Ultimate Vancouver to Banff Road Trip Itinerary

There’s nothing quite like the open road to get your blood pumping and a road trip from Vancouver to Banff National Park should be at the top of your bucket list.

It’s a rite of passage that many Canadians, young and old, have experienced in some form or another.

From dense rainforests to stunning alpine landscapes, this epic road trip itinerary is one of the most beautiful drives in the country and will leave you speechless and wanting more.

Whether you want a quick weekend getaway or a full-blown 7 days on the road, we’ve got you covered.

Ready to hit the road? Let’s go!

Before We Start…

This itinerary is split into two options, one via the shortest route (2-day itinerary) and one via Whistler, a 3-7 day itinerary with the option of extending your stay at certain stops.

Read through this guide and pick the one that suits you best!

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2-Day Vancouver to Banff Itinerary

For a speedy weekend trip from Vancouver to Banff, hop on the Trans-Canada Highway 1 and switch over to Coquihalla Highway (BC-5 N) until you hit Kamloops.

Make an overnight stop there before continuing onto Banff the next day.

2-Day Itinerary at a Glance

Say farewell to Vancouver for early morning ice cream at Abbotsford, tranquil treks at Hope, and a relaxing afternoon exploring Kamloops wineries and valley trails.

Today’s theme is national parks, offering up a chain of glacier lakes, towering falls and hiking trails. Close the distance to Banff and arrive by nightfall.

Day 1

Birchwood Dairy Farm

Your first actual stop is around Abbotsford, where Birchwood Dairy Farm treats to you amazing ice cream – a little something to keep you refreshed while on the go.

Those who skipped breakfast might appreciate their selection of soups, sandwiches and baked goods.

As for families with kids, let the young ones burn off some energy at the outdoor play area and mini petting zoo.

Jones Lake Sunset in Hope BC
Jones Lake Sunset in Hope BC

Stretch Your Legs in Hope

Wake up your hiking legs at Hope, a cozy retirement town that overlooks a wide bend if Fraser River.

Hope Lookout Trail is steep at parts, but family-friendly and beautiful up top.

The Rotary Nature Trail offers a serene walk with few stragglers, while the Thacker Mountain Loop takes you through untouched forests.

Othello Tunnels

Ever hope to walk through mystical tunnels and emerge into a whole new world? Othello Tunnels are exactly the “what’s at the end?” mystery you hope for, opening up to magical forest views.

What used to railway tunnels built in the early 1900s is now a scenic hiking destination.

Tip: Check if this attraction is closed for repairs; sometimes they require maintenance after snowy and rainy weather.

Othello Tunnels Hope BC
Othello Tunnels Hope BC

Kamloops

To save up on time, complete your drive to Kamloops without stops (except for lunch, if necessary).

As the second largest city in in-land BC with a surprisingly diverse cast of attractions, it’s the perfect resting spot for your Vancouver to Banff road trip.

Your afternoon itinerary is pick-as-you-please from these things to do in Kamloops:

The Rivers Trail – 40 kilometers, or 25 miles, of trails accessed from different points. Riverside Park to Pioneer Park is a popular route that strolls through the Japanese Gardens and past public art installations. Aviation Way glows with fall foliage, and low tide unveils sandbars across the river.

BC Wildlife Park For rescued animals that were orphaned in the wild. The world’s only Kermode Bear in human care resides here alongside every animal between cougars and reptiles.

Thompson Valley – Four wineries have made the Kamloops surround their home. Monte Creek Winery is famous for its French oak-fermented Chardonnays; Privato Winery & Vineyard for its 80-acre Christmas tree farm location; Harper’s Trail Estate Winery for its dramatic hoodoo formations and natural spring; and Sagewood Winery for its family-owned charm and tropical flavors.

Erin Valley Stables If you’re yearning for a horseback ride through the beautiful landscape, sign up for your pick of scenic trails.

There are unique boutiques and homey restaurants in downtown Kamloops, including Kamloops Artisan Bazaar, Ms. Whimsy’s Gift Emporium, Brownstone Restaurant, and more.

Dine local tonight. Spend your late afternoon or evening here, then retire for the night.

Day 2

Rev up the second leg of your trip with a slow morning or an early one.

Kamloops Farmers’ Market

Decades in action and enticing passersby with freshly-baked goods, Kamloops Farmers’ Market is a must-stop for visitors between late April and late October.

If possible, grab some breakfast bites before you hit the road!

Sun Peaks Ski Resort
Sun Peaks Ski Resort

Sun Peaks Ski Resort

Sun Peaks Ski Resort is a 45-minute detour for those who love conquering snowy slopes, whether on skis, snowboards, dog sleds, or horse sleighs.

It’s beautiful year-round, so don’t write it off as a winter destination only. You can explore the mountain biking trails in spring and summer, or browse the little village.

READ NEXT
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National Parks Galore

Once you’re back on the highway, you’ll find the stretch of road between Revelstoke and Banff loaded with national parks.

Each comes with its own highlight attraction – choose one that appeals to you most.

Mt Revelstoke National Park is home to centuries-old forests with ancient trees. Take the Giant Cedars Boardwalk to bask in the hush and awe-inspiring sights.

Or, experience a whitewater-rafting tour down Illecillewaet River.

Glacier National Park of Canada is a lesson in glaciers, lush valleys, and deep snow; the carrier of mountaineering stories and early transportation routes across the country. The steep but short hike to Bear Creek Falls is stunning.

Yoho National Park is colored emerald green and icy blue. From towering Takakkaw Falls to the famous Emerald Lake, it’s loved by photographers and nature enthusiasts.

Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest, famous for its Rocky Mountain peaks, glacial lakes, and mountain town.

If you have time, make a brief stop at Lake Louise. This Banff National Park hamlet is ringed by skyscraping peaks and features a snow-fed lake with its own chateau.

A 2-mile hike takes you up to Lake Agnes Tea House for both view and beverages to warm your hands. You could also canoe out into the water.

Arrive at Banff whenever you manage to tear yourself away from the landscapes.

3-7 Day Itinerary at a Glance

For those who have an entire week to spare (or even an extra day), take the longer route that bypasses Whistler.

The Sea to Sky Highway is a must-see when road tripping from Vancouver, regardless of the season.

Hop onto the Sea to Sky Highway to briefly stop by the mountain town of Squamish. Try some local craft beer (if you’re not the one driving) before tackling Whistler’s European charm. Marvel at this famous holiday resort via the Peak 2 Peak Gondola.

Extending your stay in Whistler? The Whistler-Blackcomb mountains is your playground, whether by skis, jeeps, or on foot.

Plenty of attractions line the drive between Whistler and Kamloops, including: an off-road racing track, paddle boating at One Mile Lake Park, the teal shine of Lower Joffre Lake, and historic Lillooet town. Lac Du Bois Grasslands Protected Area is your final stop before Kamloops.

Extend your stay in Kamloops and swoop around its borders. Vineyards and wildlife parks keep you nature-fed.

From Mt. Revelstoke’s centuries-old cedars to the self-explanatory Glacier National Park, the final stretch towards Banff is laden with outdoor adventures.

Hopefully you’ve spent the night at a lodge within the mountains! Spend the morning on a final hike before finishing your road trip into Banff.

Day 1

Stay in Vancouver for a day or two before setting off in your joy ride. Just an hour away is Squamish, your next major destination.

The inspiring Sea to Sky Highway, a.k.a BC Highway 99, features some of Canada’s most stunning landscapes.

Shannon Falls Provincial Park

Stop by Shannon Falls Provincial Park to appreciate its 335-meter waterfall, the third largest in B.C. Pull your brakes, walk through a beautiful forest and reach a viewpoint in 15 minutes.

Shannon Falls Squamish BC
Shannon Falls Squamish BC

Sea to Sky Gondola

Down the road is an iconic attraction that every visitor must stop at between Vancouver and Whistler: the Sea to Sky Gondola. Snow-capped mountains and ocean inlets unfold as you rise up.

The 12-minute ride shows off views over Howe Sound, Chief Mountain and the winding Sea to Sky Highway which worms all the way to Kamloops.

Gawk from the lookout platforms at the summit, or take a break at the cafe/restaurant. There are also great walks up top.

Stop For Lunch

Your official lunch break is best taken at Squamish. The mountain town is West Coast authentic, offering sidewalk cafes and driftwood beaches.

Brewpubs and local crafts treat you to rustic rooms and pizza menus, but there are plenty of other diners too.

Sea to Sky Gondola Squamish BC
Squamish BC

Britannia Mine Museum

If you have time, stop by Britannia Mine Museum to learn about BC’s mining industry; a 45-minute tour is included in the entry fee.

Whistler Village

After lunch, continue onward to Whistler. This famous winter destination is a 45-minute drive away – but don’t think it’s just for snowy shenanigans!

Check-in and hit up downtown Whistler Village; little bridges, stone walkways and tons of shops make a patchwork of European charm.

Whistler BC
Whistler BC

Whistler Blackcomb

If you have time, climb aboard the Peak 2 Peak Gondola for the famous Whistler Blackcomb experience.

The special glass-bottom gondola reveals even more of the valleys and glaciers between the two mountains, but the regular ride alone spoils you with panoramic views.

It’s best to spare a few hours for the ride as the ticket offers access to both a ride and numerous mountain attractions such as hiking trails, snow wall access, and dining on the rooftop.

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Day 2-3

If you have the entire week to travel, stay posted for 2-3 days. You’ll never run out of things to do in Whistler:

Whistler Blackcomb – Explore the largest ski resort in North America and break in those snow legs. It’s up to you whether that means skiing alone, or hiking the snow walls on Pika’s Traverse.

In warmer months, you can dive into the forests and map out its trails.

Zipline Adventures – Take to the treetops for an exhilarating alpine zipline experience. You’ll crossover white water rivers and untouched terrain.

Train Wreck Hike – A pretty cool trek to derailed train cars along the Cheakamus River.

Jeep Tours – Sign up for a jeep tour in the winter to save your legs from the cold, and not sacrifice the sights.

ATV Bushwacker Tour – Zip along forest roads and dirt tracks for incredible views of Whistler, Blackcomb and Black Tusk.

Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Center – Learn about Squamish and Lil’wat Nations; cultural context is everything.

Floatplane Tour – Admire the mammoth glaciers and soaring peaks from above.

Seasonal events – There’s usually something fun going on in Whistler so do your research beforehand!

Day 4 - 5

The next leg of your road trip to Banff picks up with a 4-hour drive between Whistler and Kamloops.

Your pit stops cover plenty of scenic points and outdoor adventures as you continue down the Sea to Sky Highway.

Pemberton Speedway

Not far from Whistler Village is Pemberton Speedway. Those who love watching dirt fly around as wheels rip and roar around a flat-track racing course simply have to make a stop.

Whistler Shooting Adventures
Photo by Whistler Shooting Adventures

Whistler Shooting Adventures

Whistler Shooting Adventures is another adrenaline shot – no experience or licenses required.

Safety comes first at this public range, which offers training and fun for all ages. If the thought of shooting makes you recoil, skip this stop.

Nairn Falls

Nature makes a comeback with Nairn Falls, an easy 1.5 kilometers hiking trail through the provincial park. It’s a great place to stretch your legs and cool off by the 60 meter falls.

Tip: the water is fast flowing so swimming is not recommended.

One Mile Lake Park

Families, pup owners and paddle boarders should mark down One Mile Lake Park, a Pemberton locale that’s summer sweet.

The boardwalk offers a leisurely stroll around the perimeter; there’s a beach where dogs can be let off the leash.

Others may rent paddle boats or jump directly into the water to cool off.

Be sure to take in the sights as you crossover Lillooet Lake Bridge.

Joffre Lakes
Joffre Lake

Lower Joffre Lake

Canada has no shortage of gorgeous lower lakes, but Lower Joffre Lake is a treasure in the midst of the wilderness. Do step out of your car to admire the icy turquoise sheen up close.

Note that while the first lake is only a 5-minute walk, the middle one takes around an hour and a half due to elevation.

Just a little ways after that is the cascading Holloway Falls, which flows downhill over a set of rock steps. Absolutely beautiful.

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Lillooet Town

Speed onward to Lillooet town – the perfect spot for an extra night’s stay.

Sitting on the west shore of Fraser River, it features unexpected activities like seeking gold at Cayoosh Creek Fraser River Gold Panning Reserve.

Those staying overnight may do a sweep of Lillooet Museum or historical Miyazaki House.

Those passing by should take the Bridge of the Twenty-Three Camels.

Fort Beren’s Winery

Stop by Fort Beren’s Winery for a late lunch if you have yet to eat. Or, stop for a sip of wine and relaxing views.

The wine menu, while not limitless, is carefully curated with several award-winning choices. They also serve a western menu with delicious flatbreads.

Lac Du Bois Grasslands

The last of your adventures before entering Kamloops proper is Lac Du Bois Grasslands Protected Area. Hiking trails are open year-round for you to soak in the sun and the scent of sagebrush.

You’ll want to be prepared for a variety of hikes – wear proper hiking gear before wading into the grasslands. You could easily spend half a day here.

Kamloops BC Lake
Kamloops BC Lake

Arrive in Kamloops

Pull into Kamloops and spend the rest of the day exploring downtown. To truly experience the area, loiter for an extra day.

Several Kamloops must-dos have been mentioned in the shorter itinerary above.

Stretch out any portion of the road trip itinerary from Vancouver to Banff to fit your schedule!

Stay a few nights at Whistler (a ski season requirement, frankly) or camp out at the national parks near Banff.

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Day 6 - 7

Whether you’re on Day 3 or Day 7, the last stretch of your Vancouver road trip to Banff is all about national parks.

If you’ve read the 2-Day Vancouver to Banff road trip itinerary above, you’ll know that these are quite a few worthwhile stops.

Dedicate an entire day to exploring one of these national parks in depth. Challenge yourself to long hikes. Camp overnight if you have the chance.

This is your chance to experience Canada’s wilderness in real time.

Mt Revelstoke National Park is home to centuries-old forests with ancient trees. Take the Giant Cedars Boardwalk to bask in the hush and awe-inspiring sights.

Glacier National Park of Canada is a lesson in glaciers, lush valleys, and deep snow; the carrier of mountaineering stories and early transportation routes across the country. The steep but short hike to Bear Creek Falls is stunning.

Yoho National Park is colored emerald green and icy blue. From towering Takakkaw Falls to the famous Emerald Lake, it’s loved by photographers and nature enthusiasts.

Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest, famous for its Rocky Mountain peaks, glacial lakes, and mountain town.

Complete the drive into Banff, tired but satisfied. Itching to extend your stay in town? You won’t want to miss our 4-day itinerary to Banff.