Arrive in Vancouver for a two-night stay. Spend the rest of your first day exploring Gastown and the waterfront area, including English Bay. Rent a bike for an evening ride through Stanley Park.
Spend the day in the bustling resort town of Whistler, a 90-minute drive north of Vancouver along Highway 99, returning to Vancouver in time for dinner atop Grouse Mountain.
Take the 90-minute ferry ride across to Vancouver Island and visit Victoria sights such as the Royal BC Museum and Butchart Gardens, then explore the urban oasis of Goldstream Provincial Park.
Make Tofino, a three-hour drive from Victoria along Highways 1 and 4, your final destination on Day 4. Even with a visit to Cathedral Grove and a short walk along the driftwood-strewn beaches of Pacific Rim National Park, you will have time to enjoy a relaxing evening in Tofino.
Rise early and make your way north up the island to Telegraph Cove, a four-hour drive from Tofino via Highways 4 and 19. Go whale watching in the afternoon and continue north for 60 kilometers (38 miles) to Port Hardy.
The morning ferry from Port Hardy gets into Prince Rupert in the late afternoon, linking up with the overnight ferry to the Haida Gwaii.
Even after 24 hours and two ferry trips, you’ll be invigorated by the uniqueness of the First Nations history and total wilderness of Haida Gwaii.
You have all day on the island to explore the beaches of Naikoon Provincial Park and First Nations attractions like the Haida Heritage Centre. Ferries depart Haida Gwaii for Prince Rupert in the evening (book a cabin to get a good night’s rest on board).
Arriving in Prince Rupert at dawn, take breakfast at the Cow Bay Cafe while waiting for the Museum of Northern British Columbia to open. Head west, stopping at ‘Ksan Historical Village. Aim for an overnight stay in Prince George—an eight-hour drive from Prince Rupert—but don’t push it; the more driving you get done today, the quicker you will reach the mountains the following day.
After the long haul across northern British Columbia, the first views of the Canadian Rockies, two hours’ driving beyond Prince George, are a relief. As Mount Robson comes into view, you will be wowed. Short hikes to viewpoints and waterfalls will fill your afternoon.
Drag yourself away from Mount Robson and head south on Highway 5 for four hours to the river city of Kamloops, then east along the Trans-Canada Highway to Revelstoke. Even if you’re not a railway buff, Craigellachie (site of the last spike on the transcontinental railway) is a pleasant stop along this two-hour stretch of road.
Drive the Meadows in the Sky Parkway near Revelstoke and continue east along the Trans-Canada Highway for two hours to Yoho National Park. This may be the night for a splurge at the Emerald Lake Lodge (at the very least, walk around this beautiful lake).
Head south along Highway 95 for three hours through the Columbia Valley. Stop at the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area before veering west along Highway 3 to the artsy city of Nelson.
It’s a seven-hour drive to Vancouver from Nelson via Highway 3. En route, the wineries, golf courses, and abundance of water sports in the Okanagan Valley will tempt you to linger a day or two longer.
Excerpted from the Tenth Edition of Moon British Columbia.