We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Drive trip Vancouver to Rockies with kids 2, 4, and 6

Which British Columbia hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
Melbourne, Australia
3 posts
Save Topic
Drive trip Vancouver to Rockies with kids 2, 4, and 6

Hi,

Thanks for your valuable advice on these forums. We are travelling from Australia to Canada in June/July with our 3 boys who will be 2, 4 and 6 years at the time of travel (yes, you are entitled to think we are crazy - most people do!). Planning a car trip from Vancouver-Jasper-Lake Louise/Banff-Vancouver. We are thinking of spending our 10 nights as follows - 1 night in Kamloops/Salmon Arm - 3 nights Jasper - 5 nights Lake Louise - 1 night Kelowna (?)

1. Are Kamloops and Kelowna suitable stopovers? Any other recommendations?

2. Any particular attractions which might be suitable for kids that we shouldn't miss?

3. Any recommendations for walks/activities considering our 'limited mobility'?

We also have a total of 3 nights in Vancouver, and an Alaskan Cruise to finish off.

Many thanks in advance!

Sharon

Kamloops, Canada
Level Contributor
26 posts
33 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Drive trip Vancouver to Rockies with kids 2, 4, and 6

Hi Sharon,

Salmon Arm is a bit out of the way on route to Jasper - it is on the route to Banff - so I would recommend staying in Kamloops. A hotel downtown allows you to walk to Riverside Park in the afternoon which is on the Thompson River - a great place to spend a summer day with kids. Or you could head to the BC Wildlife park for a few hours. I'd recommend picking up some snacks at a supermarket in Kamloops before taking off - especially since you are traveling with kids.

(Alternatively you could stay north of the city in Barriere or Clearwater but Kamloops offers a much better selection of accommodation).

The drive from Kamloops to Jasper is about 5 hours - you could break this up with a stop at Helmcken Falls in Clearwater. It's very impressive and a great piece of BC wilderness.

From Jasper to Banff, take the Icefields Parkway (www.icefieldsparkway.ca). Here you can go out on the glaciers, perhaps see some wildlife, etc... before continuing on to Lake Louise. I'd also recommend a daytrip from Lake Louise to Banff. There is so much to do in this area - this thread has lots of good information and links to help.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g154911-i221-k5520…

A large part of the attraction for this driving route is the beautiful scenery - keep an eye out for wildlife! It's very exciting to spot a bear or elk - even for locals :)

I like your idea of returning to Vancouver through Kelowna, it will give you a glimpse of the Okanagan region of BC. A day at the beach in Kelowna is always fun for kids, for the adults there are some amazing wineries in the area.

Once you have your dates confirmed, book your accommodation as soon as possible as BC gets pretty busy during the summer. July 1st is Canada Day and will be very busy. Also cities like Kelowna and Kamloops often have large events - music festivals, concerts, sports tournaments - during which hotels are in high demand.

Happy planning!

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
24,710 posts
59 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Drive trip Vancouver to Rockies with kids 2, 4, and 6

Ok, I would head over to the Canadian Rockies forum for specific advice on that area, but from my limited perspective, I can't imagine WHY you would spend 5 nights in Lake Louise? Do you have a reason for choosing LL over Banff?

Overall, given the ages of your kids, although I'm sure they have learned to be good little travellers, I'm not sure that its realistic to try and cross BC with only one night between the coast and the Rockies. Vancouver to Jasper is almost exactly the same distance as Melbourne to Adelaide (via the inland route), although the driving to Adelaide is much flatter and easier than through BC's several mountain ranges. If you would push through to Adelaide comfortably, then you can probably manage it, but if you think it would result in a lot of complaining from the back seat and that would spoil things in the front seat, then you might want to break that up a little more.

Having driven highway 1 in both directions in recent years, I do feel that the scenery is a little better heading east towards Banff, especially through Roger's Pass, so I might do the loop in the other direction.

Vancouver - Salmon Arm - Revelstoke/Golden - Banff (3) - Jasper (3) - Valemount/Blue River - Lytton/Merritt/Hope - Vancouver.

I realize that Salmon Arm and Revelstoke aren't all that far apart, nor are Jasper and Valemount. My intent there is just to reduce the total time in the car and give you all more time for walks through the beautiful forests, exploring heritage sites or even swimming in lakes and rivers. You have to get out of the car to do those things, and you haven't left much time for that with your current plan.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
Level Contributor
55,625 posts
60 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Drive trip Vancouver to Rockies with kids 2, 4, and 6

Hi Sharon ~

Please say your flights aren't booked yet!

With 10 nights and little kids, you would be much better off flying in to Calgary and doing a one way to Vancouver. No question about that.

1 night Calgary, depending on your arrival time, otherwise immediately to Banff, a 2 hour drive.

4 nights Banff

Half way up and back the Icefields Parkway - day trip

1 night Lake Louise

2 nights Revelstoke

2 nights Kelowna (Loco Landing in Penticton for fun)

3 nights Vancouver

Cruise

***

Contact Canadian Affair, a UK company, for a one way rental with no one way drop fee.

https://www.canadianaffair.com/en/car-hire/

Jasper, Canada
Destination Expert
for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
Level Contributor
17,936 posts
107 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Drive trip Vancouver to Rockies with kids 2, 4, and 6

Hi and welcome to the TripAdvisor forums!

On the way to Jasper, if you want to see Helmcken Falls or any of Wells Gray Provincial Park, I'd recommend overnighting at Clearwater instead of Kamloops. It's an hour further north. Also, note that visiting Wells Gray PP will add at least an hour's detour to your driving (the road into the park is a detour "out and back" from the highway) ... so with three small kids, it may not be in the cards anyway.

Along that same route from Kamloops to Jasper (hwys #5 and #16), there are two sets of waterfalls that are short walks from parking - Rearguard Falls and Overlander Falls, as well as the Mt. Robson visitor centre (and there is a cool playground there), which is one hour west of Jasper.

Lake Louise is a very small place, not a real town or village, just a collection of a few hotels and other visitor services. There are very limited dining options there. The "village" itself is actually 4 km from the lake, downhill and adjacent to the highway. I would recommend staying in Banff instead, where you can walk around the town, visit local playgrounds etc. There is a much wider range of accommodation in Banff, and it is much more affordable too. The main advantage to Lake Louise, besides being close to the lake, is early access to the many hiking trails - but with 3 small kids, I don't think you'll be doing a lot of big hikes.

There are lots of shorter and easier walks you can do in the Canadian Rockies national parks. When my kids were small, they always enjoyed playing out in nature ... balancing on fallen trees, throwing rocks in water etc. ... so going for walks was usually more about the fun en route and less about the destination. Do keep them close and pay attention to your surroundings since there are bears, cougars, coyotes and wolves in our forests. (But the more dangerous animal at the time of year is the cow elk!)

Kelowna has lots of beaches and parks on Lake Okanagan, and City Park would be great fun for the kids. There is a splash park there, playgrounds etc. There is a hotel right across the street .... it used to be a Travelodge but I am not sure if it still is.... I think it's called the Abbott Street Villa or something similar.

Edited: 06 January 2014, 19:33
Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
Level Contributor
55,625 posts
60 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Drive trip Vancouver to Rockies with kids 2, 4, and 6

You may well have your flights booked in to/out of Vancouver. I would still encourage you to drive one way to Calgary and fly back to Vancouver for your cruise.

I am not a great fan of driving Hwy 5 to Kamloops and further up to Hwy 16, then east to Jasper. The part south of Kamloops was built for getting commerce and people fast to and from the interior, functional, not many pullouts there, a steady haul up to the Coquihalla Summit at ~1300 metres and a steady decline into Merritt. Then north of Kamloops, IMO, is fairly scenic as BC is wont to be, but is a long haul of the same landscape. The scenic route in that part of the province, and more interesting, is generally considered to be Hwy 1 from about Revelstoke to Lake Louise. You will find railway attractions along this route: Revelstoke Railway Museum, Spiral Tunnel viewpoint of the tracks that reduce the grade by circling inside the mountain. At the "lucky" time, you can see a train coming out of one tunnel while the caboose end is about to enter the first tunnel.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEe9d69NpyM

http://yourrailwaypictures.com/Tunnels/

With that in mind, consider 3 nights Vancouver, 2 nights Kelowna, 1 night Revelstoke, 3 nights Banff, 3 nights Jasper, 1 night Lake Louise and drive the 2 hours to Calgary airport to fly to Vancouver for immediate transfer to your cruise.

Air Canada and WestJet fly every hour to Vancouver, flight is 1.5 hours.

Driving the Icefields Parkway a second time is an excellent trade for Hwy 5.

Greater Sydney...
Level Contributor
15,597 posts
75 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Drive trip Vancouver to Rockies with kids 2, 4, and 6

I also question why 5 nights Lake Louise?

Vancouver-by-the-Sea
Destination Expert
for British Columbia
Level Contributor
8,169 posts
1 review
Save Reply
7. Re: Drive trip Vancouver to Rockies with kids 2, 4, and 6

Salmon Arm is a great place to find some swimming for the kids-higher in the mountains not nearly so much opportunity.

Melbourne, Australia
3 posts
Save Reply
8. Re: Drive trip Vancouver to Rockies with kids 2, 4, and 6

Thank you all so much for taking time to post some wonderful advice!

Lots of great suggestions, which I will now have to sit down and distill into something that works for us.

Flying to Calgary first sounds particularly attractive and I'll get my travel agent onto it. Should have asked for advice before booking our flights - doh! I'm assuming they fly there from LAX.

Re: 5 nights in Lake Louise - I read somewhere on these forums that many of the attractions are around that area and that it was easier access to attractions in Yoho NP. Also, Banff was meant to be a bit crowded with tourists at that time of year. Seeing that it's only meant to be a 15 min drive, I thought it would be easier to stay put in the one place and use it as our base in that region, driving out as required (this was suggested to someone else on a forum). If that's not a great idea, I'll look at changing that. I also had a bit of a search for Banff accommodation and quite a few on the main strip didn't seem to have air conditioning (hence, might be quite noisy at night if we have our windows open).

Thanks again all. Nothing beats the advice of friendly locals!

Edited: 07 January 2014, 10:42
Greater Sydney...
Level Contributor
15,597 posts
75 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Drive trip Vancouver to Rockies with kids 2, 4, and 6

Needing air/con in Banff would be quite unusual.

Also, as the Rockies are about 900km from Vancouver, I really think you should be asking about that leg of the trip in the Canadian Rockies forum here:

tripadvisor.com.au/ShowForum-g659487-i11598-…

Edited: 07 January 2014, 10:50
Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
Level Contributor
55,625 posts
60 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Drive trip Vancouver to Rockies with kids 2, 4, and 6

Banff and Jasper are 45 min apart.

Air/con and Banff: www.weatherbase.com/weather/weather.php3…

Let us know how you go with checking on flying Calgary.