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Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Best Spots for your Canadian Roadtrip

Last month, my boyfriend and I went away to Canada for 2 weeks on a road trip through Alberta and British Columbia. It was honestly the most incredible trip of my life. I'm lucky enough to have been to Canada a few times before as I have some family out there, which was part of the motivation for going again. However on this occasion I wanted explore as much as I possibly could over the span of 2 weeks! 

I cannot recommend this trip enough, the scenery is just incredible, everywhere you turn there are views that look like something printed on a postcard. As well as this, Canadians are just the most welcoming and friendly people - so travelling around a country you've never driven in before instantly becomes far less intimidating. However if you aren't into the outdoors, then a prior warning that this probably isn't your kind of trip! There are lots of beautiful view points, but in my opinion it's not worth travelling all that way unless you are up for some hiking. Especially as the weather is so unpredictable, as you'll notice in the photos we experienced just about every season out there! 

We had a few particular stops we were keen on doing, a combination of visiting family and locations we wanted to visit, so we planned our route around that. 

The Route We Took

  • Calgary, AB
  • Jasper, AB
  • Banff, AB
  • Invermere, BC
  • Rossland, BC
  • Vancouver, BC

There are so many beautiful things to see, we barely scratched the surface! However here are some of my top recommendations. 

Peyto Lake, AB

Peyto Lake is located about an hour north of Banff, so we stopped there on our drive up to Jasper. Peyto Lake is just amazing, it is so beautiful. When you drive there it takes you to a high view point that looks over the entire lake, and there's also a short hike you can do whilst you are there. 
Tip: Follow the hike trail for 5  minutes or so, there's a path on the right through the trees. Follow it and it will take you to a fantastic view point where you are likely to be the only ones there. 

Lake Moraine, AB

Lake Moraine has a lot of tourists and often the car park is full, so you may have to take a shuttle bus from near Lake Louise. However it is beautiful, it's the most incredible place I've ever visited - the colour of the lake is like nothing you've ever seen. There is a hike you can do whilst you are there, however Lake Moraine is quite high in the mountains so the hike requires a minimum of 4 people due to the bears in the area. 

Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, AB

If you are into your animals, then this is a fantastic sanctuary to visit. They take in wolves that need a new home (for various reasons - all of which you will find out when you are there). We paid a bit extra to have a talk from a member of staff, and it was so interesting - there is so much that I didn't even know about wolves. As well as that, you can tell that the workers adore them and really love working there. It's definitely worth a visit one morning. There are also 2 cute dogs in reception to say hello to, makes up for not being able to stroke the wolves!

Grassie Lakes, AB

I actually visited this spot when I last went out to visit my brother, but I still remember how brilliant it was. It's a beautiful hike that's quite short, and behind the car park is a huge ice blue lake that you can climb down to for some stunning photos. 

Athabasca Falls, AB

This is just under half an hour from Jasper, so it's a good place to stop when you are on your way there or on your way back. As with everywhere else, it's just damn pretty. It's pretty busy, but if you wonder around a bit you will manage to find some quieter spots by the water to sit down and chill out. 

Lake Louise, AB

Lake Louise often comes up as one of the top places to visit near Banff. In my honest opinion, it's a nice lake...but it's not the prettiest. Not by a long way. It's also full of tourists. However it's definitely worth a visit to do the Tea House Hike, it's quite steep but it's not too difficult - I did it in a pair of vans. Once you get to the top you'll find Lake Agnes Tea House, it's a great place to stop for some well earned lunch!

Lake Windermere, BC

Lake Windermere is located about 2 hours from Banff, near Invermere. It's a really cute little town with nice cafes and restaurants (the Blue Dog Cafe has delicious breakfast and lunch) and it's right next to Lake Windermere - a huge beautiful lake that is definitely worth stopping at for a look.  

Halfway Hot Springs, BC

My cousin took us here, and we would never have known it was there otherwise! Unlike a lot of other hot springs in the area, these are real natural hot springs - rather than a swimming pool that's fed with hot spring water. It's off the beaten track and you'll need a decent sized car to get you there as the road isn't very smooth, but it's worth the trip as it's an amazing experience. 

Stanley Park, Vancouver

Moving over to the city life, Vancouver in general is definitely worth a visit. As a city I absolutely loved it! It's got a great atmosphere, it's compact and it's clean, and there's certainly no shortage of great food and bars. One place to make sure you visit is Stanley Park, do what we did and hire some bikes for the morning - it's about 6km around the edge of the park and you are cycling by the sea the entire time. It's beautiful. 

Vancouver Aquarium

I know, an Aquarium is an Aquarium right? Nah, this Aquarium is the best one I've ever been to. They are so incredibly focused on conservation of the ocean, and a lot of the animals that are the main attractions - sea otters, dolphins, seals - are actually rescues. The place itself is also incredibly educational, every exhibit informs you how close the animals are to extinction and what you can do to help preserve them (for example, there may be a particular type of fish you can avoid eating). They are also big supporters of Ocean Wise, an initiative to protect the Ocean - you can read more about it here

Whale Watching

There are a few different companies that do Whale Watching in Vancouver, we went with Vancouver Whale Watch. As a prior warning, Whale Watching isn't a hugely cheap activity - but in my opinion it really is a once in a lifetime experience so it's worth the money. It was an incredible afternoon watching a family of Orcas in their natural environment, as well as that we got to see Sea lions and Seals (Which were unfortunately probably about to become lunch...). It does depend on which time of year you are visiting though, as generally whale watching season runs from April - October. 

Ice Hockey

Wherever you are in Canada, you have GOT to go to an Ice Hockey game. I'll be honest, I still don't really get why you can punch someone but you can't poke them with your hockey stick - but anyway, it's a really fun evening, the atmosphere is great and it's unlike any sport you'd see in the UK. 

I hope that this post has convinced you to put Canada in your bucket list! You can check out more photos and videos from my trip on my Instagram - emmacljones.

Where are you off to on your next holiday? I'm looking for some new inspiration!

Emma x

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