• Polar Bear - Hudson Bay Canada  - credit Sue Holden
    Hudson Bay Canada - credit Sue Holden

The Alternative Rockies

Picture courtesy of Destination Canada. In the south of British Columbia are two delightful regions offering a quieter alternative to the usual route between Calgary and Vancouver. What distinguishes this route is its diversity of scenery and interest; from the lush farmlands, deserts, world-class vineyards and golf courses of Thompson Okanagan to the mountains, glaciers, hot springs, and mining history associated with the Kootenay Rockies. Explore a little further off the beaten track.

Summary

The Alternative Rockies

For second time visitors to Western Canada, or for those wishing to get off the beaten track, this alternative Rockies itinerary may just provide the answer.

Day 1: Banff
Day 3: Radium Hot Springs
Day 5: Cranbrook
Day 7: Slocan Lake
Day 9: Kelowna
Day 11: Osoyoos
Day 13: Harrison Hot Springs
Day 14: Depart Vancouver

Description

Description

In the south of British Columbia are two delightful regions offering a quieter alternative to the usual route between Calgary and Vancouver. What distinguishes this route is its diversity of scenery and interest; from the lush farmlands, deserts, world-class vineyards and golf courses of Thompson Okanagan to the mountains, glaciers, hot springs, and mining history associated with the Kootenay Rockies.

Day 1: Banff
Arrive into Calgary and drive to Banff. Banff is Canada’s highest town and the centre of tourism for the Rockies. Visit the Whyte Museum, Sulphur Mountain Gondola, and Devil’s Gap on Lake Minnewanka.
Two nights Banff

Day 3: Radium Hot Springs
Drive via Lake Louise, the “jewel in the crown” of Western Canada. Approach via the Sinclair Canyon or the Columbia Valley Wetlands, and drive through the Yoho National Park then the wetlands of the Columbia River Valley.
Two nights Radium Hot Springs

Day 5: Cranbrook
The age of railroading is celebrated at the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel in Cranbrook – worth a visit. Nearby is the heritage town of Fort Steele.
Two nights Cranbrook

Day 7: Slocan Lake
Around Creston you will find plentiful orchards. Drive alongside Kootenay Lake. Take the free ferry to the west side. Close by are yet more hot springs, this time in a cave setting at Ainsworth. Stop off at Nelson, a silver-prospectors’ town. Or if you take the northerly route you will pass the world’s oldest paddle steamer, moored at Kaslo.
Two nights Slocan Lake

Day 9: Kelowna
Situated on the shores of Lake Okanagan, Kelowna is a Mecca for golfers and wineconnoisseurs. Enjoy the sandy beach and Water Park, or house boating on Okanagan Lake.
Two nights Kelowna

Day 11: Osoyoos
Head south via Penticton through an area starkly different from the start of this itinerary. Osoyoos is the oasis in Canada’s only true desert, with Wineries and orchards.
Two nights Osoyoos

Day 13: Harrison Hot Springs
A relaxing drive via Princeton ends your holiday with an overnight stay just outside Vancouver – one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
One night Harrison Hot Springs

Day 14: Depart Vancouver

If you have a little extra time:

  • Return to Calgary using a different route or take one of the world’s most famous train journeys, the Rocky Mountaineer; a two-day, daylight rail journey from Vancouver to Jasper, Banff or Calgary, travelling Red or Goldleaf.
  • If this is your first visit don’t miss Vancouver Island. Spend some time in Victoria. See the world-famous Butchart Gardens or go on one of the many whale-watching tours.
  • Knight Inlet – a remote finger of water accessible only by floatplane, and here you will find a floating lodge with an extraordinary reputation. Wildlife viewing at its best, with excellent opportunities to see Grizzly Bears, bald eagles and orcas (killer whales). Bird watchers will enjoy a myriad of bird life including osprey, loons and grebes to name but a few.

Moraine Lake & Valley of Ten Peaks

Credit Alberta Tourism

Picture courtesy of Yvonne Dann

Picture courtesy of Yvonne Dann

Picture courtesy of Destination Canada

Picture courtesy of Destination Canada

Little Gems

Little Gems

The Kelowna area is in fact classed as desert – surprising, we know – and here you will find vineyards, orchards and some of the finest skiing in Western Canada.

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