BC/Alberta in August

Jun 28th, 2006, 04:05 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 12
BC/Alberta in August


My girlfriend and I are flying into Vancouver on 19 August from the UK to travel around BC/Alberta for 2 weeks (14 nights), I have checked various travel guides, books and on the web and have drawn up a rough itiniery: -

Vancouver 2 nights
Wells Gray Nat. Park
Jasper Nat. Park
Columbia Icefields
Lake Louise
Yoho Nat. Park
Calgary 1 Night
Vancouver 1 Night

This is a route that appeared to be fairly direct whilst taking in the major destinations in those areas. We have an internal flight from Calgary to Vancouver at the end of the tour as we fly back to the UK from Vancouver. Please can anyone advise as to anything we have missed/or can leave out? We are unsure as to the number of nights to spend in each destination (particularly Victoria/Tofino Lake Louise/Calgary), Taking into account driving times etc.
I would also like to visit the badlands dinosaur park, west of Calgary – is this worth a trip as it takes us slightly out of the way.

We also wish to go on Whale watching/Bear watching/Hot Springs tours and wondered if there were any recommendations? I have seen that oceanoutfitters in Tofino have had good reviews – is Tofino best for these excursions? Would it be advisable to book up accommodation for our trip before we go and does anyone have any recommendations?

Many thanks for any tips that anyone can give! ! !


galentheape is offline  
Jun 28th, 2006, 07:54 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 430
I would not go a time consuming trip towards Tofino.

Bear viewing in Tofino is depending on the tide and the best dates are at low tide. Therefore most start dates of the bear viewing tour differ from day to day.

You can also do a bear viewing by 4x4 car in Whistler (during early evening or early morning). The tour is intresting and guided by a Ranger.

The flight back from Calgary to Vancouver does not make sense. If possible change your flight from UK into a splited flight (UK -> Vancouver and back Calgary -> UK), which will give you more time to explore the area.
tom22 is offline  
Jun 28th, 2006, 08:05 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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i absolutely love tofino but your schedule is pretty tight. i'd consider dropping victoria and tofino. also drop kamloops - just spend the time in the wells gray national park. the drive from whistler to wells gray through lilliotte (sp???) is beautiful.
or, if you really want to do tofino (which in my mind needs three nights as it it almost a full days drive from victoria to get there), then do the vancouver island portion and drop the wells gray and jasper portion of the trip.
ltt is offline  
Jun 28th, 2006, 08:41 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
Hello galentheape

You have done your research and, as a first shot across the bow, your draft itinerary is a good one. However, you have tried to fit in too much.

I take the points that tom22 and ltt have made. I think you should give serious consideration to their advice.

However, on the off chance that you really do want a very fast-paced trip and on the assumption that you are locked into the flights into and out of Vancouver, here is an itinerary that you could consider.

Day 1 – Sat, Aug 19 – Land in Vancouver.

Day 2 – Sun, Aug 20 – Look around Vancouver.

Day 3 – Mon, Aug 21 – Ferry to Victoria in the morning, visit Butchart Gardens in the afternoon. . Look up ferry schedule and make reservation at www.bcferries.ca .

Day 4 – Tue, Aug 22 – Walk around Victoria’s Inner Harbour area, and then drive to Tofino.

Days 5 & 6 – Wed & Thu, Aug 23 & 24 – In Tofino. I agree with ltt that two full days, not counting travelling time to get to and from the area, is the absolute minimum amount of time to devote to Tofino. If you cannot give Tofino 3 nights, then I suggest you skip it.

Day 7 – Fri, Aug 25 – Drive to Nanaimo, ferry from Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay, drive to Whistler.

Day 8 – Sat, Aug 26 – Drive to Clearwater.

Day 9 – Sun, Aug 27 –Visit Helmcken Falls in Wells Gray Provincial Park, and then drive to Jasper.

Day 10 – Mon, Aug 28 – Explore Jasper area. I recommend Maligne Canyon, the tram up Whistlers Mountain, and Mount Edith Cavell.

Day 11 – Tue, Aug 29 – Drive the Icefields Parkway to Lake Louise, stopping at the Columbia Icefields en route. Other recommended stops include Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls and Peyto Lake.

Day 12 – Wed, Aug 31 – From your Lake Louise base, visit Moraine Lake, the lake of Lake Louise and, in nearby Yoho National Park, Takakkaw Falls and Emerald Lake.

Day 13 – Thu, Sept 1 – Drive from Lake Louise to Banff and on to Calgary. Try to aim for a Calgary – Vancouver flight that departs around 5.00 p.m.. Instead of taking the TransCanada Highway (Hwy #1) from LL to Banff, you could take the Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy #1A) and visit Johnston Canyon.

Day 14 – Fri, Sept 2 – Look around Vancouver.

Day 15 – Sat, Sept 3 – Fly home. Depending on your flight’s departure time, you may be able to do some more sight seeing in the morning and early afternoon.

More in next post .......
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 28th, 2006, 08:42 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501

The first thing I recommend you delete from your itinerary is a night in Calgary. I do not believe you can afford any time in Calgary on an itinerary that is as tight as your is.


Secondly, I believe you need to skip Dinosaur Provincial Park. Even a day trip to the Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, which I frequently recommend, would not be feasible in your timeframe. Dinosaur Provincial Park is further east than Drumheller, and it requires an extra day on top of that, and more ideally two extra days.


Yes, it would be wise to book your accommodation as soon as you have settled on an itinerary. Places in which there are a lot of visitors chasing a limited stock of accommodation include Tofino, Jasper and Lake Louise.

If you decide to spend a night in Kamloops, you should be aware that the Rocky Mountaineer train uses up a good chunk of the town’s accommodation on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday nights, so it’s wise to pre-book if you’re going to be in Kamloops on one of those nights.

If it was my trip, I would feel more comfortable having ALL of my accommodation sorted out in advance.


You need to leave Banff townsite 4 hours before your plane departs from Calgary Airport for Vancouver. It takes 2 hours to drive from Banff townsite to Calgary Airport. Technically you need to check in 1 hour before departure time for a domestic flight. But that leaves no time for contingencies and for filling up with gas (petrol) just before you turn in your rental car, and so on. So, if it was my trip, I would add an extra hour to the nominal 3 hours between Banff and take off.

If you were to set out from Lake Louise at 8.30 a.m. and take off from Calgary at 5.00 p.m., you would be able to visit Johnston Canyon en route from LL to Banff townsite, stroll around Banff townsite, and have lunch in Banff townsite. You could then leave Banff townsite at 1.00 p.m. and be in good time for your 5.00 p.m. flight.

The flight from Calgary to Vancouver is 1.5 hours but, because of the change of time zones, it effectively takes only a half hour. A 5.00 p.m. flight out of Calgary would land in Vancouver at 5.30 p.m. Vancouver time. Assume 30 minutes to collect your luggage from the carousel, 30 minutes to catch a cab to the downtown core, and 30 minutes to check into your hotel. You could still walk into a Vancouver restaurant for dinner around 7.00 p.m. or so.


In looking around here, you may have stumbled on a link to my website. If you have not yet seen it, I recommend that TIPS section, which has information on Weather, What To Pack, National Park Entry Fees, Driving Distances and Times, etc.:


Hope that helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 28th, 2006, 09:33 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 3
Most of the comments are helpful and point out you need to take into account driving times from destination to destination to appreciate each place. Judy's post is a great proposed itinerary. Don't be swayed by advice to avoid Tofino, it is an incredible place and if the weather is good you will never want to leave, book time to take a surfing lesson, they are reasonably priced and fun. Driving the Columbia Icefields Parkway is wonderful and the Rockies are a must. Unless you are driving through from the BC coast to Alberta there is no time to waste in Kamloops. Book ahead your accomodations in any of the towns beside national parks (Tofino, Jasper). Be advised that Banff and Whistler are VERY expensive. I hope you have a wonderful trip!
bcforlife is offline  
Jun 28th, 2006, 02:59 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,439
I just had to cancel my camping reservation in Tofino for Aug 18 19 and 20 and I learned that the campground is fully booked from now until late August. If there are virtually no campsites available in Tofino you are going to have a problem finding a hotel room for the same time. I highly recommend Tofino but you had better get on the internet right now and see if you can find a hotel room. If you can't find one then it will give you more time somewhere else. If you have to drop Tofino but are still looing for an Island beach experience you might want to try Parksville. The beaches there are not as wild as Tofino but they have tides that go out about a kilometer and provide excellent opportunities for strolling and looking for sealife. When the tide comes back in, the sand warms the water to 70degrees F and people are able to swim. There are lots of good hotels in the area.
stanbr is offline  
Jun 29th, 2006, 05:53 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 12
Thanks everyone for all the info - much appreciated....Judy, I cannot seem to get your link to work I have checked "whats new", but still no luck...can I get in another way?

Thanks Again
galentheape is offline  
Jun 29th, 2006, 07:17 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
>>>>>>Judy, I cannot seem to get your link to work I have checked "whats new", but still no luck...can I get in another way?<<<<<<

Sorry, I don't know another way of accessing my website. As I stated on the "What's New" page yesterday, I have reported the problem to MSN Groups and am optimistic that they will fix it.

I will monitor my website from time to time to find out when it's working again. If you e-mail me and supply me with an e-mail address at which I can reach you, I'd be happy to e-mail you when I notice that the website is up and running again.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 29th, 2006, 09:27 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 60
Regarding whale watching, we just did the Hot Springs tour with Ocean Outfitters in Tofino and it was great. Make sure Ike is the boat captain--he made sure we saw whales, sea otters, eagles, and a bear. Keep in mind that it takes 4 hours plus to drive from Victoria to Tofino, so if time is a concern, one option would be to do a whale watching tour out of Victoria (note--grey and humpback whales in Tofino, Orcas in Victoria). Option 2 would be to visit Butchart Gardens, skip downtown Victoria, and go directly to Tofino (the rainforest in Tofino easily beats downtown Victoria).

craig91355 is offline  

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