Western Canada in 3 weeks – Road Trip Plan from Vancouver to Canadian Rockies and Back

I initially came to Canada on a Working Holiday Visa to do a road trip across the entire country. Since the visa allowed me a whole year for my stay I thought my plan should be manageable. 

I quickly learned it wasn’t. Canada is massive and unless I planned to spend the whole time behind the wheel sightseeing from the window of my car I quickly had to change my strategy.

I decided to shift my focus toward the Canadian Rockies and Western Canada, particularly the two most beautiful Canadian Provinces: Alberta and British Columbia.  I spent over 14 months traveling between BC and Alberta. I’ve completed countless hikes and photographed many of the iconic spots in the Rockies. 

I have put together an Outdoor Guide to the Canadian Rockies and Beyond and with a clear conscience, I can tell you it will be your best online resource for planning your road trip across Western Canada. 

Know before you go

The Mistaya River - road trip itinerary via the Canadian Rockies, starting and ending in Vancouver
The Mistaya River along the Icefields Parkway

After seeing how popular Canada is in the summer, the number one piece of advice I can give you is to plan your trip well in advance.  Especially if your holidays fall within the busiest months of July and August. Often by January, many hotels are booked out for the summer.

As always my guides are completely free and if you find them useful, it would be awesome if you use the affiliate links provided in this post to book your accommodation, car rental, or motorhome. You are also welcome to share it with whoever might find it helpful. 

If you have any questions regarding the road trip plan or need advice, leave them in the comments! I always answer!

Vancouver – Canadian Rockies – Vancouver Road trip overview

The itinerary starts in Vancouver, one of the biggest transport hubs in Western Canada. It then heads north on the “Sea to Sky Highway”, stopping in Squamish and Whistler.

After spending a few days in the mountains it will take you into the Okanagan Valley, famous for wine and geothermal hot springs.

Afterward, it’ll be time to focus on the best part of the road trip – the Canadian Rockies. You will spend some time around quaint little mountain towns: Canmore, Banff, and Lake Louise travel through the world-famous Icefields Parkway, and visit the largest National Park in the Canadian Rockies – Jasper. 

On the way back west to Vancouver this guide will take you via Wells Gray Provincial Park and back along the Sea to Sky Highway to give you a chance to see all the things you didn’t manage to see on the way up.

How much time will you need?

Sulphur Skyline Jasper 6
Sulphur Skyline near Jasper National Park

Unless you plan on being in the car most of the time, I wouldn’t recommend trying to tackle this distance in less than two weeks. Three weeks however is in my eyes an optimal time. We all tend to rush through our lives, so giving yourself time to take it all in every once in a while will do you some good. 

If you have more time, consider visiting Vancouver Island or completing one of the awesome backcountry trips in the Canadian Rockies

If this journey isn’t exactly what you’re after, I have also made itineraries for the voyage from Vancouver to Calgary, or Calgary to Calgary road trip focused solely on the Canadian Rockies. 

Vancouver – Canadian Rockies – Vancouver Road Trip Map

Below you can find the map of the whole itinerary. By clicking on the top left of the map you will find separate layers marking the route, photography spots, hikes, points of interest, and many campsites.

To hide/show different layers mark the check box next to the layer’s name. You can also click on the icons on the map to see the names of the places. I will be talking about them as I break the itinerary down day by day

The Best Way to Travel Around Western Canada

Roadside Views 1
The Yoho Valley Road leading to Takakkaw Falls

Option 1: Rent a motorhome

Indisputably the best way to travel around Canada is in a Motorhome. With a camper, you’re never left with hotel bills and you’ll have the opportunity to be in the right place at the right time only having to pay small campsite fees.

When planning your road trip you can search through all the biggest campervan rental companies using the Motorhome Republic booking search engine. A real-time saver. 

TIP: This itinerary travels in the region of 3,000 km. This information is important as you have to prepay for your kilometers if you rent a campervan. 

Option 2: Hire a compact car and stay in hotels

If you decide to rent a smaller compact car and bring your camping gear (or stay in hotels) use Discover Cars – It’s my go-to website when booking a car. 

If your motorhome doesn’t already include it make sure you buy a compulsory Discovery Parks Pass which costs ca. 150$ per vehicle and includes up to 7 people. The toll gate where you can pick one up is when you’ll be driving on the Meadows in the Sky Parkway as you enter Mount Revelstoke, National Park. 

Traveling in a motorhome? Here is what you should know about the campgrounds

Maligne Lake Road 3
Maligne Lake Road in Jasper National Park

When it comes down to campsites in Canada, you’re spoilt for choice, especially near all the spots enlisted in this plan. The majority of them are equipped with toilets and shower facilities as well as electric sites for those traveling in bigger motorhomes that require electrical hookups. 

I recommend campsites operated by Canada’s Park Authorities. Most of the campsites in the province of British Columbia are around 45$ per site per night.

Campsites in Alberta are slightly cheaper and you can expect to pay around CAD 40/per site per night. One site can fit up to 6 people so traveling in a group can be advantageous. 

In the peak summer months (July and August) you will find it very handy to book the sites at least 3-4 months in advance. The sooner the better. 

My recommended 3-week road trip itinerary from Vancouver to Vancouver

Day 1 -3: Vancouver to Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway

If you’ve been following my website for a while you’ll know that I am not a city fan. I always design my road trips around nature. This one is no different.

Although I have heard good things about Vancouver I always tell anyone who plans a road trip and has a very limited time frame, to not waste it on cities. They are all similar after all. If you want to see cities with lots of history go to Europe. When you come to Canada focus on its beautiful landscapes! 

Your first venture will be the drive along the Sea to Sky highway. You will spend your first two nights around this area. This road will be your gateway to Squamish and Garibaldi Provincial Park, eventually ending in the resort town of Whistler.

I have gone into much more detail on the Sea to Sky Highway in a separate post outlining the best stops and activities to do along the way, as well as top picks for accommodation! 

Day 3-4: Whistler to the Okanagan Valley

Morning views over the Okanagan Valley

From Whistler to the Okanagan it’s a 400 km/5 hour drive via the Pacific Coastal Mountains and the rolling hills and valleys of the Okanagan. You will continue northeast on Highway 99.

Two of my favorite stops along the way are Nairn Falls and the tiny Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. If you leave Whistler early you can plan a stop at either for a quick hike. You’ll be driving back the same way, so if you don’t have time to stop here on the way up, you can do so at the end of your road trip. 

Due to the microclimate and milder temperatures than the rest of the country, the Okanagan Valley with its countless wineries and fruit orchards became the Napa Valley of Canada. Purchasing fruit in the local markets along with wine tasting at one (or several) vineyards are some of the must-dos here. 

A deer spotted in the winery

Vernon, Kelowna, and Penticton are all cities in the Okanagan and boast many of the same attributes. They all lie on the shore of Okanagan Lake and each has its wineries and vineyards.

It’s a very relaxing place when you venture out away from the city centers, life moves slowly and it’s a nice chance to relax after exploring Whistler. Spoil yourself and book a tour around some vineyards. You can also stock up on wine and fresh fruit for the rest of your road trip!

Accommodation in Vernon (Night 3)

Day 4-5: Revelstoke and Glacier National Park

Driving through Glacier National Park in the Selkirk Mountain Range

Your next destination after the Okanagan will be Revelstoke with a break in between for a soak in the hot springs. You will take 97 North first then Highway 6 East towards Nakusp.

It’s a stunning drive through hilly meadows. You can start to feel the earth around you getting bigger, rougher, and more jagged. This whole area has been created by the force of nature. One of them is the intense geothermal activity happening underground.

When driving from the Okanagan Valley to Revelstoke you should stop at the Halcyon Hot Springs or Nakusp Hot Springs for a chance to soak in the mineral-rich water. Nothing defines a “holiday” better than relaxing in a geothermal pool while gazing at the beautiful views ahead. Wouldn’t you agree?

Halcyon Hotsprings. A must stop on Western Canada Road trip.
Halcyon Hot Springs on the Upper Arrow Lake

On this section of the road trip, there are two ferry crossings both of which take you across Upper Arrow Lake. Both are free of charge and leave at regular intervals. The first, the Needles Ferry leaves every 30 minutes all day and the second the Shelter Bay Ferry leaves every hour finishing at midnight and starting again at 5 am. 

They both operate on a first come first serve basis and no prior bookings are required. 

After the second ferry crossing, it’s an hour’s drive to Revelstoke – the gateway to the Glacier National Park, where you will spend your 4th night.

Must-dos around Revelstoke

Meadows in the Sky Parkway

Revelstoke 7

The 26km parkway is a windy uphill drive that is home to many viewpoints and lots of wildlife. If you are not a hiker, this is your chance to summit a mountain without any effort.

Grizzly bears are a common sight near the summit and a myriad of hiking trails can be enjoyed at the top with incredible mountain vistas. Hint. Head there in the morning to skip the crowds and for the best chances to spot wildlife! 

The road is open from:

  • 9 am – 5.30 pm between May 20th and June 15th
  • 8 am – 5 pm June 16th to September 7th
  • 9 am – 5 pm between September 8th and October 11th when it closes for the season winter season. 

Roger’s Pass

Roger's Pass in Glacier National Park. Vancouver - Canadian Rockies - Vancouver Road trip guide
Roger’s Pass in Glacier National Park

Another one of the stunning drives in British Columbia. Roger’s Pass is a famous mountain pass along Trans Canada Highway Number 1 across the Selkirk Mountains in Glacier National Park.

You will be driving through it when heading to your next destination: Yoho National Park. Make sure you have your camera ready because, after each turn on this stretch of the road, your mouth will be opening wider! Oh, and we are just getting started! 

Accommodation in Revelstoke (night 4)

Day 5-8: Yoho National Park & Lake Louise

Although Yoho National Park and Lake Louise are only 20 minutes drive apart, they lie in two different provinces. 

Since accommodation in Yoho is even more scarce than in Lake Louise, my advice would be to base yourself in Lake Louise and do your exploring from there. It will also save you from too many check-ins and checkouts! 

Best things to do in Yoho National Park and Lake Louise

Visit Lake O’Hara on a day trip

Lake Ohara 22

If you have some determination in you, as well as tons of patience you absolutely should visit Lake O’Hara. I’ve been there twice already and it’s one of those places I plan on going back to in the upcoming year. Why? Because it’s freaking beautiful!

This fragile area is however subjected to limited visits and saying that the reservation system is a bit outdated would be an understatement. That’s why you will need patience to book your visit! If I sparked your interest in you check out my guide to Lake O’Hara. It will tell you how to score a spot and visit this region of Yoho National Park. 

Check out Emerald Lake and Takakkaw Falls 

Emerald Lake Winter 6

There is no shortage of insanely blue and turquoise lakes in the Canadian Rockies and Emerald Lake is no exception. Where do you think it got its name from?  

As for the Takakkaw Falls. The whole picnic area at the base of the falls makes for a perfect lunch spot. If like me you are an avid hiker I would highly recommend squeezing in the Iceline trail in your itinerary. It starts near the base of the falls. Whenever I read any recommendations for day hikes in the Rockies, the Iceline trail always scores at the top.

Hike around Lake Louise 

Little Beehive 15

There are a lot of hikes in Banff National Park and some of the best of them are around the Lake Louise area. Plenty of companies offer guided tours too.

Whether you’re interested in an easy lakeside stroll or ticking off the summit of a nearby mountain I compiled a list of my favorite hikes around Lake Louise so you can get an idea of what you might fancy. 

Bear in mind that parking at Lake Louise is very limited and spaces often fill up before sunrise. Once they do the vehicles are turned around. It’s better to book a shuttle service with Parks Canada to ensure you get there stress-free.

See the World Famous Moraine Lake 

Moraine Lake is often the highlight for many visitors to the Canadian Rockies but take this as a warning. Only a few years ago during summer seasons, the parking lot at Moraine Lake or Lake Louise would fill up even before sunrise. This leads to traffic jams and overuse of the area.

TIP: Starting in 2023 Moraine Lake Road is closed to personal vehicles year-round. Only Parks Canada shuttles, Roam Public Transit, and commercial bus tours are permitted to travel on the road from June to mid-October.

This means you will need to plan if you want to include Moraine Lake in your Canadian road trip. Visit the Parks Canada website to learn everything about the shuttle service to Moraine Lake.

Accommodation in Lake Louise (Night 5, 6 & 7)

Day 8-10: Canmore and Kananaskis Country

Policeman Creek Canmore 9

You finally made it to the Bow Valley! I bet Whistler seems like a century away. Canmore is where I spent the majority of my time when living in Canada.

Call this place home for the next few days and thank me later! Don’t worry about driving past Banff either we’ll be visiting it on the way back up.

Canmore is also an ideal gateway into Kananaskis Country – an area in the Canadian Rockies that very few international tourists visit. 

Kananaskis Country is an amalgamation of over 10 provincial parks surrounding Canmore, many of which used to be inside the border of Banff National Park until its reduction in size in 1911. 

Things to do around Canmore

Scenic flight around Mount Assiniboine

Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park 12

Due to the restriction on air traffic in the national parks, it’s not possible to do a scenic flight there, but because Canmore (and Kananaskis Country) lie outside of the national park boundaries flight options are available around here. 

If you’re unsure of where to go, my suggestion would be to do a scenic flight around Mount Assiniboine. Alpine Helicopters is one of the companies operating directly from Canmore. 

Check out some jaw-dropping hikes 

Tent Ridge 35

Canmore and Kananaskis Country are my favorite places to hike in the Canadian Rockies. I know I am repeating myself, but seriously guys, they are just too good not to share!

Check out my post about the best hikes in Canmore and Kananaskis Country that was a whole year in the making! I just didn’t want to miss anything!

Practice your photography skills  

Ha Ling Peak 13

If the idea of hiking makes you cringe and you are more into photography, I’ve also got an article on the best photography spots in and around Canmore. Some of them don’t require any effort to get to!

The Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

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Unfortunately, wolves no longer inhabit the Bow Valley (Banff and Canmore). Mainly due to irresponsible human activity. Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary is a non-profit organization that rehabilitates, and houses, wolfdogs from all over North America and it gives you a chance to learn more about these creatures.

Although the animals in the sanctuary aren’t strictly 100% wolf, some of these wolfdogs are extremely high content and impossible to tell apart. It’s a fun activity for people of all ages and really shines a light on the problem of rearing wolfdogs.

Accommodation in Canmore  (Night 8&9)

Day 10-13: Banff & The Bow Valley Parkway

Waterfall in Johnston Canyon.

What’s next on the agenda? Well, pick up sticks and head 20 minutes along the Trans-Canada Highway to Banff. 

Banff National Park is as beautiful as they say, however to me personally the little town of Banff is a little overrated.

With a shopping strip on the main street, notorious summer traffic jams, and parking problems, it doesn’t really scream holiday. I sometimes wonder why would anyone want to travel halfway across the World just to go shopping. 

Maybe as a tourist, I’d view things differently but after being a resident of the Bow Valley for a while, my view is kind of skewed. 

Anyway, Banff is probably what you’ve been dreaming of when planning your trip to the Canadian Rockies so the last thing I want to do is to get you worried.

With a little bit of planning and booking your accommodation well in advance, you’ll have lots of fun here too! That’s why I’ve put together this itinerary. That handy piece of advice also goes for places like Whistler, Canmore, and Jasper.

Things to do around Banff

Bow Valley Parkway 

Grizzly Bear on Bow Valley Parkway 1

The Bow Valley Parkway is a shorter version of the Icefields Parkway, but don’t worry. You won’t be left high and dry in the awesome views department.

The 50 km stretch of road between Banff and Lake Louise is home to Morant’s Curve, Castle Junction, and my favorite – Johnston Canyon. The Bow Valley Parkway is also one of the best places to spot wildlife in the Canadian Rockies. 

Please note that From March 1st to June 25th, travel is not permitted between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. on the 17-kilometer section of the parkway from Johnston Canyon Campground to the Fireside Picnic Area. This is to ensure the area remains a high-quality home for wildlife. Remember to always keep your eyes on the road at any time.  

The best and most environmentally friendly way to explore the Bow Valley Parkway is by joining an e-bike guided tour connected with Johnston Canyon Walk.

See the best photography spots

Two Jack Lack 16

Banff is a dream location for photographers and I defy any itinerary not to include it. Its quaint high street gets pretty crowded in the summertime and so do many of the photography spots in Banff.

The best time to visit the locations is as early as possible. The iconic photography locations close to Banff village are Vermillion Lakes, Lake Minnewanka, Two Jack Lake, Surprise Corner, and the viewpoint up on Mount Norquay. 

Sulphur Mountain Gondola & Banff Hot Springs

Sulphur Mountain Banff 3

If you didn’t get a chance to stop at Nakusp or Halcyon hot springs now is your chance. If you did, oh well you can always go again! The hot springs are located at the foot of the aptly named Sulphur Mountain.

The cost of the gondola to the summit of Sulphur Mountains is 62$ per person which personally I think is a tad pricey. If you’re able, give your legs some exercise instead.

A series of strenuous switchbacks for 5.5 km (3.4 mi), offer short glimpses through the trees of surrounding valleys but will be nothing compared to the view when you make it to the Upper Gondola Terminal on Sulphur Mountain. 

Save the visit to the hot spring for later! There is no better way to relax after some exercise than to soak in the hot springs.

Accommodation in Banff (Night 10, 11 & 12)

Day 13 & 14: The Icefields Parkway

It’s time for the Icefields Parkway! If you haven’t heard of it already you are up for a treat. If you think what you’ve seen so far was impressive, wait for the Parkway! This road is the cherry on top of the cake. I really mean it! 

The 232 km stretch of road connects Lake Louise and Jasper encompassing what the Canadian Rockies are about: glaciers, jagged peaks, and lakes with such beautiful colors, it will be hard for your mind to grasp it all!

I have created a separate guide dedicated to Icefields Parkway, including the best places to stop and all campsites, hostels, and lodges you can stay at along the way.  

Do everything in your power to travel along this road for at least two days! 230 kilometers may not seem like a lot, especially in a country as big as Canada, but there are so many beautiful spots along the way, that it would be a shame to just only spend one day on it.  

Hint: Accommodation on the parkway is very limited so make sure to book as far in advance as possible! 

Day 14-18: Jasper National Park

Maligne Lake Jasper National Park 17

Wow, so you’ve just completed what National Geographic called “One of the Most Spectacular Drives in the World”. How does it feel? Pretty good right? Well, there’s even more to come.

Jasper is a small town that lies on the northern point of the Icefields Parkway. Its picturesque streets are home to many restaurants and its location makes it a great hub to nestle down for a few days whilst you explore the area. 

Things to do in Jasper National Park

Take the Skytram up to Whistler’s Summit 

Jasper Skytram 1

As well as Squamish, Whistler, and Banff, Jasper has its own gondola too. It costs CAD 45$ and offers spectacular panoramic views from the top. You can hike to the top but it’s a 1000m elevation difference from the town. I haven’t yet attempted it.

Once at the top you can continue by foot another 200m in elevation gain to the summit of Whistlers Mountain or try the Indian Ridge hike. An 8 km return hike to a spectacular ridgeline offering even more extensive views. On a clear day, you can even see Mount Robson! 

Check out one of these awesome hiking trails around Jasper

5 Lakes Trail 6

Jasper National Park is the biggest of the 7 parks that are collectively honored with the title of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Canadian Rockies and more area equals more hiking trails. Jasper has some of the best in the world.

There are so many hiking trails in Jasper that you’ll never be able to do all of them but you’ll certainly be able to give some of them a go. Some of the most popular ones in the area are the stroll along Maligne Canyon,  The Valley of Five Lakes, Bald Hills & Sulphur Skyline. 

Visit iconic photo locations

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If photography is your cup of tea then Jasper has some seriously epic locations for you. Reflecting lakes, raging rivers and jagged mountains are common here but to make the most of your time in Jasper, read my article, Where to get killer photographs in Jasper National Park.

Go kayaking on Maligne Lake or take a cruise to Spirit Island 

Maligne Lake Jasper National Park 9

Spirit Island is one of those iconic locations in the Rockies that always appears on everyone’s Instagram feed. If you are looking for an easier way to get there, then a cruise is your answer. You can pre-book them online (if you are traveling in the high season booking in advance is a good idea).

Keen photographers will be saddened to hear that the cruises are not licensed to operate at sunrise or sunset. If you want to experience those times you have to get there via Canoe, Kayak, or a boat with an electric motor.

I hardly doubt any of us travel with one in their bag so I’ve gone more into the possibilities on my multi-day paddling guide to Maligne Lake

The road leading from Jasper to Maligne Lake is also a stunner and black bears are a common sight here. 

Spirit Island on Maligne Lake - A Road Trip Guide via the Canadian Rockies starting and ending in Vancouver
Spirit Island on Maligne Lake

Accommodation in Jasper (Night 14, 15, 16 & 17)

Day 18-19: Jasper to Clearwater via Mount Robson

Berg Lake Trail 2

Heading west out of Jasper along Highway 16, you’ll pass the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, Mount Robson. The visitor center is ideally located to snap a picture of it or get some last-minute trail information if you’re planning on doing the Berg Lake Trail – another awesome multi-day hike in the Canadian Rockies.

Hiking or biking part of it, to Kinney Lake only, is an alternative for those with less time on their hands. 

The Waterfalls

The next stop – Clearwater is the gateway to Wells Gray Provincial Park. After checking into your accommodation or campsite you can visit one of the famous waterfalls along Clearwater Valley Road. The first of which is Spahat Falls, the second is Moul Falls and last, but certainly not least, the iconic Helmcken Falls.

Bears can often be sighted on these trails and at the roadside so keep an eye out for them. 

White Water Rafting

If you’re feeling adventurous then consider going White Water Rafting along the Clearwater River. The river has everything from Class 1 calm water to extreme Class 6 canyons. 

Accommodation in Clearwater (Night 18)

Day 19-21: Clearwater to Vancouver via Joffre Lakes Provincial Park

It’s finally time for the last leg of your awesome road trip! If you are running out of time you can follow Highway number 5 from Clearwater and join Trans Canada Highway 1 and be back in Vancouver within 5 hours. 

I recommend however to travel back the same way you came up, that is highway 99. The views along this road are way more spectacular.

If you haven’t stopped at Joffrey Lakes at the start of your journey you should certainly do it now. This tiny provincial park packs one hell of a punch! 

The first Joffre Lake, framed spectacularly below the hanging Matier Glacier, is only a 5-minute walk from the trailhead car park. The next two lakes are a bit harder to get to, but worth every effort.

The 10 km return (6.5 miles) hike to the Upper Joffre Lakes should take around 3.5 hours to complete (even though at the trailhead it says it’s 4 hours one way!). It’s one of the top hikes in British Columbia so make sure you don’t miss out. 

You can stay your last night in either Pemberton or if your flight leaves early the next day, consider staying your last night in Vancouver.  

Accommodation in Vancouver (Night 20)

That’s it! I hope you will have an epic time traveling through Western Canada. As always any feedback is welcome. If you have any questions about this itinerary leave a comment below. I am always happy to help out! You can also find a lot more information in my Canadian Rockies and Beyond Travel Guide! 

If you are looking for ways to extend this road trip, consider visiting Vancouver Island or completing one of these awesome backcountry trips in the Canadian Rockies. Happy travels! 

Useful travel resources for your road trip around Canada

Below are some links that will become useful for planning your road trip, which I have mentioned before. Please use the link below to support my site!

  • Motorhome Republic – A great search engine for renting motorhomes
  • Discover Cars – if you are after renting a smaller car and great customer service is important to you
  • Booking.com – my go-to search engine for booking hotels!
  • Wildlife Guide – Tips on when and where to spot wildlife in the Canadian Rockies.
  • Parks Canada – up-to-date information about campsites, trails & any wildlife warnings.
  • Wikicamps app – it will help to navigate you to your campsite, popular visitor spots, public washrooms, etc. 
Marta
Marta

Hi! I am the photographer and creator of www.inafarawayland.com. I come from Poland, but I've been living, travelling and working around the globe since I turned 18. A few years ago, during one of my trips to Scotland, I bought my first DSLR and my adventure with photography began. When I am not stuck to my computer editing photos, you can find me hiking somewhere in the mountains.

45 Comments

  1. Hi Marta,

    Thanks so much for putting this itinerary together. I will be traveling to Canada with my husband and 3 year old daughter from the 18th of September until the 12th of October (2024) and used your road trip plan as inspiration. We are flying in and out from Vancouver and what we love most about this trip is that it also added some time at the Okanagan. We are also very much citypeople and even though we are coming to see nature, we wanted to end in Vancouver to see the city.

    We have planned to stay in Vancouver the last 5 days and we decided to stay at the Okanagan for a night more than your suggested itinerary. All the rest is directly copied from your plan. It has been a struggle though to find accomodation at Lake Louise and Banff and now we have found something in Field. I am wondering why you have chosen to spread the hikes in Banff between these to places and why you decided to do Canmore in between. I am trying to figure out if we could stay at Field twice instead, or maybe stay in Field longer the first time and then just stay longer in Canmore as well. It would then be 5 nights total in Field and 5 nights in Canmore (since your plan is 3 nights around Lake Louise, 2 nights in Canmore and 3 nights in Banff). I’m having a hard time figuring out where the best place to stay is for the best day hikes in Banff NP.

    Hope you can help out 🙂

    • Hi Francesca. Thanks for following my itinerary! You can visit the sights in Lake Louise whilst staying in Field and you can also visit the sights around Banff when staying in Canmore. They are close to one another. I hope that helps!

    • Hi Marta,

      I wish I had seen your posts before I started to explore Canada. I’m about to plan my 4th trip there and this time, it’s to repeat a road trip I did a few years ago from Calgary to Vancouver.
      I’ve already visited most of the places mentioned in your Vancouver – Calgary itinerary although I won’t mind revisiting some of those sites just because they are so spectacular and you just can’t enough of them.

      Doing trail walks along the route was always the way we would explore places until last year when my wife broke every bone in her ankle in a bad accident during a trip to Europe. Unfortunately that’s the end of our hiking days 😢

      However our travel plans continue, and I wanted to ask you for your recommendations for out of the way sights and hidden gems along the route from Calgary to Vancouver. The plan is to drive the journey in a rented car over 16-21 days staying in a combination of hotels and Airbnb. We have separate plans for Vancouver so this trip will just be one way.

      The standard touristy attractions will not be a priority for me, and having already seen some of the Canadian Rockies, I know that walking is really the best way to appreciate what’s on offer. However doing hard or long walks is no longer possible and any walking trails you recommend would have to be manageable.

      I would so appreciate your thoughts on this trip we’re planning to do. We don’t have any time constraints and if we need more than 3 weeks do this, that’s fine. For this reason too I won’t be pre-booking accommodation just because we won’t really know where we’ll be and for how long in a given location. Thanks.

      • Hi Peter. Thanks for visiting and I am sorry to hear about your wife’s accident. I do know many off the beaten path places but I am afraid they all require quite a bit of hiking to get to. It’s mostly multiday hikes. From my general experience anything that is beautiful and easy accessible is guaranteed to have many tourists nearby. I am afraid I won’t be able to help you much with your question but I do wish you a wonderful trip.

  2. Hi, I am so impressed with your itinerary and am thinking of doing this during Fall (September/October)
    2025. However, I would like to know if it is possible to catch the Northern Lights during this season.
    I visited Vancouver in 1986 (39 years ago travelling with a travel agency). My wish is to do it on my own
    road trip with my husband. Please advise. Many thanks for all your hard work.

    • Hi Violet. Thanks for your great feedback. Now to your questions. Whilst the northern lights do sometimes appear in the Rockies they are nowhere near as strong as in Northern Canada (Yukon and Northwest Territories or Manitoba). Most of the time you only see a faint glow in the Rockies. Shooting with long exposure can catch the colours. The really strong Aurora happens very rarely in the Rockies. If your objective is to see the northern lights then go more North.

  3. Hello Marta,

    First of all thanks for sharing your invaluable experience with everyone! it’s such a detailed plan with all considerations! we also live in Vancouver and are planning to do this around June. Since I can work remotely, I want to plan a 60-day round trip in way I get to work 4 days a week (Monday to Thursday) and take the other 3 to rest. Also, I will be doing this with my new TESLA Model Y, so there are some considerations around that, but as long as we take Trance Canada HWY we should be good! you have already shared a lot of great things here, I was wondering if you could help me plan better!
    Thanks again for your guide and information

  4. As a first time visitor to Canada I appreciate the effort you put into this guide. I’ve saved it so I can reference it on the trip. Due to commitments back down under I can only visit in March, would most if the places you mentioned be open still? I’ll be in a campervan.
    Cheers

    • Hi. March isn’t an ideal time to travel. You should expect winter conditions in many places. March is still very much ski season. Most hikes won’t be accessible. Many campsites will be closed (for example along the Icefields Parkway). Can you still travel, of course you can, but just come well prepared, be comfortable driving in winter conditions and pack many warm clothes.

  5. We are cruising from Australia over a 31 day period and arriving at Seattle on the 1st.May, and then Flying to Vancouver. We are planning an approx. 25 days of hiring a car and setting off immediately to Squamish/Whistler and back down to Okanagan, Revelstroke, Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, Wells Gray, back to Whistler and Vancouver. We then plan a few days on Vancouver Island and then head home.
    This itinerary is still being worked on with the various sites in each town and the duration. I have read your 3 week touring blog on this as well (Thank you so much) and as well as the many questions being put forward. Is this the best way to go, is first week of May too early to be travelling, I would add that we were planning to do the various walks to look outs /Water falls ,lakes ect but nothing too strenuous or dangerous. We were also unsure as to whether we should book hotel accommodation in advance…thankyou would appreciate any feedback…kind regards, John

    • Hi John. You can already travel the Rockies in May, but you might not be able to see everything. For instance Moraine lake road doesn’t usually open until Mid-May. You should be able to get hotels on the go as it is still very much low season. You can expect winter like conditions in high elevation places for example Icefields Parkway or Lake Louise but the valleys etc will be clear of snow. I hope that helps.

  6. Hello Marta,
    I would like to ask you which one did you like more?
    The Canadian Rockies or the Dolomites?
    I would want to go to one of them this year but i don’t know which one to choose.
    If you would have to pick one, which one would you do again?
    Thank you very much.

    • Hi Sofie. I loved both for different reasons. I currently live in the Alps close to the Dolomites. I moved here to be closer to the Dolomites and I do love it, however sometimes I find it sad how developed the alps are. I swear if people could they would but a mountain hut every few hundred meters and a gondola to every summit. You don’t have that in the Rockies. There you can expect vast open spaces with not much civilization in sight. The Dolomites are certainly easier to travel around. The hut network makes it really easy to move across the mountains with very little on your back. In the Rockies I had to carry a 20kg backpack on my bag and all the food if i wanted to spend some time in tbe backcountry. The wildlife is also more amazing in the Rockies, but the wildfires can be horrendous and ruin your holiday. Dolomites win when it comes down to adventuring. The via ferrata network is just amazing. You need to ask yourself what your priorities are. If you are a solo traveller I think the Dolomites are much safer due to wildlife. I hope that helps!

  7. Hi Marta,

    first of all thanks a lot for providing all your knowledge here.

    Me and my girlfriend want to do a trip like you suggested. We are coming from San Francisco by plane and need to chose the destination airport.
    Which city would be ideal to rent an RV from?
    I am sure this highly depends on the typical routes (Meaning if you want the best value option, try to do the tour in reverse, e.g. renting in Calgary vs Vancouver) – I hope this makes sense 😉

    Many thanks once again for your help!

    • Hi Jonas. Thanks for stopping by. I reckon this is a hard question to answer. The GST is lower in Alberta if that’s what you are asking, but there are so many other things to consider that I reckon it might drive you crazy trying to find out the best deals + flights etc. You can either do Vancouver to vancouver trip or Vancouver to Calgary. Vancouver to Calgary is my favourite option because you starts at sea level and you leave the best for last (meaning the Rockies). I always tell people, once you see the Rockies a lot of other destinations won’t be as fascinating. I hope that helps a bit.

  8. Hi Marta,

    I’m thinking of traveling in the first three weeks of May. Is it too early for hiking? Are there specific routes you think are more appropriate? How about RV versus hotels? Any resources would be greatly appreciated!

    • Hi Sherry. Thanks for stopping by. May is still a bit early to hike. Although truth is you can find hikes at any time of the year. Lower elevation hikes, valley walks are generally doable year-round. Also trails that don’t cross avalanche terrain or are South exposed (here the snow melts a lot quicker). The official hiking season is around mid-June until the end of September. October is generally still ok to hike too. As for travelling in a motorhome. It’s doable if your camper is equipped with heating. The nights can still be cold. Also not all campsites are open in early May, but some already are. I did the Elfin Lakes Trail at the end of May. That can give you an idea how much snow there still is at higher elevations. Once again though in the valleys you will already have full on Spring. The great advantage of travelling at that time is the very small amount of tourists.

  9. Hi Marta

    Fantasitic itinery which I am interested in following. However, I am struggling to understand exactly where you have stopped each night. Apologies if I am missing something obvious, but do you have a simple list of which town you stayed in each night so I can get an idea where and how long you stayed in each place?

    Everything else is amazing and thank you for putting this together.

    Michael

    • Hi Michael, under each location there is a subsection that is titled “accommodation in…. (night …) that way you know exactly where I was staying. If that section is missing like for example for night 1 and 2 that is because I am talking about spending time on the Sea to Sky highway and linking to another article. In that article you will find recommendation about where to stay or accommodation in along the Sea to Sky highway. I hope that explains it. Let me know if you have more questions 🙂

  10. Hello
    We will be in Canada from May 13 th to June 3rd and would like to rent a RV to go from Vancouver to Calgary.

    Our plan is to stay in Vancouver for 2 days and rent the RV.
    I am a little concern about the weather.
    Is it too soon to do the road trip ? Will it be too cold to stay in a RV ?
    Thank you for your response

    • Hi Mimi. Thanks for visiting. You should consider my Vancouver to Calgary road trip itinerary then. As for your question. It is fine to travel in the second half of May as long as hiking isn’t your main objective as some trails will still have snow on them. That doesn’t mean you can’t hike. You will just have to choose south facing trails, where snow melts quicker, valley walks or lower elevation hikes.
      Nights can be cool, but RV’s have heating systems in them so that shouldn’t be an issue. Day’s are already pleasantly warm. Mosquitos do start to be a burden during that time though, so definitely something to consider. I hope that helps!

  11. Hi Marta, love this entire trip! We are planning on maybe doing this trip as closely as we can to your plan however we need to get it done in 16 days, is there parts of the trip which would more advisable than others to either skip or not spend as much time on? Love your site!

    Thanks, Kyle

    • Hi Kyle. Thanks for visiting. I would recommend that you do a one way trip from Vancouver to Calgary (it’s possible to book a camper that way). Otherwise I would cut out the Okanagan Valley and from Whistler travel straight to Revelstoke. I would connect Canmore with Banff and stay in this area for 3 days instead of 5 as per my article. Also cut a day in Jasper NP. That will save you a few days alltogether. I hope that helps!

  12. Are there hard copies of these itineraries available and how does one get them. I am interested in the 3week Canadian Rockies drive as well as the Vancouver Island drive.

    • Hi Charlotte. Thanks for visiting. I wish I could help further, but unfortunately I do not offer hard copies of these itineraries. The way I earn money through this blog is advertising, when I receive site visitors, like you. Hard Copies would basically take away my income.

  13. Hi Marta

    My husband and I (doesn’t that sound very British!) are planning a three week RV road trip leaving on Aug 24 next year. I’m pretty certain we will do your suggested trip exactly but just wanted to check with you the amount of days in Jasper and Banff. We intend to do a lot of hiking but as we are by no means professional (we need to put some serious practice in between now and next summer) we will probably be doing more of the easier 5 hour ish day hikes that don’t require a degree in map reading. With this in mind is it still a good idea to spend that amount of time in both parks? I would really like to get some whale watching in too so am trying to see what we can fit in and what we could cut without missing out. And wish me luck getting tickets for the Lake O’Hara Bus!

    • Hi Mel! Thanks for stopping by. Wow you are really on track when it comes down to planning! Have you considered following my Vancouver to Calgary itinerary instead? It goes over 2 weeks and it will give you a few days to go to Vancouver Island too to see the whales. Starting in one spot and leaving from the other means a lot less driving and a lot more time to actually enjoy the ladnscape. I have itineraries for both. Just follow the links!
      If your objective is to hike then you really shouldn’t cut the days for JAsper and Banff NP.

  14. Hi Marta,

    Absolutely love your blog. So helpful and informative. We are planning on doing a route very similar to your 3 week roadtrip. We were originally planning on 3weeks in June 2024 however having read a bit more we’re wondering whether September might be a better option. We want to avoid the crowds of July and August but still want the decent weather and to be able to hike etc… Any advise on whether you would chose June or September?

    thank you!!

    • Hi Emma. Yes if you can go in September. At the moment there is quite a bit of smoke in Jasper NP. It seems like the summer will already be quite smoky and filled with wildfires. Whilst September is still quiet touristy especially in main areas it is definitely a lot quieter then the summer holidays and school holidays. By September the skies are also usually clear and the wildfires subside. June is also terrible for mosquitos. If you were to travel in a campervan you would have to pack a lot of mosquito repellent 🙂 I hope that helps!

  15. Your Knowledge of this beautiful country looks and sounds amazing . Myself and my wife are looking to take an epic adventure of western Canada for four weeks in May 23 for our joint 50th birthdays . Would the above be suitable. We are gonna hire a big camper van and travel and maybe finish on Vancouver island .wanna do as much as possible and see as much . Thanks

  16. Hi Marta,

    What an amazing and helpful website you’ve got. I’ve got a question. We have rented a motorhome for 6 weeks from 23 May – 6 July. We don’t normally like making reservations for campsites (or hikes) as we prefer deciding what we would like to do whenever we’re there. However, I’m starting to get a bit stressed when it comes to popular spots like Banff and Jasper. Do you think we need to book our stays for the month of June in advance as well? Takes a bit of the spontaneous go with the flow experience away.. Anyway, would love to hear from you! Keep up the good work!

    Cheers, Stephana

  17. Hello

    thank you so much for this trip! it what I am going to base my holiday around!
    though we are camping/RV do you have any favorite camp ground or things we shouldn’t miss

    thank you
    Lucy

    • Hi Lucy! Thanks for the great feedback. I really liked the Alice Lake campground near Squamish and I think campgrounds in the Kananaskis country are awesome too (for example the Upper Kananaskis campground). All in all I would say don’t miss Kananaskis country. To me it was even better than Banff NP. Luckily I do include it in my itinerary. I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any more questions! Happy travels!

  18. Heya Marta!

    Thank you for this AMAZING Blog you have created, it has given us so much information that we needed for our trip. We are hoping to plan our 3 week trip to Canada From June – July 2023 (hoping we haven’t left it too late to book flights/hotels/campsites etc) we are hoping to rent an RV for the entire trip I’m assuming insurance to drive vehicle is included in package on RV websites ? Do you have a rough guide or break down of cost of the trip would be ?

    many thanks for your time,

    Steph

    • Hi Steph. Thanks for stopping by and for your great feedback. Regarding the insurance, you usually are faced with several options when booking the RV, usually towards the end of the booking process, depending on the extent of the insurance, that you want to pick. Campsite bookings for next summer season usually open between November and January, so if I were you I would already start with the bookings as spaces are limited. As for the breakdown costs, it is really hard to tell and highly depends on the type of traveler you are, how many of you will be there, etc. RV rentals have skyrocketed after the pandemic, but so have hotel prices and everything else. Sadly. My rough estimate would be 200 CAD/two people including one meal daily in a restaurant, the other meals prepared by yourself in the van, campsites, and petrol. Activities, flights and RV would be extra

  19. Hi Marta,

    Thanks so much for your fab website.
    My boyfriend and I would love to drive a similar route to your Vancouver, rockies and back however we would love to go a bit further maybe up to Alberta and also do it in Winter.
    We would love a 4×4 with tent on roof type thing.
    I would love your advice with this as there isn’t much out there and want to be prepared.

    Thank you so much.
    Eloise

    • Hi Eloise. Thanks for visiting. This road trip goes through both British Columbia and Alberta. Actually, most of the time is spent in Alberta, so it sounds like it would suit you right. As for driving and sleeping in a tent in the winter, it’s possible, but you really need to be prepared and know what you are getting yourself into. Most campsites are already shut, also it is bitterly cold, down to -30, -40 degrees. You will be faced with such issues as water tank freezing. You need to have a really good car battery, otherwise, you might wake up not being able to start your car in the morning. Some cars are equipped with special block heaters and you plug the cars in overnight to keep the battery warm and ready to start. Humidity can be a big problem in the tent in the winter, so your tent should be a 4 season one and your sleeping bag should be high alpine sleeping bags. If you are into this kind of thing and survival then go for it, but make sure you are also enjoying your trip along the way. Carrying snow chains might be useful. Also bare in mind that some roads are closed in the winter, the most prominent of all being the Moraine Lake road. You can however do other things like skiing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating etc. Let me know if you have more specific questions.

  20. Hi Mart, came across your post and found it super useful. Big Thank You to your efforts. I am planning a Vancouver – Rockies mountains – Vancouver in 14 days in November this year. Will it be a good time to drive a motorhome or is it better off to rent a car to get around? I am concern about November being close to winter season and the road condition might be a little challenging for motorhome. What would be your advice? Thank you.

    • Hi Bryan! Thanks for your feedback. I would say rent a normal car, not a motorhome. I reckon the cut-off time for Motorhomes is September, after that the nights get frigid cold and the humidity that builds up in the vans becomes a big issue. I stayed in my van until the end of October and honestly I was over it. It was a daily struggle to even get dressed. Also, the campsites will be shut by then so you won’t have that many possibilities to recharge batteries etc. Go for a small car and hotels. You will enjoy it a lot more! I hope that helps.

  21. Wonderful! We hope we can finally go this summer (it got canceled last year). We do 3 weeks with a motorhome, but my family also wants to visit Vancouver Island. What would you skip and how long would you say we need for Vancouver Island?

    • Hi Manouk. Sorry about your cancelled trip last year and fingers crossed it will happen this year! As for your question. I do have a 4 day mini road trip to Vancouver Island and then a two week road trip from Vancouver to Calgary which you should combine, that would give you a total of 3 weeks with a couple of days spare if you wanted to get back to Vancouver instead. You ca find them in the road trips category of my canadian rockies guide. Please let me know if that helps and if you have more questions!

  22. Hi Marta, while preparing our trip I came across your website. A great source of information and inspiration! In May we will make a trip through western Canada with a camper. I was curious about the map with your route, but it seems that it is not shown?

    • Hi Leon! I have recently migrated my site and the maps didn’t migrate properly. I had to upload them back up manually and I am happy to report that they are up and running again! Let me know if you have any troubles seeming them! Thanks!

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