Sunset views of the Pacific Ocean, miles of lush parkland and picture-perfect lakes make western Canada one of the world’s most exciting destinations. See the best of British Columbia and neighbouring Alberta on this extensive self-drive tour, from the whale-frequented waters of Vancouver Island to the magnificent mountainscapes of Jasper National Park. Driving distances are long, but with views like this, it’s well worth the effort.
Rockies & Rainforest Canada Holiday
Day by day itinerary
Days 1-3 » Vancouver
Fly to Vancouver and, on arrival, transfer to the Pinnacle Vancouver Harbourfront. Spend the next few days exploring this magnificent multicultural city, regarded as one of North America’s most beautiful. See the sights from the summit of Grouse Mountain – the ‘Peak of Vancouver’ – and visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge, Granville Island and historic Gastown, home to shops, hip bars, great restaurants and lively nightclubs.
Days 4-5 » Victoria
Enjoy a scenic ferry crossing to Vancouver Island, which stretches 300 miles along Canada’s Pacific coast, and see the sights of British Columbia’s provincial capital. Victoria is known for its pretty waterfront and historic buildings and, increasingly, an abundance of boho boutiques and coffee bars.
Days 6-7 » Tofino
Head for Vancouver Island’s west coast, a rugged stretch which bears the brunt of the Pacific’s mighty swells and hosts great surf breaks. Enjoy a three-hour zodiac whale-watching tour and spot other wildlife including sea otters, grey whales and bald eagles.
Day 8 » Parksville
Spend the day winding your way to the island’s east coast and check into the Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Resort in Parksville, known for its sandy beaches and mountain backdrop.
Days 9-10 » Whistler
Take the ferry back to mainland British Columbia and drive the celebrated Sea-to-Sky corridor route to Whistler, Canada’s best-known ski resort. En route you’ll see scenic ocean vistas, dramatic peaks and waterfalls, pristine lakes and numerous parks ripe for outdoor adventure from your base at the Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa.
Day 11 » Wells Gray Provincial Park
Continue north, passing Joffre Glacier and Mount Currie, the northernmost summit of the Garibaldi Ranges. Visit Hat Creek Ranch to explore the days of the Gold Rush or go hiking, rafting or birdwatching in the park. Spend the night at the Alpine Meadows Resort.
Days 12-13 » Jasper
Today you’ll cross the provincial line, arrive in Alberta and visit Jasper National Park, the Rockies’ largest nature park. It’s a paradise for wildlife – boasting elk, caribou, grizzlies, black bears, beavers and coyotes – and home to the must-see sights of Spirit Island and Maligne Lake.
Day 14 » Banff
South of Jasper, along the Icefields Parkway, is Banff, a small resort town in the Banff National Park, famed for its mountain views and hot springs and enormously popular with outdoor enthusiasts. There’s plenty of time to head out into the surrounding wilderness – on foot, horseback or mountain bike – before heading on to Calgary to catch your flight home.
Alberta: adding outdoors fun to city getaways
Alongside the national-park glaciers, lakes and mountains of Jasper and Banff, Alberta is so proud of the great Canadian adventure that it’s even invited it in to its cities. Here’s how to make the most of it all.