Day 1 - Depart from Vancouver to Victoria - 69 km/43 mi
Please phone our station at 604-940-2171 after 08:00 this morning to arrange your transfer from the hotel to our station. Vehicle pickup times are generally between 13:00 and 16:00 but your exact time will be given to you when you phone. Detailed vehicle instruction will be provided. full details
Do your grocery shopping and head out. The Tsawwassen Ferry to Schwartz Bay is the best choice for reaching Victoria quickly. The ferry ride is about two hours long. If the weather is fair, there is nothing better than to stand out on deck while navigating the narrow passages between the Gulf Islands. You enter a very narrow channel with a close view of Galiano Island on the north and Mayne Island on the south side, coming out on the south-west side of Salt Spring Island, winding your way toward Schwartz Bay.
As you approach the Bay, the island on the south side of the ferry is Pender Island. The islands offer a slower pace of life. There are small farms, acreages, and summer cottages. As well, many well-known artists make the Gulf Islands their home. As you drive out of the ferry terminal, you should join Highway 17. Take the south exit and in one-half hour, you will be in the heart of Victoria. The closest CanaDream Club partner campground to the ferry is Beachcomber RV but if you prefer to be closer to the city, we suggest you try one of our three Victoria campground partners listed here. Victoria offers a wide variety of nightlife for you to experience. There are excellent restaurants in the wider Victoria area, as well as in the centre.
Day 2 - Full Day in Victoria
Victoria has so many interesting activities to offer, you will have a full day fitting in just a few. Of course, Butchart Gardens, south of Schwartz Bay, on Highway 17A, is world-renowned and is a splendid, restful place to wander around and enjoy the day. full details
If you want to camp further up the Patricia Bay Highway, you could rent bicycles and cycle along the “Galloping Goose”. This trail is part of the Trans Canada Trail—a pathway designed for cyclists and hikers that goes almost continuously from one coast of Canada to the other. The pathways offer an alternative route enabling adventurers to see the entire country by bicycle, horseback or on foot without having to share the highways with vehicular traffic. The “Galloping Goose” begins in Sydney and continues through Victoria out to Sooke. It is a picturesque route that winds its way past waterways, through thick stands of forest, and past The Gorge, an inland tidal waterway on its way to Sooke and the end of the Trail at the Pacific Ocean. A variety of birds are evident as they go about feeding their young high up in the branches overhanging the trail. So, if you want to explore Victoria without taking a vehicle into the inner parts of the city, a bicycle is a great alternative. Victoria is a city of outdoor enthusiasts who cycle, walk, run, and roller-blade. Bicycle rental is available from CycleTreks at 1000 Wharf Street in Victoria. This company also offers guided day treks which can be booked in advance through CanaDream. Victorians are geared to the mild weather and find the conditions are suitable for outdoor activities most of the year round.
When in the centre of Victoria, there are a few venues worthy of particular mention. The Provincial Museum and the BC Legislative Building are next door to one another at the south end of Government Street. The Museum often hosts new and interesting exhibits and the Legislative Buildings are open to the public with regular tours. As well, there are tours of the Inner Harbour, which is just a few blocks west of Government Street. In the spring and summer, baskets of flowers hang from lampposts on all the downtown streets.
If you are interested in collecting antiques, you may find just the right item in an antique shop along Fort Street. If you follow Bay Street to just west of the Inner Harbour, the street name changes to Craigflower Road. On the west side of Admirals Road, you will come to a heritage farmstead named Craigflower. This farm was established back in 1853 because of an obligation to Britain that the Hudson’s Bay Company honoured in order to encourage colonization. The farm also experimented with certain seeds and tubers in order to learn what would grow best on the island. Craigflower Manor and Schoolhouse are open to the public from 11.00 am to 5.00pm from 1 May to 30 September. The grounds and ancient Kosapsom Village Site are open year round for self-guided tours.
If you enjoy viewing shipping traffic, you can drive or cycle around the ocean front by going south from Government House down to Beacon Hill Road and following it around to the Oak Bay Marina. When you are looking directly south of this coastline, there is an excellent view of the Olympic Mountains in Washington State. As well, there is a great view from China Beach west of Victoria past Sooke. There is a restaurant at Point No Point that is built on the edge of the cliff, providing a great view of the entrance to the Juan de Fuca Strait from the Pacific Ocean. You can dine here while you watch everything from small craft to the larger cargo ships enter the Strait on their way to the Vancouver and Seattle harbours. Along this road, you will see the Race Rocks Light Station on the promontory known as Robert’s Point. This lighthouse was built back in the late 1800s to warn ships of the destructive outcropping of rocks that jutted out at the point where they entered the Juan de Fuca Strait. This was the location of many tragic shipwrecks over the years, even after the lighthouse was built. In later years, they changed the direction of the foghorn’s blasts and met with better results. Now the light station is a nature reserve and is part of the University of Victoria Biology Department’s course delivery.
A lighthouse that is open for viewing is the Fisguard Lighthouse National Historic Site, together with the Fort Rodd Hill that was built to protect Victoria and her harbour as well as the naval base at Esquimalt.
Day 3 - Victoria to Tofino / Ucluelet - 316 km/199 mi
Expect the unexpected on your drive to Tofino. There is such a variety of scenery with every bend in the road, from thick forest, to small towns, and spectacular views of the Gulf Islands that are sprinkled throughout the Strait of Georgia. It is advisable to leave a little early and give yourself ample time on this leg of the journey, as the Port Alberni to Tofino leg is a very narrow, winding road and will likely be quite a slow portion of the day’s drive.full details
On your way up the Trans Canada Highway, Bamberton Provincial Park is a worthwhile stop for a scenic break. Duncan, nestled in the Cowichan Valley, is also an interesting stop. The Lumber Mill Museum is worth a look. Duncan is known as the “City of Totems”. In the downtown area, you will find a historic totem pole walking tour. This island town also gives you access to mountain biking and hiking trails, and scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking and fishing. Oh, what to do?
Part way up the west side of the island, you will come to a town named Chemainus. This is a pretty little seaside town with different murals painted on the sides of many downtown buildings. These murals depict the town’s corporate history and community spirit.
Branching off the Trans Canada Highway onto Highway 4, just north of Nanaimo, you will be on your way to Port Alberni and Tofino. For another scenic break, you may want to stop in either Little Qualicum Falls, McMillan or Sproat Lake Provincial Parks. These provincial parks are further inland and have a different feel from those that border the ocean front.
You are getting into mountainous and forested terrain at this point and there is more wildlife viewing potential. Begin looking for cougar tracks here. It is not recommended to walk too far on your own; traveling in larger groups is advisable. Vancouver Island has a high concentration of cougar populations, although confrontations are very rare. Stop in Coombes to see the goats that graze on the roof of a local establishment, and stop at Cathedral Grove, near Port Alberni. Walk among huge old-growth rain forest with trees up to two to three metres thick.
From Port Alberni to Tofino, the highway narrows. Traffic usually slows down somewhat through this section to accommodate the winding, mountainous terrain. For this reason, it is wise to build extra time into your schedule to make your drive less pressured.
Tofino is on the northern edge of Pacific Rim National Park, and is the northern end of the well-known West Coast Trail. This is a backpacking trail that usually takes five or six days to complete and requires climbing up and down ladders that hang from cliffs, walking over large fallen logs and crossing expansive rock flats and beaches while the tide is out. It is an isolated but very popular hike, thereby requiring reservations to embark on the route.
CanaDream Club campground partners on today's route are
Rondalyn Resort in Ladysmith
Country Maples RV Resort (Holiday Trails) north of Chemainus
Day 4 - Full day in Tofino / Ucluelet
What an incredible playground! From all the possible activities, here are a few suggestions to tantalize and inspire you.full details
Whale watching tours are one possibility that cover much of the calendar year. The charter companies take you out in larger power boats, cutting the motor when they are close and never getting too close to infringe on whale movements.
These charters also take passengers out in summer to watch for bears that forage along the beaches when the tide is out. There are a few sea-kayaking companies that offer lessons and day trips, as well as longer tours. There have been many people who have seen a whale spout very close to their kayak. That is one way to have a memorable holiday. Also, Tla-ook Cultural Adventures of Tofino offer ocean-going canoe trips. These trips vary in length from 2½ hours to six hours. These trips offer storytelling, knowledge-sharing about plant life and survival skills, and a day out on the water.
The longest trip ends with a traditional salmon barbecue on a beach on Echachist Island. If sport fishing is more to your liking, there are boat charter companies that will take you out to the salmon and halibut grounds for a few hours or a full day. Charters are geared to groups of four or more. These are just a few of the aquatic possibilities.
If you are passionate about playing golf, then there is a golf course overlooking the ocean and very close to the RV park. The third hole may catch you out, as the fairway looks completely straight, but it actually has a very gentle curve. It seems that if you missed, your ball will be in the Pacific. For this reason, it's one of the most challenging fairways on the island. With all these activities to choose from, it seems that you could have a busy day here. You may well decide to spend a day or two more in this beautiful part of Vancouver Island so you don't have to choose one activity over another.
CanaDream Club attraction partners in Tofino / Ucluelet
Remote Passages Marine Excursions
Tla-Ook Cultural Adventures
Jamie's Whaling Station
The Whale Centre
Day 5 - Tofino to Campbell River - 272 km/169 mi
A return trip down the winding road to Port Alberni is the only way back to the east and more populated side of the island. If you didn't already do so on your way to Tonfino, stop at Cathedral Grove, near Port Alberni to take a walk among huge old-growth rain forest. full details
There are only a few dozen parking spots immediately adjacent to the highway at the entrance to the trail to Cathedral Grove. Please proceed slowly through this stretch of road, as the trees encroach on the road and there may be little warning when people, as well as wildlife, cross the road.
Continue on to Coombs to see the goats that graze on the roof of a local establishment before heading north through the Lighthouse Country communities of Qualicum Bay, Bowser and Deep Bay on your way to Campbell River. Follow the Oceanside Route (19A) through the charming communities of Fanny Bay, Buckley Bay and Union Bay, making sure you stop to sample the world famous oysters in Fanny Bay.
At Courtenay, you may like to take a short diversion off Highway 19A into Comox, home to more than 500 pleasure boats and a commercial fishing fleet. Comox Harbour is one of the safest year-round harbours on Vancouver Island and is a great launching spot for some of the best salmon fishing in the world.
Other places of interest en route to Campbell River today include Miracle Beach Provincial Park, where porpoises and hair seals can often be seen near the mouth of black creek. Killer whales are sometimes spotted from here in the Strait of Georgia. Self-guided nature walks skirt the shore and wander through forests of hemlock and Douglas fir.
From Miracle Beach Provincial Park, it's a short drive to Campbell River. En route you may catch a glimpse of Cape Mudge lighthouse on the south end of Quadra Island. The lighthouse was built in 1888 and is still staffed and fully operational. There are a number of private campgrounds to choose from in Campbell River. Our recommended CanaDream Club partner campground is Parkside Campground & RV Park, approximately 3km from downtown Campbell River. This park sits nestled among stately evergreen trees offering a natural forest setting with large, private sites, clean restrooms and hot showers. A discount is offered to CanaDream guests on request.
Day 6 - Full day in Campbell River
Take time out today to explore the area. Among our recommendations are a short ferry ride across to Quadra Island. The ferry leaves Campbell River hourly between 6.30am and 10.30pm, taking 10 minutes to make the crossing. Check out www.bcferries.com for details of fares and sailing times. full details
If you feel like spending longer on Quadra Island, it's possible to take your RV across with you to Quathiaski Cove and spend a few nights camping at Tsa-Kwa Luten Lodge's Oceanfront RV Park. Discounts are available for CanaDream guests on request, subject to some blackout dates.
If Quadra Island doesn't appeal, how about taking a wildlife and cultural tour with Aboriginal Journeys? This first nations wildlife and cultural tour operator offers whale watching, grizzly bear and wildlife viewing, native history and culture, nature photography and eco-adventure tours in Campbell River.
Should you prefer a day just exploring the area, a drive down to Gold River or to Strathcona Provincial Park may appeal. Strathcona Provincial Park was the original park in the BC provincial system. A day trip to Strathcona gets you into an unparalleled natural wonderland of vast forests, great lakes, alpine meadows and challenging peaks. More than a dozen hikes and walks originate from the Buttle Lake area of Strathcona Park, offering trails for all fitness levels.
Return to Campbell River and spend another night at Parkside Campground & RV Park.
Day 7 - Campbell River to Port Hardy - 508 km/316 mi
From Campbell River, Highway 19 passes through more lakes and bays before skirting inland toward the small logging and farming community of Sayward. Watch for a mysterious steamy ring round the peak of Hkusam Mountain. The Kwakwaka'wakw People called it Hiatsee Saklekum - "Where the breath of the sea lion gathers at the blow-hole". full details
If you have time, visit the unique Cable Cookhouse, a steel-framed building wrapped with 8,200 feet of wire cable weighing 26 tons, located on the east side of the one-lane bridge on Sayward Road that crosses the Salmon River. The Cable Cookhouse provides excellent food and welcomes all travellers. Don't miss The Logger's Totem, built in 1986 by Glen Duncan to honour the logger.
Visitors driving the scenic route between Port McNeill and Sayward are very likely to encounter at least one large mammal alongside the road or ambling into the forest. Black-tailed deer, Roosevelt elk and black bear are common year-round.
If you'd like to add another day to this leg of your journey, we suggest you take a side trip into historic Telegraph Cove. Much of the town is built on stilts, raised above the water, and linked by a wooden boardwalk. Telegraph Cove is the departure point for Tide Rip Grizzly Tours. This company offers the only day trips by water taxi from Telegraph Cove to see the grizzlies in the land of the Da'Naxda'xw First Nations in Knight Inlet. Tours depart at 7.00am, returning around 4.00pm. Advance bookings are essential and a discount is offered to CanaDream guests on presentation of voucher.
Plan for an early evening arrival in Port Hardy. Our recommended CanaDream Club partner campground in Port Hardy is Quatse River Campground, in beautiful surroundings only 10 minutes from downtown Port Hardy. Advance reservations are strongly recommended as this is a very popular campground.
Day 8 - Port Hardy to Prince Rupert (via ferry)
The ferry from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert has a daytime sailing schedule between mid-May and the end of September, allowing you to take in the surrounding scenery. In May and August, the vessel departs Port Hardy on even-numbered days, while June, July and August see the ship leaving on odd-numbered days. full details
Be sure to plan your itinerary to take account of this. Check the BC Ferries website online for the most up to date information. Advance reservations are essential for people travelling with RVs.
The ferry departs Port Hardy at 7.30am, arriving in Prince Rupert around 10.30pm. Once you're on the ferry, sit back, relax and enjoy not having to drive yourself today.
Many campgrounds in Prince Rupert say open late for ferry arrivals. We suggest you make a reservation with Prince Rupert RV Campground, less than 1km from the ferry terminal.
Day 9 - Full day in Prince Rupert
Take more time out today to relax and enjoy your spectacular surroundings. Visit the North Pacific Fishing Village, a National Historic Site, and take a tour of the most complete cannery remaining of the remote villages that once dotted the West Coast. Here you can be transported back to the hectic days of cannery life through displays and interpretive guided tours. full details
Other places worth visiting include the world class Museum of Northern BC. This museum houses art and artifacts exploring the wealth of history and culture on BC's Northwest Coast. Visitors can often share in the experience of First National dance performances in the Longhouse.
A series of other museums in the city explore the wealth of European history in the area.
At the Kwinitsa Railway Museum, visitors can experience the life of early station agents and linemen who worked the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway at the turn of the century. The Firehall Museum features many artifacts demonstrating the history of the fire department since 1908, such as a rebuilt 1925 R.E.O. Speedwagon fire engine.
Spend a quiet moment watching the boats along the waterfront - you may find yourself rewarded by a glimpse of a harbour seal, or one of many species of seabirds. On rare occasions you may even spot humpback or killer whales.
Day 10 - Prince Rupert to Prince George - 722 km/449 mi
Today's a very long day driving if you decide to do this stretch all at once. You may decide to break this into a two day journey, overnighting at a campground en route, before continuing on to Prince George the following day. full details
Points of interest between Prince Rupert and Prince George include Ksan Historical Village, 50 million year old fossils at Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park and Fort St James Historic Site.
Ksan is the Gitxsan name for the Skeena River. This replicated ancient Gitxsan village features large decorated house fronts and totem poles facing the water. If you have time, continue up to Kitwancool and the Nisga's Memorial Lava Bed Park where, over two centuries ago, a volcano erupted leaving a lava moonscape. Don't forget to stop to view the famous totems at Kitwancool.
Day 11 - Prince George to Jasper – 375 km/233 mi
Prince George is known as an all-season playground. With over 120 parks and more than 1600 nearby lakes and rivers offering endless opportunities for fishing, boating, hiking, wildlife viewing and camping, Prince George is a place for both indoor and outdoor discovery. full details
At Fort George Park, cultural, scientific and natural history becomes a hands-on experience. Check out the Prince George Native Art Gallery and visit the vintage railway collections at the Prince George Railway & Forestry Museum.
From Prince George, head east on the Yellowhead Highway to the scenic community of McBride, nestled in Mount Robson Valley. The exceptional scenery here draws hikers, anglers and white water enthusiasts. Catch a glimpse of some of the 200 bird species recorded in the area at the Horseshoe Lake bird viewing station. Enjoy an easy walk around this thriving artist community or try heli-hiking, heli-skiing or snowmobiling.
Continuing east from McBride, take a short diversion off highway 16 into the friendly town of Valemount. Here you can canoe meandering streams or simply take in the nature around you. Don't miss the wildlife and bird watching at Robert W. Starratt Wildlife Sanctuary, a 43 ha (600 ac) waterfowl habitat just minutes from Valemount.
Late summer brings the world's longest salmon migration to the spawning ground of Swift Creek in nearby George Hicks Regional Park.
Travelling back to highway 16, you rejoin the Yellowhead Highway en route to Jasper. Pass through Mount Robson Provincial Park, named after the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies - a jagged, snowy pinnacle rising 3,954 m (12,972 ft) above largely undisturbed wilderness. Break your journey at the Mount Robson Visitor Centre where you can buy souvenirs and snacks and hike a few easy trails. Mount Robson Provincial Park also houses the headwaters of the Fraser River and the massive Berg Glacier. Hike the extensive trail systems leading past lakes, glacier, waterfalls and through dense forest.
From Mount Robson, it's an easy one hour drive through to Jasper where you should plan to spend at least two full days. Advance reservations at the National Park campgrounds are strongly recommended during the peak summer season. The closest campgrounds to the township of Jasper are Whistlers and Wapiti. These can be booked online at http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/Jasper/visit/reserv_e.asp.
Day 12 - Full Day in Jasper
Awake today to trilling birdsong and views of the massive peaks which crown the horizon in every direction. With so many things to do in and around Jasper, you'll have difficulty deciding what to do first.full details
Early morning and dusk are the best times for animal sightings in the area. Start your day with the tranquility of Pyramid Lake and the reflection of Pyramid Mountain in the surrounding water. An osprey sitting on her nest, a bald eagle soaring overhead, beaver swimming along the shoreline and the sound of a loon disturbing the silence with its haunting call. All this is possible by taking the Great Canadian Sunburst Canoe Experience which ends with steaming hot coffee, fresh baking and, if you request, a "Sunburst" and fresh croissant for breakfast. The morning is complete and it's only 9.00AM! Advance reservations are required through Jasper Adventure Tours. Various other activities are also available through this company.
Spend some time today wandering around Jasper and visiting the variety of stores along the Main Street. RV parking is available close to the downtown area.
This afternoon, head out to the Jasper Tramway - Jasper's Peak Attraction. The experience of being gently transported into Jasper National Park's alpine tundra will captivate all ages. Stroll the boardwalks, viewing the interpretive plaques, and watch for wildlife. Alpine inhabitants include the Hoary Marmot, white tailed Ptarmigan, ground squirrels, pikas and the occasional bighorn sheep. Travel off of the boardwalks onto the hiking trails to the summit is possible at your own risk, but come prepared.
Tonight you may like to take a trip up to Miette Hot Springs. Open between May 19 and September 9, these hot springs consist of two pools kept at about 40 degrees Celsius. Miette Hot Springs are located 61km east of Jasper. During the July/August peak season, the pools remain open until 10.30pm.
Day 13 - Full day in Jasper
Take a drive today out to Maligne Lake, 44km south of the Jasper town site. This emerald green lake is set amongst the snow-mantled peaks of the Front Range and stretches for nearly 22 kilometers. At Maligne Lake, take the 90 minute scenic cruise to world-famous Spirit Island. full details
Cruises depart hourly from 10.00am between early June and October 4th. Discounts are available to CanaDream guests when pre-purchasing tickets through CanaDream. Allow at least an hour to get from Jasper to Maligne Lake.
On the way back from the lake, stop at Maligne Canyon. Here sheer limestone walls plunge to depths of over 50 metres (165 ft). Parks Canada has developed a self-guided interpretative trail along the canyon with signs describing the geological history of the area. There are four bridges across the gorge, each with its own special view. A short hiking loop tours the upper reaches of the canyon, while a longer trail follows the gorge and exits at a fifth and sixth bridge lower down. These two activities should take up most of your day today.
Day 14 - Jasper to Lake Louise - 236 km/147 mi
The 230-kilometre Icefields Parkway ranks among the great highroads of the world and commands some of the most majestic scenery in the Canadian Rockies. It runs between Jasper townsite and Lake Louise, following in turn the Bow, Mistaya, North Saskatchewan, Sunwapta and Athabasca rivers, crossing the Bow and Sunwapta passes and presenting a panorama of peaks, glaciers, waterfalls and canyons. full details
Some landmarks bear the names of early guides and explorers - Wilcox, Stanley, Nigel. Others have descriptive names such as Tangle Ridge and Whirlpool River, or Indian names such as Sunwapta (turbulent river).
Look for bighorn sheep and goats at Tangle Falls, Stutfield Glacier Viewpoint and Goat Lookout. Stutfield Glacier Viewpoint offers a view of the Sunwapta River, an excellent example of a braided river. The valley bottom is filled with sand and gravel spreading the river across the valley floor in interlacing channels. The Stutfield Glacier features a picturesque pair of ice falls, which spill down the face of Mt. Stutfield. Take the 1 km (1/2 mile) access road from the Icefields Parkway to Sunwapta Falls and Canyon and see where the Sunwapta River changes its course abruptly from northwest to southwest, then plummets into a deep canyon producing the spectacular Athabasca waterfall.
Quartzite boulders litter both sides of the Icefields Parkway where rockslides have swept down here from the mountain slopes to the east. Above the boulder field, near the top of the ridge, is a distinct pink scar where part of the rock sheared away. The Sunwapta River now breaks in rapids over the foot of the slide area. The rock itself has been used extensively as building stone in Jasper National Park. To the southeast of Poboktan Creek loom Tangle Ridge and the 3,315 metre Sunwapta Peak. In the opposite direction, Endless Chain Ridge stretches to the northwest.
If you are ready to stretch your legs and get out in the mountain air, there is an easy stroll known as East Bush Falls Loop near the Nordegg turnoff. It offers the bonus of a waterfall on East Bush Creek. The hikes in this area are mostly old logging roads, making good hiking and equestrian trails today. Apparently, there are people who get lost on East Bush Mountain , so it is important to follow the signs posted. The route is not quite 6 km long and has a slight elevation gain of 90 metres, requiring as much as a half-day to complete.
Just beyond this area is the Saskatchewan River Crossing, the junction of Highway 11. Take a short detour heading east and you'll discover fantastic tracts of wilderness noted for fishing, trail riding and hiking, such as the Wildland Recreation Area, White Goat Wilderness, Cline River and Abraham Lake.
Keep your eyes peeled for Bow Summit, which at 2,068 m (6,785 ft.) above sea level, is the highest point on the parkway and offers one of the best mountain panoramas in the world at Peyto Lake viewpoint.
Jasper and Banff National Parks border one another along the divide between the headwaters of the Sunwapta and North Saskatchewan rivers. Waters flowing north from this divide eventually reach the Arctic Ocean via the Mackenzie River, while those flowing south cross the Prairies via the Saskatchewan River to Hudson Bay. The Icefields Parkway crosses the divide at 2,035 metres above sea level. At this elevation snowbanks remain in sheltered areas throughout the summer. Like many high valleys near timberline, the bottomland near Sunwapta Pass is virtually treeless.
The Icefield Parkway ends in the picturesque village of Lake Louise. Located in the Bow Valley, the village provides shopping, accommodation, meals, automotive services and tourist information. Four km (2.5 mi) above the village is the lake itself, dominated by the majestic Victoria Glacier. Near Lake Louise, visit emerald-coloured Moraine Lake. Surrounded by a panorama of 10 glaciated summits, the Wenkchemna Peaks, Moraine Lake is found at the base of the Continental Divide, the geographic point where all waters flow either west to the Pacific Ocean or east to the Atlantic Ocean. The Moraine Lake road is open from early June to early October. Exact opening and closing dates are dependent on seasonal conditions. For most of the winter, the lower 8km section of the road is maintained as a cross-country ski trail. The road to Lake Louise is open year round. We suggest you overnight at the Lake Louise Campground, a national park campground operated by Parks Canada. Advance reservations are essential during July and August - visit http://www.pccamping.ca/parkscanada/en/ to make your reservations online. After settling in to your campsite, we recommend you take an evening trip up to Lake Louise. At this time of the day, you can sit back and enjoy the scenery without battling the summer crowds.
Day 15 - Lake Louise to Banff - 63 km/39 mi
Before leaving Lake Louise today, take an early morning trip back up to the lake where, on a fine day, the mountains cast tranquil reflections into the lake. The early morning is a good time to take pictures and to revel in the quiet solitude around the lake before the arrival of the tour buses. full details
From Lake Louise, take the Bow Valley Parkway and look for the turn-off to Mount Eisenhower. According to Indian legend, this 2,862 metre turreted peak is the home of the Chinook - a warm, dry winter wind that sweeps out of the Rockies to melt snow in the foothills and prairies. A hiking trail winds for eight kilometres from a warden station to Tower and Rockbound lakes, hidden in a hanging valley behind Mount Eisenhower. Another trail follows a fire road to a lookout high on the mountain's flank.
Next stop along the road is Johnston Canyon, which was carved out of the soft underlying rock by Johnston Creek. Among the canyon's wildlife is the dipper or water ouzel, a bird which lives at the very edge of turbulent mountain streams. In feeding, the dipper will wade, swim, dive, and even walk underwater on the stream bed. In a meadow just beyond the canyon are a group of seven springs called the Ink Pots. Two of them are noted for their murky, blue-green color - a hue created by suspended sediments. To the west, open meadows mark the site of Silver City, a mining boom town. During its heyday (1883-85), the town boasted a population of 2,000, four general stores and several hotels. The mines failed to meet expectations however, and a disputed claim helped to speed the town's demise.
Proceeding up the highway you will find a nine-kilometre drive that skirts the shores of the three Vermilion Lakes. The surrounding wetland, a marshy area of the Bow River, is rich in plant and animal life. Sedges, rushes and swamp horsetail provide a habitat for beaver and muskrat. On slightly drier ground grow willows, black currants and bracted honeysuckle. Beyond the wetland are groves of white spruce sprinkled with poplars. Ringing the lakes are Sulphur Mountain, Mount Rundle and the peaks of the Sundance Range.
You will soon enter the town of Banff, which is a year-round recreation center for tourists, horseback riders, skiers, hikers and mountain climbers. Banff is the headquarters for the Banff National Park, which is the first and most famous of Canada's national parks, with an incomparable combination of towering peaks and high meadows, emerald lakes and keen mountain air. These factors, and the sulphur hot springs, have made Banff National Park one of North America’s most spectacular scenic and recreation areas. It was here in the winter of 1883 that railway workmen noticed wisps of steam rising from a fissure on the south side of the Bow Valley.
A candle lowered down the hole on a string revealed a cavern with a pool of steaming, sulphurous water. The upshot, in June 1887, was an Act of the Canadian Parliament designating 673 square kilometres around the springs as "Rocky Mountains Park". Be sure to check out Cave & Basin Hot Springs, the birthplace of Banff National Park. In the early days, bathers descended into the cave by means of a ladder through a hole in the cavern ceiling. Since then a tunnel has been burrowed into the chamber so that visitors can view the historic site. Inside the grotto, jagged rock walls arch above steaming Cave Pool, fed by sulphur springs flowing at 675 litres a minute.
One of Banff's most popular attractions is the Sulphur Mountain Gondola, operated by Brewster Sightseeing. Gondolas rise 690 metres to the summit ridge (2,348 metres) and a sweeping panorama of mountains and valleys. Discounted tickets are available to CanaDream guests by pre-purchasing these at the Calgary pick-up location.
The Banff Hot Springs, rich in minerals, is an outdoor hot spring which is open year round. Operated by Canadian Rockies Hot Springs, this pool, with a temperature of between 37 and 40C, is great for relieving tired at aching muscles at any time of the year.
Other places of interest in Banff include:
Archives of the Canadian Rockies - These archives house a community library and research center for the history of the region.
Banff Natural History Museum - Specimens of wildlife native to Banff National Park are displayed here.
Luxton Museum - Indian lore and customs are shown in dioramas at the museum, which is built to resemble a 19th-century fur-trade post.
There are no private RV Parks in Banff National Park. Parks Canada operates a number of campgrounds in and around Banff, most of which do not have power hookups. If you need a campground with power hook-up, you will need to make advance reservations (http://www.pccamping.ca/parkscanada/en/) for the Tunnel Mountain Campground.
Day 16 - Full Day in Banff
You may not have thought of finding so much art in a place like Banff. This town offers you a multitude of artistic activities. The Banff Summer Arts Festival has many artists performing in a variety of ways from June to August. Try a world class opera production, different musical ensembles or theatre, an art walk, exhibitions or literary reading. full details
Whatever your taste, there is something for everyone throughout the Festival.
The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies holds a very large collection of mountain art by a wide variety of artists who either lived in the Park or spent time working in the area.
As for physical activity, Banff offers a great deal to keep you occupied. You can hike east along the Bow River valley to the hoodoos (eroded rock formations by the river’s edge), hike up Sulphur Mountain and take the gondola down for free, then take a soothing dip in the Banff Hot Springs at the base of Sulphur Mountain. Or you could go to the west side of town and rent a canoe and paddle northwest along the creek to the Vermillion Lakes. You may have to portage around a beaver dam or two or even spot some beavers at work maintaining their homes, but the view of Mount Rundle (the jagged, sloping mountain you see from Vermillion Lakes when you look straight west) is wonderful, especially when you see it early on a clear morning or later in the evening. For the first few hours of the morning, you would see the sun rise over the mountain, turning its warm, sandy brown tones to a soft pink. The same is true at dusk. Sunset comes very quickly in the mountains, so once the mountain turns pink, it is time to head back to the dock.
An interesting area to explore is the old, abandoned town site of Bankhead, just north of the Trans Canada Highway turnoff. on the road lading to Lake Minnewanka. Look for an unmarked parking lot on the right just after the Two Jack Lake Camping Ground access. This was a model town built and developed by the Canadian Pacific Railway about 100 years ago to support a coal-mining endeavour that the Railway owned. Bankhead was the envy of all the towns in the area, because the residents enjoyed indoor plumbing and electric lighting in their homes and on the streets. They built up sports teams and the residents themselves provided the entertainment in local musical performances. The town lasted the 20 years that the mine was profitable. Then, when the use of coal declined, the CPR closed the mine and moved the town buildings to Banff, Canmore and Calgary. There are still some building foundations left and some interesting displays.
There is also a town beneath Lake Minnewanka that used to support an earlier coal mine. The town’s name was Anthracite, an indication of the type of coal they hoped to find. However, the mine was a failure and the residents had packed up and moved out by 1904. Sometime after the residents moved away, the area was flooded to produce hydro-electric power. There had been a lake there before, although not as wide. Brewster Sightseeing offers cruises during the summer months on Lake Minnewanka. Tickets can be pre-purchased from CanaDream at a discounted cost.
Day 17 - Banff to Calgary - 129 km/80 mi
The journey to Calgary from Banff is a short one so take your time to explore along the way. After leaving Banff National Park, continue east on the Trans Canada Highway and look for the turn-off down to Kananaskis (Highway 40 south). Kananaskis has something to satisfy almost every outdoor interest. full details
In addition to recreation, the land also mixes livestock, forestry, and petroleum production to show that such activities can co-exist with provincial parks, wildlife sanctuaries, recreation facilities and natural areas.
Stop at Barrier Lake, right inside the park entrance. This has great views of the park and is a starting point for kayakers and canoeists on the Kananaskis River. Visit Kananaskis Village, the focal point of Kananaskis Country, which is overlooked by Mt Allan, the home to the Nakiska Ski Area. Before reaching Kananaskis Village, stop at Ribbon Creek for a picnic or to hike one of the numerous trails which start here. If you're travelling this road between June 15 and December 1st, continue south over the Highwood Pass to Longview. This pass, just south of Kananaskis Lake, which takes Highway 40 from Peter Lougheed Provincial Park down the slopes of the foothills, has an elevation of 7,233 feet or 2,206 meters and is higher than any of the Highway passes across the Continental Divide. Stop for a snack or an ice-cream in Longview before continuing north on Highway 22 to Black Diamond where you turn east onto Highway 7 then join Highway 2 to Calgary.
If the Highwood Pass is closed, you will need to backtrack north on Highway 40 to the Trans Canada Highway and take this Highway back to Calgary.
Our recommended campground in Calgary is Calgary West Campground. Let them know you are a CanaDream guest to receive a discount on your stay. While in Calgary, we suggest you visit the Calgary Tower, the Zoo (both are open year round) or Heritage Park (open May 12-October 12). Other places of interest in the city are the AeroSpace Museum, Canada Olympic Park, Fort Calgary, the Glenbow Museum, TELUS World of Science, the Military Museum and Spaceport. If you're in Calgary during the 10 days of Stampede (usually starts the second Friday in July - check www.calgarystampede.com for dates), plan to stay at least two nights. The chuck wagon racing and the rodeo are not to be missed!
If you are dropping off your RV in Calgary - this is the end of your Totem Circle tour. Unless you have booked a late drop-off, your vehicle is due back at our Calgary location between 8.00am and 10.00am. If you need transport to the airport or to an airport hotel, our friendly staff will be happy to take you.
Day 18 - Calgary to Waterton National Park - 263 km/163 mi
Today we leave Calgary behind as we take Highway 2 to High River before heading west to Longview where we join Highway 22 south. This scenic route passes Chain Lakes Provincial Park and skirts the foothills of the Canadian Rockies before reaching Frank Slide. full details
Here there is an interpretive centre, open year round, which highlights the rich history of the Crowsnest Pass. Displays throughout the centre feature the 1903 Frank Slide (rockslide-avalanche), the Canadian Pacific Railway, European settlement, early underground coal mining and community life.
Turn east at the junction of Highways 22 and 3 to Pincher Creek, the wind energy capital of Canada. Here the landscape is dotted with more than 100 wind turbines which generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 35,000 homes.
From Pincher Creek it's only a short drive south into Waterton National Park. This is an uncrowded natural paradise, where people, wildlife and nature peacefully co-exist all year long.
Reservations may be made using the Parks Canada Campground Reservation Service for the Townsite Campground. Campsites at the Crandell and Belly River Campgrounds are available only on a first--come, first-serve basis. During peak season (July-August), these campgrounds tend to fill quickly and are usually full for the night by early afternoon.
Day 19 - In Waterton National Park
Waterton Lakes National Park has a variety of activities you can enjoy year round! There are 255 km (191 mi) of trails in the Park, ranging in difficulty from short strolls to steep treks of several days duration. Hiking is the best way to experience Waterton - visit http://www.watertonpark.com/activities/hiking_trail.htm for trail information. full details
Take a trip up to Red Rock Canyon - a 16 kilometer drive from Waterton Village, where the layers of red and green coloured minerals offer a brilliant contrast to each other and the lush surroundings. The road to the Canyon abounds with colourful roadside wildflowers and views of hanging valleys and jagged mountain peaks.
Waterton Park offers a huge variety of fishing experiences. You can fish at the most beautiful alpine lakes the Rocky Mountains have to offer. Waterton Lakes is home to a huge variety of animals and birds, giving you the opportunity to experience wildlife in its natural habitat. With so much to choose from, you’ll have difficulty deciding how to spend your day.
Day 20 - Waterton Park to West Glacier (Going to the Sun Road, Montana) - 146 km/91 miIf you're travelling between June 1st and October 31st, the easiest way to get from Waterton to Glacier National Park, Montana, is through the Chief Mountain border crossing. This crossing is open from 0700 to 2200 daily. full details
If you're crossing the border from November to the end of May, the next closest port of entry to the USA is at Carway, south of Cardston. Guests travelling on foreign passports (passports issued by countries other than Canada and the USA) may need to complete immigration formalities at the border. Be aware that there is a restriction on some foodstuffs which may be taken into the USA, particularly fruit.
From the Chief Mountain border crossing, it's a spectacular drive south, through the small town of Babb to St Mary. St Mary is at the eastern end of the Going to the Sun Road, one of the most amazing highlights of Glacier National Park. The road is closed for most of the year, generally opening around the end of June and remaining open until the snow forces its closure in late September/early October. Traffic on this road is restricted to vehicles 21 feet or shorter - the Pleasure-Way Excel DVC Deluxe Van Camper is the only vehicle in our CanaDream fleet which can safely navigate this road. From 1 July to 31 August, the US National Parks Service operates a free shuttle which will pick up and drop off at many points along the road. Outside of this time, Red Bus Tours operate over this route. Check at the Visitor Centre in St Mary for rates and times.
To truly appreciate the Going to the Sun Road, you should allow enough time to travel it in both directions.
After completing the road in both directions, you will be back in St Mary. If you're in a DVC, you now have the choice of taking the Going to the Sun Road or journeying around the perimeter of the park. Guests in our other vehicle types will need to take the perimeter road. Either way, your destination tonight is West Glacier.
If you're travelling outside of the peak travel months of July and August, we suggest you check to make sure the Going to the Sun road is open before crossing the border into the US. If the road isn't open, we suggest you remain in Canada, taking the Crowsnest Pass and Highway 3 to Creston. At Creston take Highway 3A through the Creston Valley and up the eastern shores of Kootenay Lake and spend a day exploring the area.
Day 21 - West Glacier to Nelson, BC (via Bonners Ferry, Idaho, the Kootenay Lake ferry and Balfour) - 436 km/271 mi
The Kootenai (in the US) and Kootenay Rockies (in Canada) provide some spectacular mountain scenery today as you drive west on Highway 2 through Kalispell and Libby to Moyie Springs. Just east of Moyie Springs is the junction of US Highways 2 and 95 where you head north towards the border crossing at Porthill, Idaho. full details
This border crossing is open year round between 7.00am and 11.00pm. US Highway 1 becomes Canadian Highway 21 at Rykerts, 11km south of Creston, BC. Nestled in the Creston Valley, between the Selkirk and Purcell Mountains, the attractive town of Creston presides over a broad and fertile river valley where the Kootenay River comes home to Kootenay Lake. Also known as "The Valley of the Swans", the Creston Valley is a breathtaking combination of snow-capped mountain peaks, waving fields of grain, deep clear lakes, quiet mountain streams and wide-open spaces. It's an agricultural region, with dairy farms and orchards dotting the surrounding landscape.
At Creston, you have the choice of saving time on your journey by taking Highway 3 west towards Osoyoos or travelling up the east side of the Kootenay Lake on Highway 3A. If you have the time, we recommend you take the second option.
On this route, beautiful scenery, sandy beaches and panoramic views of the Selkirk and Purcell Mountains are sure to delight both young and old. Operating between Kootenay Bay and Balfour, the Kootenay Lake Ferry is the longest free ferry ride in the world. During the summer months, this ferry departs the Kootenay Bay terminal approximately every 50 minutes. No reservations are necessary - simply join the vehicle queue when you reach the end of the paved highway and wait your turn to board. Please ensure your propane tanks are off before driving onto the ferry. Once you reach Balfour on the other side of the lake, it's only a short drive into Nelson, a city acknowledged for its impressive collection of restored heritage buildings from its glory days in a regional silver rush. The most convenient campground to stay at here is the Nelson City Campground. Close to the downtown core, this 35 site campground offers full hookups, showers, a sani-dump and picnic tables. We recommend you book this campground in advance, particularly during the summer months.
SIDE TRIP - After disembarking the ferry at Balfour, you may like to take the road left up to Ainsworth Hot Springs, a few kilometres north of Balfour. These mineral springs offer an interesting and very different bathing experience. The pool is shaped like a giant horseshoe and you can swim into caves that are dark and very humid. Some people believe this pool is the very best mineral spring in all of British Columbia for rejuvenation after a day of physical activity. Public hours are 10.00 am to 9.30 pm, 365 days a year. Once finished here, drive south to Nelson.
Day 22 - Nelson to Osoyoos - 262 km/163 mi
Highway 3A continues on to Castlegar where it rejoins Highway 3, passing through Grand Forks and the small towns of Greenwood, Midway and Rock Creek before reaching tonight's destination at Osoyoos. With a relatively short distance to travel today, there should be ample time to explore points of interest along the way. full details
Off-route from Highway 3, you may like to take a short diversion along Highway 3B to the 19th century town of Rossland for a tour of the famous Le Roi Gold Mine. Follow in the footsteps of underground miners who drilled, blasted and hand-mucked the mine's 128km (80 mile) stretch of underground crevasses. Tours run regularly from May to the end of August with the last tour of the day leaving at 3.30pm.
Back on Highway 3 west, the town of Grand Forks is the fastest growing town in BC's Kootenays. Here, history buffs will enjoy exploring turn of the century mine sites, the old Phoenix town site and many abandoned rail grades.
Continuing west you reach Greenwood, now Canada's smallest city. When it was incorporated in 1897 it was a mining boom town. Many turn of the century buildings in this picturesque community have been restored, including the Courthouse, Post Office and MacArthur Centre. Despite its small size, the city is a popular tourist attraction and a great place to explore.
Located in the heart of the Kettle Valley, surrounded by the protective mountains of the Okanagan and Kootenay regions, is the small village of Midway. Worth visiting here is the Kettle River Museum, located at Mile 0 of the Kettle Valley Railway. Open daily from May to September, the museum's main attraction is the original Station house, built in 1900 and now housing exhibits commemorating the steam railway era of southern British Columbia.
From Midway to Osoyoos, Highway 3 skirts the Canada/US border until it reaches Osoyoos in the heart of BC's Desert Wine Country. Located at the northern most tip of the Sonora Desert, Osoyoos is now a popular vacation destination and one of the largest fruit growing areas in Canada. Apricots, peaches, pears, plums, cherries, apples and grapes thrive in the hot dry climate, while the surrounding area features desert flora and fauna such as prickly pear cactus, antelope bush and rare species of birds.
Take a dip in Lake Osoyoos, Canada's warmest lake, rent a boat from the Marina, celebrate thousands of years of Okanagan First Nations habitation on desert lands at the Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre or just relax in some of the highest average temperatures in Canada.
If you're a wine lover, a winery tour in this region is a must!
Day 23 - Osoyoos
Spend today exploring the region. Some suggestions for the day are:full details
A full day winery tour with Great Estates of the Okanagan. Your passport to Okanagan wine country includes five of the most exceptional wineries in the Okanagan Valley following a special route through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Okanagan - a route off the beaten path and not marked on the standard wine tour maps. Contact great.estates@Vincor.ca for more information.
A drive up Highway 97 into the heart of the Okanagan Valley.
Heading north from Osoyoos, you'll pass through a true desert. At Oliver, consider taking a short tour of a local winery. Learn traditional wine-making techniques and sample your favourite Pinot, Cabernet or Chardonnay in the tasting rooms.
In Summerland, climb aboard the vintage Kettle Valley Steam Railway, which will transport you on a 10 km (6.2 mi) route. Cruise into the picturesque houseboat haven of the Shuswap Lake area before returning to Osoyoos through Kelowna, Peachland and Penticton.
The Osoyoos Museum.
This museum offers something for everyone. Exciting exhibits include First National artifacts, a Victorian parlour, an 1892 log building, a sizeable military collection, agricultural equipment, children's toys, sports and recreational items and much more! The museum is open year round.
Rattle Snake Canyon.
A family friendly amusement park with a western mining theme, Rattle Snake Canyon offers a variety of quality entertainment including an 18 hole mini-golf course, a Go-Kart track, an ice-cream parlour, bumper boats and much more.
Day 24 - Osoyoos to Vancouver - 395 km/247 mi
From Osoyoos, Highway 3 takes a south-west direction towards the US border before it takes a sharp turn again north to Keremeos. The Keremeos area boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in North America. Ranging from Cottonwood groves along the river to well-kept orchards, to true desert landscapes to incredible alpine peaks with azure lakes and mountain meadows, the South Similkameen Valley is a photographer's delight. full details
This is the best place in British Columbia to buy fruit and vegetables from the many fruit stands lining the routes in and out of town or directly from the farm.
Located just 30 minutes west from Keremeos is Cathedral Lakes Provincial Park, with its amazing towering mountain tops and their waterfall veils. Open from June to September, this wilderness park is definitely for the more adventurous. The focal points in the park are the Cathedral Lakes, which look like turquoise jewels in a granite setting. Each of the close-knit group of lakes has a unique charm. If you plan to hike in this park, be aware that no water is available other than from lakes and streams.
At Hedley, the ruins of two mineheads, the Nickel Place and Mascot, are perched on Nickel Plate Mountain overlooking the town. For almost half a century, until they closed in 1955, the mines produced almost $1 million worth of gold, silver, copper and arsenic each year. The path of an aerial tramway, which cut through the forest and carried the ore to a mill at the base of the mountain, can still be seen.
Nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains at the junction of the Tulameen and Similkameen rivers is Princeton, a town rich in history and filled with tales from the early days and adventures of the gold rush era. Take a step back in time as you visit the Princeton Museum and ponder over many of their displays. Enjoy the Museum's collection of fossils, petrified wood, minerals and rocks that is one the most extensive in the interior of British Columbia.
The next leg of your trip will take you through mountainous terrain to Manning Provincial Park. There are four campgrounds within the park, each providing water, toilets and firewood. Numerous hiking trails lead to the park's scenic features as well as designated trails for horses and mountain bikes.
Situated on a wide sweeping curve of the mighty Fraser River, the town of Hope is truly the Chainsaw Carving Capital of Canada, with over two dozen large wooden sculptures scattered throughout the downtown core. These carvings, which can be viewed on the Hope Arts and Carving Walk, feature local wildlife, including eagles, bears, mountain sheep and cougars. Just east of Hope on Highway 3 is an awe-inspiring testament to nature's power. In January 1965, most of an entire mountain called Johnson's Peak came sliding down into the valley, burying the highway and marking the valley forever. Now known as the Hope Slide, the remaining half of Johnson's Peak is an irresistible draw.
Join the Trans Canada Highway (Highway 1) as you leave Hope and travel through the rich farm country of the Fraser Valley. If you enjoy show gardens, we suggest you stop at Minter Gardens in Rosedale. The turnoff to the gardens is signposted at Exit #135 off the Trans Canada Highway. Open from March to mid-October, these gardens are ever evolving and each season offer a dramatic view. Close to 100,000 tulips, imported from Holland, welcome visitors each spring. More than 1000 rhododendrons provide riotous colour amid huge cedar trees and rock wall terraces. Summer brings masses of annual colour adorning topiary features and beds, along with the traditional blooms of the Rose Garden, and the cool, quiet woodlands that surround gurgling brooks and water falls. The Gardens are at once a kaleidescope of colour, a place of serene beauty, and a gardener’s source of inspiration.
Continuing along Highway 1, the farm country begins to disappear gradually as you approach the cities that make up the Greater Vancouver region. Tonight we suggest you stay at Burnaby Cariboo RV Park, a short distance from our Vancouver office in Delta. This RV park offers free hot showers, a heated indoor pool, jacuzzi and free wireless internet, perfect for unwinding before returning your RV to CanaDream. Discounted rates are offered to CanaDream guests.
Day 25 - Vancouver
Unless you have a pre-arranged late drop-off today, your RV is due back at CanaDream between 08:00 and 10:00. Directions to our station are in the CanaDream Operations Manual supplied with your vehicle. full details
If you require transport to the airport or an airport hotel, we will be happy to take you.