25 Best Stops on a Vancouver to Calgary Road Trip

Unlike many drives in the world, the Vancouver to Calgary drive is anything but boring. There are plenty of beautiful stops to make between the drive that can turn the journey into an epic road trip. While it’s possible to drive this route in one very long day, it’s best to split it up, as you could easily spend weeks exploring everything mentioned below.

How Far is the Vancouver to Calgary Drive?

Driving the Trans Canada between Golden and Field
Driving the Trans Canada between Golden and Field

It all depends on which route you take, but in general you can expect the drive to be about 1000 km and take anywhere from 10.5 (fast way) to 14 hours, or even longer if you really take your time!

Can You Do the Whole Drive in One Day?

Yes, you can drive from Vancouver to Calgary in one day! Granted, it is a very long day and will require you to start your day early, make minimal stops, and arrive in Calgary incredibly late. However it is doable if necessary. But what would the fun in that be? There are so many beautiful places to stop and see between Vancouver and Calgary that it deserves at least two days!

The Best Ways to Travel Between Vancouver and Calgary

  • By Car: Besides flying, the best way to travel between Vancouver and Calgary is by car. This will allow you to take as much time as you need between the route, and stop when you feel like it. You can rent a car in Vancouver and drop it off in Calgary, often for a fee. This can also be done vice versa.
  • By Bus: Rider Express will take visitors between Vancouver and Calgary by bus. The trip takes 15 hours and costs $161 one way.
  • By Train: There is no direct train between Vancouver and Calgary, however the Rocky Mountaineer runs scenic rail journeys between Vancouver and Jasper and Vancouver and Lake Louise.
  • By Air: Of course the easiest and quickest option between Calgary and Vancouver is by air. WestJet and AirCanada both run frequent routes between Calgary and Vancouver. I’m talking like one flight every 1-2 hours frequent. You can often find tickets for $100-200.

Driving in the Winter

Driving from Vancouver to Calgary in the Winter

You must take extra precautions when driving in Western Canada during the winter. This is especially true if you are driving Highway 99 and going over the Duffy Lake Road, or driving Rogers Pass (Revelstoke to Golden).

These routes are treacherous in the winter, and if you hit the road during a winter storm it will make driving conditions very difficult, even with winter tires. We’ve done it a few times now, and when we get caught, we pull over and try to find a hotel for the night.

Winter tires or chains are required on most routes in British Columbia from October 1 to April 30th, and a few routes in Alberta as well. Stay to date with Alberta driving conditions on 5.11 Alberta and British Columbia conditions on Drive BC.

The Best Routes Between Vancouver and Calgary

  • Fastest Route: The fastest route is to take the Trans Canada (Highway 1) from Vancouver through Hope, get on the 5 through Merritt, and to Kamloops, and then hop back on Highway 1 all the way to Calgary. This is not only the quickest way but also the easiest with the best roads. However, I do find this route to be one of the most uneventful.
  • Most Scenic Route: In our opinion, the most scenic route is to head up to Whistler from Vancouver, and take Highway 99 through Pemberton and Cache Creek. This will take you over the Duffy Lake Road, which is a scenic route, but beware it is subject to avalanches, and landslides, and is overall not the easiest road to drive. We’ve been caught a few times on it in a snowstorm and can tell you it is a scary experience.
  • Alternative Scenic Route: Another scenic route is to travel Highway 1 out of Vancouver and get on Highway 3 in Hope, BC. This route will take you through the Okanagan and towns like Vernon and Kelowna, before eventually connecting you with Revelstoke.
  • Longest Route (Adventure option): If you have time on your hands and want to explore some really cool towns, you can take Highway 1 from Vancouver, hop on Highway 3 near Hope, and essentially drive along the border, passing towns like Rossland, detour to Nelson, Fernie, and Waterton National Park. This route will take over 16 hours of driving straight through, so it’s the least traveled option but a great one if you want to pass some of Canada’s best mountain towns. (We take this route in the winter when we want to ski at Canada’s best ski resorts like Red Mountain, Whitewater, and Fernie).

We recommend studying a map to determine which route is best for you!

Important Things to Note

Floe Lake
Floe Lake in Kootenay National Park (off Highway 93, which is a detour)
  • If you plan to stop for any sightseeing or hiking in Glacier National Park, Kootenay National Park, Banff National Park, or Jasper National Park you will need a Parks Canada Pass. Read all about the details on how to get one here.
  • Watch out for wildlife on the roads when driving from Vancouver to Calgary. This includes bears, deer, elk, and moose. They are present, especially during the summer months. If you see wildlife on the road please respect its space.
  • Cell Service is intermittent on much of this drive. Notably between Pemberton to Lillooet, Salmon Arm to Revelstoke, Revelstoke to Golden, and Golden to Lake Louise.
  • Stay up to date with road conditions on DriveBC and 5.11 Alberta.
  • Many routes will get you from Vancouver to Calgary. We recommend you study a map to see which would be best for you to take and which detours may be worth your time.
renting a campervan in canada

Best Stops on Vancouver and Calgary Road Trip



We’ll start this journey in Vancouver, though you can reverse these stops while driving from Calgary to Vancouver. Vancouver is the perfect place to create a fantastic adventure in Western Canada. Vancouver International Airport is one of the largest airports in Canada and provides plenty of domestic and international flight routes.

If you arrive at YVR we highly recommend staying and checking out Vancouver for a day or two. There are tons of unique things to do in Vancouver, especially for a large city.

The Best Things to Do in Vancouver

Some of the best things to do in Vancouver include: 

  • Bike Stanley Park: A beautiful 405-hectare public park that connects downtown Vancouver to West Vancouver. It’s a great place to walk around and enjoy nature in the city’s heart. However our favorite way to get around is via bike!
  • Visit Granville Island: Granville Island is a place to come to chill, sit back with a beer, and eat some excellent food. It may seem to have an industrial feel as it used to be a place of many industrial activities, but now it’s most things food and beverage. Although Granville Island is a small peninsula, you can drive right onto it!
  • Capilano Suspension Bridge: This is a massive suspension bridge park right in the city’s heart. There are multiple bridges and neat installations within the forest, but the largest is 140 meters long and 70 meters above the river. It’s a fantastic thing to do with the family.

Vancouver to Calgary: Route 99 Option

There are two main options for driving between Vancouver and Calgary, we prefer driving Route 99 as we think it’s more scenic, but it does take a bit longer.

Shannon Falls

shannon falls, british columbia

Shannon Falls Provincial Park is located 58 kilometers north of Vancouver and 2 kilometers south of Squamish along the Sea to Sky Highway near the Sea to Sky Gondola. The park is quite large and covers an area of 87 hectares. In it is the third largest waterfall in BC – Shannon Falls!

Two of the most popular things to do are see Shannon Falls from the viewpoint (just a short hike from the parking area) or enjoy a short one-hour (return) hike to the base of the falls.



45 minutes north of Vancouver, along the most beautiful Sea to Sky Highway stretch, is Squamish. This large town is at the northern tip of the Howe Sound and is surrounded by mountains and coastline. You can’t miss the famous Stawamus Chief granite monolith on your drive. It towers over Squamish and is beloved by locals.

Squamish is an outdoor mecca for adventure enthusiasts. It’s known for world-class climbing, mountain biking, and many hiking opportunities.

The Sea to Sky Gondola provides epic views over Shannon Falls, while the Britannia Mine Museum provides a fascinating history. There are plenty of fantastic places to eat and drink in Squamish too! Our favorite is the Howe Sound Brewing Company.

Sunshine Coast

On the BC ferry traveling to the Sunshine Coast

If you’re driving in the summer, make sure to plan a detour to the Sunshine Coast. To get to British Columbia’s stunning coastline will require you to hop on a BC Ferry, but once you’re there, you will be able to experience the ultimate laid-back coastal vibes.

This 180 km stretch of coastline is known for its mild weather and forested mountains that look straight out of a dreamy movie set. Some of the best things to do here are go mountain biking, paddle along the coast, find a beach to sunbathe on, or enjoy a brewery or two.


Wedgemount Lake - reached via a difficult hike from Whistler
Wedgemount Lake – reached via a difficult hike from Whistler

Keep driving up the Sea to Sky past Squamish, and in about 45 minutes, you’ll hit a world-class skiing destination – Whistler. Whistler is best known for Whistler Blackcomb, the largest ski resort in North America. There is some absolutely epic terrain here and an abundance of snow. If you are driving from Vancouver to Calgary in the winter, it’s best to plan a few days here and enjoy some fantastic riding.

Even if you don’t ski or snowboard, strolling around the Whistler Village is a thing to do in itself. As well as walking around Nita Lake or skating on Alta Lake.

Whistler isn’t just happening in the winter. In the summer, there are endless hiking trails and mountain biking routes. One of our favorite (hard) hikes is up to Wedgemount Lake, where you’ll be rewarded after a long hike with bright blue lakes and glaciers galore.



Just 45 minutes past Whistler is the small mountain town of Pemberton. The main village of Pemberton is located at the base of Mt Currie and has astonishing views any visitor will love.

It’s a small town, but there are still some shops, places to eat, and walking trails to enjoy. Fun things to do there are to visit North Arm Farm or go horseback riding through the valley with Copper Cayuse Outfitters.

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park


A short drive past Pemberton on Duffey Lake Road is the stunning Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, one of the most beautiful places in British Columbia and is where you can find the most beautiful lakes in the province. Trust me when I say it’s well worth the hike.

The hike to Lower, Middle, and Upper Joffre Lakes is 10km with less than 400 meters of gain. The highlight is seeing the bright blue lakes shimmer under the glaciers. Joffre Lakes are best visited between June and October, so if you are driving between Calgary and Vancouver in the summer, you’re in for a real treat.

Duffy Lake

duffy laket

After you pass Joffre Lakes Provincial Park and continue driving down Duffy Lake Rd, you’ll hit Duffy Lake. Here, there is an epic viewpoint where you can get simply amazing views and have a picnic before continuing on to Lillooet. Then, you can get on Highway 1 before Kamloops.

Vancouver to Calgary – Hwy 97

Hope Slide

hope slide

Just outside of Hope, BC is the site of Canada’s second-largest recorded landslide. In 1965, a landslide occurred near Hope; it is estimated that 47 million cubic meters of rock fell. Now the area is known as Hope Slide, and can be viewed easily by visitors.


beautiful kelowna winery

Kelowna is a popular destination in the summer for those wanting to explore the Okanagan Valley. This is Canada’s famed wine region, and people will travel from around the country to sit in the sun and sip up the local wine on the shores of Lake Okanagan. There are plenty of delicious Kelowna restaurants and wineries to enjoy during the summertime after a day at the Myra Canyon Trestles.

You can also find some of the best produce in Canada here, and farmers’ markets are a big thing in the summer and fall. If you are driving during the winter and ski or snowboard, plan a day or two to enjoy the slopes at Big White Ski Resort.


Vernon British Columnia

Less than an hour from Kelowna is the city of Vernon. Here, you can enjoy more of the fresh BC goodness. In the summer, some of the best things to do are bask in the sun at Kalamalka Beach, stroll the historic main street, or buy some fresh local fruit at Davidson Orchards.

Most Routes from Vancouver to Calgary

Sun Peaks

Natasha amongst the snow ghosts at Sun Peaks
Snowboarding at Sun Peaks

This is a destination to head to if you are driving in the winter. Sun Peaks is an alpine ski resort located 56 km northeast of Kamloops, which you’ll pass by on most routes.

Unlike many ski resorts in Canada, where the mountain is a bit in the middle of nowhere with few amenities, Sun Peaks is a fully serviced ski resort that is great for families looking for a full ski vacation with restaurants and plenty of things to do. They have multiple peaks with terrain for everyone. My favorite aspect of Sun Peaks is tree skiing!

On the Highway One (Trans Canada)



Speaking of ski resorts in the middle of nowhere, I bring you Revelstoke Ski Resorts. Revelstoke is easily one of our favorite places to visit in all of Canada, and we head there multiple times a year to enjoy all its wonders.

Revelstoke is a small town near the Selkirk Mountains and Glacier National Park. While it used to be an unheard-of mountain town, it’s gaining worldwide recognition for its fantastic powder year after year. Due to its location off the Trans Canada and near Rogers Pass, it’s not a busy Canadian mountain town like Whistler. Revelstoke has a lot to offer visitors in both the winter and summer.

If you are driving from Vancouver to Calgary in the summer, some of the best things you can do are paddle on Arrow Lakes, go mountain biking, hike Mount Begbie, or take a ride on The Pipe Mountain Coaster. In the winter, two of the best things to ski and go sledding! There are also a few fantastic BC hot springs near Revy – Canyon Hot Springs and Halcyon Hot Springs Resort are great ones.

Glacier National Park

glacier national park near revelstoke

Between Revelstoke and Golden is a beautiful national park that many people often forget about. There are fantastic hiking opportunities here in the summer and some butt-clenching backcountry ski opportunities here in the winter.

Some of my favorite hikes are the Great Glacier Trail, the Asulkan Valley Trail, and for an extra-long day, the Abbott Ridge Trail.


Hiking to Gorman Lake near Golden

Continue to Golden on the Trans Canada Highway and enjoy one of the best mountain towns. It provides excellent access to Glacier National Park and Yoho National Park. Golden is a small town with under 4000 people in southeastern British Columbia. The closest major city is Calgary, about four hours away, so it’s a bit in the middle of nowhere, but not relatively as quiet as Revy.

Golden is built around the Columbia and Kicking Horse rivers and is surrounded by the Purcell and the Rocky Mountains. There are tons of great hiking opportunities in the summer and in the winter, Golden is home to one of the best ski resorts in the world – Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.

Golden provides that fantastic mountain town feel, without the hordes of tourists that you’ll find in Banff and Canmore. It’s a love stop for 2-3 days, so you can enjoy the Golden Skybridge or the KHMR Via Ferrata.

**It’s essential to know that until 2024 there is an ongoing project between Golden and Field on the Trans Canada Highway. The highway is being twinned. The Kicking Horse Canyon Project, as it is called, can cause delays, though they have tried to open the road as much as possible during the daytime in the summer, but delays can happen. If the road is completely closed, you will have to drive to Radium Hot Springs and take Highway 93 through Kootenay National Park to reach Banff. This adds quite a bit of time, so stay up to date on Drive BC and on the Kicking Horse Canyon Project.

Wapta Falls


Wapta Falls is the largest waterfall of the Kicking Horse River and one of the best things to do in Yoho. It’s 18 meters high and a whopping 107 meters wide, making it one of the most impressive sights in the Canadian Rockies.

It’s great to visit year-round, although it does require an easy 5km hike to reach. It’s a great addition to your Vancouver to Calgary road trip if you want to stretch your legs at one of the best waterfalls in the area.

Emerald Lake

Sunset at Emerald Lake Lodge

Emerald Lake is a must-stop when driving between Calgary to Vancouver. It’s one of the most beautiful lakes in all the Canadian Rockies. When you reach Emerald Lake, you’ll first notice the color. I’m sure you can guess it’s pretty Emerald from its name. Emerald Lake gets its name as the glacial waters refract light in a vibrant display of color.

The lake is surrounded by colossal peaks in all directions. One of the best things to do in Emerald Lake is to walk around the lake, paddle on it, or enjoy the views with a coffee at the Cilantro restaurant.

Tak Falls

Tak Falls

Takakkaw Falls is conveniently located near the small town of Field, just off the Trans Canada highway. It’s less than an hour away from the town of Golden and less than 30 minutes from Lake Louise. Seeing Takakkaw Falls is one of the best things to do in Yoho National Park.

Takakkaw Falls is the second-highest waterfall in Canada at 373 meters. There are two drops, with the main drop whopping 254 meters high! It’s incredibly accessible and doesn’t require any hiking to get to, a rarity in the Rockies.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise is so Blue

Lake Louise is one of the most beautiful sites in Western Canada, if not the whole country. Anyone driving between Vancouver and Calgary would kick themselves if they missed stopping here.

Picture a bright blue lake with mammoth glaciers in the background. This is Lake Louise, and it’s well worth a stop in the summer and winter. In the summer, you can enjoy a thawed lake where you can paddle and hike high above the lake for beautiful views. At Lake Louise in the winter, many people head here to enjoy the ice castle, ice bar, and ice skating in paradise.

Downtown Banff

Banff Downtown in October

The town of Banff is almost too beautiful to be real. There are plenty of things to do in Banff during every season. From strolling the storefronts and enjoying all the fantastic Banff restaurants one can easily spend an entire week and never get bored.

There are plenty of hikes around the park, but if you want to stay close to the downtown area, I recommend hiking Tunnel Mountain, taking the Banff Gondola up to the top of Sulphur Mountain, or walking to Bow Falls.

For those who want to stretch their legs on two wheels, one of my favorite things to do is bike the Minnewanka Loop. That will take you to Cascade Ponds, Two Jack Lake, and Lake Minnewanka!


Things to do in Canmore

About 15 minutes past Banff is my favorite mountain town in the world – Canmore! Here you can stroll the main street with a coffee in hand, taking in the views of Grotto Mountain ahead of you. Head up to the Canmore Reservoir for a stand-up paddleboard session or hike to the summit of Ha Ling Peak.

When you visit, you will have to try hard not to get bored in Canmore. It’s often slightly cheaper to stay in a Canmore hotel over a Banff hotel, and depending on the season, you can often find a deal.

Kananaskis Country

Rawson Lake in Kananaskis

For those looking to go hiking, Kananaskis Country is one of the best places in Canada. Head here before arriving in Calgary to see beautiful lakes like Kananaskis Lakes, Rawson Lake, and Spray Lakes. Or grab some poles and start the trek to the top of Smutwood Peak or Tent Ridge. There are endless things to do in Kananaskis for everyone to enjoy!

**Keep in mind you need a Kananaskis Conservation Pass to recreate in Kananaskis Country.


Natasha at the Calgary Stampede
At the Calgary Stampede, which happens in July!

You’ve made it to Calgary, which may be the end of your journey. Don’t just hop on the plane and take off! There are some amazing things to do in Calgary and some delicious Calgary restaurants to enjoy.

If you happen to be visiting in mid-July around the time of the Calgary Stampede, you are in for a real treat. Other fun things to do include seeing Studio Bell or heading up to the famous Calgary Tower.

Renting a Car in Canada

car rental banff

If you don’t have a car, renting one in Vancouver or Calgary is best. You can rent one at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) or Calgary International Airport (YYC). You can either rent a one way or do a return trip. Though one way rentals almost always cost more. We like to use Discover Car Hire and Rentalcars.com to find the best deals. See our best rental car tips before renting!

If you want your set of wheels, kitchen, and bed all in place, we recommend booking a campervan for your trip to Western Canada. Campervans are a popular form of travel here, especially in summertime! You can compare van rates here!

Where to Stay in Calgary

Downtown Calgary
  • Delta Hotels by Marriott Calgary Downtown: This is our go-to hotel when we stay in Calgary. It’s a beautiful modern hotel that is located in downtown Calgary. It’s convenient to Chinatown, the Bow River, and the downtown core. We also love the ability to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and rewards nights.
  • Fairmont Palliser Hotel: Fairmont has an impressive portfolio of Canada’s most iconic hotels such as the Banff Springs, The Empress, and Le Château Frontenac. The Palliser is no exception and is the best hotel for luxury in Calgary.
  • aLoft Calgary: is a great option for a trendy, affordable hotel. We’ve stayed at several aLofts, and they always offer a reliable level of service and comfort. The hotel offers a spa, fitness centre, pool, and bar.

Where to Stay in Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver
  • Fairmont Pacific Rim: This is certainly the most renowned hotel in Vancouver, and it’s known for its excellent service and buzzing atmosphere. The interiors here are modern and luxurious. If nothing else, the hotel restaurant, The Botanist, is well worth a visit. Its location along the waterfront is may be the best in the city.
  • Rosewood Hotel Georgia: The opulent lobby of the Rosewood provides a good idea to the rest of the luxury hotel. The Rosewood has been welcoming guests since 1927 and has hosted a long list of celebrities. It’s a glamorous hotel with services to match, such as an award-winning spa and Hawksworth Restaurant.
  • Coast Coal Harbour Vancouver Hotel by APA — We love Coast hotels for value in Canada. The Coast Coal Harbour delivers great quality service and comfortable rooms in an excellent location in downtown Vancouver. It even has a rooftop pool, deck, and hot tubs.

Hopefully, this helped you determine the best sights to see on an epic Western Canada road trip! If you have any other questions leave a comment or see our Canadian Rockies travel guide for more articles about photography spots, lakes, hikes, and everything else.

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Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies

  • Tours (New in 2024): The Banff Blog is partnering with one of the leading tour companies in Western Canada so readers can experience the magic of the Rockies with other travelers – without having to think about a thing. See all our 2024 tour offerings here!
  • Get to Banff or Canmore Without a Car: The Banff Airporter provides fantastic service connecting you from the Calgary International Airport (YYC) to Banff or Canmore.
  • Get Around: We suggest renting a car to get around. You can search for rental cars on Rentalcars.com. Or embark on an epic campervan trip. We like to compare prices on Motorhome Republic and Outdoorsy.
  • Cheaper Airfare: We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals!
  • Hop On, Hop Off: This tour is taking Banff by storm. It’s exactly what it sounds like, hop on and off a bus bound for all the best attractions at your own pace!
About Natasha

Natasha calls Canmore, Alberta home. After traveling across seven continents and 90 countries with Cameron, she settled down in the stunning Canadian Rockies. She loves to help others travel and make their planning easier. She is a winter enthusiast and loves to snowboard, ice skate, and snowshoe and enjoy all the fantastic summer opportunities in Banff like hiking, scrambling, and biking. You can find her in the mountains or enjoying a coffee by the river. Learn more on the about us page!

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