On this 13-day road trip of Western Canada, you'll drive a loop beginning and ending in Vancouver to some of British Columbia and Alberta's most iconic sites. You'll hit the road to the Okanagan Valley for a leisurely wine tour, marvel at the wilderness and wildlife of national parks like Yoho, Banff, and Jasper, watch whales, walk amid giants (Douglas firs), and enjoy the coastal scenery of Vancouver Island. You'll discover 10,000-year-old ice, spot black bears, and learn about First Nations culture.


  • Savor dim sum and dumplings in Vancouver's impressive Chinatown
  • Hike a portion of a famous "rail trail" along the Myra Canyon in Kelowna
  • Learn about the constellations and look for stars at the Jasper Planetarium 
  • Seek out black bears that now call Whistler Olympic Park home
  • Stroll across a 450-foot-long suspension bridge above the Capilano River

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Vancouver (BC), Self-Guided City Walk Vancouver
Day 2 Drive to Kelowna, Explore the Okanagan, Self-Guided Wine Tour or Hike  Kelowna 
Day 3 Hike the Myra Canyon Trail, Drive to Banff (Alberta) via Yoho National Park Banff
Day 4 Guided Tour of Banff, Ride the Banff Gondola to Sulphur Mountain Banff
Day 5 Drive to Jasper via Peyto Lake, Visit the Jasper Planetarium  Jasper
Day 6 Discover Jasper National Park, Columbia Icefield Excursion Jasper
Day 7 Drive to Kamloops (BC), Hike the Cinnamon Ridge Hoodoos Trail Kamloops
Day 8 Drive to Whistler, Ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola Whistler
Day 9 Bear Watching Tour, Ferry to Nanaimo, Drive to Tofino Tofino
Day 10 Whale Watching Tour, Explore Tofino at Leisure Tofino
Day 11 Drive to Victoria, Explore the Capital, Discover Salt Spring Island Victoria
Day 12 Drive to Vancouver, Visit Capilano Suspension Bridge Park Vancouver
Day 13 Discover Granville Island, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Vancouver (BC), Self-Guided City Walk 

Explore the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in the center of Vancouver's Chinatown

Welcome to Vancouver! This vibrant coastal city is renowned for its snowcapped mountains, lush forests, and picturesque waterfronts. Upon arrival at the airport, pick up your rental car and drive to your downtown accommodation. When ready, head out on a self-guided tour to get your bearings. An excellent place to start is in one of North America's largest Chinatowns, established in the 1890s, where you can wander through the narrow streets lined with traditional Chinese shops, herbal medicine apothecaries, and souvenir stores. Stop in the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden or sample Asian delicacies, like steaming dim sum or handmade dumplings.

Continue to Stanley Park and follow the 5.5-mile (8.8 km) path encircling the area for views of the coastline, mountains, and downtown skyline. Along the way, you'll spot serene beaches, tranquil gardens, and cultural landmarks, like the totem poles sourced from First Nations communities across the province. In the evening, eat at one of the restaurants overlooking the water or head to Gastown, the city's historic district. Grab a bite to eat at one of the trendy restaurants, and don't forget to check out the Gastown Steam Clock, which whistles every 15 minutes.

Day 2: Drive to Kelowna, Explore the Okanagan, Self-Guided Wine Tour or Hike 

Take in the scenery of vineyard-lined hills of the Okanagan Valley, stopping to sample local grapes

After a restful night in Vancouver, hit the road for a four-hour drive to Kelowna, a charming city situated on the shores of Okanagan Lake, surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards. You won't be bored on the drive as you pass through the Cascade Mountains and lush Okanagan Valley, but if you want to stop anywhere to stretch your legs, consider the municipality of Hope. Known for its provincial parks and historic railway tunnels, you could easily spend a few hours here. Closer to the city, detour around Okanagan Lake to visit the different markets and beaches in Peachland or Summerland.

After refreshing at your hotel, set out to explore more of the area. If you want to immerse yourself in nature, drive 50 minutes to Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park to hike the Kal Crystal Waters Trail. The 3.1-mile (5 km) one-way path takes you to scenic viewpoints overlooking Kalamalka Lake so you can admire the emerald green waters. Those who want a more relaxing afternoon can go on a self-guided wine tour to a few of the 200 wineries scattered across the valley. Tour the vineyards, learn about the meticulous winemaking process, and sample local varietals overlooking the lush Okanagan.

Day 3: Hike the Myra Canyon Trail, Drive to Banff (Alberta) via Yoho National Park

Follow the Myra Canyon Trail across 18 trestle bridges and through two tunnels

Lace up your hiking shoes this morning to hike a portion of the Myra Canyon Trail, a 40-minute drive away. As it's part of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail (KVR), you'll find 18 restored wooden trestle bridges and two (steel) tunnels. Descend into the valley and enjoy the relatively flat path suitable for hikes of all skill levels. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife like deer or bear while you walk. The trail is 7.5 miles (12 km) one way. With that in mind, you'll want to be aware of your time to turn back earlier as you have a 5-6 hour drive to Banff in the Canadian Rockies.

Following your Myra Canyon hike, hop in the car to head east toward Banff, stopping en route for a bite to eat, and as you near the British Columbia-Alberta border, stretch your legs in Yoho National Park. Known for its towering peaks, lush forests, and waterfalls, consider pausing at Emerald Lake or Takakkaw Falls for a worthwhile snapshot of the natural beauty. Just past the Alberta border, take a quick beat at the iconic turquoise waters of Lake Louise to admire the glacial lake from the shores (you can even rent a canoe or kayak) before checking into your hotel in Banff National Park, Canada's oldest national park. 

Day 4: Guided Tour of Banff, Ride the Banff Gondola to Sulphur Mountain

Take a ride up Sulphur Mountain on the Banff Gondola, relishing the 360-degree views

Join your guide for a 5.5-hour tour of Banff's landmarks, starting at the Fairmont Banff Springs, a UNESCO-listed hotel designed to resemble a Scottish baronial castle. Admire the hotel's turrets, stone walls, and commanding hilltop presence before continuing to Bow Falls, where the mighty Bow River cascades over rugged rocks. Your next stop is the aptly named Surprise Corner Viewpoint, where you can enjoy panoramic views of lush forests, the cold and fast-flowing river, and the castle hotel you visited earlier. Head to the glacial Lake Minnewanka next, the largest lake in Banff National Park.

End the tour with a ride on the Banff Gondola to ascend 7,484 feet (2,281 m) to the summit of Sulphur Mountain for panoramic views of towering mountain peaks, lush alpine meadows, and glittering lakes. At the summit, visit the Interpretive Centre to learn about the area's natural history and geology. Go for a stroll around the surrounding boardwalks, pick up a scenic trail for those views, or grab a bite to eat at the mountaintop restaurant's outdoor patio. The rest of the day is yours to explore. You might like to book a boat tour to explore Lake Minnewanka, stroll its shores, or discover the shops and eateries in downtown Banff.

Day 5: Drive to Jasper via Peyto Lake, Visit the Jasper Planetarium 

Stop at Peyto Lake on the way to Jasper to admire its unreal jewel-toned waters

Trade Canada's oldest national park for the largest one as you set off on a 3.5-hour drive northwest to Jasper, an alpine town in Jasper National Park. The drive will take you along one of the most scenic highways in the world, Icefields Parkway, renowned for its panoramic mountain views, shockingly turquoise lakes, and tumbling waterfalls. Stop at the Bow Pass/Summit parking lot and follow the well-marked paved path to a viewing platform. The walk is only 10 to 15 minutes, and you'll be rewarded with uninterrupted views of the glacial lake and surrounding mountains at the end. 

Back in the car, complete the drive to your hotel in Jasper, where you can freshen up before venturing out to explore the area on your own. Take a ride up Whistlers Peak on the Jasper SkyTram for panoramic views of the Canadian Rockies. At the top, follow the boardwalk to get to the different lookouts. In the evening, you might like to check out the Jasper Planetarium for a self-guided tour and telescope experience. Start by learning about local constellations, the northern lights, and the Milky Way before going outside to look through the Rocky Mountains' largest, most powerful telescopes.
Plan your trip to Canada
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 6: Discover Jasper National Park, Columbia Icefield Excursion

Ride the Ice Explorer across the 10,000-year-old Columbia Icefield

Start your morning with a self-guided exploration of Jasper National Park. One of the most popular hikes is the Valley of the Five Lakes, a 2.8-mile (4.5 km) loop trail that takes you past five mountain lakes. Along the way, you may also spot wildlife, like elk, deer, and even moose, by the lakeshore. In the afternoon, drive an hour south to the Columbia Icefield Glacier Discovery Centre for a guided excursion across the 10,000-year-old sheet of ice—a great option if you visit between May and October before it gets too snowy.

Board the Ice Explorer, a massive all-terrain vehicle, and learn about the history and geological forces that shaped this frozen landscape. You'll have the opportunity to step foot onto the glacier's surface to take pictures and admire the frozen wonderland. After the two-hour adventure, return to Jasper to warm up in the Miette Hot Springs, the hottest water in the Canadian Rockies. Soak in the mineral-rich waters surrounded by towering peaks and dense forests before returning to your hotel.

Day 7: Drive to Kamloops (BC), Hike the Cinnamon Ridge Hoodoos Trail

On the way to Kamloops, stop to stretch your legs in Mount Robson Provincial Park 

Say goodbye to Jasper this morning as you set off on a 4-5 hour drive to the more arid Kamloops, a charming city at the confluence of the North and South Thompson rivers. The drive takes you along Highway 5, better known as "Yellowhead Highway," passing through picturesque mountain ranges and along pristine lakes. Consider a stop in Mount Robson Provincial Park to see the highest peak of the Canadian Rockies. After a stretch, it's back in the car to complete the drive to your hotel in Kamloops, where you can change into your hiking boots for a trek along the Cinnamon Ridge Hoodoos Trail

Drive 20 minutes out of the city to the trailhead and set off down the 1.1-mile (1.8 km) path through open grasslands and sagebrush. Along the way, you'll spot otherworldly geological formations like the distinctive hoodoos: tall, thin spires of rock formed by erosion over millions of years. After the moderate to challenging hike, return to Kamloops, then make your way to one of the restaurants overlooking the Thompson rivers. Kamloops is known for its freshwater salmon, particularly sockeye salmon, so you may want to try a smoked or grilled version for dinner.

Day 8: Drive to Whistler, Ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola

Ride the Peak 2 Peak gondola from Whistler to Blackcomb Mountain (or vice versa)

Hit the road again for a four-hour drive west to Whistler, a charming resort town in the Coast Mountains. The scenic drive will take you through lush valleys, rugged mountains, dense forests, and Fraser Canyon. If you want to stop anywhere, consider Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, home to three glacier-fed lakes. Take to one of the many trails winding through old-growth forests, across wooden bridges, and past waterfalls to get to the different lakes. After exploring the park, complete the drive to your hotel in Whistler for check-in.

When ready, go to the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, which connects Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain, so you can choose to depart at either base. Sail 2.7 miles (4.4 km) across the sky, looking out at snowcapped peaks, dense forests, and alpine meadows. If you're visiting in summer and want to go hiking, end at the Whistler Mountain terminal to access trails such as High Note Trail or the Harmony Lake Loop. From here, you can also walk across the Cloudraker Skybridge, one of the world's highest and longest suspension bridges at 1,427 feet (436 m). 

Day 9: Bear Watching Tour, Ferry to Nanaimo, Drive to Tofino

Seek out black bears in the 2010 Whistler Olympic Park

You're sure to remember this morning's guided excursion as you venture out on an off-road Jeep adventure within Whistler Olympic Park. Accompanied by an expert park ranger, you'll look for the bears that now call the 2010 Olympic venue home. Traverse the forest, keeping your eyes peeled for signs of bear activity, such as tracks and tree scratch marks. Throughout, your guide will share knowledge about bear behavior, ecology, and the conservation efforts to protect them. When you finally spot the bears, observe them foraging for food, caring for their cubs, and lazying in the sun.

After a few hours in the park, bid farewell to Whistler and the mainland as you follow the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway for an hour to Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, ready to catch a 1.5-hour ferry to Vancouver Island. Disembark in Nanaimo and drive 2.5 hours across the island to the coastal town of Tofino, situated within the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations at the edge of tranquil Clayoquot Sound. Check into your hotel, then head to Chesterman Beach Road and choose from various restaurants to enjoy dinner overlooking the beach.

Day 10: Whale Watching Tour, Explore Tofino at Leisure 

If you're lucky, you may spot a pod of orcas on your boat tour

If you're visiting during whale season between April and October, start your day with a 2.5-hour boat cruise to spot whales. Board a small, 12-seater boat and set sail searching for humpback, gray, fin, minke, and killer whales (orcas). Your captain will take you to common feeding areas to increase your chance of spotting these incredible creatures up close. You may also spot sea otters, seals, sea lions, and various seabirds along the way, so keep your eyes peeled and cameras ready for any movement in the water. Return to shore to explore the town at your own pace.

Tofino is renowned for its surf breaks, so head to Cox Bay or Chestermean Beach if you're searching for waves to catch. If surfing isn't your thing, explore the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve instead. This protected area encompasses an array of ecosystems, including temperate rainforests, expansive beaches, and marine habitats teeming with life. Discover the network of scenic hiking trails, such as the famous West Coast Trail, relax on the pristine beaches, or look for wildlife like black bears, deer, and raccoons.

Day 11: Drive to Victoria, Explore the Capital, Discover Salt Spring Island

Explore Victoria's bustling Inner Harbour

The road trip continues this morning with a four-hour drive to Victoria, on the island's south coast. Break up the drive with stops at Cathedral Grove to walk amid giants (Douglas firs), in Chemainus to see over 40 murals adorning the walls of downtown buildings, and in Duncan for its impressive collection of totem poles scattered across town by the Coast Salish people. When you arrive in the capital, check in at your hotel, then enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. Head to the Inner Harbour for a stroll along the picturesque waterfront, stopping at landmarks like the Fairmont Empress Hotel and nearby Parliament Buildings.

In the afternoon, drive the 30 minutes over to Swartz Bay Terminal to catch a 35-minute ferry to Salt Spring Island, located in the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. Wander through the charming villages dotted with art studios, galleries, and boutiques showcasing locally made crafts. Then, explore more of the island on a hike, bike ride, or in a kayak. The island is known for its farm-to-table dining, so you can end the night with a delicious, organic dinner capping off the evening in Victoria. 

Day 12: Return Drive to Vancouver, Visit Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Don't miss the Cliffwalk cantilevered walkways in the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Your final full day in Canada takes you to the trip's starting point, Vancouver. Return to Swartz Bay Terminal for a 1.5-hour ferry to the Tsawwassen Terminal. From there, it's a 50-minute drive to Vancouver, where you can enjoy some free time to explore more of the city. Head to the VanDusen Botanical Garden if you're after a nature fix, with its tranquil ponds and themed garden areas. A highlight is the Elizabethan hedge maze, made of 3,000 pyramidal cedars. 

In the afternoon, join a guided tour of Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, where you can cross the 450-foot (137 m) long swaying bridge above the Capilano River. After conquering the bridge, the park has an array of walking trails, treetop adventures, and interactive exhibits that showcase the region's flora, fauna, and First Nations culture. Don't miss the Cliffwalk, a series of cantilevered walkways clinging to the granite cliffside. Enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding rainforest, canyon, and river below through the sections of glass flooring before returning to your hotel in the city.

Day 13: Discover Granville Island, Depart

Explore Granville Island at your own pace before your flight home

Spend your last few hours in Vancouver exploring Granville Island on your own, which you can access by driving or taking a scenic ferry ride across False Creek. Stroll the Granville Island Public Market to browse the stalls filled with gourmet delicacies such as local cheeses, freshly baked goods, and artisanal chocolates. The city is known for its fresh seafood, so don't leave without trying local delights like smoked salmon, fish and chips, or freshly shucked oysters. Wash everything down with a craft beer or cider made in local breweries and cideries.

Explore the island's thriving art scene next, perusing the galleries and studios that showcase everything from pottery and glassblowing to painting and jewelry. Stroll along the waterfront promenade dotted with outdoor patios and street performers, then rent a kayak to paddle along the creek and admire the city's skyline. When it's time, drive to the airport, return your rental car, and head inside to catch your flight home. Safe travels!

More Great Canada Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Canada? Check out these other Canada itineraries, explore different ways to spend 13 days in Canada, or discover the best time to visit Canada. 


Map of Western Canada Road Trip: From the Rockies to the Pacific - 13 Days
Map of Western Canada Road Trip: From the Rockies to the Pacific - 13 Days