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Driving to Drumheller & Banff from Vancouver

Driving to Drumheller & Banff from Vancouver

Old Feb 12th, 2007, 12:22 PM
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Driving to Drumheller & Banff from Vancouver

Planning the family vacation and would like to drive from Vancouver to Calgary with Drumheller & Banff as the main points of interest along the way. But I don't know where to begin with a suggested route or itinerary. Any suggestions??

Will be driving with spouse and 2 kids (11 & 6 yrs old) and thought approx 10 days might be enough.

Thought also stops in Nelson or Ainsworth might be good too. Would like to check-out the hot springs and just taking it easy with the family.

Please any suggestions regarding driving route and how many days needed in each area would be greatly appreciated.

Any suggestions on affordable accommodations would be greatly appreciated too.
Babalu is offline  
Old Feb 12th, 2007, 02:07 PM
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Since Drumheller is east of Calgary you can't really visit it "along the way" from Vancouver. You would have to make it a day trip after arriving in Calgary.
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Old Feb 12th, 2007, 03:38 PM
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Hi Babalu,

What Cruiseryyc has told you is correct.

I hope the ten days refers to the period of time that you will have AFTER you have enjoyed Vancouver. I think it takes three days to do any kind of justice to Vancouver, but I hope you will give it AT LEAST one full day (excluding traveling time). For ideas of what to do and see in Vancouver, I recommend the Find Family Fun website, which was created by a Vancouver family with three children:


Once you leave Vancouver, you could consider this itinerary:

1 – Drive to the Okanagan Valley. There are several towns from which to choose.

2 – Give your kids a relaxing beach day in the Okanagan Valley.

3 – Drive to Nelson.

4 – From your Nelson base, visit Ainsworth Hot Springs.

5 – Drive to Lake Louise / Banff area (probably Banff or Canmore, since they tend to be more affordable than Lake Louise).

6 – From your Banff base, drive up the Icefields Parkway (the road that connects Lake Louise and Jasper), and ride the Ice Explorer onto the Athabasca Glacier at the Columbia Icefields. Stop to see Peyto Lake on the way to or from the Columbia Icefields

7 – From your Banff base, explore the west end of Banff National Park and nearby Yoho National Park (Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, spiral railway tunnels, Takakkaw Falls, natural bridge over the Kicking Horse River, and Emerald Lake).

8 – From your Banff base, visit Johnston Canyon (walk to Lower Falls at least), Lake Minnewanka, ride Sulphur Mountain Gondola, walk to Bow Falls, and stroll through the town of Banff.

9 – Drive to Drumheller. It takes 3 hours if you bypass Calgary’s traffic and go Banff – Canmore – Cochrane – Airdrie – Beiseker – Drumheller. Visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller. It takes at least 2 hours to go through the museum. It would be fun to do more than that, and let your kids go on one of the outdoor guided walks. Allow an hour for lunch. Allow 2 hours to drive to Calgary. You could spend that night in Calgary, or you could spend it in Drumheller. Obviously if you carry on to Calgary for the night, it will make for a longer day. It might be more fun to stay in Drumheller, which tends to be hot in the summer, and let your kids blow off steam in a swimming pool.

10 – Drive to Calgary (2 hours). Visit Calgary Zoo or Heritage Park Pioneer Village. If you want to go downtown, the main touristy street is 8th Avenue / Stephen Avenue Walk. However, with kids you might enjoy finishing up at the north end of downtown, on the banks of the Bow River, in the vicinity of the Eau Claire District. There you can cross the foot bridge onto the park on Prince’s Island and throw a frisbee around with your kids after dinner.

11- Fly home.

You also could make Drumheller a day trip from Calgary, as Cruiseryyc mentioned.


The average day time temperature in the Canadian Rockies in summer is 20 deg F, and the average night time temperature is 45 deg F. But the temperature occasionally gets as high as 90 deg F, and it sometimes goes down as low as the freezing mark, even in summer.

The Okanagan Valley can be very hot in summer. It is not uncommon for temperatures in the Okanagan to be in the 90s F, and the temperature sometimes nudges past 100 deg F.

Vancouver, being at the coast has a relatively moderate climate. It tends not to get as hot as the interior, and it also tends not to get as cool as the interior.

You will need a variety of clothing to take you through all of the conditions you may encounter. The answer is LAYERS.

A place that is family-friendly in Banff is Douglas Fir Resort. It has self-catering units, a kids' pool, playground equipment, etc.

Here is another recent thread in which I went on at length about how to make the mountains interesting to children and in which another poster mentioned affordable accommodation in Canmore:


When you're in the mountains there are several lakes where you can rent canoes, and places where you can do horseback riding.

You may find my website helpful:


Hope that helps.

Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Feb 12th, 2007, 03:47 PM
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>>>>>>The average day time temperature in the Canadian Rockies in summer is 20 deg F, and the average night time temperature is 45 deg F. But the temperature occasionally gets as high as 90 deg F, and it sometimes goes down as low as the freezing mark, even in summer.<<<<<<

ARGHHH!!!!!! I frequently toggle back and forth between Farenheit and Celsius, depending on the nationality of the person with whom I'm communicating (or what I think their nationality is).

I meant to say that the average day time time in the mountains in summer is 70 deg F (which is about 20 deg C).
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Old Feb 12th, 2007, 07:22 PM
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If driving from Vancouver to Banff, you need to allow for a long day because there are several sights to see along the way. Also, some sections of the road are slow. If you take the Trans Canada as far as Hope, the next logical step is to take the Coquihalla Freeway, which is a toll road, to Kamloops unless, of course, you detour by the Okanagan Valley and the cities of Kelowna and Vernon.

If you take the most direct route, I suggest sticking with the Trans Canada once you get to Kamloops. The route via Salmon Arm is a bit slow.

Once you get to Revelstoke, you will ascend from the Columbia River valley to Revelstoke National Park. That is a possible side attraction on your route. I suggest reading about it before making a decision to take the detour.

From Revelstoke the route than traverses Rogers Pass in the heart of Glacier National Park. This park, on a clear day, presents some classic views of the jagged ridges and peaks of the Selkirks and the Purcells. Some of the hikes in Glacier are famous for their steepness and their leg challenging distances.

From Rogers Pass, the route then descends to Golden, which is in the Rocky Mountain Trenth, a significant geologic feature, where the Columbia River flows north before looping to the south north of Golden.

From Golden you climb out of the trench as you ascend onto the North American tectonic plate and enter Yoho National Park, which has some of my favorite places in all of Canada: Takkakaw Falls being the only one that is readily accessible from the highway.

I highly recommend the detour to Takkakaw; to me, it is an awesome sight as water plunges about 800 feet downward. Get as close as you dare to the plunge basin to get a feeling for the thunderous power of water free falling that vertical distance.

From Takkakaw, you drive over Kicking Horse Pass, the scene of the Spiral Tunnels on the Canadian Pacific Railroad. If a train is negotiating the tunnels, you may well see a long freight train lapping itself as it emerges from the tunnel, either ascending or descending.

From the crest of Kicking Horse Pass, you then pass close to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. These are two of the crown jewels of the Rockies, and they are both worthy destinations all in themselves and two of my most favorite places in Banff National Park.

From Lake Louise you can continue on to Banff townsite, with its commercial aspects. (Sorry, but not my favorite place.)

From there you have an easy 2 hour or shorter drive to Calgary, or you can do what Judy suggested and bypass it on your way to Drumheller.

I suggest visiting the website for the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology.
The museum is a World Heritage site, and in my view it is a very educational and interesting experience. The educational program is often aimed at children under the age of 16, but as a professional teacher, I found the presentations to be extremely well done with very well conceived visual aids. Some of the models of the creatures of the Burgess Shale were designed to be displayed under black light so that they glowed nicely in the dark.

In Calgary itself, I found Heritage Park, which is in the southwest quadrant of the city to be most interesting. It is a capsulization of the history of Alberta. I liked and only wish I had more time, but I had a dinner invitation I did not want to miss!!

NOW, if you want to deviate from the Trans Canada route in your drive from Vancouver to Banff and elsewhere, let me suggest that you leave the Trans Canada Highway near Hope, BC, and go by way of Manning Provincial Park where there are some very nice accommodations that are popular in the summer.

From there you can continue on to Kelowna on the lake. From Kelowna continue on to Vernon and turn eastward on Highway 6 where you will come to the Columbia River south of Revelstoke. After crossing the river on a ferry, turn northward on Highway 6 to Nakusp. Then continue northward on Highway 23 to Revelstoke. On the way you will again cross the Columbia on a ferry.

Near Revelstoke you will rejoin the Trans Canada for the ascent to Rogers Pass and pick up the route I have described above.

Although this route is longer, I think you will find is well supplied with mountain scenery and a beautiful lake.

I have enjoyed this part of the world on several occasions, and hope to do so again soon. I almost envy the fact that you will be enjoying it soon. I hope for you that is a most memorable occasion.

My only suggestion is don't lose sight of the fact that enroute you will be traversing some beautiful country, and that in some respects, unless you have more than 10 days between Vancouver and Drumheller, the Royal Tyrrell Museum might be a bridge too far.

If your youngsters travel well, then it should be a most rewarding venture.

bob_brown is offline  
Old Feb 13th, 2007, 01:31 AM
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jannieween is offline  
Old Feb 13th, 2007, 03:03 AM
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We've also taken the route suggested by Bob Brown, traveling east from Vernon and then north to Revelstoke. It's a beautiful route and most of the way the traffic was very light. Be aware however, that there will be a bit of a wait sometimes for the ferries as there is sometimes more vehicles than the ferries can keep up with. If you go that way and have to wait in line, take time to get out of your vehicle for a stretch and visit with your fellow travelers. They are mostly a friendly bunch and make for an interesting conversation as you wait.
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