Beaches, fjords, lakes, mountains and more. This is our Totem Circle Tour.
Choose to travel one way from Vancouver to Calgary or complete the circle by returning to Vancouver through Montana and Southern British Columbia.
Vancouver to Calgary - 17 days
Vancouver to Vancouver - 25 days
Total Distance: Vancouver to Calgary - 2262 km /1405 miles
Vancouver to Vancouver - 3784 km / 2351 miles
Totem Circle includes:
- Return UK flights
- 24 nights Motorhome with unlimited kilometers, 2 x linen kits & 1 x kitchen kit
- 1 night accommodation on arrival (recommended)
Day 1 - Fly UK to Vancouver
Fly to Vancouver and transfer (not included) to your downtown hotel for one night to rest before commencing your motorhome holiday
Rosedale on Robson Suite Hotel
Day 2 - Depart from Vancouver to Victoria (69 km / 43 miles)
The Tsawwassen Ferry to Schwartz Bay is the best choice for reaching Victoria quickly. The ferry ride is about two hours long. If the weather is fair, there is nothing better than to stand out on deck while navigating the narrow passages between the Gulf Islands. You enter a very narrow channel with a close view of Galiano Island on the north and Mayne Island on the south side, coming out on the south-west side of Salt Spring Island, winding your way toward Schwartz Bay.
As you approach the Bay, the island on the south side of the ferry is Pender Island. The islands offer a slower pace of life. There are small farms, acreages, and summer cottages. As well, many well-known artists make the Gulf Islands their home. As you drive out of the ferry terminal, you should join Highway 17. Take the south exit and in one-half hour, you will be in the heart of Victoria. On the way take your time and join a whale watching tour with Sidney Whale Watching who have a 95% sighting success and a “Guarantee Program”.
Day 3 - Full Day in Victoria
Victoria has so many interesting activities to offer, you will have a full day fitting in just a few. Of course, Butchart Gardens, south of Schwartz Bay, on Highway 17A, is world-renowned and is a splendid, restful place to wander around and enjoy the day. While in the area, Victoria Butterfly Gardens offers your only opportunity to experience the warmth, beauty and romance of a tropical jungle without going to the tropics. When in the centre of Victoria, there are a few venues worthy of particular mention. The Provincial Museum and the BC Legislative Building are next door to one another at the south end of Government Street. The Museum often hosts new and interesting exhibits and the Legislative Buildings are open to the public with regular tours. As well, there are tours of the Inner Harbour, which is just a few blocks west of Government Street. In the spring and summer, baskets of flowers hang from lamp posts on all the downtown streets.
Day 4 - Victoria to Tofino / Ucluelet ( 316 km / 199 miles)
Expect the unexpected on your drive to Tofino. There is such a variety of scenery with every bend in the road, from thick forest, to small towns, and spectacular views of the Gulf Islands that are sprinkled throughout the Strait of Georgia. It is advisable to leave a little early and give yourself ample time on this leg of the journey, as the Port Alberni to Tofino leg is a very narrow, winding road and will likely be quite a slow portion of the day’s drive. On your way up the Trans Canada Highway, Bamberton Provincial Park is a worthwhile stop for a scenic break. Duncan, nestled in the Cowichan Valley, is also an interesting stop. The Lumber Mill Museum is worth a look. Duncan is known as the “City of Totems”. In the downtown area, you will find a historic totem pole walking tour. This island town also gives you access to mountain biking and hiking trails, and scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking and fishing. Branching off the Trans Canada Highway onto Highway 4, just north of Nanaimo, you will be on your way to Port Alberni and Tofino. For another scenic break, you may want to stop in either Little Qualicum Falls, McMillan or Sproat Lake Provincial Parks. These provincial parks are further inland and have a different feel from those that border the ocean front.
You are getting into mountainous and forested terrain at this point and there is more wildlife viewing potential. Begin looking for cougar tracks here. It is not recommended to walk too far on your own; traveling in larger groups is advisable. Vancouver Island has a high concentration of cougar populations, although confrontations are very rare. Stop in Coombes to see the goats that graze on the roof of a local establishment, and stop at Cathedral Grove, near Port Alberni. Walk among huge old-growth rain forest with trees up to two to three metres thick.
From Port Alberni to Tofino, the highway narrows. Traffic usually slows down somewhat through this section to accommodate the winding, mountainous terrain. For this reason, it is wise to build extra time into your schedule to make your drive less pressured.
Day 5 - Full day in Tofino / Ucluelet
Whale watching tours are one possibility that cover much of the calendar year. The charter companies take you out in larger power boats, cutting the motor when they are close and never getting too close to infringe on whale movements. These charters also take passengers out in summer to watch for bears that forage along the beaches when the tide is out. Tofino Resort and Marina and The Whale Centre are two of the companies offering such an experience. You can choose to watch bears from the comfort of their covered family vessel or, for a more unrestricted viewing experience, go out in a zodiac. They also offer whale watching and Hot Springs tours.
There are a few sea-kayaking companies that offer lessons and day trips, as well as longer tours. There have been many people who have seen a whale spout very close to their kayak. If sport fishing is more to your liking, there are boat charter companies that will take you out to the salmon and halibut grounds for a few hours or a full day. Charters are geared to groups of four or more. These are just a few of the aquatic possibilities.
If you are passionate about playing golf, then there is a golf course overlooking the ocean and very close to the Parks Canada's Green Point campground. The third hole may catch you out, as the fairway looks completely straight, but it actually has a very gentle curve. It seems that if you missed, your ball will be in the Pacific. For this reason, it's one of the most challenging fairways on the island.
For the Foodie, Tofino Food Tours offers a 3-hour gourmet journey featuring local freshly caught seafood.
Day 6 - Tofino to Campbell River (272 km / 169 miles)
A return trip down the winding road to Port Alberni is the only way back to the east and more populated side of the island. If you didn't already do so on your way to Tofino, stop at Cathedral Grove, near Port Alberni to take a walk among huge old-growth rain forest. Continue on to Coombs to see the goats that graze on the roof of a local establishment before heading north through the Lighthouse Country communities of Qualicum Bay, Bowser and Deep Bay on your way to Campbell River. Follow the Oceanside Route (19A) through the charming communities of Fanny Bay, Buckley Bay and Union Bay, making sure you stop to sample the world famous oysters in Fanny Bay.
At Courtenay, you may like to take a short diversion off Highway 19A into Comox, home to more than 500 pleasure boats and a commercial fishing fleet. Comox Harbour is one of the safest year-round harbours on Vancouver Island and is a great launching spot for some of the best salmon fishing in the world.
Other places of interest en route to Campbell River today include Miracle Beach Provincial Park, where porpoises and hair seals can often be seen near the mouth of black creek. Killer whales are sometimes spotted from here in the Strait of Georgia. Self-guided nature walks skirt the shore and wander through forests of hemlock and Douglas fir.
From Miracle Beach Provincial Park, it's a short drive to Campbell River. En route you may catch a glimpse of Cape Mudge lighthouse on the south end of Quadra Island. The lighthouse was built in 1888 and is still staffed and fully operational.
Day 7 - Full day in Campbell River
Take time out today to explore the area. Among our recommendations are a short ferry ride across to Quadra Island. If Quadra Island doesn't appeal, how about taking a wildlife and cultural tour with Aboriginal Journeys? This first nations wildlife and cultural tour operator offers whale watching, grizzly bear and wildlife viewing, native history and culture, nature photography and eco-adventure tours in Campbell River. If you're travelling between early September to mid-October, a grizzly bear expedition with Discovery Marine Safaris is a must. It's a full-day trip which enables you to see bears chasing and catching salmon to fatten up for hibernation. Discovery Marine Safaris also offer Whale and Wildlife Safaris during the spring and summer months.
Let 49 North Helicopters fly you over this amazing city, the Strait of Georgia, and onto the Mainland Glaciers with an option to land on the glacier and have lunch in a beautiful location.
Should you prefer a day just exploring the area, a drive down to Gold River or to Strathcona Provincial Park may appeal. Strathcona Provincial Park was the original park in the BC provincial system. A day trip to Strathcona gets you into an unparalleled natural wonderland of vast forests, great lakes, alpine meadows and challenging peaks. More than a dozen hikes and walks originate from the Buttle Lake area of Strathcona Park, offering trails for all fitness levels.
Day 8 - Campbell River to Port Hardy (508 km / 316 miles)
From Campbell River, Highway 19 passes through more lakes and bays before skirting inland toward the small logging and farming community of Sayward. Watch for a mysterious steamy ring round the peak of Hkusam Mountain. The Kwakwaka'wakw People called it Hiatsee Saklekum - "Where the breath of the sea lion gathers at the blow-hole". If you have time, take a side trip at Sayward Junction into Sayward and visit the unique Cable Cookhouse, a steel-framed building wrapped with 8,200 feet of wire cable weighing 26 tons, located on the east side of the one-lane bridge on Sayward Road that crosses the Salmon River. The Cable Cookhouse provides excellent food and welcomes all travellers. Don't miss The Logger's Totem, built in 1986 by Glen Duncan to honour the logger.
Visitors driving the scenic route between Port McNeill and Sayward are very likely to encounter at least one large mammal alongside the road or ambling into the forest. Black-tailed deer, Roosevelt elk and black bear are common year-round. For the sport enthusiast, why not stop at Nimpkish Lake for some kite surfing lessons with El Norte Adventures?
Day 9 - Port Hardy to Prince Rupert (via ferry)
The ferry from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert has a daytime sailing schedule between mid June and early September, allowing you to take in the surrounding scenery. From mid June to the end of July and from 1-13 September, the ferry leaves Port Hardy on odd-numbered days. During August, it departs on even-numbered days. Advance reservations are essential for people travelling with RVs.
The ferry departs Port Hardy at 7.30am, arriving in Prince Rupert around 11.30pm. Once you're on the ferry, sit back, relax and enjoy not having to drive yourself today.
Many campgrounds in Prince Rupert stay open late for ferry arrivals. We suggest you make a reservation with your chosen campground.
Day 10 - Full day in Prince Rupert
Take more time out today to relax and enjoy your spectacular surroundings. Visit the North Pacific Fishing Village, a National Historic Site, and take a tour of the most complete cannery remaining of the remote villages that once dotted the West Coast. Here you can be transported back to the hectic days of cannery life through displays and interpretive guided tours. Other places worth visiting include the world class Museum of Northern BC. This museum houses art and artifacts exploring the wealth of history and culture on BC's Northwest Coast. Visitors can often share in the experience of First National dance performances in the Longhouse.
A series of other museums in the city explore the wealth of European history in the area.
At the Kwinitsa Railway Museum, visitors can experience the life of early station agents and linemen who worked the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway at the turn of the century. The Firehall Museum features many artifacts demonstrating the history of the fire department since 1908, such as a rebuilt 1925 R.E.O. Speedwagon fire engine.
Spend a quiet moment watching the boats along the waterfront - you may find yourself rewarded by a glimpse of a harbour seal, or one of many species of seabirds. On rare occasions you may even spot humpback or killer whales.
Day 11 - Prince Rupert to Prince George (722 km / 449 miles)
Today's a very long day driving if you decide to do this stretch all at once. You may decide to break this into a two day journey, overnighting at a campground en route, before continuing on to Prince George the following day. Points of interest between Prince Rupert and Prince George include Ksan Historical Village, 50 million year old fossils at Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park and Fort St James Historic Site.
Ksan is the Gitxsan name for the Skeena River. This replicated ancient Gitxsan village features large decorated house fronts and totem poles facing the water. If you have time, continue north via Hwy 37 towards Kitwanga to Kitwancool and the Nisga's Memorial Lava Bed Park where, over two centuries ago, a volcano erupted leaving a lava moonscape. Don't forget to stop to view the famous totems at Kitwancool.
On your way south, stop in Smithers where Bulkley Adventures can take you on a Heli Tour excursion deep into the mountains surrounded by glacier covered peaks or on a thrilling jet boat tour.
Day 12 - Prince George to Jasper (375 km / 233 miles)
From Prince George, head east on the Yellowhead Highway to the scenic community of McBride, nestled in Mount Robson Valley. The exceptional scenery here draws hikers, anglers and white water enthusiasts. Catch a glimpse of some of the 200 bird species recorded in the area at the Horseshoe Lake bird viewing station. Enjoy an easy walk around this thriving artist community or try heli-hiking, heli-skiing or snowmobiling.
Continuing east from McBride, take a short diversion off highway 16 into the friendly town of Valemount. Here you can canoe meandering streams or simply take in the nature around you. Don't miss the wildlife and bird watching at Robert W. Starratt Wildlife Sanctuary, a 43 ha (600 ac) waterfowl habitat just minutes from Valemount.
Late summer brings the world's longest salmon migration to the spawning ground of Swift Creek in nearby George Hicks Regional Park.
Travelling back to highway 16, you rejoin the Yellowhead Highway en route to Jasper. Pass through Mount Robson Provincial Park, named after the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies - a jagged, snowy pinnacle rising 3,954 m (12,972 ft) above largely undisturbed wilderness. Break your journey at the Mount Robson Visitor Centre where you can buy souvenirs and snacks and hike a few easy trails. Mount Robson Provincial Park also houses the headwaters of the Fraser River and the massive Berg Glacier. Hike the extensive trail systems leading past lakes, glacier, waterfalls and through dense forest.
From Mount Robson, it's an easy one hour drive through to Jasper where you should plan to spend at least two full days. Advance reservations at the National Park campgrounds are strongly recommended during the peak summer season.
Day 13 - Full Day in Jasper
Early morning and dusk are the best times for animal sightings in the area. Start your day with the tranquility of Pyramid Lake and the reflection of Pyramid Mountain in the surrounding water. An osprey sitting on her nest, a bald eagle soaring overhead, beaver swimming along the shoreline and the sound of a loon disturbing the silence with its haunting call. All this is possible by taking the Great Canadian Sunburst Canoe Experience which ends with steaming hot coffee, fresh baking and, if you request, a "Sunburst" and fresh croissant for breakfast. The morning is complete and it's only 9.00 a.m.!
Spend some time today wandering around Jasper and visiting the variety of stores along the Main Street. RV parking is available close to the downtown area.
This afternoon, head out to the Jasper Skytram - Jasper's Peak Attraction. The experience of being gently transported into Jasper National Park's alpine tundra will captivate all ages. Stroll the boardwalks, viewing the interpretive plaques, and watch for wildlife. Alpine inhabitants include the Hoary Marmot, white tailed Ptarmigan, ground squirrels, pikas and the occasional bighorn sheep. Travel off of the boardwalks onto the hiking trails to the summit is possible at your own risk, but come prepared.
Tonight you may like to take a trip up to Miette Hot Springs. Open between mid May and Labour Day, these hot springs consist of two pools kept at about 40 degrees Celsius. Miette Hot Springs are located 61km east of Jasper. During the July/August peak season, the pools remain open until 10.30pm.
An alternative to the hot springs might be a visit to The Jasper Planetarium, the world's largest astronomy park, where you can check out the largest telescope in the Rockies and get the show of the heavens in the "Jasper Dark Sky Preserve".
Day 14 - Full day in Jasper
Take a drive today out to Maligne Lake, 44km south of the Jasper town site. This emerald green lake is set amongst the snow-mantled peaks of the Front Range and stretches for nearly 22 kilometers. At Maligne Lake, take the 90 minute scenic cruise to world-famous Spirit Island. On the way back from the lake, stop at Maligne Canyon. Here sheer limestone walls plunge to depths of over 50 metres (165 ft). Parks Canada has developed a self-guided interpretative trail along the canyon with signs describing the geological history of the area. There are four bridges across the gorge, each with its own special view. A short hiking loop tours the upper reaches of the canyon, while a longer trail follows the gorge and exits at a fifth and sixth bridge lower down. These two activities should take up most of your day today.
You may fancy having a more active day, perhaps going hiking or rafting instead. Adventurous whitewater trips are offered by both Jasper Whitewater Rafting Co and Maligne Rafting Adventures while Jasper Raft Tours offer a gentler scenic float trip suitable for ages 2 to 102.
Day 15 - Jasper to Lake Louise (236 km / 147 miles)
The 230-kilometre Icefields Parkway ranks among the great highroads of the world and commands some of the most majestic scenery in the Canadian Rockies. It runs between Jasper townsite and Lake Louise, following in turn the Bow, Mistaya, North Saskatchewan, Sunwapta and Athabasca rivers, crossing the Bow and Sunwapta passes and presenting a panorama of peaks, glaciers, waterfalls and canyons.If the weather is nice, we suggest you take Highway 93A from Jasper, passing by Wabasso Campground and look out for bears and other wildlife along your route. There's a picnic area at Meeting of the Waters where the Whirlpool and Athabasca Rivers meet. In bygone days, this site formed a major junction for countless fur trade expeditions. Today it's a peaceful place to stop and linger. 93A continues and joins the Icefields Parkway again by the Athabasca Falls. These dramatic falls cut a gorge through layers of quartz sandstone and you can witness the shear power of the water as it plummets down with a thunderous roar.
Further down the Parkway, look for bighorn sheep and goats at Tangle Falls, Stutfield Glacier Viewpoint and Goat Lookout. Stutfield Glacier Viewpoint offers a view of the Sunwapta River, an excellent example of a braided river. The valley bottom is filled with sand and gravel spreading the river across the valley floor in interlacing channels. The Stutfield Glacier features a picturesque pair of ice falls, which spill down the face of Mt. Stutfield. Take the 1 km (1/2 mile) access road from the Icefields Parkway to Sunwapta Falls and Canyon and see where the Sunwapta River changes its course abruptly from northwest to southwest, then plummets into a deep canyon producing a spectacular waterfall.
Day 16 - Lake Louise to Banff (63 km / 39 miles)
Before leaving Lake Louise today, take an early morning trip back up to the lake where, on a fine day, the mountains cast tranquil reflections into the lake. The early morning is a good time to take pictures and to revel in the quiet solitude around the lake before the arrival of the tour buses. Afterwards, drive up to the Lake Louise Ski Resort where you can purchase a breakfast and gondola package or a lunch and gondola package, dining in the beautiful Lodge of the Ten Peaks.The summer gondola whisks you up the mountain, providing opportunities for hiking and guided walks and a visit to the wildlife interpretive centre. Look out for the grizzly bears who make this area their home. Discounted tickets for Breakfast and Gondola or Lunch and Gondola may be purchased in advance through CanaDream Club.
From Lake Louise, take the Bow Valley Parkway and look for the turn-off to Mount Eisenhower. According to Indian legend, this 2,862 metre turreted peak is the home of the Chinook - a warm, dry winter wind that sweeps out of the Rockies to melt snow in the foothills and prairies. A hiking trail winds for eight kilometres from a warden station to Tower and Rockbound lakes, hidden in a hanging valley behind Mount Eisenhower. Another trail follows a fire road to a lookout high on the mountain's flank.
Next stop along the road is Johnston Canyon, which was carved out of the soft underlying rock by Johnston Creek. Among the canyon's wildlife is the dipper or water ouzel, a bird which lives at the very edge of turbulent mountain streams. In feeding, the dipper will wade, swim, dive, and even walk underwater on the stream bed. In a meadow just beyond the canyon are a group of seven springs called the Ink Pots. Two of them are noted for their murky, blue-green color - a hue created by suspended sediments. To the west, open meadows mark the site of Silver City, a mining boom town. During its heyday (1883-85), the town boasted a population of 2,000, four general stores and several hotels. The mines failed to meet expectations however, and a disputed claim helped to speed the town's demise.You will soon enter the town of Banff, which is a year-round recreation center for tourists, horseback riders, skiers, hikers and mountain climbers. Banff is the headquarters for the Banff National Park, which is the first and most famous of Canada's national parks, with an incomparable combination of towering peaks and high meadows, emerald lakes and keen mountain air. These factors, and the sulphur hot springs, have made Banff National Park one of North America’s most spectacular scenic and recreation areas. It was here in the winter of 1883 that railway workmen noticed wisps of steam rising from a fissure on the south side of the Bow Valley.
Day 17 - Full Day in Banff
You may not have thought of finding so much art in a place like Banff. This town offers you a multitude of artistic activities. The Banff Summer Arts Festival has many artists performing in a variety of ways from June to August. Try a world class opera production, different musical ensembles or theatre, an art walk, exhibitions or literary reading. The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies holds a very large collection of mountain art by a wide variety of artists who either lived in the Park or spent time working in the area.
As for physical activity, Banff offers a great deal to keep you occupied. You can hike east along the Bow River valley to the hoodoos (eroded rock formations by the river’s edge), hike up Sulphur Mountain and take the gondola down, then take a soothing dip in the Banff Hot Springs at the base of Sulphur Mountain. Or you could go to the west side of town and rent a canoe and paddle northwest along the creek to the Vermillion Lakes. You may have to portage around a beaver dam or two or even spot some beavers at work maintaining their homes, but the view of Mount Rundle (the jagged, sloping mountain you see from Vermillion Lakes when you look straight west) is wonderful, especially when you see it early on a clear morning or later in the evening. For the first few hours of the morning, you would see the sun rise over the mountain, turning its warm, sandy brown tones to a soft pink. The same is true at dusk. Sunset comes very quickly in the mountains, so once the mountain turns pink, it is time to head back to the dock.
An interesting area to explore is the old, abandoned town site of Bankhead, just north of the Trans Canada Highway turnoff. on the road lading to Lake Minnewanka. Look for an unmarked parking lot on the right just after the Two Jack Lake Camping Ground access. This was a model town built and developed by the Canadian Pacific Railway about 100 years ago to support a coal-mining endeavour that the Railway owned. Bankhead was the envy of all the towns in the area, because the residents enjoyed indoor plumbing and electric lighting in their homes and on the streets. They built up sports teams and the residents themselves provided the entertainment in local musical performances. The town lasted the 20 years that the mine was profitable. Then, when the use of coal declined, the CPR closed the mine and moved the town buildings to Banff, Canmore and Calgary. There are still some building foundations left and some interesting displays.
Day 18 - Banff to Calgary (129 km / 80 miles)
The journey to Calgary from Banff is a short one so take your time to explore along the way. After leaving Banff National Park, continue east on the Trans Canada Highway and look for the turn-off down to Kananaskis (Highway 40 south). Kananaskis has something to satisfy almost every outdoor interest.Make sure you take your time and stop in Canmore, the playground of this valley. From mountain bike tours, river adventures, including floating and rafting trips, as well as caving and spectacular helicopter tours, there is so much to do and every experience will leave memories for a lifetime. In addition to recreation, the land in this area also mixes livestock, forestry, and petroleum production to show that such activities can co-exist with provincial parks, wildlife sanctuaries, recreation facilities and natural areas.
Stop at Barrier Lake, right inside the park entrance. This has great views of the park and is a starting point for kayakers and canoeists on the Kananaskis River. Visit Kananaskis Village, the focal point of Kananaskis Country, which is overlooked by Mt Allan, the home to the Nakiska Ski Area. Before reaching Kananaskis Village, stop at Ribbon Creek for a picnic or to hike one of the numerous trails which start here. If you feel like taking a little more time in this area and want to camp a night here, we suggest you check out CanaDream Club campground partner, Sundance Lodges - open from May long weekend to mid September. If you're into horse riding, Boundary Ranch is close by - we recommend their two-hour Ridge Ride. Book through CanaDream to receive a discounted rate.
Day 19 - Calgary to Waterton National Park (263 km / 163 miles)
Today we leave Calgary behind as we take Highway 2 to High River before heading west to Longview where we join Highway 22 south. This scenic route passes Chain Lakes Provincial Park and skirts the foothills of the Canadian Rockies before reaching Frank Slide. Here there is an interpretive centre, open year round, which highlights the rich history of the Crowsnest Pass. Displays throughout the centre feature the 1903 Frank Slide (rockslide-avalanche), the Canadian Pacific Railway, European settlement, early underground coal mining and community life.
Turn east at the junction of Highways 22 and 3 to Pincher Creek, the wind energy capital of Canada. Here the landscape is dotted with more than 100 wind turbines which generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 35,000 homes.
From Pincher Creek it's only a short drive south into Waterton National Park. This is an uncrowded natural paradise, where people, wildlife and nature peacefully co-exist all year long.
Day 20 - In Waterton National Park
Waterton Lakes National Park has a variety of activities you can enjoy year round! There are 255 km (191 mi) of trails in the Park, ranging in difficulty from short strolls to steep treks of several days duration. Hiking is the best way to experience Waterton. Take a trip up to Red Rock Canyon - a 16 kilometer drive from Waterton Village, where the layers of red and green coloured minerals offer a brilliant contrast to each other and the lush surroundings. The road to the Canyon abounds with colourful roadside wildflowers and views of hanging valleys and jagged mountain peaks.
For a spectacular view over Waterton Village and the lake, there's a short, moderately strenuous hike to the overlook at the top of Bear's Hump - 2.8km round trip with an elevation gain of 225m. Avoid the summer crowds with an early morning start and enjoy the rising sun.
Canoes and kayaks are available for rental at Cameron Lake at the end of the Akamina Parkway or you can walk the short, easy 3km trail along the west shore of this beautiful emerald lake. The southern tip of Waterton Lake lies in the United States and it's possible to take a cruise from the Waterton docks down to Goat Haunt where you can disembark for 30 minutes then reboard your boat for the return journey to Waterton. Goat Haunt, the northern gateway to Glacier National Park, is a Class B Port of Entry. You don't need to clear immigration there if you are staying only half an hour but there are popular hikes starting from this point and, if you decide to embark on any of these, you will be required to have your passport with you.
Day 21 - Waterton Park to West Glacier (Going to the Sun Road, Montana) (146 km / 91 miles)
If you're travelling between early June and late October, the easiest way to get from Waterton to Glacier National Park, Montana, is through the Chief Mountain border crossing. This crossing is open from 0700 to 2200 daily. Between November and the end of May, the next closest port of entry to the USA is at Carway, south of Cardston. Guests travelling on foreign passports (passports issued by countries other than Canada and the USA) may need to complete immigration formalities at the border. From the Chief Mountain border crossing, it's a spectacular drive south, through the small town of Babb to St Mary. St Mary is at the eastern end of the Going to the Sun Road, one of the most amazing highlights of Glacier National Park. The road is closed for most of the year, generally opening around the end of June and remaining open until the snow forces its closure in mid to late September. Traffic on this road is restricted to vehicles 21 feet or shorter so travelling this in your RV is not an option. From 1 July to 31 August, the US National Parks Service operates a free shuttle which will pick up and drop off at many points along the road. Red Bus Tours also operate over this route from the day the road opens to the day it closes. Check at the Visitor Centre in St Mary for rates and times.
To truly appreciate the Going to the Sun Road, you should allow enough time to travel it in each direction.
After completing the road in both directions, you will be back in St Mary. As you are unable to take your RV across the Going to the Sun Road, you will need to continue your journey around the perimeter of the park to get to your next over night stop in West Glacier. Allow a couple of hours to get there.
Day 22 - West Glacier to Nelson, BC (via Bonners Ferry, Idaho, the Kootenay Lake ferry and Balfour) (436 km / 271 miles)
This border crossing is open year round between 7.00am and 11.00pm. US Highway 1 becomes Canadian Highway 21 at Rykerts, 11km south of Creston, BC. Nestled in the Creston Valley, between the Selkirk and Purcell Mountains, the attractive town of Creston presides over a broad and fertile river valley where the Kootenay River comes home to Kootenay Lake. Also known as "The Valley of the Swans", the Creston Valley is a breathtaking combination of snow-capped mountain peaks, waving fields of grain, deep clear lakes, quiet mountain streams and wide-open spaces. It's an agricultural region, with dairy farms and orchards dotting the surrounding landscape.
At Creston, you have the choice of saving time on your journey by taking Highway 3 west towards Osoyoos or travelling up the east side of the Kootenay Lake on Highway 3A. If you have the time, we recommend you take the second option.
On this route, beautiful scenery, sandy beaches and panoramic views of the Selkirk and Purcell Mountains are sure to delight both young and old. Operating between Kootenay Bay and Balfour, the Kootenay Lake Ferry is the longest free ferry ride in the world. During the summer months, this ferry departs the Kootenay Bay terminal approximately every 50 minutes. No reservations are necessary - simply join the vehicle queue when you reach the end of the paved highway and wait your turn to board. Please ensure your propane tanks are off before driving onto the ferry. Once you reach Balfour on the other side of the lake, it's only a short drive into Nelson, a city acknowledged for its impressive collection of restored heritage buildings from its glory days in a regional silver rush. Check out Red Mountain Resort, a hiker's paradise offering overnight RV parking without any hook-ups. If you need hook-ups, the most convenient campground to stay at in Nelson is the Nelson City Campground. Close to the downtown core, this 35 site campground offers full hookups, showers, a sani-dump and picnic tables. We recommend you book this campground in advance, particularly during the summer months.
Day 23 - Nelson to Osoyoos (262 km / 163 miles)
Highway 3A continues on to Castlegar where it rejoins Highway 3, passing through Grand Forks and the small towns of Greenwood, Midway and Rock Creek before reaching tonight's destination at Osoyoos. With a relatively short distance to travel today, there should be ample time to explore points of interest along the way.Off-route from Highway 3, you may like to take a short diversion along Highway 3B to the 19th century town of Rossland for a tour of the famous Le Roi Gold Mine. Follow in the footsteps of underground miners who drilled, blasted and hand-mucked the mine's 128km (80 mile) stretch of underground crevasses. Tours run regularly from May to the end of August with the last tour of the day leaving at 3.30pm.
Back on Highway 3 west, the town of Grand Forks is the fastest growing town in BC's Kootenays. Here, history buffs will enjoy exploring turn of the century mine sites, the old Phoenix town site and many abandoned rail grades. Why not spend an extra day at Christina Lake, known as the warmest tree-lined lake in Canada, and stay at Christina Pines Campground. Continuing west you reach Greenwood, now Canada's smallest city. When it was incorporated in 1897 it was a mining boom town. Many turn of the century buildings in this picturesque community have been restored, including the Courthouse, Post Office and MacArthur Centre. Despite its small size, the city is a popular tourist attraction and a great place to explore.
Located in the heart of the Kettle Valley, surrounded by the protective mountains of the Okanagan and Kootenay regions, is the small village of Midway. Worth visiting here is the Kettle River Museum, located at Mile 0 of the Kettle Valley Railway. Open daily from May to September, the museum's main attraction is the original Station house, built in 1900 and now housing exhibits commemorating the steam railway era of southern British Columbia. From Midway to Osoyoos, Highway 3 skirts the Canada/US border until it reaches Osoyoos in the heart of BC's Desert Wine Country. Located at the northern most tip of the Sonora Desert, Osoyoos is now a popular vacation destination and one of the largest fruit growing areas in Canada. Apricots, peaches, pears, plums, cherries, apples and grapes thrive in the hot dry climate, while the surrounding area features desert flora and fauna such as prickly pear cactus, antelope bush and rare species of birds.
Take a dip in Lake Osoyoos, Canada's warmest lake, rent a boat from the Marina, celebrate thousands of years of Okanagan First Nations habitation on desert lands at the Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre or just relax in some of the highest average temperatures in Canada.
Day 24 - Osoyoos
Spend today exploring the region. Some suggestions for the day are: A full day winery tour with Great Estates of the Okanagan. Your passport to Okanagan wine country includes five of the most exceptional wineries in the Okanagan Valley following a special route through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Okanagan - a route off the beaten path and not marked on the standard wine tour maps. A drive up Highway 97 into the heart of the Okanagan Valley. Heading north from Osoyoos, you'll pass through a true desert. At Oliver, consider taking a short tour of a local winery. Learn traditional wine-making techniques and sample your favourite Pinot, Cabernet or Chardonnay in the tasting rooms.
In Summerland, climb aboard the vintage Kettle Valley Steam Railway, which will transport you on a 10 km (6.2 mi) route. Cruise into the picturesque houseboat haven of the Shuswap Lake area before returning to Osoyoos through Kelowna, Peachland and Penticton.
The Osoyoos Museum. This museum offers something for everyone. Exciting exhibits include First National artifacts, a Victorian parlour, an 1892 log building, a sizeable military collection, agricultural equipment, children's toys, sports and recreational items and much more! The museum is open year round.
Rattle Snake Canyon. A family friendly amusement park with a western mining theme, Rattle Snake Canyon offers a variety of quality entertainment including an 18 hole mini-golf course, a Go-Kart track, an ice-cream parlour, bumper boats and much more.
Day 25 - Osoyoos to Vancouver (395 km / 247 miles)
From Osoyoos, Highway 3 takes a south-west direction towards the US border before it takes a sharp turn again north to Keremeos. The Keremeos area boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in North America. Ranging from Cottonwood groves along the river to well-kept orchards, to true desert landscapes to incredible alpine peaks with azure lakes and mountain meadows, the South Similkameen Valley is a photographer's delight.
Day 26 - Fly UK to Vancouver
Drop off the RV this morning, and if you require transport to the airport or an airport hotel, we will be happy to take you.
Rosedale on Robson Suite Hotel, Vancouver
Located in the heart of Vancouver, this family-friendly hotel is a favourite for sports fans & theatre goers. The hotel is just two blocks from BC Place Stadium, home of the BC Lions, and just three blocks from Rogers Arena, home of the Vancouver Canucks. The hotel is also close to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver Centre for the Performing Arts, Vancouver Playhouse, and Orpheum Theatre.
Image & Video Gallery
Alternative Holidays That May Interest You
Below you will find a small selection of 2022, 2023 holidays that may interest you. Remember, we tailor-make each holiday to your exact needs, so please call us on 0800 270 0009 and let one of our Holiday experts design the perfect trip for you