Driving through the Rockies Part 1: Vancouver to Yoho National Park

View from the trails at Mt. Revelstoke National Park

One of the best road trips we ever did was a road trip through the Canadian Rockies, where we went from Vancouver to Calgary. We spent three weeks including stays in Vancouver and Calgary where we drove through mountains, close to glaciers and into an number of spectacular parks. It’s a relatively easy drive (if high mountain roads don’t bother you) and it never got boring.

After spending a few days in Vancouver, we headed north up to Squamish using Highway 99, also known as the Sea to Sky Highway.

If you on the north side of Vancouver, there’s a great attraction to see. As an alternative to the more famous (and far more expensive) Capilano Bridge, Lynn Canyon Park has a suspension bridge that has a suggested $2 donation to visit. It’s not as long or tall as Capilano, but there’s also a nice forested area to visit down below.

Looking down from the bridge

After spending some time at the stream, we headed back up to the top of the canyon. We drove back towards the highway, stopping to enjoy some free snacks along the way.

Lots of places to grab blackberries by the side of the road

From there we got back onto Highway 1 and went north towards Squamish. Just before reaching Squamish, you can stop off at Shannon Falls, located just off the highway. It’s possible to just visit the falls, do a gondola ride or check out the neighbouring provincial park.

Part of the winding drive along the coast of British Columbia
Shannon Falls

Squamish was a very relaxed town, where mountains surround the river located in the centre of town. Built on the mouth of the Squamish River, it’s a nice introduction to the drive inland. We stayed at a hostel located right by the river.

One of the best parts of the journey was just enjoying the drive with the wide open vistas. On more than a few occasions the winding mountain roads required me to focus on the road rather than the sights, but there was no shortage of places to stop and just enjoy the view.

We briefly dropped into the famous skiing town of Whistler on the way eastward. We might have stayed longer if it were winter season, but even without skiing available it was still full of tourists.


As we continued east, we left the ocean but the mountain views were just getting started. The next destination was Revelstoke. Between Squamish and Kamloops, Highway 99 merges into Trans-Canada Highway 1.

Lots of switchbacks on the mountain roads once you’ve left the ocean portion of the drive
Views near Revelstoke
Above the town of Revelstoke (view from Mt. Revelstoke National Park)

One thing about Revelstoke is that is it known for its bears, as it is located in prime black and grizzly bear country. Although we didn’t see any in the town during our brief stay (except for a couple very stiff ones at the town gates) we did see black bears on multiple occasions during our trip. The bears were usually seen by the side of the highway, but we didn’t stop. Some tourists were doing so and even getting out of their cars, a dangerous thing to do with these animals. It’s important to have a healthy respect for their teeth and claws!

While staying in Revelstoke, we checked out nearby Revelstoke National Park as well as the nearby Revelstoke Dam.

Mt. Revelstoke National Park

There are two national parks between Revelstoke and Lake Louise: Glacier National Park and Yoho National Park. Glacier is known for its peaks as well as the turquoise waters of the lake. We’d like to do more of the hiking trails on a return trip.

Yoho was our last stop before crossing over into Alberta. At the southern end of Yoho National Park was Natural Bridge, a series of rapids leading to a uniquely-shaped bridge across the water.

The “N” shaped natural bridge

Besides the mountains and trails, there was impressive Takakkaw Falls, located on the eastern side of Yoho close to the Alberta border.

Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park

The weather was very changeable for August, with many warm and sunny days but some rainy ones as well. In the morning the mist would hang low in the surrounding mountains, adding to the mood. We spent a few weeks in the Rockies but could have spent more as there were no shortage of trails to explore.

Crossing into Alberta on a rainy day

Onward to Lake Louise! Part two will include the Alberta side of the trip, ending in Calgary.

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