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Western Canada a 3-week route from Vancouver Island to the Canadian Rockies

Spirit Island jasper

An ideal road trip through the West of Canada from Vancouver to Calgary. If you want to make a road trip through Western Canada, there are several routes you can take. We drove from Vancouver to Vancouver Island in 3 weeks and back all the way up to Calgary and visited some of the coolest highlights that can be found in Western Canada along the way. Curious about what our road trip route looked like? Below you will find our route and all kinds of practical tips for planning your journey.

Cedar Haven cottage

The distances from 1 place to another place are mostly between 3 and 5 hours drive.

We booked a flight from Amsterdam to Vancouver and back from Calgary to Amsterdam, the cheapest tickets we could find were with Iceland air, although this is a real budget here you also have to pay for food during the flight, for long distances that I have never seen before. We rented a car in Vancouver and brought it back to Calgary.

Northern light during our flight back to Iceland

Vancouver is a beautiful city to stay in for 2, or 3 days but unfortunately, we didn't have time, you need more than 3 weeks or you have to skip the whole of Vancouver Island which is also possible then you have a little more time to drive to Calgary and you might stay a little longer in Wells Gray park which we liked and here the prices for Canadian standards are still reasonable and there is a nice campsite on the Dutch Lake. But we wander a bit, so we stayed the first night in Vancouver which is incredibly expensive we stayed in China Town in a tiny room for 120 euros with a shared bathroom and no breakfast. The parking meter behind the hotel was broken, this saved us some parking costs, otherwise, it would have been a lot more expensive. Because it was already evening, we decided to eat some Chinese and go early to bed so we woke up the next morning fresh. The other morning we checked out and drove to the city woke up to Stanley park to drink some coffee and watch the sunrise.

view from Stanley park Vancouver

Stanley Park has a beautifully situated peninsula on the northwestern outskirts of downtown Vancouver City and is often mentioned in the list of the world's most beautiful city parks. The park attracts around 8 million visitors annually. With a few beautiful city beaches, miles of well-maintained paved and unpaved trails, the largest aquarium in Canada, and a range of unmissable child-friendly places (including a swimming pool, water park, and miniature train), Stanley Park is not only one of the most beautiful, but also one of the world's largest city parks.

Stanley Park is part of the Vancouver Seawall, the beautiful route that runs along almost the entire shore of the port of Vancouver City. With its ever-thriving bedding and around 500,000 cedar, and spruce trees, Stanley Park has been the green oasis for the residents of Vancouver for nearly 130 years.

Ferry from Vancouver to Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island

We took the ferry which you also book in advance from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo a journey of about three hours so it is advisable to pack early and take the first ferry and have breakfast on the boat The kitchen is very good. From Nanaimo, we drove north to Vancouver Island to take the boat in Campbell River to Quadra Island where we would spend a few days at the Cape Mudge Lighthouse. On the way to Quadra Island, we stopped at the ancient rainforests of Cathedral Grove, a nice stop along the way to stretch your legs. You can also visit here on the way to Tofino.

Cathedral Grove Vancouver Island

Quadra Island is the largest of the Discovery Islands and is located between Vancouver Island and mainland Canada. Like many other places in Canada, the island is best known for its beautiful nature. In addition to nature, art, culture, adventurous recreation and the laid-back lifestyle of the island are also reasons for many to live there or to visit them. Quadra Island has three main communities: Quathiaski Cove as the commercial center, Heriot Bay as access to the Discovery Islands and several bays, and Cape Mudge, the home of the We-Wai-Kaistam of the Kwakwak'awakw First Nations. Cape Mudge is part of the territory of the Kwa 'Kwa' Ka 'Wa'Kw, the original inhabitants of this piece of Canada. The place where Captain Vancouver landed in 1792 is nowadays the location of a resort: the Tsa-Kwa-Luten Lodge & RV Park. The Nuyumbalees Cultural Center is also located here, where you can find more information about the Kwa'Kwa'Ka'Wa'Kw's. The center, formerly known as the Kwagiulth Museum, has a large collection of indigenous art, clothing, and masks. The center is also one of the locations on Quadra Island where petroglyphs can be seen. You'll find more on the beach at the Tsa-Kwa-Luten Lodge & RV Park., at the lighthouse, and at the end of Petroglyph Road.

Quadra Island

After a few honest days back in nature where we could hear the whales in our room in the morning, it was time to drive back to the other side of Vancouver Island. In Campbell River, we stopped at the park and the falls of Elk Falls before we drive all the way back. Campbell River is also a good option to stay if Qudra Island is already full or you don't want to take the ferry again. Many whale tours and beer tours also depart from here. More Qudra Island

TSA-Kwa-Luten Lodge

A long drive along some of the most beautiful roads through ancient forests brought us to Tofino. Tofino is, of course, one of the highlights of Vancouver Island. The fairy-tale surroundings, the long beaches, the beautiful outdoor possibilities, and the rugged nature, certainly when you go to Vancouver Island for the first time, absolutely impress your imagination. Although Tofino is just a small town, a relatively large amount of accommodation is available due to the tourist interest. Along the beaches, there is a lot of unspoiled nature and you can take many special walks through the Pacific Rim national park.

Around Tofino, surfers can find some good beaches. You will hardly find any buildings on the beach. This is because the Pacific Rim National Park ends at the beach. And this makes for an incredibly beautiful image when you are on the beach; the afforestation goes directly to the sea. More Vancouver Island can be found here


After our adventure on Vancouver Island, we drove back to Nanaimo to take the ferry back to Horseshoe Bay where we drove to Whistler in about 1.5 hours. A popular stop along the way is the Sea to Sky Gondola from the gondola you have a fantastic view of the sea and the mountains. Unfortunately, the gondola was closed because the cables were chopped down a month before. Whistler is a beautiful mountainous area, mainly known as a ski resort. Yet you can also have a great time here in spring, summer, and fall. We were there at the end of the summer. Joffre Lakes is a popular hike, that you can drive to in an hour from Whistler. You can also stop here en route to Wells gray, this is the same way. In this nature reserve, you will find 3 lakes at different heights that you can visit during a walk. We started our hike at Joffre Lakes at half-past eight and visited all 3 lakes in 3 to 4 hours, of course, you can only walk until the first or second, then your walk will be a bit shorter. The first lake is a 15-minute walk away and the second lake is a 2.5-hour walk up, it is a tough hike. More Whistler

Joffre Lakes

Our next stop was Wells Gray Provincial Park known for its beautiful waterfalls. We stayed in Clearwater in a wooden cozy lodge in the forest on the edge of Wells's gray Provincial park. When you drive in the direction of Jasper from Whistler or Vancouver, you will notice that this is a considerable distance that is difficult to drive in one day. It is therefore wise to spend the night somewhere en route and we have chosen the town of Clearwater. We chose this because you will find the Wells Gray National Park nature reserve next to Clearwater and there you can view several waterfalls. Wells Gray Provincial Park's nickname is 'Waterfall Park'. This is not for nothing: there are no fewer than 250 waterfalls, in all shapes and sizes. The best known are the Spahats Falls, Dawson Falls, and Helmcken Falls, all of which are easily accessible. With a height of 141 meters, Helmcken Falls is the fourth-highest waterfall in Canada. The park landscape consists of the most volcanic rock and has been given its specific forms by, among other things, glaciers, meltwater, and rivers. More Wells Gray

Wells Gray

After so much beautiful nature, the battery was fully charged again after the long drive and we were ready for the Canadian Rockies we drove to Jasper as our first stop at the Icefields parkway.

Horseshoe lake

The town of Jasper is your base for all the highlights that you can visit in Jasper National Park. Go canoeing at Pyramid Lake, take a boat trip at Maligne Lake to Spirit Island, try to spot wildlife along the way, go to the Miette hot springs, and admire the Athabasca Glacier and Falls or take a look in the cozy town with the amazing always in the background mountains. Jasper National Park is one of the most beautiful nature parks in Canada. In the heart of the Rocky Mountains, it is an outdoor dream, a destination for nature lovers, a place with so many beautiful and special places, views, and wildlife. Jasper is a place for your bucket list. More jasper

Sunwapta Falls

We had seen so many beautiful things it was now time to drive down the Icefield Parkway road to Lake Louise. The ride can be completed in 2.5 hours but due to all the stops, you can easily take a whole day. If you have not had all the stops at the end of the ride, you can also return a bit from Lake Louise to Peyto Lake or Bow Lake, for example, the other day. In Banff National Park you might find the most beautiful lakes in the whole of Western Canada. We couldn't take our eyes off Lake Louise, the bright blue color of the water is so overwhelming to see and the mountains in the background complete the entire view. Also, Peyto Lake is such a gem that you do not want to miss, and the same goes for Moraine Lake. If you have time, then Emerald Lake in Yoho national park is certainly worth a visit. More Lake Louise

Peyto Lake

Our next stop before we flew back home was Canmore from Lake Louise it is about an hour's drive en route we stopped a few more times to enjoy the views. We did a short hike in Johnston Canyon and stopped for lunch in the village of Banff. Canmore is the ideal place to end or just start your journey here you will find many supermarkets and restaurants which you will not find much further down the road. In Lake Louise, there is only a small supermarket and this is just as expensive as a restaurant so it is hardly worth buying something here. You will also find many shops and supermarkets in Banff. From Canmore, you will be at Calgary airport about 1.5 hours before your return flight. Due to the bad weather at the end of our trip, we went to the shopping center in Calgary for a day, there is not much else to do in the city itself. More Canmore


Request your eTA in time if you are going to Western Canada: When you travel to Canada, you need to request an eTA in advance. You can simply request the Electronic Travel Authorization ( eTA ) online using an easy form which will cost you 7 Canadian dollars. You can do this via the website of the Canadian government (


Tip: Download the Canadian Gypsy tour guide on your phone he will tell you everything on the route in the Canadian Rockies, we like him really much

Day 1 Amsterdam - Vancouver

Day 2 Vancouver

Day 3 Vancouver Island - Quadra Island

Day 4 Vancouver Island Quadra Island

Day 5 Vancouver Island Quadra Island to Tofino

Day 6 Tofino

Day 7 Tofino

Day 8 Tofino Whistler

Day 9 Whistler

Day 1 0 Whistler

Day 1 1 Whistler - Wells Gray

Day 1 2 Wells Gray

Day 1 3 Wells Gray - Jasper

Day 1 4 Jasper

Day 1 5 Jasper

Day 1 6 Jasper - Lake Louise

Day 17 Lake Louise

Day 18 Lake Louise Banff - Canmore

Day 19 Canmore

Day 20 Canmore Calgary Fly home

Here are some resources to help you get your trip going:

Flights: WayAway to start looking for cheap flights and great deals from your home country.

Accommodation: Hostelworld,, and are the ultimate go-to platforms to search for amazing hostels and hotels at affordable prices.

Car Rental: is a great and reliable platform to find rental cars all over the world.

Internet: Airalo is the best way to get a sim card and has reliable internet access for your trip. All you need is an Esim-compatible smartphone, install it on your phone prior to your trip, and you are all set.

Day Trips & Tours: Viator, and GetYourGuide, are great platforms to search for activities to do

Tickets & Deals: Tiqets is always my go-to website when I want to find cheaper deals for entrance tickets to tourist attractions

Klook to find the best deals for trips in Asia, somehow they are 30% cheaper than when you buy them at a local agency

Train, buses, and ferries 12Go to find your travel route for local buses, and ferries, we use them all the time as you can easily see the reviews, and the vouchers are everywhere accepted. tickets are sold for more than 5,000 destinations in 100+ countries worldwide.


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