At ten and a half hours, the drive from Calgary, Alberta, to Vancouver, British Columbia, can seem a little daunting, especially because of the long stretch of Canadian wilderness that’s in between. But it’s a mistake to think that all that separates the two cities are brake checks and mountains—because while there are plenty of those, there’s also plenty of jaw-dropping natural beauty and fascinating points of interest.
Are you trying to turn your drive from Calgary to Vancouver into a road trip but don’t know where to stop? Keep reading to find out our top destinations to add to your itinerary!
With Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain seated in the background, the area around Vermilion Lakes is a diverse compilation of natural beauty, wildlife, and photo-friendly hiking terrain. Sunrise and sunset are particularly gorgeous times at this peaceful viewpoint that’s only a mile and a half outside of Banff.
Canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding are all popular summer activities for the lakes, and rental locations can be found nearby. And in the winter, some lucky visitors are able to catch a glimpse of the spectacular Northern Lights. Hike, explore, and take lots of photos when you schedule a stop at this serene oasis in Alberta.
“Very beautiful spot that's equally nice in summer and winter. Good wildlife sightings as well. There are pools of water in summer as well as a hot water spot. You can drive or run/jog/bike in the summer.” -Vijay S. on Yelp.
The Canadian Pacific Railway, incorporated in 1881, was Canada’s first transcontinental railway. Today, you can get a firsthand look at the history-making company when you visit the Revelstoke Railway Museum in British Columbia.
Climb aboard an expedition through history as you wander through the museum’s collection of locomotives, train cars, displays, and informational exhibits. Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop on your way out for all of the rail-way memorabilia that you could ask for!
“Super awesome museum tucked into the mountains in Revelstoke, BC . . . My kids had an absolutely fabulous time here climbing in and out of the huge trains cars and engine (both inside and outside, weather depending) and exploring all aspects of train life.” -Kristin K. on Yelp.
Originally built in 1865 and reconstructed in 1986, the Salmon Arm Wharf stretches far across Shuswap Lake, offering visitors stunning lakeside views bordered by mountains. Take in the surrounding beauty as you walk along the boardwalk and enjoy the fresh mountain air.
At the end of the boardwalk, you can find a concession stand with ice cream and nearby the wharf lies a marine park that’s perfect for a picnic. In the warmer months, the area hosts live music, and you can rent boats and other watercraft to take on the lake.
“The wharf has a straight section, then curves a bit into Shuswap Lake. From the end, there is a great view of the surrounding water and mountains. Great spot to take some photos.” -Edward L. on Yelp.
There’s plenty of wildlife to be found throughout Canada, especially in the less urban portions of the countryside—but that doesn’t mean that you want to come face-to-face with a wild animal while you’re out camping! The British Columbia Wildlife Park allows visitors to experience native BC species (and beyond) in a way that’s safe but still captivating.
At BC Wildlife Park, you can find wolves, coyotes, cougars, lynx, bobcats, bison, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, bears, birds of prey, reptiles and amphibians, and more. The park also features a discovery center that includes a gift shop, cafe, education center, and eco gallery.
“Great wildlife park with friendly staff. The animals are kept in cages and terrains similar to their natural habitats. We were just in time to see the feeding of the grizzly bears. When in Kamloops, visit this park!” -Twan B. on Yelp.
These tunnels, which pass through the Coquihalla Gorge and over the Coquihalla River, once served as a train route built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in the first few years of the 20th century. And while you’ll no longer find train running through the solid granite rocks in this portion of Coquihalla Provincial Park, you will find hikers, photographers, and other visitors utilizing the now-defunct rail route.
East of Hope, British Columbia, the Othello Tunnels create a novel hiking trail and are part of the Kettle Valley Railway Trail, a popular biking course that reaches from Hope to Castlegar. The restored trail that goes through the Othello Tunnels is a family-friendly hike with magnificent views, and, of course, a rich wealth of historical significance.
“We got here, during the beginning of the fall/autumn season, when the leaves were just starting to turn into their stunning fiery colors! Combined with the rushing sound of the river, it's like you're taken to this beautiful scenic world.” -Nellie C. on Yelp.
The town of Harrison Hot Springs has a long list of attractions to offer visitors, including its Sasquatch Statues, its titular hot springs, hiking, biking, skiing, golfing, and much, much more. But, if you’re looking for a day at the beach, look no further than the beach at Harrison Lake.
Though it’s now a freshwater lake, Harrison Lake actually used to be an arm of the sea. But make no mistake—while the town might be called Hot Springs, this glacier-fed lake is actually quite chilly. Admire Breckenridge Glacier and Echo Island in the distance on the lake, and if it’s warm enough, go for a swim, a paddle, or a boat ride.
“Beautiful place to visit… The scenery is gorgeous… Blue-colored water surrounded by snow-capped mountains… What a view!” -KB G. on Yelp.
Spend the day at a park that’s full of wholesome entertainment when you take a break from the car at Castle Fun Park. With go-karts, bumper cars, batting cages, mini-golf, a driving range, remote-control boats, a laser maze, and more than two hundred arcade games, Castle Fun Park is a pay-per-use amusement park that will have you laughing and playing the whole time that you’re there.
While you can get hot food, snacks, and drinks inside the park, you’re also welcome to bring your own food and enjoy it picnic-style outside by the entrance (no outside food or drinks can be taken inside with you). You don’t have to pay to get into the park, so you’re free to stay for a couple of hours or until it closes!
“Super cool place to visit to play arcade games, mini-golf, and go-karting! No entry fee, you only pay for the games you want to play, super cheap and worth the price! . . . Good place to bring the kids if you have any. ” -Deepak H. on Yelp.
Far from the largest of Canada’s provincial parks, Peace Arch Provincial Park is nonetheless a one-of-a-kind experience. Planned in coordination with the Washington State parks system, Peace Arch stands on the 49th parallel, marking the International Boundary between Canada and the United States.
The centerpiece of the park, Peace Arch, was dedicated in 1921 to represent the continued peaceful relationship between Canada and the United States, and the surrounding Canadian park area was opened in 1939. This highly symbolic and culturally significant green space makes for a refreshing walk and a wonderful photo op.
“This side of the park can only be accessed from the Canadian side of the border, but it's worth the trip because, well, it's just cool to visit a park where you can sneak your foot over an international border just to say you've done it!” -Jennifer J. on Yelp.
The Britannia Shipyards were once a bustling industrial area made up of fishers, canners, and merchants. Today, the riverside community is home to 19th-century historic buildings—the oldest shipyard buildings in British Columbia—and continues to act as a testament to the diverse groups of people who made a life for themselves in the maritime trade.
Chinese, European, and Japanese immigrants and First Nation peoples once lived and worked together in this waterfront community, and thanks to the Britannia Heritage Shipyard Society, you can tour preserved and restored relics from days past and learn about life during the Britannia Shipyards’ heyday.
“An incredible site with so much history immersed all into one area! Visitation is free of charge and there's a small, free parking lot just around the corner . . . Staff members are located everywhere so you're always welcome to ask questions about anything!” -Whitney L. on Yelp.
There’s nothing like a long drive to make you fully appreciate the beauty and the character that falls within some of the more isolated parts of Canada, and a road trip from Calgary to Vancouver is the perfect way to discover some new places and experience a few sights that you might have not had the opportunity to see before. So, take your time on the drive and welcome all of the adventures that come your way!