It’s said that Vancouver is a city with its feet in the water and its head in the mountains. It’s a setting that makes it one of Canada’s most picturesque cities. Cycle around Stanley Park, for example and you’ll find beaches and temperate rain forests, totem poles and giant cedars. Then there is the warehouse district of Yaletown, the renowned Museum of Anthropology, cable car rides up Grouse Mountain, a large and bustling Chinatown and busy Granville Market. You could even hop over to Horseshoe Bay for dinner – in a seaplane.
Stay: Two nights in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia in the heart of the city.
Nanaimo – Pacific Coast
Collect your car and take the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nainamo on Vancouver Island. The coast-to-wild-west-coast is superbly scenic and to stand and watch crashing waves arriving after an uninterrupted journey from Japan is an awesome spectacle. Rivalled only by the region’s black bear tracking and whale watching tours.
Stay: Three nights in the upmarket, beachfront Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino with is superb spa.
Whistler offers you everything, from a round of golf to hiking through alpine meadows, or a scenic flight to land on a glacier. The snow-capped mountains provide a dramatic backdrop to this charming village resort, where you can go horse riding and ATV riding. 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 in the Blackcomb Mountain’s luxurious Four Seasons Hotel.
From Whistler you journey deep into the Cariboo region, stretching from the remarkable Fraser Canyon as far as the Cariboo Mountains. You’ll cross huge tracts of rolling ranching land to stay in a traditional-style ranch house. It’s a great base for exploring the area’s impressively varied topography, as well as hiking along wooded trails, to marshland creeks and across grasslands. You can even embark on gold panning trips, photo safaris, fly fishing and mountain biking expeditions.
Stay: Three nights at the Echo Valley Ranch and Spa.
The Great Divide
Make sure your camera has plenty of memory and power for this drive across the spine of the Rockies. On the way you’ll cross the Great Divide; the pivotal geological point between the mighty Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. From Alpine Meadows you’ll be able to explore the picturesque Wells Gray National Park either on foot or on horseback.
Stay: One night at the Alpine Meadows Resort.
This is an amazing section of your road trip as you pass Mount Robson – the highest peak in the Rockies – on your way to Jasper. This surprising little town offers you all sorts of excitement. You can tour the nearby Patricia and Pyramid Lakes and the Maligne Valley – home to bears, moose, elk, deer, big horned sheep and fabulous birds like eagles and osprey. Medicine Lake and Maligne Lake are truly beautiful, whilst Maligne Canyon features thundering river water and cascading waterfalls.
Stay: Two nights at Jasper Park Lodge.
Your ‘Rocky Road Show’ reaches new heights now as it sweeps you along the 140 mile Icefields Parkway, a sinuous route that weaves around the Rockies’ jagged peaks, punctuated by dramatic valleys splashed with brilliantly coloured lakes and deep green woodlands. You can drive onto the Athabasca Glacier; a snocoach with super-fat tyres will roll you over the Columbian Icefield – at 160 sq miles and 1000 feet thick it’s the largest ice mass outside of the Polar Regions. Then comes Lake Louise, with its mirror-glass surface reflecting a complete amphitheatre of majestic mountains.
Stay: Three nights in the Post Hotel in Banff National Park.
Drive back to Calgary to return your car and catch your flight home.
I am unable to express sufficiently my thanks and admiration for the constant care and organisation you put into this journey.- DH, Argentina, 2012