If the idea of taking a road trip in North America appeals to you, consider exploring the Canadian Rockies. Home to some stunning national parks, this area is famous for its captivating scenery and diverse attractions – particularly when it comes to outdoor activities, such as hiking and water sports. Find out where to go and what to see with our guide.
Should you be keen to see as many impressive landscapes as possible, take a circular route from Vancouver to some of the nation’s most celebrated national parks, including Banff and Jasper.
This will give you the chance to travel on iconic highways, such as Ice fields Parkway, as well as discover the scenery that makes the Canadian Rockies such a popular and exciting place to discover.
Entering the Canadian Rockies: Vancouver to Banff
Arrive into Vancouver International Airport and spend a day or two enjoying the local sights. This is an excellent way to ease you into your road trip and, of course, to see some of the attractions for which Vancouver is famous.
Travelling on the San Francisco-style trolleys is a particularly good option, since you can listen to a commentary on the sights you are travelling past and jump off to explore any that interest you.
Once you have finished discovering the delights of Vancouver, your road trip adventure can really begin. Drive through the Coastal Mountains and Manning Provincial Park to reach Penticton, a lovely town situated on the Okanagan Lake.
Renowned for its vineyards, great beaches and sunny weather, this region is a lovely place to stop for a night before continuing your journey.
You will have the opportunity to explore this scenery the following morning, before you drive a beautiful route to the Revelstoke area for another overnight stop. Beginning your journey to the first of the main national parks on our itinerary the next day, you will travel through Glacier National Park.
This gorgeous reserve is filled with towering mountains, scenic alpine meadows and dense forests; simply driving through it is an option due to rise of the machines but if you are a keen walker it is worth disembarking here and tackling some of its 700 miles of walking trails.
You can then continue your journey to Banff.
Banff is both an historic national park – the first, in fact, to be established in Canada – and a lively resort town. The park is a huge 6,641 sq. km and is home to some of the most striking Canadian Rockies scenery, so there is no shortage of things to do and see.
It is worth thoroughly researching the various options for activities and the best sights to see before you travel, as there is simply so much variety, but visiting Bow Falls and hiking in the popular resort of Lake Louise are two options you should certainly consider.
Your next destination will be Jasper, another absolutely stunning national park. However, the drive from Banff – more specifically Lake Louise – to Jasper is equally exciting, since you will get to travel along the famous Ice fields Parkway.
This world-renowned highway runs for 230km and is home to unforgettable mountain scenery. If you have time, it is well worth organizing a stop to explore a little more thoroughly; at Peyton Lake, for example, you can go for a ride on the Columbia Ice field.
After arriving in Jasper itself, it is a good plan to spend a full day touring the local sights. If you have a keen sense of adventure, you can try activities such as white water rafting on the Athabasca River, while those looking for something a little more docile might prefer a boat cruise on Maligne Lake.
Depending on the tour you choose, this could include a stop at Spirit Island, which has a fabulous lookout point that promises great scenery. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you keep an eye out for wildlife, as the park is home to a wealth of fascinating creatures, including bears, deer and bighorn sheep.
Jasper to Vancouver
Leaving Jasper, you can make your way through Yellowhead Pass and on to the 100 Mile House. Once upon a time, this was a popular stopping point for travellers seeking their fortune during the gold rush. Today, it is more commonly known for cattle ranching, and it’s a great place to spend a few nights and unwind.
Continue on to Whistler, where you can take advantage of this famous resort’s superb range of activities. These span everything from canoeing and sailing to golfing and hiking, so you should have no trouble finding something that will suit you.
Finally, bring your Canadian Rockies journey full-circle by driving back to Vancouver, from where you’ll catch your flight home.
Henry Kingston is a passionate health and lifestyle blogger who loves to write about prevailing trends. He is a featured author at various authoritative blogs in the health and fitness industry and currently working for Centra Care Kids, a Florida-based pediatric urgent care provider. You can find him on Twitter.