This year in celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday, Parks Canada is giving away free discovery passes to the public. Allowing free entrance to national parks, national historic sites and marine conservation areas across Canada. Banff national park has always been a bucket list place to travel in my family and this year came the perfect opportunity! Getting the pass is pretty easy, all you have to do is go on the Parks website, fill in your address, and with a little bit of patience (more than a little), your pass will arrive in the mail! This opportunity is open to friends all over the world, and is valid all through the year, so, if I were you I would book a trip sooner than later, haha!
We went on a seven-day road trip starting from Vancouver going up north to Blueriver where we spent our first night. We left Blueriver the second morning and went to Jasper and stayed in the town of Jasper. We left Jasper early in the morning the next day and made our way to the Columbia Icefields. We continued driving south to Lake Lousie and afterward, finally arriving in the town of Banff. We stayed in Banff for three nights including the night we got there. On day four of the trip, the second day we arrived in Banff, we spend the day in Calgary. Day five, we reserved it for exploring the park. Day six we started making our way back to B.C. Before actually returning, we stayed in Kelowna for a night and made a day out of our last day on the road! This itinerary is more family friendly because I was with my grandparents, my brother, and my mom. We also booked three excursions from a Japer-Banff exploring package. The package came with a Glacier explorer tour, sky-walk tickets, Lake Minnewanka boat ride, and Banff gondola ride. There are two larger companies that hold tours in the Rockies. The company we chose was Brewsters because they had all the excursions we wanted in one package. Banff adventures offer bundle packages too but they include outdoor activities such as horseback riding, kayaking, and canoeing.
I also created this inspiration board for you to help you plan a trip that is suitable for you!
A list of attractions in Jasper
- Glacier Adventure and Skywalk (1 hr 90 min drive from Jasper)
- Mette Hot Springs (1hr drive from Jasper)
- Sunwapta Falls (45 min drive from Jasper)
- MT. Edith Cavell (45 min drive from Jasper)
- Marmot Basin ( 45 min drive from Jasper)
- Medicine Lake ( 45 min drive from Jasper)
- Athabasca Falls ( 30 min drive from Jasper)
- Maligne Canyon (20 min drive from Jasper)
- Pyramid Lake (15 min drive from Jasper)
- Jasper Skytram (12 min drive from Jasper)
- Patricia Lake (10 min drive from Jasper)
A list of attractions in Banff:
- Moraine Lake ( 57 min from Banff)
- Lake Louise (55 min drive from Banff)
- Canmore ( 30 min drive from Banff)
- Johnston Canyon (20 min drive from Banff)
- Lake Minnewanka (10 min drive from Banff)
- Banff Gondola (10 min drive from Banff)
- Banff Upper hot springs (8 min drive from Banff)
Day one: Driving… driving… and more driving.
- Vancouver — Kamloops (3 hr 25 min)
- Kamloops (lunch stop) — Blue river (2 hr 25 min)
We left the house around 9 am and stopped at Kamloops for lunch. In Blue river, we stayed at a helicopter skiing resort which was great but has A TONE of mosquitos. The resort was quiet and peaceful and offers free bike and canoe rentals, however, a number of mosquitos freaked us out so we just stayed in our room for the rest of the night.
Day two: Driving… seeing two waterfalls and arriving in Jasper
- Blue River — Sunwapta Falls (2 hr 45 min)
- Sunwapta Falls — Athabasca Falls (20 min)
- Athabasca Falls — Jasper (25 min)
The day we went to Jasper was actually Canada day and we went to two waterfalls before checking into our hotel. We originally wanted to go to Maligne Canyon and Maligne after dinner but we stayed in the town of Jasper instead. We also got to see the fireworks at night as well!
Day three: touring the Columbia Icefields, driving in the most beautiful road, visiting Lake Louise and arriving in Banff
- Jasper — Columbia Ice-field (1 hr 25 min)
- Columbia Icefield — Lake Louise(2 hr)
- Lake Louise Downtown Banff — (55 min)
In the morning we left Jasper and drove to the icefield exploring center where we booked a glacier tour. The tour took about 1.5 hours and we were back on the road again, where I saw the most breathtaking scenery EVER!! My arms got sore from literally holding the camera. We chose the wrong time to visit Lake Lousie and it took us 3 hours to get up there. From that experience, we learned that either you go really early or late to attractions like so. We originally planned to visit Johnston Canyon which is on the way to Banff but we took too long in Lake Lousie and by the time we came down we were all starving.
Day Four: Leaving Banff and going to Calgary
- Downtown Banff — Calgary ( 1 hr 30 min)
Locations: 8th Avenue, China town and Princess Island Park
- Calgary — Downtown Banff ( 1 hr 30 min)
We don’t know if it was the timing or just that day, but the traffic was very generous to us both going and leaving Calgary. We left around 9:30 am and come back to Banff at 5 pm. Calgary is such a beautiful city and I can’t wait to see more of it in the future!
Day five: Exploring Banff
- Banff Park Museum
- Lake Minnewanka cruise (1.5 hr )
- Banff Gondola
This day we had two excursions planned, the first one was a lake tour in Lake Minnewanka at 1 pm. We found a beautiful lake on the way back to Banff which I think is a perfect spot for canoeing. We spent the rest of our afternoon in downtown Banff where we did some shopping. At 5:30 pm we went on a gondola ride which took us 2088 meters above ground. There are also a couple of historical museums really close to the town of Banff where we stayed at; we went to one of them which is the Banff Park Museum.
Day Six: Driving… stopping at Revelstoke and more driving
- Downtown Banff — Revelstoke (3 hr 10 min)
- Revel stroke — Downtown Kelowna (2 hr 26 min)
We said goodbye to Banff National Park in the morning and drove 3 hours to the town of Revelstoke. This was just a pit stop before making our way to Kelowna. The drive to Kelowna was pretty slow because there were many constructions on the road. It took us four hours instead of two, haha.
Day Seven: Full day in Okanagan Valley, wine tasting, steam train ride and more
- Quails Gate Winery family tour(1 hr)
- Summerland steam train railway station
The original plan was to visit the winery and leave right after. Well… we went on our wine tasting tour then was recommended to a fruit stand by the Locals. Later on, we saw an ad about the steamed train in Summerland, drove over as fast as we could to catch the last train… after all that, we left. (exhale) The winery we went to was fantastic. the view was amazing, the tour was surprisingly educational and tasty and to our surprise, the bottles were not overpriced!
I have also written blogs for almost every day of the road trip which will give you an insight of how my day went and the trip. Hopefully, this post helps some of you who are wanting to plan a trip in Western Canada, I have surely enjoyed writing all my travel diaries and loved my road trip!
Emily Kailin B