Trans-Canada Highway Road Trip: Calgary to Vancouver

Panoramic view of an alpine lake surrounded by mountain peaks.

View of Lake O’Hara in Yoho National Park. Photo © foto4u/123rf.

Professional truckers make the trip between Calgary and Vancouver along the Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy. 1) in 12 hours or so. But you’re on vacation, so plan on expanding the drive to a weeklong sojourn that will get you to Vancouver…eventually.

Day 1

Depart Calgary (Alberta) and try not to be tempted by the wonders of Banff National Park (leave them for another time) as you enter the mountains and cross the border at Yoho National Park. Explore the Yoho Valley by road, then head to Emerald Lake for an afternoon walk. If you don’t feel like splurging on a park accommodation, continue one hour west along the Trans-Canada Highway to Golden.

Day 2

Ride the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort gondola, then hit the highway for the one-hour drive to Glacier National Park. This park is spectacular even from the highway, so unless you’re a keen hiker or it’s getting late in the day, continue another hour along the Trans-Canada Highway to Revelstoke. After dinner at Woolsey Creek Café, take in an outdoor evening concert in Grizzly Plaza.

Day 3

Drive south 250 kilometers (156 miles) from Revelstoke along Highways 23 and 6 to Nelson. Break up the trip with a short detour to Sandon, British Columbia’s best-known ghost town, and to watch spawning kokanee at Kokanee Creek Provincial Park. Make dinner reservations at All Seasons Café.

Day 4

Driving through the West Kootenays to the Okanagan Valley is a delight, although a roller-coaster Highway 3 means the 260-kilometer (162-mile) trip takes around four hours. Stop for a swim in Christina Lake en route.

Day 5

Spend the day at your leisure in the Okanagan Valley. Near Osoyoos, Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre is an interesting stop, unless it’s a super-hot day—then stay close to the water or visit the Naramata wineries. Spend the night in Kelowna at the Hotel Eldorado and dine at the hotel’s lakefront restaurant.

Day 6

A summer chairlift ride at Silver Star Mountain Resort, an hour’s drive north from Kelowna on Highway 97, will leave you with pleasant memories of the Okanagan. Then allow 90 minutes to drive to Kamloops via Highway 97, stopping en route at Historic O’Keefe Ranch for a late lunch and a living history lesson. Spend the night in Kamloops, taking in the Two River Junction dinner theater.

Day 7

Give the direct Coquihalla Highway a miss and allow three hours to travel down the Fraser River Canyon to Hope. Suburban Vancouver is approaching, so if you feel like stalling the inevitable onslaught of city traffic, take a walk through the Othello-Quintette Tunnels.


Excerpted from the Tenth Edition of Moon British Columbia.

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