Canadian Rockies Itinerary: Banff to Vancouver

Truckers make the trip between Calgary and Vancouver in 12 or so hours. Many travelers heading to Vancouver from Alberta also drive the route nonstop, while others overnight along the way. But you’re on vacation, so after exploring the wonders of the Canadian Rockies, plan on expanding your holiday by adding a week-long sojourn that will—eventually—get you to Vancouver.

This itinerary starts in Banff and ends in Vancouver.

Day 1

Depart Banff via the Tarns-Canada Highway and head to Yoho National Park. Explore the Yoho Valley by road, then head to Emerald Lake for an afternoon walk. If you don’t feel like splurging on a park accommodation, continue to Golden.

Day 2

Ride the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort gondola, then hit the highway for Glacier National Park. Even from the highway, this park is spectacular, so unless you’re a keen hiker or it’s getting late in the day, continue to Revelstoke. Take in an outdoor evening concert in Grizzly Plaza.

Day 3

Drive south from Revelstoke to Nelson. Break up the trip with a short detour to Sandon, British Columbia’s only ghost town, and to watch spawning kokanee at Kokanee Creek Provincial Park. You’ll find plenty of choices for dinner in Nelson.

Day 4

Driving through the West Kootenays is a delight, although a roller-coaster highway means the trip takes longer than you might imagine. Stop for a swim in Christina Lake en route.

Day 5

Spend the day at your leisure in the Okanagan Valley. Near Osoyoos, the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre is an interesting stop, unless it’s a super-hot day—then stay close to the water or join a winery tour.

Day 6

Head north from Vernon. Silver Star Mountain Resort will leave you with pleasant memories of the Okanagan. Cut across to Kamloops via Highway 97. Stop at Historic O’Keefe Ranch. Spend the night in Kamloops, taking in the Two River Junction dinner theater.

Day 7

Give the direct Coquihalla Highway a miss and travel down the Fraser River Canyon to Hope. Suburban Vancouver is approaching, so if you feel like stalling the inevitable onslaught of city traffic, take a walk through the Othello-Quintette Tunnels.