An Awesome Road Trip of Canada's Rocky Mountains

09/02/2017

There’s a lot of noise around at the moment about Canada as this year the country celebrates its 150th anniversary.  It is a country with so much to do and see so it’s well worth considering it if you’re thinking of where to go on your next holiday.  Canada is so vast though, that it’s impossible to fit it all into one trip, so choose an area that appeals to you and have an amazing time exploring it.

The Canadian Rockies in British Columbia are one of the country’s biggest draws.  The towering mountains are so beautiful and with turquoise lakes, friendly towns and no less than five national parks, it is a perfect destination for an adventurous road trip with jaw-dropping scenery. 

Start your trip off in Calgary, as well as being the gateway to the Rockies it is equally famous for its annual Stampede held every July.  The 10-day cowboy festival features one of the world’s largest rodeos so it’s a great time to visit – but book early as it’s obviously very busy too. 

Even if you aren’t in the city in July you can still experience the city’s western heritage and enjoy the lively entertainment in the saloons and bars.  Whilst in town you can take a tour of the 1988 Olympic Park as well as enjoy the shopping and restaurants on The Beltline, 17th Avenue and Stephen Avenue Walk.

Then head on to Banff, a charming alpine town surrounded by national park and is itself a World Heritage Site.  From November to May it is incredibly popular with skiers and snowboarders of all levels.  During the warmer months you can hike straight out of town on the trails to explore the beautiful National Park or catch the Banff Gondola up to the top of Sulphur Mountain for incredible views.  Wildlife is abundant here so it’s a great place to spot caribou, elk, coyote and wolves, also look out for black and grizzly bears! If you haven’t spotted any bears, head to a grizzly bear refuge where you can watch these amazing creatures as they play.

A short drive on from Banff and you will arrive at Lake Louise, known as the ‘Jewel of the Rockies’ due to the colour of the vibrant turquoise blue water.  Stunningly framed by mountains either side, take a boat out on the water to make the most of this exquisite spot.   Also hike up the mountain for an aerial view – it’s well worth the effort, and you will also have built up an appetite – why not reward yourself with a decadent afternoon tea at the renowned Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Hotel?   Stay a couple of nights at Lake Louse to enjoy it and you will also be rewarded with stunning sunrise and sunsets for you to enjoy without the day trippers.

From Lake Louise take what must be one of the most scenic highways in the world on to Jasper.  The Icefields Parkway passes snow-capped mountains, rushing waterfalls and over 100 glaciers.  The Columbia Icefield forms one of the largest masses of ice south of the Arctic Circle and is up to 320m deep – do experience it for yourself by walking over the Athabasca Glacier.

When you reach the mountain town of Jasper, the gateway to the stunning Jasper National Park and historic home of railway pioneers, you can explore the surrounding area with its crystal clear lakes, forest wilderness and rugged mountains. Enjoy a cruise on Maligne Lake, go rafting along the rivers and take a trip up to over 2,200m on the Jasper Skytram for views over six mountain ranges and glacial lakes.

Leaving behind the Rockies, head to Sunpeaks, a small mountain resort with a European village feel to it.  It is a great stop off between the Rockies and Vancouver and has loads of activities on offer for winter and summer sports.

Next up, make your way to the big brother of mountain resorts; world famous Whistler. Having hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler is a mecca for snow sports lovers but in summer there is still loads to do.  Take the record-breaking Peak 2 Peak gondola between Blackcomb and Whistler mountains, go in search of bears and ride the exhilarating zip line course over rainforest and creeks!   

Only two hours down the mountain is the beautiful cosmopolitan city of Vancouver.  There is so much to do here that you’ll want at least a few days to make the most of this stunning city.  With the mountains on one side and the strait of Georgia on the other, it is a city in an enviable position. Stanley Park surrounded by its seawall is a great place to visit as is the historic Gastown neighbourhood. If you’re keen for some retail therapy before you leave head to the Burnaby Metro Downtown Centre, Commercial Drive and Robson Street.  Vancouver is also known for its burgeoning foodie scene, the choices are endless, in particular with Asian and Pacific Coast seafood. From street food stalls to the high- end restaurants, the choice is vast.  Check out our guide to the best places to eat in Vancouver and finish your holiday with a memorable meal out overlooking the harbour! 

If the above is of interest, take a look at our Rockies Self Drive itinerary, and our Rockies Highlights Self Drive which are both great itineraries to explore this magical region. Alternatively, take a look at our Canadian Multi Centre Holidays for inspiration for all the various options Canada has to offer.

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