Travel east along Canada’s Highway 1, the oft-travelled Trans Canada Highway, through the scenic Fraser Valley and quickly escape the city to a place of family-run farms near Abbotsford, towering mountains and waterfalls beside the road. Taking the less-hurried route through Highway 3 and 97, you can explore vast nature, Indigenous experiences, and unexpected wine tours along the way. In Manning Park Resort, tall trees line the lakeside and wilderness campsites, nature trails abound, and cozy cabins are peppered throughout. Manning Park is an ideal spot for year round night sky watching and photography. Drive through the Similkameen region and while this valley may not receive the same hype as its sizable Okanagan neighbour, the Similkameen is a charming, bucolic place of orchards, ranches, and lesser-known wineries.
Penticton and Wine Country is a warm and welcoming lakeside community, bounded by forested ridges and clay bank cliffs. The wine country and rich agricultural lands provide fresh ingredients for local menus, making this a growing food and wine destination with an abundance of urban attractions for culturally-minded visitors.
On Okanagan Lake’s west shore is Penticton and not too distant, on the e east shore, is Kelowna, both are sun-kissed, easygoing towns surrounded by vineyards. Penticton is one of just two cities in the world situated between two lakes. Okanagan and Skaha beaches feature nearly 15 acres of sandy beach and swimming areas. There are over 80 wineries in the Penticton area, 6 craft breweries, 1 cidery and 3 distilleries, all within easy walking or biking distance of the downtown core.
Drive to Revelstoke, named as a “must do trip” on National Geographic’s Ultimate Adventure Bucket List. Revelstoke offers open spaces, big mountains, and real adventure. Revelstoke is nestled between the magnificent Selkirk and Monashee Mountains. Climb the only mountain in Canada’s national park system where you can drive all the way to the highest part and summit just a short walk from your car, at the Mount Revelstoke National Park.
Overnight: Revelstoke, BC
Drive to the Kicking Horse National Historic Site and cross the Kicking Horse Pass, the highest point on the Trans-Canada Highway while looking down to a spectacular mountain landscape of Yoho National Park. This legendary pass opened BC to the rest of Canada by rail in the 19th century. From the Spiral Tunnels viewpoint, watch a Canadian engineering phenomenon in action as trains disappear into one Rocky Mountain tunnel and emerge from another at a different elevation on the steep slopes. On your way to Emerald Lake join a guided river rafting excursion on the Kicking Horse River, visit the Bear Refuge and ride the gondola to the top of Kicking Horse Mountain. After your day of adventure, continue to Yoho National Park and the well known Emerald Lake. Lodge. The Emerald Lake Lodge offers 24 cabin style buildings, surrounding the lake in a true wilderness escape.
Overnight: Field, BC
Legendary guide Tom Wilson first stumbled across this small gem of a lake in 1882 during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway located in the heart of what is known today as Yoho National Park. Known for its jade-coloured waters, the area remains one of North America’s most scenic wilderness settings. Built of hand-hewn timber and featuring massive stone fireplaces, the lodge itself includes an elegant dining room, quiet reading and sitting rooms, conference facilities and a games room. The lounge features an oak bar salvaged from a 1890’s-era Yukon saloon and from the verandas, the vistas of surrounding mountain scapes are breathtaking. Few destinations in Canada offer this unique mix of luxury and jaw dropping nature. Today you can just enjoy the tranquil setting or set out to find one of the many hiking trails in the area or go canoeing.
Begin your drive into Banff National Park, which offers spectacular mountain scenery and its many attractions. Stop in Lake Louise to view the picture perfect lake setting with the famous Hotel Fairmont Lake Louise overlooking it. Lake Louise is a jewel of the Rockies surrounded by glistening glaciers and towering snow-capped mountain peaks. You may have seen photos of the lake but you will not be prepared for the experience of rounding the corner, getting the first sight of the emerald green waters and the rugged peaks as a backdrop. Late in the day, with the glowing sun dropping behind Mount Victoria, you will likely have never seen anything so dramatically beautiful. Drive onwards to Banff.
Immerse yourself in the stunning landscape of the town of Banff, a spirited place where you are surrounded by strikingly beautiful and rugged mountains that seem to burst straight out of the ground. The town site of Banff covers almost 4 sq. kms. and is at an elevation of 1,383 mtrs (4,537 feet), making it the highest town in Canada. Banff is flanked on all sides by towering mountains, including Mount Rundle, Sulphur Mountain, Mount Norquay, and Cascade Mountain. You may see a herd of elk wandering down the main street during your early morning walk. The lively streets of downtown are lined with top-class restaurants, bars, and shops, as well as a vibrant range of art galleries and museums. Explore Banff with a stop at Cascade Gardens and beautiful Bow Falls, then ride the gondola up Sulphur Mountain for an unparallel view of the mountains and valley below.
Later, follow Highway 1 via Canmore to Calgary which is known as the entrance to the Canadian Rockies. Calgary offers and entrepreneurial energy while embracing the rich western heritage. Drop your car rental off at the Calgary International airport where your Self-Drive tour package will end. This itinerary is available in reverse from Calgary to Vancouver.