Starting in Calgary, this self-drive tour meanders westward through the Rocky Mountains, over the interior of British Columbia and to the wild shores and lush rainforests of the Pacific Ocean.
Day 1: Calgary to the Rockies
Begin your adventure in Calgary, located in the foothills of the Rockies. A scenic drive will take you into the mountains, famous for their pristine forests, turquoise lakes and stunning mountain vistas. Spend the evening enjoying the fresh air with a walk or sit back and enjoy the million stars view in the brilliant night sky.
Day 2: Banff & Yoho National Parks
Whether you’re looking to go for a challenging hike or prefer a soak in the hot springs, there’s no shortage of things to do in Banff National Park and the neighbouring Yoho National Park.
Banff offers scenic drives to Bow River Falls, Vermilion Lakes and the Tunnel Mountain Drive. Highlights of Yoho National Park include Takakkaw Falls (one of the highest waterfalls on the continent), magical Wapta Falls, Emerald Lake, the unique Spiral Train Tunnels and the natural stone bridge – an impressive rock formation that spans the flow of the Kicking Horse River.
Day 3: Icefields Parkway
The Columbia Icefields Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in the world and today you’ll get to check it off the bucket list. From Lake Lousie, the Icefields Parkway stretches for 232 km to Jasper. It winds along the Continental Divide passing through soaring mountain peaks and vast sweeping valleys. The drive passes more than 100 ancient glaciers as well as waterfalls, lakes and pristine forests of pine and larch trees. Wildlife sightings are frequent so slow down and enjoy the views.
Stop at the Columbia Icefield Visitor’s Centre for an included ‘Glacier Adventure’ at the Athabasca Glacier, a tongue of ice that is six kilometres long and one kilometre wide. On this Canadian Signature Experience, you’ll have the option to step out onto ice formed from snow falling as long as 400 years ago.
Day 4: Jasper National Park
Containing more than 11,000 square kilometres of wilderness, Jasper National Park is spectacular to explore and offers adventures that range from easy paddles to challenging alpine hikes. Take a scenic drive along Maligne Lake Road for some of the most incredible mountain scenery in the park and a great chance to spot wildlife such as bears, moose or bighorn sheep. The Maligne Canyon, the deepest in the Rockies, is also a must-see when in the area.
Day 5: Jasper to Clearwater
Leave behind the serenity of Jasper National Park as you make your way to the town of Clearwater and the beautiful Wells Gray Provincial Park, a paradise of lush alpine meadows. On your drive, you’ll pass Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Take time to visit Helmcken Falls, Spahats Falls and Clearwater Lake.
Day 6: Wells Gray Provincial Park
Spend the day exploring the vast beauty of Wells Gray Provincial Park, which offers a broad spectrum of mountain scenery and is a haven for wildlife. As you explore, you’ll have a chance to spot caribou, moose, black bears, wolves and beavers all of which are abundant in the park. Local streams are well stocked with trout if you’d like to fish and local guides offer unique experiences such as horseback riding or guided hiking.
Day 7: BC’s Ranch Country
Get off the beaten path and head into the BC interior to explore the pretty town of Gold Bridge. Nestled in Bridge River Valley among the towering South Chilcotin Mountains, Gold Bridge has rugged mountain landscapes and plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun. You’ll stay at the Tyax Lodge, a wilderness retreat set on the shores of Tyaughton Lake with the mountains as the backdrop.
Day 8: Relax and Recharge at Tyax Lodge
Spend the day relaxing at the Tyax Lodge. Onsite you will find a full service spa, great dining options and plenty of included activities to get you out into nature. Head out on Tyaughton Lake in a canoe, row boat or paddleboat, go for a hike or enjoy a game of tennis. Fishing, horseback riding and mountain biking excursions are also available at an additional cost.
Day 9: The Road to Whistler
Continue your meandering journey west along the scenic Duffy Lake Road to the resort town of Whistler. This pretty village, located at the base of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, is pedestrian friendly and offers a lot of activities to take full of its alpine setting. From ziplining and paragliding to hiking and gondola rides, there’s plenty to keep busy no matter your level of desired adventure.
Day 10: Sea to Sky Highway
Leaving Whistler, you’ll wind down the Sea to Sky Highway along the shore of Howe Sound all the way to Horseshoe Bay. You can opt to stop here for lunch and take the 2-hour Sewell’s Sea Safari cruise ($), a guided adventure on Howe Sound. You’ll get to see Pam Rocks, a Harbour Seal hangout and get spectacular views of the waterfront homes around West Vancouver on the return to Horseshoe Bay.
After the cruise, take the BC Ferry crossing over to Langdale on the Sunshine Coast. Pass through Gibsons and Sechelt on the way to the small village of Egmont. Your stay will be at the waterfront West Coast Wilderness Lodge. Surrounded by coastal rainforests and mountains, and with the ocean at its door, the lodge is the perfect place to reconnect with nature. Breakfasts and dinners are included with your stay.
Day 11: Egmont & the Sunshine Coast
BC’s Sunshine Coast is a 180 km stretch of paradise that is accessible only by boat, ferry or plane. Spend the day exploring the vibrant communities, soaking up the coastal views and enjoying being out in nature.
Near Egmont you can visit the Skookumchuck Rapids, the fastest salt water rapids on the continent. Currents can reach up to 16 knots resulting in huge standing waves and 20-metre-wide whirlpools.
Day 12: Vancouver Island
A short drive from the West Coast Wilderness Lodge will bring you to Earls Cove Ferry Terminal where you’ll board the ferry to Saltery Bay. Then you’ll drive to Powell River and board another ferry to Comox on Vancouver Island. Enjoy beautiful coastal views along the entire scenic route.
Vancouver Island is home to majestic wilderness parks, soft sand beaches and laidback communities. Get your first taste of the island’s incredible scenery with a stop at Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park. Here you’ll get a chance to walk through a towering stand of 800-year-old Douglas fir trees. You’ll be awestruck as you continue west to through the Pacific Rim National Park with its long rugged beaches and rainforest surroundings.
Day 13: Tofino
Surrounded by the vast expanse of the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region (a UNESCO site) is the stunning coastal village of Tofino. Today you will get a chance to soak in the laid back vibe of one of Vancouver Island’s most coveted destinations. Tofino beckons those looking to surf, whale watch, kayak or wilderness hike. You’ll also want to set aside some time to just walk along the beach.
An optional excursion ($) in Tofino is the Coastal Bear Watch, which travels along fjord inlets and stops in sheltered bays known to be popular spots to see black bears. The bears come out of the rainforest to feed on crunchy crab, clams and barnacles and you can observe them safely from a quiet Zodiac. Your knowledgeable guide shares information about black bears and other inlet wildlife, including seals, eagles, porpoise and
heron. Plan for a relaxed outing, and be sure to bring your camera.
Day 14: Victoria
The drive from Tofino to Victoria will take you through beautiful scenery and lively communities. Enroute to the provincial capital, stop in the picturesque fishing village of Ucluelet, visit the goats on the roof of the Country Market in Coombs and shop at the quaint art boutiques in Chemainus. Victoria is beautifully set in a natural harbour and is especially lovely in the evening light.
Day 15: Ferry to Vancouver
This morning you can take some time to visit the famous Butchart Gardens, one of the most spectacular floral displays in Canada, before heading to Swartz Bay to catch a ferry back to the mainland. Your ultimate destination today is Vancouver, a short drive from Tsawwassen where the ferry stops. The 90-minute crossing is one of the most scenic ferry rides so be sure to head out on the deck and enjoy the views.
Day 16: Vancouver
Spend the day getting to know Vancouver. This coastal city has an incredible setting on the Pacific Ocean with the Coast Mountains at its back. Visit Grouse Mountain for panoramic views of the city, explore nearby Capilano Suspension Bridge or take some time to visit some of the city’s vibrant neighbourhoods.
Day 17: Departure
If time allows, spend your last morning on the West Coast soaking up views of the Vancouver skyline or do some last minute shopping before heading to the airport.