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So, you’ve decided to take on the lengthy drive between two of the best (and most-visited) cities in Western Canada. Both Edmonton and Vancouver have a similar vibe in that they’re both naturally beautiful with stunning city parks at their heart. Vancouver has the famous Stanley Park, while Edmonton is home to the massive River Valley, which is a whopping 22 times the size of Central Park in New York.
Both cities also have the “cool factor” and exude a young, hip vibe. So, it’s no surprise that driving between these two large cities is a rite of passage for many young Canadians and overseas visitors.
As I said, it’s a lengthy 12-hour drive between these two cities, but we don’t recommend doing it in one sitting – that would be a real shame! That’s because this bucket-list-worthy road trip will have you passing by some of the best hidden-gem sights in Canada, like Miette Hot Springs, Othello Tunnels, and an awesome river safari that allows you to see grizzly bears in a unique rainforest environment.
Luckily enough, you’ll also pass by some of the most-visited parts of Western Canada, like Kamloops and Jasper, which are home to many fun activities, awesome restaurants, and fantastic hotels. In fact, I highly recommend adding a night in both Kamloops and Jasper to your itinerary!
In this blog post, I highlight 21 of the best places to stop when driving from Edmonton to Vancouver! And I’ve included some essential driving tips so that you’re as prepared as possible for this road trip.
- About the Drive from Edmonton to Vancouver
- The BEST Stops on the Drive from Edmonton to Vancouver
- 1. Edmonton
- 2. Spruce Grove
- 3. Hinton
- 4. Folding Mountain Brewery
- 5. Miette Hot Springs
- 6. Jasper Lake Sand Dunes
- 7. Jasper
- 8. Mount Robson Provincial Park
- 9. Rearguard Falls
- 10. Valemount
- 11. River Safari
- 12. Blue River
- 13. Wells Gray Provincial Park
- 14. Clearwater
- 15. Kamloops
- 16. Merritt
- 17. Othello Tunnels
- 18. Hope
- 19. Harrison Hot Springs
- 20. Chilliwack
- 21. Vancouver
- Where to Stay in Vancouver
- Alternative Route from Edmonton to Vancouver via Banff
- Thanks for reading!
About the Drive from Edmonton to Vancouver
There are several different road trip options that will get you from Edmonton to Vancouver. The most popular (and fastest) route, and the route I’ll focus on in this blog post, is the 1,160-kilometer (720-mile) route which goes via Jasper, Mount Robson Provincial Park, and Kamloops.
Without stopping, this particular road trip will take 12 hours and 15 minutes, but I DEFINITELY don’t recommend doing that as you’ll miss out on so much beauty! In fact, I say to allow at least three full days for this scenic drive. After all, you’ll be passing by some of the wildest and most beautiful parts of Western Canada, like Wells Gray Provincial Park and Jasper National Park. In fact, we’ve heard this route described as “the Canada you imagined,” and we couldn’t agree more!
It’s an easy drive as it follows the Trans-Canada Highway most of the way, so even if you’ve never driven in Canada before, it should be a breeze.
However, I will add that because this is the most popular way to get from Edmonton to Vancouver and vice-versa from Vancouver to Edmonton, it can get very busy on weekends and during the summer. If you plan to do this drive in winter, it’s essential you have winter tires fitted. It can be particularly icy/snowy in Jasper National Park, so check the road conditions and updates before you take off!
I’ve laid out the below itinerary so you’re stopping about every 30 minutes or so, and I’ve also included some great places to stay along the way, which will break up your journey nicely.
Another popular route to get you from Edmonton to Vancouver is driving via Banff, which I’ll touch on at the end of this blog post. This route is a little longer at 1,263 kilometers (785 miles) and will take 13.5 hours to complete without stops. It’s still a beautiful drive but not quite as stunning as the route via Jasper National Park, so only drive this way if visiting Banff is non-negotiable to you.
A much longer, but super-scenic route, will have you driving from Vancouver to Banff first. Then, it’s onto the breathtaking (but a little challenging) Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper. From Jasper, make your way back to Edmonton.
Important Note: 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.
The BEST Stops on the Drive from Edmonton to Vancouver
The bustling and vibrant city of Edmonton is the second largest in Alberta, so it makes for an awesome starting point for your road trip to Vancouver. There’s so much to do in Edmonton that we recommend allowing at least two full days and one night to truly get a feel for this fun city.
As one of the sunniest cities in Canada, with an average of 325 annual sunny days – bad weather likely won’t dampen your vacation here. In fact, would you believe that during the summer, Edmonton gets 17 hours of daylight – making it even easier to pack lots of outdoor activities into your day?
Despite this, winter is the best season to visit Edmonton because although it can be cold (average temperatures in winter -5°C/23°F), it’s still sunny and is so much quieter (and cheaper!).
No matter the season, be sure to hit up the River Valley, a short walk from downtown – it’s a huge park (would you believe it’s 22 times the size of New York’s Central Park!). Here, you’ll find over 150 kilometers (93 miles) of hiking trails, many of which are cleared in the winter for cross-country skiing. Also worth checking out in the River Valley is the Muttart Conservatory, which houses one of the biggest indoor botanical collections in the country.
If you’d prefer to experience the River Valley with a knowledgeable guide, then consider this 90-minute segway adventure, or if you’re visiting in the summer, see the park from the water with either a relaxing cruise or a fun speedboat ride on the river with Black Gold River Tours.
In contrast, a fantastic indoor activity is the West Edmonton Mall or simply the “West Ed,” as locals call it. The second-biggest shopping mall in North America is home to a whopping 800 stores, as well as heaps of cafes and restaurants and two hotels. The mall is best described as a mini city, and there are even attractions in West Edmonton Mall like an indoor skating rink, rollercoasters, and a water park!
Art lovers will love Edmonton’s quirky Neon Sign Museum, the perfect after-dark activity as more than 20 neon signs light up 104 Street on the east side of the TELUS building and the south side of Mercer Warehouse.
With a wide array of amazing restaurants in Edmonton, it’s a foodie traveler’s top choice. If you’re short on time, stick to Jasper Ave and Whyte Ave, as both streets are home to many trendy restaurants and bars.
If you love a highly-rated guided tour (we think it’s the best way to see a new city), check out all the awesome tours available in Edmonton here!
2. Spruce Grove
Spruce Grove was my home for several years, and although this small city, just 11 km (6.8 miles) from Edmonton, is low on things to do, there are heaps of awesome restaurants here, so be sure to visit on an empty stomach.
It’s an excellent pit stop for foodies, especially if you’re a burger fan (who isn’t?!) because the best burgers in the province are served at Broadway and Grand. Known for their fresh patties, which are ground every day, my top choice is their B&G Burger which comes with double-smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, and caramelized onions and comes with a side of delicious truffle fries.
Another super-popular spot in Spruce Grove is Wilhauk Beef Jerky, aka the home of the best beef jerky in the country. Honestly, Albertans travel from far and wide, especially to buy it!
After you’ve filled your belly, stop into the Spruce Grove Grain Elevator Museum, which houses a former Wheat Pool grain elevator. There’s a small museum attached to it that is run by local volunteers.
Nicknamed the “Gateway to the Rockies” because of how close it is to the magnificent Canadian Rockies even if you’re short on time, it’s worth a stop to snap some photos in the scenic town of Hinton! And then grab a takeaway coffee and some delicious baked goods for the road from The Old Grind.
If you have an hour or so to spare, my top pick of things to do in Hinton is to wander along the Beaver Boardwalk, a 3-kilometer (1.8 miles) wooden boardwalk that wraps around Maxwell Lake and is a wildlife haven where you’re likely to spot lots of beavers at the beaver dam and lodge as well as birds, butterflies, and deer. Would you believe this is the longest freshwater boardwalk in the world?
If you plan to visit Hinton in the winter, then why not try out the fun and unique sport of luge sledding and the Hinton Luge Association’s huge 950-meter (3,100 feet) groomed snow track? Your best bet is to book a lesson as it’s quite a speedy ride, which you wouldn’t think!
Wear a helmet and some winter clothing, and you’re good to go. Worth noting is it’s a 20-minute uphill walk to where the lessons start. Book your lesson by phoning 780-865-2922 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Folding Mountain Brewery
After all the driving so far, you’re probably itching for a refreshing, cold beverage. Well, you’re in luck. Folding Mountain Brewery on the edge of Jasper National Park is our next recommended stop!
In the summer, sit on their outdoor patio and take in the views, or during the winter, take a seat in their cozy indoor tasting room, which also offers scenic views.
I love their Moraine West Coast IPA and Folding Mountain Lager, which like all the craft beer made here is brewed with water from the nearby Rockies! If you’re hungry, they offer delicious sandwiches and appetizers.
To break up the journey to Vancouver nicely, why not stay the night at the on-site Overlander Mountain Lodge? Perfect if you want to enjoy a few beers!
5. Miette Hot Springs
Your next road trip stop is the hottest natural springs in Canada. Yep, the water in the pools at Miette Hot Springs is a toasty 40°C (104°F). Only 35 minutes from your previous stop (Folding Mountain Brewery), we reckon craft beer and hot springs are a winning combination! And you’re sure to feel super-relaxed when you leave Miette to hit the road again!
There are four pools at Miette Hot Springs – two hot and two cold – so spend a few hours enjoying each one and taking in the mesmerizing mountain views. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some wildlife from the comfort of your pool!
Entrance costs around $16.50 CAD, and there are showers, lockers, and changing rooms. Avoid the crowds by getting here early, as soon as it opens around 10:30 am if possible. Remember though that Miette Hot Springs are typically only open from May to October.
It is also important to note that Miette Hot Springs is a bit of a detour from the highway to Vancouver. You’ll need to turn off onto Miette Road and drive for a few minutes to reach them, but we assure you that the short detour is totally worth it to experience one of Alberta’s best hot springs.
Top Tip – spend the night at the nearby Miette Mountain Cabins!
6. Jasper Lake Sand Dunes
As you’ll find out, Jasper National Park has plenty of amazing sights, but one of the most unique is the Jasper Lake Sand Dunes – the only sand dunes in the Canadian Rockies. They are especially pretty as they are surrounded by lush green mountains – so photogenic!
These small sand dunes were formed during the last ice age and, over time, have been reshaped by the water in Jasper Lake and by the wind to what you see today. Sandwiched between both Jasper Lake and Talbot Lake, the dunes are home to plenty of wildlife like elk, moose, and raptors.
It’s an easy 30-minute walk to the sand dunes, which starts off Highway 8. But one of the main attractions of this hike is the opportunity to wade into Jasper Lake, which is, in fact, a section of the Athabasca River. This lake is so wide and shallow (just a few feet deep) that you can walk for quite a while into the lake, which is a cool experience (we mean that literally – the water is icy cold even in the summer!). So you’ll likely only be comfortable walking in the lake for a few minutes!
Stopping in Jasper is a no-brainer on the drive from Edmonton to Vancouver. In our opinion, it’s one of the most picturesque towns in Canada. And it’s often compared to its more famous neighbor Banff, but I’ll be honest, we prefer Jasper because it’s less crowded and offers a more authentic Rockies experience!
For a small town, Jasper offers plenty of awesome activities, and as you can imagine for a town at the center of Jasper National Park, most of them involve the great outdoors!
One of the most popular things to do during the summer in Jasper is to hop aboard the SkyTram, a tram ride to the top of Whistlers Mountain, which boasts incredible views along the way. At the top, there’s a gift shop and a restaurant with fabulous views. Visiting the Jasper SkyTram is a summer-only activity and is open from April through to October.
Whitewater rafting is also another memorable summertime activity. There’s a Jasper tour for all types of travelers, from this family-friendly tour which takes place on less intense rapids, to a budget-friendly rafting tour on moderate rapids, and even an extreme rafting tour for those super-adventurous tourists!
Keeping with the trend of outdoor activities in Jasper, one of my favorite places close to Jasper is Maligne Lake. This stunning turquoise-blue lake is surrounded by glaciers, mountain peaks, and pine trees, and it is one of the best places to visit in Alberta!
The best way to see this lake is from the water, and the famed Maligne Lake Cruise is super-popular as it takes you up close to Spirit Island, one of the most photographed places in Western Canada. There are heaps to do at Maligne Lake, so allow a full day (ideally) or at least a few hours here!
If you’re a hiker, you’ll love the kilometer-long Athabasca Falls trail, a uber-popular hike that starts 30 minutes from town along the Icefields Parkway. The falls are seriously impressive in the summer, but the winter is the best time to visit Athabasca Falls because it freezes over and transforms into a magical winter wonderland.
Not far from the falls, you can join a guided tour like this one in a specially adapted vehicle that will take you out onto the famed Athabasca Glacier. It costs $105 CAD, but book this one in advance as it’s very sought-after!
After all that time spent out amongst nature, you will probably be itching for a bit of hustle and bustle, so head back to Jasper town and make a beeline for Connaught Street, aka the busiest street in Jasper. You can’t miss the big train here and the historic train station behind it that is still in operation today. Do a spot of souvenir shopping in the quirky stores that line the street, and then head to the rooftop patio at Jasper Pizza Place for some great pizza and even better views.
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!
8. Mount Robson Provincial Park
This is the home of the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies (Mount Robson, which the park is named after stands a whopping 3,954 meters/12,989 feet tall!).
Popular Berg Lake Trail is one of the best in Mount Robson Provincial 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 Lake, Berg Glacier, and the Valley of a Thousand Emperor Falls.
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!
An easier option is the 4.5-kilometer (2.8 miles) Kinney Lake Trail, which follows along the Robson River to Kinney Lake. It should take most people approximately 2.5 hours to complete. It’s a great trail for seeing wildlife, with elk, deer, and even bears to be seen along the way.
For a truly bucket-list experience, why not book a helicopter tour to Berg Lake? Along the short 25-minute ride, you will be treated to views of Valley of a Thousand Falls, Kinney Lake, plus the Berg Lake and Mist Glaciers. This experience can 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 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 necessary.
If you fancy spending the night surrounded by some of the best scenery in Canada, luckily for you, 180 vehicle-accessible campsites in Mount Robson Provincial Park can be booked for stays from May to September. It’s essential to book in advance on the BC Parks website. However, there are a few first-come-first-served sites should you decide last minute to spend the night.
9. Rearguard Falls
About 10 minutes from the Mount Robson Visitor Center, you’ll spy a parking lot on the side of the highway. This is where the trail into the beautiful Rearguard Falls begins – part of the lovely Rearguard Falls Provincial Park.
This trail is just 600 meters (1,960 feet) long, along which there are multiple viewpoints of the mighty falls. FYI – the first viewpoint is wheelchair-accessible.
August is the best time to visit, as this is when you will see the Chinook (the biggest Pacific Salmon) returning to their birthplace. They have traveled for approximately 1,260 kilometers (783 miles) from the river’s estuary in BC’s lower mainland. During this month, you might be lucky enough to see these salmon making their last jump up Rearguard Falls and finally into their spawning area. It’s a bucket-list-worthy thing to witness, that’s for sure!
For a small town with a population of just 1,000 people, you’ll be surprised at just how many memorable activities are available in Valemount. One of the most popular things to do here is to challenge yourself on the 45 biking trails at Valemount Bike Park, which is suitable for all skill levels. If you don’t have your bike with you, you can rent a bike from Bikes & Bites on Main Street.
The lakes surrounding the town, like Kinbasket Lake and Yellowhead Lake, are good places to fish for rainbow trout. You will need to purchase a BC fishing license before fishing here, which costs $22 CAD for a one-day pass.
If you’re a winter-lover, you may be excited to learn that there’s a new ski resort planned for the area – which will feature one of North America’s steepest vertical drops.
Other winter fun can be had on Cranberry Marsh, where both ice skating and snowmobiling are popular! You can access the marsh from the McKirdy Road parking lot. This is the closest entry point to the part of the pond where the skating happens. Alternatively, opt for a guided snowmobiling tour like this one from Alpine Country Rentals.
Back in Valemount town itself, be sure to pop into the Valemount Museum. It is located inside a historic railway station and has some interesting displays on Japanese Internment camps and local war heroes, and there’s even a replica of a trapper’s cabin in the basement! Admission is by donation.
As a craft beer-lover, I always pop into Three Ranges Brewing when I’m visiting. 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 freshly-baked pastries and sourdough bread displays are mouth-watering. They also make excellent (and strong!) coffee.
Where to stay in Valemount
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 Canada’s Best Value Inn, which is located on the main highway into town.
11. River Safari
This next stop is especially for the adventurous at heart. The River Safari is a thrilling tour that takes you into the only inland temperate rainforest in the world (aka Grizzly Bear Valley) – just choose your mode of transport – boat or jeep. You’ll cover up to 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) on both tours through the aptly named valley, where you’ll likely see grizzlies and other wildlife!
To get here, look for the giant bear billboard on Highway 5 and turn off there!
Boats depart every hour in season (which typically starts in May). It’s best to book your tickets online in advance, but they do accept walk-ins too!
If you’re feeling hungry after all that grizzly spotting, why not top off a fantastic day with some River Safari’s floating restaurant, The Forest Table? Built on a large, floating dock overlooking the river with giant tables and solid wood-carved seating, it’s one of the most unique restaurants in BC. What’s great, too, is that all their dishes feature local ingredients.
12. Blue River
We think it’s time for a more slow-paced stop this time round, and what better place to spend a relaxing few hours than the cute town of Blue River? Famous as the home of Murtle Lake, which at 100 square kilometers (39 square miles), is the largest lake in North America with a ban on motorized boats. Only canoes/kayaks or paddle boats are allowed here, ensuring a more peaceful experience.
Fishing is a popular pastime in the summer, with rainbow trout abundant in this lake. And although you can swim here, we prefer to head over to nearby Eleanor Lake, which has a sandy beach and children’s playground.
A great spot to see black bears during the summer is at Blue River Pine Provincial Park, which has heaps of wild berry bushes which attract the bears. The park is set amongst a dry lodgepole pine forest, which is rare for this area.
While if you’re visiting in the winter and love to ski – you’re in for a treat because this area is a popular backcountry skiing destination! It’s home to 1.2 million acres of pristine skiable terrain spread across two mountain ranges and up to 9.7 meters (32 feet) of powder – it’s arguably one of the best places to ski in the country! The runs are accessible via a heli-skiing tour, but because many of the runs are super-steep, it’s only recommended for intermediate skiers and above.
As for places to stay in Blue River, there are many campgrounds in the parks nearby, or check into the Blue River Campground and RV Park in the heart of the town.
For something more comfortable, the Glacier Mountain Lodge is located off Highway 5 and is a European-style mountain lodge hotel with an indoor hot tub.
13. Wells Gray Provincial Park
To get to your next stop, you’ll need to make a detour off Highway 5, but we promise it’s totally worth it! Nicknamed the “Waterfall Park,” Wells Gray Provincial Park is, of course, home to dozens of waterfalls, but also glacier lakes, lush forests, and all-around epic mountain scenery!
While it may add to your driving time, the payoff for including this remote park on your Edmonton to Vancouver road trip itinerary is fewer people to share it with!
This provincial park has an impressive 41 named waterfalls and other unnamed falls hidden in the surrounding forest. The park’s jaw-dropping natural beauty was formed by slow-moving glaciers and ancient volcanoes that created the lakes and rivers that supply the waterfalls.
If you just have a couple of hours to spend here, there are a few waterfalls that you can’t miss out on seeing. The below three falls are my favorites –
- Dawson Falls – At 90 meters (295 feet) across, it’s one of the widest waterfalls in the park and one of the most scenic, too, as the water from the falls gushes into the fast-flowing Murtle River. You will come to two different viewpoints on the trail – so make the time to snap some photos of both!
- Spahats Creek Falls – A breathtaking waterfall that stands 61 meters (250 feet) tall. It’s a straight drop to the bottom, and the water cascades down from a break in the rocks.
- Helmcken Falls – The crowning jewel of all the Wells Gray Provincial Park waterfalls! Helmcken Falls is the fourth biggest waterfall in the country, 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.
Clearwater is heaven for outdoor lovers, as it’s best-known known for its abundant waterfalls, dense forests, and rivers!
Suppose you’re after some heart-stopping fun. Why not book a whitewater rafting tour on the Clearwater River? This river is full of churning waves and rapids, and so this is one of the most popular things to do in Clearwater.
If you can, book this highly-rated tour in spring or early summer, you’ll get to visit Candle Creek Falls, where you can go behind a waterfall and jump off a 25-foot cliff! This experience costs $131 CAD and lasts 3 hours; the price includes all safety equipment and an experienced guide.
If you’re visiting between May and October and can time your visit to be in town on a Saturday, then hit up the Clearwater Farmers Market, which is held next to the Dutch Lake Community Center. Everything from groceries to local coffee and handmade souvenirs are sold here.
End your time in Clearwater with a great dining experience – there are heaps of restaurants here. Wild Flour Cafe and Bakery on Clearwater Valley Road is our favorite for a lighter meal. They serve delicious homemade bread and cakes. Or if you’re after something more substantial, head to Hop “N” Hog for an authentic Canadian smokehouse experience. We love their birch-smoked beef that’s been smoked for hours! They also have many beers on tap, including local craft beer.
You’ve made it from Edmonton to Kamloops and this is the only big city you’ll pass through on your way to Vancouver, so if you’re looking for a place to stop and spend a night or two, then Kamloops is your spot! There are heaps of great things to do in Kamloops, from skiing at the popular Sun Peaks ski resort in the winter to hiking or kayaking on one of the nearby lakes and rivers in the summer.
Would you believe there are over 100 lakes within an hour’s drive of Kamloops?! And one of the most famous is the gorgeous Kamloops Lake, where you see old stone train bridges and tunnels, rock bluffs, and maybe even an eagle’s nest!
The hiking opportunities in Kamloops are also endless. You can wander through ponderosa pine forests, wide-open grasslands, and sandstone canyons and climb up steep valleys. To see a variety of natural landscapes in one area, head to the Kenna Cartwright Nature Park, which offers over 40 km (25 miles) of lovely trails. Many of which boast jaw-dropping views of the Thompson Valley and Kamloops. There are also several beaches and picnic areas here.
Speaking of Thompson Valley, there are four boutique wineries in this area. So, why not spend a relaxing afternoon sipping on some great wine and taking in the view? A few of my favorite wineries here are Monte Creek Winery and Harper’s Trail Estate Winery.
While if you’re visiting Kamloops with kids or just love wildlife, then be sure to visit the BC Wildlife Park, a rescue and rehabilitation center that houses more than 60 different animals, including Clover the Spirit Bear, the only Kermode Bear (a black bear with white fur) in captivity in the world. There’s also a playground, splash park, and mini-train for the kids. Entrance to BC Wildlife Park costs $17.95 CAD per adult and you can buy skip-the-line tickets here.
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.
Related Read: Another awesome road trip you can do from Kamloops is the drive from Kamloops to Whistler – it’s so scenic!
Hikers and bikers rejoice. This next stop will be right up your alley! Merritt boasts plenty of hiking and biking trails for all abilities.
For the bikers reading, you will find several popular biking areas in Merritt, including Coutlee Plateau, Swakum Mountain, Iron Mountain, and Sugarloaf Mountain. As well as that, the Rotary Bike Park in town is the perfect place to test your biking skills.
As for hiking, Too Much Info is an easy trail that will take you around 25 minutes each way. You’ll find the trailhead off Highway 97C. Along the hike, you’ll be treated to picture-perfect views of Merritt and the surrounding Swakum Mountain.
Another great alternative is the Tom Lacey Trail, 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 deer, moose, and grouse.
17. Othello Tunnels
Othello Tunnels is a must-stop on the drive from Edmonton to Vancouver! These Hollywood-famous tunnels (we’ll tell you why in a minute) are over an hour’s drive from Merritt in Coquihalla Provincial Park.
Built way back in 1914, these train tunnels and bridges were constructed by the Canadian Pacific Railway, which needed to connect the BC Coast with the Kootenay Region. These were considered engineering masterpieces at the time as they were constructed by blasting through solid granite!
A big bonus is that there’s no entrance fee to the tunnels and it’s an easy 10-minute walk from the car park to the first tunnel. In fact, it will take only 20 minutes to walk through all five tunnels, making this a great quick stop on your road trip. It’s worth noting, though, that the tunnels are quite dark, so use your phone’s light or bring a flashlight to explore them safely.
As I mentioned, this area has been featured in several Hollywood movies – look for the cliff above Tunnel #2 where the cliff jump scene for Rambo: First Blood was shot!
With a memorable nickname – the “Chainsaw Capital of the World” we just had to include Hope on our list of places to stop between Edmonton and Vancouver. It’s nicknamed so because of an International Chainsaw Carving Competition that is held in the town every year. In fact, you’re going to see lots of quirky wooden sculptures while exploring Hope.
Spend an hour browsing the artisan stores in town, stop for a coffee in one of the cafes, or a snack at one of the restaurants. Afterward, pop into the Christ Church National Historic Site, which is the oldest Church on the BC mainland (it was built in 1861!). During the summer, you can even join a guided tour of the church.
A short drive from town will get you to Kawkawa Lake, a popular hang-out spot during the summer with locals. That’s because the water is surprisingly warm for a glacier-fed lake, and because of the calm nature of the lake, it’s a great spot for waterskiing and stand-up paddleboarding. There’s also a beach, picnic area, and dock here.
If you love craft beer (like me!), one of the best places to stop near Hope is Mountainview Brewing Co. on the Old Hope Princeton Highway. It is the first craft brewery in town, and its beers are brewed using fresh mountain water. While you’re here, taste “Main Squeeze,” a sour ale brewed with organic plums and peaches, or “Dark Side of Town,” a classic dark German lager. They also serve up some yummy snacks and sandwiches!
Where to stay in Hope
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 (under $200 CAD) also includes a homemade breakfast that is quite delicious!
19. Harrison Hot Springs
Named after the famed hot springs of the same name – Harrison Hot Springs has lots of fun things to do. In town, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants to fuel up before you hit the road to Vancouver again. Plus, there are also lots of unique artisan stores, a beach area, and a kid’s playground. But, it’s worth noting that it’s a 20-minute detour off the highway to get to Harrison Hot Springs!
If you want to make one final overnight stop before Vancouver, check into the Harrison Hot Springs Resort, which has also played host to famous guests like Liam Neeson, Michael Bublé, Clark Gable, and John Wayne. A bonus to staying here is that it includes free entry to one of the best BC hot springs. There are five hot mineral springs pools on-site, both outdoor and indoor. And the water here has the highest concentrations of dissolved mineral solids of any mineral spring!
There’s also a public hot springs pool in the middle of town you can visit, or if hot springs aren’t your thing, head down to Harrison Lake, which is a popular swimming spot and a watersports hub.
Finish your time in Harrison Hot Springs with an authentic German meal at The Black Forest Restaurant (we love their Schnitzel dishes). Top tip – ask for a table on the large balcony overlooking the lake.
You’re almost at your final stop – the bright lights of Vancouver City. But before you get there, spend a few hours getting to know the small city of Chilliwack. Located only 100 km (62 mi) east of Vancouver and nestled in the scenic Fraser Valley – it’s the perfect place to end this road trip on a high.
Not far from Chilliwack, you can visit many farms, like Klasassen Farms, which is renowned for its delicious blueberries! You can buy pre-picked berries here or pick your own blueberries if you have time. They also sell yummy blueberry ice cream, which I loved!
If you plan to visit Chilliwack in the spring, you must stop at BC’s only Tulip Festival, which is held in April every year at Chilliwack Tulips. There are over 6 million flowers on display here, so bring your camera because you’ll get some awesome photos.
Downtown Chilliwack has a few boutique stores and several highly-recommended restaurants and bars, like the casual Bubba’s Big Bites on Vedder Road and the more up-scale Greek Islands Restaurant on Hocking Avenue.
Where to stay in Chilliwack
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.
All good things must come to an end, and your epic road trip concludes in the vibrant city of Vancouver. One of my favorite places to visit in North America, it’s an outdoorsy city with a hipster vibe and home to many world-class restaurants and cafes. So, I think it’s fair to say that no matter what type of vacation you’re after, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for in Vancouver!
We advise spending at least two to three full days in ‘Vancity’ as locals affectionately call it, to get a true feel for this memorable metropolis!
Spend your first morning here with a hike through Lighthouse Park in North Vancouver, which gets you up close to some of the biggest Douglas Fir trees and Western Red Cedar trees in Canada! It’s a short but sweet 10-minute walk to the lighthouse, and, in our opinion, it’s one of the best easy hikes in Vancouver.
In the early afternoon, head to the 1,000-acre Stanley Park on the outskirts of downtown. It’s a Vancouver icon, and the best things to do here include a walk or cycle along the seawall trail. If you prefer to jump on a tour of Stanley Park, then this e-bike tour through Stanley Park and the Seawall trail is a great option. It’s 4 hours long and costs $133 CAD, which is more than enough time to explore the nearby neighborhoods of Westend and English Bay.
Late afternoon catch a ferry from downtown to Granville Island, an epic foodie destination that’s most well-known for its huge indoor market! Why not book a guided tour of the market for a local’s insight into the best stalls here? Other things to do on Granville Island include shopping, going to the Kid’s Markets, watching street performers, or even checking out the brewery.
While we’re on the topic of beer, end your first day in Vancouver on a high with this behind-the-scenes craft beer tour, which visits a couple of different breweries in the city. At each stop, you will get a behind-the-scenes look at how they brew their beer. Plus, because it includes transport, you can drink as much as you want without worrying about driving.
If you have more time in this cool city, check out the below list for some of my favorite things to do in Vancouver:
- Visit Capilano Suspension Bridge – just a 20-minute drive from Vancouver, you’ll find this gigantic bridge, which is 137 meters in length (450 feet) and hangs 70 meters (230 feet) over the Capilano River. The best thing to do here besides walking the famed bridge is to tackle one of the many hiking trails here. As well as that, there’s a glass floor lookout and a treetop walk. Tickets cost $73.45 CAD per adult.
- Visit Grouse Mountain – for one of the best views in BC, catch a cable car 1,200 meters (3.900 feet) up Grouse Mountain, or if you’re keen for a workout, climb the “Grouse Grind” to the top. This involves hiking up over 2,800 steps! Would you believe some Vancouverites do this as their daily workout? You can buy tickets here if you’d prefer to conserve your energy and catch the cable car to the summit.
- Go whale watching – Whale watching in Vancouver is a highlight of visiting this city! On this tour, you’ll have the opportunity to spot various types of whales, including orcas and humpback whales. You’ll also see other marine life, like seals, seabirds, and otters. It’s approximately $226 CAD for this half-day whale-watching tour.
- Ride in a seaplane – This was the most exciting thing I did in Vancouver! Taking off and landing on the water was a tad nerve-wracking, but there was no need to worry; the pilots are trained professionals. While this scenic flight is only 20 minutes long, we got to see so much of the city and surrounding mountains. And the cherry on top is it costs just $168 CAD!
Related Read: Vancouver is considered an expensive destination, but luckily, there are heaps of awesome free things to do in Vancouver too!
Where to Stay in Vancouver
Vancouver is one of the most popular cities in Canada. The fact is that in the summer and winter, the city books up in advance very fast! Booking your hotel or hostel well in advance is the only way to secure one of the top places to stay in Vancouver.
Here are a few great hotels in Van that we love:
The Cambie Hostel Gastown – $
If you’re traveling on a budget, look no further than The Cambie Hostel. It’s located in the heart of Gastown and close to lots of bars and restaurants, and there’s also a great bar attached to the hostel too.
It can always be a bit of a gamble trying out a budget hostel, but from our own experience, this one is a real gem! While the bathrooms are a little bit cozy, the rooms are clean, there’s free Wi-Fi and the staff are really happy to help you out with anything you need. Private rooms here start at $100 CAD or bunks in dorm rooms are more around the $50 CAD mark. You can book your stay over on Hostelworld.com or Booking.com!
Times Square Suites – $$
For a beautiful hotel close to Stanley Park you can’t pass over the Times Square Suites. Toeing the line between affordability and comfort, it’s very hard to fault this hotel and its location in Vancouver’s west end is nothing short of perfect!
We stayed in their one-bedroom suite, and I’ve got to say that I had the most restful sleep in that bed than I’ve had in weeks! Rooms here start at $224 CAD per night and can be booked over on Booking.com.
Hyatt Regency Vancouver – $$$
The Hyatt Regency is situated right between Gastown and Stanley Park, so right in the heart of Van’s action. As you can imagine, this is a luxury hotel stay at a well-known hotel chain, so you know your stay will be top-notch.
With a 42″ flat-screen TV is provided in every room. free Wi-Fi, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows, the views of downtown Van don’t get much better than this. The Mosaic Bar and Grill serves some truly amazing food, and if you fancy something a bit stronger, the Grain Tasting Bar has some awesome signature cocktails. Book a luxurious stay here online.
Alternative Route from Edmonton to Vancouver via Banff
Another popular way to drive from Edmonton to Vancouver 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 will take you via Calgary, then onto Banff before hitting Golden and Salmon Arm on the approach to Kamloops. From Kamloops, it’s the same route I listed above into Vancouver (via Merritt and Hope). Although a decent option, be prepared for heavy traffic on the approach to Calgary and Banff, therefore, it’s likely this road trip will end up taking much longer than 13.5 hours.
Thanks for reading!
Well, that turned out to be quite a varied list of stops on the drive from Edmonton to Vancouver, didn’t it? We included stops at the “Waterfall Park,” a stunning provincial park filled with gushing falls, and even a stop at “the chainsaw capital of Canada,” so I think it’s fair to say this road trip is filled with unforgettable attractions!
On this route, too, you’ll be passing by some of the biggest tourist towns in Canada, like Jasper and Kamloops. This road trip certainly has something for everyone! And I can’t wait for you to fall in love with this drive like I have!
Don’t forget to check out some of our other road trip posts before you leave: