Driving through the beautiful and scenic roads of British Columbia is a dream for most. With stunning snow-covered trees during the winter and amazing weather in the summers, why wouldn’t you want to go on a road trip there?! I just got back from a 10-day road trip around BC where I spent just over $1000 including flights, so I definitely know how to make the most of budget travel in Canada. This BC road trip itinerary is around 2 weeks in length but you can always stay longer at some places or skip some destinations altogether.
Let’s jump into it!
Vancouver to Vancouver
I’ve structured this BC road trip itinerary as a loop starting and ending in Vancouver! When planning my 10 day trip I was looking for routes that started in Vancouver and went up north and to the east. I was planning on visiting my cousin who had moved out to Revelstoke and was looking for a route that could lead there. While searching online I couldn’t seem to get my hands on any itineraries that did this sort of loop, so I put this one together.
If you have more time, there are so many other places you include in your itinerary such as Tofino. You could even make it to a few spots in Alberta before heading back to Vancouver! I’d recommend using Rome2Rio to map out your route like I did in the photo above.
Where to Rent a Van in Vancouver
If you’re flying into Vancouver, chances are that you won’t have a car or van to explore the province. Here are a few places you can check out for transportation:
- Wicked Campers – I’ve used Wicked Campers three or four times now. I’ve rented from them a few times in Australia and this was my first time using them in Canada! They offer extremely low rates for campervans that come equipped with just about everything you’ll need for your trip. PRO TIP: Wait till they have a sale to save extra! I got this van with my friend Emilie for $660 total for 8 days.
- Outdoorsy – Not having personally rented from Outdoorsy, I can’t vouch for them yet but they have really cool RV rentals and all sorts of campervans to choose from! Definitely a little more expensive than Wicked Campers but you may come across a sweet deal.
When you’ve chosen a van, don’t forget to add extra mileage if you think you’ll need it. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay on top for each extra mile you drive!
VANCOUVER (1-3 days):
While a lot of cities aren’t always worth exploring, Vancouver has a lot to offer so you can easily spend a few days wandering around. My favourite stop was Siwash Rock (pictured above) in Stanley Park! You could spend an entire day walking through Stanley Park but don’t forget to check out a few other spots. The harbour, Granville Island and all of the unique neighbourhoods throughout the city are a great place to start.
You can easily walk the city or take the train/bus to get around!
The Capilano Suspension Bridge is also a cool place to check out for the day and it’s just outside of Vancouver!
SQUAMISH, GARIBALDI PROVINCIAL PARK & WHISTLER (2-3 days):
When you’ve had enough of the city and you’re ready for the real road trip to begin, the mountains are within arms reach! Your first stop will be Squamish, which is just about an hour from Vancouver. You’ll be driving along the Sea to Sky Highway which has some of the most breathtaking views in Canada!
There are many beautiful hikes you can do in Squamish. I’d recommend checking out AllTrails to find one that works with your schedule, skill level.
If you’re somewhat active and after a day hike in Squamish, The Stawamus Chief will be right up your alley! It’s about 6km long and took me roughly 3 hours to return back to the car park. It’s rated as a difficult hike and it certainly was no walk in the park. I’d suggest going for sunset but make sure you have a flashlight for the way back down!
Just about half an hour north of Squamish is Garibaldi Provincial Park. Again, this is a magnificent place for hiking! I got up early to do the Garibaldi Lake Trail which was about 19km and took about 6.5 hours to return. It’s a moderate skill level so most people will be able to do this hike. With that being said, but be sure to check AllTrails ahead of time to check out the conditions! We went in early November and encountered a few icy sections and weren’t exactly prepared for the weather.
The views are spectacular and definitely worth it but make sure you’re wearing lots of layers because it can get really windy by the lake! (See photos below for what NOT to wear while hiking in the winter👇🏽)
Whistler is another beautiful place to check out on your way up North. If you’re big on skiing and snowboarding the season is typically from the end of November till end of May each year, providing you with heaps of time to hit the slopes. During the warmer months, there are many hikes, waterfalls and other spectacular sites to see nearby!
JOFFRE LAKES PROVINCIAL PARK (1-2 days):
Joffre Lakes Provincial Park was a spot I heard nothing but great things about! Due to COVID-19, it was closed so we were unable to check it out for ourselves but I’d recommend camping there for a night or two and doing some hikes. Be sure to check out the park details before you plan on heading there!
There are many places to check out when driving from Whistler. Nairn Falls was a quick stop and pretty empty as well.
REVELSTOKE (2 days):
The drive from Joffre Lakes Provincial Park to Revelstoke is about 6 hours so account for a full day of driving! Along the way, there are many places you can stop to check out. You’ll pass through the mountains and reach a very barren area and watch as the mountains and snow (if you’re travelling in the winter months) disappear before your eyes!
Revelstoke is a small ski town with a population of about 10 000 people. Before the resort opens, it’s known for its wide range of trails to choose from. We completed a small hike known as Big Eddy right outside of town. We pulled over by the bridge pictured below and followed the trail up. It took around 1.5 hours to complete the hike but you’ll want to check out the views of the town from above. It’s also not unusual to run into bears in Revelstoke so keep your eyes peeled along the way and always keep bear spray with you!
YOHO NATIONAL PARK (2-3 days):
Driving from Revelstoke to Yoho National Park will take you about 2.5 hours. If you don’t have a full two weeks (I didn’t 😓), then you might not have time to make it all the way to Yoho. If you do, you’ll be right around the corner from Banff. You may even consider heading further east into Alberta if time allows.
When originally planning to see some of Yoho, I was adamant about doing a few day hikes. Here are some day hikes to consider:
- Iceline Trail – A challenging 14.2km trail
- Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit – This 10.6km hike is marked as moderate
- Emerald Lake Trail – Another moderate hike that’s 10.8km long
KOOTENAY NATIONAL PARK (2 days):
Kootenay National Park is another 2.5 hour drive from Yoho. While there are many beautiful trails to explore, what drew me in was the natural hot springs. I’m so sad I wasn’t able to find any natural hot springs during my 10 day road trip but it was simply too much to fit into a short amount of time!
Here are some amazing natural hot springs and other sights to check out:
- Numa Falls
- Lussier Hot Springs
- Ram Creek Hot Springs
Kootenay is about as far east as you’ll be able to make it if you only have two weeks in BC. From there you’ll have to head back towards Revelstoke before hitting Kelowna. You may need to spend another night in Revelstoke to break up the drive.
KELOWNA (2 days):
If you didn’t make it to the hot springs near Kootenay, don’t give up just yet! Depending on the time of year you’re travelling, you should head to Nakusp Hot Springs while driving from Revelstoke to Kelowna. Due to the time of year I was travelling (and per my cousin’s advisement), I wasn’t able to make it to the Nakusp Hot Springs either. Whenever there’s snow on the ground, there’s a good chance of getting stuck and I wasn’t willing to risk it with the campervan!
With that being said, Kelowna was a beautiful town to explore. It’s a wine region with MANY wineries to choose from. We made our way to Quail’s Gate Winery for a tasting and some appetizers afterwards.
If you’re visiting during the summer, it’s one of the warmest places in BC and has a few beaches to spend the day at as well!
On your way out of Kelowna, drive towards the Osoyoos in the Okanagan Valley and you’ll watch as the landscape transforms once again! There’s a beautiful spotted lake you can check out as a quick roadside stop during warmer months (it was frozen over when we went to check in November). It was truly amazing to see such a unique and desolate landscape.
As you continue to drive out of the Okanagan Valley, the mountains will reappear.
CHILLIWACK (2 days):
I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that Chilliwack was a bit of an afterthought when planning this BC road trip itinerary. I never really considered even stopping there until a day or two beforehand but I’m so happy we did before returning to Vancouver!
As you drive down from the Okanagan and right before you reach Chilliwack, stop at Bridal Veil Falls. It’s a quick walk through a trail and is absolutely stunning. There were only a handful of people around when we went close to sunset but it may be busy during peak season.
Again, there are many hikes in the area but we only had enough time to do one – Elk Mountain. The full trail is 14.6km and quite challenging. It ends at Mt. Thurston but if you can just as easily end once you get to Elk Mountain and it should only take you about 3.5 hours to return.
This was the snowiest hike we did so come prepared if you’re hiking in the winter! During the spring/summer it’s riddled with colourful flowers and we could only imagine how beautiful it would be. You also have a good chance of running into a bear on this trail. We saw a few bear paws along the way and there weren’t many people around. Once again, always have bear spray on you just in case!!
BACK TO VANCOUVER (1 DAY):
The drive from Chilliwack to Vancouver is only about an hour long. If you have some extra time to spare in the city, I’d head to Kitsilano beach. Even though I was there during the beginning of winter, it was beautiful and a great spot to see the sunset!
You’re Ready For Your BC Road Trip!
That just about concludes my BC road trip itinerary. Did I miss anything? Leave a comment below if you’re travelled through BC and if there are any other spots worth checking out.
If you want to see the cost breakdown for my 10 days in BC stay tuned. I’ll be sharing that blog post next week!