Much of my free time at the moment is spent reading up on Vancouver and making mental notes about the things we can do when we’re there. I think we’re going to need a small fortune if we want to be able to do everything, but it’s always nice to plan stuff! Aside from the planned trip away to San Francisco that Natalie mentioned in her last post I am getting more and more excited at the prospect of a proper North American road trip. With Vancouver being on the West coast of Canada our options will be either; head North and freeze to death, head South and visit the States, or head West towards Banff and Calgary. Whilst doing some research on the best routes to take from Vancouver I found a really interesting blog post with just what I needed; a recommended route to Calgary. The pictures of places along the way sold it to me! Calgary it is!

The route itself looks good enough, although we’d probably skip Whistler and save that for another time when we fancy snowboarding up there. I then had a look on Reddit and found a post which provided some more useful information. The top comment had a really detailed plan on which route to take to see the most amazing things. The route itself adds about 200-300 miles on top of the first route but it certainly looks doable. With a total of 896 miles and a little over 18 hours in total, the plan would be to do a one-way car rental and fly back from Calgary. After some initial calculations the total cost for car hire, petrol and a one-way flight back from Calgary would be around £275 each. If we hired a car for a week then this would mean we would need to drive about 130 miles a day at least, which isn’t too bad.

Here is the route which was suggested by the user on Reddit.

The Redditor summed up all of the things that can be seen on this route:

What you’ll see on this route: Nice drive from Vancouver to hope, the hope slide, manning park, lighting lakes, Princeton (desert area), our wine country in the Okanogan, very nice lakes, landscapes and farming areas, Kettle valley railway, Kamloops, there is also a park with 7-waterfalls (the last one is twice as high as Niagara falls), Jasper, Banff, Banff city, glaciers, rocky mountains, and A LOT more.

Naturally there will be loads to see and do on the way; here are some of the places I’m most looking forward to visiting.

Kelowna

After passing through Hope, Princeton and Summerland you arrive at Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Its name comes from an Okanagan language term for “grizzly bear”, although I have no idea why. It’s the 22nd largest metropolitan area in Canada and is well known for Ogopogo, a monster which apparently lives in the nearby Okanagan Lake. Naturally local tourism makes the most of this legend.

They’re not fooling anyone!

Kamloops

Kamloops seems to be a fairly small city with about 85,000 residents. There’s one thing there which I really would like to visit; the Kamloops Heritage Railway for a trip on the Spirit of Kamloops. I’ve been on steam trains in the UK before, but the idea of going on one in North America really appeals to me. Not only do you get a ride on the train but the whole experience includes a staged horseback train robbery and lots of other themed things going on.

To think people used to rob trains like this on horseback. Scum, sub-human scum!

Jasper

Jasper is the commercial centre of Jasper National Park, the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies. Nearly 2 million people visited the park in 2011 so I’m thinking it’s probably worth visiting. A quick Google image search for ‘Jasper National Park‘ pretty much confirmed that we need to go!

One of the many photo opportunities along the way.

Lake Louise

Heading South from Jasper we head into Banff National Park where it would be criminal not to stop at Lake Louise. I think a picnic and a swim in the water, which is fed by the Lefroy Glacier, is a must! Alternatively, just down the road from Lake Louise is Moraine Lake (shown below), seriously, how awesome does this place look?

I want to be here. Now!

Banff

At 60 miles West of Calgary, Banff would be very near the end of our journey. Well known the world over as a top ski and snowboard resort, Banff is also one of Canada’s most popular tourist destinations. Whilst we may not have time to hit the slopes I am going to insist that we visit the Banff Upper Hot Springs. 100% natural mineral water flows into the springs, where you can take a dip at temperatures of around 37 to 40 degrees Celsius.

I’ll probably complain about it being too hot within about 7 seconds.

Calgary

At the end of our journey we would finally arrive in Calgary; home to over 1 million people and the largest city in the province of Alberta, it will be the most populated place we will be visiting on our trip. As with any large city there is a wealth of things to see and do in Calgary, far too much to list in this post. Having done some initial research my number one thing to look forward to in Calgary is going up the Calgary Tower. At 191 metres tall it offers the best views of the city. It even has see through glass floors!

The Calgary skyline. Well, some of it!