HELENE’S TRIP

TO WESTERN CANADA :

FROM VANCOUVER ISLAND TO THE ROCKIES

15 DAYS/8 STOPS 

 

From the Mountains, to the City, to the Ocean
We started with a city trip in Vancouver and continued with 12 days of sea, mountains, lakes and wildlife experience. We explored the beauties of Vancouver Island and observed orcas and whales in their natural environment. On our way to the Rockies, we discovered Wells Gray National Park, a hidden gem of British Columbia. We also enjoyed the breath-taking views of the Rockies on the Icefield Parkway between Jasper and Banff, typical for Western Canada. In 15 days, we stayed an average of two nights per location and we drove a total of 2,000 km and spent 26 hours on the road. This itinerary is from August 2014.
Discover Helene’s travel profile and all her favorite trip itineraries.

Arrival airport: Vancouver airport

Departure airport : Calgary
Flights from NY via Toronto 

Rental car

About 2,000 km in 15 days

26 hours on the road
8 stops

Total per person: 2,225 $ for 15 days 
Lodging: 1,400 $/pp  (without breakfast)

Local transport (rent a car): 225 $/pp  Flights: 600 $/pp 


Wells Gray Provincial Park

and its “flying” salmons 
The Orcas
near Vancouver Island
Icefield Parkway,
the scenic road of the Canadian Rockies

 


All trip details
Lodging and activities

Good to know and pictures
click here

A snapshot

A snapshot

1GrnCircle
VANCOUVER
2 NIGHTs
CITYTRIP

CITYTRIP

VANCOUVER AIRPORT to
VANCOUvER
20 km/0h20
  • The Sylvia Hotel : a boutique hotel, ideally located on English Bay, close to Stanley Park and just 5 minutes from downtown Vancouver. Built in 1912, the Sylvia Hotel is a city landmark and one of Vancouver’s greatest treasures. The have family rooms for 5.
  •  
    The first afternoon we rented bikes and explored the 400-hectare Stanley Park and enjoyed scenic views of water, beaches, mountains, park and the Lion’s Gate Bridge, along Stanley Park’s famous Seawall.


    The next day we visited Gastown, the Harbour Centre Tower (beautiful views of the city, the sea and the mountains) and Chinatown and its peaceful Chinese Garden. We also  made a stop at the olympic village
2GrnCircle
VANCOUVER ISLAND
2 NIGHTS
PACIFIC

PACIFIC

+  
VANCOUVER to TOFINO (VANCOUVER ISLAND)
1h40 + 200 km/3h15
  • In an Ocean view cabin at the Middle Beach Lodge : perched on 40 acres of secluded West Coast oceanfront, the Lodge features almost a mile of private beach, rugged headlands, a good restaurant (complimentary breakfast, definitively try the dinner) and great activities you can book through the reception.
    Don’t forget to make a reservation four you and your car on the ferry to Vancouver Island (from Vancouver Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo) !
  • We hiked the 2 loops of the Rainforest Trail in the Pacific Rim National Park and then we hiked to Long Beach on the Schooner Beach trail. The beach is beautiful but the water is very cold !
     
    We went on a bear watching tour by boat. At low tide, bears are coming down to some beaches and rocks to eat shellfish. Great experience !
     
    The next day we hiked the Lighthouse loop on the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet before crossing back the Island to Campbell River.
3GrnCircle
CAMPBELL RIVER
2 NIGHTS
ORCAS

 

ORCAS

 +  
TOFINO to CAMPBELL RIVER (STEEP ISLAND)
280 km/4h15 + 0h20
  • Steep Island Lodge : an incredible lodge on a tiny island in the heart of Discovery Passage (the “Water Highway” to Alaska). We stayed in a very comfortable cabine with a huge deck overlooking the Discovery Passage (at night, you can see the big cruise ships heading to Alaska). All the meals are included and are delicious (homemade bread, fresh fish and vegetables, by far the best meals of our trip !). To get to the island, you go to the Campbell River Marina and somebody from the lodge  will pick you up with their boat (it’s a 15 min boat ride).

  • We spent a whole day on the boat on an eco-tour. Imagine stunning views, a gourmet lunch in the magic of Desolation Sound, Discovery Islands and Johnstone Strait. We had the opportunity to see a gray whale, 6 orcas swimming around our boat for an hour, sea lions, and Pacific white-sided dolphins. It was just the five of us and 3 crew members. An amazing day !

4GrnCircle
PEMBERTON (WHISTLER)
1 NIGHT
STOPOVER
 +  
CAMPBELL RIVER to
 PEMBERTON
1h40 + 300 km/3h30 
  • The Pemberton Valley Lodge : comfortable hotel for a 1 night stopover on our way to the Rockies. We had a 2 bedroom suite with washing machine. The hotel has a swimming pool, great to relax after a day on the road.

  • We took the ferry back to the mainland and drove on the Sea-to-the-Sky Highway (Highway 99) from Vancouver to Whistler and Pemberton. We made several stops on this scenic road to watch the incredible views, mountains, waterfalls…
5GrnCircle
CLEARWATER
2 NIGHTS
MAGIC

MAGIC

PEMBERTON to
CLEARWATER
400 km/5 h 
  • Moul Creek Lodge : a fantastic bed and breakfast with 3 independent suites in a log cabin (build by the owners), close to Wells Gray Provincial Park entry. 
  •  
    The first afternoon we hiked to 2 beautiful waterfalls : Moul Falls (a 5km quite easy hike), the fun part is you can actually walk behind these falls ! On our way back we stopped at Helmcken Falls with its impressive 141m drop !


    The next day we went on a guided tour with Gy from Discover Wells Gray. We hiked the “Trophy wildflowers meadows and alpine mountains”, our day was a mix of wildlife, flower meadows and alpine lakes and mountains. Beautiful day !

    After our hike, we finished the day with one of the most magical moments of our life : watching the salmon jump at Bailey’s Chute. It is an overwhelming experience that you can witness from mid-August till the end of September.
6GrnCircle
JASPER
2 NIGHTS
LAKES

LAKES

CLEARWATER to
JASPER
340 km/4h
  • Becker’s Chalets : comfortable rustic cabins just south of Jasper with nice views on the river and the mountains.
  • On our way to Jasper, we stopped at various point of views, it is a quite scenic road.
     
    The first afternoon, we hiked the Valley of the five lakes trail, this is an easy 2-hours hike around 5 clear lakes with unique shades of jade and blue.
     
    The next day, we went to Maligne Canyon in the morning and spent the afternoon hiking at Maligne Lake (the Moose Lake Loop). The views at Maligne Lake are stunning.
7GrnCircle
FIELD YOHO N.P.
2 NIGHTS
GLACIERS

 

GLACIERS

ICEFIELDS PARKWAY  
FROM JASPER to FIELD
250 km/3h45
  • Cathedral Mountain Lodge : Luxury log cabins in the heart of the Rockies central to all the activities of Banff and Yoho National Parks. Restaurant is delicious.

  • We drove down the Icefields Parkway from the North to the South and made various stops on what we think is one of the world’s most scenic drives. These are the “must-do’s” (but there are lots of point-of-views, just stop whenever you feel like it) : Athabasca Falls , Columbia Icefields, Weeping Wall, Waterfowl Lake, Mount Cephren, Peyto Lake.

    The next day we went to see the Takakkaw Falls (second highest waterfall in Canada with a drop of 381m !). In the afternoon we hiked the Emerald Lake loop (another jewel of the Canadian Rockies, one of the few lakes with a trail all the way around it).
8GrnCircle
BANFF-LAKE LOUISE
2 NIGHTS
SCENERY

SCENERY

FIELD to
 BANFF
75 km/1h
  • The first night at the Hidden Ridge Resort in Banff : a classic ski resort condo. The last night at the Hampton Inn & Suites Calgary-Airport before taking our flight back home the next morning.
  •  
    We started our day early (to avoid the crowd) at Moraine Lake. We hiked the lake shoreline and then did some canoeing on the lake. The views are stunning. On our way back we stopped at Lake Louise but it was so crowded that we didn’t stay very long.
     
    In the afternoon, we took the Lake Louise Gondola (on the other side of the valley) and were lucky to see a grizzly bear just under us from the open chair lift. On the top there is a very interesting Wildlife Interpretive Centre and of course scenic views of the surrounding mountains and Lake Louise. 
     

    The next day we wandered in Banff, did some shopping before taking the road to Calgary for our last night.

GOOD TO KNOW

  • Be aware of the wildlife and especially the bears
  • Weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains, always be prepared for colder or wet weather even when the sun shines
  • Definitively eat salmon, Pacific Canadian wild salmon is delicious

MY PHOTO ALBUM

 
Photo ©helenedwds
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