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Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake Lodge, Yoho National Park

(iStock/Glowing Earth Photography photo)

Transportation & Maps

Vancouver to the Rockies

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7 to 10 days, 1950.31 km (1211.87 mi)

Lake O'Hara, JF Bergeron photo
Lake O'Hara, JF Bergeron photo

A 'bucket list' staple for countless travellers, the Rocky Mountains are one of Canada's most iconic and inspirational destinations. Starting in Vancouver, this week-long driving trip takes you through British Columbia's varied landscape, across the Continental Divide to the Rocky Mountains and along the scenic Icefields Parkway.

Select one of the parts to view its details:

All Parts
Hell's Gate Airtram photo
Part 1
Hell's Gate & the Fraser Canyon

342.25 km - about 4 hours 8 min

Start in Vancouver and drive east on Highway 1, the Trans-Canada Highway. Travel through the agricultural lands of the Fraser Valley to the town of Hope. Visit Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park and walk the impressive Othello railway tunnels, considered an engineering marvel.

Continue east on Highway 1 to Yale Historic Site, part of the original Cariboo Wagon Road. The Yale Museum offers an intriguing look at the gold rush boom of the 1800s that brought miners to the gold fields of the Cariboo and Barkerville.

Drive north to the Hell’s Gate Airtram, one of the only descending tramways in the world. Take the tram across the narrow canyon, which early explorers had dubbed “a place where no human being should venture.”

Further on in Lytton, take a whitewater raft trip on the Fraser, Thompson or Nahatlatch rivers. Drive past Lytton to Cache Creek, where the highway turns east towards Kamloops. Be sure to take a short detour to visit  Historic Hat Creek Ranch, an 1860s roadhouse featuring more than 20 restored heritage buildings and displays.

Tourism Kamloops/Kelly Funk photo
Part 2
Kamloops & Sun Peaks Resort

139.07 km - about 1 hours 51 min

Kamloops is one of the largest cities in the BC interior and is known for sunshine, blue skies and warm temperature. More than 100 lakes and two major rivers provide plenty of opportunity for fishing, kayaking, canoeing or just hanging out at the beach. Take a stroll through the grasslands of Lac du Bois Provincial Park, an area noted for its unique ecosystems.

Heading north on Highway 5, take a detour to Sun Peaks Resort where lift-accessed hiking and mountain biking offer easy alpine access. The resort offers a full range of dining and accommodation options, making it ideal for an overnight stay.

Part 3
Clearwater & Wells Gray Park

131.14 km - about 1 hours 48 min

Drive north on Highway 5 through McClure and Barriere, where uncrowded lakes, trails and rustic fishing lodges offer peaceful solitude. Further on, Clearwater is your gateway to Wells Gray Provincial Park. Take a detour on Clearwater Valley Road to access the park.

Waterfalls, wildlife and wilderness draw people to Wells Gray Park. Take a canoe or kayak and explore Murtle Lake, North America’s largest  paddle-only lake. Stop to view Helmcken Falls – the fourth-highest in Canada.

Kinney Lake, Anton Cepeliauskas photo
Part 4
Mount Robson: Monarch of the Rockies

236.04 km - about 2 hours 51 min

Continue driving through Valemount. A short distance past Valemount the majestic peak of Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, comes into view, signalling your official arrival to the Rocky Mountains.

Stop at the Mount Robson Visitor Centre – the large viewing deck provides great photo opportunities. For a multi-day hiking trip, the Berg Lake Trail offers stunning alpine views and scenic vistas of peaks and glaciers. For a less strenuous outing, walk the 5-km/3mi trail along the Robson River to Kinney Lake.

There are two car-accessible camping areas in Mount Robson.

Canoeing on Maligne Lake
Part 5
Jasper

79.74 km - about 1 hours 5 min

The drive from Mount Robson to Jasper transitions from British Columbia to Alberta.

Spend a day or two in Jasper and explore the many hiking trails, lakes and outdoor opportunities. This is a prime wildlife-viewing area – bear and elk are often seen along the roadside.

For the quintessential Canadian canoe experience make the short drive to Maligne Lake. Take a single or multi-day canoe trip (canoe rentals are available at the lake), or take a guided powerboat tour to Spirit Island, where postcard-perfect scenery make it one of the most photographed sites in the Rockies. 

Morraine Lake
Part 6
Icefields Parkway

228.20 km - about 3 hours 10 min

The Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) between Jasper and Lake Louise is one of the most scenic drives in North America. 

Drive south on the Parkway and stop at Athabasca Falls, a huge, cascading waterfall with plenty of viewing platforms and trails. Continue to the Columbia Icefield Centre where unique, all-terrain buses, specially fitted for travelling on ice, will take you onto the Athabasca Glacier (walking to the foot of the glacier is also an option).

Continue on to Peyto Lake, a classic turquoise-coloured lake accessed via a short, paved walking path. Rent a canoe and paddle in the shadow of Mount Victoria on Lake Louise, then visit the historic Chateau Lake Louise. Be sure to include a stop at Morraine Lake: the Valley of the Ten Peaks is considered one of the most spectacular photo stops in Canada.

Part 7
Yoho National Park & Golden

81.23 km - about 1 hours 6 min

Begin the trip back west on Highway 1. Stop in Yoho National Park, where guided hikes take you to 500-million year-old fossil beds at Burgess Shale. Enjoy the quiet ambiance of Emerald Lake -  its scenery rivals anything along the more well-travelled Icefields Parkway. Continue on to Golden, one of BC’s premiere adventure tourism towns.

In Golden, take the gondola up Kicking Horse Mountain Resort for hiking, mountain biking and some of the finest sightseeing in the area. Gaze at the spectacular peaks of the Dogtooth Range while dining at Eagle Eye Restaurant, the highest-elevation eatery in Canada at nearly 2,400 m/8,000 ft. 

Part 8
Revelstoke

146.24 km - about 1 hours 50 min

Between Golden and Revelstoke lies Rogers Pass, the last great obstacle for the transcontinental railroad that first linked Canada from east to west at the turn of the 19th century. Visit the Revelstoke Railway Museum or drive the scenic Meadows in the Sky Parkway for an impressive midsummer wildflower display. Just past Revelstoke, pull off the highway and visit 3 Valley Gap, a unique lodge with several historic attractions.

Part 9
Return to Vancouver

566.40 km - about 6 hours 30 min

Continue along Hwy 1 to Kamloops, then take the Coquihalla Highway to Hope. Finish the route by returning to Vancouver on Highway 1. 

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Driving Directions

Part 1 - Hell's Gate & the Fraser Canyon - 342.25 km - about 4 hours 8 min
1.

Head east on W 12th Ave toward Yukon St

3.77 km
2.

Continue onto South Grandview Highway

1.16 km
3.

Continue onto Grandview Hwy

1.86 km
4.

Take the ramp onto Trans-Canada HwyPartial toll road

141.54 km
5.

Take exit 170 for BC-1 E/TransCanada Highway

0.24 km
6.

Keep left at the fork, follow signs for Hope Town Centre/Cache Creek/Kamloops/University Of The Fraser Valley/Rte 1 East

0.05 km
7.

Turn left onto Water Ave/BC-1 E (signs for Hope Town Centre/Cache Creek/Kamloops/University Of The Fraser Valley/Rte 1 East)Continue to follow BC-1 E

189.24 km
8.

Continue onto BC-1 E/BC-97C/Trans-Canada Hwy

4.15 km
9.

Slight right onto BC-97 S (signs for Trans-Canada Highway/BC-1)

0.24 km
Part 2 - Kamloops & Sun Peaks Resort - 139.07 km - about 1 hours 51 min
1.

Head northeast on BC-97 S toward Quartz Rd

3.28 km
2.

Continue onto BC-1 E/Trans-Canada Hwy

68.71 km
3.

Take the ramp onto Trans-Canada Hwy

11.24 km
4.

Take exit 374 to merge onto Southern Yellowhead Hwy/BC-5 N toward Jasper

24.42 km
5.

Turn right onto Old Highway 5

0.20 km
6.

Take the 1st left onto Tod Mountain Rd

1.47 km
7.

Continue onto Heffley Louis Creek Rd

22.54 km
8.

Slight right onto Sun Peaks Rd

0.28 km
9.

Continue onto Creekside WayDestination will be on the left

6.93 km
Part 3 - Clearwater & Wells Gray Park - 131.14 km - about 1 hours 48 min
1.

Head west on Creekside Way toward Industrial Way

6.93 km
2.

Continue onto Sun Peaks Rd

0.28 km
3.

Continue onto Heffley Louis Creek Rd

22.54 km
4.

Continue onto Tod Mountain Rd

1.47 km
5.

Turn right onto Old Highway 5

0.16 km
6.

Take the 1st right onto Southern Yellowhead Hwy/BC-5 N

99.26 km
7.

Turn left onto Clearwater Valley Rd

0.09 km
8.

Take the 1st right onto Eden RdDestination will be on the right

0.41 km
Part 4 - Mount Robson: Monarch of the Rockies - 236.04 km - about 2 hours 51 min
1.

Head east on Eden Rd toward Joyce Rd

0.13 km
2.

Turn right onto Joyce Rd

0.03 km
3.

Turn left onto Southern Yellowhead Hwy/BC-5 NContinue to follow BC-5 N

214.49 km
4.

Continue onto Yellowhead Hwy EDestination will be on the right

21.39 km
Part 5 - Jasper - 79.74 km - about 1 hours 5 min
1.

Head east on Yellowhead Hwy EEntering Alberta

79.66 km
2.

Turn right onto Icefields Pkwy/AB-93 SDestination will be on the right

0.07 km
Part 6 - Icefields Parkway - 228.20 km - about 3 hours 10 min
1.

Head south on Icefields Pkwy/AB-93 S

227.19 km
2.

Take the Alberta 1 E ramp

0.34 km
3.

Merge onto Icefields Pkwy/AB-1/AB-93

0.67 km
Part 7 - Yoho National Park & Golden - 81.23 km - about 1 hours 6 min
1.

Head southeast on Icefields Pkwy/AB-1/AB-93 toward Slate Rd

1.24 km
2.

Take the Bow Valley Parkway exit toward Lake Louise/Promenade de la vallée Bow

0.38 km
3.

Turn left onto Bow Valley Pkwy

0.23 km
4.

Turn left onto the Trans Canada Highway/AB-1 W/AB-93 N ramp

0.52 km
5.

Merge onto Icefields Pkwy/Trans-Canada Hwy/AB-1 W/AB-93 NContinue to follow Trans-Canada HwyEntering British ColumbiaDestination will be on the left

78.86 km
Part 8 - Revelstoke - 146.24 km - about 1 hours 50 min
1.

Head west on BC-1 W/Trans-Canada Hwy toward BC-95Destination will be on the right

146.24 km
Part 9 - Return to Vancouver - 566.40 km - about 6 hours 30 min
1.

Head northwest on BC-1 W/Trans-Canada Hwy

107.13 km
2.

Slight right to stay on BC-1 W/Trans-Canada Hwy

103.27 km
3.

Take exit 374 for BC-5 N/Yellowhead Highway toward Jasper

0.18 km
4.

Merge onto Southern Yellowhead Hwy/BC-5 N

0.20 km
5.

Turn left onto River St

0.15 km
6.

Take the 1st left onto Taylor Rd

0.10 km
7.

Turn left onto Lorne St

0.38 km
8.

Head west on Lorne St toward Taylor Rd

0.38 km
9.

Turn right onto Taylor Rd

0.10 km
10.

Turn right onto River St

0.16 km
11.

Turn right onto Southern Yellowhead Hwy/BC-5 S

0.13 km
12.

Keep left at the fork, follow signs for Trans Canada Highway/BC-1 W/Cache Creek/Vancouver/BC-5 S and merge onto BC-1 W/BC-5 S/Trans-Canada Hwy

11.79 km
13.

Continue onto BC-5 S

185.69 km
14.

Continue onto BC-3 W

6.51 km
15.

Continue onto Trans-Canada HwyPartial toll road

140.65 km
16.

Take exit 28A for Grandview Highway

0.68 km
17.

Continue straight

0.13 km
18.

Continue onto Grandview Hwy

2.04 km
19.

Continue onto South Grandview Highway

1.15 km
20.

Continue onto E 12th AveDestination will be on the right

5.56 km