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14 day road trip itinerary from Calgary to Vancouver

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Hi,

I would really appreciate any advice on a trip I am planning next Summer.

We are planning on flying into Calgary mid July and plan to drive to Vancouver taking the most scenic route possible over a 14 day period.

I am unsure what the best route would be to take and how long to stay in each place, currently we would definitely like to visit;
- Banff
- Lake Louise
- Yoho National Park
We love dramatic scenery and are looking to see as much of what Canada has to offer. Would also like to see some small towns, historic places and any good food/drink areas.

Any help on a recommended itinerary, even if it's rough would be really appreciated and give us a really good starting point.

Many thanks

Laura.

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    Welcome!

    I'm not as knowledgeable about the areas between Yoho and Vancouver, but can suggest a rough itinerary to contemplate for the Rockies part of your trip.
    If you have two weeks not including Vancouver, I would use one week in the Rockies and the second week getting to Vancouver.

    Day 1 - arrive, drive to Banff
    Day 2- drive the Icfields Parkway to Jasper
    Day 3 - Jasper
    Day 4 - Jasper
    Day 5 - back to Banff/Lake Louise
    Day 6- Banff/Lake Louise area
    Day 7 - Banff/Lake Louise area
    Day 8 - Yoho NP
    Day 9 - to Revelstoke (can do more Yoho this day)

    From there to Vancouver, you have lots of options. Based on your interests, it sounds like the Okanagan area - the wine country of BC - might be a good fit. I'd do some research on places like Osoyoos, Nelson, Penticton etc.

    Note that summer is very busy in the Rockies & BC - you will want to book accommodation well in advance. The first Monday in August is a holiday - that's often the busiest weekend of the summer. If you can avoid that weekend, it will probably make it easier in terms of accommodation & driving.

    For Jasper, PHAs (Jasper version of B&B but usually without breakfast) generally are the best deal, and range from very simple to quite luxurious. Look at www.stayinjasper.com to get an idea of the options.

    For Lake Louise/Banff/Yoho, you can based yourself in Banff, Canmore, Lake Louise or even Field. Most folks seem to find it best to stay in one location rather than spending time changing accommodations. However you could split up your time.

    If you are interested in small towns, a stay in Field might be of interest. It's the only townsite in Yoho NP, and has about 200-300 people. There is one (two?) hotels, a couple of restaurants and a handful of B&Bs. Given the lack of shopping/food stores/social life, it's not for everyone, but it's very scenic and a great place for hiking. Note that most, if not all, of the B&Bs have a 2 or 3 night minimum stay and book very quickly.

    Beyond Field, the choice of LL, Banff or Canmore is really a personal one. Lake Louise has a very limited (and thus more expensive) selection of accommodation and restaurants but staying there lets you see the lake early/late when there aren't tons of tourists. It's usually the choice for folks focusing on hiking and/or photography. Note that most of the hotels are actually in the tiny 'village', which is about 4km from the lake.

    Banff is more touristy, but offers a wide range of indoor & outdoor activities, restaurants and accommodations. Canmore tends to be less touristy with a wider range of accommodation types, particularly condo rentals (private rentals by the night are not allowed in the parks). It is just outside the park, so a bit more of a drive, but is closer to the scenery & mountains in Kananaskis Country. Also usually a bit cheaper.

    There are also a handful of lodge style hotels outside the townsites, generally on the pricier side. These include Baker Creek (near Lake Louise), Emerald Lake Lodge (Yoho), Cathedral Mountain Lodge (Yoho) and NumTiJah (Banff NP).

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    kgsneds above gave you an excellent overview.

    Are you most interested in car touring and seeing she sights, or interested in doing some physical activity like hiking or kayaking?

    To re-emphasize some of the big choices:
    1. Would you most like to spend time in the Vancouver / Vancouver area, experiencing the city and the coast, includings possibly kayaking or going on an orca whale watching or grizzly bear watching excursion?
    2. Would you most like to spend some time in the dry Okanogan lakes and wine country?
    3. Would you most like to do a road trip through some interesting small towns? Or through the mountains to include Whistler?

    To start where kgsneds left off, I'll list 2 of many options alternative to the more heavily trafficed TransCanade Hwy. 1 (presuming that you just want to do a road trip and spend the time between the 2 cities, not including the cities).

    Option 1:
    Days 1 - 8, as kgsneds recommends above
    Day 9 drive from near Lake Louise on hwy. 93 through Kootenay National Park to Radium Hot Springs and Cranbrook
    Day 10 drive Hwy. 3 through the Purcell Mountains to Creston, thence Hwy 3A alongside Kootenay Lake (crossing it by ferry) to Nelson - a great historical town
    Day 11 drive to the Okanogan wine country (Osoyoos or Penticton or Kelowna)
    Day 12 drive either from Osoyoos via Hwy. 3 through Manning Park to Vancouver, or on the faster freeway from Kelowna via Hwys. 97c and 5 via the Coquilahala to Vancouver.
    That gives you 2 days to spend wherever.

    Option 2:
    Days 1 - 9, as kgsneds recommends above through Glacier National Park to Revelstoke
    Day 10 drive along Shuswap Lake to somewhere along the lake if you'd like to enjoy the lake, or to Kamloops, the next big town.
    Day 11 drive on Hwy. 99 through mountains and the Sea to Sky corridor to Whistler. (You may want to spend a day and take the gondola to the top for spectacular views)
    Day 12 drive on Hwy. 99 along Howe Sound to Vancouver.
    That gives you 2 days to spend wherever.

    Both options give you very leisurely drives for lots of stopping and sightseeing. Any 2 days could easily be combined into 1 for a quicker but not overly long drive.

    But those are only 2 of many options. Look at google maps and use its directions function to get a feel for distances and predicted driving times.

    And do some searching on the net or in guidebooks to see what interests you.

    Once you've honed in on what would interest you the most lots of people on here will have great details to suggest.

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    PS to above
    You might consider flying into Edmonton rather than Calgary, driving from there to Jasper, thence down the Icefields Parkway to Banff.

    In Banff NP its very central to stay at Lake Louise; its easy trips from there to Banff Townsite, Fields and Yoho, the Kootenay NP, and the Icefields HParkway. That was you can stat longer in one place and avoid too many moves.

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    I would actually not suggest flying into Edmonton. The drive from Edmonton to Jasper is mostly boring, straight, unscenic highway outside of the parks (and the mountains). You'd basically be wasting a day outside the mountains - think 3.5+ hrs drive just to get to the mountains, whereas a little over an hour from the Calgary Airport and you're already in the mountains.

    Also, it's generally suggested to dive yourself two chances to drive the Icefields Parkway in case it's cloudy or stormy the first time you drive it. It's ranked as one of the top drives in North America, so it would be real shame if your only chance to see that scenery was disrupted by clouds/rain.

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    i'm going to basically support the good advice you've received above. assuming you are flying into calgary:
    3 nights in banff
    3 nights in jasper
    1 night in lake louise
    2 nights in revelstoke - visit the giant cedars boardwalk
    trail which is about 30 before you arrive in
    revelstoke. next day drive up mt revelstoke and do
    some walking / hiking around there - meadows in the
    sky. we stayed at the monoshee lodge and like it.
    it's set back a bit from the railroad tracks which is
    a good thing. owners are really nice and helpful.
    2 nights in nelson - great little town. we stayed at the
    hume hotel which is a great old historic hotel. book7
    a room on the 3rd or 4th floors as they have bands
    playing in the bar downstairs. they offer a "real"
    complimentary breakfasts in the morning the our meals
    in the library restaurant were delicious and it is a
    beautiful old room.
    2 nights in penticton - kettle valley rail car will give
    you some great views. i also like going out to
    naramata for a couple of hours (including the drive
    drive
    unfortunatly, i guess that would only leave you 1 night in vancouver. having another 2 nights would be ideal. but for me, i'd rather spend time in the places i outlined then in a city. have fun.

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