Driving from Vancouver to the Rockies

Old Jan 22nd, 2006, 04:19 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 25
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Driving from Vancouver to the Rockies

We are driving from Vancouver to the Rockies and back in September and looking for the most interesting and scenic round trip. We would not want to take longer than 2 days driving there and 2 days driving back. We aim to spend about 12 days around Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise.
grb9uk is offline  
Old Jan 22nd, 2006, 02:25 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 253
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The Coquihalla Highway going through to Kamloops is a fabulous drive. It's a toll highway but worth every penny you'll spend to drive it.

Your spending the better part of your holiday in the most spectacular area Canada has to offer.

Try coming back on #1 through Roger's Pass and the Okanogan. It's a busy highway and the Okanogan is stuffed even in the off season but it's so worth seeing.

Go off the highway to one of the vineyards that you see the signs for along the way (or stop at a tourist bureau or hotel and pic up information as to where to find a vineyard.) The driving to and from the Vineyards off the main highway is an experience not to be missed in my opinion.

If you have never driven from Vancoucer to Banff/Jasper you have a treat and a half coming your way. It's just spectacular all the way.......every inch!
Timlin is offline  
Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 08:19 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hello grb9uk,

There are 3 main routes for driving from Vancouver to the Rockies.

(1) The most northerly one involves driving Vancouver - Whistler - Kamloops - Clearwater - Jasper. This might be called the Hwy 99 / 5 route, because you take Hwy #99 from Vancouver through Whistler to Kamloops, and then you take Hwy #5 from Kamloops to Jasper.

(2) The middle one involves driving Vancouver - Revelstoke - Golden - Lake Louise - Banff. Although you don't actually need to follow the TransCanada Highway at the beginning of that journey, a suitable shorthand label for this would be the TransCanada Highway (Hwy #1) route.

The westerly end of this route has 3 variations.

2 (a) The fastest way is to the Hwy #1 from Vancouver to Hope, then to turn onto the Coquihalla Highway (Hwy #5) till Kamloops. At Kamloops turn onto Hwy #1 and go through Salmon Arm, Revelstoke and Golden to Lake Louise.

2 (b) A way that is a bit longer but more interesting is to follow the TransCanada Highway (Hwy #1) all the way. At Hope Hwy #1 turns sharply northwards, and some distance later it takes you through the Fraser River Canyon, which I think is interesting.

2 (c) I consider this to be the most scenic of the TransCanada Highway options. With this option you take Hwy #1 to Hope. At Hope you turn onto Hwy #3 and go though Manning Provincial Park to Princeton. At Princeton you turn north onto Hwy #5A. When Hwy #5A makes a T-junction with Hwy #97C, you turn east till you reach the T-junction with Hwy #97. When you reach Hwy #97, either turn north to Kelowna or south to Pentiction, depending on where you have chosen to base yourself in the Okanagan Valley. When you're ready to move on from the Okanagan, drive north on Hwy #97 to Salmon Arm or Sicamous. At Salmon Arm or Sicamous turn east onto Hwy #1 and proceed to Revelstoke, Golden and Lake Louise. (Going to Salmon Arm would take you a little out of your way. However, while you drove between Salmon Arm and Sicamous you would get glimpses of the Shuswap Lake, which is pretty.) Option 2 (c) would have you leaving the TransCanada Highway at Hope, doing a big (but worthwhile) detour, and rejoining the TransCanada Highway Salmon Arm or Sicamous.

(3) The most southerly Canadian route from Vancouver to the Rockies involves driving Vancouver - Hope - Princeton - Osoyoos - Creston - Cranbrook - Crowsnest Pass. This might be called the Hwy #3 route.

All of these routes involve crossing mountain ranges and valleys that run roughly north-south. All of them are pretty. There is not an ugly one amongst them.

Obviously you make the most of your journey if you go to the Rockies by one route and return by another.

Those 3 options that I've given you make it sound as if there are only 3 ways of getting from Vancouver to the Rockies. In fact you can combine those routes by travelling in a Z or S pattern. For example, for your Vancouver - Rockies drive, it theoretically would be possible to sart with Option #1 at the western end of your journey and switch to Option #3 at the eastern end of your journey. That's what I would refer to as a Z shaped route. Conversely, you could start out with Option #3 at the beginning of your journey, and switch to Option #1 half way through. That's what I would call an S shaped route.

In at least one direction of travel, I suggest that you do not merely cross the mountains and valleys from west to east or from east to west. Somewhere along the way, it would be nice to dip down (or dip up, depending from which direction you were approaching) into one of the north-south valleys that is between Vancouver and the Rockies. The most popular valley for this purpose is the Okanagan Valley to which Timlin referred.

Unless you are avid hikers and happy to hike day after day, I believe 12 days around Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise is too much. I think you would do well to include Waterton Lakes National Park in those 12 days. Alternatively, take a break from the mountains and visit Edmonton or Calgary or a day or so and also see the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller.

Although it's possible to do the journey to the Rockies in 2 days, and the journey back again in 2 days as well, it would be nice to have an extra day to linger in the Okanagan Valley, as Timlin mentioned.

Have a look at the Circle Route around B.C. that Paul Beddows describes on his web site:


Also have a look at the suggested itineraries on my web site:


You might consider doing some combination of Paul's and my itineraries. For example, you could use Paul's itinerary to drive Vancouver - Whistler - Kamloops - Clearwater - Wells Gray Provincial Park - Jasper. Then you might follow the Lake Louise - Kelowna - Vancouver portion of my 12-day itinerary to get back from the Rockies to Vancouver.

Hope that helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 08:34 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Another excellent web site for trip planning is


It does not describe only the TransCanada Highway in detail but also lists scenic and interesting detours from it.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 12:27 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,465
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The "nothern" route to Jasper from Vancouver is also known as the Yellowhead TransCanada highway. For more info, check out these websites:



I agree with Judy, spend some of your 12 days in the interior of British Columbia. The Okanagan is a lovely area with lakes, vinyards and wine tours galore, plus the low mountains that characterize the interior plateau between the coastal mountains and the Rocky Mountains. Weather is usually good in September - sunny clear and pleasant. And there is a wine festival that begins on September 29th - food wine & fun!!!

The Royal Tyrrell Museum, in Drunheller (the Badlands and Dinosaur country) is definitely worth a one day trip if you are interested in paleontology and museums (it's a 1.5 hour drive east-north-east of Calgary).

I wouldn't recommend the Coquihalla as the "scenic" drive from Hope to Kamloops. It is a very fast highway, and it was built for speed rather than scenery. A more spectacular drive would be on the Trans Canada through the Fraser Canyon.

So many choices!! Good luck on deciding!!!
Borealis is offline  
Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 01:56 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,220
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
judy: I keep trying to pull up your website-- to no avail. I check--and re-check-- the spellings, but nothing happens. Help?!
poss is offline  
Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 02:24 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hello poss,

Send me an e-mail.

I'll type the URL into my response to you. Then the link will be "live." That is, you'll be able to click on the link in the text of the e-mail message and go straight to the web site.

When one types URLs into one's Fodor's posts, the only links that are live are links to Fodor's own pages. Other URLs that one provides are not live.

Hope that helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Jan 24th, 2006, 06:26 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,019
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Let me echo what Judy and Borealis have said. At one time or the other, I have driven the routes Judy describes, so there is no need to repeat them.

I live quite a long ways from that area of the world, but something about it keeps drawing me back.

The route through the southern part of BC with a stop in Manning Park is a good suggestion. The accommodations in the park are fine. I forget the name, but the website will tell you what it is.

From there you can look at a map and pick your way over to Vernon.
From there go over to the Columbia River valley and then you can go north to the Trans Canada and traverse Rogers Pass in the heart of Glacier NP, or take a more southerly route to the Rockies.

The Coquihalla route is fine, but it is not very long in terms of the length of the journey from Vancouver to Banff or Lake Louise.

In your planning, I urge you to give ample time for driving the Icefields Parkway. It is a spectacular drive, one that virtually begs you to get out and look and take a short walk or two along the way. I have spent the whole day just driving from lake Louise to Jasper more than once.

There is a lot of territory out there to explore, particularly if you walk some of the hundreds of miles of foot trails.

I will never see more than a fraction of the place in detail, but what I have seen is etched in my deepest memory bank.

bob_brown is offline  
Old Jan 24th, 2006, 07:57 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,439
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
In two days travel time this suggestion isn't doable, however if you were to add a day or two you might try driving through Nakusp. It is on Arrow Lake a 300 kilometer long lake and the area is full of natural hot springs. The roads are paved, two lanes and cut right through the Selkurk mountain range. The road connects from highway three and rejoins the Trans Canada at Revelstoke. There are two free ferry crossings on the road so this is not a fast trip. One can easily spend a week just touring this area.
It is very much off the beaten path but it is a real hidden treasure.
stanbr is offline  
Old Jan 29th, 2006, 11:49 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 25
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi, Thanks for all these great replies, busy sorting out the best options now!
grb9uk is offline  
Old Jan 30th, 2006, 08:51 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,466
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
my preference:
vancouver, whistler, lilloette and stay the night around clarewater. then it's a short drive the next day to arrive in jasper.
spend several days there, drive the icefield parkway to banff/lake louise.
leave there and drive towards the okanagan. spend the night around vernon or penticton and then take the hope/princeton highway to vancouver
ltt is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2006, 04:54 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Stop in Revelstoke, halfway between Vancouver and Calgary. Great little town, excellent Railway Museum, Revelsotke is a soon to be developed ski resort town.
Tagish is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Aug 15th, 2012 06:44 AM
Feb 5th, 2008 04:00 AM
Apr 8th, 2005 12:35 PM
Apr 14th, 2003 07:43 PM
Jul 10th, 2002 04:27 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -