Driving Route and Trip Planner for the Canadian Rockies
Like most people I had big plans for 2020, I had put on my vision board that I was going to go to at least one new country. I was carefully plotting out my vacation days so I could fit in all the travel I had planned. However, like most people my travel plans were cancelled and instead of a beach vacation, the next best thing was a road-trip through the Rockies. Flying still doesn’t feel like a viable option in times like these.
Our trip was 9 days in total but it could of been shortened. To break up the drive we went Vancouver to Revelstoke, Revelstoke to Banff, Banff to Jasper and Jasper to Kelowna, and then Kelowna to Vancouver.
All the drives were pretty painless because the scenery is beautiful. The only one I may adjust was the drive to Kelowna. It was the longest drive, and we had activities in the morning so it made for a long day. If I were to do it again, I would plan to leave earlier and get the drive out of the way in the morning and then explore Kelowna in the afternoon.
Day 1 | Vancouver to Revelstoke
I wish we had planned to spend a little more time in Revelstoke but we really took our time. We stopped in Salmon Arm and had a long lunch and then stopped in at Begbie Falls on our way in. In retrospect, it was the least impressive waterfall we saw the whole trip. Not to put Revelstoke on blast. Revelstoke itself has lots of fun things to do.
Things to Do | Revelstoke
Revelstoke is usually known for skiing and snowboarding, however, in the summer they have the Pipe Mountain Coaster, axe throwing, and a gondola ride.
Like most places in BC Revelstoke has plenty of hikes. We had flagged a few waterfall hikes that look interesting. Sutherland Falls, Moses Falls, and Begbie Falls.
There are two hot springs in Revelstoke Halfway River Hot Springs and Halcyon Hot Springs.
We had carefully planned out our driving route from Revelstoke. We planned to stop in Golden to check out the Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge, not entirely sure if it is a must-see.
On the way to Banff, we stopped in at Wapta Falls. The hike is 5 kms and it is pretty painless. It is a mini Niagra Falls, nevertheless it is still pretty impressive. It was the perfect pitstop to break up the drive, although we did get soaked by all the mist.
Yoho National Park is pretty iconic, noteworthy for Emerald Lake. You could probably spend all day exploring all that Yoho has to offer, including a variety of hikes to do in Yoho National Park. We had originally wanted to a viewpoint hike but the weather wasn’t participating. We settled on a quick walk around the lake.
Emerald Lake is quite pretty and the canoe rentals are way more reasonable than the ones at Moraine lake. I think it cost $60 an hour to rent out the canoes compared to $120 at Moraine Lake.
Things to do | Banff
The possibilities are endless in Banff. There is really something for everyone, hot springs, shopping as well as quite a few hiking paths. The obvious main attractions in Banff are Lake Moraine and Lake Louise. The Big Beehive Trail provides amazing panoramic views.
Insider’s Tip: wake up early and do Morraine Lake first because they close down the entrance once the lot gets full and it is harder to get to. Do Lake Louise second.
Johnston Canyon was also at the top of our list, but unfortunately, it was closed. Instead, we went to Marble Canyon. At first, I wasn’t overly impressed, until we got to the very end. The waterfall is amazing. The canyons on the way are cool, but the waterfall makes the hike, if you can call it that. It is more of a walk.
Luckily most of the “hikes” if you can call them that are low effort high reward. Honestly, after seeing Maligne Canyon, I think I enjoyed Mistaya more. It is not as big at Maligne Canyon, but it is still quite beautiful and impressive and short hike.
Day 6 – 7 | Banff to Jasper
The drive between Banff and Jasper is beautiful and filled with wildlife. We took our time making our way to Jasper. After we left Mistaya Canyon, we arrived at the Columbia Icefields and checked out the Skywalk.
Things to Do | Jasper
We were off-season for an icefield adventure, but we were able to check out the Skywalk. It was a good stop off to break up the trip. The shuttle bus guide recommended stopping at the cabin at Sunwapta and grabbing lunch and then heading to the falls.
Sunwapta Falls is super beautiful and it is a short walk from the parking lot. It is on the way to Jasper so it is quick and a great stop off.
People were astonished how much we were able to accomplish in a day, but everything is pretty close together and the hikes are fairly easy. On our drive to Jasper, we were able to fit in the Skywalk, Sunwapta Falls, and then Athabasca Falls pretty easily.
One of my favorite stops, mainly because it was unlike anything I had ever seen before. We did the hike to the first viewpoint but unfortunately, we had a terrible day for it. We were soaked and there was so much fog. The walk to the pond is still really cool and worth checking out if you have never been to a glacier before.
We took a boat cruise over to Spirit Island and it was the highlight of my day. The water is so clear and blue, it is super serene and the view of the mountains is outstanding.
After I posted, a few people messaged me and said that if I only went to Spirit Island I didn’t get to truly experience Maligne Lake, so I would recommend carving out a whole day to properly explore it. We just did the boat cruise and headed over to Maligne Canyon to grab lunch and then check out the bridges.
We were told to only go as far as bridge three at Maligne Canyon, because they were the most impressive. It’s a nice walk, but I think we were canyon-ed out. Once you see one, you have seen them all. I am sorry, I sound bratty but I said it! It is still very beautiful, don’t get me wrong. If it had been my first canyon, I would have been very impressed.
We did not pack light at all for this trip. We loaded up on shoes, we brought boots, runners, hiking boots and sneakers. I know way too many shoes. We also packed a rain jacket and a warm jacket. Layering was key, especially with the changing season.
We went at the beginning of October so the weather was just starting to shift. The temperature was between fifteen degrees Celsius to four degrees at night.
- Hiking Boots
- Fall Jacket
- Waterproof boots
- Hiking Socks
- Hiking Bag
- Water bottle
- Rain jacket
I try to keep my travel guide pretty high level with information that I would find useful for planning a trip. Let me know if there is any additional information you would like me to include in my travel guides.