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  1. Default British Colombia and Alberta - 14 or 13 nights

    I've used these forums extensively in the past when planning driving holidays around the South West U.S. My girlfriend and I are now planning one in Canada so hopefully theres someone out there who knows a bit about driving up there...

    Anyway we're looking to go early September next year so I've got plenty of time to iron out the itinerary. I'm looking to book flights in September this year so I need to make certain decisions soon.

    I have two basic ideas, one Vancouver to Vancouver and one Vancouver to Calgary (or the other way around. Cal-Van option gives us one less day but would be better for work/days leave etc). It doesn't cost much more to fly in to one (from the UK) and out the other so this option may be best as we may be able to fit in more. Not 100% sure about the cost of a one-way car rental though.

    So here's what I'm thinking...

    Day 1 Arrive Vancouver (mid afternoon)
    Day 2 Vacouver
    Day 3 Vancouver island?
    Day 4 Drive to Whistler
    Day 5 Whistler
    Day 6 Clearwater
    Day 7 Jasper
    Day 8 Jasper
    Day 9 Jasper
    Day 10 Banff
    Day 11 Banff
    Day 12 Banff
    Day 13 Kelowna
    Day 14 Vancouver
    Day 15 Fly home from Vancouver


    Day 1 Arrive in Calgary in the afternoon and spend night here
    Day 2 Drive to Banff
    Day 3 Banff
    Day 4 Banff
    Day 5 Drive to Jasper
    Day 6 Jasper
    Day 7 Jasper
    Day 8 Drive to Kamloops / Sun Peaks / Clearwater
    Day 9 Drive to Whistler
    Day 10 Whistler
    Day 11 Drive to Vancouver
    Day 12 Vancouver
    Day 13 Vancouver
    Day 14 Fly home

    I know its a bit vague so im open to suggestion. Drive times seem do-able but does anyone know the roads?

    Thanks in advance.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Toss of a coin.

    Hi Greame.

    Both proposed routes have their pros and cons. With the loop you could follow the southern route to Banff, and then up to Jasper and back to Vancouver via Dawson Creek, Prince George and down the Sea to Sky highway through Whistler and Squamish. All those places could also be visited in a zig-zag trip, if you chose to do the one way trip.

    Why not lay it all out on a good paper map. Trips of this scope I find are always best viewed on a large map, to get a better perspective of the overall picture. Something quite difficult within the confines of a computer monitor.

    Enjoy the planning.


  3. #3


    Hi I am just a member but I live in the Invermere BC area(for about 30 years), about 1.5 hrs from Banff Alberta. I would fly into Calgary... Banff is only 1-1.5 hrs from Calgary. The Banff gonola is a must, along with the other sites in Banff. Remember though that Banff is a huge tourist trap.. very expensive!!! Canmore which is 20 min from banff may be a bit cheaper. The Stoney Nakoda reservation(right along #1 hwy) has affordable rates(20 min from Calgary. You could use this as base and drive to canmore/banff area to sightsee.they also do helicopter/rafting trips from here. About 10 min out of banff to west take bow valley parkway(1A) it travels along the #1, very scenic we saw bear and huge elk few weeks ago, also stop at johnson canyon, hike to(very easy .5 hrs or 1 hr to upper falls) a hidden gem of an area to see.
    if you head towards radium hot springs(invermere) after coming our bow valley parkway at castle junction about 15 min drive is marble canyon right on hwy, short .5 hr hike up marble canyon to falls at end a forest fire went thru here about 10 years ago so trees are burnt. you could make this a day trip from Banff, along with johnson canyon.( you MUST check out johnson canyon though.) if you came thru kootenay national park invermere area has radium hot springs and beautiful lake take a quick drive/walk up mt swansea about 30 min from town. spectacular!
    Last edited by bctraveler; 08-15-2012 at 02:13 PM. Reason: adding something

  4. #4


    personally i would go to jasper as a day trip or spend nite there and then come back down and drive thru lake louise, golden, revelstoke, sicamous, salmon arm, and onto Kamloops from there(beautiful mt parks, and shuswap lake) i think the drive thru prince george, etc or clearwater is quite boring not much to see. you miss some great scenery by not going on the #1 to kamloops.golden to kamloops is about 4 hrs without stops, but you will want to stop and explore this beautiful area.Kamloops to whistler, squamish vancouver. ive never been to whistler/squamish but it is beautiful i have heard. i have been to vancouver.. it is a huge city but go downtown to waterfront and walk around very nice for sure, kits beach,granville island,etc. going to island is prob not feasiable. it is very expensive to take ferry $100 i think each way, and you would prob just go to victoria check out sites and come back( it is also very beautiful there though) with all there is to see i would not drive the prince george/clearwater routes for sure and not sure about spending so much time in vancouver unless you like cities. at least you'd have a bit of unwind time before flying back. i know i like to start seeing things right away when i go on a trip, my reason for suggesting cal-van. have fun!!

  5. #5


    sorry one more thing if you are doing a loop i would go from vancouver reverse the route i suggested and from banff come through invermere/radium hot springs cranbrook, trail, osoyoos,kelowna,merritt, hope, chilliwack, vancouver. again more scenic than northern case you need to drop your car at same area.vancouver to invermere can be done in 10-11 hrs driving no stops other than quick food breaks, home route would be about 13 hrs non stop to give you an idea of how spaced out things are.

  6. Default great ideas


    thanks very much for the very detailed response. its good to get a view from someone who actually lives in the area.

    having had a look at accommodation in Banff, the advice regarding Canmore is great advice. That will save us a fortune and its always good to stay outside of the most touristy places. I've added johnson canyon to my list of 'must sees' on this trip. The list is getting pretty long.
    i was already thinking of shortening our stay in Jasper to a couple of days so I think I'll take your advice and maybe spend a day there and maybe a day hiking around lake louise. we do want to drive back through glacier and revelstoke to kamloops and possibly stop there before going on to Vancouver.

    with regard to the vancouver/whistler side of the trip - i think you're right about trying to fit in the island. it would be a flying visit at best and wouldnt do it justice. we will probably spend 2 full days in vancouver and drive the sea to sky road to whistler.

    ive got lots to think about.....thanks again for the great advice. i'll be back with an updated plan and many more questions im sure.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default A bit further.

    Quote Originally Posted by parky View Post
    ... and drive the sea to sky road to whistler.
    Consider driving highway at least to Lillooet, and the glacier lakes nearby. It is a great drive, and the lakes are worth the short hike. Walking all the way to the glacier is even better.


  8. #8


    you are more than welcome, i also agree, nice to get a locals prespective sometimes. try don't know what your budget is but they also have cabins there. enjoy your planning!any of the places that you see in canmore would be fine, even the lower end ones.i don't think there is any dives there at all.

  9. Default having taken on board your advice....

    ....I've come up with this..

    Day 1 Arrive Vancouver (mid afternoon)
    Day 2 Vacouver
    Day 3 Vancouver
    Day 4 Drive to Whistler
    Day 5 Whistler
    Day 6 Drive through Lillooet and stop at Salmon Arm
    Day 7 Drive through Revelstoke, Glacier national park and stop at Golden
    Day 8 Day in Jasper and spend night here
    Day 9 Drive back through Banff/Lake Louise and stop at Canmore
    Day 10 Banff
    Day 11 Banff
    Day 12 drive back (stop somewhere between (Cranbrook and Trail)
    Day 13 Kelowna
    Day 14 stop around Hope
    Day 15 Drive straight to airport and fly home from Vancouver

    I suggested maybe less time in Vancouver but my girlfriends been there before and loves the place and swears i will too so I'm going with the boss on that one. I've included 2 nights in Whistler as the first day we'll probably start out early but spend some time in Sqamish on the way. This is possibly somewhere I could gain a day.

    I'm then thinking of driving through lillooet - Kamloops and possibly stay in Salmon Arm (or somewhere near). From there I was thinking of spending the day driving through Revelstoke and glacier national parks and stop for the night in Golden, from there we could do a day trip to Jasper (maybe stay there or head back to Golden).

    Then we would have 3 days to explore Banff/Lake Louise from our base in Canmore.

    I've then allowed us 3 days to head back towards Vancouver the scenic way however we could possibly do this in 2???

    So what do you think pace wise? I usually try to stuff too much in to our trips and have us driving for hours without seeing anything so i really want to get the balance right. I've probably missed things out too so would like to be able to add things in later on.

    Once again any and all advice is much appreciated.


  10. #10


    looks good to me but i'm not one of the pros here. salmon arm to golden is about 2.5 hrs that would not include stops to see things there is a swing bridge somewheres in one of parks(there really is nothing in golden to see but if you are just using this as a spot to stay, i guess it works) Sicamous is about 20 min east of salmon arm a smaller place. the road from golden to field has an amazing new bridge that you drive across. i would not go to jasper and then drive back to golden... you may as well just head to canmore from there. the stoney nakoda resort( on stoney reservation) casino on site, they have reasonable room rates, 20 min east of canmore, i think they also do helitours,etc. and kananaskis is a short drive from there (it is right along hwy 1) but canmore has lots of places to stay and eat. banff via invermere(my neck of woods)via kootenay national park-check out marble canyon- short hike about .5 hrs right along hwy.radium hot springs & fairmont hot springs are in our valley also. it takes about 1.5 hrs without stops from banff-invermere, invermere to cranbrook-1.5 hrs, invermere-trail is about 5 hrs I think. i would go hwy 3-hwy 97 to kelowna. have fun with your planning!

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