There are some sights you simply have to see, and some destinations you cannot miss. The Canadian Rockies, for example, are outstanding in their majesty. The upland sports arena that is Whistler and home to Pacific Rim National Park, Tofino on Vancouver Island.
Yet the real beauty of taking an 18 Day self drive vacation around Alberta and British Columbia is that you have the time to see them, and the flexibility to drop in on the wineries of Kelowna. Or stay in a lodge high in the Chilcotin Mountains.
Or take a break from the road to go horse riding and hiking through stunning countryside. Fish in clear streams. Explore the rugged landscapes aboard an all-terrain vehicle.
You’ll be taken to your hotel as soon as you arrive in Vancouver. And from there you can immerse yourself in the restaurants, shops, galleries, museums and entertainment opportunities of this busy, multi-cultural port. You can visit Capilano Canyon and Suspension Bridge, Chinatown and historical Gastown. You can shop in Robson Street or the markets of Granville Island and even experience the Grouse Mountain Skyride.
Stay: Two nights in the to L’Hermitage in Vancouver.
Vancouver – Kelowna
Today you drive off into a completely different world. You’ll travel away from the coast’s misty cedars and towering firs, along a beautiful canyon with soaring rock faces, opening out into the sweeping Fraser Valley. Along the way you’ll climb to 1244 metres on the Coquihalla Highway and see the amazing Great Bear Snow Shed and the Dry Gulch Bridge. Then comes the Okanagan Valley and a unique wine tour taking in a private visit and tasting at five of the region’s most prominent wineries.
Stay: Two nights at the Cove Lakeside Resort.
Kelowna – Banff National Park
From Kelowna drive to Craigellachie – marking the end of the great Canadian Pacific Railway and on to evocatively-named places like Laughing Falls, Wapta, Twin and Takakkaw Falls and Emerald and O’Hara Lakes.
Stay: Two nights at Moraine Lake Lodge
Today you’re bound for Jasper along the Icefield Parkway – a formidable route that takes you along the spine of the Canadian Rockies – through Bow Pass and past Peyto Lake before descending to the Mistaya River with its hanging glaciers and towering peaks. Next you’ll cross the Saskatchewan River and climb to the famous Columbia Icefield for a snocoach ride onto the Athabasca Glacier. The Athabasca Falls are truly spectacular, but beyond them lie even more wonders; the raging Athabasca River, the town of Jasper and the astonishing Jasper National Park.
Stay: Two nights at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.
Wells Gray Park
Today brings you a last look at the mist-shrouded Mount Robson and the mineral springs, serene lakes, crashing waterfalls, dormant volcanoes, Helmcken Falls and the volcano-carved wilderness of Wells Gray Provincial Park.
Stay: One night in Helmcken Falls Lodge, Wells Gray National Park
Over the next few days you’ll gather a real sense of the region’s history. The Yellowhead Museum and Spahats Creek Park are great starting points and the Cariboo Highway takes you through historic towns and villages that are still redolent of the old gold diggers and traders who characterised the Cariboo Gold Rush of the late1800’s. Gold Bridge continues the theme and adds outdoor adventure and first class facilities.
Stay: Three nights in the Tyax Resort.
Whistler offers you everything, from a round of golf to hiking through alpine meadows. The snow-capped mountains provide a dramatic backdrop to this charming village resort, where you can go horse riding or kayaking, take to the water on a choice of five beautiful lakes or dine atop a mountain. You can also take a chairlift to 7000 feet for jaw-dropping views of glaciers and extinct volcanoes, or go for a Peak Adventure on Whistler Mountain.
Stay: Two nights at Nita lake Lodge.
The aptly-named Sea-to-Sky Highway whisks you through a glacier-created landscape featuring craggy fjords and the mighty Shannon Falls. A ferry will transport you across the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver Island where you can immerse yourself in ancient rainforests, wilderness territory and the Pacific Rim National Park – home to bears, deer and wolves. On Vancouver, be sure to wander along Long Beach.
Stay: Two nights in Black Rock Resort.
Vancouver Island just keeps on giving. Visit Horne Lake Caves and Cathedral Cove, quaint seaside towns and the murals at Chemainus, or the Quwutsun Cultural Centre at Duncan. Later in the day you can discover the history, charm and colonial heritage of Victoria – capital of British Columbia and home to the totem poles of Thunderbird Park and the Royal British Columbia Museum.
Stay: One night in the Oswego Hotel.
Butchart Gardens are a symphony of flowers and shrubs set in an old stone quarry. Or you could take a mini-cruise around the Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia. On your last evening enjoy the restaurants and nightlife of downtown Vancouver.