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Road trip from Vancouver to Calgary

Lake Agnes Tea House

Road trip from Vancouver to Calgary

Journey along Highway 1 from Vancouver to Calgary and picturesque townships and stunning vistas will continue to unfold before you.
Wind down the windows, turn up the music, and enjoy the ride as we cruise the 970-kilometre route from Vancouver to Calgary via Kamloops.


First stop: Chilliwack

Distance: 100km
Timing: 1hr 20mins

Take Highway 1 east from Vancouver and make the stunning town of ChilliwackExternal Link Title (pop. 80,000) your first stop. Located in the Fraser Valley, you're at the foothills of the mountain ranges that will punctuate this trip. Stop off at Bridal Veil Falls Provincial ParkExternal Link Title to capture the perfect Insta-shot of the waterfall, cascading like a 'veil' down the smooth cliff.


From Chilliwack to Kamloops

Distance: 250km
Timing: 2.5hours


Cruise along to the tiny town of HopeExternal Link Title (pop. 7,000) nestled beneath the Coast and Cascade Mountains, a gateway to some of British Columbia's most incredible parks, rivers, and hiking trails. From here, you'll divert on to the Coquilhalla Highway (Highway 5) and climb nearly 1200m through the Great Bear Snow Shed, across the summit of Coquilhalla Pass, then across the top of the Thompson Plateau. Take a side road to explore the rolling countryside or stop for a lakeside picnic along the way.

(Be sure to check Drive BCExternal Link Title before passing this rather treacherous pass. Weather and road conditions can change quickly).  This 'shortcut' to Kamloops should be avoided during winter as the steep road can become treacherous, but during the warmer months, it's a scenic highway that cuts 75 minutes off your driving time between Hope and Kamloops.


Before you reach Kamloops, you'll pass through the rural town of Merritt (pop. 7,000). Witness the unique formations in the walls of Windy Canyon created by thousands of years of wind erosion, as well as the ancient shorelines of 10,000-year-old glacial lakes in the grasslands where cattle graze peacefully.


An hour and ten minutes later, Kamloops looms in the distance. You've travelled 350 kilometres - more than a third of the way to Calgary.


Kamloops to Chase

Distance: 57km
Timing: 40mins

KamloopsExternal Link Title is a buzzing town with endless opportunities for outdoor adventure in every season. With more than 100 lakes and two major rivers for kayaking, rafting, and fishing, as well as sandstone canyons, and nearby Sun Peaks resortExternal Link Title, with its world-class mountain trails for skiing, hiking, and biking. This eclectic, progressive town has an arty vibe with great options for cuisine of all kinds.


About 40 minutes later, you arrive at the tiny town of Chase, on the Shuswap Lake system in the mountainous South Thompson River Valley. Here, check into the Quaaout Lodge & SpaExternal Link Title, the perfect place to base yourself as you spend a day (or three) making the most of the great outdoors, swimming, boating, hiking, cycling, and learning about the First Nations culture. Each room at the Quaaout Lodge has its own patio overlooking Little Shuswap Lake, framed by magnificent mountain ranges.


Whatever you do, don't miss the Adams River sockeye salmon runExternal Link Title, a true natural wonder. During autumn, visit Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial ParkExternal Link Title to see bright red sockeye salmon spawning. There are hundreds of fish to be seen every year, but did you know the sockeye run works in a four-year cycle? That means every fourth year the river runs red with the struggling bodies of over two million fish. 2018 is flagged as a dominant year, with the next being 2022.


Chase to Golden via Revelstoke

Distance: 300km
Timing: 3.5hours

The open road beckons once more as you edge closer to the border of British Columbia and Alberta. Just 155 kilometres from Chase lies the stunning mountain township of RevelstokeExternal Link Title. Famous for its epic ski fields, Revelstoke is every bit as exciting during the warmer months.


Bordered by both Mount Revelstoke National ParkExternal Link Title and Revelstoke Mountain ResortExternal Link Title, this Kootenay Rockies City (pop. 7,230) is framed by the imposing Selkirk and Monashee mountains. Think hiking and mountain biking in summer, and skiing, heli-skiing, and snowmobiling in winter.

About an hour and ten minutes later, you'll reach GoldenExternal Link Title, home to Kicking Horse Mountain ResortExternal Link Title. Meet the world-famous grizzly bear, Boo, at the Kicking Horse Grizzly Bear Refuge, the largest protected grizzly bear habitat in the world. You'll fall in love with Boo, a big bear with an even bigger personality.


Feeling peckish? Jump on the Kicking Horse Eagle Eye Express Gondola and eat at the highest elevated restaurant in Canada. The Eagle Eye RestaurantExternal Link Title is raised more than 2,300 metres above sea level, serving up delicious local fare, such as wild boar poutine and duck confit, against a backdrop off five national parks, snow-covered peaks, and sweeping valleys.


Golden to Lake Louise via Yoho National Park

Distance: 80km
Timing: 1 hour

In theory, it's less than an hour's drive from Golden, BC, to Lake Louise in Alberta. However, you'll want to stop along the way. Yoho National ParkExternal Link Title is about 25 minutes from Golden in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. It's a nature-lover's paradise, with 400 kilometres of hiking trails, 61 lakes, enormous waterfalls, including Wapta Falls Takakkaw Waterfall, as well as stunning Emerald Lake, just itching to be explored by kayak.


Learn about the famous Spiral Tunnels where railroads weave and wind their way through the mountains. Step back in time on the 1.2-kilometre Walk in The Past TrailExternal Link Title that leads to an old spur line and an abandoned locomotive used during the Spiral Tunnels' construction.


Back on the road, you're less than half an hour from one of the Canada's most iconic destinations, Lake Louise. You've seen the postcard, but the real thing is enough to take your breath away. Famous for its Instagram appeal, the real challenge is to put your camera down and behold the majestic beauty with all six senses. 

This stunning hamlet in the heart of Banff National ParkExternal Link Title is rich with outdoor adventure and wellness experiences. In summer, hike or horse-ride to the Lake Agnes Tea HouseExternal Link Title for sweeping views of epic proportions. Kayak the sparkling turquoise lake and dine at the magnificent Fairmont Chateau Lake LouiseExternal Link Title, perched on the shore like something out of Disney movie.


During winter, ice skate the famous lake, take a sleigh ride along its snow-drenched shores, or go snow-shoeing at twilight through the forest, Narnia-style.


Lake Louise to Banff

Distance: 60km
Timing: 45mins

The journey from Lake Louise to Banff in Alberta is an easy 45-minute drive on Highways 98 and 1. Check in to your quintessential mountain lodge or downtown hotelExternal Link Title, or splash out for a night at the grand, historic Fairmont Banff SpringsExternal Link Title, reminiscent of a fairytale castle. 


The resort town of Banff has so much more to offer than skiing, though it certainly has that in spades! Nestled beneath the Rundle, Sulphur, Norquay and Cascade mountains, this tiny township of almost 8,000 people packs some serious punch. During winter, you'll want to make the most of the 'Big 3External Link Title' ski resorts - Sunshine Village, Ski Norquay and Lake Louise Mountain Resort. Johnston Canyon IcewalkExternal Link Title is the stuff of bucket-lists, where you'll bear witness to thunderous waterfalls frozen solid to create natural ice sculptures. Ice climbers can often be seen scaling the gigantic pillars of ice some 30 metres above your head. 

As the weather warms up, the list of outdoor adventures is endless. Hire a canoe from the Banff Canoe ClubExternal Link Title and spend a few hours on sparkling Vermillion Lake near the town centre. Go fishing on Lake Minnewanka, check out the highly photogenic Peyto Lake, and soak in the outdoor Banff Upper Hot SpringsExternal Link Title as you take in the mountainous landscape.


Ride the Banff GondolaExternal Link Title to the top of Sulphur Mountain for a heart-stopping view of six mountain ranges. Better still? Come back in the evening for a stargazing journey into our galaxy and beyond.


Banff to Calgary via Canmore

Distance: 125km
Timing: 1.5 hours

The quintessential mountain village of CanmoreExternal Link Title is a must-stop on your 100-kilometre final leg to Calgary. Just 26 kilometres from Banff, Canmore is full of salt-of-the-earth Albertans brimming Rocky Mountain hospitality. Enjoy an organic brunch at Communitea Caf?External Link Title and then walk it off on Main Street, where you can peruse the galleries of phenomenal local art, artisan boutiques, craft breweries, and charming book stores.


Canmore is a hub of outdoor escapades, from mountaineering, rock climbing, and heli-tours, to Nordic skiing and dog sledding.


Grab some authentic mountain-style poutine for the road and begin the final leg of your journey - Calgary is just 104 kilometres away on Highway 1.



You've made it!


The vibrant city of CalgaryExternal Link Title is awash with eclectic neighbourhoods, world-class cuisine, and outstanding shopping. Its farming heritage is still evident in its laid-back residents and locally-sourced gastronomy, but there's an edgy vibe to the city that's testament to a thriving arts and music scene.


Visit the Calgary TowerExternal Link Title to gain a bird's-eye perspective, and stroll the shores of the Bow and Elbow rivers that run through the city. Step back in time at the largest living history museum, Heritage Park Historical VillageExternal Link Title, with yester-year exhibits including a fur trading post and an 1880s pre-railway settlement.


Head to the funky neighbourhood of Inglewood, known for its starring role in the TV series, Fargo, where heritage homes have been converted into eclectic shops, galleries, and cafes. Check out a live concert at The Festival Hall or stroll the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. 

The road trip from Vancouver to Calgary is one where every kilometre brings unexpected rewards and the destination is every bit as wonderful as the journey. And with so many routes to choose from, it’s a journey you can take again and again.