This trip was one to remember. Thinking back about it, I’m still so pleased I’ve been able to do this trip. An RV road trip through the Rocky Mountains, Canada. How great does that sound? In between assignments for my job, end of September 2018, I’ve been able to go on a 3-week Canadian Rockies trip, a road trip with an RV. Before the trip, I’d done a whole lot of research on the route, the best places to stay, what hikes to do, and what other places to visit to draft up the perfect 3-week Canadian Rockies Itinerary. Visiting the Canadian Rockies was a dream coming through and I did want to get the most out of these 3-weeks in the Canadian Rockies. All my personal experiences and prior research are covered in this extensive travel guide to the Canadian Rockies through British Columbia and Alberta.
Vancouver is the starting point of our RV road trip covering the regions of British Columbia and Alberta. Vancouver is a great city with a wonderful food and drink culture. You can enjoy yourself here for a couple of days exploring different parts of the city, visiting Granville Island, exploring Yaletown, discovering Stanley Park, and heading towards Downtown Eastside to explore many craft beer breweries. We stayed here for 2 nights, which meant we had 1 full day to discover Vancouver, as on the 2nd day we had to pick up our RV for the trip.
We stayed in GEC Granville Suites Downtown, which was a perfect and affordable hotel in a central location.
We picked up our RV from Fraserway. We had a hotel pick-up that brought us to Delta, the area where we could pick up the camper. This took a while, as there was some paperwork to do, using the camper was explained, and of course some waiting time. We loaded our suitcases in the RV and around noon – we were ready to go!
From Delta, we drove towards Whistler where we found a Walmart on the way and decided to do our groceries. We tried to buy as many preservable foods as possible for the 3 weeks (say hello to pancakes in the morning, frozen fruits, crackers, soups, and more). Next to that, as huge craft beer fans, we found a BC Liquor Store and bought some supplies. After this, we continued to our first RV park called Whistler RV Campground.
We stayed two nights at Whistler RV Campground, as we wanted to do the hike towards Garibaldi Lake, which in my opinion was the most beautiful trail near Whistler. You’ll read everything about it in my Garibaldi Lake report.
Well’s Grey is one of the relatively lesser-known National Parks. However, coming from Vancouver and Whistler, you don’t want to drive straight to Jasper National Park. On the one hand, because it is just too far for a single leg, on the other hand, because you have this spot in between and you of course don’t want to get sick of full days of driving too soon.
We decided to spend two nights in Well’s Grey and stayed at the Dutch Lake Resort & RV park, which is located at, surprise surprise, the Dutch Lake. From here, we used one day to discover Well’s Grey and visit the, in my opinion, main highlight, Helmcken Falls. While you are at it, definitely also continue to Dawson Falls. We drove around in the park and actually, this was the only time we saw some black bears! after touring around in Well’s Grey, we went back to the campsite, enjoyed the views of the Dutch Lake, and prepared for the next drive.
On to the next destination! We drove past Mount Robson and continued to Jasper National Park. We’ve stayed 3 nights at Wapiti Campground. Another option nearby is Whistlers Campground and from what I’ve seen and researched, the two don’t differ too much. However, at the beginning of October, the only campground open was Wapiti. From Wapiti it takes about an hour to walk to Jasper Town (Whistlers is slightly closer). As we loved to have a beer in the city center, we went on foot in the evening. During the day, there are some RV parking spots near the city center. Perfect when you want to go for lunch, want to check out the tourist office, or need some groceries. We’ve had some lovely food and drinks at Earl’s Kitchen in town and don’t forget to visit Jasper Brewery when you are into craft beer.
We’ve stayed 2/3 days in Jasper, as there is enough to do! Maligne Lake & Spirit Island were our highlights, but there are also many hikes to take in the park. We did the Valley of the Five Lakes hike. More below!
Maligne Lake is stunning. This is one of the only places where we did a tour, which is also needed to visit Spirit Island. I’ve written a specific guide on what to expect from the Maligne Lake Cruise and all the practicalities you’ll have to know.
From the Maligne Lake, you’ll have the opportunity to visit the Maligne Canyon, however, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this one. After your cruise on Maligne Lake, you can also continue the day with the Bald Hills trail, Opal Hills trail, or any other hike starting from the lake.
Btw, did you know Maligne Lake is the perfect place to spot a Moose?
Like all the national parks in the Canadian Rockies, Jasper National Park is home to many great hikes. We’ve done the Valley of the Five Lakes trail the day we arrived and headed to Pyramid Lake on the other full day we had. Both were stunning as the pictures show. However, there are more hikes. Read about the top 10 hikes in Jasper here.
Now it gets slightly complicated. Well, at least for me to describe the route. The pictures don’t lie, it was VERY snowy when we drove the Icefield Parkway. This was the second day we drove the Icefields Parkway as the first day we couldn’t see anything as a snowstorm was going on and it was very very cloudy. But, what I would normally recommend: take your time for the Icefields Parkway as it is stunning and a new view shows up around every corner.
You can find an overview of all stops worth visiting along the Icefields Parkway here.
The Lake Louise Area might be one of the most popular ones of the Canadian Rockies. Lake Louise is home to the famous lake, surprise, Lake Louise but also to Moraine Lake which might even be prettier. The area is also home to some great hikes such as the Lake Agnes hike and Plain of the Six Glaciers. Both do have a nice tea house on the way, which is pretty unique if you ask me. As you might have read by now, the weather wasn’t too good so we weren’t able to do most of the hikes and couldn’t visit Moraine Lake. Good excuse to head back right?
Want to read about the Lake Louise area in more detail? Check out this In and Around Lake Louise Travel Guide.
Time to head to Banff National Park! It was quite fun to be back in a small city, head to a craft beer bar (it’s a hobby) and enjoy some nice food in a restaurant. As it was snowing like crazy, we used Banff as a place where we were still able to do something, as hiking became impossible. So, now you are wondering, what to do in Banff while still enjoying our 3-week Canadian Rockies itinerary?
We went to the Banff Hotsprings for a relaxing experience in a hot spring while looking over a big layer of snow. Another recommendation about Banff, is the Banff surprise corner, rewarding you with a great view.
We had a lovely Cheese Fondue dinner at The Grizzly House, enjoyed some cocktails at the famous Park Distillery, and enjoyed our beers at Banff Ave Brewing Co.
Looking to spend a little more time outside and around Banff, there are several lakes/hikes to take. Head for example to the Vermillion Lakes, Lake Minnewanka or take some more time to hike the East End of Rundle Trail (6 hours).
We haven’t gone up with the Banff Gondola, however, I’ve heard good stories. The gondola rewards you with beautiful views from the top of Sulphur Mountain. Buy your tickets here.
A great place to spend the night is the Tunnel Mountain Village II Campground, it isn’t the most charming location, even though you have a great view of the mountains around, but it only takes about 20 minutes to walk to the city center, which is quite nice! There is also a resort part of Tunnel Village if you prefer more luxury as a break.
I have to admit, Yoho National Park didn’t swipe me off my feet. The only place we did visit was the Emerald Lake, of which I saw stunning images on Instagram, but the weather conditions caused the chalet to be closed and the Lake not to be as beautiful as normally.
However, we still took the hike up (Emerald Lake Basin Trail) which took around 3 to 4 hours. We went to the Yoho National Park visitor center for more inspiration, however, we decided to leave it with this and continue our journey towards Kelowna. However, Yoho is still a great place on the way when coming from Banff, so if you want to spend the night, I would recommend Kicking Horse Campground. We decided to drive a little bit further and stop around Revelstoke where we relaxed during the afternoon and spend the night at Revelstoke Campground, which is pretty modern and where you also have the opportunity to stay in chalets.
It’s time for some wine! An area I wanted to visit was the Okonogan Valley, famous for its wines and to balance out the nature in our 3-week Canadian Rockies Itinerary. We decided to spend 2 nights in the area of which we spend one in Kelowna. We knew someone there and were able to park the RV in front of the house and enjoy a great Thanksgiving dinner! In Kelowna, we spend a good bit of the afternoon at Mission Hill, famous for the Oculus wine, where we did a tour and were able to see the property, discover the wine cellars and of course taste their best wines.
The next morning we drove down south a little bit more (towards Penticton) and did spend some time discovering the area and tasting wines at smaller locations. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the place where we spend the night around here.
The next day, we continued south even further and drove towards Osoyoos to spend another night and discover the wineries close. I would recommend just driving around and the wineries can provide you with a map of other wineries in the area. There are plenty! We went to for example the Burrowing Owl (amazing Cabernet Franc), Nk’mip cellars, Moon Curser Vineyards, La Stella Winery,
When heading back to Vancouver, we stayed for one night at the Burnaby Cariboo RV park, which we got for free when renting our RV. We decided to do this, so we could hand in our RV at the set time in the morning, but wouldn’t have to risk driving here. on the way, we got some Four Winds craft beers (FAVOURITE!) to spend our last night in front of the RV with.
The next day, we headed to Delta, to hand in our FraserWay RV after which we headed to Vancouver, where we stayed the night in Yaletown. We discovered Yaletown, visited Yaletown Brewing, and head an amazing sushi dinner at Minami, which is sushi I’ll never forget!
We stayed again in GEC Granville Suites Downtown, the perfect place to end this holiday.
And that was it, the end of our 3-week RV roadtrip through the Canadian Rockies. An amazing and unforgettable experience, if only because of the crazy weather we had and icicles of 1,5 meter hanging on the mirrors of the RV. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see some locations and do as many hikes as planned, but it was a great experience. I would love to go back once, go camping and discover the area off the beaten tracks.