An Adventurer’s British Columbia Road Trip: From Vancouver to the Rockies
This post, written by Leigh and Spring McClurg, originally appeared on the HelloBC website.
Driving from Vancouver to the Canadian Rockies should be on everyone’s list of must-do’s. The drive alone is worth it, but we suggest taking the time to make a few stops along the way for a bit of fun. Here are our favourite places to add some adventure to your road trip.
In the heart of the Okanagan Valley, between the Okanagan and Skaha Lake, is a town with endless summer sunshine, dry rock, and a lake with perfect temperatures for swimming.
Outdoor activity of choice: Rock climbing.
Where to go: On the east side of Skaha Lake sits Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park. A world-class climbing area deserving of at least three to four days for exploring. Well-bolted sport climbing and plenty of moderate routes make this a great place to spend a few days early in the season. Skaha Rock Adventures offers tours, courses, and private guiding services. Don’t forget to take a much needed dip in the lake after your day out climbing.
Where to eat: Grab a hearty breakfast at Terry’s Comfort Food with Attitude. They serve a five egg omelette and a breakfast bowl that can be shared with three people. Nobody will leave hungry.
Where to sleep: Spend a night beside the lake at Banbury Green RV Park and Campground and fall asleep to the sound of waves lapping at the shore.
Distance from Vancouver: 4.5 hours.
This place feels like it’s still a secret that hasn’t been told yet. “Revy” is an outdoor paradise. This small town nestled in the Columbia Mountains is a long way from any big city, which means there are only a few people and plenty of outdoor space to play.
Outdoor activity of choice: Trail running and rock climbing.
Where to go: Begbie Bluffs is a very well-developed rock climbing area with plenty of shaded walls for hot summer days. Pick up a climbing guidebook at the local outdoor shop, Valhalla Pure, and hit the rock. Looking to stretch the legs? Then head to Mount Revelstoke National Park and drive the Meadows in the Sky parkway to access some of the most beautiful trail running you will ever experience. You can take a short five-kilometre run or tackle the 30-kilometre trail past alpine meadows full of wildflowers and glacier-fed lakes.
Where to sleep: The perfect mountain base camp sits just outside of town at Valley Retreat Bed & Breakfast. They serve up healthy breakfasts and jolts of caffeine, a hot tub with a view, and a safe place to store all your adventure gear.
Distance from Vancouver: 6 hours.
3. Rogers Pass
Driving through this high pass between the Columbia and Rocky mountains offers incredible views of giant peaks towering over the highway. There are a number of pullouts along the way and it will be hard not to stop at every single one. If time isn’t on your side, pick your favourite and snap that next profile picture!
Outdoor activity of choice: Walk through old-growth forests.
Where to go: The Giant Cedars Boardwalk is a short stroll along a wooden boardwalk past cedar trees over 500 years old. Walking past them makes you feel like you are walking through a fairytale.
Where to eat: At the east gate of Glacier National Park, Heather Mountain Lodge serves up lunch and dinner in the middle of the mountains. A quick stop in for dinner and you may find you don’t want to leave. The good news is you don’t have to. You can stay in one of their cabins tucked away in the wilderness.
Where to sleep: Camp in a tent, roll up in an RV, or hike to a backcountry lodge in Glacier National Park.
Distance from Vancouver: 7 hours.
There are so many things to do in Yoho National Park that it is hard to choose just one. You can gaze at one of Canada’s highest waterfalls, discover fossils over 500 million years old at Burgess Shale, or explore over 400 kilometres of hiking trails. If time is limited, and you have to choose just one, here is our pick.
Outdoor activity of choice: Canoe on a turquoise lake.
Where to go: It would be a shame to bypass Emerald Lake. This is a busy spot, and rightly so, due to the beauty of the location. Enjoy some solitude and rent a canoe from Emerald Lake Lodge. As you paddle across this lake with the massive Canadian Rocky Mountains as your backdrop, you’ll forget anyone else is there.
Where to eat: Once the canoeing has worked up an appetite take a short, six-kilometre drive into the town of Field and eat local at Truffle Pigs Bistro and Lounge.
Where to sleep: The iconic Emerald Lake Lodge is surrounded by some of the Rocky Mountains’ most impressive peaks. This is a tranquil place to spend the night.
Distance from Vancouver: 8 hours.
Now that you have officially made it to your destination, it’s time to shake off your driving legs and get acclimatized with a hiker’s view of the Rocky Mountains in all their glory.
Outdoor activity of choice: Hiking.
Where to go: Ha Ling Peak is Canmore’s local stairmaster. This three-kilometre hike climbs straight up to the summit and provides exceptional views of the mountains that surround the town. This is a popular one so make sure to start this hike early and bring a warm jacket because it gets breezy at the top. Don’t worry, with the incredible views, you’ll barely notice that fresh Rocky Mountain wind.
Where to eat: Stop in at The Harvest Cafe for what we consider the most delicious cinnamon buns anywhere. They only serve them on the weekends, so get there early before they are all sold out.
Where to sleep: For something out of the ordinary, sleep in a teepee or trapper’s tent just outside Canmore. If you’d rather stay central, stay at the Canmore Clubhouse run by the Alpine Club of Canada.
Distance from Vancouver: 9 hours.