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Actors in Historical Costume at Hat Creek Ranch. Photo: Destination BC/Blake Jorgenson

Take a Trip through the Canadian Rockies, British Columbia’s Cowboy Country & into the Coast Mountains

Are you ready to take a British Columbia trip across this amazing province from the Rockies to the Pacific Ocean? This is a road trip of a lifetime with breathtaking scenery infused with rich Canadian history as you drive from Calgary, Alberta to Vancouver, British Columbia. Wind your way through breathtaking snow-capped alpine peaks and around iridescent aquamarine lakes. Witness the highest mountain peak in Canada (Mount Robson 3,954 m / 12,972 ft.) and discover limestone formations.

Hiking in Mount Robson Provincial Park | Destination BC/Megan McLellan

The main driving route from Calgary to Vancouver is via the Trans Canada Hwy 1 across BC through Banff, Golden, Revelstoke and Kamloops. Alternatively, you can travel south and west along the Crowsnest Hwy 3 through Cranbrook, Castlegar and Osoyoos. This Calgary to Vancouver trip will travel north through Banff and Jasper National Parks then south and west to Clearwater, along the Fishing Hwy 24 and to the ski resort of Whistler. Each route is uniquely different. Whichever one you take, be ready to discover the hidden gems along the way! This is just one of those routes for you to explore.

Calgary to Banff & Jasper

To start this trip get yourself to Calgary, Alberta, whether doing a fly/drive or hopping in your own RV. Head west to Banff National Park for a night or two. There are plenty of hiking trails to explore but also check out Banff Park Museum which is Western Canada’s oldest natural history museum with interpretive programs and exhibits. Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada is a commemoration site that marks the birthplace of Canada’s National Park System. Since 1883, visitors have been coming to enjoy the warm mineral pools. Today, the site still engages visitors of all ages with many interactive displays and exhibits focusing on the history of the mineral pools.

Leaving Banff follow signs to Jasper National Park. The Jasper Skytram  is a 7 minute alpine ride that takes you to an altitude of over 2,277 m (7,472 ft) all the time with an awe-inspiring view. Take a boat tour or go for a paddle on Maligne Lake, the Canadian Rockies largest glacial lake. Sip your afternoon tea at the beautiful chalet while savouring the world famous views. There is also a UNESCO heritage site here which includes: Mystery Rock, the Two Brothers Totem Pole, and the 6015 Rail Engine.

Mount Robson | Mary Putnam, Tourism Valemount

Jasper to Mt. Robson Provincial Park & Valemount

Heading into British Columbia, follow Yellowhead Hwy 16W and look for signs to Valemount/Kamloops. A short drive from Valemount is Mount Robson Provincial Park where you can experience the expansive natural outdoors by hiking a variety of networking trails. For a gentler activity, paddle or fish Kinbasket Lake or try Whitewater Rafting on the Fraser River.

Valemount to Clearwater

On the road to Clearwater stop in Blue River for a River Safari and experience gliding down the river through Grizzly Mountain Valley. This is one of the world’s only inland temperate rainforests with an abundance of wildlife. There are also some great hiking trails in Wells Gray Provincial Park.

Kayaking on Clearwater Lake | Kim Walker

Clearwater to Bridge Lake Provincial Park

Continuing south on Hwy 5 to Little Fort, turn off onto Interlakes Hwy/Little Fort Hwy 24W. Also known as the Fishing Highway fly fishing is very popular in this region due to the abundance of beautiful lakes offering a variety of species. There are several tour companies in the area that assist with equipment, guides and fly-fishing lessons.

Fly Fishing
Fly Fishing

Also renowned for its Cowboy landscape with endless rolling hills, vast hay fields and resident cattle on dude ranches you can get up close and personal with this landscape by taking a guided horseback ride.

Check out the blog Coast Along BC’s Famed Fishing Highway 24 in the Cariboo

Bridge Lake to Lillooet

Continue heading west and turn south onto Cariboo Hwy 97, then onto Hwy 99S to Lillooet.

Explore Marble Canyon Provincial Park which offers lots of opportunities to see wildlife. Try rock climbing, scuba diving and more. View the sheer limestone rock formations carved out of the Pavilion Mountain range and brilliant colours of the sparkling Turquoise, Crown and Pavilion Lakes. The groundwater spring that feeds Pavilion Lake is slightly alkaline, producing an intense crystal-clear turquoise coloured water and Stromatolites (a rare prehistoric life organism).

Horses are a Frequent Sight in Lillooet | Trish C.

Whilst in this area go back in time at Hat Creek Ranch and learn about the Gold Rush days via local interpreters. Explore original buildings and a Native village of the Shuswap Nation.

Lillooet to Whistler

Continue south on Hwy 99, also known as the Duffey Lake Road, towards Pemberton and follow signs to Whistler. A year-round resort, Whistler is as much fun in the summer as the winter. There are plenty of trails for hiking and biking. The Peak to Peak Gondola is open to experience amazing views, or go ziplining, bungee jumping or take a helicopter/float plane sightseeing tour.

Peak to Peak Gondola, Whistler. Photo: Destination BC/Blake Jorgenson
Peak to Peak Gondola, Whistler | Destination BC/Blake Jorgenson

Whistler to Vancouver

In Squamish, the Sea to Sky Gondola whisks you up 885 m (2,800 ft) to viewing platforms with stunning views over Howe Sound and the surrounding mountains. There are interpretive walks and a restaurant that serves local food at the top. Close by is Britannia Mine Museum, a National Historic Site depicting mining life from the Gold Rush days. You can take a train ride in an underground mine and experience the life of a miner in the early 1900s. A must for kids and adults alike.

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With your British Columbia trip nearing an end, head to Vancouver. Nestled on the shore of Georgia Strait and the Salish Sea, Vancouver offers all the sights and sounds of a cosmopolitan city. Beyond is Vancouver Island and the stunning Pacific Ocean.

To read this recommended tour go to Canadian Rockies, Cowboy Country to Coast Mountains.

For camping and RV accommodations in British Columbia check out the Camping Map.

Share your BC travel and camping photos at hashtag #CampinBC

It’s always a great day to #CampinBC

Summer in Valemount, British Columbia: Where the Mountains Move You

Imagine standing in the middle of a town with a view of three snow-capped mountain ranges. Welcome to Valemount in east-central British Columbia, a village with stand-out summer adventures and activities.

Just over an hour west of Jasper, Alberta, Valemount is in the Robson Valley, situated along and east of Highway 5 (Yellowhead Hwy) and nestled between the Rocky, Monashee and Cariboo mountains (to the east, south and west). It’s a municipality with a big heart – and venturesome residents eager to show visitors what their playground is all about.

Whitewater Rafting near Valemount | Kelly Funk

The land that would become Valemount is in the traditional territory of the Secwepemc Nation, Simpcw territory. The name Valemount was coined for the Canadian National Railway station there in 1927, and to this day it has a ViaRail station. It’s the nearest community to BC’s Mount Robson Provincial Park and its namesake, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Choose from three campgrounds here: Lucerne, Robson River and Robson Meadows. From gentle meadows to alpine lookouts, there are hundreds of kilometres of trails to explore. (Note that the popular Berg Lake Trail will be open this summer to Kinney Lake only.) While in the area make a splash whitewater rafting on Class I to Class V rapids, or paddling or floating along the Fraser River (a clear, beautiful blue/green in this part of the province) or on the long and narrow Kinbasket Lake. Amidst the Rocky and Cariboo mountains it’s actually a reservoir created by the construction of the Mica Dam; water levels can vary.

Paddleboarding near Valemount | Kelly Funk

The viewpoint at Rearguard Falls Provincial Park provides an excellent opportunity to witness the end of a long journey for the mighty Chinook, the largest of the Pacific salmon. From the Fraser estuary in the province’s lower mainland to this point, the fish travel upstream for over 1,200 km, though not all make it this far. George Hicks Regional Park also has a viewing platform for the salmon as they enter Swift Creek. Spawning season is generally August to September.

For other camping and RV options search via the Camping and RVing BC Coalition’s campground webpage; Visit Valemount also has RV and camping information. The Valemount Visitor Centre can be found at 785 Cranberry Lake Rd (summer hours June-Sept, Mon-Fri 8:30 am-4:30 pm).

Valemount Bike Park | wildy-ruby

Mountain biking is a way of life in this part of BC. Be sure to check out the Valemount Bike Park. Minutes from the town core, it’s a system of trails ranging from easy cross-country pedals and smooth and flowy downhills to steep and ‘rooty’ adrenaline-filled singletrack options. Cruise the trail and boardwalk along Cranberry Marsh (the Starratt Wildlife Management Area) where you can stop for birdwatching along the 6-km loop. Should you wish to rent a mountain bike or ebike swing by or call District Bike Co. or Bike & Bites; both shops service bikes too.  Hiking trails in Valemount range from easy-medium-challenging; it’s best to verify openings with the Visitor Centre before heading out as some trails may be closed for repairs or due to inclement weather. Perhaps you’ll see Sasquatch near Mica Mountain (as sighted in 1955!) as you hike the Mica Mine Trail, the same trail where, in the 1890s, horses and mules hauled minerals down the mountain.

Three kilometres south of Valemount is Cedarside Regional Park on Little Cranberry Lake, a swimming spot with a sandy beach where dogs on leashes are welcome. There are toilets, picnic tables and fire pits; camping is not permitted.

Slow the pace down with some horseback riding or try fly, troll or spin cast fishing. Various species of trout fill nearby rivers and lakes (such as Moose and Shere lakes), as do Rocky Mountain whitefish. Valemount Pines Campground boasts a nine-hole golf course and grassy tent and RV campsites with spacious long-level pull-throughs and private back-in sites near a mountain.

Kinney Lake, Mount Robson | Kelly Funk

Complement your fish dinner with a trip to the Valemount Farmers’ Market, which runs every Thursday afternoon from late June to September. Along with regional produce you’ll find arts and crafts. For other art options visit Mountain Driftwood Gallery & Gift. Many artisans sell in the area so check with the Visitor Centre for info on pottery, jewelry and antiques and collectibles. The Valemount Museum & Archive is located in an old railway station built in 1914. Learn about local pioneers, historic regional railroad towns and WWII Japanese internment camps. There are community events and summer festivals in and around Valemount such as the Annual Valemountain Days (June 9-11 this year), the annual Bike Fest (June 17) and Canada Day celebrations (July 1). Robson Valley Music Festival in the farming community of Dunster, 60km to the northeast, takes place on August 11-13.

Restaurant options include the Summit Grill and Cranberry Lounge in the Best Western Plus hotel and Cariboo Grill with fine comfort fare and an ample wine list in a cabin-like setting. The Gathering Tree specializes in breakfast and lunch and Valemount Swiss Bakery is known for its scrumptious sourdough breads. Get your mojo fix at Vale Coffee, a small batch roastery and takeaway café and if you’re craving a pint head to Three Ranges Brewing Company for craft-brewed beer in their cozy tasting room or on the patio. The establishment is part of the BC Ale Trail, which lists over 220 craft breweries.

Whatever the outing or adrenaline rush – whether strolling past mountain wildflowers or chuting down rapids – summer in Valemount is bound to please all nature lovers.

For more information on Valemount go to the website at www.visitvalemount.ca, check out the Facebook and Instagram pages or if you are already in the area go to the Valemount Visitor Centre at 785 Cranberry Lake Rd, (250) 566-9893 visitorcentre@valemount.ca.

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For campgrounds in this area and elsewhere in British Columbia check out the Camping Map.

Share your BC travel and camping photos using hashtag #campinbc #explorebc

It’s always a great day to #CampInBC

Published: June 8th, 2023

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