Alberta is home to two of the oldest national parks in Canada: Banff and Jasper. After 8 months of teaching in Vancouver, we set to explore in June the rest of the nearest provinces with a compact car. Instead we got a huge Jeep. Alright then, here we go.
We planned this trip to last two weeks. Though this itinerary can definitely be done in much less time, having a couple of weeks free allowed us to drive less during the day, stop whenever we felt like it on the road and basically take our time.
Here is a rough look at our stops:
British Columbia: Vancouver → Squamish (Shannon Falls, Sea to Sky gondola) → Whistler → Pemberton (One Mile lake) → Joffre lakes → Kamloops → Wells Gray provincial park → Mount Robson provincial park
Alberta: Jasper national park → Icefields Parkway → Banff national park
British Columbia: Kootenay national park → Radium Hot Springs → Yoho national park → Glacier national park → Revelstoke → Kelowna → Vancouver
Three days in each Jasper and Banff national parks are great so that you do not have to rush to one place to another and is also a way to tackle several hikes that you would want to do. Depending on the period of the year, it is necessary to check the official websites (Banff, Jasper, and the others) beforehand for warnings, closures, and trail conditions in order to plan your trip accordingly.
Between the two national parks, one full day can be dedicated to the Icefields Parkway because there are a lot of beautiful stops where you will want to take in the views for a while. Great stops include but are not limited to: Peyto lake, Bow lake, Mistaya Canyon, Columbia Icefield (I will write a full article on that), Sunwapta Falls, and Athabasca Falls. Two full days are ideal if you want to tackle some trails like the Parker Ridge and the Wilcox Pass.