Canadian Rockies, Cowboy Country to Coast Mountains
Experience a road trip of a lifetime. Enjoy 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.
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. Our 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.
The overall mileage of this Calgary to Vancouver road trip is 1,280 km (795 mi) and takes 15 hours to drive. You can do it in two days but all of your sightseeing will be from the window of your car or RV, so we recommend you stop, camp and enjoy the stunning scenery and outdoor opportunities that British Columbia has to offer.
Section 1: Calgary to Banff
Directions: Leaving Calgary, take Trans Canada Highway 1 and drive west to Banff National Park.
Estimated Driving Time: 1.5 – 2 hours.
Where to camp: Banff National Park
Things to do:
Banff Park Museum – Housed in historical architecture is Western Canada’s oldest natural history museum with interpretive programs and exhibits. This museum makes a great first stop on your travels. Learn about the wildlife and see it up close in a safe environment.
Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada – 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.
Hike – There are many hiking trails located in Banff National Park and in the town that cater to all levels of hikers. Make sure you are prepared before going out, know your route and tell someone where you are going.
Section 2: Banff to Jasper
Directions: Take Trans Canada Highway 1 ramp to Lake Louise, merge onto Trans Canada Hwy 1W, take the Alberta Hwy 93 ramp to Jasper/Rocky Mountain House.
Estimated Driving Time: 3-4 hours.
Where to Camp: Jasper National Park
Things to do:
Jasper Skytram – Enjoy a 7 minute alpine ride with an on-board host who provides great commentary as you travel to an altitude of over 2,277 m (7,472 ft) all the time with an awe-inspiring view.
Maligne Lake – Visit the Canadian Rockies largest glacial lake. Take a boat tour or paddle yourself. Enjoy a hike on a range of terrain that accommodates all hiking levels. Sip your afternoon tea at the beautiful chalet while savouring the world famous views.
Arts, Culture & History – Take a walk back in time and visit Jasper’s UNESCO heritage sights. Some historical sites include: Mystery Rock, the Two Brothers Totem Pole, and the 6015 Rail Engine. Also, visit the Mountain Galleries and Yellowhead Museum.
Section 3: Jasper to Mt. Robson Provincial Park and Valemount
Directions: Head towards Yellowhead Hwy 16W, continue to follow Yellowhead Hwy crossing from Alberta into British Columbia. Continue on Hwy 16 and keeping left follow signs to Valemount/Kamloops via Hwy 5S. Valemount is located a 15-minute drive from Mt. Robson Provincial Park.
Estimated Driving Time: 1.5 hours (125 km / 78 mi)
Things to do:
Hike – Experience the expansive natural outdoors with a variety of networking trails, more than 202 km (125 mi) that cater to a wide range of hiking levels.
Paddle, Fish or Whitewater Raft – Take a thrilling ride on the Fraser River or for a gentler activity, paddle or fish Kinbasket Lake. Both are located on Valemount’s doorstep.
Section 4: Valemount to Clearwater
Directions: From Valemount continue south on Yellowhead Hwy 5S, follow signs for Kamloops.
Estimated Driving Time: 2 hours (200 km / 120 mi)
Where to Camp: For campgrounds and parks available in and around Clearwater and Wells Gray Park go to Camping & RV in BC and search under Clearwater BC.
Things to do:
River Safari – On your journey, stop in Blue River and enjoy a ride down the river through Grizzly Mountain Valley and the world’s only inland temperate rainforest in search of bears, moose, osprey, eagles and many other types of BC’s wildlife.
Hike – Wells Gray Provincial Park is a hiker’s paradise with a wide array of paths that differ in hiking levels.
Section 5: Clearwater to Bridge Lake Provincial Park
Directions: Continue south on Hwy 5 to Little Fort and the turn off (right) to Interlakes Hwy/Little Fort Hwy 24W.
Estimated Driving Time: 1 hour (80 km / 50 mi)
Where to Camp: For campgrounds and parks available along Hwy 24 go to Camping & RV in BC and search under Bridge Lake BC.
Things to do:
Highway 24, also known as the Fishing Highway has access to over 100 lakes in a 115 km (72 mi) area. The highway is also rich with history, as it connects Little Fort in the east to 100 Mile House in the west. A route that parallels a similar one used centuries ago by fur traders.
Read this blog that includes information on this area:
Coast Along BC’s Famed Fishing Highway 24 in the Cariboo
Fishing – Fly fishing is very popular in this region due to the abundance of beautiful lakes offering a variety of species.
Horseback Riding – Experience the true essence of this region by taking a guided horseback ride. Renown for its Cowboy landscape with endless rolling hills, vast hay fields and resident cattle on dude ranches.
There are several tour companies in the area that assist with equipment, guides and fly fishing lessons.
Section 6: Bridge Lake to Lillooet
Directions: Continue west on Interlakes Hwy/Little Fort Hwy 24W until the junction of Cariboo Hwy 97. Turn left and continue for approximately 100 km (60 mi) then turn right onto Hwy 99S. Lillooet is 75 km (47 mi) south.
Estimated Driving Time: 2 hours 20 minutes (215 km / 134 mi).
Where to Camp: For campgrounds and parks available in the Lillooet area go to Camping & RV in BC and search under Lillooet BC.
Things to do:
Explore – Marble Canyon Provincial Park offers lots of opportunities to see wildlife, rock climb, scuba dive 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.
Pavilion Lake – Visit this groundwater spring fed lake that is slightly alkaline, producing an intense crystal-clear turquoise coloured water and Stromatolites (a rare prehistoric life organism). The lake hosts an array of water activities, such as swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and scuba diving.
Hat Creek Ranch – Go back in time and learn about the Gold Rush days via local interpreters and explore original buildings. Ride a stage coach, visiting restored buildings and a Native village of the Shuswap Nation.
Section 7: Lillooet to Whistler
Directions: Continue south on Hwy 99, also known as the Duffey Lake Road, towards Pemberton. At the T junction, Hwy 99 continues south (left) to Whistler. This Hwy is also known as the Sea to Sky Hwy.
Estimated Driving Time: 2 hours (130 km / 80 mi)
Where to Camp: For campgrounds and parks available in the Pemberton and Whistler area go to Camping & RV in BC and search under Whistler BC and Pemberton BC.
Things to do:
Biking – Whistler has an abundance of of bike trails that cater to all riding levels, from alpine downhill trails to lakeside paved paths. There are several bike rental companies conveniently located near trails.
Adventure – There are lots of adventure opportunities in Whistler. Here are a few. Take a ride on the Peak to Peak Gondola, go ziplining or bungee jumping, take a helicopter or float plane sightseeing tour.
Shopping – Whistler has many charming boutiques to choose from whether you are a fashionista, jewellery lover, outdoor enthusiast or a souvenir hunter. There is something for every shopper.
Section 8: Whistler to Squamish
Directions: From Whistler, continue south on the Sea to Sky Hwy 99 until you arrive in Squamish.
Estimated Driving Time: 45 minutes (60 km / 37 mi).
Where to Camp: For campgrounds and parks available in the Squamish area go to Camping & RV in BC and search under Squamish BC.
Things to do:
Adventure – Hiking, biking, wind/kite surfing, rock climbing, fishing and the Sea to Sky Gondola are just a few of the activities to experience in and around Squamish.
Sea to Sky Gondola – The 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.
Britannia Mine Museum – This National Historic Site is spread over 10 acres and depicts 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, go gold panning, see artifacts, and more. A must for kids and adults.
Section 9: Squamish to Vancouver
Directions: Continue south on the Sea-to-Sky Hwy 99S which joins up with the Trans Canada Hwy 1 heading into Vancouver and beyond. Head to your final destination.
Estimated Driving Time: 1 hour (70 km / 43 mi) from Squamish to the Lions Gate Bridge which crosses from North Vancouver to Stanley Park and on into the City of Vancouver.
Where to Camp: For campgrounds and parks available in the Vancouver area go to Camping & RV in BC and search under Vancouver BC. Other communities in Metro Vancouver are also listed. Search under the community name required.
Things to do:
Shopping – Vancouver offers shopping opportunities from major department stores to one-of-a-kind boutiques. There are various shopping areas including: Gastown, Yaletown, Chinatown, Granville Island, Lonsdale Quay.
Dining – An eclectic mix of restaurants offer local foods made for you by some of Canada’s finest chefs. Vancouver’s food scene caters to all, whether it is a local food market, casual diner or fine dining.
Stanley Park – An urban 1,000 square kilometer park situated on the edge of downtown Vancouver, filled with beautiful beaches, walking trails, and gardens. The park is also home to the Vancouver Aquarium, beautiful gardens, totem poles and more.
Published: November 24th, 2016
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