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  • Wendy Byard

The Classic Canada Road Trip: With a little bit of Alaska thrown in for good measure

There's a reason this classic Canadian trip is 'classic'; it's a fabulous itinerary and a really good introduction to the country. You can choose to do this as a self-drive, an escorted tour, or the famous Rocky Mountaineer.

Let's start by talking a bit about those options.


Here you have two choices, by car or by RV, both have their benefits. RV's, because you have your home on wheels, can take it slowly and not have to plan too much. Like a place, stay longer, want to stop to take in an unexpected view, no worries. On the downside, some areas can be tricky to reach in a large vehicle, so a bit of planning is required. Car's can get you places faster, they're easier to park, and you still get lots of freedom....I chose the car route. I also decided to pan out the classic route and take in a few extra places along the way — more on those later.

RV's by Canadian lake


If you prefer to sit back and relax, this is the option for you. Choose either a group tour OR create your own itinerary and have a private driver and guides. Whichever you choose, rest assured that all the details are taken care of. You'll be able to see all the places you want to without worrying about where to stop, park, or book excursions. It's all done for you, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the journey.

Rocky Mountaineer

The Rocky Mountaineer is a truly iconic experience. This daylight train journey, which operates from sunrise to sunset, offers routes to Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise, Kamloops, Whistler, and Vancouver. Along the way, you'll be treated to breathtaking views and impeccable service. You can choose to do part or the whole journey, which spans 8 days.

Rocky Mountaineer

But let's first talk about the classic 7-day itinerary to Canada with stays in Banff and Vancouver.

Day 1—The classic route starts in Calgary, which is where most people start. From here, you pick up your transport and make your way to Banff.

Day 2 - Banff

Immerse yourself in the beauty by taking a ride on the Banff Gondola for panoramic views of the Bow Valley. When you reach the top of Sulphur Mountain, take a dip in the highest hot springs in Canada. In the afternoon, take a scenic flight through Cougar Canyon, touching down deep in the mountains, and enjoy the solitude of an alpine meadow, or head into town and explore.

Bow Lake

Day 3 - Moraine Lake and Yoho National Park

Get here early and stroll along the lakeshore or head up the hillside to admire the view of Moraine Lake. After that, continue to Lake Louise­ world famous for its turquoise colour, the Victoria Glacier, soaring mountain backdrops, and palatial hotel. Finish the day with a visit to Yoho National Park, the quieter and less visited of these national parks. Watch for bears, elk, moose, and other wildlife as you explore.

Moraine Lake

Day 4 - Banff - Kamloops

It's all aboard the Rocky Mountaineer for a scenic rail journey to Kamloops in British Columbia. Leaving Jasper National Park, the train follows the Yellowhead route, which passes towering Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. The journey then follows the mighty Thompson River, the route of early fur traders, before arriving in Kamloops, where you'll spend the night in a hotel.

View from the Rocky Mountaineer

Day 5 - Kamloops - Vancouver

Back onboard the train, it's time to wave farewell to Kamloops. The journey follows the path of the Thompson River through Ashcroft and Rainbow Canyon, where the cliffs have pink, green and grey hues. Continue through Fraser Canyon, where you'll witness the torrential waters flowing through Hell's Gate. The last leg takes you through the scenic Fraser Valley, arriving in Vancouver in the late afternoon.

Day 6 - Vancouver City Tour

Enjoy the best of Vancouver and take a personalised tour of the city. Visit the buzzing neighbourhoods of Chinatown, Gastown and fashionable Yaletown. In the afternoon, you can head to Stanley Park to see its famous totem poles or pick up last-minute souvenirs at Granville Island Market. End the day at LookOut Tower, watching the sunset over the city.

Totem Poles in Vancouver

Day 7 - Whistler

Gaze out at panoramic ocean views, towering mountains, and sprawling glaciers as you travel along the Coast Range. Take advantage of bountiful photo opportunities. In Whistler, experience the gondola. Spanning a record-setting distance between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, it provides an unparalleled perspective of the peaks, coastal rainforest, and ancient glaciers.


If you only have a week, this would be the perfect itinerary; however, I'd suggest you stretch it a little. What would I do?

I'd drive and have:

2 nights in Banff

2 nights at Moraine Lake

1 night Jasper

1 Revelstoke

2 Whistler

2 Vancouver

7 night cruise

Adding a night in Jasper allows you to experience the Icefields Parkway. This really is a beautiful drive. Revelstoke is a 'real' Canadian town. There's not a lot of tourist activity, but you really do get a sense of life outside the tourist route.

Although Alaska is definitely not Canada, if you have ever wanted to see a glacier up close, watch whales, and explore miles of unspoiled icy wilderness, then a cruise would be the perfect ending to your road trip.

Embark in Vancouver and enjoy a wild and thrilling introduction to Alaska in Ketchikan. Nature's wildest staging awaits at Juneau, then see Skagway, a Gold Rush-era town. Sitka offers a chance to watch whales, sea lions and eagles. A cruise around the Hubbard Glacier completes your trip before arrival in Seward.

This is just a taste of what could be in store for you.

This is just a tiny peak at what's possible, and the world is your oyster when it comes to hotels and cruise companies. Get in touch if you'd like help planning or just booking (because we all know planning is just as much fun). Going Solo offers some great accommodation with perks, so you have nothing to lose!


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