Vancouver
Day 1: Vancouver
Your starting point

Trust us, it's not easy to leave Vancouver. You'll have to pry yourself away from beautiful Stanley Park, the charming, lively streets of Gastown, and the trendy coffee shops and breweries of Mount Pleasant. 

 

Take a day (or five) to enjoy the city's exciting attractions and even better food. Then it's time to see what else Canada has to offer.

 

 
Revelstoke
Day 2: Revelstoke
Total drive time: 6 hours

Must-stops along the way

From Vancouver, you’ll head east, following the Fraser River along Highway 1 (the Trans-Canada Highway). There are countless potential stops during this first day.

  • Chilliwack: If the season is right, pay a visit to numerous farms in the area and pick up local produce fresh from the fields. Chilliwack also has a huge community of potters, sculptors, woodworkers and other artisans — perfect for souvenirs.

  • Harrison: Home to famous hot springs, Harrison is also a great place to go sturgeon fishing and land a dinosaur.

  • Kamloops: In Kamloops the ground becomes a lot less flat, and you’ll find the locals know how to take advantage! There’s a wealth of hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing in the summer, or skiing and snowboarding in the winter.

 

Eat

This entire leg of the drive kicks off in Canada’s west coast foodie paradise. In other words, fill-up before you hit the road!

  • Nelson the Seagull: Head for a light breakfast at Vancouver’s Nelson the Seagull, where your poached eggs or avo on toast are almost as beautiful as the esthetic of the restaurant itself.

  • Jam Cafe: If Nelson the Seagull was great for a light breakfast, then Jam Cafe is perfect for a heavy one. This is the spot to get pulled pork pancakes, chicken french toast, or a nice, big eggs benny. It’s all fuel for the road, right?

  • Granville Island Public Market: Pick up fresh fruits, veggies, baked goods, and other snacks for the road at this quaint, waterfront market.

  • The Village Idiot Bar: A local’s favourite in Revelstoke, this is the place to grab a beer and a pizza after your longest drive of the trip.

 

End your day

Ultimately, your destination on day one is Revelstoke, a small town nestled in the Columbia Mountains that is more than worth spending a day or two in if you like outdoor adventure.

  • Hot Springs: There are multiple hot springs around Revelstoke where you can relax those driving muscles. Crazy Creek Hot Springs is off of Highway 1 about 30 minutes before you reach the town, while Canyon Hot Springs is just a 20-minute-drive past it.

  • Valley Retreat Bed and Breakfast: After the long drive you, you’ll find comfort and kindness at this cosy bed and breakfast, a hub for skiers and snowboarders especially.

  • The Regent Hotel: Not only will you enjoy a comfortable sleep here, the hotel’s River City Pub and One Twelve Restaurant & Lounge are great places to have a drink or a meal, before waddling back to your room.

 
Yoho National Park
Day 3: Yoho National Park
Total drive time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Must stops along the way

If you love outdoor adventure, you’ll want to spend part of your second day exploring Revelstoke and surrounding areas before continuing on your journey eastward.

  • Revelstoke Mountain Resort: Paradise for skiers, this resort has North America’s highest vertical at 1,713 metres and is the only resort to offer lift, cat-skiing, heli-skiing, and backcountry skiing from one village base

  • Mount Revelstoke National Park: There are some 60 kilometres of trails to hike in this national park. You can also bike or drive to the peak for a spectacular view.

  • Glacier National Park: Only 30 minutes into your drive on day two you’ll enter the second oldest national park in Canada. Located in the Selkirk Mountains, Glacier is known as the birthplace of mountaineering in North America, and the home of Rogers Pass — a historic location between the Columbia and Rocky mountains which played an important role in the construction of the Trans-Canada Highway and Canadian Pacific Railway. Now, Glacier is also home to killer skiing and hiking, notably the 5-kilometre Mount Sir Donald Trail, and fairytale-like old growth forests that are yours to explore along the Giant Cedars Boardwalk.

 

Eat

You would think that these small Rockies towns wouldn’t have much by the way of dining options. You would also be wrong.

 

End your day

Spend the full day Glacier, because you’ll only need another hour and 15 minutes of driving to reach Yoho National Park, an underrated gem on the British Columbia side of the Rockies.

  • The Emerald Lake Lodge: When your picture a lodge in the Rockies, it probably looks a lot like this once. Emerald Lake Lodge has a view to kill and, from its century-old fireplaces to its old saloon bar, is a great place to snap Instagram photos.

  • Camping in Yoho National Park: Why put actual walls between yourself and all that natural beauty. Yoho has over 150 campsites available at times between mid-May and mid-October.  

 
Banff
Day 4: Banff
Total drive time: 1 hour

Must stops along the way

Arguably the most beautiful leg of the drive, as you cross from British Columbia into Alberta, you’ll understand why the Canadian Rockies are postcard perfect.

  • Yoho National Park: Spending the night in Yoho is nowhere near enough time to enjoy it. This park is full of things to do. Canoe at Emerald Lake; gaze at one of Canada’s highest waterfalls; discover fossils over 500 million years old at Burgess Shale; or explore over 400 kilometres of hiking trails.

  • Lake Louise: You’ve seen the photos of it: the sparking turquoise waters, the overlooking Victoria Glacier, or the people skating on the frozen waters in winter. Now it’s time to experience the jaw-dropping beauty for yourself. Paddle on the water in a signature red canoe, walk a trail along its edges, or photograph the heck out of it.

  • Moraine Lake: Another turquoise, glacier-fed lake means another opportunity to set out on a canoe. More shoreline to walk, and more photos to take.

  • Lake Louise Ski Resort: Pile into the Grizzly Express gondola and treat yourself to views of Victoria and Temple mountains. For the way down, there’s line after line of prime ski heaven.

  • Sunshine Village: More great skiing and more great vistas await at Sunshine Village, which has 3,514 feet of vertical and over 145 runs. Make sure not to miss Bye Bye Bowl, a great black diamond run at the resort’s apex

  • Mt. Norquay: In the summertime, Mt. Norquay’s Via Ferrata is a great way for non-rock climbers to experience what it feels like to scale a mountain. In the winter, of course, it’s all about skiing or snowboarding the 10 feet of yearly snowfall.

 

Eat

All the outdoor exploration and adventuring is going to leave you famished. But Banff has you covered.

  • Banff Ave. Brewing Company: Great beers made in house with a great selection of food too. If you visit in summer, make sure to grab a seat on the patio.

  • 188 Chophouse: Located within the Fairmont Banff Springs, this restaurant sources local, fresh ingredients and serves up fine dining at its best.

  • The Balkan: Greek food at its best, the Balkan serves up gyros, donair, souvlaki and so much more. Opa!

 

End your day

A mountain town through-and-through, walk the main streets of downtown Banff and shop for souvenirs, outdoor gear, and more before turning in for the night.

  • Deer Lodge: If you’d rather spend the night outside of town, Deer Lodge in Lake Louise is equal parts rustic and luxurious. Enjoy the dry wood sauna, the rooftop hot tub, and the ambiance of this teahouse turned retreat.

  • Fairmont Banff Springs: Known as the “Castle in the Rockies,” this Fairmont is a luxury base camp for all of your skiing and snowboarding in the winter, or your golfing in the summer. Also, don’t miss the legendary weekend brunch.

  • The Moose Hotel and Suites: Located just a few minutes walking from downtown Banff, this brand new hotel has a spa and two rooftop hot pools with mountain views.

 
Calgary
Day 5: Calgary
Total drive time: 90 minutes

Must-stops along the way

Wake up in the beautiful town of Banff and cross off any must-see Rockies stops you may have missed on your previous day, before making your way to cosmopolitan Calgary.

  • Cave and Basin National Historic Site: The desire to protect this site is the reason Banff became Canada’s first national park. Home to a natural hot spring used for centuries by Aboriginal Peoples, take a discovery tour and learn the history of a true Canadian icon.

  • Mt. Rundle: Not for the faint of heart, hiking Mt. Rundle is a full-day affair. It takes 7-8 hours to conquer the 11-kilometre scramble thanks to an impressive 1,577 metres of vertical and challenging terrain.

  • Canmore: Only 20 minutes drive from Banff, Canmore is a great place to see what else the Rockies have to offer beyond hiking and skiing (though they have that too). Visit the Canmore Nordic Centre, which hosted many events during the 1988 Winter Olympics, for mountain biking or fat biking, snowshoeing, disc golf, and more. Canmore is also a great place to head into the darkness and try caving.

 

Eat

On this final day, you’ll want to eat only enough to get by until you reach Calgary, where you can fill yourself until you have no room left, thanks to a booming restaurant scene.

  • The Harvest Cafe: This cafe in Canmore has cinnamon buns that are so good, you may consider stopping your trip for a few days.

  • Bar Von Der Fels: This Calgary wine bar earned third place in enRoute’s Top New Restaurants of 2017 list with good reason: doesn’t your mouth water at the sound of escargot poutine and fried chicken and caviar?

  • Pigeonhole: Another Calgary wine bar, Chef Justin Leboe’s cooking actually won Pigeonhole the Best New Restaurant title in 2015, with the help of dishes like ricotta dumplings, rabbit and bacon pate, and a Russian caviar service.

 

End your day

Calgary, your final destination, will grow on the horizon as you continue your drive along the TransCanada Highway. Poke around this friendly, walkable city before making your way to a beautiful hotel for the night.

  • The Cultural District: Found in the heart of Calgary, this neighbourhood is home to dozens of arts and culture hotspots like galleries, museums, theatres, concert halls and outdoor festival space, plus excellent shopping, dining and nightlife, all within a few city blocks. It’s a great place to have a walk around and do something spontaneous. After all, you’ll definitely be spending a few more days in this incredible city, right?

  • Le Germain Hotel: Located at the foot of the Calgary Tower, this modern hotel puts you in the heart of the action and is sure to please.

  • The Fairmont Palliser: Can you really go wrong with a Fairmont? Connected by the Skywalk to the Telus Convention Centre, the Calgary Tower, and the Glenbow Museum, this hotel really combines classic luxury with downtown action.  

 

This itinerary is great if you’re pressed for time, but if you can manage it, you should definitely spend an extra day or two at each of these stops. And, of course, take as much time as you can to explore the endless attractions of both Vancouver and Calgary.

Related Posts