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  1. #1

    Default Beste places to see on my trip from Vancouver, Canadian Rockies, Yellowstone and back


    I want to make a roadtrip from Vancouver, Whistler, Jasper, Banff, Waterton Lakes, Glacier NP all the way down to Yellowstone and Teton NP and back to Vancouver.
    I have roughly 3 weeks to 3,5 weeks for this trip. In terms of time I should be fine, I know there are days that I have to drive all day.

    My main concern is which places I definitely shouldnt miss and what are the best places to have a cheap sleep. I will sleep in the campervan, (like a modified van or surf van).
    Please help a brother out, thanks in advance and with kind regards from this Dutchie.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    Since you posted this in the spring forum, I am a bit concerned about your plans. When will this trip actually take place? Many of those parks don't work into tourist mode until late May or early June, and I'd hate to see you disappointed because roads are still closed by snow. Just as bad would be trying to sleep in a camper van when it's still cold outside, too!

    The "cheap sleeps" along your route would be in the national park and national forest campgrounds. In a pinch, you could ask at a truck stop/travel center if there's a place you could park overnight and sleep. At least, that works in the States. Bear in mind that many of those national parks have reserved camping and they could be full up, so always have an alternative in mind.


  3. #3


    Thank you for the welcome and reply Donna.
    Yeah im going, ill arrive around the 11th of may. I thought about that one too, I originally wanted to go in April but cant do with my work.
    About the cold, its fine i bought a sleeping bag for the colder temperatures. And otherwise i can Always sleep with a base layer on. But thank you for the warning.
    But about the roads closed by snow, is it a huge problems or can you still visit most places?
    Anyways Its a good reminder to ask local information at truck stops or visitor centres to get up to date information.
    Is there some sort of guidance/ booklet or even an app for campgrounds?
    Sleeping in National Parks is fine, ive done the same in New Zealand. Campgrounds with just a drop hole and nothing more.
    But wont bet on one horse or otherwise wont arrive to late at sleeping places.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 03-06-2017 at 02:01 PM. Reason: Removed extra link

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Sleeping in National Parks is fine, ive done the same in New Zealand. Campgrounds with just a drop hole and nothing more
    You can't do that except in official campgrounds, most of which require reservations and are NOT free.

    ill arrive around the 11th of may.
    At Glacier, the Going To The Sun Road will not be open. Yellowstone will be partially open. Research your US parks at

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default timing

    You are going to be running into some issues with roads being closed for the winter. Going to the Sun Road, which is the major road through Glacier National Park will be closed, and some of the roads within Yellowstone will likely still be closed during the time of your visit. The major roads through Jasper and Banff are open year round, however, some of the roads to specific attractions may not be open.

    You are also going to have to check on the status of campgrounds. I would expect several campgrounds will still be closed at the time of your visit, although you're going to have to check on a park by park basis. Within the boundaries of the National Parks, campgrounds will be your only options for places to spend the night in your van.

    The best guidance for each of the National Parks can be found on each of their websites. for US parks for Canadian National Parks. Canada's National Parks all have free admission in 2017, btw, as Canada celebrates its 150th birthday.

  6. #6


    Thank you guys! In New Zealand I slept on campgrounds from the department of conservation. So it looks like sleeping in the national park campgrounds should do, at least theyre a lot cheaper than hotels. But Ill check the prices out and look for campgrounds in the area where ill probably sleep.
    Ill have to do some research on the roads I guess, so I can change my itinerary if nessecary.
    But thank you for the information!

    Any suggestions for sightseeing or where the best places are to see wildlife? Ive read the lonely planet about most popular places, but im looking for some hidden gems with less tourists (even though im one too).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    The problem with hidden gems is that, once published in a forum such as this one, in a book or anywhere on the Internet, they are no longer hidden. Therefore, they will attract people.

    Wildlife is best viewed at early hours of the morning. That said, you'll find less crowds at the national parks if you are out and about right around the dawn hour.

    But you still have to deal with closed roads. As has been said, Going to the Sun Road in Glacier will not open until late June. Many of the roads in Yellowstone are not slated to open until mid-to-late May, and some won't open until June. As also has been mentioned, campgrounds may not be open until the end of May.

    Opening dates of facilities in Yellowstone can be found here.

    Yellowstone Park Roads:
    2017 Spring Road Opening Dates

    April 21: Mammoth to Old Faithful; Madison to West Entrance; Norris to Canyon.
    May 5: Canyon Junction to Lake; Lake to East Entrance (Sylvan Pass).
    May 12: Lake to West Thumb, West Thumb to Old Faithful (Craig Pass), and South Entrance to West Thumb; Tower Junction to Tower Fall.
    May 26: Tower Fall to Canyon Junction (Dunraven Pass)
    May 26: Beartooth Highway

    Glacier does not yet have an opening date for Going to the Sun Road, but last year it was at the end of June.


  8. #8


    The Banff/Jasper NP will be open .. if you are coming from Vancouver/Whistler area... I would assume you would do the transcanada 1, If you are going to Jasper Np, it makes more sense to go to Kamloops then Hwy 5 to Valemont,onto Hwy 16 thru Mt Robson NP, Jasper NP.. then take 93N back to Transcanada 1 near Lake Louise. From Lake Louise take the Bow Valley Parkway 1A.. it runs alongside the freeway but is very scenic & great chances of seeing wildlife. Make sure you stop at Johnson Canyon.. short easy hike to amazing waterfalls ( maybe 1 for lower falls-2 hrs if you go to upper falls max) There are campgrounds along the Bow Valley Parkway. Banff is very expensive touristy town..there is the gondola.. again very pricey but takes you to top of Mt with great scenery & boardwalks to walk on. Lake Minniwanka may be something you would like to check out? I am from near this area, so have lots of info ... I would go from Banff back up Hwy 1 to Castle Junction & take 93 S into Kootenay NP towards Radium Hot Springs... Marble Canyon,Numa Falls are short easy hikes along the way 1/2 to 1 hr max. Go for a soak in the Hot springs, Big horn Mountain Sheep live in the townsite of Radium, so take a drive around you will spot some for sure .. you are now in the Columbia Valley between 2 mountain ranges...take 95 south towards Cranbrook( you can take the Wardner/bull river road) near the Fort Steele Esso gas station & campground.. this campground has showers but kind of like a roadside campground.. Norbury Lake Provincial Park has camping. from there take the Hwy 93/3 east Fernie,Sparwood & into Alberta, if you are still doing Waterton/Glacier Np.
    If not, I would take the Hwy 95 to Cranbrook then turn on 93 ..before elko take the 93 south into the US heading towards Kalispell MT..I am not sure about road openings but near Whitefish is West Glacier Np you may be able to go in & check out some sites? From Kalispell follow the 93 to Missoula. Radium to Kalispell is about 3 hrs drive time without stopping.. to Missoula from there is about 5 hrs. lots of camping along the way.

  9. #9


    You could also just stay on Hwy 1 from Kamloops & do Revelstoke NP and Glacier Np towards Golden.. Field .. Lake Louise.. & go to Jasper from there & then come back down to Banff area. As all the parks are free this year you could do them all!

  10. #10


    Oh wow thank you for the information, from Kamloops I wanted to go up to Jasper and then down to Banff. Im looking for hikes up to 4 hours maximum, mainly focussing on waterfalls/ wildlife/ lakes/ great views on the area. Dont know if I want to go through Waterton Lakes or just straight into Glacier NP (USA). My main focus is on Jasper/ Banff and Yellowstone. Dont want to rush anything but dont want to miss a lot of stuff down the road as well.

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