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22 BEST Stops on the Drive from Whistler to Calgary

22 BEST Stops on the Drive from Whistler to Calgary

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You’ve come here because you’re planning to take on the whopper of a drive from Whistler to Calgary. It’s one of the longest road trips we recommend doing in Canada – but it’s well worth the distance!

After doing this drive several times, I think some of the best places to visit in the country are dotted along this stretch of road – from the turquoise Lake Louise to the bustling mountain town of Banff. But, the drive between Whistler and Calgary is also filled with hidden gems like Salmon Arm and Golden

Having grown up in Alberta and lived in BC for several years, I think I’m the perfect person to write this complete guide to driving between Whistler and Calgary. I’ve started this road trip in Whistler, but of course, you can do this road trip in reverse (from Calgary to Whistler) and stop at all the places below but in the opposite order!

About the Drive from Whistler to Calgary

The drive from Whistler to Calgary is 916 kilometers (569 miles) long. This means that without stops it will take over 11 hours to drive between these two popular destinations. We definitely do not recommend driving directly (not stopping off along the way)! It’s too long of a drive and there is so much beauty to be seen that not stopping would be a real shame.

As you’ll read below there are some world-class stops along this drive – like Joffre Lakes, Lake Louise, and Banff. Plus, the route I’ll go through passes by not one, but four national parks. Yup, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Yoho, and Banff National Parks are spread out along this route.

If you plan to drive it in winter, be sure to check the weather and road conditions before you go. It is a major highway (the Trans-Canada Highway 1) for most of the way, which will be cleared regularly of snowfall. Make sure your car (or rental car) has winter tires or at the very least all-season tires to handle any ice or snow with ease. If the weather changes and the roads get too bad, we recommend stopping in Kamloops or at one of the hotels in Banff, or hotels in Canmore to stay the night.

I also recommend doing most of your driving during the day. Not only are the sights much more enjoyable, but many of these roads have twists and turns, and it’s easier to watch for animals in the daylight.

BEST Stops on the Drive from Whistler to Calgary

1. Whistler

Views of Whistler town from the gondola
Up the Whistler Gondola we go!

Before you set off on your road trip to Calgary be sure to spend some time exploring this world-class mountain town. We advise a minimum of 3 days in Whistler to see it all! It’s one of the most popular places to visit in BC, and for good reason.

There are plenty of fun things to do and see in Whistler in both the winter and the summer, so many that you could easily spend weeks here exploring. In Whistler, there is pretty much every type of outdoor adventure activity that we could think of!

One of the most popular winter activities in Whistler 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 early May. Lift passes for adults average around $249 CAD. But the rate changes depending on the month you plan to ski, i.e., December is more expensive than May.

During summer in Whistler, 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.

For the adrenaline junkies among us, I highly recommend the epic zipline called the Sasquatch! This HUGE zipline down the side of a mountain had us reaching speeds of well over 100 km/hr (62 mph) – I may have screamed a bit! This was hands-down, the best zipline I’ve ever been on. It’s available in spring, summer, and fall for $147 CAD per person You should book this ziplining tour in advance as it often sells out.

Whether I’m in town for a road trip or spending a couple of days here, I always make time to wander around Whistler Village! Be sure to visit Purebread, an amazing bakery and coffee shop. There are also a few different museums to check out – the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Center was amazing when I last visited.

Kayaking down the River of Golden Dreams
Kayaking down the River of Golden Dreams is one of the best things to do in the summer here!

Two more of our favorite things to do in Whistler are:

  • Ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola – You can’t come to Whistler and not ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola. This is the longest gondola ride in the world and connects the top of Blackcomb Mountain with Whistler Mountain. The first time I rode this, the views absolutely blew me away! Once you’re at the top you can check out the Whistler Sky Walk, which offers even more sweeping views of the valley, and a bit of a thrill!

Where to stay in Whistler

You could easily spend weeks here doing all of the fun activities. so luckily there are some awesome hotels in Whistler to choose from.

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 within walking distance to the ski lifts in Whistler Upper Village. While most Whistler hotels are around the $200 CAD mark, you can get a pod here for roughly $100 CAD on either Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

For luxury travelers, I obviously love the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, they nail every detail including the accommodating staff, beautiful rooms, and a list of amenities to take advantage of! It’s pricer starting at $300+ CAD. Another option that’s slightly cheaper and around the $20 CAD mark is the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre. Its location is perfect for skiers because it’s basically next door to the closest gondola.

Related Read: Another one of the most popular BC road trips is the short but sweet drive between Vancouver and Whistler!

2. Pemberton

I ride my horse behind Bailey on a tour in Pemberton BC
Horseback riding in Pemberton is so memorable!
sunflower maze at Laughing Crow Organics in Pemberton, BC
Sunflower Farm at Laughing Crow Organics!

Pemberton is a small village located 30 minutes outside of Whistler. Sitting at the base of Mount Currie, Pemberton is yet another haven for outdoor lovers 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 during the drive. I love visiting the Blackbird Bakery for the fresh goodies baked by a French pastry chef – the ultimate road trip snacks!

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. A 1 or 2-hour horseback ride is a perfect addition to this road trip as it won’t take too much time. We took a tour with Copper Cayuse (read our review here!) and would say it’s suitable even if you’ve never been on a horse! This tour is only available from April to October and can be booked for $98 CAD.

For an even more epic adventure, we suggest paragliding 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!

The sunflower maze at Laughing Crow Organics is one of the top attractions in Pemberton. This is one of those Instagram-worthy spots that you have to see to believe with 100,000 sunflowers growing in a huge maze. You’ll have to time it right as sunflower season is from mid-August to early September. Tickets are $9 CAD and can be purchased online or with cash on arrival.

If you love the quiet vibes of Pemberton like us, then stay the night at the Pemberton Valley Lodge. This suite-style hotel starts at $286 CAD and has 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 (the next stop on our list!), spending the night in Pemberton puts you closer to the trailhead to beat the crowds!

3. Joffre Lakes

Bailey poses for a photo at 2nd Joffre Lake in Canada
The water really is that color!
Upper Joffre Lake with views of the glacier
Upper Joffre Lake!

We’ve only just started this road trip and have already arrived at one of my all-time favorite places – Joffre Lakes! The highlight of the hike through Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is the trio of lakes here. Lower, Middle, and Upper Joffre Lakes all have that stunning turquoise blue water. The color is due to “rock flour” or glacial silt suspended in the water that reflects the blue and green wavelengths from sunlight – it’s breathtaking!

The return hike is about 9.4 kilometers (5.8 miles) and goes uphill on the way to Upper Joffre Lake. Along the way, you’ll see the three amazing lakes, creek crossings, great views of the mountain range, a waterfall, and the Matier Glacier at the top overlooking Upper Joffre Lake. To get back, simply retrace your steps and enjoy the easier hike down and a second look at these stunning lakes.  

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

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

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

4. Duffey Lake Viewpoint

Duffey Lake Viewpoint  
Duffey Lake Viewpoint!

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

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

5. Seton Lake

Seton Lake as seen from the highway to Revelstoke, BC
Seton Lake is beautiful and popular with locals on hot days!

Stop here to take a short 1-kilometer (0.6-mile) hike to a popular spot overlooking the lake with part of the highway making a U-shape in the foreground – known as the Duffey Lake Road U-Turn. It’s a great road trip picture!

To get to the hike, park in a gravel area and cross the highway to a path on the other side. Follow the trail to get to the Seton Lake Lookout and enjoy the view!  

If you want to stay longer, Seton Lake is perfect for a swim! There’s a beach (but no sand!) with a marked-off swimming area. Or, rent a canoe and head out onto the lake. The water is so clear and blue here, I htink it looks like a postcard.  

6. Lillooet

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

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

Lillooet has a hot, desert-like climate with some of the warmest temperatures ever recorded in Canada. With a long growing season, you’ll also find orchards and wineries around here – try some of the award-winning wine from Fort Berens Estate Winery.

Whenever we make the drive, we like to stretch our legs with a walk across the Old Suspension Bridge. It was built more than a century ago and is only open to pedestrians now.

To stay a night here, check out the Reynolds Hotel for a nice place with some historic charm (it was built in the 1940s) that has recently been updated. It has a great restaurant to eat at and a little convenience store to stock up on road trip essentials for the rest of the journey too. Rooms start at $139 CAD.

7. Marble Canyon Provincial Park

Reflections in Marble Canyon Provincial Park 
When the lake is calm, the reflections in Marble Canyon Provincial Park are insane!

Marble Canyon Provincial Park is a good spot to get out of the car for a bit or even camp for the night. There’s a small campground with about 30 sites right between two lakes. Every campsite has access to the lake with a sitting area below where you park. There’s a beach here as well as some good hiking trails and fishing. 

It’s located in the Pavilion Mountain Range, which is a limestone canyon – you’ll notice the white, chalky-looking peaks (which differ from the granite of the other mountains close by). The unique rock formations here also make it a popular spot for rock climbing!  

8. Kamloops

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

Kamloops is a great place in any season with winter activities like downhill skiing or snowshoeing, or take advantage of long summers with nice weather from April to November and go hiking or paddling on the nearby lakes and rivers.

There are lots of amazing things to do in Kamloops, but if you plan to drive this route during the winter months, be sure to try out snowshoeing or downhill skiing. Sun Peaks Ski Resort is my personal favorite place to go because it gets about 6 meters (20 feet) of snow every year and it’s only 45 minutes from Kamloops!

In the summer, there are plenty of hikes, including the popular Kenna Cartwright Nature Park, which boasts more than 40 kilometers (25 miles) of trails – some of which offer epic views of Kamloops and the Thompson Valley. There are even several beaches and picnic areas here. My top tip is to come here for sunset to take some truly breathtaking photos. 

Speaking of Thompson Valley, this area is also home to four wineries. Make sure to visit at least one while you’re here! I love spending an afternoon at a winery to sip great wine and savor the view. A couple of my favorites are Monte Creek Winery and Privato Winery & Vineyard.

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

Bc Wildlife Park Grizzly bears
Photo credit: BC Wildlife Park
Bc Wildlife Park moose
Photo credit: BC Wildlife Park

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

Would you believe there are nearly 200 animals and over 65 different species housed here, including Clover the Spirit Bear, a rare white bear – the only Kermode Bear in captivity in the world! There’s also a splash park, playground, and mini-train for the kids. Skip-the-line tickets to the park are $18.85 CAD for adults, $14.95 CAD for kids (ages 3-17), and free for little ones 2 and under. It’s the same price as regular tickets, but bypassing the line is a huge bonus – especially with kids!

Where to stay in Kamloops

It’s a great idea to spend a few nights in Kamloops if you have time. Personally, I love the Prestige Kamloops Hotel only a couple of minutes from town which is complete with a waterslide and brand new restaurants. Rooms here start at $275 CAD in the summer.

For a more luxurious option, try the South Thompson Inn and Conference Centre. It’s located on a huge 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. Rates are typically in the $300-$400 CAD range.

9. Salmon Arm

Salmon Arm Wharf
The Wharf is huge!

Salmon Arm is a small city that is easy to fall in love with. I was actually born here and spent a lot of my childhood here too. We come back to visit family as often as we can and it’s a paradise for anyone who loves the outdoors. Explore, relax, or eat (and drink) your way through this charming city.

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

  • Go hiking – This region has some pretty stellar hikes. One of my favorites is Mt. Ida, which is a large 1,564-meter (5,131 feet) mountain south of Salmon Arm. There are a few routes to take up the mountain, but if you are up for a challenge, try the Mount Ida Loop. It’s a 35-kilometer loop (21.9 miles) with 1,565 meters (5,134 feet) of elevation gain – quite the trek, but so worth it. If you are looking for a more low-key hike, try out Raven Trail or Shuswap North Rail Trail, both of which are fairly easy, and go around Shuswap Lake.
  • Visit the highest (elevation) 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 I’ve tried and there are free cellar door tastings to find what you like. Once you’ve learned a little about the wine, how it’s made, and what your favorite is, you can go to the tasting room, enjoy a glass, and take in the stunning views from their property.
  • Walk the largest wooden wharf in North America – I bet you didn’t think going to Salmon Arm meant visiting a record-setting wharf! As the longest wooden wharf in North America, it’s got a pretty interesting history. We enjoy walking on the wharf year-round, taking in the scenery of Shuswap Lake. If you’re around during the summer, there’s usually live music and food trucks around here too. It’s got a fun, community feel to it, so make sure to get in on the action.

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

Where to stay in Salmon Arm

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

The Hilltop Inn is a popular hotel choice as it offers larger rooms that can fit small families. This hotel also has a pool, free parking, and breakfast included. Rooms are typically around $150 CAD, although go a bit higher in the summer.

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 for how luxe they are – starting around $260 CAD. Of course, this place includes an exceptional breakfast and is in a stunning area outside Salmon Arm.

10. Sicamous

A house boat on the Shuswap Lake in Sicamous, BC
A houseboat on the lake in Sicamous!

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

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

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

Stop by for fresh milk, ice cream, and cheese from D Dutchmen Dairy where everything is produced on-site. It’s a small family-owned farm in Sicamous that focuses on high-quality ingredients. The milk is sold in glass containers to keep it cold for longer and you can even buy egg nog here at Christmas! They also have 62 different flavors of what’s been called BC’s Best Ice Cream (I agree with that statement!) – making this a must-visit if you have kids (or adults!) who love a treat.

11. Revelstoke

Revelstoke Mountain Resort Mountain coaster
Looking down from the Pipe Mountain Coaster!
The Revelstoke sightseeing gondola travels up the mountain during summer in Revelstoke, BC
The gondola ride up Mount Revelstoke is so scenic!

Revelstoke is a small town between the Selkirk and Monashee mountains and is located on the Trans Canada Highway, an hour’s drive from Sicamous. It’s a nice spot all year, but Revelstoke in the winter truly transforms into a snow-covered paradise. The town holds the record for the most snowfall in Canada in a single winter, with 24 meters (80 feet) of snow!

The Revelstoke Mountain Resort is a must-visit and is literally right in town, so it’s easy to get to. The skiing is fantastic. Plus, the ski hills aren’t too busy when compared to other hills in Canada.

At Revelstoke Mountain Resort, they also have a gondola ride up to the top of the resort to give you an amazing panoramic view of the valley. Also, try out the Pipe Mountain Coaster – a cool gravity-fed roller coaster that flies down the hill. It felt like a real roller coaster when we went down and was super fun!

In the summer here, book a thrilling whitewater rafting adventure along the Illecillewaet River. As whitewater experiences in Canada go, this is a pretty tame tour as it involves only Class II and Class III rapids – so no previous rafting experience is necessary. This half-day tour has HUNDREDS of 5-star reviews (we loved it too!) and costs $142 CAD. Because it can only operate between late June and late August it tends to sell out quickly too.

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! Rooms range from $150-$250 CAD depending on the season.

Another option is Coast Hillcrest Hotel is a highly-rated hotel that offers a comfortable stay at a reasonable price for the location (under $200 CAD). 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.

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

12. Mount Revelstoke National Park

Bailey sits by a lake in Mount Revelstoke National Park
A pretty lake at Mount Revelstoke National Park!
Epic views at every turn!

If you love exploring Canada’s incredible national parks, then you must add Mount Revelstoke National Park to this road trip! This is one of the most popular attractions in Revelstoke, so you might be planning a visit anyway, but it’s also right along your route to Calgary. I love this national park because it’s accessible to everyone, you can actually drive to the base of Mt. Revelstoke!

From the summit parking lot, there are many trails to explore whether you’re looking for a long hike, a casual walk, or simply a picnic by the lake. Eva Lake trail is a great choice for a longer hike, as it is a 12-kilometer (7.5 miles) round-trip hike. It will take you through stunning landscapes and into the remote Canadian wilderness, you might even spot a bear! Heather Lake is a good casual walk, it’s only a 10-minute hike around a gorgeous lake with incredible reflections. 

You can venture away from the summit area to find even more hikes. I really enjoyed the Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk, which is right off Highway 1. This is a very easy boardwalk trail that extends for 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) and is a great way to stretch your legs and see some views! 

Note: You need a Parks Canada Pass to enter Mount Revelstoke National Park. This pass is $11 CAD per person per day or $22 CAD per group. You can also purchase an annual pass for access to Mount Revelstoke National Park as well as many others in BC and Alberta. You can find out more info about these passes below –

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.

13. Glacier National Park

Hemlock Grove Boardwalk in Glacier National Park Canada
Hemlock Grove Boardwalk!
Exploring Glacier National Park
Walking among the giants in Glacier National Park!

On this road trip from Whistler to Calgary, our route passes right through Glacier National Park and Rogers Pass as you leave Revelstoke and make your way toward Golden. As you drive through, keep your eyes open as it’s a great place to spot bears, mountain goats, and other wildlife. The ancient forests here with old cedars and alpine meadows make for beautiful scenery so it’s worth getting out of the car to explore a bit!

Make sure to stop at the Rogers Pass National Historic Site inside the park. It’s possible to hike along the now-abandoned railway line that first connected Canada from coast to coast. While visitor centers can be kind of meh, we thought the one here was great and had lots of good info about the history of the area.  

There are also some nice spots for short hikes in the area including the Hemlock Grove Boardwalk, which is good for the whole family as it’s a series of boardwalks through the forest. We loved getting a close-up view of the huge trees!

If you want to see a waterfall on a relatively easy trail that isn’t too busy, visit Bear Creek Falls. It’s only about a 15-20 minute hike with a really impressive waterfall at the end.

Note: If you plan on stopping in Glacier National Park you’ll need to purchase a Parks Canada Pass. There are various types of passes you can buy that range from $11 CAD for a day pass to $151.25 CAD for a year-long family pass.

14. Golden

Golden Suspension bridge with a river below
The Golden Suspension Bridge!
Bailey walks away from the camera at the Golden Suspension Bridge in Golden, BC
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little scared!

Your next stop, Golden, is a bit of a hidden gem in BC. And it deserves to be explored! We recommend spending at least two nights in Golden before heading off on your next adventure.

Golden, British Columbia is a small town of just around 4,000 people in the Canadian Rockies. But what it lacks by way of population, it absolutely makes up for in terms of epic things to do! This small town is surrounded by national parks and mountain ranges, so there are endless outdoor activities to enjoy.

One of the main draws here is the Golden Skybridge, aka Canada’s highest suspension bridge, and it only just opened a few years ago! At 130 meters (426 feet) above the canyon, it was quite the thrill walking over it – even if I held pretty tightly to the railing the whole time! The views of the Columbia Valley are amazing from up here. But the Golden Skybridge isn’t just a bridge – it’s an entire adventure park.

There are two suspension bridges, a kids’ play park, a roller coaster, a climbing wall, and activities from ziplining to axe throwing. While it’s great for families, all ages can have a fantastic time! Tickets to the Golden Skybridge will set you back around $46 CAD. We spent about 2 hours here, so it’s an easy addition to your road trip!

Downtown Golden, BC
The streets are so cute! Photo credit: Depositphotos Edb3_16

I’ve been lucky enough to visit Golden many times, both in the summer and winter months, allowing me to create an epic list of things to do in Golden, but here are some highlights:

  • Go whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse – The best way to experience the river is to go whitewater rafting during the summer months! 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! Our pick is this full-day tour where an expert guide will help you navigate the river. For $204 CAD, all equipment is included, along with a riverside BBQ lunch!
  • Explore downtown Golden – 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.
  • 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 Skydiving– Skydiving is the ultimate bucket list activity, and Golden is the perfect place to check it off of your list! It can’t get better than skydiving over the Canadian Rockies! Extreme Yeti will take you up over 3,050 meters (10,000 feet) above the Rockies and Kicking Horse River! You will freefall before opening up that parachute and gliding back to earth. A tandem skydive costs $349 CAD. It’s pricey but well worth it.

Where to stay in Golden

So now that you know about all of the amazing things to do in Golden, it’s worth booking a place to stay to enjoy a few days in one of Canada’s most underrated mountain towns.

Best Western Mountainview Inn is a great choice 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 rates typically start around $200 CAD.

For a more private stay that is close to town with 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. We’ve seen rooms here as low as $180 CAD before the peak summer months.

15. Wapta Falls

Wapta Falls in Yoho National Park
Mountain backdrop? Yes, please!

A worthy stop in Yoho National Park (more on the park below) is Wapta Falls. These mighty falls are 18 meters (60 feet) high and 107 meters (351 feet) wide. No matter when you’re taking this road trip, I recommend stopping by since you can visit year-round and the falls are especially stunning in winter when they freeze over! 

It’s a flat 4.8-kilometer (3-mile) hike from the main parking lot for the Wapta Falls Trail. However, the road to the trailhead is closed during the winter, so you’ll have to park on the side of the Trans Canada Highway and snowshoe to the official trailhead, which adds an extra 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) each way.

16. Yoho National Park/Field

Emerald Lake is breathtaking!
Bailey at Natural Bridge Lower Falls in Yoho National Park
Natural Bridge in Yoho National Park!

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

A must-see is the stunning Emerald Lake with its vivid waters that I can vouch are true to its name. Whenever we’re here, we plan to walk around the lake which takes about an hour. It’s a great way to see wildflowers including wild orchids that grow around here as well as bald eagles, moose, and loons. You can also canoe or kayak on the lake with its calm and clear waters.  

Another impressive sight is the Natural Bridge – an ancient rock formation over the Kicking Horse River. It’s easy to get to by car as it’s only 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) from Field along Emerald Lake Road.

17. Lake Louise

Bailey on the shores of Lake Louise
It’s almost too easy to get good photos here!
Bailey at Lake Louise Ski Resort
It has some of the best skiing in the winter!

Lake Louise is definitely one of the most popular places to visit in Alberta. From hikes with the most gorgeous views to amazing restaurants, Lake Louise really has it all in terms of awesome things to do.

Even something as simple as relaxing on the Lake Louise beachfront is sure to leave you in awe as you look out at the glaciers, mountain peaks, and clear lake! One of my favorite times to visit is at sunset because it is the least busy, and the views are incredible!

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 bike trails! Of course, taking the Lake Louise Gondola is one of the most popular attractions with stunning views of Lake Louise and the nearby Victoria Glacier. I recommend purchasing your gondola tickets in advance– they cost $63 CAD and keep in mind that the gondola is about a 5-minute drive from the lake itself.

It’s pretty common knowledge that Lake Louise is full of awesome hikes. My favorite is the Lake Agnes Tea House Trail which is 7.2 kilometers (4.5 miles) return and offers impeccable views of Lake Louise. But the best part is the historic tea house that you can stop at for some tasty tea to break up the hike!

But, if you’re visiting Lake Louise in the winter, get out there on your ice skates or go skiing at the Lake Louise Ski Resort which is only 15 minutes from town. It just so happens to be one of the largest ski resorts in Canada, with a 935-meter (3,068 feet) vertical descent, 7 ski lifts, and 142 kilometers (88 miles) of ski runs. It is well-equipped for any skill level, and the gondolas are great for a cold day.

But, one of my favorite things to do in Lake Louise during the colder months is to go cross-country skiing. It’s hugely popular at Lake Louise and in fact, there are over ten trails in the area. One of the most popular and easily accessible is the Lake Louise Loop. It begins at the foreshore and travels along the frozen lake. This trail has duel tracks and is groomed, which makes it much easier for anybody just starting out. You can rent gear from the Lake Louise Fairmont Chateau for $30 CAD for 4 hours.

Daniel and Bailey pose for a photo the the rockpile at Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake is picture-perfect!

There’s also another super-famous lake a short drive from Lake Louise, if you have the time to visit it on this road trip – we highly recommend doing so! Moraine Lake is located only a 15-minute drive from Lake Louise. This alpine lake might just be the only lake with more color than Lake Louise, and the best part? Its backdrop is the famous Ten Peaks! It’s not easy to get here (private vehicles can’t park at the lake anymore), so check out our full guide on how to get to Moraine Lake if you want to add this stop.

Note: From May 13th until October 10th, you’ll be required to pay $21 CAD per vehicle per day to park at Lake Louise Lakefront (2024 updated price). The paid parking is in effect from 7 am until 7 pm daily. 

Where to Stay in Lake Louise

If you decide you want to stay in Lake Louise, the Hi Lake Louise Alpine Center is the best budget option in Lake Louise Village. The location is right in town, they have a shared kitchen, basic but comfortable rooms, and friendly staff. Bunks are $50 CAD and private rooms start around $140 CAD. Book on either Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

For those with a bigger budget, you can’t look past the Fairmont Château Lake Louise. The hotel sits on the shoreline of Lake Louise with epic views in the most stunning of locations. I’ve added spending a night or two here to my personal bucket list! Rooms start at $600 CAD, so it’s definitely a luxury spot!

18. Bow Valley Parkway

Waterfall at Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park
This is the Middle Falls at Johnston Canyon!
Morant's Curve train snakes it's way through the mountains in Banff
The train passing through Morant’s Curve!

The Bow Valley Parkway stretches from Banff to Lake Louise and winds through forests and meadows with beautiful views. It’s quieter than the main highway and only about 48 kilometers (30 miles) – well worth turning off onto in my opinion.  

One of the places to stop along the Bow Valley Parkway is Johnston Canyon. It’s an easy walk along the boardwalk next to the canyon or take a longer hike in the area. The hikes here are incredible with seven glacial waterfalls cascading over rocky cliffs. It’s open all year and is free to get to.

I love that you can get right next to the water flowing from Johnston Creek and close enough to waterfalls to feel the spray of the water on your face! The waterfalls freeze over in the cold creating giant icicles hanging over the cliffs which are amazing to see. 

If you’re visiting here in the winter, I’d suggest ice cleats or spikes. If you don’t have them, then joining a guided ice walk tour like we did will safely lead you on the ice and supply all of the safety gear. It costs $111 CAD. Our professional guide told us all about these unique formations and at the end, we enjoyed a steaming mug of hot chocolate!

Another essential stop along the Bow Valley Parkway is Morant’s Curve. The curve in the name comes from the train tracks that curve their way along the Bow River. This, along with the stunning mountain backdrop, makes it one of the most beautiful photography locations in Banff National Park. In the summer you’ll enjoy the amazing colors of the Bow River, and in the winter, Morant’s Curve becomes a winter wonderland that’s even more photogenic!

Note: There will be some closures to vehicle traffic on sections of the Bow Valley Parkway from May 1-June 25 and then again from August 30-Sept 30 vehicles will NOT be able to drive the 17km/11mi 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 between Johnston Canyon and Banff. You will still be able to access Johnston Canyon and the Bow Valley Parkway via the intersection near Castle Mountain Chalets.

19. Banff

view of Banff town from up above on the Banff Gondola
The view of Banff Town!
Bailey enjoys a bear at Banff Ave Brewing Company in Banff town
Cheers from Banff Ave!

Banff is a very popular town in the Rockies and it’s no wonder why – it’s absolutely beautiful and there are tons of things to do. This picture-perfect town is sure to be one of your favorite stops on your road trip between Whistler and Calgary.

The Banff downtown area is very quaint and there are many awesome options for places to eat, drink, and shop. With the mountains as the backdrop to Banff Ave, it’s a beautiful place to stop on this drive.

Many visitors base themselves here for a ski holiday due to the fact that you have great access to Sunshine and Norquay ski resorts – both are within a 15-minute drive of town.

Banff is more than just a ski town though, and regardless of the season you visit, it’s an amazing place with plenty to do. Some of the best things to do in Banff include:

  • Relax in the Banff Upper Hot Springs – Just a short 5-minute drive up Sulphur Mountain you’ll find the Banff Upper Hot Springs. Ranked among the best hot springs in Alberta, the mountain views here are incredible! The hot springs are easy to get to and very affordable. At $17.50 CAD per adult and $56.75 CAD for a family, even those on a tighter budget could still enjoy one of the best Banff attractions.
  • Ride the Banff Gondola up Sulphur Mountain – The Banff Gondola is possibly the singular most popular thing to do in Banff! From the top of the gondola, the views of the mountains and Banff town are out of this world. At the top, 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! You can snag gondola tickets in advance starting at $58 CAD (depending on the day you go).
  • Check out the Bow Falls Lookout – The Bow River runs through the heart of Banff. Turquoise in color, it is nothing short of picture-perfect. A short 1.5-kilometer (0.9 miles) scenic walk from Banff town (or drive) you’ll come to the Bow Falls viewpoint on the river’s edge. Here, not only will you see the river, but also the Bow River Waterfall!
  • Cave and Basin National Historic Site – Inside the Cave and Basin Historic Site there are historic hot springs that are home to a rare species of snail. The museum is the main attraction in my eyes and it is very interactive and fun, especially for kids. You’ll find lots of information about Banff and the surrounding area.
  • Indulge in food and drinks – Banff has tons of tasty restaurants and bars. For beer, head to Banff Brewing Co. For a delicious meal with crafted cocktails, head to Parks Distillery. Did you know that you can also join this food tour that explores the many different rooms inside the historic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel? Food and drink pairings are included from 4 of the property’s high-end restaurants for $206 CAD. What a unique activity for foodies!

Where to Stay in Banff Town

There are lots of amazing hotels to choose from in Banff town. My personal favorite is Moose Hotel & Suites which has a great location and has all the amenities you could want including two rooftop hot tubs. It is pricey during the summer, but we’ve stayed in winter for around $350 CAD.

If you’re on a tight budget, consider checking out High Country Inn. It quite possibly could be the most affordable place to stay with rooms starting at $139 CAD (although much higher in the summer). Plus, it is located right in town on Banff Ave!

And for a little luxury, the Rimrock Resort Hotel is a must! With an onsite spa, balconies with amazing views, as well as a restaurant and bar this hotel has it all! Plus, it’s located a couple of minutes from town in a quieter location. Rooms start at $399 CAD in the off season but can be closer to $1,000 CAD in the height of summer.

20. Canmore

The Canmore Hoodoos in winter
It’s so pretty here in winter!
reflections of the Three Sisters in Canmore
The breathtaking Three Sisters in Canmore!

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

Sitting on the edge of Banff National Park, Canmore boasts some of Canada’s most impressive mountain peaks and is an outdoor playground for visitors.

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

  • Caving – One of the coolest things we’ve ever done in Canmore is explore the caves! This Canmore caving adventure tour goes through the beautiful yet mysteriously named Rat’s Nest Cave. We rappelled down 18 meters (59 feet) and spent several hours navigating challenging passageways and learning how these caves formed. It is pricier at $199 CAD but after doing it for ourselves, we think it’s well worth the cost!
  • Hike to Grassi Lakes – Grassi Lakes is also one of the easiest hikes in Canmore at only 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) long return with only a 125-meter (410 feet) elevation gain. This means it’s family-friendly and suitable for most fitness levels. 
  • Hit the trails at the Nordic Centre – The Canmore Nordic Centre offers a variety of trails for hiking, biking, or even cross-country skiing. The area was developed to host cross-country skiing events at the 1988 Olympic Games and is now an active training center as well as a recreational area.

Where to Stay in Canmore

In case you want to spend a couple of nights in Canmore (and you should!) there are plenty of hotels to choose from. For budget travelers, I love the Canmore Rocky Mountain Inn. There are terraces and patios with most rooms and mountain views from the lobby with a huge fireplace. Rooms in the off season are as low as $130 CAD!

If you don’t mind spending a little more you can certainly get a nice hotel closer to town. The Grande Rockies Resort-Bellstar Hotels & Resorts is still a short walk from town (but it only takes 5 minutes) and the hotel itself is beautiful complete with a pool, hot tub, fitness center, and restaurant and bar. Rates are $180 CAD outside of peak times when they are double that. It’s still way cheaper than Banff though!

Related Read: If you love coffee (like me!) then you should check out our list of the best cafes and coffee shops in Canmore!

21. Kananaskis

Bailey at Upper Kananaskis Lake, Alberta
Upper Kananaskis Lake!
Bailey walks into a pool at the Kananaskis Nordic Spa in Alberta, Canada
Kananaskis Nordic Spa after a hike? Yes, please!

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

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

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

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

Important note: All vehicles stopping in parks or public areas in Kananaskis Country and the Bow Valley Corridor require a Conservation Pass. Buy a daily pass online for $15 CAD or in person at any Kananaskis Visitor Information Center. 

Where to stay in Kananaskis

As I mentioned earlier, staying a couple of nights at The Crosswater Resort is well worth it. It’s a very family-friendly resort that won’t break the bank with a large indoor pool in the heart of the Kananaskis. You also get access to the Kananaskis Nordic Spa I raved about! Rooms book up at the resort MONTHS in advance starting at $225 CAD.

If you want something super affordable there is actually a hostel called HI Kananaskis Wilderness Hostel with bunks starting at $41 CAD and private rooms for around $100 CAD.

22. Calgary

Street art on a tour in Calgary, Canada
There is lots of great street art
View of Calgary from the Calgary Tower in Canada
What a view!

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

Calgary is the largest city in Alberta, and trust me, there are plenty of fun things to do in Calgary and excellent tours to keep you busy. With 333 sunny days a year, your odds of having nice weather are pretty good here! Even so, if there does happen to be a rainy day, or the winter cold is getting to you, there are still plenty of great indoor activities in Calgary too!

Visiting the Calgary Zoo is certainly a must. It’s open year-round and has nearly 1,000 different animals and exhibits! Start here bright and early so you can get the chance to see the penguin walk (my favorite attraction!). The penguin walk happens each morning at 10 am. Watching them stroll through the zoo for their exercise is seriously so adorable!

If you find yourself visiting in July don’t miss checking out the Calgary Stampede! It’s a 10-day event that features one of the largest rodeos in the world! Not only that, but they also have a parade, a midway, shows, concerts, chuckwagon racing, and more.

Visiting Calgary in the winter? Be sure to skate at the Olympic Plaza skating rink located downtown. It was built for the 1988 Winter Olympics which was hosted in Calgary. Bring your own skates or rent a pair for $10 CAD.

Regardless of the season you visit, check out the best view of the city from the highest 360-degree observation deck on the globe at the Calgary Tower. You can see the downtown, as well as the Rocky Mountains in the distance. Feel free to step onto the glass floor if you’re brave. Take the experience a step further and enjoy a meal at the revolving restaurant Sky 360.

To see the top sights of the city efficiently, I recommend this 2-hour city scooter tour. The best part is that it only costs $92 CAD. You’ll follow your guide on electric scooters to iconic Calgary sights, like The Bow, Studio Bell, and Central Memorial Park. At each stop, you’ll learn some history from your guide.

If you’re into street art and beer you could instead opt for this 3-hour craft beer and street art tour. We are huge craft beer lovers, so this was a lot of fun! We got to learn the stories behind the artists and art while making stops for some local beer samples! Prices for this tour are reasonable too, at $136 CAD.

Related Read: If you have more time in Calgary, check out our 3-day itinerary or plan to take one of the best day trips from Calgary!

Where to Stay in Calgary

Calgary City
Calgary skyline in winter

After you finish your long road trip from Whistler to Calgary, you’re going to need somewhere comfortable to stay. Calgary is a pretty large city, so you can bet that there are a ton of options when it comes to hotel options!

Here are some of my top picks for accommodation in Calgary:

Sheraton Suites Calgary Eau Claire – $$$

For a really luxurious stay, then you’ll want to check out the Sheraton Suites Calgary Eau Claire, which must have one of the most amazing views of the Bow River we’ve seen in Calgary! The hotel also has its own indoor pool (with a waterslide), a hot tub, a fitness center, a hair salon, and so much more. With a wide range of suites on offer, this is also a great option if you’re planning a getaway in Calgary.

You can book a room here at the Sheraton for as low as $246 CAD. However, rooms usually average $300-$400 CAD per night.

Coast Calgary Downtown Hotel and Suites – $$

If your budget allows for a bit more, then I’d suggest taking a look at Coast Calgary Downtown Hotel and Suites, where all rooms come equipped with a full kitchen – great for homemade meals that can save a lot of money! With its very own on-site fitness center, this hotel is also located in the middle of downtown.

Rooms here start at $130 CAD per night, which we think is great value considering the location and that breakfast is included too. You can secure your reservation online here.

Wicked Hostels – $

Right in the center of the city is Wicked Hostels, which is a great choice for travelers on a budget. We’ve found this hostel to be super clean, comfortable, and located in a great area too (bonus points from us)! While there technically are cheaper places to stay in Calgary, the location and the reliability of clean dorms here put Wicked Hostels at the top of our budget category in Calgary.

Dorms here start from $50 CAD per night and can be booked online on Hostelworld or Booking.com.

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 Bailey and Daniel drinking craft beer at a brewery in Calgary
Thanks for reading!

Thanks for sticking with me ’til the end – there sure are so many incredible places to see between Whistler and Calgary. And now, I’m dreaming of all the epic places to see in my home province of Alberta and BC (where I lived for a number of years!).

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

5 BEST Moraine Lake Tours from Calgary to See All the Highlights!

10 BEST Stops on the Drive from Calgary to Edmonton & Choosing Your Route 

How to Spend ONE DAY in Calgary

12 BEST Stops on the Drive from Calgary to Kelowna