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Calgary to Vancouver - best /most scenic route over 6 nights

Gawler, Australia
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Calgary to Vancouver - best /most scenic route over 6 nights

We are travellng to the USA next June and are breaking the trip up with the plan to drive from Calgary to Vancouver . The trip will be over the course of 6 nights with one night in each of Calgary and Vancouver as this is where we are flying in and out of.

I am after some advice on where best to spend the middle 4 nights. Initially looking at spending 2 nights in Banff, 1 in Jasper (or nearby,have been recommended a B&B in Tete Jaune Cache?) and one maybe in Whistler or Kamloops but open to suggestions. If possible we would not want to drive more than 4-5 hours on and given day. What would be the most scenic and interesting route for this timeline?

Thanks in advance.

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: Calgary to Vancouver - best /most scenic route over 6 nights

Hi Sheryn, welcome to the forums ~

I have to say that this plan is an invitation to disappointment. First of all Banff is good for 4 nights, Jasper for 3 nights, Lake Louise good for a day trip from Banff at 45 minutes drive, but could be an overnight stay to enjoy the morning and evening away from the tour coaches. The Icefields Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper can take a full day, up to 10 hours to see all the attractions and points of interest and it is a bonus to do it again in the southerly direction. Stay in Banff the night before your flight out so that the 2 hour drive is easy and manageable. It is a 5 hour drive from Jasper to Calgary and you would feel pressured to get to the airport if you travelled on the day of travel.

This area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for a reason so if you want to have a break from the USA, fly in and out of Calgary, drive the 2 hours to Banff and stay in the Rockies for a week.

BTW, the driving distance between Calgary and Vancouver is 1000 km and about 11 hours driving, stops extra.

Here is an article from the Top Questions to the right side of the Banff Forum about the "must sees" in the Rockies:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g659487-c112507/Canad…

Gawler, Australia
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2. Re: Calgary to Vancouver - best /most scenic route over 6 nights

Thanks for your honest response - we are however on a tight schedule and locked in with our flights into Calgary from NY then out of Vancouver to S.F hence the direction of travel. Yes, we did realise that we will not be able to see everything of interest in 6 days so was mainly looking for advice on the best route given our time restraints.

Below is a very rough itiniary:

Day 1 - Fly into Calgary - get in late so will not get chance to see much here - night in Calgary

Day 2 - leave Calgary for Banff - spending majority of day at Banff - night at Banff

Day 3 - visit Lake Louise - night at Banff

Day 4 - leave Banff for Jasper, visit Icefields and Jasper National Park along way - night at either Jasper or Mt Robson

Day 5 - Open for suggestions?? night at?

Day 6 - leave above for Vancouver - areas of interest along way to Vancouver - night at Vancouver

Day 7 - Flight leaves from Vancouver

Thanks in advance.

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: Calgary to Vancouver - best /most scenic route over 6 nights

Okay, fair enough. Sob!

1 night Calgary

2 nights Banff

1 night Jasper

1 night Clearwater

1 night Vancouver

Here's the map with the driving distances and times: http://goo.gl/maps/YO7pC

You would have a more scenic route if you were able to travel Hwy 1. It is considered very scenic, has a good set of towns and attractions along the way. More scenic than Hwy 16 west of Jasper and Hwy 5 down to Kamloops. And I think better driving legs which would allow you a bit of time for sightseeing. Late sunsets in June, too.

1 night Calgary

2 nights Banff, a day trip half way up the Icefields Parkway and back to the second night in Banff. Maybe as far as the Icefield Centre and the Columbia Icefields. On the next day, on the way to Revy, stop in at LL for your visit there. 3 hours Banff > Revy, plus time at LL and time in Yoho NP (Takakkaw Falls, Emerald Lake.)

1 night Revelstoke

1 night Kelowna

1 night Vancouver

Here's the map: http://goo.gl/maps/VHpP1

Open the pdf below the image you see for a clearer version:

pc.gc.ca/eng/…Parkway.aspx

At this point I think it's a matter of just choosing your preferences for the Icefields Parkway and Jasper. If you want to make the IP and Jasper a high priority, that's one route. If you want to see half of the IP and then the scenic places along Hwy 1, that another route. Your call. It is not a disadvantage to do the IP in both directions, different views, different aspects, a whole new look on the return trip.

Calgary, Canada
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4. Re: Calgary to Vancouver - best /most scenic route over 6 nights

You have two options for Day 5:

1. If the Icefields Parkway was obscured due to weather on the previous day, then drive back south along the Icefields Parkway to Lake Louise in hopes of a second chance to see the amazing sites all along the way. Spend the night in Golden or Revelstoke. This means more driving the next day, but it will be worth it.

2. If you got a good view of the Icefields Parkway, then take Hwy 5 from Jasper to Kamloops via Valemount and Clearwater, possibly with a stop at Wells Gray Provincial Park. Overnight in Kamloops.

I'm guessing that you haven't yet tried to book your car rental, because you aren't asking about how to avoid the one-way drop fee. Book through Canadian Affair, a UK-based company, and you won't have to pay that extra charge. Other Australians have reported good experiences with this.

Vancouver, Canada
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5. Re: Calgary to Vancouver - best /most scenic route over 6 nights

Ok, with your limited time and your prior commitments, I'd suggest you look at doing Rockies to the Coast in a day. Its a long day - 10 or 11 hours without any stops - but you have to make some tough choices here and that will allow you to focus on the best stuff.

Alternatively, cut Jasper from the plan and do an out and back part way up the Icefields Parkway on one of your days in Banff. Spend four of your six nights in Banff and then make your way to the coast over two days with the overnight in Kelowna or Salmon Arm.

Gawler, Australia
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6. Re: Calgary to Vancouver - best /most scenic route over 6 nights

The main reason we have planned to spend only 1 nighters apart from Banff (2) was due to hoping to see a greater spread of the area - if however the majority of points of interest are around the Banff area would we be better served to spend extra nights there?. The only downside would be extra long driving stints and possibly not getting to spend any time in some of the other intersting areas.

Vancouver, Canada
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7. Re: Calgary to Vancouver - best /most scenic route over 6 nights

The Icefields Parkway, Banff, LL and Jasper are all part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site: spectacular. The rest of the stops and Vancouver are not. So the concentration in my mind should be in the Rockies.

Your time frame and the distance across to the coast of 1000 km or so, along with what you really want to do while you're here, will determine your itinerary. You can spend 1 night here and there and have that kind of experience, or you can drive a lot and stay extra nights here and there. I think it's going to come down to you deciding on what kind of experience you really want.

The Icefields Parkway has all the attractions. Half of them are in Banff NP (as is Banff town) and half of them in Jasper NP (as is Banff town). Have a look and see why exploring the IP can take up to 10 hours. Open the PDF below the map image to get a clearer look:

pc.gc.ca/eng/…Parkway.aspx

And here is an article outlining the must sees in the Rockies which will invite you to stay longer :-):

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g659487-c112507/Canad…

You could always spend your 5 nights just in the Rockies, last night in Banff, then driving the 2 hours to Calgary for the frequent 1.5 hour flight to Vancouver. This could be done by allowing 2.5 hours of time to connect to your existing flight out of Vancouver. Just a thought to consider.

Gawler, Australia
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8. Re: Calgary to Vancouver - best /most scenic route over 6 nights

Thanks MMM, that's not such a bad idea driving back to Calgary and flying to Vancouver - would we be missing out on much at the back end of our existing plan? - eg the drive from Jasper to Kamloops to Vancouver.

Greater Sydney...
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9. Re: Calgary to Vancouver - best /most scenic route over 6 nights

"half of them in Jasper NP (as is Banff town)"

That is a typo as Mufti meant Jasper township.

Greater Sydney...
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10. Re: Calgary to Vancouver - best /most scenic route over 6 nights

The Rockies will trump everything else and that is why most of the advice is to concentrate your short amount of time there.