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5 day road trip from Vancouver to Calgary

5 day road trip from Vancouver to Calgary

Oct 4th, 2016, 11:12 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
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5 day road trip from Vancouver to Calgary

Hi All,

My husband & I want to self-drive for only 5 days starting Vancouver, covering Banff, Lake Louise & all usual suspects, finishing in Calgary to take a flight to Fairbanks for a 2 week Alaskan adventure. We are happy to put in whatever driving it takes? Can you tell me if it is doable comfortably. Would a hire car or motorhome be better? Probably want to leave Vancouver by 20/7/17. Thank you all in advance
Ladypont is offline  
Oct 5th, 2016, 10:29 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 582
Not really realistic.

It's a good two days of driving from Vancouver to the Rockies. Which leaves you only a few days to see a huge and very scenic area. Note that the crown jewel of the Rockies - and one of the top rated drives in the world - is the highway between Lake Louise and Jasper. Which is why we generally suggest that people split a trip between Banff/Lake Louise and Jasper - usually 3/4 nights in the former and 2/3 nights in the latter. And drive the Icefields Parkway twice.

If you only have 5 days, I would strongly suggest flying to Calgary. It would mean not seeing parts of BC, but on that short a trip, you'd be seeing most of it through a car window anyway. Then do 2 nights in Banff, 2 in Jasper and one final night in Banff/Lake Louise/Canmore before your flight.

As to car vs. motorhome (RV) - in general, it's best to choose based on what is comfortable for you. When you factor in gas, insurance, rental, campground fees, pump out fees etc, going via RV is likely to be as or more expensive than renting a car and staying in fixed accommodation. In July, especially on weekends, you also are strongly advised to book campgrounds well in advance as they can be heavily booked on weekends. So RVing really doesn't give you a lot of freedom.

Note that if you are coming from overseas, RV companies require you to stay a night before you can pick up the RV. So it may not work on your timeline, and I suspect that it would be a lot more hassle than it's worth for just 5 days. You'd spend a lot of your valuable sightseeing time dealing with the RV, shopping, cooking, pump outs etc.
kgsneds is offline  
Oct 5th, 2016, 10:34 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
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Well certainly you can do it comfortably, for it is only 600 miles from Vancouver to Calgary.

As you can likely already perceive, it would be best to spend most of your nights along the Canadian Rockies somewhere between Jasper and Canmore.


I won't even say that you should allocate one night somewhere in BC, or that you should go north in BC to get to Jasper first, before traveling south toward Lake Louise and Banff. Maybe a two-way trip on Hwy #93 is better than throwing a dart at any one spot for a night in BC.

Perhaps 2 nights in Jasper and 2 in Banff or Lake Louise is the most sensible allocation of your time.

The fastest path from Vancouver to Jasper, AB is "8 1/2 hours", on reasonably scenic roads, so maybe you just do all of that in one day, get to Jasper, spend two nights there, and then schedule 2 more in Banff or Lake Louise, and leave it at that.

OR you could hurry along and spend a night at Lake Louise, and then go north to Jasper the next day, with two nights there, and then back south on the same path for a night in Banff before the quick trip to Calgary.

The fastest direct path to Lake Louise seems to be nearly "9 hours", so you sure don't go that way to save time vs. Jasper.

While there are scenic spots in lower BC, and plenty of them, I just don't know of one particular and convenient spot that would improve upon the idea of 2 nights at Jasper and 2 in Lake Louise and/or Banff.

I would definitely do the trip with cars and hotels, vs. a motor home, but to each his own.
NorthwestMale is offline  
Oct 5th, 2016, 12:28 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
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The drive from Vancouver to Jasper/Lake Louise is 9 to 10 hrs without any stops - or construction. Add in extra time to get gas, use the washroom, get food, see the sights, and these days there is a lot of construction between Vancouver and the Rockies. In the summer, with traffic, you could easily add 30-60 minutes for construction delays alone on the TransCanada.
kgsneds is offline  
Oct 9th, 2016, 05:04 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
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Kg i think a five day road trip van- calgary is lesuriely and we have driven various routes and enjoyed many lovely stops over the last 35 yes or so, so not sure what you are on about at all.
Sute they cant stop and spend a few days here and there , but they can cover the distance very comfortanky and see quite a lot.

Ps we did van to lake louise in 8 hrs once when we were younger , did a long weekend there ...too rushed of course , but they can drive 3-4 hours a day and have afternnoons free to enjoy their stops, plus an extra day at one or two special stops.
justineparis is offline  
Oct 11th, 2016, 11:55 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
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Five days to drive TO the Rockies would be quite pleasant - five days to do the drive and see the Rockies is rushed.

If you read the original post, it sounds like they are allocating five days between leaving Vancouver and flying out of Calgary. That's pretty much seeing things out a car window. Might work, but might also be better to make some choices - either focus on BC and not do the Rockies, or fly and make the focus the Rockies.
kgsneds is offline  
Oct 12th, 2016, 07:51 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
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Hello Ladypont

Please note this drive is very easily doable. Don't worry about any comments about not able to accomplish what you are trying to achieve. Let me present you a clear picture to you. Why I am painting this picture to you is, because I have done this 3 times before I moved to Calgary from Abbotsford which is 40 minutes east of Vancouver. The only thing I would advise you to research is if you can get a car rental in Vancouver and they allow you to leave the car in Calgary. It might be costly.

If you are able to leave early morning from Vancouver, let's say around 6 AM, you will be a winner. You may not be like me who loves driving. I am able to drive 36 hours non-stop (just stop for gas, food). Near Kamloops you can take the highway (if memory serves me right highway 5) you can reach Jasper by the late afternoon or early evening. This is full day of your sightseeing. Yes, you can stop at places and enjoy them before you reach Jasper. I will strongly recommend don't stop at Icefields as you need a minimum of half day. There is a planetarium (http://jasperplanetarium.com) and make sure to visit them the 1st night. I know it is going to be a long day but you can manage it. May be sleep late and getup early late next morning.

Day 2 is to be spent in Jasper only. Don't go out. You can cover Mt. Edith Cavell, Pyramid Lake, Maligne Lake etc.

Day 3 You leave Jasper towards Lake Louise and Banff. Stop at Sunwapta Falls, Athabasca Falls and Columbia Icefields. These 3 places will easily eat up your 3rd day. Go to the hotel and have rest. If you are in Banff, then visit Mt. Norquay at night time. There you can take pictures. Make sure to visit there again next morning or during the day to see the difference.

Day 4 is for Lake Louise and Banff area. There are a lot of things to do there. Just get a brochure from your hotel's lobby and decide where you want to go? I would strongly recommend going to Grassi Lakes Trail. Go to the right which is easy trail, so you won't be tired. Evening of day 4 can be used to drive to Calgary.

Day 5 is for Calgary depending upon what time your flight is?

Some readers might say I am making it a tiring trip, but trust me. I have done it myself with my sons since they were 10 & 14 and now they are 20 & 16. It is a very easily doable trip, however yes, you will be tired. So eat healthy and drink a lot of water to stay hydrated in July next year.

In case if you don't have plans to go to Jasper, then you have close to 2 days to yourself and this trip will get easier for you. I just added Jasper for you based on some of other comments. In case if you need more information reply and I will post some valuable links here for you.


Enjoy your trip and ask any questions you may have? Happy traveling.
TravelFolio is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2016, 05:04 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 503
I could easily spend a lifetime exploring BC and Alberta ... and many other places too. But given the usual limits of life, I've done many enjoyable road trips of similar length and duration as you are proposing.

Of course it would be better if you could spend a week of two, but you can do it in 5 days.

Realize that it will be a road trip ... most of what you see will be through your car windows or in short stops. But that in itself can be enjoyable ... it's like looking at a great annotated real-life menu of things that you can return to late.

What I'd recommend:https://goo.gl/maps/S8oAYRJCB3r

Day 1: drive Vancouver to Blue River using Hwys. 1 & 5 - per Google Maps that's apx. 5.75 hours "wheels turning" driving time ... doesn't give you much time enroute for gas and eating, but would give you some time for stopping at interesting sights.

Day 2: drive Blue River to Jasper ... 2.25 hours wheels turning ... that gives you time for sightseeing at Mt Robson enroute and still get to Jasper with a little time to sightsee there.

Day 3: drive Jasper to Lake Louise on the Icefields Parkway ... 3 hours wheels turning giving you a pretty full day of sightseeing en route or and/or at Jasper or Lake Louise. Definitely get the Gypsy Guide on your smartphone for that ( http://gypsyguide.com/ ).

Day 4* drive Jasper to Calgary ... 2 hours wheels turning ... that give a full day of sightseeing en route.

* The above leave you with one extra day. I'd spend it by staying in Lake Louise 2 nights and spending a day exploring from there. (I've always preferred the low-key ambiance of Lake Louise to the most standard tourist town busy-ness of Banff townsite ... but others may have different tastes ... you could as easily spend two nights in Banff Townsite instead.

You'll be missing a lot, obviously, but any vacation through any area - even spending 2 weeks - will miss a lot. Spend more time if you can. But it is doable.
elbegewa is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2016, 05:14 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 503
Day 4 should have read "Drive Lake Louise to Calgary"
elbegewa is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2016, 06:09 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 3
Hmmmm good to know
jeanericblass is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2016, 11:29 AM
  #11  
ltt
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,466
obviously not ideal but even if you can only drive across bc and not stop at sights, it is still pretty. i like to pack food so as to not waste time in restaurants...cheese, crackers, fruit, drinks. then just picnic and one of the hundreds of beautiful spots along the way.
i drove vancouver to jasper once alone. i left vancouver really early around 5 a.m. so i would have time to stop at one or two spots and get into jasper around dinner time. jasper accommodations book up really early. book as soon as possible. 2 nights jasper, 3 nights in banff.
ltt is offline  
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