The ultimate Western Canada road trip
Have you ever imagined yourself setting out to explore the great Canadian wilderness?
Well, I think I've managed to capture what is, for me, the ultimate trip to Western Canada, something everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime.
Map of the road trip
Road trip summary
Days 1-2: Vancouver
Start your ultimate Western Canada road trip in Vancouver, a city on a human scale nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the majestic Coast Mountain Range of British Columbia.
Ranked as one of the best cities in the world to live in, the most beautiful city in Canada is best explored on foot.
Must-do activities include:
- Going for a bike ride in the vast green space of Stanley Park, an oasis of peace right in the heart of downtown Vancouver.
- Exploring Gastown, the historic heart of the city and its trendiest neighbourhood.
- Shopping on Robson Street and Broadway Avenue, in the Kitsilano area.
One thing is certain, Vancouver will quickly become your favourite Canadian city.
Days 3-4: Victoria (116km / 72mi)
It's time to hit the road!
Your destination is Victoria, capital of British Columbia, located on Vancouver Island. You will need to take a ferry to get there.
Named in honour of the Queen, Victoria will charm you with its historic feel, its lovely gardens and its ocean views.
To do during your stay:
- The Art Deco tower of the Visitor Centre, for one of the best views of the city.
- A walk along the scenic waterfront, which will take you through the heart of the city's old neighbourhoods with views of the ocean.
- A whale watching cruise.
- A picnic in Beacon Hill Park, a landscaped park with gardens, lakes, paths, and even a petting zoo.
A 30-minute drive from Victoria, the 22-hectare Butchart Gardens is recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada. Not to be missed!
Days 5-6: Pacific Rim (318km / 198mi)
Today, set a heading for Ucluelet and Pacific Rim National Park.
Along the way, time permitting, stop off in Cathedral Grove, a magical place where you will find towering Douglas fir trees more than 800 years old.
Ucluelet is the gateway to Pacific Rim National Park, which boasts the most beautiful beaches in Canada.
Don't miss Long Beach, a long stretch of fine sand with a number of walking trails where you can enjoy long walks.
Due to its location on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, Ucluelet is also a prime spot for watching grey whales.
Finally, pay a visit to the charming fishing village of Tofino for a bear-watching safari… by boat!
Day 7: Whistler (363km / 225mi)
After taking the ferry back to the mainland, continue your route to Whistler along the panoramic Sea to Sky Highway.
The scenery will leave you at a loss for words: driving will have never been so enjoyable!
With its beautiful mountain setting, Whistler Village is a popular vacation spot.
The village offers a wide assortment of restaurants and shops.
Along the way, stop in Squamish to experience the Sea to Sky Gondola. A 10-minute gondola ride will whisk you up to 885 metres above sea level.
Once you reach the top, you will have a sweeping view of Howe Sound, the coastal forest and the surrounding mountains.
Days 8-9: Wells Gray Park (451km / 280mi)
This morning, set out to discover Wells Gray Park, one of British Columbia's most spectacular wilderness parks.
Along the way, take a few minutes to stop at Helmcken Falls, considered by many to be the most beautiful waterfall in Western Canada.
The powerful falls cascade 141 metres to the canyon below, making for stunning photos.
Also known as the "Waterfall Park", the magnificent scenery of Wells Gray Park makes it a must.
It's also a great place to see black bears. In fact, the park is home to a large bear population. Sightings are more common early in the morning and at the end of the day.
Days 10-11: Jasper (348km / 216mi)
Your ultimate road trip continues with Jasper National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is the largest park in the Canadian Rockies.
Be sure to stop at Maligne Lake, one of the most stunning lakes in the Rock Mountains.
Spirit Island, in the centre of the lake and accessible only by boat, is the most photographed island in the world.
For the best photographs, plan to visit in the late afternoon, when the sunlight reflects off the surrounding mountains.
Days 12-13: Banff (292km / 181mi)
This morning you head for Banff, named a "Best of the World Destination" by the prestigious National Geographic magazine in 2017.
Banff is the name of a charming alpine town, but also the name of an iconic national park in Western Canada which is simply overflowing with treasures, each more stunning than the last.
- Peyto Lake: 40 kilometres north of the town of Banff, Peyto Lake is my personal favourite in the region!
A short 15-minute trail leads to a spectacular view of this turquoise lake, fed by the glacier of the same name. You'll be amazed at the sheer beauty!
- Moraine Lake: considered by some to be the most beautiful spot in the Rockies, it is known for its stunning turquoise blue water.
The lake is surrounded by 10 snowy peaks, whose reflection in the still waters is simply magnificent!
- Lake Louise: with the snowy Victoria Glacier in the background, Lake Louise offers picture postcard scenery.
While it's practically impossible to avoid the hordes of tourists, you simply must stop and take a few photos.
Before you leave, treat yourself to a gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain. In under 10 minutes, you will find yourself at an altitude of more than 2,300 metres.
From the top, you will enjoy breathtaking vistas that you will never forget.
Day 14: Calgary (128km / 79mi)
Your final destination is Calgary, cowboy capital of Canada.
Ride to the top of the Calgary Tower for a spectacular panoramic view of the city. Will you dare to walk across the glass floor?
For one last shopping spree before you return home, head to Stephen Avenue Walk, an open-air pedestrian mall.
The best shopping can be found between 1st Street and 4th Street.
Day 15: Calgary Airport
All good things must come to an end.
Time to head for the Calgary airport and board your flight home.
And you leave the land of lakes and rivers, filled with beautiful memories that will last a lifetime!
Do you agree that this is the ultimate Western Canada road trip?
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