Vancouver to Edmonton

Apr 8th, 2010, 11:16 AM
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Vancouver to Edmonton


I'm planning a trip this summer for a total of 9 full days. I plan on staying in Vancouver for the first 2-3 days then going to Victoria for a day before starting the drive to Banff/Jasper. Can anyone recommend the best route for us to take and what town we should stop for the night? Is 4-5 full days enough for Jasper, Banff, Lake Louise & Glacier National Park? We're not the hiking type peopel but love beautiful scenary. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
India2006 is offline  
Apr 8th, 2010, 05:56 PM
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Are you returning to Vancouver after visiting the Rocky Mountains? In your title you mention Edmonton - are you also planning to drive to Edmonton from Jasper? Those two factors will have an impact on how much time you have to spend seeing the sights.

It's a faster (9 hours, can be done in one long day of driving) more direct drive from Vancouver to Jasper than it is Vancouver to Banff, mainly because there are fewer scenic stops along the way, and also because you will be bypassing the Okanagan. Once you get to Jasper, you can then take a leisurely drive through the Icefields Parkway to Lake Louise and Banff, and return to Vancouver via Golden/Revelstoke/Kelowna (taking 2 days to do that route).

My suggestion would be to plan on two nights in Jasper so you have one full day to do sightseeing, then one day for the drive (Icefield Parkway)from Jasper to Lake Louise (stopping at the Columbia Icefields for a couple of hours), stay 2/3 nights in the Banff/Lake Louise area, then drive back to Vancouver via the Trans Canada #1 stopping in Kelowna for one night. The Okanagan is a pretty area and is chock full of wineries (if that's your thing).

Hope this general idea of a route helps!
Borealis is offline  
Apr 8th, 2010, 09:55 PM
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Unless you're visiting relatives there is no need to visit Edmonton-it's a totally underwhelming place.
Sam_Salmon is offline  
Apr 9th, 2010, 08:02 AM
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I'm driving from vancouver and flying out of Edmonton (returning the car there). Does that change any of the suggestions you provided me? we're planning on only syating in Edmonton the night before our flight since i hear there is really nothing to do there.
India2006 is offline  
Apr 9th, 2010, 07:18 PM
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Yes, driving from Vancouver and flying out of Edmonton does change things. You can do a one-way drive, and spend a bit more time in each place.

Starting in Vancouver, drive to Kelowna and visit the north Okanagan region (overnight in Kelowna). Next day drive from Kelowna to Lake Louise via Revelstoke, Glacier National park (and Roger's Pass) to Golden, then eastward to Yoho National Park and Banff National Park. Make your "home base" for the next three nights in either Lake Louise or Banff - they are close enough (a 40 to 45 minute drive) that either will be fine for exploration of the southern Banff National Park area. After that, plan for one whole day to drive the Icefield Parkway north to Jasper. Then spend two nights in Jasper, giving you at least one full day for exploration of the Jasper area.

The drive from Jasper to Edmonton takes about 3.5 hours not including any stops (it actually takes 3 hours and 22 minutes from our house in central Edmonton to Jasper townsite !!) - keeping this in mind should help you plan the last days of your trip. In the summertime, especially in July, the days are very long (17 plus hours) at the latitude of Jasper and Edmonton, the sun doesn't set till 10 p.m., so you have much longer days for activities including driving (for example you could leave Jasper townsite at 6 p.m. and still get to Edmonton before dark).

In the summertime Edmonton is very pretty, especially the river valley (that is, if this drought goes away and we finally get some rain), so I would recommend staying at the Hotel MacDonald and ask for a river facing room. There are many festivals going on in the city, so depending when you will be here, there may be something of interest to you. Check out this website for more information:

Hope this helps!!
Borealis is offline  
Apr 12th, 2010, 11:44 AM
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we were hoping to see Vancouver as well as Victoria Island prior to starting the drive towards Edmonton. Is 3 days enough time and then 6 for the drive/national parks? Or is it more realistic to do Vancouver only and add an extra day to the drive national parks?
India2006 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2010, 08:06 PM
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I think it'll be tight to visit both Vancouver/Vancouver Island as well as the Rockies in 9 days, but it's possible, and it all depends on how you like to spend your time.

You could easily do a one-day trip to Victoria (a 1.5 hour ferry ride from Vancouver), although I would recommend that you have reservations for the ferry so that you don't spend time waiting "for the next ferry" (you could spend half a day just travelling by ferry if you include all the waiting time for the round trip).

Victoria is a charming city, but my favorite part of Vancouver Island is the rugged west coast (Pacific Rim National Park & Tofino), and that's a bit of a drive from Victoria (it's about 5 hours one way). Of course, you could always skip Victoria, take the Horseshoe Bay ferry from Vancouver to Nanaimo and shave about 2 hours off that drive.

Anyway, the short answer is - yes, you could spend 2 days in Vancouver, do a day trip to Victoria on Vancouver island, and then still have 6 days for the drive across B.C. to the Rocky Mountain Parks in Alberta.
Borealis is offline  
Apr 14th, 2010, 04:57 AM
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Canada, it turns out, is bigger than it appears on a map. Sort of like India, I undestand.

Borealis may be able to provide either a differeing view, or support, but here's my version of your trip.

Vancouver Island is the location of the city of Victoria. (Victoria Island is in the arctic, and pretty much nothing but snow and ice.

With a rental car, Vancouver Island can be enjoyed in a day, with no overnight there.

So, after you arrive in Vancover and sort out jet lag, etc., start out one morning early and drive to Horseshow Bay, north-west of Vancouver, and take the ferry to Vancouver Island.

Unfortunately, there's not enough timt to get to Tofino, Pacific Rim park, tec.

Nevertheless, drive down to Victoria, explore the city and Butchart Gardens, and try to vist the BC Museum there., It is a wonderful place, and a vist as short as an hour will still be memorable and of value.

Late in the afternoon or early in the evening, drive to Sidney, and take the ferry back to the mainland, arriving this time south of Vancouver.

When you are ready to leave Vancouver, think about leaving in the afternoon, and driving 200 km or so toward the Rocky Mountians, making good use of the evening.

That head start weill make the next day's drive easier.

My attitude is that Jasper is a nice enough place, but not necessary to visit.

Once you get to the Banff area, speand a day driving north to the Columbia Icefileds and then back toward Banff. This lets you stay in the same hotel several nights in a row.

Leave the Banff - Lake Louise area, and head east and north, through the samll towns in the foothills (Eastern slope, as it's called in cowboy songs) and see ranch country, and then get to Edmonton.

This is where Borealis comes in: which is more interesting? Jasper to Edmonton, or Banff to Edmonton, boming up fromt he south?


BAK is offline  
Apr 14th, 2010, 06:04 AM
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"My attitude is that Jasper is a nice enough place, but not necessary to visit"

BAK,don't want to hijack this thread, but could you tell me why? I am in the planning stage of a Banff/Jasper/Vancouver vacation for the fall. In the beginning I thought we would spend equal amounts of time in Banff and Jasper, but changed my mind based on some of the information in trip reports. It seemed like most people liked Jasper better and recommened less time in Banff. I would appreciate anything you can tell me. The people on the European forum gave me invaluable information, that I probably never would have found just on the internet. We will be driving and planning on about a month, coming home through the United States. Thanks.
grace44 is offline  
Apr 14th, 2010, 11:28 AM
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Note the word necessary in "not necessary to visit."

The original message mentioned time problems, so that means we need to get involved with priiorities.

We don't know much about the posters, where they are from, what appeals (not hikers, like scenary)

So... I'm of the opinion that Banff andLke LOuise are wonderful places, as are the mountain areas near by, and as far north as the Columbia Ice Fields.

Spend a few days in this area, and you've seen lots of mountains, lakes, rivers, elk, bison, giant old hotles, little prairie dogs, and so on.

IF YOU GO TO JASPER there's more of this, plus railway trains coming through the middle of town -- I like trains, so to me, this is a bnus.

But, it really is just more pretty scenery, a different style old hotel, etc.

Which means the trouist has a choice of more mountains,, or something different, like the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the small towns, with luch a rodeo in cowboy country, rolling hills, etc. as the route to Edmonton.

And then they run out of time, and they are at the end of their on-ground time in Alberta.

For someone with more time, and not Edmonton as their final destination, there's nothing wrong with going up the highway from Banff to Jasper, and then turning right and driving over to Edmonton.

(we'll get back to Edmonton in a minute)

If this second set of tavellers then can drive south from Edmopnton back to Calgary, preferably getting off the main road and into the foothoills, they'll get the cowboy country benefits too.

Now, about Edmonton; I've lived in both Edmonton and Calgary, and Edmonton is a great place to visit. No mountains, but a great valley. Wonderful museum, good art gallery, some nice gardens, interesting architecture, and more. Plus a gian shopping center well worth the visit. (I'm serious -- look up West Edmonton Mall)

Hope this helps.

BAK is offline  
Apr 14th, 2010, 11:08 PM
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I agree with BAK when it comes to Vancouver Island and Victoria, although with such a short time for a visit I wouldn't bother with the Nanaimo-Victoria drive, and suggest concentrating on Victoria (Butchart Gardens and the BC Museum). In our experience the traffic in and around Victoria, especially going to the ferry terminals, can be slow.

However, I do not agree with BAK when it comes to Jasper. Of the two - Jasper and Banff - I prefer Jasper by far. It is a quieter less touristy location, and it has a number of atttractions that are best taken in when Jasper is your "home base". These include Jasper Tramway to the top of The Whistler's (in my opinion a more spectacular view than the Banff Gondola to Sulphur Mountain), Maligne Lake (where you can take a cruise to Spirit island), the Maligne Canyon walk, Mount Edith Cavell and Angel Glacier, and Athabasca Falls.
It helps to remember that the Columbia Icefields are actually in Jasper National Park and more than halfway to Jasper from Lake Louise (and two thirds of the way from Banff).

The drive from Banff to Edmonton vs. Jasper to Edmonton is not much different, except it's faster to drive from Jasper (because it isn't as far) than from Banff. Both drives are mainly on four lane divided highways. The Banff route takes you to Calgary which can be either an obstacle (traffic etc.) or an attraction, depending on your point of view. We usually drive around Calgary and not through it. The highway between Calgary and Edmonton is one of the busiest highways in Canada in terms of volume of traffic.

The Jasper-Edmonton drive on the other hand is a straight forward drive starting in the Rockies, taking you through the eastern ranges onto the forested foothills (the highest point - elevation - on the Yellowhead highway #16 is actually in the foothills and not in the mountains even though this highway travels through all the Rockies!!). From the foothills you drive through the western reaches of the boreal forest (woods) before reaching the aspen parklands (transition zone between the boreal forest and northern prairies). In this area you will see agricultural countryside. Edmonton actually lies in the aspen parkland ecosystem.

By the way BAK, we have a very new art gallery that recently opened (in fact I haven't had time to visit it yet, it's that new), but it has garnered rave reviews. The building has caused controversy - it looks like a twisted metal can
The website is here:
Borealis is offline  
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