As our last hurrah for the summer of 2012, We’ve had the pleasure of going on a road trip from Alberta to British Columbia – a very invigorating and stress-relieving though tiring trip.
I was longing to be able to know where the Rocky Mountain started forming and I thought that I would be able to find out on this trip, but to my dissapointment, we crossed the part of the Rockies from East to West and not the South to North where I expect the gradual formation of the mountain range started.
It still was a sight to behold that I never get tired of admiring, even after I’ve seen repeatedly. It always leave me in awe, this creations’ gift to Canada, whenever I see the approach to the mountains.
What was new to me, though, was that this is the first time that I will be able to travel from Edmonton to Vancouver. I am excited because, not only will I be able to experience Vancouver just for the second time but we will also be staying in Kelowna for a night. My cousin was all praises for the sights in Kelowna that makes me want to see the city even more.
Additionally, I will be able to experience myself what’s it like in Vancouver so I can write about living there. I know that my stay in Vancouver will be a very short one to be able to really get a good grasp of what its like to live as a local. But because we have close relatives there who volunteered to show us around, my plan was to use the opportunity to interview them about life as a local in Vancouver. That will be in coming blog posts, though.
For now, let me show in photos and words our road trip across Alberta and British Columbia…..
First stop: Canmore, Alberta
We started of course in Edmonton, where we left about 6 in the morning. The plan was to stop for lunch at Lake Minnewanka inside Banff National Park. The drive to Banff from Edmonton is about 4 1/2 hours but when you’re on a trip like this with so many people in tow, you should expect that some have smaller bladder than others, so a lot of “washroom stop” is un-avoidable.
To avoid the traffic, we bypassed Calgary and instead we took a regional road West (Olds Road) and another turn South (Cowboy Trail) that led us to Highway 1 (Trans Canada Highway) where we drove West to finally arrive at Canmore, Alberta.
Canmore is the first picturesque town by the Rocky Mountains you’ll encounter in Alberta if coming from Calgary or Edmonton. When you reach it, you will know that you are in the Rockies because the mountain range gradually rises starting with the town’s valleys.
After taking a few photos, filling our van with gas and washroom stop at Canmore, we proceeded to Banff. Driving time is about 20 to 30 minutes.
Lunch time at Lake Minnewanka at Banff National Park
When going to Banff National Park, an entrance fee is being collected at the gate. So, if you are going to stay for at least a day there to explore or if you will proceed to Jasper National Park later, be prepared to pay for a National Park fee. In our case, because we are only passing through to get to Vancouver, we did not have to pay anything.
There is a separate gate upon entering the park for those who are passers-by and for those who are staying at Banff. Click here for the entrance payment information.
It is my first time to see Lake Minnewanka Park and although I knew that the view around Banff National Park is amazing, I was a bit surprised to see how close the park is to the peaks. I took a lot of pictures of the place but in my mind, not one photo justifies the beauty of what my eyes were seeing. I did not have a good lunch in the area because I feel that I want to feel the environment around more and enjoy the nature than eat.
I wanted to stay a little bit longer at this lake picnic area so I can explore the place more, but we have to be in Kelowna before dark for our reservation. Too bad, but maybe next time.
Short visit to Lake Louise
After our lunch at Lake Minnewanka Park, we went for a brief photo snapping time at Lake Louise also inside Banff National Park. We decided to make a brief stop there so that my kids can see for themselves this World Heritage site.
In photos, Lake Louise looks like a big area but when there it looks smaller than what is shown in most photos. At any rate, it really is a beautiful part of Banff and should not be missed by anyone visiting or even just passing by the area.
There is only one hotel at Lake Louise, and it is an expensive one. If you are eager to explore more the area, I would suggest to find a cheaper place to stay-in at the town of Banff (about 10 or 15 minutes away) and just drive to Lake Louise for your exploring trip.
Or you can also camp or park your trailer at the area for a small park fees.
There are scenic walking (Nordic in the winter) trails at Lake Louise that not only show the beauty of the place but also a physically challenging hike.
On to Kelowna, BC
After that short stop at Lake Louise, we drove on to our destination where we will be spending the night – Kelowna, BC.
Driving time from Banff to Kelowna is approximately 6 1/2 hours but with leisurely drive like we’re doing plus more stops, took us about 8 hours. We’re still along Highway 1 or the Trans-Canada Highway and from Banff, the next National Park we passed was Yoho National Park.Passing Yoho, I was told that we already crossed provincial boundary. We’re in British Columbia already. We stopped briefly at a Golden, BC rest area for the usual bathroom break and stayed for a couple of minutes to enjoy the view of the bridge where you can see the oncoming traffic as they drove down the length of the highway.
It was such a spectacular view, as you will see in the photo. The drive starting from Canmore, Alberta up to Revelstoke, BC on the stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway is nothing but natural, mountainous beauty! But one grand landscape that I regret not taking a photo of was when we passed the Rogers Pass scenic area.
It is there that the grand vista of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains was visible as the mountainous-landscape slowly turn to become a pine-forested peaks of British Columbia. My eyes were feasting on this beautiful part of nature’s creation while most of my companions were sleeping.It’s good that I went ahead with this trip. I’d really like to see how different the landscape is from Alberta to British Columbia and compare them with what I’m used to in Ontario.
Each Province has its own spectacular scenery that any person who value natures’ gift will feel lucky to have seen and experience.
We finally reached Kelowna about 7 pm. We checked in at the bread-and-breakfast lodging we reserved and then had dinner in a Chinese restaurant.
After dinner, we walked around the main town for about an hour or so and finally for a goodnights rest.
I got up very early the next morning because I’m excited to find out how Kelowna looks like because prior last night, it seemed like it is big area that I will not be able to see a big portion of so I can get a good grasp of how it is to stay there.
Turned out I’m wrong. The main place of attraction, which is the baywalk from where we are staying up to the end of Waterfront Park, will only take about an hour or two of leisurely walk. I’m taking photos while walking and I’m guessing I’m walking slower than leisurely, so it must be really a small place.
Kelowna is beautiful. Lake Okanagan is a very clean lake; crystal clean as a matter of fact. It is also a retirement place for many Canadian seniors (as evidenced by the presence of a lot of senior citizens hanging out and working at a McDonalds outlet). There are also a lot of activities to keep you busy. I find it a very nice place to stay at on vacations but to retire there, in my opinion, is not for me. For one, it’s not cheap. And also, it is still cold although it is nice in the summer.
I may stay for a week or two (in fact I’m thinking of going back with the whole family), but to stay there for a month – I don’t think it’s for me.
Off to our last stop – Vancouver, BC
We left Kelowna just after lunch to go to our final stop for this trip. But before we drove straight to Vancouver, we searched for where to buy the famous Okanagan cherries.
We traveled the length of Highway 97 South to Peachland and up on one of the hills we found some cherry plantations. Our intention was to pick the cherries ourselves but according to the owners, cherry-picking season is only in the month of July, so we ended up getting only a boxful of their reserve to bring as present to our relatives in Vancouver. As I found out, Okanagan cherries are really good and that’s probably why even in Ontario, groceries stock-up on them more than the Ontario variety.
After that, we drove back to the highway leading to Vancouver (Highway 97C and then Highway 1). Travel time to Vancouver from Kelowna is approximately 4 1/2 hours only so we drove easy because that’s not that far anymore.
The mountain-landscape from then on are pine-forested peaks, which to me is not as a fantastic view compared to when we drove past the Rockies as we approach British Columbia. In fact, I’ve seen better panoramas in Ontario. What I don’t like about the forest plants in the mountains of BC? Majority of the plants are pine trees. In Ontario and also in Quebec, there’s a lot of variety of trees covering mountains, valleys or even the road side, which make the a road trip in those places a pleasant drive in the Autumn.
You’ll see leaves in a variety of color when driving along the highways of Ontario and Quebec in the Fall season – and I don’t think it will be the case when driving past the mountain ranges in BC.
We reached Vancouver at about 6 pm and since it was Summertime, it is still bright when we got to the house we rented. It was a classy house. Beautiful view of Grouse Mountain and an inlet or cove of the Pacific Ocean is what will greet you upon entering the receiving area.
Vancouver is what I remembered it was when I visited years ago. Hilly and like Toronto, is a city surrounded by many beautiful parks. What I like about going about in Vancouver is the fact that it’s a city by the Pacific Ocean.
I love to be close to the ocean than by a lake like in Toronto. Specially in the summer, when the day is longer and the weather is warmer, it would be nice to stroll or bike or take photos of the ocean and the surrounding parks.
I love it in Vancouver and so did my kids. They had plenty of goodtimes when we were staying there and my son was considering to move in May. I wouldn’t mind. It would be great to have another Canadian city to live at besides Edmonton and Toronto.
I would write about what my relatives in Vancouver told me about living in the city in future posts, meanwhile, here are some photos that I took while in Vancouver: