Enjoy 17 days exploring the beauty of Western Canada from the Pacific coast, to the Rocky Mountains, to the interior of British Columbia in a rental motorhome, RV or truck camper.
Southern BC to the Rockies and Back Motorhome Tour includes:
- Return UK flights
- Overnight Vancouver Airport hotel (recommended)
- 16 nights motorhome with unlimited kilometers, 2 x linen kits, 1 x kitchen kit & Gold Package
Day 1 - Fly to Vancouver
Overnight at a Vancouver hotel for a rest before departing on your motorhome holiday, we have opted for a downtown hotel should you prefer and airport hotel we can also offer that. Make your own way to the hotel.
Day 2 - Vancouver to Victoria (69 km / 43 miles)
Pick up your RV today. The Tsawwassen Ferry to Swartz 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 Swartz 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.
Day 3 - 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 Swartz Bay, on Highway 17A, is world-reknowned and is a splendid, restful place to wander around and enjoy the day. You may find so much to do here that you decide to stay an extra day. Other suggestions include whale watching, a visit to Craigdarroch Castle, sailing or sea kayaking, a visit to the Royal BC Museum or a relaxing walk around the harbour perimeter. 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.
Day 4 - Victoria to Tofino (316 km / 199 miles)
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. On your way up the Trans Canada Highway, Goldstream and Bamberton Provincial Parks are both worthwhile stops 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? Taking into account the five hour drive to Tofino, you may still find time to squeeze in an extra activity or two along the way. 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 five downtown buildings. These murals depict the town’s corporate history and community spirit. 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.
Day 5 - Full day in Tofino
Whale watching tours are one possibility that are available from Spring to Fall.The Whale Centre is one company offering these trips, along with bird tours, bear tours and hot springs tours. 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. If sport fishing is more to your liking, Tofino Fishing Charters will take you out to the salmon and halibut grounds for a few hours or a full day. Minimum numbers may apply. Surfing enthusiasts may wish to take surf lessons with local instructors while others may prefer exploring the underwater world with affordable snorkelling and scuba diving rentals. 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. 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 is one of the most challenging fairways on the island.
Day 6 - Tofino to Whistler (304 km / 188 miles)
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. You have a fairly long drive ahead of you so we suggest you start out fairly early as you may have to wait for an available ferry crossing if you don't have reservations. It is recommended that you board the ferry at Departure Bay (Nanaimo). It takes a little less time than the Swartz Bay ferry, but it arrives at a terminal called Horseshoe Bay, north of Vancouver, making the drive through urban areas largely unnecessary. Highway 99 north to Whistler is easily accessible as you exit the ferry terminal. The ferry leaves Departure Bay approx every two hours between 06:30 and 21:00. The drive to Whistler is scenic, and the Squamish Highway (The Sea to Sky Highway) is notorious for its scenic mountainous roads. Hugging the coast all the way to the top of Howe Sound, then heading inland, the Sea to Sky Highway has a number of scenic viewpoints where you can stop and safely enjoy the views. Pass through Lions Bay and Porteau Cove before reaching Britannia Beach. Britannia Beach is most famous as a mining community and was built up around the copper mine. The mine ceased production in 1974 but just a year later it was opened as the Britannia Mine Museum and is now a national historic site. Stop at Shannon Falls Provincial Park to view the magnificent falls. Shannon Falls are the third highest in BC at 335 metres above the Sea to Sky Highway.
Day 7 - Full day in Whistler
Whistler has lots to offer the summer visitor. Besides a scenic lake to hike around, a gondola that offers memorable views and a fantastic mountain bike park, there are four championship golf courses to choose from. If golf does not interest you, allow yourself to experience adventure in the wilds. Go horseback riding in the mountains, or race down steep, jagged trails on a mountain bike. How about taking a canoe trip down the River of Golden Dreams with Backroads Whistler, riding an ATV to the Crystal Hut perched atop Blackcomb Mountain and enjoying a salmon bake there or going white water rafting through pulsing rapids on the Upper Lillooet River? For a more sedentary and cultural experience, visit the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre to learn about two distinctly different BC First Nations. For a truly spectacular view of the mountains, join Blackcomb Aviation on one of their helicopter sightseeing flights. If you enjoy thrill adventure and 'flying' between the trees, check out one of the four ziplining tours offered by Ziptrek Ecotours. Present your CanaDream key tag for a discount.
The Peak 2 Peak gondola is one of Whistler's 'must do' attractions. The journey between the two mountains provides a 360 degree window into Whistler Blackcomb's alpine environment, its surrounding peaks, and changing seasons. Ride one of the glass bottom cars to get a true sense of what lies below you as well as all around you.
Day 8 - Whistler to Sun Peaks (360 km / 224 miles)
Highway 99 from Whistler to Sun Peaks is not as busy as some in British Columbia, making the drive a leisurely one. You will be driving in somewhat isolated areas, with lots of lakes, rivers, forest, and wildlife, but not too many towns or gas stations. Be sure that your gas tank is full before leaving the town of Mount Currie. If you turn right at Pemberton and continue on Highway 99 to the Trans Canada Highway (No. 1), you will be a short drive north of Cache Creek. When you come to Cache Creek, turn right and drive along Highway 97, which will bring you to Kamloops. Sun Peaks is just northeast of Kamloops. While driving between Cache Creek and Kamloops, be on the lookout for a large number of cattle, wranglers, and some inexperienced riders on horseback. This is one of many cattle drives which take place each year on ranches in the area. Cache Creek is nestled amid desert and grassland plateaus, steep river valleys and steep mountains. The town was the halfway point for travelers on their way to the gold nuggets awaiting them in the Cariboo Mountains to the northwest. It is part of the Cariboo Gold Rush Trail that visitors can still follow today. Some people say the town got its name because gold rush travelers used to camp there for the night, needing a place to rest and hide their “cache”. Others prefer the tale about a couple of bandits who held up a freight delivery service bringing gold from the Cariboo region down to Ashcroft to load on the train. The BC Provincial Police tracked these bandits and killed one of them in a brief skirmish. The other bandit was wounded, and was forced to bury the gold near a creek, before fleeing back to the States. He died there before returning for the gold. To date, no one has found the buried treasure.
Day 9 - Sun Peaks to Jasper (455 km / 283 miles)
On this leg of the journey, be prepared to see some wildlife beside the highway. The elevation gain seems moderate, but the scenery is varied and majestic. This is another route with few gas stations. There are not that many services to count on between Clearwater and Blue River and then little available until Valemount. Drop in at the very helpful Visitor Centre in Clearwater to get information on this region. Some of the main attractions within a short walk from the parking lots along the main access road in the park are:
White Water Rafting - some of the best white water rafting in British Columbia is on offer on the Clearwater River. Interior Whitewater Expeditions, offers adrenlin-packed rafting trips for the adventurous rafter and also family rafting trips. Helmcken Falls - this takes most people by surprise, as you think you're on level ground when you come across a waterfall twice the height of Niagara Falls. Trophy Mountain Buffalo Ranch - Located just outside the park, to the south, this ranch offers camping and trail rides and operates a restaurant where you can enjoy professionally prepared tender steak from buffalo that are free to roam within large enclosures and eat wild grasses, straw and hay. In the summer months you can dine outdoors here. As you travel north on Highway 5 towards Blue River, look out for signs along the road to River Safari. This is an awe-inspiring one hour boat ride through Grizzly Bear Valley in the Monashee Mountains and an experience not to be missed. Bear, moose, eagles and osprey are only a few of the magnificent creatures you may see during this wilderness experience. Reservations are not necessary as safaris depart every 30 minutes.
Day 10 - Full day in Jasper
Jasper is the most northerly of towns located in the National Parks straddling the Rocky Mountains. It is less commercialized than Banff, but still offers a wonderful visit, especially for the outdoor enthusiast.
There are places to rent canoes and lots of venues perfect for a day hike. Sunwapta Falls are thrilling to see as the power of the water cascading down the rocky cliffs is deafening as well as humbling. As well, Maligne Canyon is a spectacular sight, This is a very deep canyon with all sorts of twists and turns down among the rocks. The rocks have been worn smooth by the force of the water rushing through its narrow channels.
When the light reflects off of the shiny rocks, it creates a challenge for a keen photographer. There is a bit of a climb up to the viewing areas, but you will find it well worthwhile. For fishing and boat touring, a visit to Maligne Lake and Spirit Island is an enjoyable day out. Allow an hour for the trip there from Jasper. Look out for wildlife along the route.
Day 11 - Jasper to Banff (293 km / 182 miles)
The Icefields Parkway between Jasper and Banff offers scenery and surprises. As you drive along Highway 93, you will experience sudden climbs, wide turns with expansive views followed suddenly by steep descents into forested valleys, along side thundering waterfalls that cascade down to riverbeds several kilometers wide. Interesting stops include Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls, and the Kerkeslin Goat Lick. The Lick is a layer of white mineral deposits that lie beside the road and at the viewpoint. Mount Kerkeslin is notable for its red cliffs off in the distance. Mountain goats favour the mineral deposits and frequently come down to the roadside for a treat. There is often wildlife to be seen straddling Highway 93. On this stretch, you may be lucky and see a grizzly bear or a herd of mountain caribou (which are an endangered species in Alberta ). Also, elk, bighorn sheep and mountain goats are very common sights. Black bears are often seen at the Valley of the Five Lakes trailhead that comes down to the roadway. Watch for sudden movements when the animals may decide to cross in front of traffic. Near the Stutfield Glacier Viewpoint, you'll pass by a glass skywalk built into the side of the rocks on your right-hand side. There is no parking or ticket office here and you will need to continue on to the Icefield Centre if you decide the Glacier Skywalk is to be on your day's agenda. After purchasing tickets at the Icefield Centre, you board a coach which will take you back to this fairly new attraction. Also at the Icefields Centre, you have the opportunity to board an Ice Explorer for an 80 minute round trip onto the Athabasca Glacier.
Day 12 - Full day in Banff
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), ride or hike up Sulphur Mountain and take the gondola down, 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, may 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 may 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 for exploring is the old, abandoned townsite of Bankhead, just north of the Trans Canada Highway turnoff. 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 more than 100 years ago to support a coal-mining endeavor 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. The town is north of Banff on the road leading to Lake Minnewanka. There is another 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, Calgary Power, now TransAlta Utilities, flooded the area to produce hydro-electric power. There had been a lake there before, although not as wide. While at Lake Minnewanka, consider a lake cruise with Brewster Travel. This interpretive guided cruise showcases the "water of the Spirits" through tales of First Nations people and early explorers.
Day 13 - Banff to Revelstoke (287 km / 179 miles)
A stop in Lake Louise allows you to view the six glaciers that come from the valley at the south end of the lake. Mount Victoria and its Glacier are directly in front of you when you are standing at the north end of the lake. There is a short hike around the west side of the Lake. There are often rock climbing students doing practice climbs on the cliffs at the southern corner of the Lake, where the pathway melds with a horse trail. Along the way to Revelstoke, you pass through two National Parks – Glacier and Yoho. Yoho Park is the location of the world-renowned Burgess Shale, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Burgess Shale is an expansive area of pre-Cambrian fossils. Of special interest in this bed are very small snails and other sea life that inhabited the area in a shallow sea millions of years ago. The Shale is accessible from the town of Field . You can hike up to the fossil beds in a six-hour return trip to Mount Stephen, but only with a guide in a small group. It is necessary to book ahead to be able to see this prehistoric wonder. Once you arrive in Revelstoke for the evening, there are great golf courses to try out. The Revelstoke Golf Club is a very challenging, championship course built in 1924. The view from the course and the clubhouse looks out over the Revelstoke and Columbia Rivers. If golf is not your game go canoeing on the Columbia River, around the Upper Arrow Lake or even Lake Revelstoke itself. These lakes offer breathtaking scenery and an evening of quiet solitude. There are also three hot springs in the area—Canyon Hot Springs located right on the Trans Canada Highway, and the Halcyon and Nakusp Hot Springs that can be reached by driving a few kilometres south of the Canyon Hot Springs on Highway 23.
In the Revelstoke area itself, you can drive up to a parking lot at Balsam Lake, high on Mount Revelstoke and hike for a short distance to the summit area. There are terrific opportunities for photography up here. This mountain area has an historic fire tower that you can visit on your hike around the summit. Revelstoke has about 60 historic edifices and at least two dozen of these buildings are in easy walking distance of each other in the downtown district.
Day 14 - Revelstoke to Peachland (229 km / 142 miles)
From Revelstoke, the drive takes you past Craigellachie. The CPR had built the railway from the east coast as far as Calgary, and meanwhile, they were laying track from the Pacific Ocean up through the Fraser Canyon. In the interim, they had to find a route to lay track through the mountain passes of the Rocky Mountain and Selkirk Ranges. When the route had been devised and the track laid from the east with a great deal of danger and toil, the two railway construction crews met at Craigellachie. It is here the last spike was driven into the ties on the Canadian Pacific Railway line creating rail service from the east coast all the way to the west. Along this stretch of the Trans Canada, the deep blue of the Shuswap Lake suddenly appears through the trees. Along the shores of this deep and vast lake, sandy beaches have a certain allure. There is excellent fishing here, as well. There are large tracts of forested land verging on the shore with high vantage points along the route.
The Shuswap has four arms that meet just north of Sicamous. During the summer months, you will drive along beside the Lake and see large numbers of houseboats along the shoreline. This is a very popular summer holiday destination and houseboats seem to be the craft of choice on the Lake. The climate here is perfect for growing all manner of vegetables. Take the turnoff for Highway 97A to Kelowna by way of Mara Lake. As you go further south from Vernon, there are expansive fruit orchards and wineries along the route to Peachland. All during the summer, there are many varieties of fruit for sale from open-air stalls along the highways. The cherries, peaches and pears have that fresh-picked flavour.
Day 15 - Full day in Peachland
Peachland is a haven for sun-lovers who require access to extensive beaches along the Okanagan Lake. It is nestled between two mountains-- Mount Drought and Mount Coldham and Okanagan Lake, creating steep property lines for residents. Perhaps, while settled in your spot on one of the pebble beaches, you will be fortunate and have a rare glimpse of Ogopogo, the Okanagan Lake’s very own Loch Ness monster.
Day 16 - Peachland to Hope (285 km / 177 miles)
Leaving Peachland en-route to Hope, you come across a few options for special interest stops.
The Keremeos Columns make for an interesting stop along the highway. They are basalt columns that have eroded over 30 million years. They are located in a provincial park off the 3A Highway, just four kilometres north of the junction for Highway 3. This is an interesting spot to hike to but permission must be obtained from private land owners to pass over their properties to reach the columns.
Turn west on Highway 3 at this point and carry on to Princeton. Here you will find a very unique museum that displays treasures and trinkets from the history of the area. The Museum delves into the town’s mining history. As well, it offers a butterfly collection, a display of local mineral finds and dinosaur bones, in addition to First Nations art and historic displays of clothing and artifacts. There are other more versatile exhibitions in addition to the stable displays. Continuing on Highway 3, you will follow a gradual descent down through Manning Provincial Park. This Park is in a great location for an afternoon refreshment break.
While in the Park, you are parked in the shadow of the Cascade Mountains, just a few kilometres north of the border with the United States. Because of the unique climate of this area, the Park is rich in bird life. If birding is a particular hobby, you will want to bring your binoculars.
Day 17 - Hope to Vancouver (180 km / 112 miles)
You are now just a few hours from the outskirts of Vancouver. If you feel like the extra drive, you could drive about an hour north of Hope and take a ride on the Hell’s Gate Skytram, a gondola ride that takes you across a canyon at the most narrow and turbulent portion of the Fraser River’s descent to the Pacific Ocean. There is also a town named Steveston on the Fraser delta, at the mouth of the Fraser River in the southwest corner of Richmond. It is a former fishing village and in the late 1800s and first half of the last century, it was largely populated by Japanese immigrants who worked as fishermen, cannery workers and berry farmers. After Pearl Harbour, the residents were evicted from the area and confined to internment camps for the remainder of the Second World War. The residents were not allowed to return to the town and resume their fishing activities. Steveston is now in the process of being restored. There are plans to restore many more buildings, but at the moment, the cannery and harbour offer an interesting side trip off the freeway. Steveston Seabreeze Adventures and Vancouver Whale Watching offer whale watching tours, sea lion and bird watching tours.
From the Fraser Delta and these outlying towns, you have just a short drive ahead of you to Vancouver.
Day 18 - Drop off RV & Fly Vancouver to UK
Unless you have a late dropoff included in your booking, you need to arrive at our station between 08:00 and 10:00. The friendly station staff will be happy to take you to the airport or an airport hotel after drop-off.
The EXchange Hotel, Vancouver
The latest from Executive Hotels & Resorts, this landmark hotel is the former home of the original Vancouver Stock Exchange. The historic building has hosted creative minds and distinguished individuals for nearly a century, and has become established as an intersection of culture, hospitality and style in the heart of downtown Vancouver.
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