Are you planning to visit Vancouver or the British Columbia? Well, you really should. This Canadian province is perfect for an active vacation with plenty of outdoor activities — from wilderness spotting to extreme sports to the exploration of the most beautiful urban and roadside landscapes.
We put together a West Canada road trip itinerary that follows the Trans Canada Highway for the most part, and takes you across the best attractions of British Columbia and Alberta: the ferry to the Vancouver Island, the slopes of Whistler or Revelstoke ski resorts, and the quaint small towns in-between.
But the true highlights of this road trip itinerary are the phenomenal National Parks along the road to Calgary, each with crystal-clear lakes and glaciers for you to contemplate. So buckle up and let’s go on the ultimate trip across West Canada.
Vancouver is green, fresh, and hip by nature. That is why the best way to experience it is outdoor. Stroll the 1,000 acres of the Stanley Park, the smaller Queen Elizabeth Park, or the lush Vandusen Botanical Garden.
Beach lovers get to bath in the Pacific Ocean on Kitsilano Beach and Spanish Banks Beach: two of the most beautiful beaches in North America. Thrill-seekers must cross the 230-foot-high Capilano Suspension Bridge, and take the cable-car ride up to Grouse Mountain.
Urban explorers, for their part, should definitely discover Yaletown — Vancouver nightlife hub. Visit the pubs for the local — and wildly popular — microbrews. And when it is not too rainy or foggy, you must check the panorama from the top of the Vancouver Lookout Tower.
2. Victoria & Vancouver Island
Dedicate a day or two to explore Vancouver Island. It is the largest pacific island east of New Zealand, and it’s a world of excitement just west off the coast of Vancouver City.
You could go kayaking or whale-spotting on your ferry ride to Sooke. You could also hike Goldstream and Juan de Fuca Provincial Parks but, honestly, you would rather discover the many wonders of quaint Victoria and its Inner Harbor.
Spend time visiting the Parliament Buildings and the Craigdarroch Castle. The Butchart Gardens and the Butterfly Gardens are unexpected and renowned attractions you just can’t pass on.
For something truly unique, tour Cowichan Valley, British Columbia wine region where you can taste wines you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
After a 4-hour-drive along BC-5 S and BC-1 W, through some of the most beautiful roadside sceneries in the world, you will arrive at Kamloops, BC. Make a stop to uncover this hidden gem in Western Canada.
Kamloops is an outdoor wonderland. The BC Wildlife Park and the Erin Valley Riding Stable will get you up close with the local wildlife — from cougars to grizzly bears to horses you can actually ride.
But Kamloops will mostly surprise you with its incomparable gastronomic scene with top-class restaurants, breweries, and wineries. You definitely should tour Harper’s Trail Winery and have a sip of Fascist Pig Pilsner at The Noble Pig Brewhouse.
Just 131 miles east of Kamloops along the TransCanada Highway, you will arrive at Revelstoke. Nature lovers will find 101 reasons to revel in and around Revelstoke in perfect peace.
This quaint town of the Canada West is surrounded by natural parks, alpine mountains, and gorgeous lakes. Relax near Lake Revelstoke and Kinbasket Lake, hike Martha Creek and Blanket Creek Provincial Parks.
Above all, a visit to Revelstoke would be incomplete without spending the day at the Revelstoke Mountain Resort. It is THE attraction in the region and is continuing to grow into a top-class ski destination blessed with high slopes and modern accommodations.
5. Banff National Park
Banff National Park is about 2-and-a-half hours away from Revelstoke if you follow the Highway 1. It is a must-see and ever-popular park; the oldest and one of the biggest in Canada.
Located in the Rockies, Banff National Park emcompasses 2,500 square miles of stunning alpine mountains, glaciers and icefields. Your visit to this Park will be one of the most inspiring and life-changing experiences of your life.
Take a day to visit the historic town of Banff where you can catch on the cultural events that regularly take place all year round — including the Banff Mountain Film Festival. Visit the Chateau Lake Louise at the edge of the Lake Louise, take in the scenic vista of the Valley of the Ten Peaks and follow the 140-mile-long Icefields Parkway.
100 miles east is Calgary, a must-visit city on your way to Glacier National Park. Perched on the Rockies, Calgary has always been a preferred destination for winter sports enthusiasts.
Train with top athletes at the Canada Olympic Park, or along the awe-inspiring hiking trails in Prince’s Island Park and Heritage Park where the city’s wild-west past is forever kept alive.
Calgary has attractions other than the slopes and the trails. Watch incredible horseback riding at the Spruce Meadows and the Stampede Park. Catch some local hockey action in the Scotiabank Saddledome, home of NHL’s Calgary Flames.
Nightcrawlers and shopaholics will enjoy the nightlife and shopping venues on Stephen Avenue Walk. This three-block long pedestrian shopping street has an impressive array of brand stores, top-class restaurants, and trendy nightclubs.
7. Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is a natural protected area for old-growth cedar and hemlock trees. Its 520 square miles are also a natural habitat for Mountain Caribous, Grizzlies, and endemic birds and mammals — some of which are now listed as endangered.
The best part is that the Glacier National Park is a haven for hikers and campers. It has an extensive system of mountain trails as well as lodging accommodations that range from camping grounds to mountain cabins.
Spend a night or two taking in the scenery. The park homes high peaks and active glaciers as well as a diverse, luxuriant flora. Explore the Rogers Pass, visit the Illecillewaet Glacier, and get lost in the Nakimu Caves — the largest cave system in the country.
From there you could head back to Vancouver to indulge in the marvels of Vancouver and the Whistler ski resort. However, you will be missing on the other attractions that embellish the Trans-Canada Highway on the way to Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax.