio at Jasper Pizza Place. The views are incredible (especially at sunset) and the pizza is delicious!
The SkyTram is a popular experience in Jasper as it offers incredible views of Whistlers Mountain at the top and on the tram ride up. At the summit, there’s a gift stop and a restaurant with some pretty epic views. Worth noting is that visiting the Jasper SkyTram is only possible from April through to October – one of those “summer-only” activities in Jasper.
Whitewater rafting is also another notable summertime activity. Not only will it be refreshing and thrilling but it’s also a great way to enjoy the scenery and bond with your fellow travelers.
There are many different types of tours that work for all types of preferences. There’s a family-friendly tour on less intense rapids, a budget-friendly rafting tour on moderate rapids, and even an extreme rafting tour for those who dare!
Keeping with the trend of outdoor activities available from Jasper, the top of my list when I visit is always Maligne Lake. It is a stunning turquoise-blue lake surrounded by mountain peaks, pine trees, and glaciers (pictured above). It’s like a photograph come to life and one of the best places to visit in Alberta!
I recommend taking the famous Maligne Lake Cruise that showcases the beauty of the lake including the spectacular Spirit Island that is one of the most photographed places in Jasper National Park. There’s so much to do at Maligne Lake, set aside a day or at least a few hours to explore here.
Not forgetting, Athabasca Falls is another favorite stop of mine in Jasper. The popular trail starts about 30 minutes from Jasper town on the Icefields Parkway, and, it’s only one kilometer long. The scenery along the hike is impressive, but the falls themselves are next level.
Near the falls you can conveniently take a guided tour like this one in a specially adapted vehicle that will take you out onto the Athabasca Glacier for an up-close look! It costs $104 CAD and books out quickly due to its popularity.
Where to stay in Jasper:
There actually aren’t that many hotels to choose from in Jasper, therefore it’s important to book your stay as far in advance as possible!
Whistler’s Inn is perfect for a comfortable stay for a moderate price that is within walking distance of the bars and restaurants in town. It even has a rooftop hot tub with epic views!
If you want something even more luxurious the Pyramid Lake Resort is set in the most beautiful and private location on the lake. Perfect for those romantic getaways or if you’re honeymooning in Jasper!
16. Jasper Lake Sand Dunes
Did you know that Jasper National Park is home to the only sand dune in the Canadian Rockies? As you leave Jasper town and make your way towards Edmonton you can see these unique dunes for yourself.
The Jasper Lake Sand Dunes were formed during the last ice age and have been re-shaped by wind and water over time to what they are today. These huge sand dunes are located on the northwest side of Jasper Lake, sandwiched between two lakes – Jasper Lake and Talbot Lake. The sand dunes are also home to an abundance of wildlife like moose, elk, and raptors.
The walk to the sand dunes starts off Highway 8 and it’s an easy 30-minute walk. Most tourists come here to wade out into the lake because the lake is so wide the water depth is just a few feet so you can walk for quite a while into the lake itself. With that said, it’s freezing cold, so most people only last a few minutes.
17. Miette Hot Springs
This is the perfect road trip stop to relax and take a much-needed break from driving at the hottest natural springs in Canada! The water flows from the mountains at a balmy 54°C (129°F) and has to be cooled down for the hot springs pool to a more comfortable 40°C (104°F).
The Miette Hot Springs has four different pools – two hot and two cold – to relax and enjoy the natural mineral water. Soak in the mountain views and you might even spot some wildlife while you’re swimming!
It costs less $16.50 CAD per person to swim here and there are locker and shower facilities with changing rooms. It can get busy here, so avoid the crowds by coming here in the morning. Staying at the nearby Miette Mountain Cabins will make getting there early easier.
It is also important to note that Miette Hot Springs is a bit of a detour from the highway to Edmonton. You’ll need to drive for a few minutes on Miette Road to reach the springs, but the short detour is totally worth it to experience one of Alberta’s best hot springs.
Note: Miette Hot Springs are typically only open from May to September.
18. Folding Mountain Brewery
Conveniently located on the edge of Jasper National Park, Folding Mountain Brewery is one of my favorite stops for a drink in Alberta! They have a patio where you can take in the views whilst enjoying a cold beer, or if you’re visiting in the colder months, they have an indoor tasting room that also has lovely views.
My top recommendations on what to drink here are the Folding Mountain Lager or the Moraine West Coast IPA, both of which are brewed with fresh water from the nearby Rocky Mountains (in fact, all their beers are!) If you’re hungry, they offer appetizers and some delicious sandwiches.
If you wish, you can spend the night at the on-site Overlander Mountain Lodge which is an ideal option if you plan to have a few beers! This way, you can enjoy the brewery and wake up fresh after a comfortable night’s sleep and continue on your journey to Edmonton.
Hinton is known as the “Gateway to the Rockies” thanks to its close proximity to the famed mountain range. As you can imagine with a nickname like that, the scenery from the town is pretty amazing!
Hinton itself is a fun little place to pop into with good spots to fill up on gas or grab a bite to eat. My top recommendation is to check out the “Beaver Boardwalk”. This 3-kilometer (1.8 mile) wooden boardwalk surrounds Maxwell Lake and is the longest freshwater boardwalk in the world!
The boardwalk takes you through marshlands and lets you get close to the active beaver dam and lodge – sometimes there are as many as a dozen beavers hard at work! The best time to see beavers here is in the early morning or evening and you might also spot deer, birds, and butterflies.
In the winter, take tobogganing to a whole new level by going luge sledding. The Hinton Luge Association has a huge 950-meter (3,100 feet) groomed snow track! You can book a lesson here so you’re prepared for the fast ride down!
Bring a helmet (if you have one) and winter clothing. It’s a 20-minute walk up the hill where lessons start, so arrive early. Spots can be booked by calling them directly at 780-865-2922 or emailing email@example.com.
For a coffee break in Hinton, I recommend The Old Grind. This café has excellent coffee with all the coffee beans from Rocky Mountain Roasters in Jasper. Pair it with a homemade goody like one of their raspberry white chocolate scones, cinnamon buns, or a slice of signature cherry cheesecake – yum!!
20. Spruce Grove
I was lucky enough to call Spruce Grove home for several years. Now, I will admit there aren’t a whole lot of activities available in this small city but there are tons of awesome restaurants! Seriously, if you’re a foodie you will love Spruce Grove!
For the best burgers in Alberta, stop into Broadway and Grand, their patties are so good because they ground the beef every day. I love the B&G Burger which comes with double-smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, and caramelized onions served with a side of delicious truffle fries.
Another very popular spot in Spruce Grove is Wilhauk Beef Jerky, which is considered by many to be the best beef jerky in Canada. In fact, people drive from all over Alberta just to buy it!
Congratulations, you’ve reached your final stop! Edmonton is a large city (the second largest in Alberta, behind Calgary) and has a population of 1.1 million people. It’s a popular destination year-round, but I personally love visiting Edmonton in the winter because although it can be cold (average temperatures in winter are 23 Fahrenheit or -5 Celsius) it’s still sunny. In fact, Edmonton is known as Canada’s “Sunshine City” with more hours of sun than any other major Canadian city!
The West Edmonton Mall is a huge draw for tourists, it’s the second-largest mall in North America and is home to over 800 stores. There are even attractions like a water park, indoor skating rink, roller coasters, two hotels, and numerous restaurants here. While shopping until you drop is fun, check out this list of ideas for all the things you can do in West Edmonton Mall besides shopping!
One of my favorite things to do in Edmonton is to explore the scenic River Valley, which is huge at 22 times the size of Central Park in New York! It’s a great place to visit no matter the season as there are over 150 kilometers (93 miles) of trails ideal for hiking in the summer. And in the winter, many of these trails are cleared for cross-country skiing.
A cool tour option here is this 90-minute segway adventure which allows you to tour this massive park on a segway vehicle! Make sure to check out one of my favorite spots to see the city skyline with a walk over the Walterdale Bridge! You can even explore the river in the summer with a relaxing cruise or a fun speedboat ride around the islands with Black Gold River Tours.
Don’t forget to check out Edmonton’s Neon Sign Museum! This is a great night-time activity as all the signs light up 104 street on the east side of the TELUS building and the south side of Mercer Warehouse. There are more than 20 neon signs that have been restored and showcase some of the well-known businesses of Edmonton’s past. I like grabbing a drink across the street at Mercer Tavern to have a great view of the signs.
There are also plenty of amazing restaurants in Edmonton too. This big city is a major foodie destination, and you’ll be treated to plenty of top-rated restaurants. Jasper Ave and Whyte Ave are both areas featuring many trendy restaurants, bars, and cafes.
Check out all the awesome tours available in Edmonton here!
Alternative Route from Vancouver to Edmonton via Banff
Another common way to drive from Vancouver to Edmonton is to drive the Trans-Canada Highway via Banff. This drive is 1,263 kilometers (785 miles) and will take 13.5 hours to complete without stops.
The route follows the same road from Vancouver to Kamloops as my recommended route which I’ve detailed above but not long after Kamloops continues onto Salmon Arm and Golden before taking you into Banff. From Banff, it’s a short 1.5 hours into the major city of Calgary (the largest in Alberta) – as you can imagine traffic in such a big city can be bad so be prepared for delays. From Calgary, it’s a further 3-hour drive to Edmonton.
Where to Stay in Edmonton
There are tons of different hotels to choose from spread across Edmonton. My best advice is to choose one in a location that’s closest to all of the activities you want to do.
Many hotels are located on the west side of the city near West Edmonton Mall. This is a great area to stay if you want to explore all that the mall has to offer. Stay in one of Fantasyland Hotel’s gorgeous theme rooms for something really special. You can choose between family-friendly rooms like the Princess one above, or for couples, opt for the more Romantic Roman Room or Hollywood Room.
If you’re on a budget, opt for the West Edmonton Mall Inn that’s located just across the street. The rooms here are comfortable and the location couldn’t be better for enjoying the mall with ease. Plus, they have pet-friendly rooms for anybody traveling with fur babies.
For another, more budget-friendly option in the same area, check out the Coast Edmonton Plaza Hotel. It is a well-rated hotel that has everything you’ll need for a comfortable stay. At only around $100 CAD a night, you can’t go wrong!
Staying downtown is perfect for anybody who wants a central stay with easy access to most of the activities and attractions in this blog. To be right near Rogers Place and Jasper Ave, stay at the luxurious JW Marriott. This is one of the nicest hotels in Edmonton and it’s simply stunning. They also have an indoor pool and hot tub.
Parks Canada Pass Quick Info
If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Kootenay, and more) then you’re going to have to pay for a Parks Pass.
Single Daily Admission:
This type of pass is valid for one person for one day. It is ONLY the best value if you are traveling alone and only plan to visit a national park for a couple of days.
- Adult (ages 18-64) is $10.50 CAD
- Senior (65+) is $9.00 CAD
- Youth/Child (17 or younger) is FREE
Group Daily Admission:
If you’re traveling in a group or with family, you can buy a single-day admission for your entire vehicle (up to 7 people in one vehicle.)
- $21.00 CAD gets your entire vehicle entry for one full day
Parks Canada Discovery Pass
The “Discovery Pass” is what Parks Canada calls their year-long (365 days from the purchase date), multi-park entry pass. This pass will give 365 days of access to all participating national parks in Canada. This includes the most popular parks like Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and so much more.
- Adult (age 18-64) – $72.25 CAD
- Senior (64+) – $61.75 CAD
- Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $145.25 CAD
Hot Tip: Although more expensive up front, if you plan on spending more than 7 days in different parks in Canada within a 12-month period, then the Discovery Pass is actually the better deal!
Parks Canada Passes can be bought online here or at one of the Visitor Centers or booths at the entrance to many national parks.
Renting a Car in British Columbia
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.
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!
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
I hope this blog has helped you prepare for this epic road trip from Vancouver to Edmonton! Both cities and every stop along the way are truly beautiful parts of Canada! And the great thing is that no matter when you choose to complete the drive from Vancouver to Edmonton, there are lots of things to see and do – from scenic hikes, exploring hidden tunnels, and photographing stunning waterfalls. Not forgetting too, all the awesome towns along the drive like Kamloops and Jasper.
Don’t forget to check out some of our other road trip posts before you leave: