When you go on an RV road trip in Canada, you’re guaranteed a great many memorable moments, whichever part of the country you visit. But when you drive through British Columbia and Alberta via the Rockies from Vancouver to Calgary these moments tumble over each other almost every hour. Here are just a few that stand out, but there were many more …
1. Walking in the desert at Osoyoos
The heat is the biggest surprise. The sun beats down as we walk though scrubby bushes and stunted trees. The heady scent from a herby shrub wafts past, bringing back vague memories of the wilder parts of Greece. Travel companion Ali is wearing a hat to keep cool as we walk through the desert. Yes, we’re in Canada, not a place you think of as really hot or with a desert, but at Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre we learn about this unique ecology and wildlife, including the Western Rattlesnake and the Cayote. We learn about the Osoyoos Indian Band, who run the Desert Centre and nearby RV Park and admire Smoker Marchand sculptures. It’s fascinating, surprising and very hot.
2. Eating cherries on the road
We buy a kilo of big, fat, sweet and oh so very juicy cherries from one of the farm shops along the Okanagan Valley. It’s late spring and the whole area is bursting with fresh fruit and vegetables in this very fertile part of southern Canada. We’ve been told to get the cherries as it’s the best crop for years. We’re on our way to the Rockies but have a long way to go and these deep red globes of delicious goodness keep us going all the way to Revelstoke. Fortunately there is a market and we can stock up again; luckily they last until our first glimpse of the Rockies.
3. The Pipe Mountain Coaster, Revelstoke
‘Keep off the brake. Don’t be a chicken!’ The words of the bearded Canadian guy in the queue, resound in my ears as I zoom down the sheer drop VERY fast. I desperately want to pull brake, but two things stop me.
- I’m worried I’m going so fast I’ll tip out
- I don’t want to be a chicken.
I’m on the Pipe Mountain Coaster in Revelstoke, British Columbia. Riding up in the gondola, the Monashee Mountains and Columbia River spread beneath us. Whizzing down the mountain, I’ve no time to look at the view. Fir trees flick past as the little cart twists, turns and at one point appears to shoot off the edge, accelerating past a ski run on its way down 1.4km of track at up to 26mph. All too soon, I’m at the end, exhilarated and wanting to do again – me no chicken!
4 BBQ at Dutch Lake Resort, Clearwater
The sound of wood chopping has stopped and there’s smoke wafting in through the door of the RV. Ali’s got the BBQ going and I’ve finished preparing the salad and opened a couple of beers. Beef burgers from a local butcher sizzle merrily on the metal rack we’ve just bought from Dutch Lake Resort shop. A couple of guys from the RV next door come over to chat whilst we wait for the burgers to cook. The sun’s setting over the lily-strewn lake and frogs start croaking in the shallows. The tantalizing smell of onions and burgers get the taste buds going. Love eating outdoors in Canada …
5. The Rockies from the top of Whistler Mountain
At last I’m here, on top of Whistler Mountain gazing out across the most famous mountains in North America. Their pointed tops ripple across the horizon, perfectly mountainy. Snow glitters in the late afternoon light and a ribbon of river ripples through the wooded valley. A lake of startling blue water glistens and winks upwards. Quirky Jasper town curves alongside the railway track and birds glide on the chilly thermals. Neither words nor photos can do justice to this awesome sight.
6. Relaxing by Medicine Lake
The calm waters ripple briefly as a duck floats serenely past. At the end of the lake tower the jaggy peaks of the Rockies, reflected in shimmering symmetry. I drink in the awe-inspiring natural beauty of Medicine Lake in the heart of Jasper National Park, in Alberta. Delicate white and yellow wild flowers bend their dainty heads in the gentle breeze and overhead a large bird wheels its way across the cloud-flecked sky; too far away to see if it’s a bald eagle. A stone lands with a resounding splash to my left and two children giggle; the spell is broken and it’s time to move on and explore more …
7. Driving the RV along the Icefields Parkway
After hundreds of miles we are finally driving along one of the world’s most spectacular roads, the Icefields Parkway, from Jasper to Banff. Every twist and turn reveals more mountains until we feel completely surrounded. We are running parallel to the Continental Divide from Jasper National Park to Banff National Park stopping off at the Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Pass, Stutfield and Athabasca Glaciers, Peyto Lake, Wildfowl Lake and Lake Louise. We see mountain goats, many birds, wild flowers and tourists. It could take us a few hours; it actually takes us all day, every mile a miracle of natural wonder and delight …
8. The unbelievable blue of Peyto Lake
You have to see it to believe it …
9. Cocktail at the Banff Springs Hotel
After all the driving, staying in campgrounds and sightseeing it’s so relaxing to have a Mojito on the terrace of the splendidly luxurious Banff Springs Hotel. With panoramic views of the Bow River and the Rocky Mountains, it’s a suitably fitting place to absorb scenery and reflect on our epic road trip through the Rockies …
10. To boldly go – to Vulcan
From the sublime to the … well, not ridiculous, but definitely surreal. Walking into a room with wall-to-wall costumes and artefacts from Star Trek, being shown round by a flamboyant and highly entertaining TV and movie enthusiast, dressed as a 19th C dandy cowboy, is a really quirky contrast to the natural wonders we have seen over the past couple of weeks. The Trekcetera Museum in Vulcan (the town name came first) has the largest collection of Trekkie memorabilia in Canada and we feel vaguely hysterical as we leave to find a bottle of wine for our last night sleeping in our trusty RV. Live long and prosper …
#ExploreCanada Road Trip
I visited British Columbia as a guest of Explore Canada as part of a Travelator Media campaign, driving the RV from Vancouver to Montreal. Many thanks to Alison Bailey for her unfailing good humour, practical advice and excellent driving. Much gratitude to all the people we met along the way who made it such a memorable trip.
Read more about our Canada RV road trip:
The Quirky Traveller: History in the Rocky Mountains
Heather on Her Travels: Foodie Adventures – Ontario and Quebec
Travel with Kat: Top 10 things to do in British Columbia
On the Luce: Calgary to Toronto – Unforgettable Moments
This was one of the toughest articles to write as there were so many different highlights to choose from. However, there was no contest for my favourite; sitting on tne shore of Medicine Lake, contemplating the majestic scenery all around.
Wow Zoe – I think you captured that all beautifully. I really felt like i was on that journey with you.
Thanks Nim – it was a pleasure to relive such a wonderful trip. Sure it would have been great fun if you had been there!
What a fantastic trip and some great memories. We’ve never been to Canada but reading this, and a couple of other articles on your Road Trip, it should be added to our holiday ideas!
Do hope you get there Charlie. Everyone should go to Canada at least once in their lifetime! The others on our RV trip also saw some amazing sights but I think we got the tops with the Rockies 😉
You’re so lucky to have such a great adventure! We wouldn’t be able to affordca road trip like this but I love being able to travel there with you in spirit ☺
Without doubt, one of the best road trips I’ve ever done Mary. I was very nervous about driving a big RV but it wasn’t too difficult. Glad to have along for the ride!
Amazing! Ten great highlights. Love to experience these too!
Fabulous blog post, Zoë. What an adventure! I love the way you describe… well, everything. And I can almost smell those burgers sizzling away.
What an eclectic mix of highlights, Zoe! Just goes to show how incredibly diverse Canada is. I was most surprised by the hot desert landscape at Osoyoos, most gleefully squealy about the Trekcetera Museum (diehard Trekkie that I am), and most impressed by your simple homage to Peyto Lake – I wholeheartedly concur that you do indeed have to see it to believe it!
Cheers Gary – sure you’d enjoy them, tho I’m not sure I can quite picture you with your feet up on a BBQ 😉 Canada has something for all tastes, ages and interests; hope you return someday soon.
Thank you so much Kat. The reason I write a blog is in the hope that it will encourage others to travel more and if that is not possible, then to enjoy the experiences from the comfort of their sofa!
Ah, you’d have loved this trip then, Sara! I gather Trekcetera is moving to another site in Alberta – won’t be quite the same not being in the quirky town of Vulcan 😉 Hope you boldy get there one day!
It’s amazing to see how diverse this area is – deserts, mountains and even a bit of outer space! There’s so much to see (and some great food too), I’m definitely adding this area to my travel wishlist.
As you say, Lucy, this is a really diverse area with so much to see and do. The foodie scene is a revelation and of course, eating out in the Canadian landscape is very appealing 🙂
So many quirky things – I’d love to see the views over Whistler from that cable car but not so sure I’m that much of a ‘trekkie’ even though I used to love Captain Kirk as a child
Yes Heather, the Trekcetera Museum is very Trekkie-centred! However, they have a whole section on Hollywood films as well, including Superman’s cape and also puppets from Thunderbirds, so it does have a more general appeal!
Looking at the photos brings back memories. Those cherries nom nom nom! Seeing Peyto Lake and the whole Icefields Parkway. Burgers done on a campfire. Rocky the RV … Can we do it again? 🙂
Wasn’t it a great trip Ali 🙂 Really enjoyed sharing it with you and would love to do it again!
Looks like a fantastic trip. You certainly covered some photogenic countryside!
It was really wonderful Stuart. One of the best trips I have ever done. Recommending it to everyone I meet!