The road trip from Vancouver to Jasper has to be one of the most gorgeous long drives in Canada. I previously wrote a post about our Vancouver to Banff Road Trip, but this time we decided to be even more epic and go all the way to Jasper. We brought my little brother, George and his wife Cerys along for the ride. We also made more over-night stops to spread out the driving, rather than zoom the whole way there in a day.
I would love to take the train the whole way to Jasper, but as tickets on the Rocky Mountaineer start at $1579 (they can be as much as $2700!) it is not quite in our price range. Especially when you multiply that price by four! Driving ourselves meant we managed to do the whole adventure, but without those crazy costs! This trip cost us around $200 in gas.
Vancouver to Jasper Road Trip Itinerary:
If you do the whole drive from Vancouver to Jasper in one go, it will take over 8 hours to go via Clearwater, or 11.5 hours via Banff. But, driving that much in a single day would take half the fun out of this epic journey as there is sooo much to see along the way! We did enjoy driving the whole way to Banff previously, but this time we decided to break the journey up more, so we stayed the night in Clearwater on the way, and in Revelstoke on our return journey.
Day 1: Drive to Clearwater 475km (about 5 hours driving) Explore Waterfalls in Wells Gray Provincial Park
Day 2: Drive from Clearwater to Jasper 318km (3.5 hours driving)
Day 3: Explore Jasper and go skiing
Day 4: Drive along the Icefields Parkway to Banff 287km (3.5 hours driving)
Day 5: Explore Banff with as many hikes as possible!
Day 6: Drive from Banff to Revelstoke 382km (3.5 hours driving)
Day 7: Explore Revelstoke, then drive back to Vancouver 565km (6.5 hours driving)
Vancouver to Jasper Road Trip Map:
Hopefully this map will give you some idea about our route. I have included all of the stop offs we made along the way (although there were a few others for food or gas.) There is sooo much to see that I could easily double the time, number of walks and viewpoints.
Vancouver to Jasper Road Trip Essentials:
- Winter Tires – The first time we visited Banff it snowed in September, so we kept our snowtires on for this trip in April. It snowed 2 days before we arrived in Jasper.
- Bring Snacks – We bought a cooler and filled it up with bread, cheese, fruits, carrots, nuts and spreads. Plus a little milk for tea once we arrived. We’re so English.
- Map – Because you never know when you might lose phone signal
- Sunglasses – There are always moments when you’ll be driving towards the sun!
- Camera – Because you will take a zillion photos out the window, even if you know photos from car windows never come out well!
Vancouver to Clearwater
We did this part of the drive very early in the morning (we started at 5am.) This was mostly so we’d have some time to explore Wells Gray Provincial Park in the day light. This turned out to be a fantastic decision. We stayed in a cheap hotel in Clearwater, and spent several hours walking and looking at the waterfalls. We had so much fun, that we went back for more waterfalls the following morning before driving on.
The photos below are Spahats Creek Falls and Helmcken Falls – but take a look at my post about all the waterfalls, as there are so many impressive ones in the area.
Clearwater to Jasper
We started the day with a quick hike to Moul Falls, then visited the supermarket in Clearwater so we’d have a picnic for the road trip. Most of the journey was under clouds and rain, but the scenery is always interesting. We noticed some massive sections of burned forests, and other large sections that look like they have been hit by pine beetle infestations.
On a whim, we made a quick stop off at Rearguard Falls, which turned out to be an incredibly beautiful place to stretch your legs.
This is the view just passing through Mount Robson Provincial Park. We couldn’t see above the clouds, but it was spectacular anyway!
Once we’d made it to Jasper, we walked around the town to explore, and found a whole herd of deer relaxing and eating the grass right outside out hotel! It was a fantastic welcome.
We split up on our day in Jasper. Marc and I spent a truly awesome day skiing at Marmot Basin. George and Cerys took the car to explore Jasper and take the Jasper SkyTram up Whistler Peak.
We met up later for tasty food at to watch the sunset by Pyramid Lake.
Jasper to Banff – Icefields Parkway
This was the most epic day of our entire trip! The Icefields Parkway has to be the most beautiful highway in the world! We basically started early and spend the entire day stopping off to see ridiculously pretty viewpoints, taking mini hikes to waterfalls and exclaiming at how awesome it is to see Glaciers up close! If you did not see it already, please take a look at my post about Hikes and Highlights of the Icefields Parkway. It’s hard to describe just how epic that part of the road trip can be!
Marc and I had previously only seen Banff in the snow (and clouds), so it was a bit of a revelation to arrive to see how picturesque it can be in the springtime! Our group split up again so George and Cerys could explore the town, while Marc and I went hiking. We climbed up the amazing C-level Cirque trail, and then up to Castle Mountain Lookout.
I also have a bunch of ideas about what you can do in Banff in the springtime.
Banff to Revelstoke
We had another pretty epic day. We started by visiting the Banff Hoodoos. Then we showed off Johnston Canon and Lake Louise. They were both covered in ice, but great fun to explore.
After that, we drove on to one of my favourite places, Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park. Although Lake Louise and Emerald Lake were both still frozen, the natural bridge (which you’ll pass right before Emerald lake), was all thawed out and looking pretty.
Revelstoke to Vancouver
As we got closer to Revelstoke, we noticed two fun-sounding spots to explore, the Giant Cedar Boardwalk and Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk. So, before we continued on our drive, we popped back to take a peek. They are both really fun places to explore on route from Banff.
This involves a little extra driving, but we made a quick stop off at the Sicamous Lookout.
We also stopped for a picnic and a mini hike to Gibraltar Rock in Paul Lake Provincial Park near Kamloops, which seemed like a fantastic area to return to and explore more!
Final Tips for Vancouver to Jasper Road Trip:
Be prepared for all kinds of weather, especially in the winter and shoulder season. When we have driven these routes in April and September, there was plenty of snow and ice, so we were glad we had our winter tires.
It is very likely that you’ll be able to spot some Canadian wildlife on your drive to Jasper. You might see big horned sheep, caribou, elks, mountain goats and bears. We have never seen a moose, but we were told in winter you can often see them near Clearwater. If you do see animals close to the road, (and it is safe to park and watch them) please do not stay for more than a couple of minutes.
- Whatever you do, do not feed the bears (or any of the wildlife.) It may change their behaviour to associate humans with food. This can lead to the bears having to be slaughtered because you fed it to get your photo.
- Don’t stop in the middle of the road or get in the way on oncoming traffic. (Duh!?)
- Do NOT get out of your car!
- Never drop litter (I mean you shouldn’t be throwing litter out from your car anyway…)
My friend Susan has a fantastic post about how to survive when hiking in Bear Country if you’d like to read more.
We had a few delays for road works, but friends have told me sometimes you need to wait much longer for highway closures for avalanche control. Actual avalanches can also occur at any time, so if there is a road sign that says you’re in an avalanche area, don’t stop there.
I hope you like the look of this fantastically fun road trip. If you are travelling to Canada, or if you live in Vancouver, it is a great way to explore and see the Rockies.
Other posts you might find useful:
Or, if you’d like to see links to all my hikes and awesome sightseeing spots, you can find them all below. Click on the icons to find links to each blogpost.
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