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25 BEST Stops on the Drive from Vancouver to Banff: Road Trip Itinerary

25 BEST Stops on the Drive from Vancouver to Banff: Road Trip Itinerary

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One of the best things you can do in British Columbia just has to be the road trip from Vancouver to Banff! This route hits most of the most beautiful and adventurous places in the entire country. From the towering peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the beautifully colored lakes in wine country, the road trip from Vancouver to Banff is nothing short of magical.

There’s a lot to know about planning this road trip though. I mean, it’s a long one, and the number and routes you can take are seemingly endless.

As a Canadian who has grown up in both BC and Alberta, I consider myself somewhat of an expert. I’ve traveled around Western Canada extensively and know there are some places that you really don’t want to miss. This road trip itinerary will include the very best stops, where to spend the night, and essential driving tips for one of the best road trips starting in BC!

Don’t have time to read the full article? The drive from Vancouver to Banff is full of fun stops, starting with the Sea to Sky gondola in Squamish and Sasquatch Zipline in Whistler! You can also hike at Joffre Lakes, check out the Skybridge in Golden, and explore Lake Louise. Once you get to Banff, stay a few days to hike, expore downtown, or take a gourmet food tour!

About the Drive from Vancouver to Banff

The journey from Vancouver to Banff (or Banff to Vancouver) isn’t short by any means. Without stopping, the most direct route (via the town of Hope) will take you around 11 hours to complete this 860-kilometer (535-mile) journey.

I recommend taking a different route for your road trip though. This way, you’ll be able to ensure that you see the best places along the way! My suggested route from Vancouver to Banff includes going through Whistler – one of my absolute favorite places ever! This road trip is slightly longer at 915 kilometers (568 miles), but believe me, it’s totally worth it.

There are several fantastic stops along this route, and I recommend taking your time to appreciate each of the 25 sites as you go from Vancouver to Banff. Each of these stops has something unique to bring to the table, and they should be enjoyed as such.

Winter tires are required if you want to travel during the colder and snowier months (usually November to March). These tires will provide more traction on the ice and snow you’ll most likely encounter along the way.

If you’re not used to driving in the winter, Canadian winters may be challenging, with snowstorms, slippery roads, avalanches, and even bright, sunny days. Because weather conditions can vary quickly during the day, always check a road report and forecast before leaving.

Related Read: Another popular road trip is the drive from Vancouver to Jasper or check out our full list of the best road trips starting in Vancouver!

25 BEST Stops on the Drive from Vancouver to Banff

1. Vancouver City

Enjoying a beer at Off the Rail Brewing in Vancouver, Canada
Off the Rail Brewing Co
Stalls in the Granville Island Public Market
Granville Island Market!

Vancouver is one of the most exciting cities in Canada. It has something fascinating to offer nature enthusiasts, adventure seekers, and even those interested in food and culture, with plenty of things to do and amazing tours. It’s the perfect place to start your epic Canadian road trip!

Whale watching is one of the top tourist attractions in Vancouver, as it is a peninsula surrounded by inlets teeming with marine life. There are great whale watching tours that allow you to see various whale species including Humpbacks and Orcas. Tours are 3-5 hours and cost $191 CAD. It’s by far one of Vancouver’s best activities so make sure to book it in advance!

Also, if you’re visiting Vancouver in the summer, get out and do some of the beautiful easy hikes around the city including the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge and treetop walk.

The 137-meter (450-foot) bridge is just a 20-minute drive from Vancouver city center and hangs above the Capilano River but there are also various hiking trails here too. As well as that, there’s a treetop walk and a glass floor lookout! Tickets cost $66 CAD per adult, and are worth every penny!

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 the 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.

If you’re visiting Vancouver in the winter, then skiing or snowboarding are musts! Check out Mt Seymour, Cypress Mountain, or Grouse Mountain. You can rent gear and even just get a day pass if you only want to spend one day!

Beaver Lake in Stanley Park, Canada
Beaver Lake in Stanley Park, Canada

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

  • Stroll or ride through Stanley Park – The 1,000-acre Stanley Park is a great place to chill out in nature and bike the iconic seawall trail. You can join this specific bike tour that goes through Stanley Park and the seawall trail and is done on e-bikes so you won’t spend all your energy on one activity! It costs $150 CAD and goes for 4 hours which is plenty of time to cover many more areas including historic and modern neighborhoods. Or check out our other Stanley Park tour recommendations for more ideas!
  • Try local craft beer – As a craft beer lover myself, this is one of my favorite things to do in any new city! To find out where the best breweries are in Vancouver I’d suggest this behind-the-scenes craft beer tour 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.
Vancouver City on a sunny day in False Creek
Vancouver is stunning!

Where to stay in Vancouver

Vancouver is without a doubt one of my favorite destinations in BC, so be sure to give yourself a decent amount of time staying in the city first before you hit the road!

Ball out a bit at the Fairmont Pacific Rim for a luxurious stay. 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. 

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.

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. Gastown is a hub of activity, and definitely where you want to base yourself in Vancouver!

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

Daniel and Bailey take a self at Shannon Falls on the Sea to Sky Highway
Shannon Falls!
Shannon Falls on the road between Whistler and Vancouver
So beautiful!

Shannon Falls is one of my favorite stops on the drive from Vancouver to Banff! After leaving Vancouver, you’ll reach Shannon Falls in about an hour, the perfect time to get out to stretch your legs.

The trail to get to the falls viewing area is easy and somewhat level. There is also a paved trail for all people to enjoy. The walk is only about a kilometer long, and once you make it to the falls you’ll be in awe. Shannon Falls, at 335 meters (1100 feet), is a sight to behold! Late spring and early summer are the best times to visit when the winter snow on the adjacent mountains has melted and the falls are most forceful.

It’s free to visit Shannon Falls and you’ll find a large parking lot when you arrive as well as bathroom facilities and picnic tables.

3. Sea to Sky Gondola

Bailey on the The Sky Pilot Suspension Bridge at the Sea to Sky Gondola
Pilot Suspension Bridge at the Sea to Sky Gondola
Sea to Sky Gondola, Squamish
Sea to Sky Gondola

The panoramic views from the Sea to Sky Gondola are breathtaking. It’s an absolute must-see on your way from Vancouver to Banff! The gondola is located just outside of Squamish (your next stop) and takes you up the mountain with 360-degree views of the Howe Sound.

Once you ride the gondola to the top, you may explore around the summit and see the suspension bridge, as well as have a drink or some food while taking in the sights.

A day’s admission for the gondola costs $71 CAD per adult. You may also trek to the point instead of riding the gondola, although it is rather strenuous (nearly 1,000 meters/3,281 feet in height gain!). I recommend just riding the gondola both ways – it’s so much fun and saves you time on your road trip!

This is a popular attraction, so it’s best to book it in advance to secure your spot. They offer free cancellations or changes if you do so 24 hours before the tour, in case plans change. Book your Sea to Sky Gondola tickets here!

Related Read: Did you know there are gondolas in Vancouver and Banff? Read about the 3 Vancouver gondolas and the 4 Banff gondolas to see which ones are the best!

4. Squamish

the chief hike near squamish
This hike offers breathtaking views over the road between Vancouver and Squamish.

Squamish is a fantastic town to visit or even stay in overnight to maximize your time there and break up your trip. It’s renowned as an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. There is hiking, rock climbing, and windsurfing all at your fingertips!

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. There is a decent amount of effort involved in this 3.7-mile loop trail, especially toward the end when the scrambling begins. You will gain a total of 654 meters (2,145 feet) of elevation but the views are absolutely spectacular!

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 white-water 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 $209 CAD but is worth every penny- you can reserve your white water rafting experience here.

For a more laid-back activity, I highly recommend setting sail on the Howe Sound! 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.

Two people Kayak in Squamish, BC
You need to get out onto the water to truly explore Squamish, BC!

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 to choose from.

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!

For something nice and more affordable, 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.

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.

5. Garibaldi Lake

A bird lands on some ones hand at Garibaldi Lake
How cute was this guy? But remember, don’t feed them!

Garibaldi Lake, one of Canada’s most magnificent alpine lakes, is located in Garibaldi Provincial Park. Despite its magnificence, it receives far fewer visitors than other Canadian lakes.

The only way to see the stunning Garibaldi Lake is to hike a 9-kilometer (5.6-mile) long trail with a 900-meter (2,950-foot) elevation gain. This difficult hike may be what keeps this stunning lake so quiet. Believe me, if you can handle the challenging hike, it is definitely worth it!

Garibaldi Lake is a great place to camp overnight if you can’t get enough of the scenery. When you wake up, you may visit Blacktusk and Panorama Ridge Lookout, two further hikes and overlooks. Both are 5.5 km (3.4 miles) and 7 km (4.3 miles) longer and include a 500 m gradient (1,640 ft). These hikes are designed for more experienced hikers.

If you want to camp overnight, there are approximately 50 campsites with restrooms and cooking shelters at the lake’s campground. Campsites cost $13 per person per night and must be reserved in advance online.

If you have problems making a reservation, you may have the Squamish Tourist Center do one for you (like we did).

6. Whistler

Daniel at the top of The Sasquatch zipline in Whistler
About to zoom down the mighty “Sasquatch” zipline!
A coffee at Purebread in Whistler, BC
A coffee at Purebread

In Whistler, there are so many exciting things to do and see that you could easily spend weeks exploring it. If you’re visiting Whistler in the winter, don’t forget to hit the slopes, and if you’re going in the summer, take advantage of the hiking paths.

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 $189 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.

This 3-hour snowmobiling tour is an awesome option to keep you enthused! It has impeccable reviews but it is expensive starting at $282 CAD per person, but 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.

The huge Sasquatch Zipline is perfect for those who love an adrenaline rush! It will have you reaching speeds of well over 100 km/hr (62 mph). 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 – it was actually a bit scary it goes so fast!

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.

The following are some of the other greatest activities and attractions in Whistler:

  • 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 $149 CAD for 3-hours on the lake with all of your equipment included.
  • Via Ferrata – Whistler is another great place in Canada to try Via Ferrata, an introduction to rock climbing. Challenge yourself to climb the entire 2160-meter (7,086 feet) summit of Whistler Mountain with safety cables and metal rungs. The scenery is indescribable and well worth the $209 CAD price tag.
The dock at Lost Lake on a calm day in Whistler
The dock at Lost Lake on a calm day in Whistler

Where to stay in Whistler

If you decide 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 luxury travelers, the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre is located right in the heart of Whistler Village. Its location is perfect for luxury skiers because it’s only 250 meters (800 feet) from the closest gondola. After hitting the slopes, relax those sore muscles at the sauna, heated saltwater pool, or the hot tub.

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. You can also easily book a room on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.com which is super convenient.

7. Nairn Falls  

Nairn Falls, BC
The beautiful Nairn Falls!

Only 20 minutes outside of Whistler is the goregous Nairn Falls! While there is a whole park to explore and camp in if you want, this is great for a quick stop with a short hike (about 1.5 km/0.9 miles) to the falls. The hike is relatively easy, so it’s good for beginners or families and doesn’t require much pre-planning – just make sure you have good hiking shoes!  

The trail to Nairn Falls starts just off the Sea to Sky Highway in the Nairn Falls Provincial Park. Pull into the parking lot on the right off the highway and look for the trail at the edge of the parking lot near the restrooms. The trail itself is relatively even the whole way but does have a few ups and downs. The Green River will be on your left the entire time and soon you’ll hear the falls!  

Nairn Falls has two lookouts to enjoy the impressive views. The first viewing platform overlooks the upper falls and is located on the hill straight ahead. The other platform further down will give you a view of the lower falls.  

8. Pemberton

I ride my horse behind Bailey on a tour in Pemberton BC
Daniel and Bailey pose for a photo while horseback riding in Pemberton, BC
The views are epic!

Pemberton is a small village located 30 minutes outside of Whistler. Sitting at the base of Mount Currie, Pemberton is yet another haven for outdoorsmen with hiking, biking, fishing, and in winter, skiing and snowmobiling. This is a great place to stop for coffee or breakfast if you stay in Whistler. I love visiting the Blackbird Bakery where you can find fresh baked goods by a French pastry chef – the ultimate road trip snacks!

However, one of the most popular things to do in Pemberton is to go horseback riding! This is truly the countryside, as there are more horses per capita than any other town in BC. So clearly, taking a horseback riding tour in Pemberton is an absolute must!

This 1 or 2-hour horseback ride is perfect to add to your road trip, it won’t take too much time and is a fantastic way to experience the gorgeous Pemberton outdoors. This tour is suitable even if you’ve never been on a horse or are an old pro! And it’s not too often that everyone gets to ride horses, so I always enjoy this unique activity. This tour is only available from April to October and can be booked in advance here for $93 CAD

For an even more epic adventure, you can even go paragliding in Pemberton with Sea to Sky Paragliding! They offer tandem flights for $285 CAD from May to September, where a trained paragliding pilot will take you on a flight starting 1,219 meters (4,000 feet) above the valley floor!

If you love the quiet vibes of Pemberton, you can stay the night at the Pemberton Valley Lodge. This suite-style hotel is equipped with an outdoor pool and a hot tub with mountain views – talk about relaxing! This whole area gets busy during the summer, so if you plan on hiking Joffre Lakes (later on this list), spending the night in Pemberton will put you closer to the trailhead to beat the crowds!

9. 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!

At the bottom of Duffey Lake Road, you’ll discover the lovely, peaceful Lillooet Lake. This lake used to have a gorgeous turquoise color, comparable to other Canadian lakes, but following a landslide in 2010, the water became a muddy brown color. It’s slowly starting to regain its once beautiful hue. When the currents are slow in the winter, it’s easier to see.

Recreational areas and campsites border the shores of Lillooet Lake. Strawberry Point Campground is the most well-known. It’s a woodland day-use area with walk-in camping. There’s a lot of room here, but the amenities are minimal (they have a pit toilet, but no picnic area or designated camp spots).

Twin One Campground is a drive-in campground with a semi-open layout. A boat launch, beach access, and spectacular views are all available. Picnic tables and pit toilets are supplied as amenities. The only campsite that can accommodate big recreational RVs is this one.

Other possibilities include Lizzie Bay and Driftwood Bay Campgrounds! While you’re here enjoy a campfire or a stargazing session with no light pollution.

10. Joffre Lakes

A person enjoys the view of Middle Joffre Lake
I can’t get over the color of the water!
Lady walks along Middle Joffre Lake

On the way from Vancouver to Banff, this is a must-see! Lower, Middle, and Upper Joffre Lakes are the highlight of the trip through Joffre Lakes Provincial Park with their gorgeous turquoise blue water. The hue is caused by “rockflour,” or glacial silt trapped in the water, which reflects blue and green wavelengths from sunlight — it’s stunning!

The hike to Upper Joffre Lake is one of the best hikes in this area and is around 10 kilometers (6 miles) return and mostly uphill. The three wonderful lakes, stream crossings, great views of the mountain range, a waterfall, and the Matier Glacier at the summit overlooking Upper Joffre Lake are all visible along the trip. Retrace your steps to return and enjoy the simpler climb down and another look at these beautiful lakes.

This is a very popular summer attraction, and parking might be difficult. The parking lot is frequently full, and you are not permitted to park on the street. They do offer shuttle buses from a neighboring overflow parking lot on occasion, but this isn’t always the case. I recommend staying the night prior in Pemberton, which is close by, to ensure your early arrival.

11. Duffy Lake Viewpoint

Duffey Lake Viewpoint  
Duffey Lake Viewpoint!

On the way from Vancouver to Banff, Duffy Lake Viewpoint is but a brief stop. Simply drive off the road into a makeshift parking lot next to Duffy Lake, snap a few shots, and enjoy the breathtaking sight.

It’s not easy to appreciate the vistas while driving, but because the pull-off is so simple, it’s well worth the time. You may even dip your toes in the freezing lake if you’re feeling adventurous!

12. Lillooet

The Fraser River runs through a canyon near Lillooet, BC
You can see just how desert-like the landscape is!

On the route to Banff, Lillooet is a little village along the Fraser River with some spectacular mountain vistas. Thousands of people came into Lillooet during the Fraser River Gold Rush in 1858, making it one of the biggest settlements in North America. Inside the Lillooet Museum, you can now examine items from the Gold Rush era.

Lillooet has a desert-like environment with some of Canada’s hottest temps ever recorded. With such a lengthy growing season, there are several orchards and vineyards in the area. Enjoy some of Fort Berens Estate Winery‘s award-winning wine and take a stroll over the Old Suspension Bridge while you’re here. It was constructed more than a century ago and is currently only accessible to pedestrians.

If you wish to spend the night, the Reynolds Hotel is a lovely location to stay in that has just been refurbished and has some historic appeal (it was built in the 1940s). It includes a fantastic restaurant and a little convenience shop where you can fill up on road trip needs for the remainder of your journey.

13. 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 terrific city to visit in every season, whether you want to go downhill skiing and snowshoeing in the winter or enjoy the long summers on the water with pleasant weather from April to November.

Within an hour’s drive of the city, there are over 100 lakes! These are ideal for paddling in a canoe, kayak, or even trying stand-up paddleboarding. Take a boat ride around Kamloops Lake to see it from the water. You’ll pass by historic stone railroad bridges and tunnels, as well as rocky bluffs and maybe an eagle’s nest.

There are lots of hiking trails around Kamloops too. Wide-open meadows, ponderosa pine woods, sandstone canyons, and steep valleys may all be explored. With 40 kilometers (25 miles) of paths, the Kenna Cartwright Nature Park is a good choice. There are various beaches and picnic sites, as well as stunning views of Kamloops and the Thompson Valley. For a really stunning sight, go out during sunset or sunrise.

The BC Wildlife Park allows visitors to get up close and personal with Canadian wildlife. It’s a rescue and rehabilitation facility, and the majority of the animals are here because they’ve been saved. Clover the Spirit Bear, a rare white bear and the world’s only Kermode Bear in captivity is one of more than 60 distinct species you’ll learn about at the park. For the youngsters, there’s a splash park, a playground, and a mini-train. Adult admission to the park is $18.95 CAD.

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.  

14. Side trip to Kelowna and Vernon

Bailey and Daniel take a photo together at another winery in Kelwona
What a stunning region!

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 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. 

Kelowna

Kelowna is famous for its wine, beer, fresh fruits, and beaches. If you’re looking for a cute town to stay and indulge a bit, Kelowna is the place to do it. There are a plethora of places to stay in Kelowna, tons of cafes, restaurants, breweries, and of course, wineries!

I recommend staying a day or two in Kelowna so you can go on a wine tour here. This area is perfect for growing grapes, so there are truly too many good wineries to choose from! We went on this sightseeing wine tour and loved all 4 hours of it. You’ll visit 4 wineries (either in East or West Kelowna, up to you) with your expert guide, so you learn a lot, drink lots of wine, and get snacks too! 

There are really so many wineries to choose from in the Okanagan Valley, so booking a tour with a designated driver is the best way to taste as many as possible! You can book this tour for $179 CAD, and it provides free cancellation 24 hours before your tour departs. Check out the details and book it in advance here!

Besides wine tasting, other great things to do in Kelowna include picking fresh fruit at local farms, skiing at the local resort Big White, or renting an eBike and exploring the gorgeous countryside! This is actually one of my favorite activities, as this area is so scenic. Bike rentals are $40 CAD for 2 hours, and full-day options are available too.

Vernon

About halfway from Kamloops to Kelowna is the small town of Vernon. Although quaint, there are a lot of hidden gems in here. Being surrounded by three lakes and a gorgeous backdrop of mountains, my favorite thing to do in Vernon is get out on the water! 

Ellison Provincial Park is a local hot spot, and many travelers don’t know about it (except for you!). You can bring SUPs or kayaks, or simply swim in the cool waters and enjoy the picnic area. It’s a relaxing day on the lake, what more could you want? It’s best to arrive before lunchtime and avoid the weekends, as it can get pretty busy here.

If wine isn’t your beverage of choice, you might enjoy Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery in Vernon. You can visit this award-winning distillery and get a closer look at their farm-to-flask tour. We had a super fun time getting to chat with the distiller, learn about the process, and sample whiskey, gin, vodka, and a tasty fruit liqueur. This experience is only $25 CAD and includes all the tastings, so it’s actually a great deal and a fun time!

Downtown Vernon on 30th Ave is full of restaurants and cafes, where you can find locally sourced wine and unique shops full of treasures. Spend some time walking around and getting to know this amazing slice of British Columbia!

You can either stay in Kelowna, which is a bit bigger or spend the night in Vernon before you take off on the rest of your road trip. I recommend staying at the Fairfield Inn Suites, which is a great value for the level of comfort you’ll find!

15. Salmon Arm

Raven Trail in Salmon Arm, BC
Raven Trail is super easy and the views are beautiful!

Salmon Arm is a charming little town that is easy to fall in love with. I surely did when I lived there for a few years. There is enough to do for people who enjoy the outdoors, especially! Explore the city, eat (and drink) your way through it, or just kick back and relax! Here, there is truly something for everyone.

Where should we begin with stunning walks, excellent fruit, and top-notch vineyards in Salmon Arm? Here are a handful of the most popular activities in Salmon Arm:

  • Walk North America’s largest wooden wharf — You may walk on the wharf all year, soaking in the grandeur of Shuswap Lake. I love it even more in the summer when there is live music and food trucks to enjoy! It has a wonderful, communal vibe about it.
  • Hike — There are hikes for all levels of expertise here! Mt. Ida, a grand 1,564-meter (5,151 feet) peak south of Salmon Arm, is one of my favorites for trekking. If you’re searching for a challenge, Mount Ida Loop is a good option. It’s a 33-kilometer (20.5-mile) loop with a 1,598-meter (5,243-foot) elevation rise — a challenging hike, but well worth it. The Raven Trail and the Shuswap North Rail Trail are significantly more laid-back and accessible.
  • Visit the Northernmost winery in BC – Because this region is recognized for its wine, a visit to a vineyard is a necessity on your itinerary. One of my personal favorites is Larch Hills. Their wine is wonderful, and they even provide a complimentary sampling. Enjoy your wine while learning about its production and taking in the breathtaking sights

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.

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.

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.

16. Sicamous

a houseboat hot tub on Shuswap lake near Sicamous, BC
Sicamous is a popular spot to go on a houseboating adventure!

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

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

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

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

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

17. Revelstoke and Mount Revelstoke National Park

Bailey about to ride the Pipe Mountain Coaster in Revelstoke, BC
Off I go!
Bailey sits on a viewpoint in Revelstoke National Park, Canada
Views near Eva Lake!

Revelstoke, British Columbia, is one of Canada’s most picturesque destinations. It contains everything you could ever desire! Mountain ranges, lakes, glaciers, enormous woods, and warm people!

Here, it’s all about the great outdoors. When determining what to do, there is a lot to choose from, from hiking routes to breathtaking views. Some of the top things to do in Revelstoke include:

  • Visit Mt Revelstoke National Park – It’s a one-of-a-kind national park in that you can drive straight into it and up to the peak of Mt Revelstoke, as a result, practically anyone can use it! After parking your car at the peak, you may go hiking on one of the many gorgeous routes, eat lunch by one of the lakes, or even take a short walk to see all of the magnificent flowers and perspectives. Eva Lake path, a 12 km (7.5 miles) round trip through spectacular landscapes perfect for seeing bears. Check out Heather Lake trail, a short 10-minute stroll around a lovely lake with breathtaking reflections. You’ll need a Parks Pass to visit this national park.
  • Whitewater raftingIf 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!
  • Hit the slopes – In the winter, Revelstoke, BC is known for its awesome downhill skiing and snowboarding. It’s clear that this little mountain village is a winter wonderland! Revelstoke is known for its massive annual snowfalls and steep alpine terrain, which may test even the most experienced skiers. However, if you’re like me and prefer green or blue runs, they offer them as well!
  • Ride the gondola up at Revelstoke Mountain Resort – It’s without a doubt one of Revelstoke’s greatest vistas, with the added benefit of not having to hike up! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy trekking, but there are moments when you simply want to relax. At the resort, there are two gondolas. The first will lead you to the mountain’s peak. This second gondola trip takes around ten minutes, and when you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the valley!
  • Take a ride on the Pipe Mountain Coaster – One of Revelstoke’s biggest attractions is this fascinating gravity-fed roller coaster. This coaster can zoom down the hill if you want it to, and it’s actually a lot of fun and gets the adrenaline pumping. Of course, you may ride as fast or as slow as you wish, and the coaster includes brakes, making it suitable for children. The Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s Mountain Coaster is located at the top of the first gondola.

Where to stay in Revelstoke

The 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.

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

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

18. Glacier National Park

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

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

Make a point of visiting the park’s Rogers Pass National Historic Site. Hike along Canada’s first coast-to-coast railway route, which is now decommissioned. The visitor center has a plethora of historical information about the area as well as the wildlife you can find in the area.

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

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 $11 to $151.25CAD depending on the number of parks, people, and amount of time the pass covers.

19. Golden

Lunch at Eagle’s Eye, Golden, BC
Lunch and a beer high in the mountains at Eagle’s Eye!

Golden is a little town in the Rockies, but it’s surrounded by national parks, mountain ranges, and limitless outdoor activities, so there’s always something to do. Not to mention the fantastic restaurants, one-of-a-kind stores, lively bars, and fascinating cultural sites.

Your visit to Golden may be as exciting or as relaxing as you like! Here are a few ideas for epic things to do in Golden:

  • Stroll the Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge – Golden is situated in such a lovely region that you will want to get outside and explore it on foot! Make a point of crossing the Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge while you’re at it. It begins on 8th Avenue North in Golden and stretches 46 meters (151 feet) across the Kicking Horse River.
  • Enjoy supper with a viewEagle’s Eye Restaurant is the finest location to eat while taking in the mountain views! It’s the “crown gem” of resort cuisine and a must-do while staying at Kicking Horse Resort. The views from this restaurant, which is located at the top of the picturesque gondola, are unsurpassed. At 2,350 meters (7,710 feet) above sea level, it is Canada’s highest restaurant (in terms of elevation) — how awesome is that?!
  • Go whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse – If you haven’t gotten the chance to go whitewater rafting in Canada yet, going 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.
  • 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.
  • Walk the Golden Skybridge – The Golden Skybridge is Golden’s newest attraction and Canada’s highest suspension bridge! It sits 130 meters (426 feet) above the canyon and you’re sure to experience such a thrill walking over it and taking in all the amazing views of the Columbia Valley. There is also a zipline experience, canyon swing, and ropes course if that isn’t enough fun.
  • 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.

20. Yoho National Park

Two people canoe at Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park
Two people canoe at Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park

Yoho National Park, with the township of Field at its heart, is a fantastic destination to visit on your road trip from Vancouver to Banff. Plan on spending at least a few hours, if not a whole day here! The park is famed for its towering waterfalls, sparkling lakes, and a wide range of activities that may be enjoyed at any time of year. Field also has stores, restaurants, and other attractions.

The magnificent Emerald Lake, with its vibrant waters that live up to its name, is a must-see. In about an hour, you may walk around the entire lake or snowshoe over it in the winter. It’s a terrific chance to observe local blooms, such as wild orchids, as well as bald eagles, moose, and loons. On the lake’s quiet and clean waters, you may also canoe or kayak. Spoil yourself and stay a night at the Emerald Lake Lodge on the edge of the lake.

The Natural Bridge, an old rock feature that spans the Kicking Horse River, is another magnificent sight. It’s simple to get to by driving, as Emerald Lake Road is only 3 km (1.9 miles) from Field. You may also embark on a guided trek to the area’s fossil beds, which include 500 million-year-old fossils.

21. Lake Louise

Bailey stands on a rock at Lake Louise, Canada
Lake Louise is so quiet in the morning!
Views looking out at Lake Louise from the Fairmont
Views looking out at Lake Louise from the Fairmont

During my years of living in the Rockies, I was fortunate enough to visit Lake Louise several times. Every time, I make a mental list of all the finest things to do in Lake Louise. I’ve done it all from hikes to restaurants and everything in between!

Relaxing on the Lake Louise beachfront is one of the easiest, but most pleasant things to do. You’ll be speechless when you see the glaciers, mountain peaks, and azure lake!

There are various options for furthering your exploration of Lake Louise! You may paddle the lake or ice skate on the lake if you visit Lake Louise in the winter. Both are traditional Canadian pastimes.

Lake Louise also has some fantastic hikes and the Lake Agnes Tea House Trail is one of my favorites. And yes, there is actually a tea house out there where you can order a drink to pair with the view! The Lake Agnes Tea House Trail is a somewhat challenging, but not technical, 7.3-kilometer (4.5-mile) return trail. If you’re not a confident hiker, you can still enjoy the Lake Agnes Tea House Trail on this guided hike!

Some other awesome activities available in Lake Louise in the summer are going canoeing on the lake, hiking the lakefront trail, and cycling one of the many biking trails in the area! Of course, taking the Lake Louise Gondola is one of the most popular attractions, and gives stunning views of Lake Louise and the nearby Victoria Glacier. I recommend purchasing your gondola tickets in advance, as we all know how busy Lake Louise can get!

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

Do yourself a favor and stop for a least a night in Lake Louise. The only problem is sometimes it can be hard to find somewhere to stay in Lake Louise (hotels often book up well in advance.) But if you can, book a hotel in Lake Louise Village.

HI Lake Louise Alpine Centre is where I always stay. It is the cheapest option and has everything you’ll need for a comfortable, and central, stay.

If you’re looking for luxury, then you can splurge at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. It is an icon of the area and simply breathtaking.

22. Moraine Lake

Bailey poses for a photo in a canoe in Moraine Lake
Of course!
Canoes at Moraine Lake in Banff National Park
Moraine Lake!

Is there a more stunning and magnificent lake than Lake Louise? There is, in my perspective, and it is Moraine Lake!

Moraine Lake is a must-see for anybody touring the Rocky Mountains and is only a 15-minute drive from Lake Louise. This alpine lake may be the only one that has more color than Lake Louise, with the iconic 10 Peaks serve as a backdrop to this bright-blue lake. These massive mountains stand over the lake, giving a breathtaking panorama that has become famous all around the world. It’s easily one of the lakes you have to see in Banff to believe!

When you arrive at Moraine Lake, you’ll find lots to do and see. Visit the Rock Pile (for that renowned view) or take a leisurely stroll along the Lakeshore Trail or Consolation Lakes Trail. If you visit in the fall, be sure to hike the Larch Valey Trail for the best views and colorful trees you’ve ever seen. Whatever you do, Moraine Lake holds up to its reputation as the most beautiful lake in Canada!

Note: The road to Moraine Lake is only open from the end of May until mid-September due to avalanche risk in the winter months.

Important: Getting to Moraine Lake can be challenging as the Moraine Lake Road and parking lot closed 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 $113 CAD. 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 for $287 CAD. While expensive, it is absolutely the best way to se Moraine Lake!

These tours only depart from Banff or Calgary, so you’ll want to book it for when you finish your road trip!

23. Morant’s Curve

person watches a train pass at Morant's Curve on the Bow Valley Parkway
Morant’s Curve viewpoint!

After leaving Lake Louise, Morant’s Curve is only a short drive (approximately 5-7 minutes) along the Bow Valley Parkway which is the scenic road that connects Lake Louise and Banff. Keep an eye out for the viewing signs and park in the little parking space across the highway.

This is a great spot for a photo near the Bow River’s bend, where trains usually pass by with a stunning mountain backdrop.

The greatest images are taken when a train is approaching the bend and is ideally framed in the shot. The optimum time to catch a train is on a weekday when trains usually run once every hour. The curve is named after famous photographer, Nicholas Morant, who made this one of his favorite sites to photograph.

24. Johnston Canyon

Bailey looks down at the Upper Falls at Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park
The Upper Falls is amazing!
Lower falls at Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park
Lower falls at Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park

Visiting 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. Plus, you’ll learn so much from your expert guide, making the experience even more memorable!

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.

25. Banff Town

Bailey poses for a photo on Banff Ave walking street
Welcome to Banff!

There are so many exciting things to do in Banff that you really need to book a hotel for a few nights to see all this vibrant, lovely mountain town has to offer!

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!

Many visitors also come 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. If you buy the SkiBig3 Lift Ticket you’ll have access to both of those ski resorts along with access to Mt Norquay!

I have to say, the views from Mt Norquay are hard to describe, you really have to see them for yourself. In the summer, ride the sightseeing gondola and visit the restaurant at the top for a beer with a view.

For a few bucks, the Banff Upper Hot Springs is a fantastic opportunity to relax while taking in breathtaking vistas all year. These rank among the best Alberta hot springs since it’s easy to get to and very affordable. At $17.50 CAD per adult and $56.75 CAD for a family.

Check out the unlimited amount of hiking routes surrounding the region or test out the slopes (and vistas) at Mt Norquay to earn that relaxation. If you’re visiting Banff in the winter, you must visit their famous tube park, which is great fun for the whole family!

Also, while you’re here, don’t forget to enjoy downtown Banff. It’s the perfect spot to eat and drink since there are several good restaurants and bars. Parks Distillery is the place to go for a fantastic dinner and craft cocktails, while Banff Brewing Co. is the place to go for a beer.

For foodies, an activity that isn’t quite as well known is this gourmet food tour that takes place inside the historic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Your experience will consist of tasting several specially curated dishes with drink pairings and learning some history about this famous Scottish castle.

If you’re still not sure where to start. check out our 1, 2, and 3 day Banff itinerary!

Related Read: Hiking and seeing wildlife is high on travelers Banff bucket list. Check out the best hikes in Banff and the best wildlife tours too!

Where to Stay in Banff

At the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
Me, at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.

This is one of the most important parts of your trip and in Banff, the selection can be overwhelming and expensive. Below are some great hotels we recommend, but if you’d like more info check out our best hotels in downtown Banff blog as well as our guide to the best areas to stay in Banff National Park. Both articles include options for everyone’s budget and travel style!

Fairmont Banff Springs – $$$

The Fairmont Banff Springs is easily the most luxurious hotel in Banff. If you’re saving by doing free things in Banff so you can splurge a little more on your accommodation, this is the spot to do it!

It’s not cheap but the place is simply incredible (pictured above)! The mountain views and stunning grounds are just the beginning. The rooms are very comfortable some of them offering mountain views. The price per night begins at an average of $1,200 CAD but it varies on the season and type of room.

If you like to eat and shop there are 11 different restaurants and 14 shops to explore. Then go bowling, pamper yourself in the spa, relax in the hot tub, or go for a swim in the pool.

Expect the staff to go above and beyond to make you feel like royalty. If you’re visiting Banff on a honeymoon, then this should be the hotel you choose!

You can book the Fairmont Banff Springs on Booking.com.

Banff Rocky Mountian Resort – $$

Banff Rocky Mountian Resort is a mid-range budget that hotel is sure to please. It is located just 2 miles from town so you are close by for convenience but not right in all the noise.

All the rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated, each has either a kitchenette or a full kitchen. The price for summer per night will be a minimum of at least $300 CAD.

This beautiful property has an indoor swimming pool, indoor and outdoor hot tub, gym, tennis courts, and more! You can dine right at the Alpha Bistro which is located in the main building.

You can book the Banff Rocky Mountain Resort on Booking.com.

Banff Inn  – $$

The Banff Inn is in the perfect price and comfort range. It’s still affordable but also comes with lots of luxuries, the first being the location and the mountains right behind the hotel.

The rooms are spacious, clean, and modern. Expect to pay around $350 CAD or more during peak season.

There is an on-site restaurant that serves things like pizza and burgers and a bar and lounge where you can wind down with a glass of wine in the evenings.

You can book the Banff Inn on Booking.com.

Samesun Banff Hostel – $

The Samesun Banff Hostel is a great budget hostel with dorm rooms. Perfect for those on a tight budget. Expect to pay around $55 CAD for a bed in a mixed dorm room. It’s located right in the middle of town and just a short walk to bars and hotels. A free breakfast is also included every morning and there is fast wifi! You can book this stay on Hostelworld or Booking.com.

Important info: Accommodation in Banff can be tricky. For starters, you need to book well in advance if you want to have a large selection. In the peaks of winter and summer, Banff often books out months in advance.

For this reason, I highly suggest booking a place ASAP! Using Booking.com is great too because lots of hotels offer free cancellation so just lock in a place (or two) for now and make the final decision later!

Essential Info About the Drive Before You Go

Mountain highway on Duffey Lake Rd near Lillooet
Epic road trips begin with great places to stop!
  • There are a variety of paths to choose from, but this guide highlights the most fascinating. The journey from Vancouver to Banff takes roughly 11 hours and 950 kilometers if you use this route (590 miles).
  • When traveling along this roadway at any time of year, keep a look out for wildlife, especially in the early morning and late evening. If at all feasible, drive the trip during the day so you can fully appreciate the beauty.
  • If you’re going on this road trip in the winter, make sure to verify the road conditions first. The vehicle must have winter or all-season tires. If you need to book last-minute accommodation due to changing weather conditions, there are lots of options along this route.
  • Get a Parks Pass! You’ll need a pass to get into Mount Revelstoke National Park, Glacier National Park, and Banff National Park. Since you’ll be visiting multiple parks, it is probably worth it to just purchase the Discovery Pass, which is good for a year at many national parks. Pay $151.25 CAD for an entire vehicle pass (group of people) or $75.25 CAD for one person.
  • From March 1 to June 25, all travel on a short part of the Bow Valley Parkway is prohibited from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Keep it in mind when you plan your schedule and route through the region.
  • Bring a camera with you! You will witness some of the most beautiful sights and locations in the Rocky Mountains during this road trip. It’ll be an incredible journey, and you’ll want to document the memories you build along the way.

Parks Canada Pass Quick Info

If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Kootenay, and more) then you’re going to have to pay for a Parks Pass.

Single Daily Admission:

This type of pass is valid for one person for one day. It is ONLY the best value if you are traveling alone and only plan to visit a national park for a couple of days.

  • Adult (ages 18-64) is $11 CAD
  • Senior (65+) is $9.50 CAD
  • Youth/Child (17 or younger) is FREE

Group Daily Admission:

If you’re traveling in a group or with family, you can buy a single-day admission for your entire vehicle (up to 7 people in one vehicle.)

  • $22.00 CAD gets your entire vehicle entry for one full day

Parks Canada Discovery Pass

The “Discovery Pass” is what Parks Canada calls their year-long (365 days from the purchase date), multi-park entry pass. This pass will give 365 days of access to all participating national parks in Canada. This includes the most popular parks like Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and so much more.

  • Adult (age 18-64) – $75.25 CAD
  • Senior (65+) – $64.50 CAD
  • Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $151.25 CAD

Hot Tip: Although more expensive up front, if you plan on spending more than 7 days in different parks in Canada within a 12-month period, then the Discovery Pass is actually the better deal!

Parks Canada Passes can be bought online here or at one of the Visitor Centers or booths at the entrance to many national parks.

Renting a Car in 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.

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!

Selfie of Dan and bailey from Destinationless Travel
Thanks for reading!

I hope you feel prepared and thrilled to visit these lovely parts of Canada after reading this guide! Whatever season you choose for your road trip from Vancouver to Banff, there will be plenty to see and do – hikes, lakes, grand restaurants, and unique activities! It has everything. So relax and enjoy yourself as you travel from Vancouver to Banff, taking your time to take it all in.

Thanks so much for reading our blog. If you found this article helpful, be sure to check out our other Canada content, which will further your travel endevors! Here are some of my favorites below:

15 BEST Things to do in Banff in September

How to Get from Jasper to Banff +21 Fun Road Trip Stops

COMPLETE Guide to the Larch Valley Hike

12 Things to do in Armstrong, BC & Complete Guide to Visiting!

Melisa

Saturday 2nd of March 2024

Great article. We travel a ton and love a good road trip! If we follow your itinerary how long would you suggest? Two weeks? We have the time!

Thank you

Destinationless Travel

Sunday 10th of March 2024

Hey Melisa,

It all depends but the optimal time would be around 10 days to 14 days. If you have the time I would say 14 days is great.

Thanks Daniel

Larisa

Monday 2nd of October 2023

Hi there, Great blog. I’m planning our trip for next year with the family. This has helped heaps! Planning for 7 days (after 7 days in Alaska)but i know it won’t be enough… will have to do a repeat trip i think. Thanks

Sanjay

Thursday 31st of August 2023

Super informative! Thank you for this!

AJ

Sunday 2nd of July 2023

Hey, fantastic blog!

We will probably follow the same route but need to end up back in Vancouver to fly back to Europe, do you have any suggestions for a different route back? Many thanks

destinationlesstravel

Saturday 8th of July 2023

Hey AJ,

On the way back, go up to Jasper via the Icefields Parkway, through mt Robson and Wells Grey Provincial Park. That way you get the entire experience.

Thanks Daniel

Abdul Rahiman

Sunday 21st of May 2023

This was lovely to read. Thanks for taking the time to share.