Highlights from a (Canadian) Rocky Mountain Road Trip

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I've always had a thing for mountains.

Call it a love, call it an obsession, call it whatever you want — I get SO excited when I'm around snow-capped peaks.

Banff National Park

So when my friend Stephanie from Twenty-Something Travel invited me to join her for a leg of a relay road trip that would have us exploring the Canadian Rockies, there was no way I could say no.

The Great Coast Road Trip (sponsored by Coast Hotels) is a really cool concept — it's a massive road trip stretching across western Canada and all the way down into California. For about 5 days at a time, bloggers drive around in a bright purple Coast-branded car, exploring a specific part of either Canada or the U.S. Once they are done, they hand the car off to someone else, who continues on the adventure.

Great Coast Road Trip

Steph and I got the “Peak to Peak” leg of the Great Coast Road Trip. And, spoiler alert: I think it was one of the very best legs.

Banff National Park

I'll be writing more about driving through national parks, feeding grizzly bears, and paddleboarding on mountain lakes later, but for now I want to share the highlights of our 5-day leg of the Great Coast Road Trip.

National Parks

Our road trip technically began in Revelstoke, British Columbia, but we flew in to Calgary, Alberta, to pick up the car. Meaning that we had NO CHOICE (note: sarcasm) but to spend a day driving through the Rocky Mountains along the Trans-Canada highway. We stopped in the village of Banff, visited Lake Louise in Banff National Park, and made many photo stops in Yoho National Park at places like Emerald Lake and the spiral tunnels at Kicking Horse Pass. This was by far one of the prettiest drives I've taken in a long time.

Banff, Alberta, Canada

Lake Louise in Banff National Park

Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park

Natural Bridge in Yoho National Park

Revelstoke

We ended our long drive in Revelstoke, a little ski town on the edge of Canada's Glacier National Park. We split our time here between relaxation and adventure. We relaxed in our hotel's ski-lodge-like atmosphere, and also in Revelstoke's adorable downtown area. And we got our heartrates pumping at Sky Trek, where we took on a challenging high ropes course.

Revelstoke, British Columbia

Revelstoke, British Columbia

Sky Trek in Revelstoke, British Columbia

Kamloops

From Revelstoke, we were treated to a surprisingly gorgeous afternoon drive to the city of Kamloops. Neither of us had ever heard of this place before (and yes, we may have spent some time making fun of its name…), but it turned out to be one of our favorite stops! We were treated to two fantastic meals by Chef Romeo Oloresisimo of the Coast Kamloops hotel — one pan-Asian tasting menu for dinner, and one lunch at Harper's Trail Winery that ended with fresh ice cream made with liquid nitrogen. We also visited the BC Wildlife Park in Kamloops, which is a conservation and rehabilitation center for animals native to British Columbia. There, we got to meet Clover, a rare “spirit bear” (AKA a blonde black bear), got to go behind the scenes with one of the vets to see how she feeds and trains wolves and badgers, and even got to hand-feed carrots to grizzly bears!

Pan-Asian Tasting Menu at Coast Kamloops Hotel

Harpers Trail Winery in Kamloops, British Columbia

Clover the Spirit Bear at BC Wildlife Park

Feeding a grizzly bear at BC Wildlife Park

Sun Peaks

We didn't really want to bid Kamloops farewell, but on Saturday afternoon we did, making for the ski resort of Sun Peaks. The town was eerily quiet in late May (summer season doesn't start here until June), but we still took a turn around town in a horse-drawn carriage, and enjoyed a morning paddle boarding lesson on Lake Heffley with Bodie of Paddle Surfit. We were kind of dreading the morning on the lake, mostly because the weather forecast was calling for cold and rain. Thankfully, we were met with sun — and neither on of us fell in!

Sun Peaks, British Columbia

Carriage ride in Sun Peaks, British Columbia

Sun Peaks, British Columbia

Paddleboarding on Lake Heffley

Kelowna

Our adventure ended in the lakeside town of Kelowna. We didn't get to do much here except wander around downtown Kelowna and the shores of Lake Okanagan in between thunderstorms. But it was actually the perfect way to end our adventure.

Lake Okanagan in Kelowna, BC

Lake Okanagan

Downtown Kelowna, British Columbia

Waterfront Park along Lake Okanagan in Kelowna, BC

Think this trip sounds like fun?

Here's the route we took:

Great Coast Road Trip Peak to Peak leg

And great news! You can actually WIN this leg of of the Great Coast Road Trip! Here are the contest details. If you enter, be sure to let me know! (You can actually win any leg of the trip, but let's be honest… our leg is the one you want to win!)

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Which part of this road trip do you want to read more about?

 

 

*Disclaimer: This trip was sponsored by Coast Hotels (and Zipcar), though I was technically just the +1 and was not obligated to write a thing about it. All opinions are completely my own.

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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44 Comments on “Highlights from a (Canadian) Rocky Mountain Road Trip

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  1. Glad you guys had such a great time in our ol’ stomping grounds! Love that second photo, it looks like you have to paddle your car through the mountains. 🙂

      Yes, we loved it! Banff was even better than I expected, and all the small towns we had never heard of before really surprised us!

      And haha, paddling our car would have been interesting!

    I’m in love with the Canadian Rockies but I’ve only seen them in Winter, driving through them in spring sounds awesome.
    I spent a winter just near Kelowna, isn’t it stunning?

      Spring was a great time of year to drive through. Still some snow on the mountains, but comfortable temperatures and hardly any tourists!

      And yes, Kelowna was beautiful!

    I love this!! Almost makes me wish I was back in Canada so I could do a leg of this trip 🙂 Interesting to see these places in the spring…I’ve only been to most of them in the snow.

      I’m sure they are beautiful in the snow. … But I was quite happy to be a little warmer! Haha. Great trip.

    Beautiful pictures and you covered quite a distance. I see no mention of Jasper? The drive from Banff to Jasper is one of the best. We hired a car from Banff and traveled all the to Jasper, about 4 hours journey with fantastic views. Couple of days later we were heading back to return the car and carry on our journey but it was snowing. We decided to stop in a small corner shop run by old Korean couple to buy some snacks for the road. They start asking us who are you, where are you going and so on. We told them that we were going back to Banff with our rented car. They looked at us with that stupid tourists amazement and told us that it would be near suicide in this snow. They told us that we can drop the car in Jasper branch of the car hire and take the overnight bus. We had a great time and love to do it again. Thanks for bringing back my memories.

      Yeah, unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to go to Jasper. Our road trip technically started in Revelstoke, and so we probably weren’t even supposed to spend as much time in Banff as we did. 😉 But, since we had to drive through anyway, we figured we may as well do some sightseeing!

      Definitely would NOT have wanted to drive some of those roads in the snow, though!

    Awesome!! The paddle boarding looks particularly gorgeous! We’re gearing up for our own leg of the #GreatCoastRoadTrip and we are so so so excited!! Canada here we come! 🙂

      I hope you have a great time!

    This looks amazing. I’ve been wanting to spend more time in Canada recently — I’ve only been to Toronto. And Banff is definitely on my list. Hopefully I’ll be going to BC this summer!

    Also, the picture of you two SUPing is GORGEOUS.

      I’ve been trying to see more and more of Canada in the past few years (I’ve been doing, on average, at least 2 trips to Canada per year), and I LOVE it. It’s a lot like the US in that there’s so much variety!

      And Banff should definitely be on your list. It’s gorgeous! I want to go back in the summer now to see the lakes un-frozen!

    Your photos are absolutely stunning. I can’t believe I haven’t visited Canada yet. Your post has definitely convinced me. I’d love to go in the fall or next spring. Thanks for sharing!

    Happy travels 🙂

      You’ve never been to Canada? Like, ever?? You must go!!!

      Fall or spring I think are great seasons. I would go in late summer/early fall to this part of Canada next time, to see the lakes un-frozen!

    Your photos are so travel drool-worthy! I love the one of the big bear in which he has his dinner in his mouth. This region of the world looks so stunning, I need to get there for sure!

      Thanks, Julie! This part of Canada is certainly drool-worthy!

    Hey, it’s not everyday you drive a purple car! 🙂

      Haha, no it is not! It was a fun car to drive.

    I’ve been obsessed with visiting the Canadian Rockies lately! The scenery looks so incredible in places like Banff. It’s cool that you guys got to see some of the less well-known towns in the area as well. Love the SUP photo!

      The scenery IS really incredible. At times it reminded me a lot of New Zealand, which is saying something!

      And yeah, going to some (okay, a LOT) of towns we hadn’t heard of before was great! They all surprised us.

    That is so cool that you got to see a spirit bear, that is a dream of mine and I am hoping to see one in the wild when I am in Northern BC next year (if all goes to plan). I love the Rockies and the BC Interior, such a gorgeous place 🙂

      It WAS very cool – we were very lucky to see him, as we were told he is quite shy and doesn’t always come out. He was beautiful – it would be amazing to see one in the wild! I hope you get the chance to!

    How cool that you got to see a spirit bear. Love driving through BC – the route you took is definitely a stunning one.

      The route was simply stunning! I would definitely highly recommend it to anyone.

    Your face in that picture says it all; super excited.

    Have you ever been to Plitvice in Croatia? Emerald Lake reminds me a lot of it.

    I’m a little bit in love with Clover

    How did you get on with paddle boarding? Have you tried it before? I am dying to give it a go somewhen.

    Write more about the bears, and the paddleboarding 😀

      I have not been to Plitvice yet!

      The paddleboarding was fun. And yes, I’ve tried it before – in Florida, though, in the ocean, which is much different than a calm lake! I really love it. It takes some getting used to as far as balancing goes, but it’s a GREAT workout. I’ll definitely be writing more about it (and the bears!).

    I would LOVE to take this trip!!!

    So glad you had a great time! 🙂

      You should totally enter the contest then, Helen!! It was so much fun. I’m looking forward to writing more about it later this week!

    […] lucky enough to have a special behind-the-scenes visit to the BC Wildlife Park as part of my leg of the Great Coast Road Trip. Over the course of about an hour and a half, road trip buddy Stephanie and I got a unique […]

    […] a whole day driving through some of Canada’s most stunning national parks as part of the Great Coast Road Trip — from Calgary (Alberta) to Revelstoke (British Columbia), we drove through not one, not two, […]

    Your photos look amazing! Makes me want to go there right now. Thanks for sharing.

    Pictures are amazing, this post is amazing, thanks so much for documenting your awesome trip to the canadian rockies! I think it is so cool that you were able to experience so much beauty and serenity in one beautiful place. I am like you, there is just something about the mountains, the lakes, nature in general that puts me at ease and makes me beyond happy. Thanks for sharing!

      Thanks so much, Larissa! This sure is one beautiful part of the world.

    This is definitely somewhere I’d love to visit. Some really beautiful shots in here. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      It’s my favorite part of Canada I’ve been to so far!

    Banff is a magical spot no matter the season! Summer or Winter you’re surrounded by beauty! As a photographer the area is a favorite and i always come away with amazing images! Plus… 2017 is free access!

      Yes it’s definitely a very special spot. You can never really go wrong with mountains and alpine lakes!

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