Vancouver to the Rockies

7 to 10 days, 1950.47 km (1211.97 mi)

A visit to British Columbia is not complete without a trip to the Rocky Mountains, one of Canada's most iconic and inspirational destinations.

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Part 1

Hell's Gate & the Fraser Canyon

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.

Part 2

Kamloops & Sun Peaks Resort

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

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.

Part 4

Mount Robson: Monarch of the Rockies

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.

Part 5

Jasper

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.

Part 6

Icefields Parkway

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

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

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

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

Driving Directions

Part 1 - Vancouver
  • 6.25 km
  • 12 min
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