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Ultimate 2 Week Western Canada Road Trip from Vancouver: Itinerary, Tips & Map

If you have only one chance (and two weeks) to explore Western Canada, this is the road trip for you.

As well as including all of the ‘must sees,’ this two week Western Canada road trip itinerary features many of the contrasting landscapes that make this region so unique. Think temperate rainforest, desert and mountains, all in one road trip!

Banff viewpoint on Norquay Road, showing rugged Mount Rundle looming above Banff townsite
Banff National Park

This road trip guide is shaped by 10+ years of experience living and travelling in British Columbia and Alberta. JR and I have tried and tested every single activity mentioned.

Filled with more than 6500 words of local knowledge and advice, this Western Canada road trip guide is intended to be used as a starting point for planning your trip.

A lone tree rests on the sand on long beach, with calm ocean visible on right hand side and forest on left
Long Beach, Pacific Rim National Park

Adjust the suggestions to your interests or add a couple of days in the locations that sound most appealing to you.

The guide includes a day-by-day overview of the entire two-week road trip itinerary, as well as planning tips to help save you money (and stress!) along the way.

Here’s what to expect:

Last updated January 2024. This post includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through one of these links, we may receive a small percentage of the sale.

Sloped vineyards above Okanagan Lake on the Naramata Bench in Penticton
The Okanagan Valley

14 day Western Canada road trip overview

Time to start planning your once-in-a-lifetime Western Canada road trip!

This section of the guide provides an overview of the itinerary with a map and some important need-to-know information.

Vehicle windshield view of Icefields Parkway in Alberta, with mountains rising in distance above road. The road is bordered by trees, some with autumnal colours (yellow, orange)
Icefields Parkway

Road trip itinerary at a glance

Before we go any further, let’s have a look at the entire 14 day road trip itinerary from start to finish.

Day 1: Vancouver
Day 2: Vancouver to Whistler
Day 3: Whistler
Day 4: Whistler to Kamloops
Day 5: Kamloops to Valemount
Day 6: Valemount to Jasper
Day 7: Jasper

Day 8: Jasper to Banff
Day 9: Banff
Day 10: Banff
Day 11: Banff to Golden
Day 12: Golden to Revelstoke
Day 13: Revelstoke to the Okanagan Valley
Day 14: Okanagan Valley to Vancouver

It is noticeable that the majority of this road trip is in British Columbia. I was tempted to call it the ‘ultimate 2 week British Columbia road trip‘ but decided that the inclusion of both Jasper and Banff made it a bit too inaccurate.

If the routing looks too fast for you, I suggest looking at the alternative itineraries noted at the bottom of the page

Travelling to Canada from Europe? While it is easier and faster to drive long distances in Western Canada compared to Europe, you may find that this itinerary includes way too much driving for your preferences. Again, I would suggest checking out the alternative itineraries section.

Please note that this post previously mentioned a two-night stay on Vancouver Island within the itinerary.

I have recently chosen to remove this recommendation primarily due to the high amount of ferry cancellations in 2023 (more information and advice later in the guide).

On water view of Emerald Lake, surrounded by snow capped mountains and bordered by forest. The lake colour is bright blue
Yoho National Park

Western Canada road trip map

Use the below Google Map for orientation and planning.

Each of the suggested activities is marked on the map, with suggested accommodations in each town and city.

Need to know info

  • The best time to drive this road trip is July to September. June is also a good time, though a handful of these activities may have limited accessibility
  • This itinerary is relatively fast-paced. If you choose to do most of the activities listed, you will likely be busy all day. Need more downtime? Stretch this itinerary over three weeks or skip some of the activities
  • The route and suggested activities are aimed at people who enjoy exploring nature and being active while on vacation
  • I have suggested at least one short, easy hike/walk each day (7km or less). Other hiking trails mentioned are aimed at keen hikers looking for longer, intermediate/difficult level routes
  • Most of the overnight stops are in small towns. During the summer months, accommodation and dining availability and choice can be limited
  • Advance reservations (6 months or more) are recommended for Whistler, Banff and Jasper in particular
  • Before you head to Western Canada, learn how to avoid negative bear encounters and basic outdoor safety
  • This itinerary focuses on free activities over paid ones. I have, however, mentioned half a dozen paid attractions which I think offer one-of-a-kind experiences
  • Keep in mind that this road trip offers just a taste of the activities and hiking trails on offer in these locations. It is impossible to do everything in a 2 week road trip!
  • When exploring, be sure to always Leave No Trace (dispose of trash properly, stay on established trails, don’t feed wildlife)
  • A national park pass is required to visit Jasper, Banff, Yoho, Glacier and Revelstoke national parks (all mentioned in this guide). These parks are all covered by the same day pass
  • Discover more tips and advice in our BC trip planning guide
Narrow moss covered canyon with river rushing through below. There is a fenced bridge crossing the canyon
Maligne Canyon, Jasper National Park

Day by day road trip guide

Read on to discover a detailed breakdown of this 2 week Western Canada road trip itinerary, including where to stay and what to do each day.

Vancouver (Day 1)

Surrounded by temperate rainforest, mountains and ocean, Vancouver is a strikingly beautiful city.

The downtown area is located at the very end of what is known as British Columbia’s ‘Lower Mainland,’ with neighbouring cities (Burnaby, Surrey, Abbotsford) spreading out to the east.

Vancouver is the ideal place to get your bearings before starting your 2 week Western Canada road trip.

Coal Harbour area of Vancouver with paved coastal path next to ocean with skyscrapers in background - Vancouver is one of the most popular destinations for a working holiday in Canada
Coal Harbour area of downtown Vancouver

Best things to do in Vancouver

  • One day isn’t a lot of time in Vancouver. Depending on the length of your journey to Vancouver, you may want to take this day slowly and not see/do that much
  • The Vancouver Seawall around Stanley Park is one of Vancouver’s most unique features. It’s possible to rent a bike or just walk one section
  • The Granville Island Public Market is a firm favourite for tourists and locals alike – arrive with an empty stomach!
  • Of course, a scroll around downtown is essential. Gastown, Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood, is one of my favourite areas, with cobblestone streets, galleries, cafes and boutiques
  • If the downtown areas do not hold any interest for you, consider a trip to Grouse Mountain. Take the challenge to hike to the top via the Grouse Grind (2.5km with 800m elevation!) or ride the cable car. Spectacular views await at the top, plus rescued grizzly bears and a lumberjack show
Close up of steaming Gastown clock in downtown Vancouver with six story brick building in background
Gastown Steam Clock, downtown Vancouver

Where to stay in Vancouver

Looking to stay downtown but want to pay less than $400/night? We’ve stayed at the Moda Hotel several times and enjoyed both the location and heritage building surroundings. The cheapest rooms are not very spacious but they have everything you need for a short stay.

On a stricter budget? I’ve heard great things about the YWCA Hotel. The location is fantastic, being walkable to everywhere downtown. The cheapest rooms have shared bathrooms.

It is important to know that there are no campgrounds in downtown Vancouver.

Vancouver to Whistler (Day 2)

Vancouver to Whistler driving distance: 121km
Driving time without activities: 1 hour 45 minutes

Time to get out of the city! The drive to Whistler is a well travelled route though also incredibly pretty. Howe Sound borders the road on one side, with high cliffs and mountains on the other.

A huge granite rock looms over Squamish
The Stawamus Chief formation in Squamish

Best things to do between Vancouver and Whistler

  • Shannon Falls is an ideal first stop to stretch and get your bearings. The waterfall is just a five-minute walk from the parking lot
  • If you’re curious what lies at the top of the mountains, take the Sea to Sky Gondola to find out. Breathtaking vistas of the ocean and surrounding mountains await!
  • The small town of Squamish is just a little further up the highway. The dramatic Stawamus Chief, a huge granite monolith, can be seen from downtown. Stop for an early dinner or to get food supplies
  • Last stop before Whistler is Brandywine Falls. Allow 20-30 minutes to walk the easy 1km return trail to the viewpoint
Large waterfall cascades from platform into cauldron
Brandywine Falls near Whistler

Where to stay in Whistler

Whistler has a whole host of accommodation options to choose from. Booking as early as possible is highly recommended.

The Pangea Pod Hotel is right in the heart of the action of Whistler Village, but without the price tag of surrounding hotels.

Families and larger groups may like the Whistler Village Inn & Suites, which offers a number of different room configurations. The location is central but surprisingly quiet.

The closest provincial park campground to Whistler is Nairn Falls, around 25 minutes drive north on Highway 99. Another option is Alice Lake, which is in Squamish (40 minutes south). Reservations highly recommended.

Elevated view looking down on alpine lake, surrounded by snow capped mountains on Whistler Mountain. The views are slightly obscured by smoke
Hiking on Whistler Mountain

Whistler (Day 3)

Whistler is one of North America’s largest ski resorts. But this mountain paradise is a wonderful summer destination as well.

This is particularly true if you love to hike as the winter lift system can be utilised for easy access into the alpine (almost zero uphill climbs necessary!)

Patio seating outside European ski village style buildings in Whistler village
Whistler Village

Best things to do in Whistler

  • After breakfast, board the Village Gondola to reach the peak of Whistler Mountain (2,181m). Take in the extraordinary views and then ride the Peak Express chairlift (Friday to Sunday only) to the Top of the World Summit (2182m). Top tip – buy your tickets online to avoid most of the line
  • Return to Whistler Mountain to take the incredible Peak 2 Peak gondola to Blackcomb Mountain, where more alpine trails await. I’d recommend the easy Alpine Loop (1.4km). When finished, ride the Blackcomb Gondola back down to the village
  • Cool off with a swim in Alta Lake. Note that parking is limited so walk or take the bus if you can (#10, #20, #25 BC Transit buses)
  • In the evening, explore Whistler’s alpine-themed centre and take a photo with the huge Olympic Rings
  • Looking for some downtime? Visit Scandinave Spa for some thermal therapy. Access to this adults-only outdoor spa is available without a reservation, though a waitlist does operate at busy times
  • If they haven’t had enough excitement already, kids may love to try the longest zipline in North America

Here to hike? The premier alpine hike on Whistler Mountain is the High Note Trail. The 9.4km route begins from the Top of the World Summit and descends through rugged rocky terrain and meadows to finish at the top of the Village Gondola

Yellow hiker sign on rock at Whistler Mountain, with snow capped peaks in background
There are some many alpine trails at Whistler Mountain

Whistler to Kamloops (Day 4)

Whistler to Kamloops driving distance: 300km
Driving time without activities: 4 hours

Highway 99 continues beyond Whistler and through the spectacular Garibaldi Ranges.

The lush mountainous landscape doesn’t last however, with the second half of this drive transitioning into a completely different (and much drier!) ecosystem.

The day finishes in the city of Kamloops, situated in British Columbia’s dry grasslands region.

Dry desert landscape with highway on left and railway line on right. There is a tunnel blasted through the rock
The landscape changes dramatically around Lillooet

Best things to do between Whistler and Kamloops

  • Nairn Falls is a must-see, situated 25 minutes north of Whistler. The viewpoint is 3km return from the parking lot
  • Enjoy morning coffee or lunch in Pemberton, a cute village surrounded by mountains
  • If you’ve already secured a day pass (only possible two days in advance), stop to visit the famous Joffre Lakes. These turquoise-coloured lakes are very popular but rightly so. The hike is 500m one-way to the first lake, 4km to the middle lake, 5km to the upper lake
  • Beyond Duffy Lake, the landscape starts to change dramatically. Stop in Lillooet to take it all in (pick up some treats from the bakery too!)
  • There is a great viewpoint/rest area 30 minutes west of Kamloops

Where to stay in Kamloops

Kamloops has a wide choice of accommodation and eateries. An alternative overnight destination would be Clearwater. The drive would take around an hour and a half longer but would significantly reduce overall driving time the next day.

Kamloops’ best value accommodation is found at…Canadas Best Value Inn (seriously!) Another good option is the downtown Plaza Hotel.

For upscale lodgings in the downtown area, book a stay at the Delta Hotel. The location is convenient for restaurants and also for departing towards Clearwater (your destination on day 5).

Pauls Lake Provincial Park has a charming forested campground within walking distance of sandy beaches. The park is 25km from Kamloops.

An alternative idea would be to drive directly to Wells Gray Provincial Park (more details below) and stay at one of the three campgrounds there instead.

Reservations are possible for both Clearwater Lake and Falls Creek campgrounds. We find Pyramid to be more conveniently located for waterfalls but it is first come first serve only.

141m Helmckcen Falls plunging into a canyon in Wells Gray Provincial Park
Helmcken Falls, Wells Gray Provincial Park

Kamloops to Valemount (Day 5)

Kamloops to Valemount driving distance: 322km (+90km sightseeing)
Driving time without activities: 5 hours

The star attraction today is Wells Gray Provincial Park, a protected area just north of Clearwater (1 hour 30 minutes drive from Kamloopos)

Part of a volcanic field that started forming approximately 3.5 million years ago, Wells Gray is host to 40+ spectacular waterfalls as well as glacier lakes, snow-capped mountains and more.

The drive to Clearwater from Kamloops is pretty straightforward. Watch for the Canadian Mountaineer train on the parallel tracks!

On arrival, pick up lunch supplies and then head onto Clearwater Valley Road for 2-3 hours of waterfall chasing.

A tall waterfall dramatically falls from a rockface below
Spahats Falls, Wells Gray Provincial Park

Best things to do in Wells Gray Provincial Park and on the way to Valemount

  • The biggest waterfall in Wells Gray Provincial Park is Helmcken Falls (141m high!), which is located at the very end of the paved section of the road
  • On the way there, stop at Spahats Falls (10 minute walk from the parking lot), Dawson Falls (900m return) and the Mushbowl (roadside)
  • An optional stop is Moul Falls. It is accessible only via a 6km return hike. The first half of the trail is flat, wide and very easy. The second half is narrower and rockier, with the final approach to the waterfall featuring some short, steep slopes and a couple of staircases
  • Beyond Helmcken Falls, the road is unpaved. If you want to continue, the Ray Farm Trail is 3km return (homesteading history, interesting mineral springs)
  • The 1.6km return trip to Bailey’s Chute Trail combines both waterfalls and rapids
  • After driving back to Clearwater, return to Highway 5 and continue to Valemount through the lush North Thompson Valley
  • The drive between Clearwater and Valemount is pleasant, though there are not many easily accessible roadside activities

Here to hike? The best hiking trail in Wells Gray Provincial Park is the Trophy Meadow Trail. Providing quick access to the subalpine, it is one of my favourite trails in all of BC! The one downside is that the trailhead is located at the end of an unpaved road

Yellow and purple wildflowers with rock piles on left and right, with rounded mountains in background
Trophy Meadows

Where to stay in Valemount

Valemount is a small village (pop 1052) with a surprisingly good choice of accommodation. There’s an excellent local brewery, a very popular Swiss-German bakery and an entry-by-donation museum.

Canadas Best Value Inn Valemount is a great no-frills option while the Comfort Inn & Suites offers more amenities and complimentary breakfast.

The most upscale place in Valemount is the Best Western Plus. If you’re looking for something a little more unique and local, try Valemount Mountain Retreat Guesthouse.

Valemount has several private RV parks. An alternative idea is to stay at one of Mount Robson’s provincial park campgrounds. I prefer Robson River over Robson Meadows, but both are good.

Back view of JR standing on rock in front of waterfall plunging into rocky bowl (Moul Falls)
Moul Falls

Valemount to Jasper (Day 6)

Valemount to Jasper driving distance: 123km
Driving time without activities: 1 hour 30 minutes (+ time change)

The drive between Valemount and Jasper is wonderfully scenic, though it also features a time change. Prepare to lose one hour today!

Before leaving Valempount, be sure to check out the Swiss-German bakery if you haven’t already.

Best things to do between Valemount and Jasper

  • Shortly after turning onto Highway 16 you’ll arrive at Rearguard Falls Provincial Park. A steep and short trail leads down to a number of viewing platforms of this thundering waterfall
  • Around the next highway corner is the most spectacular view of Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies (3954m). Stop at the Visitor Centre to get a closer look and view indoor exhibits about the mountain. There’s a good café as well
  • The final stop of the day is beautiful Overlander Falls. Allow 30 minutes to walk to the main viewpoint and back
  • Time change in mind, you’ll likely arrive in Jasper in the mid afternoon. Check into your accommodation and enjoy a stroll around the downtown area
  • In the evening, consider the scenic drive to Pyramid Lake, where elk are commonly seen. Take a walk on Pyramid Island
Looking across fields of daisies to forest, with snow capped Mount Robson Provincial Park looming above. There is a single lone clown at the peak
Sunset at Mount Robson, the highest mountain in the Rockies

Where to stay in Jasper

Accommodation in Jasper is high in demand. This combined with the small size of Jasper means that prices are high too. For these reasons, I would recommend booking accommodation in Jasper as soon as possible.

The Mount Robson Inn is a solid downtown accommodation pick. A wide range of room configurations offer particularly good value for families and larger groups. Breakfast is included with every stay and guests also have access to a hot tub. Whistler’s Inn is an ideal alternative for couples.

Campers have a choice of campgrounds in Jasper. We have stayed most often at Whistlers Campground, which was completely renovated a few years ago.

Wapiti Campground is located just down the road from Whistlers and is smaller. Both are only 5 minutes drive from town.

Road view of Highway 16 with red clouds above
Driving between Mount Robson and Jasper during a fiery looking evening!

Jasper (Day 7)

Driving distance: 90km
Driving time without activities: 2 hours

Jasper National Park is Canada’s largest, with the small town of Jasper at the centre of it all. With two nights here, you’ll be able to see some of the park’s most impressive sights and also enjoy the charm of the compact Jasper townsite.

Elevated view looking down on canoeist on calm Maligne Lake, approaching peninsula with scattered trees, with background of huge mountains
Spirit Island, Jasper National Park

Best things to do in Jasper

  • With one full day in Jasper National Park, I would prioritise visiting Maligne Canyon and Maligne Lake, both located on Maligne Lake Road (100km return)
  • Allow 2 hours to walk the 5km loop along the rim of Maligne Canyon. It includes six bridges, numerous impressive viewpoints and even several waterfalls. Shorter loops are possible as well
  • Continue the drive along Maligne Lake Road to the Medicine Lake Lookout
  • At the end of the road is Maligne Lake itself. Pre-book a cruise to Spirit Island, one of Canada’s most iconic and spectacular sights. Yes, the cruise is super touristy but there’s no other way to see the true beauty of Maligne Lake quickly (paddling to Spirit Island takes around 8-10 hours return).
  • If you have extra time, consider taking a short drive along Highway 16 beyond Jasper. The road parallels the impressive Athabasca River

Here to hike? Get an early start and head directly to Maligne Lake. The Bald Hills loop is the best ‘bang for buck’ trail in this area, offering spectacular above treeline views of Maligne Lake. The return distance to the summit is 15km with 715m of elevation gain

Wooden bridge with fence leading onto small island on Pyramid Lake with collection of trees. A mountauin rises above the island in the background. The trees are highlighted with golden autumnal colours
Pyramid Lake

Jasper to Banff (Day 8)

Jasper to Banff driving distance: 289km (+10km sightseeing)
Driving time without activities: 3 hours 30 minutes

Often cited as one of the best road trips in the world, the Icefields Parkway is a 230km long highway along the Continental Divide. It starts in Jasper and ends near Lake Louise, 60km west of Banff

The road is lined with towering mountains and immense glaciers, providing jaw dropping vistas no matter where you look.

There are numerous roadside viewpoints along the route, as well as hiking trailheads and picnic areas. Be sure to get gas and food supplies before leaving Jasper.

Vehicle windshield view of Icefields Parkway in Alberts, with RV driving on two lane road next to huge snowy mountains
Icefields Parkway

Best things to do between Jasper and Banff

  • Driving the Icefields Parkway without stopping takes just less than three hours. To visit the below sights and stop at half a dozen viewpoints, allow four to six hours
  • Our favourite roadside viewpoints are Crowfoot Glacier, Bow Lake, Waterfowl Lake, Weeping Wall, the Big Bend, Tangle Creek Falls and the Goats and Glacier Lookout (all marked on the road trip map)
  • Athabasca Falls is a powerful cascade accessible within a very short walk of the parking area, optional side trail into the canyon (well worth the stairs!)
  • Make a quick stop at Sunwapta Falls to see the almost roadside Upper Falls
  • The Columbia Icefield is the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies, with the Athabasca Glacier being the most accessible part. The easy Toe of the Athabasca Glacier hike is 1.4km return
  • The bright turquoise colour of Peyto Lake has to be seen to believed! The walk from the parking lot is uphill, just over 1km return
  • Bow Lake is another great spot to stretch your legs during the latter half of the Icefields Parkway
Elevated view looking down on turquoise coloured Peyto Lake, surrounded by mountains in Banff National Park
Peyto Lake, Banff National Park (yes, it really is that blue!)

Where to stay in Banff

While Banff is about double the size of Jasper, it also receives almost double the amount of visitors. The price of accommodation is usually a bit higher too. As with Jasper, I’d recommend booking as early as possible.

Our favourite downtown hotel is Moose Hotel & Suites. It is situated right on Banff Avenue, just a few minutes walk from a huge choice of restaurants, cafes and stores. One of the other highlights of the hotel is the huge roof top patio with hot tub.

There are a number of different campgrounds to choose from in the Banff area. Our preferred campground for tent camping is Tunnel Mountain Village 1. The sites are relatively private and the campground is just a short bus ride away from downtown.

If your budget doesn’t stretch to staying in Banff, consider the nearby town of Canmore instead (still touristy but more of a local vibe, slightly lower prices). The Pocaterra Inn offers one of the best value stays in Canmore.

Budget not an issue? Consider staying in Lake Louise! The Fairmont Château Lake Louise is the most iconic place to stay in the Rockies.

Yellow flowers in foreground with downtown Banff views in background, featuring faux alpine buildings and snow capped Cascade Mountain
Downtown Banff

Banff (day 9)

There are so many different things to do in the picture perfect mountain town of Banff and surrounding Banff National Park.

For many people, spectacular Moraine Lake and Lake Louise are a priority. I would recommend visiting these lakes on your second full day here (day 10). Spend your first day exploring Banff and the immediate surrounding area.

Back view of JR stand up paddleboarding on Two Jack Lake in Banff
We rented a stand up paddleboard to go paddling on Two Jack Lake at sunrise (part of the Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive)

Best things to do in Banff

  • If you’re an early riser and loved Maligne Canyon in Jasper, consider an early morning trip to Johnston Canyon (30km drive from Banff). The 2.4km return hike to the Lower Falls takes less than 1 hour. Johnston Canyon is usually very busy between 10am – 3pm
  • In the morning, explore the Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive (24km). Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. Walk on the shoreline of the lake or consider renting a canoe ($85/hour)
  • Instead of returning directly to Banff, take a short detour to the Mt Norquay Lookout. It’s my favourite free viewpoint in Banff
  • Feel like a hike? The 2km uphill trail to the top of Tunnel Mountain is well worth the effort (300m elevation gain) as it ascends the slopes of this prominent landmark to reveal a number of spectacular viewpoints over the Banff Townsite as well as Mount Rundle and the Bow Valley
  • If that sounds like too much for you, reserve a spot on the Banff Gondola that ascends to the top of Sulphur Mountain. The views are simply spectacular. I’d recommend taking the bus (route 1) to avoid having to find parking at the gondola base
  • Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring downtown Banff. If the shopping area doesn’t appeal, take a walk along the Bow River to see the falls (close to the Fairmont)

Here to hike? It’s possible to ascend Sulphur Mountain by trail, rather than gondola. The 11km return trip includes 665m of elevation gain. My friend Leigh has written a comprehensive hiking guide. It is possible to take the gondola down instead of hiking, but there is a fee.

View from Banff gondola window showing other gondola car ascending mountain, with views of forest and Banff town below, with Cascade Mountain in background
Banff Gondola

Banff (Day 10)

Driving distance: 133km
Driving time without activities: 1 hour 30 minutes

Start your day with a visit to Banff National Park’s most famous lakes – Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Please note that Moraine Lake is usually open from late May to early October only.

Since Moraine Lake is only accessible by bus and Lake Louise parking is very limited (and also $21/day!), there are two main options:

  • Use the Parks Canada park-and-ride shuttle ($8) located at Lake Louise Ski Resort, 45 minutes drive from Banff. There are regular reservable buses to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, with a Connector Shuttle.
  • 8X Roam Transit bus from Banff to Lake Louise Lakeshore. This reservable express bus takes 55 minutes. The $25 Roam System Wide Pass includes access to the Parks Canada Lake Connector Shuttle to Moraine Lake

Best things to do at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake

  • In addition to spectacular lakeshore views, both lakes have great hiking opportunities
  • Lake Agnes is a very popular destination from Lake Louise, 7.4km return with 390m elevation gain (allow 2 to 2.5 hours, note that it is uphill almost the entire way). A teahouse has been located at Lake Agnes for more than 100 years
  • For a longer hike near Lake Louise, choose between the Lake Agnes/Big Beehive/Plain of Six Glaciers Loop (18km with 900m elevation gain) or a summit of Mount Piran (13km return with 900m elevation gain)
  • In the Moraine Lake area, consider the Consolation Lakes trail. Starting just past the Rockpile, this 5.8km return hike features views of high alpine meadows, mountain peaks and the Quadra Glacier as well as plenty of pretty wildflowers and the two namesake lakes

Back in Banff, fill your afternoon/evening with any activities you may have missed yesterday. If you already purchased the $25 Roam bus pass, use it to take the bus to the base of the Banff Gondola (avoiding the need to walk or find parking!)

Banff to Golden (Day 11)

Banff to Golden driving distance: 146km (+56km sightseeing)
Driving time without activities: 2 hours

This day is all about Yoho National Park. In my opinion, Yoho is the most underrated park in the Canadian Rockies. Plan to leave the Banff area relatively early to make the most of the day.

Back view of JR walking on wooden bridge, looking up at huge cascading waterfall
Takakkaw Falls, Yoho National Park

Best things to do between Banff and Golden

  • Make a quick stop at the Spiral Tunnel Viewpoint. Depending on timing, you may be lucky and see a train pass through this impressive structure
  • Parking can be a challenge at Emerald Lake after 11am, so head here next. Enjoy the views, rent a canoe ($90/hour) or walk the family-friendly 5.2km loop trail around the lakeshore
  • On the way back to Highway 1, visit the Natural Bridge
  • Turn east on Highway 1 and drive back to Yoho Valley Road. Please note, this road is 13km long with no services, no phone signal and several very tight switchbacks. Trailers and large RVs not permitted
  • Takakkaw Falls, British Columbia’s second-tallest waterfall, is located at the end of Yoho Valley Road
  • Back on Highway 1, head west towards Golden. If you have time, Wapta Falls is a worthwhile stop (3.2km return)
  • Families and thrill seekers may prefer to check out the Golden Skybridge, host to Canada’s highest suspension bridges
  • If you didn’t bring a picnic, Truffle Pigs in Field is the place to go for food in Yoho. It’s not cheap but it’s the opposite of a tourist trap, with everything is made from scratch, with quality ingredients. There’s ice cream too.

Here to hike? The Iceline Trail should be your priority today. Usually hiked as a 20km loop, the Iceline begins at Takkakaw Falls at the end of the Yoho Valley Road. Allow 7 to 9 hours

Natural rock bridge over fast river, backdropped by a mountain
Natural Bridge, Yoho National Park

Where to stay in Golden

There’s much more to the small town of Golden than the assorted collection of motels, hotels, gas stations and fast food joints on Highway 1.

Take the signed detour and head downtown to discover heritage buildings, trendy bars and unique boutiques, all with the backdrop of the rushing Kicking Horse River and huge snow capped mountains.

Moberly Lodge‘s quiet, spotlessly clean rooms are a welcome sight after a day exploring Yoho. Outside, there are stunning views and a hot tub, ideal for a post-hike soak.

If you’re on a tighter budget, Golden has a plethora of motels and chain hotels to choose from, with popular options being the Holiday Inn and Ramada (we’ve stayed at the latter twice).

For camping, consider the 72 site municipal campground, which backs onto the Kicking Horse River. An alternative is to stay at the Kicking Horse Campground in Yoho National Park but you’ll need to secure a reservation early.

Back view of Gemma walking on suspended bridge over canyon
Golden Skybridge

Golden to Revelstoke (Day 12)

Golden to Revelstoke driving distance: 148km (+52km sightseeing)
Driving time without activities: 2 hours

Two more national parks are on the itinerary today – Glacier National Park and Mount Revelstoke National Park. Your day will end in Revelstoke, British Columbia’s best up-and-coming adventure town.

Stairs leading through forest on Hemlock Grove boardwalk, surrounded by forest and plants
Hemlock Grove boardwalk in Glacier National Park

Best things to do between Golden and Revelstoke

  • Interested in the Golden Skybridge but ran out of time yesterday? Consider dropping by this morning
  • Enjoy the mountain views from your vehicle on the drive to the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre in Glacier National Park. This informative centre is my favourite of its kind in the Rockies
  • Stretch your legs on the Hemlock Grove Boardwalk (350m loop), which traverses a cedar and hemlock forest. I’d also recommend the Meeting of the Waters trail (3.3km loop) but it can be difficult to park
  • Heading out of Glacier National Park, you’ll drive through a number of snowsheds, representing the huge amount of snow (14m!) received here in winter
  • Entering Revelstoke National Park, consider stops at Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail (500m loop, was closed in 2022) and the Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk (one short section open in 2023)
  • Arriving in Revelstoke, you have some decisions to make. The Meadows in the Sky Parkway is a 26km paved scenic drive into the alpine, with hiking trails and scenic viewpoints along the way
  • If you’re travelling with kids, you may want to prioritise visiting Revelstoke Mountain Resort, home of the 42km/h Pipe Mountain Coaster (the only one of its kind in Western Canada)

Here to hike? There are so many options for this section! In Glacier National Park, choose between the Hermit Trail (6.4km return), Balu Pass (12.8km) or Abbott Ridge (15.6km). All three trails are very steep. In Revelstoke National Park, Eva Lake (14km) is an easier but still very satisfying day hike

Elevated view of a small city (Revelstoke) at the base of a snow capped mountain
Revelstoke from the Meadows in the Sky Parkway

Where to stay in Revelstoke

Perched on the edge of the Columbia River and surrounded by the Monashee and Selkirk mountain ranges, Revelstoke is a beautiful outdoor playground.

Revelstoke has a great choice of accommodation. If staying downtown is appealing, book a stay at the wonderful Regent Hotel.

The stylish rooms in this heritage building are surprisingly spacious. Better still, the complimentary breakfast buffet is the best I’ve had anywhere in Canada.

Travelling with the family or a larger group? Look no further than the Swiss Chalet Motel. The property is a 10-15 minute walk to downtown, with exceptionally reasonable prices. I stayed in a two bedroom suite with close family and we all had plenty of space.

Campers should make an early reservation for the Snowforest Campground in Mount Revelstoke National Park. It’s not the most spacious national park campground but the convenience (10 minutes drive from town on the Meadows in the Sky Parkway) is hard to beat.

Other local camping options include Martha Creek Provincial Park and Blanket Creek Provincial Park.

Downtown Revelstoke, with mountain in background and two story heritage buildings in foreground
Downtown Revelstoke

Revelstoke to the Okanagan Valley (Day 13)

Revelstoke to Kelowna distance: 197km (+5km sightseeing)
Driving time without activities: 2 hours 40 minutes

The interior of British Columbia is host to a spectacular landscape of dry valleys, lakes and grasslands.

This is the Okanagan Valley and besides being beautiful, it is also Canada’s second largest wine region.

Kelowna is the biggest city in the Okanagan Valley (pop 140k). If you think you may be craving city amenities by this point, consider a night here.

For me, Kelowna is just a bit too busy. This is especially true in the summer, when the hot Okanagan weather attracts thousands of people from all over BC to this bustling lakeside city.

Vernon and Penticton are small towns located to the north and south of Kelowna respectively. While there is still plenty to do around Vernon, we do prefer Penticton (our home town, so we are somewhat biased!)

A bench is in the foreground, looking out to Okanagan Lake and the city of Penticton resting on the eastern shore. The city is backdropped by mountains
Munson Mountain viewpoint, Penticton

Best things to do between Revelstoke and the Okanagan Valley

  • Have any railway fans in the family? A trip to the Revelstoke Railway Museum would be a worthwhile stop before leaving town
  • The drive along Highway 1 from Revelstoke to Sicamous has plenty of pretty sections but not many places to stop. One of our favourite rest areas is the Last Spike, a historical site celebrating the completion of the railway connecting eastern and western Canada
  • Sicamous is an ideal location for a break. The D Dutchmen Dairy is a family operated farm selling homemade ice cream, cheese and milk. Note that it does get very busy around lunchtime
  • Turn off Highway 1 and towards the Okanagan Valley on Highway 97A. The highway skirts Mara Lake (consider a stop at the provincial park of the same name for a swim!) before travelling through farmland
  • Vernon is 150km from Revelstoke and is a potential overnight destination (see below). If stopping here, my top three activities would be a swim at Kal Beach, a short hike (suggestions here) and a visit to Planet Bee Honey Farm
  • Kelowna is another potential overnight destination. If stopping here, my top three activities would be a swim in Okanagan Lake, a winery visit and a walk along the waterfront promenade
  • Penticton is another potential overnight destination. If stopping here, my top three activities would be a swim in one of the lakes, a winery visit and a trip to Munson Mountain Lookout

Here to hike? The Okanagan Valley is usually very hot during the day in summer. I’d suggest an evening or early morning hike. In Vernon, check out Middleton Mountain. Knox Mountain is a great pick in Vernon. In Penticton, check out the KVR Trail from Vancouver Place to McCulloch Trestle

Dirt trail leading downhill through vineyards on the Naramata Bench in Penticton
Walking the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) Trail in Penticton

Where to stay in the Okanagan Valley

Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton offer a wide variety of accommodation options. Summerland and Peachland are great alternatives.

In Kelowna, our top pick is the Hotel Zed. This renovated motel boasts funky rooms and an ideal downtown location close to Okanagan Lake. It has easy access to Highway 97 as well.

My favourite place to stay in the Vernon area is Sparkling Hill, a luxurious adults-only spa retreat. For a quick overnight hassle-free stop, however, I’d suggest the almost brand-new Fairfield Inn & Suites.

In Penticton, the Lakeside Resort has the best location in town. Right on the waterfront, most rooms have views of the leafy downtown area or Okanagan Lake itself.

For camping, we like Ellison Provincial Park near Vernon and Bear Creek Provincial Park near Kelowna. An alternative is Okanagan Lake Provincial Park North near Summerland. Click for more suggestions.

Back view of Gemma walking away along hiking trail with Kalamalka Lake in background, surrounded by rolling hills
Hiking Middleon Mountain in Vernon

Okanagan Valley to Vancouver (Day 14)

Kelowna to Vancouver driving distance: 390km (+20km sightseeing)
Driving time without activities: 4 hours 30 minutes

It’s the last day of your 2 week Western Canada road trip! Time to head back to Vancouver. The journey will take around 5 to 7 hours, depending on chosen route/stops.

For a more detailed version of this road trip section, check out this Vancouver to Okanagan Valley road trip guide.

Beach views in Kelowna, with golden sand bordering a calm lake
Beach in West Kelowna

Best things to do between Kelowna/Vernon and Vancouver

From Kelowna or Vernon, the most direct route to Vancouver is via Highway 97 followed by the 97C, 5A, 5 and 1.

  • The first part of the journey is pretty scenic, with wide open views of Okanagan Lake and then a plateau area. Be sure to get gas before leaving Kelowna as there’s only one service station on the 97C
  • Merritt is the best place to stop for lunch/gas/snacks. If you want to stretch your legs, I’d recommend the Godey Creek Trail (1.9km loop). Please note that there is construction happening in this area
  • My favourite place to hike on this route was Othello Tunnels near Hope, but it has been closed since November 2021 due to flooding
  • A great alternative is Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park a little closer to Vancouver
JR is sat with his back to camera, sat at a wooden picnic table looking out to views of Merritt and the Nicola Valley
Godey Creek Trail in Merritt

Best things to do between Penticton and Vancouver

There are two routes possible from Penticton – the same highway combination as above or a similarly timed alternative via Highway 3.

  • The Highway 3 route is scenic but slower. The road is more twisty and has more drop-offs
  • I’d recommend driving Highway 3 over the Highway 97C/5 combination as there are more interesting places to stop
  • The small town of Keremeos is the fruit stand capital of the Okanagan region – pick up some fresh peaches, apricots or cherries for your journey (season dependent)
  • Princeton is the ideal place to get gas/coffee/lunch/snacks
  • Take an extended break in Manning Provincial Park. Drive up to Cascade Lookout (open July to Sept, 16km return) for amazing views of the surrounding mountains. Rent a canoe or walk around Lightning Lake (5km short loop, 9km long loop)
Looking down from elevated viewpoint of Manning Park area, with resort in foreground and backdrop of mountain peaks, which are highlighted by sunrise colours
Cascade Lookout in Manning Park at golden hour

Where to stay in Vancouver

Returning to Vancouver, you have the option to stay in the city again or overnight close to the airport (YVR).

We’ve stayed at various hotels around Vancouver Airport over the years.

The big chain hotels offer standard, reliable service (Sandman Vancouver Airport, Holiday Inn, Travelodge). A complimentary shuttle to the airport is usually provided and sometimes breakfast as well.

On the upper end, there is a Fairmont right in the airport (the convenience!)

I’m always surprised at the above-average pricing for the airport hotels and, for that reason, we sometimes choose to stay in the city instead.

The SkyTrain from downtown to YVR takes 25 minutes and costs only $4.45 (+$5 from YVR to downtown).

A river approaches a rockface and thunders through rock canyon below, backdropped by huge mountain
Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park

Western Canada road trip: Top tips

In this section, I will share some final thoughts about planning your perfect Western Canada road trip.

Camping details

The best way to save money while touring Western Canada is to camp.

  • National park campgrounds (Parks Canada) average $30-50/night plus $11.50 reservation fee
  • Provincial park campgrounds (BC Parks) average $20-40/night plus $6/night reservation fee
  • Private campgrounds average $30-70/night

The downside is that you’ll need your own camping equipment. An alternative option is to rent an RV, so you can sleep in your vehicle.

It is possible to buy relatively cheap camping gear and accessories at Canadian stores like Walmart.

A full set-up with an entry-level 4 person tent, sleeping bags (2), sleeping mats (2), stove and other essential supplies would cost around $500CAD.

The specific campgrounds mentioned in this Western Canada road trip itinerary are very popular and, as such, travellers should reserve in advance.

  • Reservations for vehicle-accessible national park campgrounds usually open in January for the following summer. The exact launch dates are usually revealed during the preceding December. Parks Canada reservation website
  • Reservations for vehicle-accessible provincial park campgrounds in British Columbia operate with a four month rolling window. So if you want to book for 7th August, the date will be available to book on 7th April. BC Parks reservation website
A set up tent on campsite in Banff National Park, looking out to forest and mountain views
Camping at Tunnel Mountain 1 campground in Banff National Parl

Alternative road trip itineraries

While we think the above 2 week Western Canada road trip itinerary provides a great overview of BC and Alberta, we know that may not be perfect for everyone.

This road trip route does involve a lot of driving and only short stays at each location.

The great news is that it is easy to adapt the routing to create your own two-week Western Canada road trip itinerary.

Two-week itinerary with Vancouver Island

When I originally put this itinerary together, it included a short stay on Vancouver Island.

As mentioned, I have since removed this suggestion as the current ferry situation would make it potentially stressful (too many cancellations/delays).

Ferry issue aside, I think my new 2 week itinerary provides better pacing, with shorter driving days. It also includes an additional full day in the Banff area.

For those interested, itinerary for my original 2 week Western Canada route looked like this:

Day 1: Vancouver
Day 2: Vancouver to Tofino
Day 3: Tofino
Day 4: Tofino to Whistler
Day 5: Whistler
Day 6: Whistler to Clearwater
Day 7: Clearwater to Jasper

Day 8: Jasper
Day 9: Jasper to Banff
Day 10: Banff
Day 11: Banff to Golden
Day 12: Golden to Revelstoke
Day 13: Revelstoke to the Okanagan Valley
Day 14: Okanagan Valley to Vancouver

If Vancouver Island is on your bucket list and you still want to see everything else in this itinerary, I would recommend visiting Western Canada for a minimum of 16 days instead.

Follow the above outline but add an extra night on Vancouver Island (consider Parksville area) and stay in Kamloops and Valemount when travelling between Whistler and Jasper (rather than Clearwater).

Set on Vancouver Island but still want a taste of the Rockies and only have 2 weeks to spare? Check out this new BC Coast and Rockies road trip guide.

Two week itinerary without Jasper and Wells Gray Provincial Park

Not interested in going so far north (Clearwater/Jasper)? I would suggest the following itinerary.

Head directly to Revelstoke from Whistler via an overnight stop in Kamloops or Salmon Arm. Spend an extra night in Golden, the Banff area and the Okanagan Valley. Be sure to take the time to drive some of the Icefields Parkway.

This adapted itinerary would look like this:

Day 1: Vancouver
Day 2: Vancouver to Whistler
Day 3: Whistler
Day 4: Whistler to Kamloops/Salmon Arm
Day 5: Kamloops to Revelstoke
Day 6: Revelstoke to Golden
Day 7: Golden

Day 8: Golden to Banff
Day 9: Banff
Day 10: Banff
Day 11: Banff to Revelstoke
Day 12: Revelstoke to the Okanagan Valley
Day 13: Okanagan Valley
Day 14: Okanagan Valley to Vancouver

JR sat on the left side of wide Wapta Falls, which is backdropped by mountains
Wapta Fall, Yoho National Park

Three-week Western Canada road trip itinerary

Have three weeks to spend on your Western Canada road trip? Excellent! The extra time offers much more flexibility and better pacing (less time driving!)

I would suggest an itinerary like this:

Day 1: Vancouver
Day 2: Vancouver to Victoria
Day 3: Victoria
Day 4: Victoria to Tofino
Day 5: Tofino
Day 6: Tofino
Day 7: Tofino to Parksville
Day 8: Parksville to Whistler
Day 9: Whistler
Day 10: Whistler to Clearwater
Day 11: Clearwater to Jasper
Day 12: Jasper

Day 13: Jasper
Day 14: Jasper to Banff
Day 15: Banff
Day 16: Banff
Day 17: Banff to Golden
Day 18: Golden OR Revelstoke
Day 19: Golden to Revelstoke (or extra night in Revelstoke)
Day 20: Revelstoke to Okanagan Valley
Day 21: Okanagan Valley to Vancouver

As you can see, this more relaxed itinerary includes a stay in Victoria (beautiful oceanside Vancouver Island city), an overnight stop in Parksville (lovely beaches, close to the ferry terminal) and extra nights in Banff, Jasper and Revelstoke/Golden.

Our 2 Week BC Coast and Rockies road trip guide features detailed descriptions of the Vancouver Island sections of the above three week itinerary.

Back/side view of Gemma standing on wooden boardwalk on Rainforest Trail in Tofino, with large mossy fallen trees on left
Rainforest Trail in Pacific Rim National Park near Tofino

More planning resources

The Best Vancouver to Calgary Road Trip Routes: Highway 1 & Alternatives

Canadian Rockies Road Trip Loop: Detailed 9 to 12 day Itineraries + Map

The Best Okanagan Valley Wineries: A Local’s Guide

What To Do in Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia

Complete Guide to BC Parks Camping Reservations

How to Stay Safe in the Outdoors

Bear Safety in Canada: What You Need to Know

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Jim Bonini

Thursday 16th of May 2024

Hi Gemma, thanks again for your wonderful itinerary and excellent advice. We are following very similiar route to above but in reverse. After collecting RV in Vancouver we are driving to Merritt for one night before driving to Revelstoke for 2 nights. I had planned this journey going through Kamloops but note your route goes through the Okanagan Valley and Kelowna. Would you recommend this route as more scenic despite being slightly longer travelling?

Jim Bonini

Friday 17th of May 2024

@Gemma, Thanks for advice Gemma, and apologies for misunderstanding of double post! Bookmarked your site for constant referral during trip. Thanks again :)

Gemma

Thursday 16th of May 2024

Hi Jim,

I just replied to your comment on the other post - I'll copy and paste my answer here for anyone else reading.

The more straightforward route is certainly through Kamloops. The northern part (Highway 1 junction to Oyama) is very scenic, winding through farmland, rivers and several beautiful lakes. Kalamalka Lake is a highlight.

Between West Kelowna and Oyama, however, the highway is very busy with both local and tourist traffic. The road does cross Okanagan Lake and you get some views there. Kelowna is a big city and driving through it in summer can take a long time. It’s not the most pleasant driving experience either, especially as the highway is surrounded by strip malls. The detour would definitely take longer than 40 minutes.

The part between West Kelowna and Merritt is not out-of-this-world scenic, consisting mostly rolling hills. You'd need more time to see the scenic areas.

As a day trip detour, I wouldn’t recommend it unless there is something specific you want to see.

Andreas

Saturday 20th of April 2024

Hello,

Thank you very much for all the information! We are traveling from Greece and planning to follow your itinerary but we have one day less than the recommended. Which stop do you think that it's best to skip?

Gemma

Thursday 16th of May 2024

Hi Andreas,

As much as I love the Okanagan Valley (I live here!), I would skip it on this particular road trip if you don't have the time.

Jason

Monday 19th of February 2024

Thanks so much for this fantastic guide. I'm planning a trip in late May but was planning your route in reverse, starting in Vancouver and heading towards Banff, last stop Whistler. Is there any reason you prefer starting at Whistler?

Gemma

Tuesday 20th of February 2024

Hi Jason,

No - you can drive this route in either direction. When it was originally written, the first few days involved a trip to Vancouver Island and it was logical to do that first (catching a ferry early in the morning vs. later in the day). Driving to Whistler first does mean you will, on a clear day, get a beautiful view of Mount Robson when travelling between Valemount and Jasper.

Sven

Monday 21st of August 2023

Thanks a lot for your detailed and very helpful tips !

we just had a family road trip for 2 weeks. We did not exactly follow your suggestions, but it was a great source of inspiration for our trip

thank you very much !!

Sven

Gemma

Wednesday 30th of August 2023

Thanks so much for letting me know Sven! Hope you had a fabulous trip.