This blog may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy for more info.
Both Vancouver and Lake Louise are experiences in and of themselves, with a wealth of natural beauty and fascinating things to do! That’s why a road trip from Vancouver to Lake Louise is one of the most popular, and interesting, adventures in Canada.
Not only are each of these destinations spectacular, but there are some very worthwhile stops and amazing hikes along the route as well! If you were to drive straight through, it would take you around 10 hours. But why would you want to do that? Slow down a little and enjoy the drive from Vancouver to Lake Louise stopping at some of the best places to visit in British Columbia and Alberta along the way.
That’s why I’ve written this blog – it is about the top 15 places to see on your journey from Vancouver to Lake Louise. I recommend taking your time on this road trip and appreciating each location along the route. Spend a few days if you can, and if you continue reading, I’ll suggest some great places to stay a night or two.
About the Drive from Vancouver to Lake Louise
The distance between Vancouver and Lake Louise is approximately 800 km (500 miles) on the most direct route, and the journey would take around 10 hours if no breaks were made.
With that said, the most direct route isn’t the most beautiful (in my opinion.) Instead, I recommend that you take the slightly longer route through Whistler. This way, you can hit most of Canada’s most popular Rocky Mountain towns including Whistler, Revelstoke, Golden, and then finally finish in Lake Louise. For something extra special, continue on driving from Lake Louise to Banff.
For that reason, this is probably the most epic road trip you can do in all of Canada.
For the purpose of this blog, I focus on this scenic route, which is 860 kilometers (535 miles) long. So, it is only slightly longer than the most direct route. Without stops, this scenic route will take around 10.5-11 hours.
As I previously indicated, I strongly advise you to take your time on your journey and enjoy and explore each of these particular locations over several days. There are plenty of stops along this road trip that are going to leave you wanting more, which is why I have included accommodation recommendations at numerous stops!
The drive from Vancouver to Lake Louise may be done at any time of year, but the winter months can make the journey more difficult, especially for those unaccustomed to driving in such conditions. It’s lovely no matter what time of year you go, although the roads are considerably simpler to navigate in the summer and fall.
If you wish to travel during the colder and snowy months, you’ll need winter tires (usually November to March). On the ice and snow, you’ll almost certainly encounter along the journey, these tires will give additional traction!
Driving Between Vancouver and Lake Louise FAQs
15 BEST Stops on the Drive from Vancouver to Lake Louise
1. Vancouver City
One of Canada’s most dynamic cities is Vancouver. It has a lot to offer nature lovers, adventurers, and even foodies and cultural buffs. Because of it being a great airport hub, and offering plenty of things to do and awesome tours, it’s the perfect starting point for your epic road trip.
Vancouver can be a costly destination, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of fun cheap, and free activities to check out as well!
Whether you want to get outdoors and go kayaking in False Creek (you can even join a guided kayaking and SUP tour), or stick to the indoors and do a fun brewery tour, there is surely something to do for whatever kind of experience you’re looking to have! If you do check out some breweries, Granville Island Brewing is one of my personal faves.
One of the most famous landmarks in Vancouver is the Capilano Suspension Bridge where you can enjoy a treetop walk through the forest! The bridge is 137 meters long (450 feet) and hangs 70 meters (230 feet) above the Capilano River. Tickets cost $73 CAD per adult.
Lynn Canyon is another opportunity to walk across a suspension bridge, and it’s totally free! Wandering through the forest here is a complete escape from the bustling feel of the city. You won’t believe it’s only 25 minutes from the center of Vancouver!
Hiking in Vancouver is popular during the summer months especially. Quarry Rock is arguably the most popular easy hike in Vancouver. For that reason, I recommend trying to go during the week and avoiding the middle of the day.
Whale watching is by far one of Vancouver’s top activities! From out on the open water, you’ll have to opportunity to spot various types of whales, including Humpback whales and, my favorite, Orcas. But besides whales, you’ll also have the opportunity to spot other wildlife, including seabirds, seals, and otters.
You can expect to pay about $226 CAD for this half-day whale-watching tour that includes tea and coffee as well as expert naturalists to teach you all about the whales and area.
If you’re visiting Vancouver in the winter, you’ll want to go skiing or snowboarding! Mt. Seymour, Cypress Mountain, and Grouse Mountain are all worth checking out. Just rent some gear and grab a day pass!
For the best views of Vancouver catch a cable car the 1,200 meters (3.900 feet) up Grouse Mountain or if you’re keen for a workout complete the ‘Grouse Grind’ to reach the top, this involves climbing up over 2,800 steps! It’s an especially popular activity with local Vancouverites, some even do this as their daily workout!
If you want to catch the cable car to the top you can buy your tickets here.
Riding in a seaplane has been one of the most exciting things I have done in Vancouver! Taking off and landing on the water was new and a little scary but don’t worry, though; the pilots are trained professionals.
While this scenic flight is only a 20-minute Vancouver city seaplane tour, it was such a fantastic experience and we got to see so much of the city and surrounding mountains. The best part is, it only cost $160 CAD! Can you believe that?
Vancouver is without a doubt one of my favorite destinations in BC, so be sure to give yourself a decent amount of time to explore the city.
Where to stay in Vancouver
The Cambie Hostel Gastown is perfect if you’re looking for a budget option! There are not as many hostel options in Vancouver but this one in Gastown is a good option. While it doesn’t have super high ratings it is in an excellent location.
For something a bit more moderately priced in the West End in the middle of the action try The Listel Hotel Vancouver. There is an on-site restaurant and is a short walk to major attractions like Stanley Park or the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Or ball out at the Fairmont Pacific Rim if you are searching for luxury. It has a full-service spa and rooftop swimming pool, on-site restaurants that have live music, and an outdoor terrace. The views from this hotel are phenomenal, as it’s right at the waterfront.
There are literally hundreds of places to stay in Vancouver. Read our blog about where to stay in Vancouver for info about the best areas to base yourself and the top-rated hotels.
2. Shannon Falls
Shannon Falls is one of my favorite places to see on the drive from Vancouver to Lake Louise!
Located just an hour from Vancouver, the falls are a perfect first stop where you can eat lunch, stretch your legs, and take in the sights of the beautiful falls! Shannon Falls is directly south of Squamish (another stop on your road trip), and the hike to the falls is rather straightforward and level. A paved trail is also available for everyone’s enjoyment.
Shannon Falls is a sight to behold at 335 meters (1100 ft) tall. The ideal seasons to visit are late spring and early summer when the winter snow on the nearby mountains has melted and the falls are at their most powerful. It’s free to visit and you’ll find a large parking lot when you arrive as well as bathroom facilities and picnic tables.
3. Sea to Sky Gondola
The views from the Sea to Sky Gondola are incredible. On your route from Vancouver to Lake Louise, it’s a must-see! It’s located just outside of Squamish and provides 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.
The gondola costs $69.95 CAD per adult for a day pass. Trekking to the point is also an option, albeit it is rather tough (almost 1,000 meters/3,280 feet in elevation gain!). You would only have to pay for a one-way gondola ticket to return down. To be honest, the gondola ride is a lot of fun and well worth the $70 CAD – the views are incredible and you get so high up!
Squamish is a great place to explore and break up your journey since it’s located about halfway on the drive from Vancouver to Whistler. Squamish is a town with plenty to do, and it’s known for being a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking, rock climbing, and windsurfing are all within easy reach!
Stop into the Howe Sound Brewery or the Zephyr Café for a bite to eat or a drink, both of which are lively local hangouts. If you want to learn about culture and history, the Railway Museum of British Columbia is a terrific destination to visit.
It’s also fun to just meander around the downtown area because there are so many lovely small shops and businesses to see.
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 is while navigating rapids on the Elaho and Squamish Rivers.
This whitewater rafting tour includes transportation, a guide, and all the gear you need. You can simply grab a paddle with your group and head out for some outdoor fun on the river!
These rapids are Class 3-4 and feature some exhilarating twists and turns including the “Devil’s Elbow” section of the river. You’re going to ride big waves here and catch some air on the choppy rapids.
The entire journey is about 16 kilometers (10 miles) and it costs about $190 CAD but is worth every penny.
For a more laid-back activity, I highly recommend setting sail on the Howe Sound where you will be offered the chance to take the helm or learn how to trim the sails (balance them). You could also just sit back and enjoy the views and if you get lucky you might spot some wild orcas or dolphins. This sailing experience lasts 3 hours and costs $179 CAD.
While in Squamish, make sure to drive out to the Squamish Spit, located at the tip of the Howe Sound near the Squamish Estuary. The main draw here is to check out the windsurfers! The natural environment here is perfect for wind sports, like windsurfing and kiteboarding. It’s pretty cool watching these athletes catch some major air and surfing the waves!
Where to Stay in Squamish
If you want to break up the road trip from Vancouver to Calgary then Squamish is the perfect place to spend a night or two. There’s plenty to do in Squamish and lots of hotels and holiday homes to choose from.
For a budget stay, check out the Adventure Inn. You can get a private room for an affordable price here as well as have access to shared communal facilities like laundry and a kitchen – super handy if you want to save money by cooking.
For something a little nicer, check out the Mountain Retreat. This hotel features many different styles of rooms from a standard queen all the way to a one-bedroom family suite. There is a pool, fitness center, and on-site restaurant.
Higher-end travelers can’t pass up the Sandman Hotel and Suites Squamish. The queen and king rooms here are clean and comfortable and a delicious breakfast is included. The property has a hot tub, pool, waterslide, and gym. It is also pet friendly if you are road-tripping with your 4-legged friend!
5. Garibaldi Lake
Garibaldi Provincial Park contains Garibaldi Lake, one of Canada’s most beautiful alpine lakes. Despite its beauty, it is far less visited than other Canadian lakes.
It’s probably that the difficult 9-kilometer (5.6-mile) climb to get there, which includes a 900-meter (2,950-foot) elevation gain, that scares people off. While the hike to Garibaldi Lake is challenging, the payoff in this case is definitely worth it.
If you can’t get enough of the view, Garibaldi Lake is a terrific spot to spend the night on an overnight backcountry adventure. You may go to Blacktusk and Panorama Ridge Lookout, two more hikes, after you wake up. Both are longer by 5.5 km (3.4 miles) and 7 km (4.3 miles), respectively, with a 500 m grade (1,640 ft). These hikes are intended for hikers with more expertise.
If you choose to camp overnight, the lake’s campground has around 50 campsites with bathrooms and cooking shelters. Campsites are $13 CAD per person, each night, and must be reserved online in advance or at the Squamish Visitor Centre.
There are so many fascinating things to do and see in Whistler that you could easily spend weeks there. If you visit Whistler in the winter, don’t forget to ski, and if you visit in the summer, take advantage of the hiking trails and lakes.
The following are some of Whistler’s most popular activities and attractions:
- Ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola – Not only is it the world’s longest gondola, but it’s also the world’s highest and longest unsupported span of any lift. You can grab tickets here!
- Go ziplining – You have to check out this particular zipline called the Sasquatch! This huge zipline will have you reaching speeds of well over 100 km/hr (62 mph) – it’s such an adrenaline rush! This zipline experience starts at $147 CAD per person and can even be done from spring until mid-October. You should book this ziplining tour in advance as it is one of the most popular activities in Whistler and often books up.
- Hit the slopes – Whistler Blackcomb is one of the most expensive ski resorts I have visited – which to me was a little off-putting. However, once I was out there skiing you begin to see just how cool this resort is. It has over 200 runs, 3,307 hectares (8,171 acres) of terrain, and 36 different lifts.
- Explore Whistler Village – Take a peek around the neighborhood at the numerous cafes and boutique shops. purebread is a fantastic bakery and coffee shop that you must see.
- Go snowmobiling – zooming through the winter wilderness is another way to keep you enthused! This 3-hour snowmobiling tour is an awesome option with impeccable reviews but it is expensive at $250+ CAD, but if you can find the room in your budget then I wouldn’t skip this Whistler adventure!
- Check out some of the nearby lakes – Green Lake, Alta Lake, and my personal favorite, Lost Lake, are all easily accessible through the surrounding pine forest via beautiful walking paths.
- Go on a distillery tour – Deep in one of Whistler’s hidden neighborhoods you can take a tour of Montis Distilling for $88 CAD and taste all of their available products! There’s the option to upgrade your tour to include a curated charcuterie box from another local company Picnic Whistler that will pair well with all of your samples. How could you say no? I know I couldn’t! At the end, you can be dropped off at one of the best cocktail bars in Whistler, The Raven Room.
- Kayak the river of Golden Dreams – this kayaking tour travels between two of Whistler’s biggest lakes starting at Alta Lake. From here, you’ll head off down the river mouth while floating along casually paddling in the currents. Along the way, you’ll see geese, navigate past beaver dams, and enjoy overhanging greenery and stunning views. It’s a great self-guided tour that’ll cost you about $139 CAD for 3-hours on the lake with all of your equipment included.
- Via Ferrata – Whistler is another great place in Canada to try via ferrata, an introduction to rock climbing. Challenge yourself to climb the entire 2160-meter (7,086 feet) summit of Whistler Mountain with safety cables and metal rungs. The scenery is indescribable and well worth the $177 CAD price tag.
Where to stay in Whistler
If you decided not to stay at Garibaldi Provincial Park, Whistler is another great option for breaking up your road trip. As I said, you could easily spend weeks here doing all of the fun activities and there are some awesome places to stay in Whistler.
For budget travelers, Pangea Pod Hotel is a great option. It’s a basic hotel with pod-style rooms with clean, well looked after facilities. The location is also really good and you are within walking distance to the ski lifts in Whistler Upper Village. It’s also easy to book on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.com which is a big plus for us.
For luxury travelers, I obviously love the Four Seasons Resort Whistler, they nail every detail including the accommodating staff, beautiful rooms, and a list of amenities to take advantage of but another option slightly cheaper is the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre. Its location is perfect for luxury skiers because it’s only 250 meters (820 feet) from the closest gondola.
7. Joffre Lakes
This is a must-see on the trip from Vancouver to Lake Louise! Lower, Middle, and Upper Joffre Lakes are the highlights of a hike through Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, with their stunning turquoise blue water. The color comes from “rockflour,” or glacial silt trapped in the water, which reflects blue and green wavelengths from the sun – it’s magnificent!
Upper Joffre Lake is around 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the parking lot and is largely uphill. Along the way, you’ll see three beautiful lakes, stream crossings, excellent views of the mountain range, a waterfall, and the Matier Glacier at the peak overlooking Upper Joffre Lake. Retrace your steps back to the trailhead (a 10 km/6.21 mi total hike there and back) and enjoy the easier descent and another look at these stunning lakes.
This is a popular summer attraction, so parking may be a challenge. The parking lot is typically crowded, and street parking is not permitted. On occasion, shuttle buses from a nearby overflow parking lot are available, however this is not usually the case. To guarantee an early arrival, I recommend staying the night before in Pemberton, which is nearby, and heading to the trailhead at sunrise to guarantee a parking spot.
Related Read: Joffre Lakes is also one of the best things to do from Pemberton, BC.
After Joffre Lakes, it’s time to drive inland towards the town of Lillooet, where you’re in for a temperature change. Lillooet is a has a desert-like atmosphere and some of Canada’s highest temperatures ever recorded. It’s also located along the Fraser River and provides amazing mountain views.
There are various orchards and vineyards in the region, thanks to the long growing season. Sample some of Fort Berens Estate Winery’s award-winning wine. While you’re here, take a walk across the Old Suspension Bridge. It was built more than a century ago and is solely accessible to pedestrians now.
Kamloops is one of the bigger cities located on this road trip from Vancouver to Lake Louise. This makes it a good stop to fuel up, get groceries, go out for a nice dinner, and just enjoy the city life for a day or two. Besides that, there are actually quite a lot of other adventurous things to do in Kamloops too.
Whether you want to go downhill skiing or snowshoeing in the winter, or enjoy the long summers with excellent weather from April to November by hiking or paddling on the nearby lakes and rivers, Kamloops is a fantastic place to visit in any season.
For skiing, the Sun Peaks ski resort that is 45 minutes outside of Kamloops would be my top recommendation because it gets about 6 meters (20 feet) of snow annually.
There are around 100 lakes within an hour’s drive of the city! These are perfect for just about any type of water sport you can imagine. To see Kamloops Lake from the water, take a boat trip around it. Historic stone railroad bridges and tunnels, as well as rugged bluffs and perhaps even an eagle’s nest, will all be visible.
There are several hiking opportunities in Kamloops with various terrain options. The Kenna Cartwright Nature Park is a nice option, with 40 kilometers (25 miles) of pathways. There are a number of beaches and picnic areas, as well as spectacular views of Kamloops and the Thompson Valley. Go out at sunset or sunrise for a very breathtaking view.
Speaking of Thompson Valley, this area is also home to four wineries. Make sure to visit at least one while you’re here! I love spending an afternoon at a winery to sip great wine and savor the view. A couple of my favorites are Monte Creek Winery and Harper’s Trail Estate Winery.
Visitors to the BC Wildlife Park may get up close and personal with over 60 different species. It’s a rescue and rehabilitation center, and the vast majority of the animals have been rescued. There’s a splash park, a playground, and a mini-train for the kids. The park’s adult entry price is $17.95 CAD with discounts for children and seniors.
Where to stay in Kamloops:
As I mentioned, it’s a great idea to spend a few nights in Kamloops if you have time. There are plenty of hotels to choose from here.
Personally, I love the Prestige Kamloops Hotel only a couple of minutes from town which is complete with a waterslide and brand new restaurants or if you’re on a budget, the Rodeway Inn & Suites which includes a continental breakfast.
For a more luxurious option, try the South Thompson Inn and Conference Centre. It’s located on 55 acres of green space surrounded by mountains and the South Thompson River. The rooms have great views, there’s a 24 hour hot-tub overlooking the river and nearby hiking trails.
Side trip to Kelowna and Vernon:
From Kamloops, you can go on a bit of a detour if you want to explore the Okanagan Valley. The Okanagan is known for beautiful lakes, warm weather, delicious fruit, and most importantly, wine! Head to the cities of Kelowna and Vernon first, then if you want to venture further south you can check out Osoyoos or Peachland.
10. Salmon Arm
Salmon Arm is a lovely small town that you’re going to love. When I lived there for a few years, I certainly did. People who appreciate the outdoors, in particular, will find so much to do! Explore the downtown area, eat (and drink) your way through it, or simply unwind. There certainly is something for everyone here.
Salmon Arm has beautiful hikes, delicious fruit, and top-notch vineyards. Here are a few of the best Salmon Arm activities:
- Walk North America’s largest wooden wharf — All year long, you may stroll down the wharf and take in the beauty of Shuswap Lake. In the summer, when there is live music and food trucks to enjoy, I love it even more! It has a beautiful, community vibe.
- Go hiking – This region has some pretty stellar hikes if you’re ready to get outside and get active. One of my favorites is Mt. Ida, which is a large 1,564-meter (5,131 feet) mountain south of Salmon Arm. There are a few routes to take up the mountain, but the Mount Ida Loop. It’s a 33 km loop (20.5 miles) with 1,598 meters (5,242 feet) of elevation gain is worth it if you have the time and are up for a challenge. If that sounds like a bit much, try out Raven Trail or Shuswap North Rail Trail, both of which are fairly easy, and go around Shuswap Lake.
- Mountain bike at Little Mountain Park — I hope you’re ready for an adventure! Mountain biking is so much fun, and Little Mountain Park offers a variety of trails that even a beginner can have fun on.
- Stock up on cheap local wine at OVINO Winery – OVINO Winery is a very small, family-fun winery set on a farm. They are open for wine tastings, so you can go and test your palette – either try something new or stick with your favorites!
- Visit the most Northern winery in BC – Larch Hills – You absolutely cannot visit this region of BC without trying out some local wines. Larch Hills offers some of the most delicious wines, and you can try them out during a free cellar door tasting. Once you’ve learned a little about the wine, how it’s made, and what your favorite is, you can go to the tasting room, enjoy a glass and take in the stunning views from their property.
Where to stay in Salmon Arm
This may be a good place to break up your trip a little bit. Not to mention I’m sure you’ve only skimmed the top of the incredible list of things to do here and are yearning for more time to explore.
The Hilltop Inn is a popular hotel choice as they offer larger rooms that can fit small families. This hotel also has a pool, free parking, and breakfast included.
If you’re traveling with your significant other or are after a luxury stay The Inn at the Ninth Hole Bed & Breakfast is the way to go. The rooms here are beautiful and surprisingly affordable. Of course, this place includes an exceptional breakfast and is in a beautiful area outside Salmon Arm.
11. Revelstoke and Mount Revelstoke National Park
Revelstoke is one of the most beautiful towns in Canada. It has everything you could ever want with mountain ranges, lakes, glaciers, and more! If there is one place that you absolutely must stop at on your road trip from Vancouver to Lake Louise, Revelstoke should be it!
It’s all about the beautiful outdoors in this town. There is a lot to select from when deciding what to do, from hiking paths to beautiful views. The following are some of the top things to do in Revelstoke:
- Ride the gondola up at Revelstoke Mountain Resort – It’s without a doubt one of Revelstoke’s best views, and you don’t have to walk up to get there! There are two gondolas at the resort. The first will take you to the pinnacle of the mountain. This second gondola ride takes around 10 minutes, and when you get to the top, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking valley views!
- Pipe Mountain Coaster – a cool gravity-fed roller coaster also at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. It flies down the hill and feels like a real roller coaster – it was super fun!
- Visit Mt Revelstoke National Park – You can actually drive right up to the peak of Mt Revelstoke in this national park, making it extremely accessible. You may go hiking on one of the many beautiful trails, enjoy lunch by one of the lakes, or even take a short walk to see all of the beautiful flowers and vistas after parking your car at the summit. You’ll need a Parks Pass to visit this national park.
- Hit the slopes – If you’re visiting in the winter, know that Revelstoke, British Columbia is recognized for its excellent winter sports. This little alpine community is unmistakably a winter paradise! Revelstoke is famed for its heavy snowfalls and high alpine terrain, which can put even the most experienced skiers to the test. If you’re like me and prefer green or blue runs, they also have those!
- Go whitewater rafting – If you want to enjoy the cool glacier water of the Illecillewaet River there is an opportunity to book a whitewater rafting adventure for $141 CAD. Or opt for a more gentle river float tour for $77 CAD on the Colombia River – one of Canada’s most famous rivers! Either way, the abundance of natural scenery in either location is sure to make you feel alive!
Where to stay in Revelstoke
Stoke Hotel is a very good budget option that includes breakfast. It’s located right in town and has really good reviews!
Another option is Coast Hillcrest Hotel is a highly rated hotel that offers guests a comfortable stay at a reasonable price. They have an onsite fitness center, sauna, hot tub, as well as a restaurant. The location is central and the large selection of room types means there is something suitable for everyone including families.
For more ideas on where to stay you can check out our blog on the best places to stay in Revelstoke.
12. 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 $10 to $145 CAD depending on the number of parks, people, and amount of time the pass covers.
Golden is another small town in the Rockies surrounded by national parks, mountain ranges, and many outdoor activities, so there’s never a dull moment. Not to mention the amazing restaurants, unique shops, bustling pubs, and intriguing cultural attractions.
Your stop in Golden can be as interesting or relaxed as you like! Here are a few spectacular activities in Golden to consider:
- 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.
- Go whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse — Whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse River is such an adrenaline rush. With grade 3-4 rapids, it’s one of the best rivers in Canada to go rafting and easily one of the best things to do in Golden. 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 – Why not start off with Golden’s newest attraction? The Golden Skybridge is Canada’s highest suspension bridge and it only just opened in the summer of 2021! At 130 meters (426 feet) above the canyon, you’ll experience such a thrill walking over it and taking in all the amazing views of the Columbia Valley. If walking along a suspension bridge is not enough for you, there is also a zipline experience, ropes course, and a spectacular canyon swing!
- Explore downtown Golden – You’ll be pretty busy with all the different outdoor recreation activities around Golden, but don’t forget the town itself! Downtown Golden is a quaint, historic-looking town with a bunch of things to do! A good place to start your exploration is 9th Avenue, which has a lot of shops, cafes, and restaurants to explore. You can learn more about the city at the Visitor Centre or Golden Museum.
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.
14. Yoho National Park
Yoho National Park, which includes the municipality of Field, is a terrific place to visit; plan on spending at least a few hours (maybe even a whole day) here! The park is known for its towering waterfalls, dazzling lakes, and a variety of year-round activities. There are also shops, restaurants, and other attractions in the town of Field.
The gorgeous Emerald Lake (pictured above) is a must-see, with its brilliant waters that live up to their name. You can walk around the entire lake in approximately an hour, or snowshoe across it in the winter. It’s a great opportunity to see wild orchids, bald eagles, moose, and more. You may also canoe or kayak on the lake’s calm waters. Spoil yourself and stay a night at the Emerald Lake Lodge on the edge of the lake.
Another stunning site is the Natural Bridge, an ancient rock formation that spans the Kicking Horse River. Emerald Lake Road is approximately 3 km (1.9 miles) from Field, making it easy to reach there by car. A guided hike to the area’s fossil beds, which feature 500 million-year-old fossils, is also available.
15. Lake Louise
Lake Louise is a small mountain village situated within the magnificent Rocky Mountains. It’s surrounded by untouched wilderness and stunning landscapes and has all the ingredients for a bucket-list place to visit.
Even something as simple as relaxing on the Lake Louise lakefront is sure to leave you in awe as you look out at the glaciers, mountain peaks, and clear lake!
If you want some more action, why not kayak on the lake in the summer, or if you’re visiting Lake Louise in the winter, get out there on your ice skates. It’s a completely free activity if you bring your own skates as opposed to renting some from in town.
I have been to Lake Louise numerous times throughout my years of living close to the Rockies. Here are a few of my favorites to check out during your visit:
- Relax at the Lake Louise foreshore – When it comes to enjoying Lake Louise, one of the easiest and most common ways is to enjoy the views are from the Lake Louise foreshore. Within minutes of arriving, you can have a coffee in hand and stare out at mountain peaks, glaciers, and the bluest lake you’ll ever see.
- Hike to the Lake Agnes Tea House – My favorite out of all the hikes in Lake Louise is the Lake Agnes Tea House trail. Starting right from the foreshore, the trail has you hiking high above Lake Louise where you can peer down and see parts of the lake from above. Lake Agnes Tea House Trail is a 7.3-kilometer (4.5 miles) return track that climbs 400 meters (1,312 feet) in elevation. The trail is moderately difficult but not technical at all!
- Rent a canoe and explore Lake Louise – When I think of iconic Canadian activities a few come to mind. However, one of the most relaxing and breathtaking is paddling an alpine lake on a Canadian Canoe. You can do this throughout Canada, but there aren’t many places as beautiful as Lake Louise to enjoy this activity.
- Visit Moraine Lake – While you’re at Lake Louise, you should be sure to take the opportunity to see what I consider to be an even more stunning lake, Moraine Lake. It may be the only lake aside from Lake Louise that has an even more vibrant color. You’ll need to take a tour to Moraine Lake or jump on a bus or shuttle since there’s no public parking here. When you arrive at Moraine Lake, you’ll find lots to do and see. Visit the Rock Pile or walk along the Lakeshore Trail for one of the best trails in the area.
Note: From May 13th until October 10th, you’ll be required to pay $21.00 CAD per vehicle per day to park at Lake Louise Lakefront (2023 updated price). The paid parking is in effect from 7 am until 7 pm daily.
Where to Stay in Lake Louise
If you’re planning to spend more than one day in Lake Louise, then you’ll need somewhere to stay overnight. Being such a small village, options are very limited, so you should book as far in advance as possible. Below are my top three choices in all budget categories:
Hi Lake Louise Alpine Center – Budget
For budget travelers, the Hi Lake Louise Alpine Center is the best option in Lake Louise Village. The location is right in town just far enough away from the shops so it is peaceful but close enough that is easy to access. They have a shared kitchen, plenty of lounge areas, and friendly staff.
The mattresses in the shared and private rooms may not be the most comfortable but you are getting what you pay for, and it works for a cheap night or two. Dorms cost around $45 CAD whereas a private double room averages $130 CAD. You can book a stay on either Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.
Lake Louise Inn – Moderate Budget
The Lake Louise Inn can still be an affordable option but quite a bit fancier than the above hostel. The hotel features an indoor pool, two onsite restaurants, a bar, modern rooms, and even apartments for larger groups.
From a majority of the rooms, you’ll have a nice mountain view and the suites and apartments include a balcony and fireplace. Prices typically range between $300-400 CAD.
You can easily book a stay online on Booking.com!
Fairmont Château Lake Louise – Luxury
For those with a big budget, you can’t look past the Fairmont Château Lake Louise. The hotel sits on the shoreline of Lake Louise with epic views in the most stunning of locations. It’s guaranteed that you will have either a view of Lake Louise or the Château grounds. The average cost per night here is at least $1,000 CAD.
As far as dining is concerned imagine having regional cuisine made with organic ingredients from the 4-Diamond Fairview Dining Room. There are also 6 other restaurants at the Fairmont including but not limited to a 24-hour deli and a sports bar.
You can book the Fairmont Château Lake Louise on Booking.com.
I’ve added spending a night or two here to my personal bucket list! Book your luxury getaway on Booking.com here.
Essential Info About the Drive Before You Go
- If you’re doing this trip in the winter, double-check the road conditions first. Winter or all-season tires are required for the vehicle.
- 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 purchased the Discovery Pass, which is good for a year at many national parks. Pay $145.25 CAD for an entire vehicle pass (group of people) or $72.25 CAD for one person.
- If for some reason you do have to stop along the way because of changing weather conditions, or other circumstances, there are several possibilities along this route if you need to book a last-minute hotel.
- There are shorter routes for this road trip, however, this one is going to be the most interesting!
- Some activities book up quicker than others, and this also often depends on the season. Do your research ahead of time to see if the activities and excursions you want to do need to be booked in advance, or can wait until the last minute.
- Don’t forget to bring your camera! During this road journey, you will see some of the most magnificent landscapes and locales in the Rocky Mountains. It’ll be an unforgettable adventure, and you’ll want to keep track of the memories you make along the way.
Heading to Banff next? Plan your road trip with our guide to driving from Lake Louise to Banff!
Parks Canada Pass Quick Info
If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Kootenay, and more) then you’re going to have to pay for a Parks Pass.
Single Daily Admission:
This type of pass is valid for one person for one day. It is ONLY the best value if you are traveling alone and only plan to visit a national park for a couple of days.
- Adult (ages 18-64) is $10.50 CAD
- Senior (65+) is $9.00 CAD
- Youth/Child (17 or younger) is FREE
Group Daily Admission:
If you’re traveling in a group or with family, you can buy a single-day admission for your entire vehicle (up to 7 people in one vehicle.)
- $21.00 CAD gets your entire vehicle entry for one full day
Parks Canada Discovery Pass
The “Discovery Pass” is what Parks Canada calls their year-long (365 days from the purchase date), multi-park entry pass. This pass will give 365 days of access to all participating national parks in Canada. This includes the most popular parks like Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and so much more.
- Adult (age 18-64) – $72.25 CAD
- Senior (64+) – $61.75 CAD
- Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $145.25 CAD
Hot Tip: Although more expensive up front, if you plan on spending more than 7 days in different parks in Canada within a 12-month period, then the Discovery Pass is actually the better deal!
Parks Canada Passes can be bought online here or at one of the Visitor Centers or booths at the entrance to many national parks.
Renting a Car in British Columbia
If you’re arriving in British Columbia via plane, then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. British Columbia is a large province and traveling between the best places to visit in BC requires transport. Although you can use public transport on some occasions, this means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.
Car rental in Canada isn’t relatively cheap, but it’s not that expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pick-up and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though, depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Discover Cars. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used Discover Cars all over the world, including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.
Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic, you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!
Canada Travel Essentials
Before you decide to head off and explore the gorgeous mountains, lakes, towns, and cities around Canada it’s important to have the right equipment. Of course, it’s likely you’ll have most of the basics already but there are some common items people forget that I never travel without.
Crampons: In winter, crampons are super handy, but what people don’t realize is that they come in handy in summer too. In fact, up until mid-July, you can still expect icy conditions in the mountains. The pair I use is only $37 CAD and they have lasted me 3 seasons so far!
Waterproof shell: Most people will have this item but I thought I’d include it anyway since it’s so handy in Canada. The Columbia waterproof jacket is a lightweight windproof jacket that will seriously save you in many situations. The best part, though? It comes in pink!
Scent-proof bag (for bears): Most people think you only need to keep the smell of food away from you when you’re overnight camping. However, bears can smell the food in your bag while you’re hiking and the best way to avoid an encounter is to use a scent-proof bear bag. Basically, you put your food in the bag and the bear cannot smell it while you’re hiking. This is one item most people never have (I never hike without it) but it could save you and the bear.
Buff: I love my buff! Seriously, I go nowhere without it both in winter and summer. There are a few brands around but I always buy the original Buff (you know, the one from Survivor!) They’re a little more expensive but the material is good quality and both breathable and quick drying.
Dry bag: I have expensive camera equipment, so I always travel with a dry bag large enough to fit some of my equipment. It can be a camera, book, binoculars, or even my keys. Regardless, a dry bag gives me peace of mind! The MARCHWAY bag is really good quality, and when not in use, takes up only a small amount of room.
Binoculars: I love my binoculars! Seriously they have come in handy so many times, especially when I’m looking for wildlife. The best part is, I use a set that only costs $25 CAD and they serve my basic needs without any issues!
Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!
If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!)
It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!
Thanks for reading!
I’m sure after reading this guide on the best stops on the drive from Vancouver to Lake Louise you’re just itching to hit the road! I hope that this helped you better map your route, and show that it’s not just about where you’re going, but the journey along the way.
Let me know the stop you’re most looking forward to, and if you have any other questions don’t hesitate to ask! Feel free to check out some of our other guides before you go: