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Vancouver to Jasper--What is the most scenic route??

Vancouver to Jasper--What is the most scenic route??

Aug 24th, 2008, 09:34 AM
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Vancouver to Jasper--What is the most scenic route??

Planning a vacation to Vancouver and Canadian Rockies next summer. Checked mapquest and understand that the trek from Vancouver to Jasper will take about nine hours (without stops). We do enjoy car trips if the scenery is beautiful and wondered if there is a scenic route between these two places that would make the ride a little more enjoyable?

If there are sights not to be missed along the way and a stopover for a night would be involved, we would also be open to doing that. We have about 8 days to spend between Banff and Jasper so we could "steal" a night from them if it's better to cut this roadtrip in half. We would only want to do that if it meant seeing sights we'd otherwise miss with a "pass through".

Can anyone advise a really scenic route from these two beautiful cities and also suggest things to see along the way?

Thanks so much for your kind help!
dmpalena is offline  
Aug 24th, 2008, 10:08 AM
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If you drive straight through to Jasper from Vancouver, presumably through Kamloops and up the Yellowhead (Hwy5), you will miss some spectacular scenery. The Yellowhead is far from unscenic, but there are more attractive routes in my opinion.

My suggestion would be to take the Coquihalla Hwy as far as Merritt then cut over to Kelowna. You could stay overnight there, but I would continue on to Shuswap Lake and stay in either Salmon Arn or Sicamous. The next day, follow the Trans-Canada (Hwy 1) to Lake Louise. This will take you through 3 of the mountain parks, Revelstoke, Glacier and Yoho. The drive across the Rogers Pass in Glacier is stunning.

From Lake Louise take the Icefields Parkway to Jasper. Don't worry about retracing your steps to return to Banff as the views are different in each direction.

You will have enough time to spend in Jasper and Banff that you can afford to take two days en route from Vancouver.
laverendrye is offline  
Aug 24th, 2008, 12:45 PM
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I am thinking along the same terms as the previous very well informed poster.

The most scenic route is NOT the most expedious route by a long shot.

If you have the time, let me suggest a meandering route that will be a time eater but long on scenic rewards.

From Vancouver take the four lane road in the direction of Hope.

The Coquihalla "Freeway" is the fastest way to Kamloops, but the Fraser Canyon route by turning north on the Trans Canada route is more scenic.

An alternative is to continue eastward via Manning Provincial Park. It has good overnight facilties and a few view points worth visiting.

From either Manning or Kamloops, back track a little to BC route 6 from Vernon to Nakusp. You will make two crossing of the Columbia River on this route via ferry.

Continue north to Revelstoke.
Rejoin the Trans Canada north of Revelstoke and begin the ascent to Mount Revelstoke National Park (fee). From there continue on the Trans Canada to Glacier National Park. The park visitor center is at the top of Rogers Pass from where the views are excellent on a clear day. Some hiking trails are in the area, but the best hikes in Glacier are steep!!!!

The Purcells and the Selkirks are spectacular peaks with some of them being heavily glaciated and extremely sharp and pointed.

From Rogers Pass head on to Golden where you cross the Columbia again. Staying on the Trans Canada ascend the mountain along the Kicking Horse River to Yoho National Park.

The small town of Field has accomodations in apartments in private homes usually rented on a two to three night basis in summer.
A motel is there, too, but it fills quickly.

I have stayed several days in Field for a visit to the wonders of Yoho.
From Field it is about 14 miles to Lake Louise Village and a little farther to Lake Louise itself.
Moraine Lake is also in the immediate area, just south of Lake Louise.

The Icefields Parkway to Jasper starts just off the Trans Canada near Lake Louise Village.

I usually need all day and then some to travel the Icefields Parkway.

Once you are in Jasper, then your choices of where to go elsewhere are limited.\
Edmonton is east, the vast area of northern BC is to your west, and the Icefields Parkway, your initial route, is south. There are not many other ways to go from Jasper.

My "game plan" in prior years has been to spend the night in Jasper and then return along the Icefields Parkway. I guarantee you that the views are different going south.
As my adult son said once driving along, "Ho hum. Just another world class, awesome view."

I did you not. The great views become so frequent that you forget just how wonderful they are. Over a 100 miles of being exposed to that type of view mile after mile does get to be repetitious. So we stop, take a short walk to a waterfall or something, and then keep driving.

Unfortunately there are not a high number of overnight accommodations along the route. The Icefields Center has a motel on the floors above the visitor center and there is a motel at a spot known as The Crossing where the David Thompson Highway leads east toward Red Deer, which is north of Calgary.

It will take some planning, some driving, and a few choices, but you can make a very scenic approach to Lake Louise.

From Kamloops double back a little to any one of several towns in the Okanagen Valley
bob_brown is offline  
Aug 24th, 2008, 01:03 PM
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Look at it this way. There is more to see out there than you will have time for even if you stayed 3 weeks.

So no matter what you select to do, the scenery will be rewarding.

If the weather is clear, you have got a win - win - win situation.

Some of my fondest memories are of that area. Everything from a glorious sunny day on the highline trail from Lake O'Hara to Lake McArthur to a sleet storm on the Iceline Trail in Yoho.

Even the sleet was a good adventure, but only because I had the right equipment!! I don't think I would have enjoyed being in the pelting, wind-driven ice clad only in my hiking shorts and a T-shirt with no hat.

As it was I had on a good rain outfit with a baseball style cap with the bill protecting my face and the hood protecting my neck.
I had a PolarFleece jacket in my pack, but the exertion of upward hiking kept me warm.

It was on that trip that we encountered two young women with a baby - Mom and Auntie. The aunt was a skier and had the baby in a snug pack with a roof and side curtains.
(Everybody had on the right gear.) Mom kept peeking in on the baby who was perhaps even too warm in her protective cocoon.

For us, it was just another day in the Rockies although my camera did stay under my rain parka.
bob_brown is offline  
Aug 24th, 2008, 04:51 PM
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Thanks to both of you for your invaluable insights!! We are definitely looking to make this trip as scenic (not expeditious) as possible. I gather from both of your posts that you do not think we're "pushing it" doing both Vancouver and Banff/Jasper. I was so hoping that I wouldn't get a lot of negative feedback since I am already set on the idea!!!

Bob, I have to say, I do so enjoy reading your posts, not only on this forum, but on many of the Fodor forums. You are most definitely a well travelled individual who adds thought and ingenuity to all your comments and all are much appreciated!!!! To get the best "bang out of our buck" which route, Fraser Canyon or Manning Provincial Park, do you recommend most?? I trust your keen judgment and expertise.

Just to be clear, are you recommending a one night stopover between Vancouver and Field, or are you saying we can plan to reach Golden or Field that very night?

How many nights stay should we be allocating for each of our destinations? I certainly wouldn't want to be overstaying one at the expense of another.

My last question is one concerning Vancouver. With 3 1/2 days there, what should we absolutely NOT miss!! My husband and I are not really the "museum" type people. We prefer to spend our time outdoors.

Thanks, again, for all the wonderful advice.
dmpalena is offline  
Aug 24th, 2008, 07:57 PM
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If you want to make the trip from Vancouver to Jasper in two days with an overnight in Field, then the only route you should consider is the Coquihalla direct to Kamloops and the Trans-Canada to Field.

The routes through Manning Park and the Fraser Canyon are too long in my opinion to do this comfortably.

If you want to take three days, then I would recommend the southern route from Hope through Manning Park to Osoyoos with a stop in Kelowna or one of the smaller towns in the Okanagan Valley. The second day you could then take Bob's suggested route from Vernon to Nakusp and on to Revelstoke, rejoining the Trans-Canada there and then on to Field. You should be aware than there is sometimes a bit of a wait for the Galena Bay ferry between Nakusp and Revelstoke. Last summer we must have been delayed there for 2 hours (admittedly, this was the Friday of Labout Day weekend).

if you can't find accommodations in Field, Golden is a good alternative. There are a number of chain motels along the highway, but the B&B's in town are more attractive. I can recommend the Tschurtschenthaler Lodge just south of town which has great views of the Purcells across the Columbia valley. It's also very close (walking distance) to the Cedar House restaurant which is very good indeed. It also has accommodations.

As for Vancouver, as you are outdoor people, you should not miss Stanley Park, Lynn Canyon Park and Suspension Bridge, and (even though you don't like museums) the UBC Museum of Anthropology. I'm sure Vancouverites will have more suggestions for you.
laverendrye is offline  
Aug 24th, 2008, 09:02 PM
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Thank you taking such time to answer my posts. My current thinking is that after Vancouver we would travel east with the intention of staying several days in the Golden/Field area to see the sights in Yoho, as well as Lake Louise. After that, we would then drive through Lake Louise and up the Icefields Parkway to Jasper.

We live on the east coast and often vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. From our home that trip is easily 10-12 hours and we drive it straight through. We travel I-95 all the way and believe me, it is not scenic at all!!! A long travel day with beautiful sights along the way does not bother me in the least.
That being said, I wonder if we will be making too many stops along the way and never end up getting to Golden/Field by nightfall!! For that reason I am more than willing to break that long day in half and spend the night somewhere in between.

What are your thoughts? I definitely want to take the most scenic route, even if it adds time to the drive. We originally thought we would stay in Vancouver for four nights, but I have to admit I'm having reservations about whether that would be too much time and would that time be better served in the Rockies. Would three nights be enough to see some of the highlights in Vancouver or would I be cutting it too short? One thing I definitely want to do is a whale watch trip.

For us, we are not hikers and will not be spending our days doing long hikes. For that reason I'm unsure how much time we need to see all there is to see on this trip. For those who hike, they would definitely be spending more time at each attraction. I'm also not sure how many destinations (attractions) can be combined in one day due to proximity.

I know all the answers are on this website somewhere, but I have to be honest......since we decided to do this vacation, I haven't gotten to bed before 1-2 in the morning!! I can't believe how much time passes reading all there is to read!! As I write now, it's midnight and I have to get up for work in the morning!!

I can't thank you enough for all the input. By taking time as you have to answer my questions, you've saved me a ton of reading! Thanks ever so much!
dmpalena is offline  
Aug 25th, 2008, 11:16 AM
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Manning or Fraser River Canyon?
Good question. Given that one route goes north and one goes east, some retracing of steps would be required.

If I had to select only one, I think I would go with the Fraser Canyon route because you will see plenty of mountains at other places.

I am not totally sure because they are about equal on the "view scale" but different.

I think it depends on what you want: a mountain lookout point or a canyon trip. One thing about the blasted lookout point up a dirt road, it is has got to be the site of the most remote parking meters I ever saw.

There is no admission fee as I recall, so the park management put in parking meters at a mountain top parking area!! I must admit that did tick me off a bit!!

I had never seen parking metes in the woods before and I hope I never see it again.

I did see something similar in Switzerland. There is a remote valley on the south side of the range of mountains that separate the Rhone Valley from the Aar Vally (Interlaken is between two big lakes in the Aar.) We drove once to a village at the end of the valley. The village itself had a parking gate on the outskirts of town that required money to get in.

bob_brown is offline  
Aug 25th, 2008, 12:26 PM
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I'll disagree here with Bob. No retracing of steps is required. The Fraser Canyon route (Trans-Canada) heads north from Hope to Cache Creek where it then turns east to Kamloops and beyond. The Hope-Princeton (hwy3) through Manning Park heads roughly east to the Okanagan Valley where you can then take 97 north to rejoin the Trans-Canada at Sicamous. (3 continues east through the Kootenays eventually to the Rockies, but save that one for another time).

From Lytton to Kamloops the Trans-Canada goes through the drylands, which are pretty in their own way, but in my opinion don't compare with the Okanagan and its many vineyards and orchards.

As well, if you are planning to stop overnight before Golden or Field, there are many more attractive towns and much better accommodation than on the road from Hope to Kamloops. As far as the two cities go, I find Kelowna a much more attractive place than Kamloops. (However, if you are passing through Kamloops and want to stay the night, I would recommend the Riverside B&B, right on the banks of the south Thompson.)

Much of this is relative, however, as the really spectacular scenery (ie jaw-dropping) doesn't start until Revelstoke.
laverendrye is offline  
Aug 25th, 2008, 10:17 PM
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I meant if dmpalena wanted to see BOTH Manning and the Fraser River Canyon.
From Manning, there would have to back tracking.
Either return to Hope and take the trans Canada north or ??

Go to Merritt and figure a way to see the canyon from there?
bob_brown is offline  
Aug 26th, 2008, 07:48 AM
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Bob, laverendrye, on another post of mine regarding this drive, a fellow poster (Tootsall) recommended taking Vancouver/Squamish/Whistler/Lillooet/Cache Creek (#99, overnight in Cache Creek), then on via #1 to Kamloops and up the "Yellowhead Highway" #5 to Jasper.

Using this route we would start our Rockies vacation in Jasper, eliminating the opportunity to do the Icefields Parkway both directions. Are you familiar with the route Tootsall suggests and what are your thoughts regarding it? Obviously we are looking for the most scenic rides we can find. Any thoughts??
dmpalena is offline  
Aug 26th, 2008, 09:11 AM
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dmpalena - I haven't chimed in before because we've never driven that route (have taken the train), but re your concern about nightfall, keep in mind that in the summer the sun won't set until about 9-10 pm. [Took us 1 night to figure why the hotel rooms had those thick, heavy curtains!]
dfr4848 is offline  
Aug 26th, 2008, 10:02 AM
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dmpalena: see my response on the other thread
laverendrye is offline  
Aug 26th, 2008, 12:28 PM
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I have not driven this route, but I would love to visit Vancouver--we have never been there.

A few things to consider with this trip though:

Are you flying open jaw: into Vancouver and then out of Calgary? may want to price this trip. Our flight from Cleveland-Calgary r/t is $500

Have you priced one way car rentals?

If you are flying r/t from Vancouver, this seems like a lot of driving.

Have fun planning. This is a fantastic area to visit.
LindainOhio is offline  
Aug 26th, 2008, 02:16 PM
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Hi Linda,

Yes, you are so right....the airfare from the east coast to Vancouver and/or Calgary is out of sight. Fortunately we have accumulated enough frequent flyer miles that our tickets will be free. Yeah!!! Also United will allow us to fly into and out of two different cities without penalty.

As far as the car rental goes, I just happened to check with National Car Rental company on the computer the other day and on a whim put in Vancover as a pickup and Calgary as a dropoff. To my utter amazement it came up with a fare of only $582.00 for 12 days!!! That's renting a mini-van, which we like to use for the extra space, especially since our two grown sons want to join us! I even called National to confirm that the fare was indeed legitimate and that there were no hidden dropoff fees. Because of the deal we got on the car we decided why not do a Vancouver-Rockies vacation. The scenery on the drive from one to the other will be worth the time spent in the car (at least it would seem so by what others here have said).

I totally agree that if we were doing a roundtrip, 12 days just would not be enough!!

dmpalena is offline  
Aug 26th, 2008, 03:35 PM
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Thanks to all who shared their wisdom and experience with me. I think we have a preliminary itinerary which will allow sufficient time both in Vancouver and in the Rockies. However, in order to insure sufficient time in Jasper and Banff, I think we will need to make the trip from Vancouver to Golden all in one day. On one of my previous posts, someone pointed out that in the summer days are light until at least 9 p.m. Would we be crazy to make this trip without a stopover, even if it meant a day less in Jasper or Banff?

dmpalena is offline  
Aug 26th, 2008, 03:52 PM
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You can do Vancouver to Golden in a day, but it will be a long one. In this case my recommendation would be to take the Coquihalla to Merritt, then to Kelowna and up to Salmon Arm or Sicamous. From there follow the Trans-Canada to Golden. It should take you about 9 hours without stops. If you are short of time, it's slightly faster to continue on the Coquihalla to Kamloops and then east on the Trans-Canada.

Highway 3 through Princeton and up the Okanagan (about 12 hours) or the Fraser Canyon to Kamloops (about 11 hours) will make the trip quite long for one day.

laverendrye is offline  
Aug 26th, 2008, 04:09 PM
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Laverendrye, I thank you so much for continually helping me tweak this itinerary. In your opinion, if I had to choose between the sights I would see along the way or sacrificing time I could spend in Jasper or Banff doing the trip from Vancouver to Golden in a single day, what would you choose? I don't want to waste a day along the way if the bigger prize awaits us in Jasper/Banff.

We have often driven 10-12 hours from New Jersey to South Carolina for our summer vacations and although being in a car that long is tedious, the destination is well worth it.
dmpalena is offline  
Aug 26th, 2008, 04:29 PM
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I would do the trip to Golden in one day. The trip will be long, but certainly not tedious as the landscape will be constantly changing. Just get an early start from Vancouver.

Remember that the time-zones change from Pacific to Mountain when you cross the Rogers Pass in Glacier Park.
laverendrye is offline  
Aug 27th, 2008, 05:55 PM
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I am not familiar with that route.I have done a few cross country driving trips in British Columbia, but not that one.

I have done the following stretches:

From Kamloops to Jasper, from Lake Louise to Victoria, Victoria to Yoho National park via the route I described earlier via Manning Park, the length of Vancouver Island from Port Hardy to Victoria and Jasper to Prince Rupert.

The route between Revelstoke and Kamloops was slow with many towns to negotiate. The Kamloops - Jasper trip was through rather bland scenery until we got to Mt. Robson near Jasper. The trip from Lake Louise to Prince Rupert was a drive through quite a few fir trees, and the length of Vancouver Island was ok, but not totally memorable.

The most scenic ones I have done were from Nakusp to Revelstoke and then from Revelstoke to Field via Rogers Pass and Golden.

That is why I recommended that route.

If you drive the Icefields Parkway both ways, I don't personally think you are retracing because the scenery looks different going south than it does going north. Also there are enough longer trail excursions to keep you occupied most of the day.

For example, at Peyto Lake, continue on to Peyto Meadows above the viewpoint for a very nice view both north and south for a long distance.

Before you reach the Icefields Center going south, there is the turnoff for the Falls of Beauty Creek, which you must know how to find in advance.

There is also the walk out to Bow Falls from the traditonal tour bus stop. It takes a while, but it is a very spectacular waterfall.

The there is Mistaya Canyon, Parker Ridge (when open), Panther Falls which almost no one sees because it is recessed and takes a short hike to reach a point where you can see anything. You will also get wet on that hike if you really get into a position to see the falls.

I never will forget my hike through the wet bushes to Waterfowl Lake. That was when I learned that a poncho was almost totally useless if one is moving. We were wet from the waist down.

Right after that excursion we both bought Goretex rain jackets and trousers from a well known outfitter in Maine.
bob_brown is offline  

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