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Vancouver to Banff Road Trip Itinerary: 3 Epic Routes

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Dreaming of an epic Canadian Rockies road trip? You will LOVE this post. We are sharing a detailed Vancouver to Banff road trip itinerary for 7 to 14 days. This drive covers 3 national parks, 2-4 cities, and many small towns in British Columbia and Alberta.

Beautiful Canadian Rockies Road trip
Beautiful Canadian Rockies: Vancouver Banff Drive

We have been exploring the Rockies for a decade now, and have visited in different seasons. You will get a glimpse of how the landscape looks throughout the year, with useful travel tips to help plan your trip! (You will also see me grow over the past 10 years through this post – haha!)

So let’s get started!

Vancouver to Banff Road Trip Itinerary: Distance, national park fees, driving conditions

Canadian Road Trip: Vancouver to Banff Drive

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Vancouver to Banff National Park distance is 847 km or 526.3 miles, one way. If you drive non-stop, it takes about 9.50 to 10 hours to complete. 

There are quite a few national and provincial parks along the way, with beautiful small towns, waterfalls, trails, and pristine lakes that you can explore. 

Vancouver is located in the Canadian province of British Columbia, and Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper National Parks are in Alberta.

An ideal road trip to cover all the national parks in this part of the Rockies should be for 10 days. 14 days is better for returning the vehicle (car rental) to Calgary and flying from Alberta. Or if you are a BC resident, you can set aside one day to drive back.

Vancouver Banff Drive – Canada Road Trips

Kamloops is sort of like the midpoint of this itinerary – whichever way you are starting in Calgary/Banff, Edmonton/Jasper, or from Vancouver/Whistler. 

We live in Edmonton and have embarked on a lot of road trips with various permutations and combinations, and we will share the BEST route possible to maximize your time at the Canadian Rockies!

Vancouver to Banff Drive in a nutshell

Vancouver to Banff Road Trip Itinerary 14 days 

  • Day 1-2: Vancouver (2 nights)
  • Day 3: Squamish
  • Day 4: Whistler
  • Day 5: Kamloops (1 night)
  • Day 6-7: Jasper National Park (2 nights)
  • Day 8: Jasper National Park to Lake Louise via Icefields Parkway
  • Day 9: Lake Louise (1-2 nights)
  • Day 10: Lake Louise to Yoho National Park day trip, return to Lake Louise or Banff
  • Day 11-13: Banff National Park (2- 3 nights)
  • Day 14: Calgary, car drop off and fly

Alternate 14 day Vancouver to Calgary Road Trip itinerary

  • Day 1 – 2: Arrive in Vancouver, explore for the next 2 days
  • Day 3: Day tour of Squamish
  • Day 4 – 5: Explore Whistler (2 nights)
  • Day 6: Spend a day in Kamloops (1 night)
  • Day 7: Visit Revelstoke from Kamloops (2.50 hours drive). Explore Revelstoke, especially ski jumping in the winter at the Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Stay overnight
  • Day 8: Drive to Glacier National Park in British Columbia (day trip). Explore. Stay overnight in Golden (45 minutes from the national park)
  • Day 9: Drive from Golden BC to Yoho National Park BC. In the evening, head to Lake Louise, and stay overnight
  • Day 10: Explore Lake Louise
  • Day 11-13: Head to Banff National Park. Spend 3 days. 
  • Day 14: Calgary, car drop off and fly

Vancouver to Banff Drive 7 day itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrive in Vancouver, explore or head to Whistler 
  • Day 2: Whistler 
  • Day 3: Kamloops
  • Day 4: Lake Louise (you can also do a half-day in Yoho National Park, and another half in Lake Louise as well)
  • Day 5-6: Banff National Park
  • Day 7: Calgary, car drop off and fly

A shortened version of this road trip itinerary can be done by skipping Jasper National Park, and Squamish, and focusing on the goodies at the Canadian Rockies cradle – Banff and Lake Louise. 

Note that Yoho, Banff, and Jasper parks are all National Parks of Canada, and you must pay entry fees to enter and stay overnight. Here is the fees chart,

  • Adult – Person 18 to 64 years of age – $10 CAD per day or 24 hours*
  • Family/Car – $20 CAD – per day or 24 hours
  • Senior – $8.30
  • Youth (up to 17 years) – Free
  • Commercial group (per person) – $8.30

The daily or 24-hour pass means that you pay $10 CAD per adult for one day inside the National Park. If you are a frequent visitor to National Parks in Canada, get The Discovery Pass.

This pass is valid for one full year from the date of purchase and it allows you to access over 80 historical, and nature parks in Canada for a set price of $69+ CAD (for adults).

Read: Planning a trip to Banff & Canadian Rockies Travel Tips

Tips for preparing for the Road Trip

  • Summer – Summer is a great time to embark on this road trip. This is the time when you can see the pristine turquoise blue waters of the lakes, go hiking, camping, etc. This is also the peak season in the national parks, so expect accommodation to be expensive, and towns and trails to be crowded. We recommend starting early to beat the traffic rush when you start from Vancouver or Calgary. If camping, remember to book campsites ahead of time.
  • Spring and fall – Spring and fall are our favorite times to explore the national parks. It is off-season in Canada, so finding accommodation is a breeze. Spring can be a little tricky for visiting Parks, as many of the sightseeing spots may not be open. The sweet spot is the late spring, and early fall weeks, when the majority of the attractions will be open. Trans Canada highway and sister driving routes are always open, all year round. 
  • Winter – Winter is a wonderful time to visit the Rockies, but driving in winter can be tricky. Winter is not a peak season, some of the destinations (that are popular winter vacation spots in Canada) can be filled up really quickly by international visitors. 
  • Wondering when is the best time to visit Banff National Park? Read this guide
Vancouver to Banff road trips
Road trip Vancouver Banff in the winter

Driving in Canada in winter can be challenging due to slippery road surfaces, unpaved lanes, and blowing snow. Sometimes road accidents and avalanches may also add extra time to your itinerary. 

If you are planning to do this Vancouver to Banff road trip itinerary in winter, then follow these tips, 

  • Winter tires – Ensure your vehicle or rental car has tires on (not all-seasonal ones)
  • Fluid – Don’t forget car fluid (buy something up to – 15 degrees Celsius or lower)!
  • Slow down – While driving in the winter, drive slowly and maintain a good distance. 
  • Packing for a road trip  – Keep warm clothing in your car to stay warm, including some snacks. Tips on what to pack for Canada in winter
  • Check local news before you start – Check the weather and local news to ensure it is safe to embark on this trip, and that the route/road is clear. This will also help you to determine if additional travel time is required

For all road trips, remember

  • You must carry a valid driver’s license (Canadian, US, or International)
  • You can rent a vehicle in all major international airports, in this case, Vancouver 
  • You must be at least 21 years of age to rent a vehicle.
  • Canada uses kilometers and meters to measure distance, and wherever wildlife crossings exist, the signs will show up
  • Oh, and don’t forget to fuel up with Tim Hortons Coffee and doughnut – that’s a MUST – you are on a road trip, eh!
Tim Hortons! Get Ready for this epic Canada Road Trip!

Day 1: Arrive and explore Vancouver Downtown, Stanley Park, Granville Island, Gastown

Vancouver is served by the Vancouver International Airport, which is located in Richmond, British Columbia, about 12 km (7.4 miles) away from Downtown. 

If arriving via aircraft from the eastern part of Canada, or the USA (or Seattle), you will arrive at this airport. Car rentals are available from the YVR/Vancouver airport. We book our rental cars via Expedia.

You can also reserve it online, and then pick it up from one of the rental agencies like Alamo, Budget, Avis, and Enterprise to name a few. We like using Avis and Enterprise Rent-A-Car for mileage offerings, and vehicle variety. 

Alternatively, if you are planning to explore Vancouver via day tours, you can skip the car rental in the first few days, and then pick it up when ready to start the road trip to Banff Alberta. 

Exploring Vancouver without a car: 

Vancouver’s rapid transit rail connects YVR airport to downtown Vancouver in under 30 minutes. You can access trains from both the International and Domestic Terminals. Fare starts at $4.25 CAD, plus the $5.00 CAD Canada Line. 

The perfect 2 days in Vancouver Itinerary (or weekend) is here. Visit the Canada Place, Stanley Park, Granville Island, Capilano Suspension Bridge & more
Downtown Vancouver

Where to stay in Vancouver? We recommend staying in the downtown area. From downtown, you can walk to various sightseeing attractions, and take a free shuttle to North Vancouver, or guided tours. 

Our pick: GEC Granville Suites are located in the downtown neighborhood. The rooms were decent and clean. You can check out the hotel and book here

If you prefer a luxury hotel, we recommend the Fairmont Vancouver Waterfront Hotel. This hotel is pet-friendly and offers amazing views of the city, waterfront, and mountains. Book your stay here

Note: After 2 days in Vancouver sightseeing, pick up a car rental, and start the drive towards Alberta. You can skip to Day 3 if you do not wish to explore Vancouver in this itinerary. 

After arriving in downtown Vancouver, embark on a walking tour of the city center. Head to the waterfront area to visit Canada Place. 

The sails of Canada Place are iconic to the city of Vancouver, and the downtown area. It is home to the Vancouver Convention Center, the Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel, Vancouver’s World Trade Center, and FlyOver Canada. 

The perfect 2 days in Vancouver Itinerary (or weekend) is here. Visit the Canada Place, Stanley Park, Granville Island, Capilano Suspension Bridge & more
Canada Place Vancouver BC

Canada Place is a nice place to hang out, stop for a coffee, soak in the water views, and relax in the wonderful city. FlyOver Canada is a popular attraction in Canada Place. 

FlyOver Canada uses state-of-the-art technology to give you the feeling of flight. You can ‘fly’ or hang over Niagara Falls, and various other cool places in Canada! 

Many Vancouver sightseeing tours start at Canada Place (for tourists’ pick-ups and drop-offs). 

Wandering in downtown in 2 days in Vancouver itinerary
In Vancouver Downtown

To make the most of your trip to Vancouver, you can join a Hop-on and Hop-off sightseeing tour to check off all the city attractions from Stanley Park, Granville Island, Chinatown, and more. Book Vancouver hop on and off tour here

Stanley Park is a popular attraction and an urban park in Vancouver. The park is beautiful with a lot of green spaces, views of Vancouver Harbor and the English Bay, and various artifacts (from statues to totem poles). Do check out statues at the Park, like that of Henry Jerome or, the Girl in a Wetsuit (my favorite).

If you have time on your hands, we recommend walking the Vancouver Seawall (10 km or 6.2 miles loop). Walking the seawall will take about 2-3 hours, and biking takes about an hour. 

While driving (or on the sightseeing bus), you will see a green bridge, known as the Lion Gate Bridge. This bridge connects the city of Vancouver to north and west Vancouver.

Lions Gate Bridge Entrance in Vancouver BC Canada
Lions Gate Bridge Entrance in Vancouver BC Canada

The best place to check out and photograph the bridge (when not driving) is to head to Prospect Point. Prospect Point is important as it allows you to get an uninterrupted view of the city of Vancouver. The drive to the Point goes through a woody/forested area.

The Prospect Point falls on the northernmost tip of Stanley Park – also a wonderful spot to spend summers. 

The Granville bridge and granville island surroundings, looking north at the Vancouver skyline.
The Granville bridge and Granville island surroundings, looking north at the Vancouver skyline.

Another must add attraction to your 2 day Vancouver itinerary is to visit Granville Island. Granville Island is a peninsula and shopping district, located across False Creek from Downtown Vancouver.

The perfect 2 days in Vancouver Itinerary (or weekend) is here. Visit the Canada Place, Stanley Park, Granville Island, Capilano Suspension Bridge & more
Toy Store in Granville Island

It is nice to spend an afternoon here, looking at the shops or eating Fish and Chips. There is also a large Granville Island public market that sells fresh local produce, seafood, baked goods, and gourmet food. Book a 2 hour walking tour of Granville Tour here

Chinatown is another spot to visit during your trip. We enjoyed our time at the Sun yat Sen Gardens located in Chinatown. 

The gardens provide a very tranquil atmosphere, with greenery and symbols of Chinese heritage. The gardens were inspired and modeled after the private gardens in Suzhou, China.

Sun Yat-Sen Garden in Vancouver, Canada

After exploring the Sun yat Sen gardens, you can stop for an early dinner or meal in Chinatown.

To finish sightseeing on day one, we recommend heading to Gastown for drinks. Gastown neighborhood is filled with pretty Victorian homes and is sprinkled with restaurants, bars, and cafes. 

The perfect 2 days in Vancouver Itinerary (or weekend) is here. Visit the Canada Place, Stanley Park, Granville Island, Capilano Suspension Bridge & more
Gastown Steam Clock, with Vancouver Look out – backdrop

Do take time to check out the 40-year-old clock, called the Gastown Steam Clock. Steam comes out of the clock till today, and it looks so pretty with the buildings in the backdrop. 

Day 2: Sightseeing: North Vancouver, Robson Street & Vancouver Art Gallery

For day 2 in Vancouver, we planned to visit the beautiful Capilano Suspension Bridge. It is located in North Vancouver, and you can take a free shuttle (or drive if you have access to car rental) from Canada Place.

There are free shuttles available from Canada Place to take you to Capilano Suspension Bridge and they operate every 30 minutes. Take a look at their website here.

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Set aside 2-4 hours to explore the Park, cross the Suspension Bridge, and have fun at the Cliff Walk or TreeTops Adventure. You can also stop for lunch at a cafe inside the park. 

The Capilano Suspension bridge was built in the late 1800s by a Scottish civil engineer named George Grant Mackay. You can learn about the bridge’s early history from a guide when you reach the park entrance. The current bridge is 140 metres long and 70 metres above the river.

There is an entry fee at Capilano Suspension Bridge. For adults, the fee starts at $54.95 CAD, to get access to the bridge, totem poles, guide walk, cliff walk, etc. More details about fees can be found here

Also, located in North Vancouver is the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. Lynn Canyon Park is completely free, and it also has a ton of hiking trails that you can enjoy!

In the late afternoon, head back to the heart of the city to explore Robson Street. Robson Street is a popular place for shoppers. This street is very far-stretched, as it starts at the BC Place Stadium and runs past the Vancouver Library square and goes up to the Lost Lagoon, in Stanley Park.

You can go shopping, or visit the Vancouver Art Gallery. It is easy to get lost in this street and spend the entire evening here at a nice restaurant or pub.

Day 3: Drive to Whistler with a stop in Squamish

Squamish is a town located further north of Vancouver. The views from the Sea to Sky Gondola with waterfalls and mountains make this drive to the town all worth it.

You can explore Squamish on a day trip, and then drive to Whistler, where you can spend the night (to check out the highlights the following day).

  • Vancouver to Squamish takes 1 hour. Distance is about 64.1 km (39.8 miles) via BC-99 N
  • Squamish to Whistler takes 45 minutes. Distance is about 58.8 km (36.5 miles) via Sea-to-Sky Highway/BC-99 S
  • Vancouver to Whistler takes 1 hour and 40 minutes. Distance is about 121 km (74.5 miles) via BC-99 N

Squamish is at the northern tip of the island-dotted Howe Sound and surrounded by Stawamus Chief Mountain views. We recommend adding 2-3 attractions for a one day itinerary in Squamish. 

If you wish to go on a short hike, stop at the Shannon Falls Provincial Park first before arriving in the town. Shannon Falls is home to the third largest waterfalls in British Columbia. 

Highly recommend the Sea to Sky Gondola. It has all the epic views and showcases the stunning Shannon Falls from up there, as it cascades down a series of cliffs. Entry to the sightseeing gondola is $53.95 CAD for adults (when purchased online). 

The Britannia Mine Museum is another must visit stop on this route to Whistler.  The museum preserves the history and showcases artifacts related to British Columbia’s mining industry. In order to explore it all, you will need about 1.5 to 2 hours. 

The entry fee at the Britannia Mine Museum is $30 CAD, and includes a 45 minute tour. 

Beautiful View of Chief Mountain, Sea to Sky Highway and Howe Sound. Cloudy Overcast Sky. Dark Art Render. Located in Squamish, North of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Beautiful View of Chief Mountain, Sea to Sky Highway, and Howe Sound

After all the sightseeing, take a stroll in the downtown Squamish area, and stop for lunch, before continuing the trip to Whistler.

The drive from Squamish to Whistler will take you about 45 minutes. You can plan to arrive by evening so that you can settle in, check in to your hotel, and head out for dinner in Whistler downtown.

Whistler Village in the evening

Where to stay in Whistler?  Hilton Resort & Spa. The Hilton Whistler Resort and Spa is located in the heart of Whistler Village. You can book rooms with mountain or pool views. The resort is just steps away from Whistler & Blackcomb Mountain. Private paid parking is available. 

Another alternative is Tantalus Resort Lodge, which is a 3 star property for your stay. There is a pool, and free parking is offered here. 

Read: 2 day Whistler itinerary

Day 4: Explore Whistler Village

Wake up to a wonderful breakfast and views in Whistler Village. The downtown area of Whistler is nothing short of an alpine village. Here you can shop for goodies, or hang out in a cafe.

Whistler Ski Resort Canada
Whistler Ski Resort, Canada

After breakfast, head to the Whistler Blackcomb. Whistler Blackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America and also has the greatest uphill lift capacity. 

You can use a jeep tour too, if interested (especially in the winter!). And don’t forget to hop on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola for moving between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains at the top. 

During winters, the resort abounds in skiing activities. You can also opt for ski lessons here. Ski season starts in November here, and Blackcomb is also known for spring skiing. In April, Whistler hosts the World Ski & Snowboard Festival in the mountains!

Whistler in winter
Whistler: Canada Winter Holidays

It is important to note that regardless of when you visit, at Whistler Blackcomb you can see snow and ice even in the summer months. We do recommend bringing in a warm jacket, and comfortable boots to enjoy the mountains. And don’t forget your sunscreen and sunglasses!

In the summer months, after visiting the Blackcomb, head to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre. This is a great place to learn about Indigenous cultures – of Squamish & Lil’wat Nations. You can also join a unique tour, ‘What We Treasure tour’, to learn more about the cultures. The entry fee is $20 CAD for adults. 

Scandinave Spa

Finally, in the evening head to the Scandinave Spa (they close at 09:00 pm). Enjoy one of their spa and relaxation packages!

Day 5: Drive to Kamloops British Columbia

Kamloops is another city in the province of British Columbia. When we drive from Alberta, or back, Kamloops or Revelstoke is a good option for a stop. Drive from Whistler to Kamloops takes a little over 4 hours. 

  • Whistler to Kamloops takes 4 hours 14 minutes. Distance is 299.4 km (185 miles) via BC-99 N or
  • It is longer via Trans-Canada Hwy/BC-1 E and BC-5 N – about 5 hours 37 minutes. Distance via this route is 473.5 km (293 miles)

We recommend starting early from Whistler so that you can stop for lunch, and break the drive. This way you will be in Kamloops in the afternoon, check-in, and then explore a bit in the evening. 

For lunch, you can stop in a small town, named Lillooet. Depending on your interests, you can check out a few things here (or continue the drive to Kamloops): 

  • Lillooet Museum and Visitor Centre
  • Old Suspension Bridge
  • There is a winery, called the Fort Berens Winery, which is a nice stop. Travelers love to lunch here and go wine tasting! Probably a good idea if you are staying here overnight. 

You could also visit Nairn Falls Provincial Park near Pemberton.

In Kamloops, you can check out a few of the attractions, depending on your arrival time, 

  • Secwepemc Museum & Heritage Park: The museum showcases the cultural and traditional lives of the Secwepemc People.
  • Kamloops Museum & Archives: Another museum to stop by, in downtown Kamloops
  • Kamloops is home to Sun Peaks Resort. It is a lovely ski area, where you go skiing in the winter, and biking or hiking in the summer
  • Where to eat in Kamloops? Brownstone Restaurant (Canadian) | Mittz Kitchen | Maurya’s Restaurant Bar & Banquet (Indian)

Where to stay in Kamloops?  We booked a stay at the Holiday Inn Express Kamloops. It is a 3 star property with free breakfast, and a pool on-site. Free parking is also provided. 

Kamloops doesn’t have a lot to explore. So we usually start late to the city of Kamloops (spending more time in Whistler or Jasper, whichever direction we are driving) and arrive just in time to check-in, eat dinner and sleep!

Dutch Lake on an Autumn Morning, Clearwater, British Columbia Canada. , canoe in calm water with mountain reflections in the lake
Clearwater, BC

An alternate option is to drive one hour north of Kamloops to Clearwater. In doing so, you can visit Wells Grey Provincial Park. 

Clearwater is a little over 3 and a half hours’ drive from Jasper, so it is closer to Jasper than Kamloops (saving an hour the next day). Find hotels in Clearwater British Columbia.

Day 6: Drive to Jasper from Kamloops or Clearwater British Columbia

On day 6 start for Jasper National Park. Jasper National Park is the largest park in the Canadian Rockies. (And we are lucky to be living only 4 hours away from both Jasper and Banff town! Yay! Here is an Edmonton to Jasper Road trip itinerary)

So driving from BC here is the distance and duration,

  • Kamloops to Jasper is 4 hours 50 minutes. Distance is 440.7 km (273 miles) via BC-5 N
  • Clearwater to Jasper is 3 hours and 20 minutes. Distance is 317.5 km (197 miles) via BC-5 N

As Jasper is a national park, you have to pay park fees at the west entrance gate. 

Upon entering the park gates, soak in those views of the Canadian Rockies, and head to Jasper town for brunch (or coffee and cake). 

From Jasper townsite, head to explore the following attractions,

Pyramid Lake - Get the ultimate Edmonton to Jasper Itinerary and guide, with a comprehensive list of things to do in Jasper and places to visit in Jasper National Park.
Patricia Lake at Jasper National Park

Start at the Patricia and Pyramid Lakes. Both lakes are located only about a 10 minute drive away. From downtown Jasper, take Hwy 16A (Connaught Road) north, turn left on Pyramid Lake Road, and follow it to the lake. 

You can access both lakes all year round. In the summer, you can go kayaking/boating and enjoy hikes and strolls around the lakeside.

In the winter, you can go snowshoeing on Patricia and Pyramid Lakes. We loved our time at Pyramid Island which is located a short drive/walk (about 1.5 km or 1 mile) from the Pyramid Lake Resort. 

Parking is located on the left side of the road and is limited. So if visiting in the summer plan to visit early. In the winter months, we were able to score parking at noon (with no one to be seen in the area). 

Pyramid Lake Island in Jasper
Pyramid Lake Island in Jasper

After the lakes, make your way to Athabasca Falls. Accessible all year round, Athabasca Falls is a waterfall located about 40 minutes from Pyramid Lake.

If visiting in the winter, ensure you are wearing cleats or solid winter boots as the boardwalk and steps could be slippery. 

If you fancy an ice walk in the winter, visit the Maligne Canyon. It is located about 20 minutes from Pyramid Lake, and it looks amazing in the winter with the ice formations. You can also go on this walk on your own. Ensure you are wearing cleats as the ground could be very slippery.  

Where to stay in Jasper? 

  • Marmot Lodge: Located in Jasper town, Marmot Lodge is a good accommodation option inside the national park, and close to restaurants and attractions. Book a stay at Marmot Lodge
  • Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge: Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is a nice and luxurious option, with a spa, planetarium, and 2 stunning restaurants on-site. Book a stay here
  • Pocahontas Cabins: We enjoy staying in cabins in the winter. And on one snowy December, we stayed at the Pocahontas Cabins (located close to the east gate entrance). Pocahontas is a 2 star accommodation with free parking, a kitchen, a bedroom, and a living room in each cabin. Note that Pocahontas Cabins are located 40 minutes away from Jasper townsite. Book a stay at Pocahontas Cabins
Pocahontas Cabins in Jasper (east)
Pocahontas Cabins in Jasper (east)

Day 7: Explore more of Jasper National Park, Alberta

On day 7 explore more of Jasper National Park. Regardless of where you stay in Jasper, you must head to the downtown area for a nice breakfast at a local cafe. We personally love the Bear’s Paw Bakery!

Pyramid Lake - Get the ultimate Edmonton to Jasper Itinerary and guide, with a comprehensive list of things to do in Jasper and places to visit in Jasper National Park.
Downtown Jasper: Road trip Vancouver Banff Lake Louise Lake Patricia & more

Your second day in Jasper is all about short hikes, and nature/old fort walks near downtown. Whistler’s Peak Trail is a popular spot for hikes. Maligne Canyon is also a great spot for hiking and outdoor activities.

Old Fort Point Summit is located close to the downtown area, and it offers amazing views of Jasper town!

If you are not into hikes, visit the Jasper SkyTram (summer), which is a sightseeing gondola. Jasper SkyTram is only open from late March to early October, and it welcomes you to Whistlers Mountain views. When the gondola rides are open, you can also visit the restaurant/bistro up there!

In the summer months, you can also visit the Miette Hot Springs. They are located near the Pocahontas Cabins. (Note that it is closed in the winter.) The pool is located outdoors and it offers amazing views of the surrounding Fiddle River Valley. 

Jasper - Marmot Ski Resort
Jasper – Marmot Ski Resort

For those visiting in winter, or early spring visit Jasper’s Marmot Ski Basin for skiing (from November to April). Jasper Town to Marmot Ski Basin is about 20 minute drive away. You can also hop on a shuttle bus (from the downtown area near Tim Hortons) to reach the ski area.

Marmot Basin has about 90 runs on four mountain faces with 3,000 vertical feet of drop. There are options for ski lessons, and ski gear rentals onsite.

The area has a lift capacity of close to 12,000 skiers per hour on seven lifts. You will also love the amazing restaurant up there (if not skiing)!

Beer sampling at the Jasper Brewing Co
Beer sampling at the Jasper Brewing Co

After all the sightseeing, finish the night at the Jasper Brewing Co. in downtown Jasper. We love their beer samplers – they are amazing! Try them next time you are in town!

Read: 3 days in Jasper itinerary

Day 8: Drive to Lake Louise from Jasper via Icefields Parkway

We are halfway through the Vancouver to Banff road trip itinerary, and it’s now time to head to Banff from Jasper via the Icefields Parkway

The Icefields Parkway stretches for about 233 km (144.7 miles) from Jasper to Lake Lousie (and vice versa). This is one of the most scenic drives that you can take in the Canadian Rockies. 

Aerial view of vehicles on scenic Icefields Parkway highway between Banff and Jasper National Parks during summer in Alberta, Canada.
Scenic Icefields Parkway Between Banff and Jasper in Alberta

If you drive non-stop, it will take about 3 hours to arrive in Lake Louise. The entire route is done via Highway AB-93S.

It is important to note that the Icefields Parkway road is open all year round. However, not all attractions will be open in the winter. 

Icefields Parkway in winter
Icefield Parkway from Jasper towards Banff

We do recommend stopping at a few sights before arriving at Lake Louise in the evening (overnight stay in Lake Louise). 

Your first stop along the Icefields Parkway is the stunning Sunwapta Falls (45 minutes from Jasper town). The route is accessible all year, we suggest checking seasonal road conditions in the winter, before heading to the access area for the Falls.

We loved exploring the Sunwapta Falls in the winter. It was not crowded, and we loved the white snow dust on the landscape and waters. It was just so beautiful. 

Sunwapta Falls in winter
Sunwapta Falls in winter

Next, visit the Glacier Skywalk and Columbia Icefields. Columbia Icefields are home to the largest non-polar ice fields in the world. To embark on glacier tours, you have to head there in the summer, particularly from May to October.

If you are pressed for time, you can visit the Glacier Discovery Centre, and admire the views from a distance. 

Columbia Icefield Adventure tour is weather dependent, and includes an Ice Explorer Tour on the Athabasca Glacier, plus admission to the Skywalk, and return transportation from the Glacier Discovery Centre.

Peyto Lake Views
Peyto Lake in Banff National Park

Lastly, before settling into Lake Louise, stop by Peyto Lake. It is a stunning glacial-fed lake located an hour from the Columbia Icefields. If you are up for a hike, lace up for an easy 6.11 km or 3.8 mile round trip hike. This spot welcomes you to one of the best views in the Canadian Rockies. 

From Peyto Lake, drive for another 30 minutes to arrive at Lake Louise. 

Where to stay in Lake Louise? Stay at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Or at any of the mid-budget accommodations like Lake Louise Inn.

You can find more hotels here for Lake Louise

Day 9: Explore Lake Louise

On day 9, spend a full day in and around Lake Louise. Go on hikes, or canoeing in the summer. You can rent canoes at the lakeside. 

Lake Louise in Banff national park with mountains and forest in Canada.
Lake Louise in Banff National Park

Hiking the Agnes Tea House trail will welcome you to amazing views, and a historic tea house. If not into hiking, you can enjoy a romantic stroll by the lake and the Fairmont Hotel property!

If visiting in the winter, you can go skiing at the Lake Louise Ski Resort, and ice skating at the frozen lake. In the late winter months, there are ice festivals that you can enjoy too. 

Banff Winter Activities - Lake Louise covered in snow
Lake Louise covered in snow

There is a small town centre area inside of the hamlet of Lake Louise, this is where you can grab food, and buy essentials. You can also walk/hike from the lake to the centre.

We had the yummiest of Chicken curries and candies here, at the Laggan’s Mountain Bakery & Delicatessen (101 Village Road, Lake Louise).

Day 10: Take a day trip to Yoho National Park from Lake Louise

From Lake Louise explore the Yoho National Park, on a day trip. This national park is one of the parks in the Canadian Rockies (others being Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, and Waterton National Park).

Lake Louise to Yoho National Park is only 15 minutes away (one way). Park entry fees are the same ($20 CAD per vehicle entry for 24 hours). 

Yoho National Park is located in British Columbia and is bordered by Kootenay National Park (south side), and Banff National Park (east side). The visitor office for the park is located in the town of Field, by the Trans Canada Highway. 

En route from Lake Lousie, your first stop is at the Natural Bridge. This attraction is a wonderful phenomenon of natural rock formation, that looks like a bridge, wherein the Kicking Horse River flows from the Field Valley. 

Natural Bridge Yoho National Park
Natural Bridge Yoho

There is a free car parking area right outside the lookout/viewing platform. You can access the scenic lookout without any strenuous hikes. 

Yoho National Park in October
Yoho National Park in October

Up next on the road trip are the Spiral Tunnels. These tunnels were created when British Columbia joined the Canadian Confederation and a railway network was constructed. Every day, 25 to 30 trains pass through the Spiral Tunnels making it super picturesque. 

If you are patient, we recommend getting down at the lower Spiral Tunnels and waiting for the trains to pass by (if not just read through the informative displays in the area).

One of the must visit attractions at the Yoho National Park (after the Emerald Lake) is Takakkaw Falls. You can easily access Takakkaw Falls via Trans-Canada Highway and on the Yoho Valley Road. 

The scenic drive to the Falls takes about 30 minutes. The roads leading to the falls are steep and narrow, so exercise caution as you drive. Maneuvering larger vehicles might be challenging in these lanes.

A short trail takes to the full view of Takakkaw Falls from the parking lot. Spend some time here before making your way to the townsite of Field for lunch.

Our favorite place for lunch: Truffle Pigs Bistro. 

After lunch, proceed to the Upper Spiral Tunnel Viewpoint in Cathedral Mountain. From here you can also view the meeting point of the Kicking Horse River and the Yoho River. 

Last but not the least, visit the beautiful Emerald Lake. This lake is enclosed by mountains—President Range, Mount Burgess, and Wapta, and oozes a lovely ‘emerald color’ (in the summertime). 

Emerald Lake Yoho National Park
Emerald Lake Yoho National Park

The lake is accessible all year round. In the winter, it is prone to heavy snowfall, making it a paradise for cross country skiing. Rain is frequent in the summer. June and July are the perfect months to capture images of wild flora and fauna.

During the summer months, you can rent a canoe, take walks or visit the Emerald Lake Lodge. In addition, this is the perfect time to capture the color of the lake (especially in the month of July).

Near the lake is a hiking trail that is accessible for differently abled and strollers. 

After a fun-filled day of sightseeing at Yoho National Park, drive back to Lake Louise, and stay there overnight. 

Day 11: Drive to Banff from Lake Louise 

On day 11, start for Banff. Lake Louise is located inside Banff National Park and is only a 50-minute drive away. When you start early, you can enjoy breakfast in the heart of Banff Avenue.

Our favorites: White Bark Cafe, Evelyn’s Cafe, and Touloulou’s. Find more of the best places to eat in Banff National Park

Heading to Banff? Get the guide to BEST places to eat in Banff for every meal, occasion and budget. This is your one stop where to eat in Banff planner!
Places to eat in Banff Canada

There are tons of things to do in and around Banff from visiting more lakes (Two Jack Lake, Minnewanka Lake, Moraine Lake, and Vermillion Lake), hiking and biking trails, campgrounds in the summer, gardens, and stunning mountain views.

As this is your first day in Banff, we recommend checking off attractions near the townsite. Explore the beautiful shops, buy souvenirs, eat Beaver Tails, and if you are not bored of gondolas already – then hit the Sulphur Mountain Sightseeing Gondola.  

Sulphur Mountain Sightseeing Gondola is located a 5-minute drive away from Banff town. They are open all year round (and trust us, it is even better in the winter in Banff, with Christmas On Top celebrations and stargazing events).

Do remember to wear warm clothing, as it gets super windy up there!

The entry fee at the gondola starts at $64 CAD for adults. They have separate operating hours for different seasons. 

You can stay at the gondola sightseeing platform as long as you want, and take in views of the Bow Valley. There is a nice Sky Bistro at the viewing platform, as well as a Cosmic Ray Station. 

Many hikers head to the top of Sulphur Mountain through a woody forest, and it takes about 1.50 to 2 hours (one way) to reach the summit. If interested, you can hike one way, and then use the gondola to come down.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel pictures
Fairmont Banff Springs

After a gondola ride, proceed to the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. This is a vintage 5-star property located in Banff – it is housed in a castle-like building. From the suites and hotel grounds, you can soak in views of the mountains and Banff Valley.

Another 5-minute drive will bring you to Bow Falls. Bow Falls is a major waterfall on the Bow River. You can easily park your car by the falls, and go on a quick stroll to explore the area.

When we visited it on a summer afternoon, we were blessed with rainbow views! 

Bow Falls with rainbow
Bow Falls

If interested, you can add a visit to the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies from here, it is a 4 minute drive from the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.

Next on the list is the historic site of Cave and Basin. Cave and Basin National Historic Site is home to natural thermal mineral springs around which Banff was founded and established, as Canada’s first national park. 

In order to get to Cave and Basin, you can walk/hike a distance of 1.5 kilometres (with no elevation gain) from the intersection at the south end of the Bow River bridge. It will take you about 20 to 25 minutes.

Inside you will find sulphur pools (and the smell could be very strong for some). There are also permanent exhibits highlighting the history of the Banff site, and the flora and fauna. The entrance fee is $6 CAD.

From the Cave and Basin Historic Site, you can embark on 2 trails – Marsh Loop and Sundance Canyon Trail (both great for hiking and biking).

In the evening, visit Cascade of Time Gardens. Go on a nice evening stroll here, admiring the Edwardian building (which is an administrative office), Cascade mountain views, and various gazebos and manicured gardens.

It is completely free to enter the complex. From the Cave and Basin Site, Cascade Gardens are a 4 minute drive away via Cave Ave. 

If coming from downtown Banff follow Banff Avenue to the south end and cross over the bridge on the Bow River. You will see the stone Parks Building ahead of you.

Parking is available near the gardens, and located close by is a Chinese Restaurant named Silver Dinner, where you can go for dinner. (Banff International Hostel is a 6-minute drive from here)

Read: Where to stay in Banff National Park

We have stayed in many properties in Banff over the past 10 years. We will pick three favorites here (mid-budget range),

  • Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa: Located in downtown Banff/Banff Avenue, this hotel is a nice option to stay close to town, with quick access (walkable distance) to shops and restaurants. They offer free parking, and there is a spa on site. Book your stay here
  • Juniper Hotel & Bistro: Juniper Hotel & Bistro is well known for stunning restaurant with views of Mount Norquay and the Trans Canada Highway. They have a variety of room options (from cabins, and penthouses to standard rooms). It is a fuss-free 3 star property with nice views. Book your stay here
  • Elk + Avenue: Another Banff downtown property, Elk + Avenue offers mountain views from many of its suites. There is a jacuzzi and a sauna on-site, along with a nice (rustic and cabin style) restaurant. The hotel is pet-friendly ($25 CAD per night). Book your stay here

Day 12: Exploring Banff National Park 

The second day in Banff is all about road tripping and exploring various lakes inside the National Park.

We will start with Vermillion Lakes (close to Banff downtown), then proceed to Two Jack Lake, Lake Minnewanka, and finally, arrive at the stunning Moraine Lake (by late afternoon or early evening to beat the crowds).

Vermillion Lakes is located about 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) from Banff downtown. To get to the lakeside, from Banff or the Trans-Canada highway, access Mt Norquay Road.

From Mt Norquay road, leaving the town of Banff, turn left onto Vermilion Lakes Road, which will take you alongside all three lakes.

Lake Vermillion Banff photography
Vermillion Lakes: Vancouver to Banff drive

The three lakes are formed in the Bow River valley at the foot of Mount Norquay. They are located between the Trans-Canada Highway and the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks.

You can access the lake all year round. We particularly enjoyed the views of the Vermillion Lake with Mt Norquay, in the fall season (it is possible to sight the Northern Lights at the Vermillion Lakes in the late fall, and winter months in Banff).

You can hike, walk or go kayaking at the lake in the summer months.

From Vermillion Lake, start for Two Jack Lake (this is where Salil and I got married, see our pictures from the Banff wedding here). 

It will take about 14 minutes to get to Two Jack Lake (12.3 km/7 miles) via Trans-Canada Hwy/AB-1 E and Lake Minnewanka Scenic Dr. There is a campsite near the lake.

We enjoy walking the 2-mile loop trail near the lake. It is a great spot for photos, and also to just relax and enjoy scenic views of Two Jack Lake, and Mount Rundle. You can access the lake in the winter as well – they are perfect for ice skating when the lakes are frozen!

Lake Minnewanka Banff Photography
Lake Minnewanka Banff Photography

Drive further to Lake Minnewanka next. Minnewanka is a large glacial lake – popular for picnicking, mountain biking, hiking, canoeing, diving, and snowshoeing in the winters. 

The name ‘Minnewanka’ was given by the indigenous Stoney Nakoda First Nations people who called it Minn-waki (or the Lake of the Spirits). In the summer, you can join a scenic boat cruise on Lake Minnewanka. 

Lake cruises last approximately 1 hour and are led by a guide who shares stories of Spirit Island and the Rockies. The cruise begins at the western end of Lake Minnewanka, you can purchase tickets there or online. Cruises operate from May to mid-October. 

Lake Minnewanka, Banff National Park

You can break for lunch here at Minnewanka lakeside, before starting for Moraine Lake. If you are packing some food, you can rest by the lake (Minnewanka).

Or head back to Banff Avenue for lunch. 

Pro tip: We usually keep non-perishable food items (coconut water, health bars in our car), and just continue on the road trip. It also helps if you opt for a good breakfast 🙂 There are bathrooms in the parking lot of Lake Minnewanka, in case you need one!

After lunch, you can start your drive to Moraine Lake. If starting from Lake Minnewanka, it will take you about an hour to reach Lake Moraine. Depending on the peak season, you could also expect delays, and issues in finding parking.

We recommend planning the road trip in a way that you arrive there closer to 5:00 pm. The days are longer in the Canadian Rocky Mountains in the summer months, so you can expect light until 6:30 or 07:00 pm. 

Moraine Lake and colorful kayaks
Moraine Lake: Vancouver to Banff drive

This picture here was taken in the evening, on Canada Day – July 1st (on Canada’s 150th year!)

Moraine Lake is one of the most picturesque sights in Banff National Park. It is a glacially fed lake situated in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, at an elevation of approximately 1,884 metres. 

There are many easy hikes that you can embark on, in and around Moraine Lake. The Larch Valley hike is one of the nicest places to go on a quick hike (45 minutes to 1 hour). This hike starts at the base of Moraine Lake. To see fall colors, visit for 2 or 3 weeks in mid/late September. 

Read: Things to do in Banff in the fall

Other hikes include –

  • Consolation Lakes (6 km/3.7 miles round trip, takes about 1-2 hours)
  • Sentinel Pass (this trail continues from the Larch Valley hike with views of the Valley of the Ten peaks. It is a 12 km/7.4 miles hike round trip)

Return to Banff town, after this ‘day of lakes’ road trip. 

Read: Our 5 days in Banff Itinerary

Day 13: More of Banff and Canmore or Johnston Canyon

We have a couple of options for your third day in Banff. You can either keep it easy, and relaxing – go shopping at Banff Avenue, and visit the nearby town of Canmore. Banff to Canmore is about 20 minutes drive away.

Canmore - Policemen's Creek
Canmore – Policemen’s Creek

In Canmore, you can explore their downtown area. It is less commercialized than Banff Avenue but is still sprinkled with art galleries, cute cafes, and international restaurants. 

You will love the views of Three Sisters in Canmore. For those who want to take it slow, we recommend walking the downtown area, and then strolling the Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk or Old Engine Bridge, while enjoying lovely mountain views.

Views of Old Engine Bridge Canmore
Old Engine Bridge Canmore

There are indoor rock climbing areas (Elevation Place), Yoga studios, and skiing at the Canmore Nordic Centre (site of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games). 

There are a ton of hiking options in the Kananaskis Country as well. Grassi Lakes is a popular option, followed by Ha Ling Peak. These hikes can take anywhere from a few hours to a full day. 

Ha Ling Peak Canmore in winter
Ha Ling Peak Canmore

You can also drive to Spray Lakes Provincial Park near Canmore, and soak in the views of the mountain (Ha Ling) and Spray Lakes (without a hike). 

Our recent trip to Canmore was in the winter. We drove to the Spray Lakes, enjoyed the provincial park, and returned in the evening. We went dining in Canmore town and then drove back to Banff. Find more things to do in Canmore

An alternate option is to skip Canmore and drive to Johnston Canyon instead. Johnston Canyon is located about a 45-minute drive (one way) away from Banff town.

You can take AB-93N, then exit on TransCanada Highway/AB-1. Turn right onto Bow valley parkway and travel for 6.2 km (3.2 miles) to reach Johnston Canyon.

Lower falls of the Johnston Canyon
Lower falls of the Johnston Canyon

You can choose from 1 to 4 hour hiking trails (round trip).

  • Starting from Johnston Canyon to Lower Falls – 1-hour hike round trip
  • Johnston Canyon to Upper Falls – 2 hours hike round trip
  • Ink Pots – 4 hours round trip 

Johnston Canyon is amazing in the winter as well. You can participate in ice walks to see the stunning ice creations, trails, and more, like a winter wonderland of sorts. There is easy access to both the upper and lower falls. 

Johnston Canyon Icewalk

If you are new to ice walks, we recommend joining a group tour!

Day 14: Drive to Calgary, drop off car rental and fly

Today is the last day in Banff. Depending on your departure time from Calgary, you can set aside this day’s itinerary to explore Canmore (if you missed it on day 13) or visit some of the downtown Calgary attractions. 

Banff to Calgary is an hour’s drive away. In downtown Calgary, you can check off the Stephen Avenue Walk, which is a charming pedestrian walkway lined with cafes, shopping, and entertainment venues. Spend some time exploring art galleries or walk the glass floor of the Calgary Tower. 

Canadian Rockies Tour from Calgary
Calgary Downtown

Fort Calgary is located close to the downtown area. Fort Calgary is a historic landmark – a fort that was built in 1875 by the Northwest Mounted Police.

The fort is a good spot to learn about the history of the city of Calgary and the province. You can embark on a self-guided tour of the complex (45 minutes to an hour). 

Calgary downtown to the airport is about 20 minutes drive away. You can drop off the car here, before flying off.

Read: How to get from Calgary airport to Banff National Park

Vancouver to Calgary Road Trip Itinerary: Drive with Glacier National Park, Revelstoke, and Golden BC 

  • Day 1 – 2: Arrive in Vancouver, explore for the next 2 days
  • Day 3: Day tour of Squamish
  • Day 4 – 5: Explore Whistler (2 nights)
  • Day 6: Spend a day in Clearwater, and stay in Kamloops (1 night)
  • Day 7: Visit Revelstoke from Kamloops (2.50 hours drive). Explore Revelstoke, especially ski jumping in the winter at the Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Stay overnight
  • Day 8: Drive to Glacier National Park in British Columbia (day trip). Explore. Stay overnight in Golden (45 minutes from the national park)
  • Day 9: Drive from Golden BC to Yoho National Park BC. In the evening, head to Lake Louise, and stay overnight
  • Day 10: Explore Lake Louise
  • Day 11-13: Head to Banff National Park. Spend 3 days – visit Banff Gondola, Cave and Basin, Vermilion Lakes, Two Jack Lake
  • Day 14: Calgary, car drop off and fly

Here is an alternate itinerary option for a 14 days road trip from Vancouver to Banff to Calgary. This sightseeing itinerary skips Jasper National Park and instead covers Revelstoke, Glacier National Park, and Golden in British Columbia. 

By following this route, you can explore more of British Columbia’s natural gems and mountain towns. You can also expect a variety of outdoorsy activities, and more ski resorts to choose from.

From day 1 to 6, stays the same (Vancouver > Whistler > Kamloops). 

On day 7, start for Revelstoke. Revelstoke from Kamloops is 2.50 hours drive away. It is well-known for a ski resort on Mount Mackenzie called the Revelstoke Ski Resort.

Pro tip: You can also break your trip at Salmon Arm, BC, also known for skiing in the winter, and for its lush greenery in the summer months. It is one hour and 15 minutes drive each from Kamloops and Revelstoke. 

Mount Revelstoke National Park in British Columbia is an extraordinary destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. Located in the Selkirk Mountains, this park offers a variety of trails, stunning alpine views, and plenty of opportunities to explore nature. 

Revelstoke National Park, BC, Canada
Revelstoke National Park, BC, Canada

In the summer months, you can enjoy music festivals in Revelstoke.

If you are looking for a more active outdoor experience, there is no shortage of amazing hiking trails in the park. With about 59 marked trails ranging from easy strolls to strenuous hikes, it’s easy to find something that suits your skill level and time frame.

The trails in Mount Revelstoke National Park are accessed via the Meadows in the Sky Parkway.  You can also go paddling, and mountain biking here as well. 

For those who love wildlife viewing, Mount Revelstoke National Park provides excellent opportunities to observe animals in their natural habitat. 

Mountain goats and bighorn sheep are commonly seen in the park along with grizzly bears, black bears, and other smaller mammals. Bird watchers will also be delighted to spot a variety of species throughout the park.

Revelstoke is home to 2 breweries, and there are distillery tours that you can participate in. 

You can easily find a ton of options to stay in Revelstoke for the night.

On day 8, drive to Glacier National Park in British Columbia on a day trip. (Revelstoke to Glacier National Park is 30 minutes drive away).

Long Exposure of Illecillewaet river with Mount Sir Donald Glacier National Park Canada. Photo taken in Canada.
Illecillewaet river with Mount Sir Donald Glacier National Park (ID: 205093800)

Glacier National Park is home to Mount Sir Donald, a 3,284-metre mountain summit, known for mountain climbing and hiking trails. Other notable attractions include the Illecillewaet Glacier, which is located in the Selkirk Mountains. 

We loved driving through the Rogers Pass, admiring all the mountains (Selkirk). There is a historic landmark here – Rogers Pass National Historic Site, where you can visit the museum and learn about the history of the park. 

If you are looking for an easy hike, lace up for Bear Creek Falls. It is a 1.1 kilometer (or .68 miles) out and back trail located near Columbia-Shuswap A. This trail is only accessible if you are heading east on the Trans Canada Highway from the summit of Rogers Pass.

At the end of the trail, you are welcomed to a nice waterfall. This stop is great to stretch your legs and enjoy a break (the best time to visit is June to September). 

Stay overnight in Golden (located about 45 minutes from the national park). Golden is a wonderful destination for outdoor enthusiasts. As you drive into this gorgeous historic town you’ll be impressed by the views and tons of outdoorsy activities that it has to offer.

Kicking horse mountain resort Golden
Kicking horse mountain resort Golden BC

One of the most exciting warm-weather activities for adventure-seekers is whitewater rafting. The Kicking Horse River is one of the best whitewater rafting rivers in British Columbia and Western Canada. It has something for everybody, from beginners to advanced levels. 

From skydiving and gliding, hiking and mountain biking, to history and sightseeing, Golden will not disappoint you.

In the winter, hit the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort on your Vancouver road trip itinerary. Kicking Horse Resort Village is located 6.4 km (4 miles) away from Golden, and is a premier ski destination for outdoor lovers and adventurers alike. 

With over 3400 acres of skiable terrain, it boasts some of the best skiing and snowboarding in North America. Kicking Horse also offers an award-winning mountain village complete with shops, lodges, and restaurants. Plus the resort is home to Canada’s Highest Elevated Dining! 

The resort’s terrain offers a wide variety of terrain for all levels, from groomed beginner runs to challenging off-piste options, and the heli-skiing terrain is breathtaking.

You can continue driving from Golden to Yoho National Park and then arrive in Lake Louise to finish the rest of the items on the road trip itinerary (Day 9 through 14).

Vancouver to Banff Drive Itinerary 7 days 

  • Day 1: Arrive in Vancouver, explore or head to Whistler 
  • Day 2: Whistler 
  • Day 3: Kamloops
  • Day 4: Lake Louise (you can also do a half-day in Yoho National Park, and another half in Lake Louise as well)
  • Day 5-6: Banff National Park sightseeing for 2 days. Ride the Banff gondola to soak in the views of the mountain ranges, and enjoy the lakes nearby
  • Day 7: Calgary, car drop off and fly

As mentioned above, a shortened version of this Canadian road trip can be done in 7 days, where you can explore Banff National Park attractions along with Lake Lousie, and fly out from Calgary.

This itinerary begins in Vancouver. You can spend the day in Vancouver, and then in the evening drive to Whistler. The next morning, explore Whistler. 

On day 3, start for Kamloops (4.25 hour drive), stop for lunch, and then continue driving to Lake Lousie. Stay overnight here.

Lake Louise Resort in Winter
Lake Louise Resort in Winter

Day 4, check off the iconic turquoise lake in the first half of the day. In the second half, go on the popular Agnes Tea House hike. 

If not into hiking, you can squeeze in a drive to Yoho National Park and hit the following stops – Natural Bridge, Lower Spiral Tunnels, Takakkaw Falls, and Emerald Lake Lodge. 

You will be touching Yoho National Park borders in 15 minutes from Lake Lousie. After exploring Yoho, return and stay overnight in Lake Louise.

On day 5, head to the heart of Banff National Park, and pick 2-5 attractions to explore for the next 2 days. 

Finally, on day 7, drive to Calgary and drop off the car rental. Depending on how much you have on your hands, you can spend a few hours in downtown Calgary before returning home!

Find where to stay in Calgary

We hope you found this itinerary for Vancouver to Banff road trips useful in planning yours! 

Have more questions? Let us know in the comments below.

Need an extensive guide? Consider getting our Canadian Rockies Road trip ebook

Additional Tips: Vancouver to Banff Road Trip and driving options

How long does it take to drive from Vancouver to Banff?

10 hours 30 minutes. 

It takes about 10 hours and 30 minutes to drive from Vancouver to Banff, via Trans-Canada Hwy/BC-1 E. Distance is 846.9 km (526 miles).

Is it worth driving from Vancouver to Banff?

The drive from Vancouver to Banff is extremely scenic! 

With so many small towns, cities, and Canadian National Parks, you are also exploring 2 provinces in the western part of the country! So we highly recommend it. 

It is worth noting that you can easily find cheaper flights into Vancouver (as compared to Calgary or Edmonton from the USA). From Vancouver, you can drive to Alberta. If you have additional time on your hands, visit the wine region of Okanagan Valley in BC. (I love Kelowna wine tastings!)  

Can you take a train from Vancouver to Banff?

Yes. The Rocky Mountaineer runs a train service from Vancouver and Banff National Park. Tickets start at $1600 CAD+ and are a 2 day tour. You can also book the service from Banff to Vancouver.

Pin: 2 Week Road Trip from Vancouver to Banff Drive

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Vancouver to Banff itinerary

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  1. Thank you for this Wonderful information! Planning something with limited driving preferably a bus route, also one night with the rail.
    Saved your post for a more detailed look.

  2. Very useful information!
    If someone plans to return to Vancouver and have about 7-8 days, what travel itinerary would you recommend (so something like Vancouver->Jasper->Banff->Vancouver)?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Thank you Vips! In one week, you can do 2 days in Banff and 2 days in Jasper with one day along the Icefields Parkway attractions. Leave the first and last day for travels and quick stops in small towns or provincial parks, if you like.

  3. thank you for your very informative blog, I’ll bear a lot of it in mind. We’re doing a very similar trip this summer, so I was wondering is it feasible to leave Jasper visit Lake Louise without staying overnight and then heading to Banff after on the same day?

    1. Thank you, Mike! Yes, you can certainly travel to Lake Louise from Jasper town, spend the day and then stay overnight in Banff.

      We are heading back to Banff this summer! Have a wonderful trip! 🙂

  4. Thank you so much for your detailed blog and itinerary, it really helped me in planning out our family road trip from Vancouver to Banff this summer. I had booked the hotels along the way. However, I got a bad ankle sprain from volleyball which is not recovering as fast as I have wanted to. I definitely can’t hike especially on uneven surfaces. I was wondering if many of the lakes or sightseeing spots are pretty accessible with car and require fairly limited walking? I am debating to cancel my trip over all but I know the family may be disappointed. Perhaps there are places where I can go if it’s easily accessible by car and for places which requires some hiking I will wait around for them. I don’t know how strenuous the hiking is along the way. For now I am planning for two nights Whistler, one night Kamloops, one night Golden, three nights Banff area. Any tips or suggestions are truly appreciated and welcome! Thank you!

    1. Hi June,

      So sorry to hear that! Hope you feel better soon xoxo

      There are a few lakes and sightseeing areas where you don’t have to hike (some walking is required to the viewing area),

      In Banff, you can visit Two Jack Lake, Lake Minnewanka, Lake Louise without any strenuous hike. It is a short walk from the parking lot. There are picnic areas at the Two Jack Lake, and Lake Minnewanka.

      You can also stop by the Vermillion Lakes from Banff Ave

      For Whistler, you can sightsee in the village (its very pretty), ride the gondola but skip the hike

      In Golden, you can visit the SkyBridge – it has fair bit of walking though on the suspension bridges (they opened the mountain coaster this year which is amazing)

      I hope you are able to visit!

      Take care!

  5. Hello, thank you for all the information. We are planning to do the 8 day itinerary, but have a couple of driving questions. Our trip is scheduled to start October 5 and we are a bit concerned how to fin out if the roads are going to be a concern? Also, my spouse has a terrible fear of heights. Is the Sea to Sky road scary? Are there other parts of the journey that might be of concern? Regular mountain roads are fine, but steep drop-offs or cliffs and hair pin turns are a bit of another matter. We drive in Colorado without issues, but we also avoid some of the crazy mountain passes there. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

    1. So excited for your upcoming trip! The Sea to Sky highway has a few steep parts, certain portions are on an incline with about 10 hairpins. You will have to exercise caution when driving in the mountains.

      I usually have my husband do the driving (while I take photos) – he does a better job behind the wheel 🙂

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