Bow Lake icefields parkway scenic drive from calgary to vancouver

Crossing the Canadian Rockies: 13 Sensational Stops On A Calgary To Vancouver Road Trip

To truly enjoy the drive between these two major cities in Western Canada, give yourself a few days to explore and take in the views from Calgary to Vancouver.

This is one of the most scenic drives in Western Canada, as the landscape is ever-changing from bright blue lakes, mountain ranges, forests, wildlife, and glaciers. There is so much natural beauty to see!

Along the way, you will pass through Banff National Park, Lake Louise, Yoho National Park, Kamloops, Hope, and Chilliwack, which are all great locations to stop and visit. There are so many fun activities to do along the way, including hiking, exploring small towns, swimming, shopping, hot springs, kayaking, and much more!

Keep reading to find out more about the best stops on our Calgary and Vancouver road trip itinerary; we have covered what to see and where to stop! Our guide will provide helpful tips for this road trip, whether you are driving in a car or an RV.

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Distance from Calgary to Vancouver – How Long Do I Need to Drive?

How Far Is Calgary From Vancouver?

The distance from Calgary to Vancouver is 1,057 kilometers (660 miles), taking the fastest route.

The drive from Calgary to Vancouver without stops takes 12 hours and 15 minutes. Most of the way, you will take Trans-Canada Highway 1 to Kamploops, then Highway 99. You will want to take 2-3 days to really enjoy the stops along the way, although we’d recommend longer to explore the incredible national and provincial parks more thoroughly.

An alternate route would be to head from Calgary towards Vancouver on Highway 22 (aka The Cowboy Trail) until you reach Lundbreck. From there, take Highway 3 through Fernie and Cranbrook, continuing on Highway 3 until you reach Hope, British Columbia.

From Hope, you will take Trans Canada Highway 1 towards Vancouver. This route takes 14 hours and is 1,226 kilometers (760 miles). It passes through Abbotsford, Surrey, Cranbrook, and Fernie, which are also fabulous stops in the Rocckies.  

For the purpose of this guide, we will focus on stops to make on the shorter northern route. 

Best Time Of Year To Drive From Vancouver To Calgary

In the summer, the highways are well-maintained. However, the drive can be slow as you hit congestion and maintenance work on the main roads that can only take place during the warmer months of summer.

If you have a choice in timing, early September, once the schools have returned, can be a much quieter time of year to enjoy this journey.

Although the mountains can look beautiful in winter, the weather between Calgary and Vancouver can be unpredictable and treacherous. If you are attempting this drive in the winter, snow tires are recommended (and often a legal requirement). 

It is best to check Alberta and British Columbia road conditions for up-to-date changes.

What Sort of Vehicle Do I Need To Cross the Rockies?

All of the places we have recommended on this Calgary to Vancouver itinerary are accessible in a normal 2WD sedan vehicle or SUV. If you are heading further off-the-beaten path, you’ll want to consider a 4WD.

We’d recommend booking your rental car early if you are flying in to commence your journey from Calgary in the summer as options for family-sized vehicles especially do book out. We have used and recommend Discover Cars to explore your rental options in Canada.

It’s possible to make this journey as a one-way hire in either direction; hire cars can be taken across provinces without issue (you’ll be crossing from Alberta to British Columbia).

From our experience, we’d expect you to pay approximately a $100 CAD fee for the one-way drop-off (if your car hire quote is coming back in the $000s, choose another company!).

13 Best Stops On A Calgary To Vancouver Road Trip

Depending on the length of the journey, you can include every major town/point of interest or pick out some highlights or overnight stopping points only.

So many places between Calgary and Vancouver are worth visiting and enjoying. We’ve included 13 different locations so you and your family can pick and choose stops based on your interests.

Most people choose to road trip in the Summer, so we will focus on summer activities. However, most locations offer a sensational range of winter activities as well, making it one of the most magical places to visit in Canada in winter.


Explore “Alberta’s Mountain Playground” in Kananaskis Country, located between Banff National Park and Calgary. Kananaskis Country is home to some of the most beautiful areas in Alberta and outdoor activities, and the bonus is that it is not as busy with tourists as the other national parks we’ll mention in this guide. 

CA Calgary to Vancouver Road Trip - Kananaskis

In Kananaskis, you will find four wildland provincial parks and five provincial parks just waiting to be explored. If you are looking to explore the rugged terrain, we highly recommend the Grassi Lakes trail, which is located in the wildlife corridor and where you will see the aquamarine lakes similar to the popular Lake Moraine.

Grassi Lakes has two trails: an easier path that showcases a dense forest and rock faces with hidden pictographs, while the more difficult route will take you to a steep section to view a waterfall and the town of Canmore in the distance. The easier route is about 5 km and is definitely family-friendly for most fitness levels.

reflections on Grassi lakes in Kananaskis Country, Alberta

The next choice is to visit Peter Lougheed Park, which is known for having two beautiful, clean lakes: Upper and Lower Kananaskis. These lakes were natural lakes but have been expanded for hydroelectric projects. This is the perfect location to stop for a picnic lunch and take in the scenery. The lakes also offer the opportunity for kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding.

If you are interested in seeing wildlife, then you should consider the day-use trails, where you may spot wildlife such as bears, coyotes, elk, and mountain goats. If you like adventure, then you may want to check out the High Rockies Trail from the Black Prince.

Pro Tip: You will need to purchase a day pass to explore the parks. However, they can be purchased online for only $15. If you prefer buying in person, they are available at multiple visitor centers in Kananaskis Country.


Stop in for a quick visit or check in for the evening and take a stroll down 8th Street, a pedestrian-only area with boutique shops, cafes, and restaurants. It is a gorgeous area for a stroll, as you can see the Rocky Mountains in the distance. Every Thursday in the summer, the Farmer’s Market is located on 8th Street.

CA Calgary to Vancouver Road Trip - Canmore

Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk is the perfect area to stop with kids as it is an accessible walkway from the downtown area. At the entrance of the trail, you will find the Big Head Sculpture, which is a unique sculpture to see.  The 4km walk will take you through the forest and along the water for an easy scenic walk.

Pro Tip: Accommodation is much more affordable in Canmore than Banff; we recommend making this your first overnight stop before heading into the national park.


Visiting Banff is about taking in beautiful landscapes and exploring nature. Banff National Park is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream as there are so many beautiful landscapes to look at, but don’t worry, the kids will entertain themselves with nature along the trails. 

CA Calgary to Vancouver Road Trip - Banff

Take the iconic Banff Gondola to the upper boardwalk, which gives great views of the town of Banff and the surrounding mountains. You can even plan to stop for lunch at the restaurant at the top of the Gondola.

If you are looking to cool off in summer, then you may want to head to Johnson Lake, which has a small sandy beach for kids and makes for a great picnic spot – a fabulous free thing to do in Banff.

Johnston Canyon is another great spot as this family-friendly hike will take you near waterfalls and allows you to explore caves, though you may want to bring an extra set of clothes as there is a chance you get wet.

Save time for a bit of souvenir shopping and ice cream down Banff Avenue and Bear Street (noting that parking in Downtown Banff is tight; plan to park a bit further out and walk into town to prevent congestion).

Pro Tip: You need a Park Pass for the town of Banff, which is actually inside the National Park. You can purchase this online before your visit or at the park gates or visitor centre in town. If you are going to skip a stop here and keep driving through the TransCanada you won’t need the pass – just check what lane you are in!

Lake Louise

Enjoy the picturesque views of Lake Louise as you canoe and take great family photos with a mountain backdrop. Canoeing is a fun activity you can do as a family and make memories in this beautiful setting. You can rent the canoe from the Lake Louise boathouse. 

CA Calgary to Vancouver Road Trip - Lake Louise

Pro Tip: Canoeing on Lake Louise costs about $145 CAD an hour, and they can hold a maximum of 3 adults of 2 adults and 2 children that weigh less than 55 pounds, otherwise, you will need to divide into 2 canoes.

Motivate your kids with the prospect of a yummy snack at the end of the hike as you hike the trail to the Lake Agnes Tea House. The hike up to the tea house is more tiring than the way down, so once you fuel up with a snack or lunch, the way down is a breeze.

If you are looking for a unique adventure, then you can try horse trekking around the lake. The local stables, Brewster Adventures, offer five different summer trail rides for you and the family to enjoy. 

Bow Valley Parkway

The Bow Valley Parkway takes about an hour to drive and connects Lake Louise and Banff. As you drive through this section, lookout for the following; you may choose to stop at some of the lookout points.

CA Calgary to Vancouver Road Trip - Bow Valley Parkway

Three Sisters: Lookout for the three bare rocky peak mountains as you drive along the Trans Canada Highway through the Bow Valley as they are the Three Sisters Mountains – Faith, Hope, and Charity. They are nearly 10000 feet tall, so they are pretty hard to miss when looking out your window. 

Castle Mountain Viewpoint: This roadside viewpoint is a great place to stop and see the surrounding mountains, and if you want to explore further, there is a nearby trail.

Note that you WILL need a Park Pass for this scenic drive.

If you want somewhere to stay nearby, you can rent a cabin at Baker Creek By Basecamp. Each cabin has wood paneling, a log cabin design, and a kitchenette so you can save money and make your own food rather than eat out. 

Yoho National Park

High in the mountains of Yoho, you will find Burgess Shale fossils which are some of the oldest pieces of evidence of life on earth. Join a guided hike where you can choose to visit one of three different locations: Mount Stephen, Walcott Quarry, and Stanley Glacier (all have varying hiking distances).

CA Calgary to Vancouver Road Trip - Yoho National Park

The fossils are located high in the mountains pressed into the rock bed showing evidence of marine ecosystems from over 5 million years ago. This is a must-do Canadian Rockies Experience.

Parks Canada has placed over 200 red Adirondack chairs across Canada in unique treasured natural locations, and 2 sets of these chairs can be found while strolling through Yoho National Park. The chairs in Yoho National Park are located at Takakkaw Falls, and Yoho Lake, so sit and enjoy the quiet and peacefulness of the view.


Golden, British Columbia, is a great center point from some of Canada’s most beautiful scenery found in the following national parks: Yoho, Glacier, Kootenay, Jasper, Banff, and Mount Revelstoke. This is a great place to stop overnight, and then plan to visit one of these spectacular parks to enjoy hiking, waterfalls, lake views, and rich historical landmarks.

CA Calgary to Vancouver Road Trip - Golden BC Canada

Golden, BC is a wilderness lover’s paradise as there is lots of hiking, water sports, fishing, white water rafting, and so much more to explore. Families will want to visit the Golden Golf Club Mini Golf Course, and the Golden Sky Bridge, located feet above the canyon with amazing views. 

Glacier National Park

This is a beautiful National Park to simply enjoy the 360-degree view of alpine scenery and is open year-round.

If you are looking for a quick stretch break, then we suggest the Rockgarden Trail, which takes about 20 minutes to complete and will give you a quick view of the natural beauty of this park as you view the Selkirk Mountains.

Glacier National Park in Canada

Make sure you stop at the Memory Garden and Summit Monument to learn more about the rich history of the park and its involvement in Canada’s first trans-continental railway and highway.

Glacier National Park also offers a full day of exploring. If you have time, you will want to check out Roger’s Pass Discovery Centre, Hemlock Grove Boardwalk, Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk, Meadows in the Sky Parkway, and Glacier House to learn about the area’s true history and natural changes due to climate change.

Salmon Arm

Harold’s Provincial Park is home to a variety of hiking trails, including Margaret’s Falls, which is a stunning waterfall accessible by a few of the trails. The lower trails are accessible, so they are great for young kids and will take you along Shuswap Lake, through old-growth forest areas until you reach the magical waterfall.

CA Calgary to Vancouver Road Trip - Salmon Arm

Canoe Beach is perfect if you are looking to take a swim or just simply enjoy the beach. This location does have picnic tables, a concession stand, and a playground that can all be enjoyed during your visit.

Shuswap Pie Company is a great place to stop for lunch or to take a sweet or savory pie with you as a snack on the road. These pies are handmade and use local ingredients to ensure they are tasty and fresh. The store is located in Downtown Salmon Arm

Lastly, visit the record-breaking world Wharf as this wooden wharf is the longest in North America and is perfect to use for fishing or feeding the ducks. During the summer, you can often find live music and food trucks along the wharf.


Whenever we visit Kamloops, we make sure that we visit Riverside Park in the heart of the city as it is a great spot for families. Riverside park has two amazing playgrounds, a walking trail with a lookout to the Thompson River, and a splash pad.

In the summertime, there is a small concession stand that you can buy lunch from and eat at a nearby picnic table. Make sure you save room as Scoopz Ice Cream shop is located just across the street and has many ice cream treats to choose from.

CA Calgary to Vancouver Road Trip - Kamloops

Another family-friendly stop is at BC Wildlife Park, which is home to over 65 species of animals and 200 animals, including grizzly bears, cougars, wolves, and birds of prey. These animals are all animals that have been saved from the wild as they could no longer survive in the wild on their own.

The park runs a fun train around the park on weekends that the kids will enjoy. This wildlife park is the perfect excursion as it is not very big, so the whole park can be visited in 2-3 hours making it a great spot to stop and stretch your legs.

We’d suggest making this another overnight stop as there are several activities in the area and a decent range of accommodation options for different budgets. Sandman Signature Kamloops puts you in a good location on the waterfront and offers family rooms.

Bridal Veil Falls

This is one of the quicker stops you can make along the route, however, you don’t want to miss viewing this beautiful cascading waterfall that is over 60 meters tall. The water flows over the smooth rock face and creates a veil effect, thus giving the park the name Bridal Veil Falls

CA Calgary to Vancouver Road Trip - Bridal Veil Falls

You will want to complete both walking trails to create a loop from the parking lot to the waterfall. Follow the path and then cross over the wooden bridge to get the best viewpoint of the falls.

The trail is uphill but not too steep. It takes you through the forest along the riverbank until you reach the falls. You can take the Woodland trail back to the parking lot or take the junction to the left to stop at a great picnic spot for lunch.

Crazy Creek Hot Pools

Experience the benefits of geothermal hot pools that are nestled in the woods among the mountain views. Relax in one of four pools at Crazy Creek Hot Pools, all ranging at varying temperatures from 40°C to 12°C (104°F to 54°F).

This family-friendly activity is available for children three years old and up, and a family pass costs $50 for two adults and two children.

CA Calgary to Vancouver Road Trip - Crazy Creek Hot Pools

Crazy Creek Resort also offers accommodations, including RV sites, tent camping, and cabins. The resort has so much for kids to do, including playgrounds, a bike track, waterfalls, and a suspension bridge accessible by walking trails, and is near many fun attractions like the Enchanted Forest, which is an old-growth forest with over 350 fairy sculptures along the mystic trail.

Cultus Lake

While Cultus Lake is a little bit of a detour, it is only 11 km south of Chilliwack which you will pass through on your way to Vancouver. Cultus Lake is the ultimate outdoor family playground and is the gem of the Fraser Valley. This recreation hub offers Cultus Lake, which is perfect for swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, and swimming. 

CA Calgary to Vancouver Road Trip - Cultus Lake

Destination Cultus is a kid’s dream destination as it is home to a water park as well as an amusement park so that the whole family will be entertained. When you’re worn out from the park, you can check out the variety of amazing local restaurants, such as Lakeside Beach Club, which makes amazing wraps.

If you are looking for a resting spot, Sunnyside Campground has over 65 acres of campgrounds and lots of activities for the kids, such as playgrounds, boat rentals, and basketball and volleyball courts. 

Complete Your Journey into Vancouver

You are a little over an hour from Cultus Lake to Vancouver to complete your journey. It is one of the most stunningly picturesque city’s in the world so make sure you set aside a few days for exploring before you complete your onward journey from Vancouver – be it on a cruise or heading south into the US Pacific Northwest.

More Tips For Your Road Trip Calgary to Vancouver

  • When traveling with kids on a long-distance road trip, make sure to pack a variety of snacks and drinks to keep them happy and to save yourself from paying gas station prices.
  • Pack a cooler for the car so you can make sandwiches and picnic at some of the most beautiful picnic spots in Canada.
  • Pack a life jacket or floatation device, as there are a variety of places to stop and enjoy swimming or water sports along this route.
  • Make sure you pack good shoes for hiking, as there are so many amazing trails you won’t want to miss viewing, and you want your feet to be comfortable to make hiking easier.
  • Last but not least, our Ultimate Family Road Trip checklist will help you to make sure you don’t forget anything important! 
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More Driving Inspiration in Canada

We hope you’ve found some inspiring stops to make on your next Canadian road trip. You may also be interested in:

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