11 Best Stops on a Road Trip from Vancouver to Banff 

Embarking on a road trip from Vancouver to Banff? Along the way, pay a visit to some of the most fascinating destinations in British Columbia and the Canadian Rockies, from ancient glaciers to stunning mountain resort towns. 

Road trip from Vancouver to Banff

The 900km drive from Vancouver to Banff is widely heralded as one of the best road trips in North America. While following the route, you’ll pass by national parks with snow-capped mountains, quaint resort towns hidden in scenic valleys, and natural wonders that include vast glaciers, azure lakes, ancient cedar forests, and wildlife ranging from bald eagles to grizzlies (if you’re lucky). 

Some of the best stops on a road trip from Vancouver to Banff include world-famous destinations like Whistler and the Yoho National Park. But there are also plenty of lesser-known hotspots to discover, such as the laid-back mountain resort of Squamish and the rapids that traverse the town of Golden. 

While it’s possible to drive from Vancouver to Banff in around nine hours, I recommended allocating at least a week to completing this epic road trip. That way, you’ll have plenty of time to soak up the incredible sights on this amazing route. 

The best stops on a Vancouver to Banff road trip 

From the heritage museums of Kamloops to the Olympic Park of Whistler, here are 11 of my favourite attractions and destinations to visit while driving from Vancouver to Banff. 

Map of the route from Vancouver to Banff

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1. Stanley Park 

Before departing on your road trip to Banff, prepare yourself for the natural wonders to come by exploring Vancouver’s Stanley Park. Thanks to boasting picturesque landscapes that include thick cedar forests, sandy beaches and natural vistas backdropped by Vancouver’s skyline, Stanley Park attracts upwards of eight million visitors per year. 

Vancouver Stanley Park

Stroll along the park’s oceanside footpath to Prospect Point Lookout to soak up views of the coast and the famous Lion’s Gate Bridge.

At Brockton Point, you’ll see nine intricately carved totem poles that have been sourced from some of the most remote areas of British Columbia. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as coyotes, beavers and even bald eagles – Stanley Park is home to over 500 animal species. 

Stanley Park is definitely one of the coolest things to do in Vancouver.

Stanley Park, Vancouver

If you’re in a rush in Vancouver, check out my guide on how to see Vancouver in a day to make the most of your trip.

2. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park 

Just a short drive from Vancouver is the fascinating Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, where highlights include river and canyon views, a dense forest of Douglas fir trees and – as the name suggests – numerous suspension bridges.  

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park 

The park’s most famous attraction is the 140-metre-long suspension bridge that spans the Capilano River, offering amazing bird’s-eye views from a height of 70 metres. You’ll find more suspended pathways built into the granite cliffs at the Cliffwalk attraction and in the tree canopies at the Treetops Adventure. It’s scarier than it looks, and definitely plays with your mind to walk over!

I recommend setting aside at least two hours to discover the most incredible sights and landmarks of the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water and insect repellent! 

3. Shannon Falls 

The first waterfall you’ll visit on your road trip from Vancouver to Banff is Shannon Falls. Cascading from a height of around 335 metres, Shannon Falls is British Columbia’s third-highest waterfall.  

Shannon Falls 

From the highway, it takes just five minutes to reach the lower viewpoint via a wooden boardwalk. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hike to the Upper Shannon Falls Lookout to catch a glimpse of the waterfall plummeting down a series of cliffs from a high vantage point. 

While you’re here, you might want to follow the 11km Sea to Summit Trail, which takes you from an elevation of 35 metres near the coast to a mountain summit that rises 885 metres into the air. Bear in mind that the Sea to Summit Trail takes an average of just over five hours to complete and is considered to be a challenging route (the views make the effort more than worthwhile). If you’d rather avoid the walk without missing out on the views, you can ride the Sea to Sky Gondola. 

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4. Squamish 

Located about halfway between Vancouver and Whistler, Squamish is a charming town with a laid-back atmosphere, making it an ideal place to spend the night after a long day of driving. In addition to a charming downtown area, Squamish boasts over 200km of hiking and mountain biking trails. 

Stop at Squamish on your drive from Vancouver to Banff

In the town of Squamish itself, there are a wide of array of coffee shops, boutiques and restaurants, not to mention a range of public art displays that give the town a unique appearance. Every Saturday, the Squamish Farmers’ Market takes over the streets of downtown near Cleveland Avenue, giving you a glimpse into local life and the chance to stock up on delicious fresh fruit and baked goods. 

After Squamish, your next stop will be Whistler, though you might want to pay a visit to the Brandywine Falls Provincial Park on the way. Here, you can hike a kilometre into the forst to see the Brandywine Falls, which drops from a height of 70 metres into a bowl-shaped gorge. Unlike the Shannon Falls, the Brandywine Falls drops straight into the gorge rather than down a series of cliffs, giving it a particularly striking look. 

ANOTHER VANCOUVER TO BANFF ROAD TRIP OPTION: Fraser Canyon.

Fraser Canyon is a natural wonder carved by the Fraser River. This rugged landscape is steeped in history, notably the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush of the mid-19th century which drew numerous prospectors, leading to the establishment of many settlements. The canyon’s formidable terrain also posed significant challenges during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Today, visitors can traverse the canyon via the Trans-Canada Highway, taking in spectacular views of soaring cliffs, tumultuous river waters, and glimpses of wildlife. Adventure-seekers can explore the historic Alexandra Bridge, take the Hell’s Gate Airtram, or meander the numerous hiking trails that reveal the canyon’s beauty and heritage.

ANOTHER VANCOUVER TO BANFF ROAD TRIP OPTION: Hope.

Hope, BC, nestled at the confluence of the Fraser and Coquihalla Rivers, is a picturesque town in British Columbia, Canada. Renowned for its stunning natural landscapes, it’s a gateway to both the Fraser Canyon and Manning Provincial Park. Besides its natural allure, Hope gained fame as the backdrop for the movie ‘First Blood’, the first in the Rambo series.

5. Whistler 

Hidden in the Fitzsimmons Range of the Coast Mountains is the stunning town of Whistler, home to one of North America’s largest ski resorts. Whistler has been a hotspot with snow sports enthusiasts for decades, particularly since hosting the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. 

Whistler 

The most popular attraction in Whistler is the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort, where skiers can refine their skills in 16 alpine bowls and along over 200 marked trails. The resort also boasts an array of natural wonders that include three ancient glaciers. While quieter over summer, the resort’s Peak 2 Peak Gondola remains open year-round, providing panoramic views of the valley. 

While you’re here, you might want to visit the 43-metre-tall Alexander Falls, which is situated about 30 minutes south of Whistler. The Nairn Falls Provincial Park is just 20 minutes away. There’s also an easy four-kilometre hiking route that leads to the Train Wreck, which has sat in the forest since 1956. 

6. Kamloops 

The small town of Kamloops may not be as well known as Whistler, but its friendly locals, beautiful natural splendour and fascinating museums make it a worthwhile stop on your road trip from Vancouver to Banff. 

Kamloops 

Some of my favourite museums in Kamloops include the Secwepemc Museum & Heritage Park, which is dedicated to the preservation of Secwepemc culture, and the Kamloops Museum & Archives, which dates all the way back to 1937. 

If you prefer outdoor activities, you can glide down the slopes of the Sun Peaks Resort on skis, a snowboard or a dog sled. I once visited Sun Peaks Resort on a work trip, it was awesome!

road trip from vancouver

Or, you can drive just over an hour to the Kamloops Lake, the most famous of the region’s 100+ freshwater lakes that are ideal for kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding.  

When you want to let off some steam, follow the Kamloops Wine Trail through the vineyards of one of British Columbia’s newest wine regions.  

ANOTHER VANCOUVER TO BANFF ROAD TRIP OPTION: Shuswap

Shuswap, BC, is renowned for its pristine lake system in British Columbia’s interior. The heart-shaped Shuswap Lake, with its vast waterways, is a haven for boating, fishing, and water sports. Surrounded by rolling hills, lush forests, and vibrant communities, the region offers an idyllic escape for nature enthusiasts and recreation seekers.

7. Revelstoke 

From Kamloops, the easiest and fastest way to continue your road trip from Vancouver to Banff is to follow the Trans Canada Highway. This route takes you all the way to Banff, and there are plenty of amazing destinations to visit along the way, such as the mountain resort city of Revelstoke.  

Stop at Revelstoke on your drive from Vancouver to Banff

One of the most popular summer attractions in Revelstoke is the Pipe Mountain Coaster, a gravity-powered roller coaster that transports you between glades, through a tunnel and over numerous ski runs. Fancy a dip in a naturally heated pool? Visit the Halcyon Hot Springs or the Canyon Hot Springs. For the best views of Revelstoke’s mountain peaks, take a ride on the Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s Revelation Gondola, which takes you to an elevation of 5,500 feet. 

While it’s possible to see the highlights of Revelstoke in half a day, I’d suggest spending a night or two here so that you can explore the Mount Revelstoke National Park. Some of the park’s most scenic hiking trails include the Balsam Lake Trail and the Heather Lake Trail. If you have time, follow the 15-kilometre Eva Lake Trail and look out for wildlife along the way. 

ANOTHER VANCOUVER TO BANFF ROAD TRIP OPTION: The Enchanted Forest

The Enchanted Forest is a magical attraction set amidst British Columbia’s pristine rainforest. With over 350 handcrafted fairy-tale figurines, ancient cedars, and a captivating treehouse, it offers visitors a whimsical journey through fantasy and nature. This unique attraction has been enchanting families and children for generations.

8. Glacier National Park 

Located on the outskirts of Golden, the Glacier National Park is a must-visit stop on your Vancouver to Banff road trip. While I highly recommend spending the day in this beautiful park, you can take in some of the region’s most spectacular views by driving through the park along Roger’s Pass, which takes you through alpine meadows and ancient cedar forests, backdropped by views of jagged peaks. 

Glacier National Park, a must-visit stop on a road trip from Vancouver to Banff

One of the most outstanding features of the Glacier National Park is the Illecillewaet Glacier, which covers an area of ten square miles. You can actually hike right up to the toe of the glacier, which makes for a unique picnic spot. Nearby are the ruins of Glacier House, which was a luxury hotel during the Victorian era. 

9. Golden 

For views of snow-capped peaks, rushing rapids and vast glaciers, you simply need to stop in the town of Golden on your Vancouver to Banff road trip. Besides hiking, sightseeing and wildlife watching, popular activities here include skiing, mountain biking and whitewater rafting. 

Golden, Canada

Locally known as The Heart of the Parks, Golden lies in the middle of six national parks, making it a nature-lover’s paradise. In the town itself, you’ll find a variety of tasty eateries, quaint shops and historic sites. There are also plenty of lively bars that offer plenty in the way of evening entertainment. 

Of all the scenic hiking routes in and around Golden, my favourites include the Lake of the Hanging Glacier and the Mummery Glacier. If visiting for the wildlife, explore the Northern Lights Wolf Centre to get up close and personal (as reasonably possible) with majestic wolves. 

ANOTHER VANCOUVER TO BANFF ROAD TRIP OPTION: Spiral Tunnels

The Spiral Tunnels in British Columbia’s Kicking Horse Pass are engineering marvels. Built in 1909 for the Canadian Pacific Railway, these tunnels were designed to reduce the treacherously steep gradient for trains. Viewpoints along the Trans-Canada Highway allow visitors to witness trains entering one tunnel and emerging from another, demonstrating ingenious engineering amidst rugged mountain terrain.

10. Yoho National Park 

While not as popular as the national parks of Jasper and Banff, the Yoho National Park is equally as stunning. Here, you can discover natural wonders such as Canada’s second-highest waterfall, several towering peaks of the Canadian Rockies and wildlife galore – you might even spot a bald eagle if you’re lucky. 

Yoho National Park 

One of the most beautiful sights of the Yoho National Park is the Emerald Lake, known for its distinctive green shade. You can take in views of the lake and its surrounding peaks by following the 5.2-kilometre Emerald Lake Trail. Alternatively, you can soak up the park’s natural beauty by renting a canoe. 

Road trip from vancouver to banff
vancouver to banff road trip

Other popular sightseeing spots in the Yoho National Park include the Takakkaw Falls, the Laughing Falls and the Natural Bridge, which has been carved into a giant slat of rock over thousands of years by the Kicking Horse River. 

OPTIONAL DETOUR: The Icefields Parkway is a stunning area of Canada, and it’s a four-hour round trip from here. In my opinion it’s totally worth it, but up to you to decide. I had left it out but there was a comment below regarding HOW I could’ve missed it out, so, here it is!

road trip from vancouver to banff

ANOTHER VANCOUVER TO BANFF ROAD TRIP OPTION: Radium Hot Springs

Radium Hot Springs, nestled within British Columbia’s Rocky Mountains, is famed for its therapeutic mineral-rich waters. Situated in Kootenay National Park, the naturally heated pools offer a tranquil retreat with panoramic mountain vistas. Beyond the springs, Radium is a gateway to wildlife sightings, hiking trails, and the striking Sinclair Canyon.

11. Banff 

On the final day of your road trip, you’ll complete your epic drive to the small mountain town of Banff, which is situated in the heart of one of Canada’s best-known national parks – the Banff National Park.

There are plenty of gorgeous sights to behold in the national park, from ski resorts to hot springs.

In the town itself, you’ll find fine diners, charming bakeries and cafes, a selection of breweries, and gift shops selling unique local arts and crafts. 

Banff National Park 

The most awe-inspiringly tall peaks in the Banff National Park include the iconic Mount Rundle, Cascade Mountain and Mount Temple. Besides towering summits, Banff’s natural wonders include the turquoise-coloured Lake Louise – one of the most photographed lakes in Canada – and Moraine Lake, an azure body of water surrounded by the Valley of the Ten Peaks. 

While the Banff National Park is a mecca for hikers, those who’d prefer to conserve their energy can take in amazing views of the park by driving along the Icefields Parkway, a 144-mile-long road that connects Lake Louise to the Jasper National Park. The Columbia Icefield is located along the Icefields Parkway. From here, you can embark on a guided tour to the Athabasca Glacier and the Glacier Skywalk. 

Where will your Vancouver to Banff road trip take you? 

As you can see, the road trip from Vancouver to Banff is one of the most epic in North America. Along the way, you’ll have the chance to visit dozens of national parks bursting with snow-capped peaks, charming towns with friendly locals, and natural wonders ranging from glaciers and waterfalls to ancient forests. The drive from Vancouver to Banff might only take nine or so hours, but you might want to allocate at least a week to this road trip so that you have time to visit all the highlights on the route. 

Vancouver to Banff road trip

Have we missed any iconic or lesser-known destinations that deserve a visit on a road trip from Vancouver to Banff? Let me know in the comments below. 

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Quick list of the best stops on a road trip from Vancouver to Banff

  1. Stanley Park 
  2. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park 
  3. Shannon Falls 
  4. Squamish 
  5. Whistler 
  6. Kamloops 
  7. Revelstoke 
  8. Glacier National Park
  9. Golden 
  10. Yoho National Park 
  11. Banff 

12 Comments

  1. You don’t pass dozens of national parks in this road trip.
    Also you go the banff via whistler but some how miss Icefields parkway from the list. Shocking.

    1. @Proof Reader, hi, thanks for your comment. I’ve now taken out the dozens comment, not sure why I wrote that. I’ve also added Icefields Parkway as an option as I did actually go there when I visited but it is a 4-hour round trip off the route so didn’t include it initially. Thanks, Vicky.

  2. You blew by the Fraser Canyon, Hope , The Enchanted Forest, Spiral Tunnels and Shuswap area. Another week of great stops.

    1. @Bill, Hello Bill, thanks so much for your input. I’ve added all of your suggestions for readers if they want to make their road trip longer. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

  3. Travelling from Vancouver to Banff doesn’t include Squamish and Whistler, as they are the wrong way. You missed the Okanagan entirely. When compared with Penticton, Kelowna or Vernon, Kamloops likely isn’t the best recommendation. Golden is pretty dead too. Toward the Banff end, Radium Hot Springs and Canmore would be better recommendations too

    1. @James, Hello James, thanks for your comment. I’ve added Radium Hot Springs in. This road trip list is meant for people who have a long time and want to explore the route, rather than anyone who wants to go direct. More for a road tripper than an A to Ber!

  4. What a bizarre order for these places. The first few stops on the trip are in the wrong direction from Vancouver. Then the rest are just the cities along the highway, nothing of particular interest.

    1. @John, hello John, thanks for your comment. I did this road trip a few years ago and had a wonderful time. It’s meant as a list for people who want to explore the area, rather than anyone who wants to go direct.

  5. Hello,
    I’ve lived in BC all my 65 years and plan more trips throughout this beautiful province and Alberta. We’ve driven from Abbotsford to Calgary many times and from Sorrento to Calgary. We’ve lived in Sorrento for the past 20 years, move’d here from Abbotsford and youth in Delta.
    The write up and pictures do give the general idea of BC’s beauty.
    I did find the script didn’t quite match the pictures if looking at the points of interest in a straight run down Trans-Canada Hwy Vancouver to Banff.
    Example, Glacier/Rogers pass comes before Golden and Yoho is between Golden and Lk Louise.
    Back tracking, my first thought and question is why Whistler, Squamish, Stanley Park are on the list. I would of spoken more about Fraser Canyon, Hells Gate, Thompson River between Lytton and Cache Creek, from Salmon Arm, Vernon is only 35 minutes south and could drive back up to Sicamous and east.
    Lake Louise, is the TOP destination when visiting the Canadian Rockies.

    Anyway, I thought your story was good, I truly believe it could of been (how shall I say without sounding hurtful) presented more accurately.

    This memo to stay confidential.

    Thank you
    Greg Eppel
    Sorrento, BC

    1. @Greg Eppel, thanks for your comment. It’s really great to have a local’s opinion and thoughts here, so thank you for sharing. There are so many great places to explore on this route, I just wanted to highlight a few of them to anyone wanting to make this journey. I’ve added a few more suggestions in so that people don’t miss the best spots along the route, as recommended by you.

      Thanks, Vicky

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