BC Alberta Road Trip

Old Jul 3rd, 2021, 07:29 AM
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BC Alberta Road Trip

Planning this road trip for next year. Overnight stops pretty fluid at present although Jasper & Banff are musts. All the others could change if recommended. Allowing 14 nights, starting and ending at Vancouver. First time in Canada (we're from the UK) so any advice on stopovers or must sees would be really appreciated.
Map of route is here: https://goo.gl/maps/UkA8hShZV46PPnXV8.

Last edited by David260165; Jul 3rd, 2021 at 07:32 AM.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2021, 10:52 AM
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If you have the time (which it seems like y'all do), maybe skip the Coquihalla (Hwy 5) and take Highway 99 up through Whistler & Pemberton to Kamloops instead. The Sea to Sky Highway is one of the most beautiful drives on the continent whereas the Coquihalla is a former toll road that was built in the 80s for the sole purpose of cutting the travel time between Vancouver and Kamloops by 45 minutes. Not that the Coquihalla isn't scenic, 'cause it still is, but it doesn't come close to the beauty of Highway 99. Even Highway 1 along the Thompson Valley is a more scenic alternative. (Also depending on the time of year you're going, the Coquihalla can be tricky to drive, it's high elevation means it's much more prone to fog and snow than the surrounding highways. I've driven it 30+ times by now, but I could count the number of times it was a bright, sunny day on the Coquihalla on one hand, meaning you likely won't see much scenery anyways)


General Recommendations for things to See/Do:

Vancouver: (minimum 3 Days)

-Stanley Park & the Vancouver Aquarium
-UBC Museum of Anthropology
-Granville Island
-Capilano Suspension Bridge
-VanDusen Botanical Garden

Banff & Yoho National Parks: (minimum 2 Days)
- Lake Louise
- Moraine Lake
- Burgess Shale (you need to reserve well ahead of time, but the guided Burgess Shale Fossil Hike is a really unique experience, and I wish more people knew about it.)

Icefields Parkway: (1 Day)
-Peyto Lake
-Athabasca Glacier/Columbia Icefield (Make sure you take the bus tour that drives on top of the glacier)

-Jasper NP: (minimum 1 Day)
-Mount Edith Cavell


-If you like museums, Calgary is worth a full-day detour, but otherwise you can skip it. (I say this as someone who lived there for over 20 years, museums are the only thing we really got going for us)

-If you're going though Castlegar, a short detour to Nelson could be fun. It has an eccentric 1960s hippie vibe to it. (I haven't been there for over a decade though, so I'm not sure if that's still true.) If you're interested in swimming in hot springs, Ainsworth Hot Springs, a little bit further past Nelson, is my personal favourite out of all them. It's usually less busy and crowded than places like Banff, Radium or Fairmont and is the only hot spring that has an actual cave that you can swim in/out of. Avoid swimming in Banff Hot Springs, it's a crowded over-priced tourist trap that doesn't even use real spring water half the time.

-Any interest in going to Victoria? It's widely considered to be the most British-feeling city in Canada and there's plenty of stuff to do to fill up a day or two there. Going to Victoria would mean sacrificing some days in the mountains however.

And because you haven't mentioned what time of year you're travelling, I just want to remind you that weather in the Rockies can be unpredictable and there can be snowy/icy road conditions and even blizzards anytime between mid-September to mid-May. But it could also be the middle of January, and you could have perfectly clear skies and roads the entire time. If you're not used to driving in wintry conditions, just make sure you slow down, drive under the speed limit and leave plenty of distance between cars. Whatever winter tires your rental car comes with will be adequate.


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Old Jul 3rd, 2021, 11:32 PM
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Thank you so much for this detailed and comprehensive reply. I have no doubt we will take your advice as regards Highway 99. I will research other suggestions through Google and no doubt will take some of them on board.
Thanks again.
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Old Jul 8th, 2021, 03:56 PM
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Have you looked into a so-called "open-jaws" air ticket, flying into Vancouver and home from either Edmonton or Calgary? Avoiding the long return trip to Vancouver will certainly save time and maybe even money. It is hard to speculate just what flight routes will be operating but you can check the possibilities with an on-line agency using the multi-destination search function. These itineraries are not single tickets; they must be assembled as a single ticket. Of course you can travel in the opposite direction, into Alberta and home from B.C. Sorry, I can't help with the complications of renting a car in one province and leaving it in another (if there are any complications).
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Old Jul 9th, 2021, 02:12 AM
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Thanks for your suggestions. The road trip will be part of a longer holiday, visiting family in Seattle. The plan is to go to Vancouver by train and then rent a car for the trip, returning to Vancouver and the train back to Seattle.
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Old Jul 15th, 2021, 06:38 AM
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OR: Fly UK-Calgary, rental car to Vancouver, train/bus to Seattle. Multi-city will work Calgary/Seattle or in the opposite direction.
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Old Jul 15th, 2021, 02:23 PM
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That looks like a nice trip. I agree with Sirhan to avoid the Coquihala highway 5. It is high speed and a bit boring. Highway 99 with a stop in Whistler is a good idea. There is lots to see and do there. The trip does entail a lot of driving though, so break it up with days of no driving.
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