Got 3 weeks in Canada's West and want to see, do, smell & touch as much as possible? Into hiking, the outdoors, good coffee, awesome book stores, seeing wildlife and eating & drinking tasty things? Look no further. Read on for our 3 weeks whirlwind road trip of BC and the Canadian Rockies.
From Vancouver to The Rockies and back this road trip will take you to mountain summits, past waterfalls, around lakes and via some of the best coffee we could get our paws on. And as a bonus we'll throw in a whole heap of wildlife. Bears. I'm talking about seeing bears.
After around 40 hours in transit due to a delay and a resultant missed flight and a nights sleep in LAX (thanks for that Air New Zealand), we landed bleary eyed but happy in a sunny Vancouver. We didn't have loads of time here but we tried to fit in a few of the 'Must Do's', and we weren't disappointed.
To Do, See, Eat & Sleep - A Highlight Reel
Run, walk, stroll, bike, roller-skate.. Whatever your choice of transport Stanley Park is worth checking out. A large green island covered in trails and encircled by a 9km flat-as-a-tack path following the seawall. There is also a very pretty rose garden on the island that makes for a perfect picnic or chill-and-read-your-book location. We also managed to spot sea otters and sea lions here.
Granville Island feels a little bit like a carnival, with lots of colour and interesting things to look at. The Public Market is full of fruits and veg along side meat, seafood, treats, coffee & more. It's worth a look at if you're into buying a whole heap of delicious berries really cheap. The island also has loads of art galleries and craft stores. Worth an afternoon stroll.
The Grouse Grind and BCMC are two trail challenges for those who like to get high over a short period of time. Both gaining around 800m in elevation over less than 3km these trails are steep, but totally worth it for the views at the top. And if you’re feeling lazy once you get up you can always head back down on the gondola.
An insta-famous suspension bridge & a myriad of trails surrounded by lush green. An easy getaway from city life. Though technically on the Sea to Sky Highway this is so close to town it's worth chucking it in here.
A cute place for a picnic, hike or canoe. A few groovy stores and world famous honey donuts. A nice arvo activity!
Hike: Quarry Rock, 4km return trip, 100m elevation gain.
BEER & VEGAN FOOD IN VANCOUVER
We only had a couple of days in Vancouver, however we managed to find some epic food and drink in that time. Here's our favourites!
Restaurants & Treats:
SEA TO SKY HIGHWAY - Vancouver to Whistler via Squamish & Surrounds
The Sea to Sky Highway runs from Vancouver to Whistler. It's 2 hours in driving distance, but that short distance is packed with lots and lots to do. Hikes, lookouts, gondolas and more means there is something for everyone in the car.
Unfortunately the 2 days we spent along this road it rained. Lots. Hence, we didn't get to check off all the things we'd planned, but here are some of the things we did get to do and a couple of things we missed out on but strongly recommend based on what others have told us.
Depending on the weather and how many hikes you want to do you could easily spend a few days along this stretch. Do whatever suits you, that's what holidays are all about.
Things To Do Heading North:
Shannon Falls Provincial Park
Alice Lake Provincial Park
Camp, hike, swim, canoe, kayak, you name it Alice Lake Provincial Park has got it.
As one of the closest (and most beautiful) parks in the surrounds of Vancouver this campground books out early in the season. Head on over to the Discover Camping Website to make your reservation asap.
Hike: Four Lakes Trail, 6km round trip, 200m elevation gain. Easy & beautiful.
Sleep: $35 for a drive in campsite (no hook-ups) and $23 for a walk in campsite (tent only)
Garibaldi Provincial Park
Duffey Lake Road
From Whistler you'll be heading North East towards Clearwater and Wells Grey provincial Park before then heading east to the world famous Jasper and Banff National Parks. We recommend taking Duffey Lake Road that runs from Pemberton along winding roads to Lillooet. The road is stunning surrounded by towering peaks and views around every corner. If you're lucky you'll see some wildlife along this way too.
WELLS GREY PROVINICAL PARK & CLEARWATER
Once in Clearwater you're at the gateway to Wells Grey Provincial Park. The Park itself is a one road in, one road out set-up making it difficult to miss any of the highlights. You can easily hit all the main sights in one day if you're low on time, that's what we did and we didn't regret it.
There are 2 campsites in the National Park and both looked beautiful. These are again booked through the Discover Camping Website. Beware of mosquitos.. they're hungry and they're everywhere!
Alternatively you can stay at the Clearwater KOA Campground, it's nice and does all the things a good campground should.
Wells Grey Highlights
Spahats Falls & The Shaden Trail
From Wells Grey & Clearwater you'll head north east to Mount Robson Provincial Park, our personal favourite stop of the whole trip.
Mount Robson is the highest peak in BC, and on a clear day it's absolutely jaw dropping. And that'd just when you check it out from the visitor centre. If you want the real deal, the real million dollar view then you should take the time and effort to check it out from the shores of the glacier fed Berg Lake I promise you will not be disappointed.
We go into WAY more detail about the trail and hike itself, along with the variety of campground available along the way in a separate post that can be found here. But for now I'll just give you a brief overview of the trail you absolutely have to do.
Berg Lake Trail:
23km one way, 1000m elevation, 7 campgrounds. You can either do this over multiple days and camp along the way, or do it as one big trail run. Both are amazing and the views are incredible. read more about how to do the Berg Lake Trail here.
Note: The campsites for the hike book out early! Make sure you book these as far in advance as possible at the Discover Camping website.
From Mount Robson Visitors Centre it's a cruise 20 minute drive onwards to the town of Jasper and it's beautiful National Park.
JASPER NATIONAL PARK
As you can probably tell we teamed up with Jucy again for the Canadian leg of our trip. They rent vans out of Point Roberts just outside Vancouver. We have found this size van great for us as you can park anywhere a normal car can in towns with the bonus of a few extra creature comforts a camper van provides over just a rental car. If you're interested, check out their site here.
G'day I'm Bec
I'm an Aussie who loves travelling, hiking, trail running and pretty much any activity you can do outdoors.
This blog may contain several affiliate links to products and services that I use and love. By clicking on these links, I might get a teeny tiny contribution towards my travel fund, at no extra cost to you!
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