Hit the road for a spectacularly scenic 10-day road trip that starts and finishes in Vancouver. Wind through the Okanagan Valley, stopping for wine tasting and hot springs, then enjoy the quaint town of Banff before taking a gondola ride to Sulphur Mountain. See the Athabasca Glacier, witness the alpine lakes of Jasper National Park, and spot wildlife on the way to Whistler. Head into the mountains for bear-watching and hiking, then take the famed Sea-to-Sky Highway back to Vancouver.


  • Explore Vancouver and its diverse culture before visiting Granville Island
  • Drive through the Okanagan Valley for views of lakes, vineyards, and mountains
  • Ride a gondola from Banff to Sulfur Mountain and spot bears on an evening safari
  • Walk on a sheet of ice along Columbia Icefield and discover Jasper National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Vancouver, Visit Granville Island Vancouver
Day 2 Drive Through the Okanagan Valley to Kelowna Kelowna 
Day 3 Drive to Banff, Explore Banff & Optional ATV Tour Banff
Day 4 Take the Banff Gondola to Sulphur Mountain, Evening Wildlife Safari Banff
Day 5 Drive to Jasper via the Columbia Icefield Excursion, Take the Jasper SkyTram Jasper
Day 6 Visit Jasper National Park, Maligne Lake Cruise Jasper
Day 7 Drive to Kamloops, Optional Visit to Cinnamon Ridge Kamloops
Day 8 Drive to Whistler, Take the Peak-to-Peak Gondola Whistler
Day 9 Bear-Watching Tour, Drive to Vancouver & Visit Grouse Mountain Vancouver
Day 10 Depart Vancouver  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Vancouver, Visit Granville Island

Vancouver's spectacular waterfront setting
Vancouver's downtown

Welcome to Vancouver, western Canada's coastal metropolis, where the sea and mountains meet. Upon arrival at the airport, pick up your rental car, and it's an easy 20-minute drive downtown to your hotel. The influence of First Nations, Asian, and Anglo cultures enriches this cosmopolitan and modern city. Its compact center is easy to explore on foot, with highlights like Stanley Park, Chinatown, and historic Gastown all within easy reach. If you're hungry, head to Granville Island's vibrant waterfront market, where you can sample local specialties in a buzzing, open-air atmosphere.

In the 1970s, Granville Island began its successful transformation from an industrial wasteland to one of Vancouver's favorite public spaces. As Vancouver's premier artistic and cultural hub, located in an urban waterfront location and steeped in a rich industrial and maritime heritage, the island's charm lies in its unexpected mix of uses. The famous Public Market is home to over 50 independent food purveyors and contributes to the Island's appeal as a renowned culinary destination. In the Net Loft Shops and Railspur District, you'll find many of Canada's best artists and designers. 

Day 2: Drive Through the Okanagan Valley to Kelowna

Osoyoos rests at the south end of the Okanagan Valley
The Okanagan Valley

Hit the road today and make the four-hour drive east to the Okanagan Valley. The history and culture of the Thompson-Okanagan region are strongly linked to the land. The First Nations semi-nomadic tribes were divided between hunting and fishing grounds in summer and semi-subterranean house camps in winter. Europeans came first to trade in furs and later established cattle, agriculture, and mining. The region contains museums and heritage sites of its rich and eventful past, renowned golf courses, orchards, ski resorts, vineyards, and diverse landscapes.

The highest point in the Canadian Rockies is in this region, along with a waterfall twice the height of Niagara Falls. Arrive in Kelowna, where you'll stay for the night. Once checked in at your hotel, continue to explore. You could take a scenic drive through the valley and enjoy the stunning views of the mountains, lakes, and vineyards, join a wine tour to one of the valley's vineyard estates, or visit nearby hot springs to recuperate from your long drive. Book a private culinary tour to taste the valley's best local products, or stretch your legs with a hike along some of the valley's trails. 

Day 3: Drive to Banff, Explore Banff & Optional ATV Tour

Spend the day exploring all Banff has to offer
Spend the day exploring all Banff has to offer

Drive east today into the Canadian Rockies and toward the popular mountain town of Banff. Along the way, you'll pass through the spectacular scenery of Yoho National Park. Named for a Cree (member of a First Nations people) expression of awe and wonder, this protected area is home to snow-capped mountains, glittering lakes, and diverse wildlife. Be on the lookout for eagles, elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, coyotes, moose, cougars, and even bears as you drive. Crossing into Alberta, you'll reach your base for the evening in Banff, located within the eponymous national park.

One of Canada's most visited destinations, Banff provides year-round opportunities for wildlife watching, outdoor adventures, and cultural activities. Choose your experience today. You could stroll the shop-lined streets to get your bearings, make your way to the Banff Park Museum for an introduction to the local wildlife, explore the trails of Bow Falls, join a rafting excursion through Johnston Canyon, or ride the famous cable car to the top of nearby Sulphur Mountain.

In the afternoon, you'll have the option to feel some four-wheel power at your fingertips as you ride an ATV in the nearby mountains. After some practice, your guide will lead you up the trail through the forests for a spectacular view of Panorama Mountain Resort and the surrounding peaks of Toby Creek Valley. Visit the remains of an early 1900s silver mining town and marvel at the incredible views of the Rocky and Purcell Mountains. Later, with your guide, hike to the base of Smith Falls, where you'll see a clear, pure, snow-fed mountain stream cascade down a vertical rock face.

Day 4: Take the Banff Gondola to Sulphur Mountain, Evening Wildlife Safari

Don't miss a ride on the scenic Banff Gondola
Don't miss a ride on the scenic Banff Gondola

For dizzying views over Banff, ride the town's iconic gondola up Sulphur Mountain to walk the boardwalk trail. After enjoying the mountain vistas, you can stay for lunch with a view at Sky Bistro or indulge in a soothing dip in the hot mineral waters of the Upper Hot Springs Pool near the cable car's base.

In the evening, meet your guide in the hotel lobby for an unforgettable safari in Banff National Park. As the sun sets behind the mountains, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife sightings such as bighorn sheep, elk, and, quite possibly, the elusive grizzly bear. During this two-hour adventure, learn about these animals, their habitat, and what the park does to protect this delicate ecosystem.
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Day 5: Drive to Jasper via the Columbia Icefield Excursion, Take the Jasper SkyTram

Hop on board the Ice Explorer to experience an ancient glacier up close
Athabasca Glacier

Your exploration of the Rockies continues today with a drive along the magnificent Icefields Parkway, a famous 144-mile (232 km) stretch of highway that winds northwest through some of the most beautiful scenery in Canada. Stop for a glacier adventure as you board a giant, specially-built Ice Explorer vehicle to travel 30 minutes across the Columbia Icefield, a 10,000-year-old sheet of ice, toward Athabasca Glacier. Walk along the glacier as you learn about its evolving history. Return to your car and drive past Bow and Peyto Lakes, surrounded by soaring mountains and glaciers.

Soon you'll enter Jasper National Park. Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep, deer, elk, moose, and black bears that roam near the roads as you make your way to the charming town of Jasper for the night. If you've got the energy, the Jasper SkyTram provides an experience unlike any other by whisking guests to 7,424 feet (2,263 m), offering easy access to a boardwalk and hiking trails in the alpine zone of the Canadian Rockies. During the ride, learn about the area's unique geology, cultural heritage, flora, and fauna of this impressive mountain landscape.

Day 6: Visit Jasper National Park, Maligne Lake Cruise

Reach the secluded Spirit Island by boat
Sunwapta Falls

This morning, explore more of the largest Canadian national park in the Rocky Mountains. Jasper National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, covers over 4,200 square miles (10,878 sq km) and shelters the glaciers of the Columbia Icefield and countless hot springs, lakes, and waterfalls. Highlights include Maligne Canyon, Athabasca, and Sunwapta Falls. Take a ride on the Jasper Tramway to the summit of Mount Whistler, which owes its name to the whistling of its many resident marmots.

Later, you'll board a panoramic cruise across the magical Maligne Lake, fed by the glaciers of Jasper National Park. Glide past jagged mountain peaks to reach Spirit Island, a world-famous destination only accessible by boat. The actual attraction of Spirit Island is the backdrop: a ring of impressive summits and glaciers that reflect in the deep turquoise waters around the island. You can take a short walk along the path that forms a loop from the docks to viewing points overlooking the island, but there's no walking permitted on the island itself to preserve its natural state.

Day 7: Drive to Kamloops, Optional Visit to Cinnamon Ridge 

Cinnamon Ridge's hoodoos

Heading west out of Jasper along Highway 16, it's a beautiful five-hour drive through two of the province's best national parks, Mount Robson and Wells Gray. If you're up for a hike, go to Mount Robson Visitor Center for information on the local trails. Afterward, drive south to Clearwater, the gateway to Wells Gray Provincial Park. Upon arrival, set out on a hike to explore or drive to some nearby waterfalls. Minutes away, you'll find the high, narrow Spahats Creek Falls, with secluded Moul Falls close by. Helmcken Falls is an hour away. You may even spot black bears grazing by the road. Continue driving south as you descend into the arid canyonlands around Kamloops, where you'll stay the night. Kamloops is home to unique geographical landscapes, including sagebrush, grasslands, and hoodoos (tall spires of rock formed by erosion). Visit Cinnamon Ridge, where you'll find the eroded remains of an ancient volcano that erupted 50 million years ago. The weathering of volcanic rocks released iron that stained the rock a cinnamon-brown color, giving the ridge its name. If you'd like to learn more about this region, visit Secwepemc Museum & Heritage Park, featuring history and culture.

Day 8: Drive to Whistler, Take the Peak-to-Peak Gondola

Travel between summits on Whistler's Peak2peak gondola
Garibaldi Lake near Whistler

Enjoy a four-hour scenic drive to Whistler. Along the way, consider stopping at Nairn Falls or reservoirs such as Joffre, Duffy, and Seton Lakes. Visit Marble Canyon Provincial Park or wander along Cache Creek. Once you've arrived in Whistler, spend the day enjoying this outdoor lover's paradise. Take a walk around the chalet-style pedestrian village or pamper yourself in one of the town's many spas.

Don't miss a ride to the top of the ski area via the Peak-to-Peak Gondola. The world's longest unsupported cable car runs between the summits of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains and provides easy access to alpine hiking and biking trails. At the top, set out on a 360-degree experience with two mountains, countless hiking trails, vistas that overload the senses, and an ever-changing landscape from early summer snow walls to blooming wildflowers to ancient glaciers.

Day 9: Bear-Watching Tour, Drive to Vancouver & Visit Grouse Mountain

The scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway between Whistler and Vancouver
The scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway between Whistler and Vancouver

Leave the crowds of Whistler village behind as you venture into the wild in style in one of the world's most capable 4WD vehicles. This intimate excursion focuses on the Whistler Olympic Park resident black bears, their cubs, and the 2010 Olympic venue itself. Afterward, get back on the road and head south to Vancouver along the Sea-to-Sky Highway, one of the country's most iconic drives. This scenic route from the mountains to the sea offers several beautiful spots worth stopping for during the drive.

Stop in Squamish, a popular access point for outdoor activities and adventure, and see the area's most famous peak from the highway: a sheer granite rockface known as "The Chief." You can hike to the summit or take the Sea-to-Sky Gondola up the mountain for excellent views of Howe Sound from Summit Lodge, where you can also grab lunch. When you reach Vancouver, check into your hotel. For your final day, don't miss Grouse Mountain. Just 15 minutes from downtown, hop on the gondola to reach the Peak of Vancouver for breathtaking views of the city and enjoy a final dinner and sunset.

Day 10: Depart Vancouver

Icefields Parkway
Bid farewell to the Rockies!

Your adventure draws to a close today as you enjoy a final morning in Vancouver. When the time comes, you'll head to the airport to return your rental car and catch your departing flight. Safe travels!

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Map of Scenic Drive Through Western Canada: From the Rockies to the Pacific - 10 Days
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