From all of our years camping in beautiful British Columbia and Alberta, and receiving a lot of valuable feedback from all our guests, we honestly consider the following "the most popular tour". It truly is one of the most diverse and beautiful scenic tours of West Canada. The tour starts and returns in Vancouver, Bristish Columbia. You may decide to adapt the route depending on your personal preferences / additions, but in general this "the route" that gives you some of the best highlights of Western Canada... in just a few weeks! If you would like to visit Vancouver Island, check out the tour called: West Coast Adventure , all the best Vancouver Island has to offer. Plus the Sunshine Coast. If you prefer to make a focused and fast trip, consider our One Way Tour!
Most of this route detailed, with some "major must-sees" added. If you follow our advise, we are certain you will have a great time camping in Canada. Of course, we all have our own preferences, styles and tastes. Some people are attracted to absolute wilderness - something you definitely will find, others may prefer the famous natural parks like Banff NP and Jasper NP. A family with children will certainly enjoy Wells Gray Provincial Park and the Okanagan region. One of our favourite places, is Yoho National Park. Yoho is usually less crowded (compared to other places in the Rockies like Lake Louise), but also has stunning landscapes. In truth, it is all absolutely worthwhile.
For this camping tour you will need at least 2 weeks. Three weeks, or more would be better. Most guests taking the tour felt that it is better to stay at a few locations for a few days, instead trying to see it all, with "short term overnights/ stop-and-go's".
The total driving distance for the entire tour is around 2500 KMs. (Driving here and there, shopping, sight-seeing...etc).
We would be very happy to receive feedback from you! We hope you enjoy the best camping tour of Western Canada as much as we do.
Vancouver is a vibrant North American city and often named as one of "the most livable cities in the world". Child friendly parks, fine art, great dining, colourful markets, good shopping and more ...all within the city limits.
North and West Vancouver have a more adventurous appeal. You only have to cross the Lions Gate Bridge and you immerse yourself in the west coast wilderness. A little more daring than its counterpart, (the Capilano Suspension Bridge), the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge offers a rustic and jiggling adventure. The wooden plank bridge was built in 1912 and is just wide enough for two people to pass each other. It is located 166 feet over the beautiful clear pools and rivers of Lynn Creek and is situated within a 616 acre rainforest.
Capilano Suspension Bridge is one of Vancouver’s most popular tourist attractions. The reason is simple, there are so many things to see and do! Just minutes from the bustle of downtown Vancouver. Near Richmond (south of Vancouver) and Delta you’ll find a historic fishing village and a fantastic sanctuary for migratory birds. Buy fresh fish on the dock and tour the historic cannery, a National Heritage Site.
Credit: Tourism Vancouver
Upon arrival at Vancouver airport, you may decide to stay in a hotel, B&B in Vancouver, or you can drive to a nice campground only 30 km south of Vancouver and the airport. This is the best campground in close vicinity to Vancouver, with good facilities including: a swimming pool and free Wi-Fi access. Even though the campground is not in the forest or directly in the mountains, it is a perfect launching point to see Vancouver, and it saves you on expensive Vancouver hotel prices. The campground is 5 minutes away from the city of Whiterock, a city beautifully located at the ocean with beautiful sandy beaches.
Manning Provincial Park is a truly beautiful provincial park located in the heart of the Cascade Mountains. E.C. Manning PC is named after E. C. Manning, Chief Forester of British Columbia from 1936 - 1941. The park has a large variety of walking and hiking trails which range from a 30 minute walk to a 7 day hike. It is a very large park (Over 70,844 hectares).
The park is one of the most popular destination areas in British Columbia, because of its natural beauty and diversity of flora and fauna.
In E.C. Manning Park, there are four campgrounds with a total of 355 sites: One campground (Lightning Lake) has only reserve able campsites. Note that only this campground has a showers facility. For reservations go to www.discovercamping.ca or call 1-800-689-9025. All other campsites are on first-come, first-served basis.
The route from Manning Provincial Park to Osoyoos in the Okanagan is fabulous. Leaving Manning Park, the first town you pass is Princeton. Princeton is a beautiful place in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains and at the junction of the Tulameen and Similkameen rivers. In case you plan to stay for a few days in Princeton, there are plenty of hotels and motels in and around the town. Best to visit the Visitor Information Centre in Princeton for an extensive directory: Address: 105 Highway 3, Princeton, phone (250) 295-3103.
Leaving Penticton you soon arrive in Hedley & Bromley Rock. Bromley Rock is located 21 km east of Princeton and about 15 km west of Hedley. The area of Bromley Rock is known because of the massive holes in the rocks in the Similkameen River (swimming holes). You can find them especially between Princeton and Keremeos, but the Bromley Rock Provincial Park is the best area. Another fun attraction in Bromley Rock & Hedley is floating down the Similkameen river on an inner tube. Note that the river runs during periods very fast. Check at the Bromley Rock Provincial Park for detailed information where you can experience this (it can be great fun for young and old).
This area is also known for its gold-exploration. Explore how gold was mined and visit the old gold mines with the mascot gold mine tours.
5800 Highway 3, Hedley, BC V0X 1K0 - (250) 292-8733
Bromley Rock Provincial Park is a relatively small campground, consisting of 17 vehicle accessible campsites (none reserve able) and the park is year-round accessible with full-service and fees from April 17- September 27. Half the campground is on the riverside south of Highway 3, the other half on the North side of Highway 3.
At Stemwinder Provincial Park, you can also find a campground close to the Similkameen River with 17 campsites that are not reserve able (first-come, first serve).
As you continue driving to Osoyoos and you enter the Thomson-Okanagan region, you enter the warmest area of Canada. This region is famous for its great, majestic lakes, quality wineries, ciders and fruit production. There are so many glorious ranges of mountains, blue lakes with sandy beaches, pine forests, abundant flower gardens and vineyards. Here you will find the cities of Penticton, Kelowna and rural towns of Oliver and Osoyoos. This region has basically everything you can look for: In the south you find the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys where it is one of the warmest places in Canada with over 2000 hours of sunshine every year. The Okanagan are known for its hot and endless summer, while the cloudy winters are short and moderate. The Okanagan Valley is really dry and the calmest wind area in whole Canada.
Driving the camping route described (from direction of Keremeos, not in the map), you will find Osoyoos just 4 kilometers north of the US border (49th parallel). Osoyoos has only about 6000 inhabitants, but in the summer it multiplies due to all the visitors. Osoyoos is the warmest city in Canada (average temperature in July is 29 Celsius, 84 Fahrenheit). The Osoyoos Lake is the warmest lake water in Canada and a great place for water recreational activities, camping and enjoying a nice wine. It does not rain a lot and all factors combined you are amazed to be in Canada, a country you expect to be colder. Instead you find here the only desert in Canada with all flora and fauna you expect of a desert (like the cactus and scorpion).
You will see how typical the area looks, but this is one of the reasons why this camping route is so diverse. This region is for a clear reason also the most desirable climate of Canada. Since Okanagan summers are so hot, it great to have so many lakes and beaches nearby. Around Osoyoos, the lakes are also the warmest of Canada. During a normal summer, the water is of great temperature and remains warm enough to enjoy swimming till late October.
Just east of the town of Osoyoos, you find Anarchist Mountain. A scenic lookout that takes visitors from 300 meter to 1400 meter for spectacular views of the Okanagan Valley and part of Washington state. Coming from Osoyoos, from the bridge on highway 3, you drive east on Highway 3 as it winds its way up the mountain in a series of sharp turns (when you travel with a large motor-home, you may not like this road). Along the way, there are 2 parking spots where you can safely park your vehicle and take in the awesome views of the valley and Lake Osoyoos. This is a great place to take photos early in the morning as the sun rises over your shoulder and shows the beauty of the valley oasis in Canada's only desert. You can also see across the US Border into Washington State.
Coming from Osoyoos on highway 3, travelling west for about 8 KMs after the crossing with highway 97. Here you will find Spotted Lake. Spotted lake is a rare natural phenomenon covering about 15 hectares. The lake is containing one of the world's highest concentrations of minerals: magnesium sulphate, calcium and sodium sulphates and other minerals. The lake was a sacred place to the Natives because of its healing power. During the summer the lake dries out and the mud forms into white, yellow, green and blue circles depending on its mineral composition. In the past few years there has been quite some battle to explore the lake as the minerals are quite worthy for health products. These days, the lake is owned by the Osoyoos Indian Band and there is a fence around the lake, so you can’t get too close, but it absolutely worth taking a look.
These places are the home of many great wineries open for tour visiting and wine tasting.
During the summer the campgrounds around Osoyoos will be rather busy. In case you like to stay overnight during the summer months in Osoyoos and you did not make a reservation in advance, then try the Nk Mip campground (website: www.campingosoyoos.com, as this is one of the larger campground (and on your way you could check out one of the other campgrounds that you will pass when driving to the Nk Mip campground). When these are no campsite spots here, the best alternative is to drive further north - between Oliver and Okanagan Lake - where it is less crowded and still ok for a day visit to Osoyoos.
Just a few miles north of Osoyoos you find the town Oliver. Oliver with only 4000 inhabitants was only established in 1921, so a very young town. With a dozen wineries within a dozen kilometers, Oliver names itself the Wine Capital of Canada. Okanagan Falls is situated north of Oliver, at the point where there used to be 2 waterfalls (from Shaka Lake) flowing water into the Okanagan River. Today, the twin falls has been replaced by water control dams.
One of the best places to stay is the Okanagan Falls Provincial Park Campground. This is a popular but also small campground with only 25 camp sites. It is hard to get a spot in the summer unless you have made a reservation in advance (which you can do via website: www.discovercamping.ca). Directions: Off highway 97 in Okanagan Falls towards Green Lake Road.
From the Okanagan you drive north, passing the city of Kelowna towards the city of Revelstoke and Glacier National Park. Kelowna is a nice city with 115,000 inhabitants. It’s the largest and fastest growing city in the Okanagan and the region’s cultural and economic hub. It is also a very nice area to spend some time or you can decide to camp a few miles north, for example in Vernon, a city just a little north of Kelowna at one of the great lakes in the Okanagan.
As you continue driving north, you notice that the scenery changes rapidly around you. As you approach the town of Revelstoke, you surely feel that you are at the gateway to the Canadian Rockies. Revelstoke is one of my favourite towns in this part of BC. It is a nice place to spend a day (tip: they have a very good Italian Restaurant in the town centre).
Trans-Canada Hwy West, Revelstoke, BC V0E 2S0
Directions: On TransCanada Highway, 5 kilometer west of Revelstoke (coming from Sicamous) Hospitable campground, great for families, with pool, playground, electric RV hookups, tenting area, washrooms, free Wi-Fi, cabins for rent.
3069 TransCanada highway west, Revelstoke, BC V0E2S0 - (250) 837-4420
Directions: Just before Revelstoke on the TransCanada Highway (Highway 1) Beautiful RV park with pool.
1760 Nixon, Revelstoke, BC V0E 2S0 - (250) 837-3385
Directions: From Highway 1, right exit just before the bridge in Revelstoke. Friendly campground with electric hook-up’s and tent area place, pets are welcome. Clean, heated washrooms & showers, fire pits, volleyball, playground and Wi-Fi (free)/ Internet Corner.
Revelstoke BC Canada V0E 2S0 Phone: (250) 837-2085
Large family oriented campground with a heated pool (June through August), cabins, playground and almost 200 RV and tenting sites. Here you can also rent Teepees (tip!) for overnight or rent a cabin. Directions: The Revelstoke KOA is located 3 miles east of Revelstoke on the Trans-Canada Highway (highway 1). On the road there is a KOA billboard sign. Follow exit south for 900 meters on gravel road.
1818 Williamson Lake Road, Revelstoke, Canada, V0E 2S0, Phone (250) 837-5512
Located just 5 km south of city centre, at the beautiful lake. 40 sites campground. Offers tenting facilities and full (hook up) services. A nice family campground (with a playground) where you can swim, go to the beach and go boating. Directions: From the West entrance to Revelstoke: Atter the bridge, first right exit to Victoria Street. From the stop sign, go straight 1 km. Turn left onto 4th Street and go for about 3.5 km. You find Williamson Lake campground on your left side with a sign.
Glacier National Park is an absolutely beautiful place and you have to spend at least 2 days there to get a bit a feel for its beauty.
The following 3 campsites in Glacier Natural Park are all located in Rogers Pass National Historic Site (nr 1 -3 in the map), nearby the road of the old abandoned railway. This is the place to be if you like to see and enjoy the nature of Glacier Natural Park as part of your tour. I definitely recommend to stay on one of these campsites and to enjoy one or more of the many day hikes which take you up to the glacier summit. Also ensure that you don’t miss the Rogers Pass National Historic Site (visit the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre). Between the campgrounds run the 1885 rail line and you can see the remains of the railway and bridges. These 3 campgrounds located at the Selkirk Mountains are managed and maintained by Park Canada. Camping at all three campgrounds is available on a first come, first served basis.
The Illecillewaet campground has a registration office at the entrance of the campground. When camping at the Mount Sir Donald and Loop Brook Campgrounds, just drive in, and find a free spot. You recognise free spots by the lack of registration documents posted on the right side of each campsite (motorhomes may be absent, but still occupy a campsite). Parks Canada staff will visit Loop Brook and Mount Sir Donald in the early evening to register campers. The campgrounds are absolutely great for your real Canadian mountain experience. They are in the middle of the nature with nice small river flow nearby. Please keep in mind that at these Natural Park Campground there are no showers and no electricity hook-ups. Only a few campsites are fit for large motorhomes.
The Mount Sir Donald Campground is the first campground you will pass when driving from Revelstoke direction. Then the campground is on your right side. This campsite is rather small and it is the low-cost alternative compared the other 2 campgrounds. It offers 15 primitive but decent campsites during July and August. This campsite has no flush toilets and no fire pits. Cost of the campground is approx. 15.70$ (date 2016)
Loop Brook Campground is the second campsite on your right when coming from Revelstoke (5 km west of the summit), situated just 1 km after the Mount Sir Donald campground. It offers 20 campsites and is open till early September (Labour Day). This campsite has flush toilets and fire pits. Cost of the campground is approx. 21.50$ (2016)
Illecillewaet campground is the last campground on your right when coming from Revelstoke (3 km west of the summit). It offers 60 campsites and is open from late June till early September. It has a staffed office when entering. This campsite has flush toilets and fire pits. Cost of the campground is approx. 21.50$ (2016).
Yoho National Park is really magnificent. Spectacular snow peaked summits and glacier lakes. Yoho is also known for its special flora and fauna. You really can find the largest variety of animals and vegetation in this region.
Yoho NP is also known for the historical spiral tunnels centennial. The story goes back to 1871 when the Canadian Pacific Railway worked on a railway solution to connect British Columbia with the rest of Canada. The only huge problem was that this railway needed to pass some major mountain ridges including the Rocky Mountains. At the Kicking Horse Pass they ran into some serious technical issues. The Canadian Pacific railway did not succeed to find a solution that would make it possible for the trains to pass as the grade just was too steep at Kicking Horse Pass.
At some point, they came to a temporarily solution which allowed a grade of 4.5%. However the first train to attempt the hill derailed and killed three workers. The Canadian Pacific Railway worked for long on efforts for improvements, and some solutions solved partly some problems but many problems and accidents remained. In the end, the only solution that did work was a more gradual grade and this solution came from Mr. Schwitzer, an assistant Chief Engineer: the Spiral Tunnels. The spiral tunnels were finished in 1909.
Viewpoints of the spiral tunnels:
- Lower Spiral tunnel: 7.4-km east of Field on the Trans-Canada Highway (Mount Ogden).
- The Upper Spiral Tunnel: Cathedral Mountain from the pull-off 2.3-km up the Yoho Valley Road.
On average 25-30 trains per day pass the Spiral Tunnels, so you should have a good chance to see one passing.
Mid-sized basic campground with 62 sites in a magnificent mountain area, located 1 km west of Hoodoo Creek Campground (West of Highway 1). The Campground is named after the nearby Chancellor Peak with a height of 3280 m. Facilities: Dry toilets, fire pits (no showers).
Campground is open from June 5 – September 7, depending on the weather. Fees 17.60$ (2016)
Small Campground with 30 sites, located at the Coodoo Creek, just after Chancellor Peak Campground to the East side of Highway 1 (Trans-Canada Highway). Facilities: Dry toilets, sani-dump station (no fire pits, no showers).
Campground is open from June 5 – September 7, depending on the weather. Fees 15.70$ (2016)
Small Campground with 44 sites, located 3 km east of the Town of Field on the Yoho Valley Road. Great location if you plan to do one of the few great hikes (Lake O’Hara, Iceline trail, Emerald Lake). Facilities: Dry toilets, kitchen shelter with wood stove, sani-dump station (no fire pits, no showers).
Campground is open from June 5 – September 7, depending on the weather. Fees 17.60$ (2016)
Largest campground in Yoho with 88 sites and best facilities (and the only campground with showers). Also a great campground location if you plan to do one of the few great hikes (Lake O’Hara, Iceline trail, Emerald Lake). Facilities: Flush toilets, showers, sani-dump station, fire pits, wheelchair accessible washroom, outdoor theatre with great interpretive programs (education programs for kids and adults about Yoho’s nature and history) during the summer season.
Campground is open from May 14 – October 5, depending on the weather. Fees 27.40$ (2016)
Beautiful small walk-in tent-only campground with 35 sites and basic facilities (walk-in: you have to leave your car at the parking lot and you can only take all your camping gear to your campsite). Campground is located at the top of the Takakkaw Falls road (approx. 300 meters from the Takakkaw Falls parking lot). The switchbacks in the road to the campground do not allow cars with trailers to drive up this road. This campground is a perfect location to see the Takakkaw Falls and to hike to magnificent Iceline Trail (one of the top Canadian Rockies trail, see description). About 10 sites out of the 35, have really a marvelous view on the Takakkaw Falls (the other sites are a little more surrounded with trees) Facilities: Dry toilets, fire pits (no showers).
Campground is open from June 19 – September 30, depending on the weather. Fees 17.60$ (2009).
In the fall of 1883, three Canadian Pacific Railway construction workers stumbled across a cave containing hot springs on the eastern slopes of Alberta's Rocky Mountains. From that humble beginning was born Banff National Park, Canada's first national park and the world's third. Spanning 6,641 square kilometres (2,564 square miles) of valleys, mountains, glaciers, forests, meadows and rivers, Banff National Park is one of the world's premier destination spots.
When planning to stay in Banff, or Lake Louise, you should consider that it may be quite busy. If you are looking for some peace and quiet, we advise you to camp in one of the smaller campgrounds a bit further away (for example Two Jack Lakeside Campground (with hot showers) or Two Jack Main campground.
There are 7 campgrounds in Banff National Park that can be reserved in advance: 5 in Banff town area (Tunnel Mountain Village 1 campground, TM Village 2, TM Trailer court, Two Jake Lakeside, and Two Jack Main), Johnston Canyon Campground and 2 in Lake Louise (Lake Louise Trailer + Tent campground).
Please note that there is a $8.80 fire permit required for all open pit fires in Banff NP.
Online reservations for campgrounds in Banff NP can be made here: https://reservation.pc.gc.ca
Banff’s largest campground with 618 sites. A great location close to Banff (4 km East of Banff town) where you have the option to reserve a campsite. The sites vary widely in quality. Some are secluded, some have views, some are really nice spots and some are not so great, but still ok. Facilities: There are no electricity or sewage hook-ups. The campground has good washroom buildings with flush toilets and showers. Also dump station, fire pits, firewood, and public telephones.
Campground is open from beginning of May 1 – October 1, depending on the weather. Fees $27.40 (2016).
Campground with 188 sites and all with electricity hook-up. This campground can partly be reserved. This campground is often very busy as this campground is much smaller than the other 2 Banff campgrounds and this campground is nicely located near Banff town (2.4 km from Banff town). Facilities: Electricity only, (no sewage hook-up), good washroom buildings with flush toilets and showers, dump station. No open campfires on the site permitted. (But fires can be made in the stoves in the camp shelters).
Campground is open Year round. Fees $32.30 (2016)
Campground for trailers/RVs/Motor-homes with 321 sites and all with full hook-ups. Campsites can accommodate units up to 50 feet in length. It is possible to reserve a campsite in advance. This campground also is mostly very busy as it has all facilities. Facilities: Full hook-ups, good washroom buildings with flush toilets and showers, dump station. NO open campfires on the site permitted. (But fires can be made in the stoves in the camp shelters).
Campground is open from May 1- October 1 (depending on weather). Fees $38.20 (2016)
This campground with 380 sites is a great campground if you like to visit Banff but you prefer some quiet campground. This campsite is 13 km East of Banff and is situated on the scenic Minnewanka Lake loop drive (wildlife is abundant here). It does offer great views and is a great campground, though if you can get a campsite at the Two Jack Lakeside (with only 74 spots) try that first. Facilities: Flush toilets, Dump station, fire pits (no showers).
Campground is open from June 23 to September 4. Fees $21.50 (2016). It is possible to reserve a campsite in advance.
This campground with only 74 sites is a great and quiet campground (with showers). The best place if you like to visit Banff but you prefer some quiet and beautiful campground. It is great awakening with the flowing sound of water. The area has some great views. Facilities: Flush toilets, showers, dump station, fire pits.
Campground is open from May 26 - October 4, depending on the weather. Fees 27.40$ (2016). -- RESERVE THESE SPOTS BEFORE MAY 1st--
Remote beautiful campground on the Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A) with 132 sites, 25 km West of Banff. This campground is situated next to the Johnston Creek with awesome scenery (two waterfalls nearby) and wildlife. Facilities: Flush toilets, showers, dump station, fire pits (no showers).
Campground is open from May 26 - September 25, depending on the weather. Fees $27.40 (2016).
Small Campground on the Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A) with 43 sites in great scenic area. Hint: This is a very good location to camp a few days and explore most of Banff National Park (especially if you are with a tent and don’t like to move around every day: spend a day hiking (or two) in Banff (30 minutes’ drive) and a day (or two) in Lake Louise, next to the great trails of Castle Mountain). Facilities: Flush toilets, fire pits (no showers).
Campground is open from May 15-September 25, depending on the weather. Fees $21.50 (2016). All sites are available first come, first serve basis.
Remote and basic campground on the Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A) with 89 sites. Just like Castle Mountain, this campground is a strategic location to explore Banff National Park from one campground. Facilities: Flush toilets, fire pits (no showers).
Campground is open from June 26-September 1, depending on the weather. Fees $21.50 (2016). All sites are available first come, first serve basis.
Campground for trailers/RVs/Motor-homes with 189 sites in the summer period and 30 sites in winter (open year round) and all with electricity only hook-ups. Campground is not directly at Lake Louise, but a short walk away. Without reservations you will have a reasonable chance to find a spot (assuming not arriving in the weekend). Reservations can be made for this campground (www.pccamping.ca).
Campground usually very busy as it has all facilities. Facilities: Electric hook-ups, good washroom buildings with flush toilets and showers, dump station. Open Year Round. Fees $32.30 (2016)
A tent only campground with 206 sites in Lake Louise. To protect the bears in the area, Park Canada has built an electric fence around the campground. Reservations can be made for this campground (www.pccamping.ca). Facilities: Flush toilets, piped hot and cold water, showers, kitchen shelters, fire rings and firewood, recycling bins, food storage.
Campground is open from May 30-September 27, depending on the weather. Fees $27.40 (2016)
Campground with 32 sites at the foot of Mount Hector (great views). 24 km north-West of Lake Louise on the Icefields Parkway. Great location to visit Helen Lake, Crique Peak or Bow Peak (Tip: Helen Lake Trail, one of the top hikes in Banff Natural Park). Facilities: dry toilets, well water by hand pump, kitchen shelter with wood cook stove, fire rings and firewood.
Campground is open year-round, Fees: $17.60. All sites are available first come, first serve basis.
Mid-sized campground with 116 sites on the Icefield Parkway 57 km North-West of Lake Louise. This really nice campground is situated in a stunning nice area. The sites are surrounded by trees, at the river and Waterfowl Lake. There is great open area towards the lakefront (for playing and games etc.). Facilities: Flush toilets, Sani-dump station, fire pits (no showers).
Campground is open from June 24-September 5, depending on the weather. Fees: $21.50. All sites are available first come, first serve basis.
Rampart Creek Campground is a small (50 sites) campground located near the Columbia Icefields and close to the Saskatchewan River. Facilities: Dry toilets, Sani-dump station, fire pits (no showers).
Campground is open from June 1-October 10, depending on the weather. Fees: $17.60. All sites are available first come, first serve basis.
Photo Credit: Travel Alberta/ Sean Thonson
The Icefields Parkway, officially known as Highway 93, runs from Lake Louise to Jasper. Every inch of it is breathtaking. It is a long drive that easily takes 4-5 hours (without stopping). Our advice is to plan a full day, or a couple of days for it (we can recommend some fabulous day-hikes along the Icefields Parkway). Try to leave early in the morning to catch all the wildlife (bears) grazing along the way.
(By early we mean: be on the road by 7-8 am.)
The following campgrounds are managed and maintained by Parks Canada. Opening dates depend on the shoulder-season weather. The campground rates are always for a group of up to 6 people (fixed rate).
Important: There are 3 campgrounds that are tents only: Columbia Icefields (2), Snaring River (10) , Jonas Creek (4). Even in the high season, it should be possible for tenters to find a campground with a spot, even though you may end up in the overflow site of a campground. If you are looking for a hot shower, you have to go to Whistler (9) or Wapiti Campground (8). Best chance without a reservation is Wapiti as they have 322 tents only sites. Ensure you arrive on time (before 2pm) to get a spot.
You can also reserve in advance: https://reservation.pc.gc.ca or call +1 877 737 3783.
107 km south of Jasper on Icefield Parkway. Nice tents-only campground with 46 sites at beginning of Jasper close to the Columbia Icefield (ideal to visit longer the Columbia Icefields). Also great location when you plan to do the Nigel Pass trail and the Parker ridge trail (or even the Wilcox Pass/peak trail). Note that it can become pretty cold in this area of the Rockies. Facilities are limited to camp fires (you need these to stay warm), pit toilets and a sani-dump station. Compared, it is a laid-back and not too busy campground.
Campground is open from beginning of June-Mid October, depending on the weather. Fees 15.70$ (2016)
105 km south of Jasper on Icefield Parkway. Campground is close to Columbia glacier and it offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and glacier (views are a bit better than at Wilcox creek campground). It is a small, but popular campground with only 34 sites so you have to get there early. Just as Wilcox Creek it can get pretty cold, but it is a great location when you plan to do the Icefield trails nearby (Nigel Pass, Parker ridge trail, Wilcox Pass) or just enjoy the views (also the stars at night).
Campground is open from mid-May-Mid October, depending on the weather. Fees 15.70$ (2016)
RV Campground with overflow capacity. Basic facilities only (no electricity hook-ups, no showers). Great location to visit Icefields.
Campground is open from beginning April-end October. Fees 15.70$ (2016)
Small quiet campground located along the Jonas creek. Only 25 sites on first come first served basis (no reservations possible). Basic facilities only (no electricity, no showers, no sani-dump station). You have to register yourself. Fire pits and wood available at fee ($8.80/night, includes firewood). Dry toilets available. 78 km south of Jasper on highway 93.
Campground is open from May 15-September 7 (depending on weather). Fees 15.70$ (2016).
Small quiet lake-side campground. Only 35 sites. First come first served basis (no reservations possible). Basic facilities only (no electricity, no showers, no sani-dump station). You have to register yourself. There is an optional fire permit available ($8.80/night, includes firewood). Dry toilets, fire pits available. 52 km south of Jasper on highway 93.
Campground is open from June 25-September 7 (depending on weather). Fees 15.70$ (2016).
Campground with 42 sites, on first come first served basis (no reservations possible). 36.5 km south of Jasper on highway 93. Basic facilities only (no electricity, no showers, no sani-dump station). You have to register yourself. Dry toilets available.
Campground is open from June 25-September 7 (depending on weather). Fees 15.70$ (2016).
Large beautiful campground with 228 sites, located between Whirlpool and Athabasca river. Campground can be reserved (https://reservation.pc.gc.ca). Location at nice distance from Jasper (16.2 km south of Jasper on highway 93). Basic facilities only but with flush toilets and sani-dump station.
Campground is open from June 23 - September 5 (depending on weather). Fees 21.50$ (2016).
Large beautiful campground with 362 sites in the summer and 93 sites in the winter (The only campground open in the winter). Campground with showers & 40 sites with electric hook-ups for RVs. 322 sites are tents only. Campground can be reserved (https://reservation.pc.gc.ca). Campsite is only 4 km south of Jasper.
Campground is open from May 15-September 7 (depending on weather). Fees 27-33$ (2016).
Largest campground with 781 sites. Popular campground as it has all facilities (showers, Sani-dump, electricity, flush-toilets, fire-pits) and is situated only 2.8 km south of Jasper. There are 177 sites with electric hook-ups for RVs of which 77 with sewage hook-up. 322 sites are tents only.
Campground can be reserved (https://reservation.pc.gc.ca). Open from Early May-Mid October (depending on weather). Fees 27-38$ (2016).
Great quiet campground with 66 sites, directly located on the Snaring river. Though no electricity or hot showers, it is a popular place as it has a special quiet nature feel compared to the large Whistler and Wapiti campgrounds. First come first served basis (no reservations possible). 13.5 km East of Jasper on highway 16. Basic facilities only (no electricity, no showers, no sani-dump station). You have to register yourself. Dry toilets available.
Campground is open from Mid-May-Mid September (depending on weather). Fees 15.70$ (2016).
Large campground with 140 sites, located close to the Miette Hot Springs. Great location to walk the Sulphur Skyline trail (nice short trail starting at Miette Hot Springs with a great view). reservations possible. 45 km North of Jasper on highway 16 direction Edmonton. Basic facilities only (no electricity, no showers, no sani-dump station), but with flushing toilets. You have to register yourself.
Campground is open from Mid-May-Mid October (depending on weather). Fees 21.50$ (2016).
Leaving the Canadian Rockies as you pass the highest mountain: Mount Robson, 4663 meters at the summit. From Mount Robson you continue to a “Waterfall Park” known as Wells Gray Provincial Park.
Wells Gray Provincial Park, located north of Kamloops (130 km), is British Columbia’s fourth largest Provincial Park. It covers an area of 5,400km². Wells Gray Provincial Park is one of our favourite places. I like to describe Wells Gray as an all-round park. There are so many things to see and to do. And there is no way to compare Wells Gray with the Canadian Rockies. You can enjoy a majestic view from the volcanic cone at Pyramid Mountain, visit the magic Easter Bluffs or see the Helmcken Falls, the most famous place in Wells Gray. There are numerous trails that you can enjoy all through the park, many leading to waterfalls or creeks. Wells Gray Park was created in 1939 named after the Arthur Wellesley Gray, Minister of Lands for British Columbia from 1933 to 1941.
During the early glacial periods, there was a lot of volcanic activity in area. The eruption of the lava caused the ice above it to melt, sometimes resulting in big explosion. The effects of these explosions and the powers involved are demonstrated in today’s rare landscape and rocky shapes. At some points, those forces resulted in the creation of rugged canyon-valleys with impressive waterfalls. These waterfalls basically are the result of unstable layers of soft lava. The rivers that started to flow eroded the unstable layers around the stable layers and it resulted in the deep, narrow gorges you can find throughout the park. The big lakes in the park are the result of the ice paths that moved and formed deep lake basins.
Wells Gray Provincial Park is a really large reserve with high mountains, waterfalls, pristine forests, thundering rivers, big lakes, and lots of wildlife and plants. The Park protects a very large diversity of landscapes and eco-systems: it contains over 56 species of mammals, over 200 species of birds and over 700 species of vascular plants. You can find in the park many interesting beautiful animals including caribou, deer, mule, moose, mountain goats, black bears, grizzly bears, weasels, martens, minks, wolverines, beavers and coyotes. Wells Gray is absolutely great for boating. There are five large lakes in Wells Gray Park (Clearwater, Mahood, Azure, Murtle, and Hobson). There are also two large river systems and numerous small lakes, waterways, rapids, streams and waterfalls.
The most frequent used road by visitors to Wells Gray Provincial Park is the Clearwater Valley Road (also known as Wells Gray Park Road). This road starts at the junction of the Highway nr 5 junction with Clearwater Valley Road at Clearwater and ends 70 km further north at the Clearwater Lake in the Park. The exit is clearly marked at the highway. There are 2 other roads to Wells Gray Park, to mention:
The Clearwater Valley Road is paved until the Helmcken Falls Junction (at approx. 43 km from the Highway nr 5). Note that Wells Gray Park does not have any inhabitants and from the junction at the Yellow head Highway, you will not find any grocery store or gasoline station. There is a grocery store in Clearwater (Safety Mart). Along the Clearwater Valley Road there are Restaurants and Motel/lodges.
When you arrive at the Highway nr 5 junction with Clearwater Valley Road, be sure to stop at the Wells Gray Information Centre. You can buy here detailed topographic maps of Wells Gray Provincial Park and they can provide you with up-to-date information about Condition of roads, trails & information about the campgrounds.
Wells Gray Provincial Park has 4 provincial campgrounds you can drive to from the Clearwater Valley Road. All campsite and group site reservations must be made through Discover Camping. When reservations are not available all campsites function as first-come, first-served.
At the south-western tip of Wells Gray Park, accessed either via 88 km of paved and gravel roads from 100 Mile House and along the south shore of Canim Lake, or via 65 km of gravel road from the Interlakes corner on Hwy 24, or across TFL 18 via logging roads from Clearwater. The nearest communities to this park are 100 Mile House, Lone Butte, Interlakes, Bridge Lake, Hathaway Lake, Forest Grove, Canim Lake and Sheridan Lake. 32 campsites + 2 Group Campsites (minimum 15 people, maximum 25 people). For bookings online: https://secure.camis.com/DiscoverCamping/WellsGray
Campground is open from May 16 – September 12. Fees 18.00$ (2016).
This campground is located near the south end of Wells Gray park. Turn off Highway 5 and the Clearwater Info centre and proceed 67 kms north on the Clearwater Valley road. 40 campsites. For bookings online: https://secure.camis.com/DiscoverCamping/WellsGray
Campground is open from May 13 – September 30. Fees 18.00$ (2016).
Sister campground to Clearwater lake. This campground is also located near the south end of Wells Gray park. Turn off Highway 5 and the Clearwater Info centre and proceed 67 kms north on the Clearwater Valley road. 40 campsites. For bookings online: https://secure.camis.com/DiscoverCamping/WellsGray
Campground is open from May 13 – September 30. Fees 18.00$ (2016).
First come first serve - Pyramid Campground is located just past the Mushbowl bridge and about 1km from the Helmcken Falls turn off. It has This 32 campsites within the campground, and is a great base for exploring Dawson Falls and the Pyramid Mountain are. It has basic facilities such as a hand pump for water, pit toilets, picnic tables and fire rings.
Campground is open from May 13 – September 30. Fees 18.00$ (2016) - Offseason gate is open, and no camp fees.
If you want to really enjoy the Wells Gray park the above mentioned provincial campgrounds are the best, though the campsites are with basic facilities only (no showers, no electric hook-up, no playground). If you are looking for some more facilities (hot shower, electric hook-up) you may consider the following campgrounds in Clearwater.
373 Clearwater Valley Road, Clearwater, BC V0E 1N0 Phone (250) 674-3909 Nice campground with 80 sites for tenting, RV, rental of Cabins, motel rooms. There are electricity hook-ups, hot showers, playground, fire pits and there is a heated pool. The campground is open from May-October. Directions: Campground is located at the road to Wells Gray Provincial Park, one block up from the Visitor Information Center just off Highway #5. www.clearwatervalley.com
361 Ridge Clearwater, BC V0E 1N0 Phone (250) 674-3351 RV park (65 sites) and lake-side cabin rental (9 units) on nice location. As of 2009 no tent sites available. Open from April-November. Directions: In Clearwater approximately 1 km off highway 5 (on North-side). www.dutchlake.com
Park 449 Yellowhead Hwy 5 East, Clearwater V0E 1N0 Phone (250)-674-3121 Luxury RV Park with family units, seasonal heated outdoor pool, full hook-ups, free showers, picnic tables, firewood, laundry, barbecue pits, playground. Directions: On the Highway 5 near Clearwater. www.clearwatercountryinnandrvpark.com
6624 Clearwater Valley Rd, Wells Gray Park, phone (250) 674 0009 RV sites, tenting, Golf course, 50 Sites, electric hook-ups Directions: Clearwater Valley Rd near entrance of Wells Gray Park (approx. 35 km from Clearwater). http://www.wellsgraygolf.bcresorts.com
Helmcken Falls is the major attraction in Wells Gray. A short walk brings you to the 137 meter high falls, the fourth highest in Canada or you can take the Helmcken Falls Rim trail. Directions: The trailhead of the Helmcken Falls Rim Trail is located approximately 42.4 km from Clearwater, off to the side of the main road just before the Pyramid Campground intersection. Park your vehicle in the parking lot provided. Follow the signs to the trailhead. You can also drive to the Helmcken Falls viewing platform (47.3 km)
At 10.2 km exactly from the start of the Clearwater Valley Road, you will come to Spahats Falls. This is the viewpoint of the Spahats Falls and you will also find here the Spahats picnic area. The Spahats Falls is a very nice waterfall, almost 80 meters high. It is smaller than the Helmcken Falls but still a really beautiful waterfall, and easy accessible from Highway 5. At the Spahats Falls you can clearly see how the deposits of volcanic rock were build layer by layer during the time period of the ice age.
Another great waterfall is the 90 meter wide Dawson Falls, with a vertical drop of 20 meters. Directions: At the 42 km point on the Clearwater Valley Road. Pyramid Campground (45 km) The largest campground of the park along the Murtle River with 50 sites at a marvellous location in Wells Gray Park. From here it is a great walk via the Helmcken Falls Rim Trail to the Helmcken Falls waterfalls or to the Dawson Falls.
A trail to the Pyramid Mountain starts at the entrance of the park (moderate, reserve approx. 4 hours for the total trail (2 hours one way), elevation approximately 250 meters). The trail leads to the summit of Pyramid Mountain, from where you will enjoy a spectacular view. The trail is full of fascinating volcanic shapes and characteristics.
You finalize the loop back to Vancouver via Whistler and Garibaldi Provincial Park.
Garibaldi Park, named after its towering 2,678 metre peak, Mount Garibaldi, was designated as a provincial park in 1927. In honour of the 19th century Italian patriot, Giuseppe Garibaldi, the park is known for its natural beauty and its endless hiking opportunities. Garibaldi park’s rich geological history, diverse vegetation, snow-capped mountain, iridescent waters, abundant wildlife and scenic vistas all contribute to the immense beauty. The park is located in the heart of the Coast Mountains just 70 km north of Vancouver. Offering over 90 km of established hiking trails, Garibaldi park is a favourite year round destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
This park provides a good base camp for exploring Whistler, the Pemberton Valley or nearby Garibaldi Provincial Park with the 60 m high falls (a 1.5 km hiking trail will take you to the viewpoint). Nairn Falls Provincial Park is a typical natural-but-basic (no showers and with pit-toilets) campground with 94 campsites of which 40 are first –come-first serve.
Price indication: 18 CAD/night /campsite.
Directions: Along highway 99, located 32 km north of Whistler and 5 minutes from Pemberton town centre.
Large private campground with 143 sites located only 18 km south of Whistler Village. The campground includes include clean flush toilets and warm showers. This campground is a good choice if you plan to visit Whistler. Note that in the summer it can get busy here as Whistler is a popular town to visit.
Price indication: 29 CAD/night for tents and 43 CAD for R.V./camper.
Directions: Whistler RV Park and Campground is approximately 100km north of Vancouver and 40km north of Squamish. Coming from direction Vancouver, on highway (Hwy 99), turn left onto Brew Main Road, 1km north of Brandywine Falls Park. At the left hand turning lane, you will see a white sign at the entrance of the road.
Squamish is the perfect location to enjoy all the gems that Greater Vancouver have to offer. It is an easy drive to downtown Vancouver, to the beautiful Whistler, and to the coast islands.
A very popular campground along Alice Lake with 108 campsite of which 62 can be reserved (www.discovercamping.ca). The campground has showers facilities. It is strongly recommended that you make a reservation well in advance to stay at this park during the months of July, August and September. The park is usually full even on weekdays with little turnover of campsites in the morning.
Alice Lake is surrounded by towering mountains, dense forests and grassy areas. There are four fresh water lakes that dominate the landscape and make swimming and fishing very enjoyable pastimes. The trail around Alice Lake is a popular one for an evening stroll and for the more adventurous there is the Four Lakes Trail. There are excellent views of the Squamish River and the Tantalus Range from the DeBeck's Hill Trail.
Price indication: 35 CAD/night for tents and 43 CAD for R.V./camper.
Directions: Situated off Highway 99, approximately 13 km north of Squamish.
This private campground with super friendly management situated in the most beautiful setting with swimming water at walking distance, the best mountains for great hiking and the coast line for a nice stroll.
Price indication: 29 CAD/night for tents and 43 CAD for R.V./camper.
Directions: Situated off Highway 99, approximately 14 km north of Squamish.Coming from direction Vancouver, on highway (Hwy 99), turn left onto Brew Main Road, 1km north of Brandywine Falls Park. At the left hand turning lane, you will see a white sign at the entrance of the road. Address: 3520 Paradise Valley Road, Box 404 Garibaldi Highlands Squamish, BC.
A very nice private campground with super beautiful toilets and showers facilities. Camping is surrounded by mountains and rivers, trails and rock-climbing. Free Wi-Fi.
Price indication: 38 CAD/night for a campsite
Directions: From Vancouver: Highway 99, turn Right at Finch Drive, turn left onto Logger's Lane, and turn right at Centennial Way. From Whistler: Highway 99, turn left at Finch Drive, turn left onto Logger's Lane, and turn right at Centennial Way.