In August 2019 I went, accompanied with a friend, on my first road trip. We started in Ucluelet, B.C and over the course of a week got as far as Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta. I planned this trip for months going over countless places to visit, stay and take pictures of but once we were on the road things were more relaxed. We stopped where we wanted to, jumped in a lake, and awed over the beauty of our provinces.
This being the most ambitious plan I'd ever executed at the time, I was nervous to be out in the world alone but mostly excited to see things I'd never seen before. Something I know prepared me better for the residence life at University and the general approach I'd take to that experience. All for the better. If you're reading this travel mate, thank you for being there and sitting next to me for a week- I'm sure it wasn't always the easiest thing to do lol.
Whistler, B.C. / Nairn Falls 7/10
Day One: Our first destination: Expensive, beautiful, and busy af. Would definitely go again, the drive up their was beautiful and, properly dressed, I'd love to actually go on the hikes and see more of the village. We didn't stay the night in Whistler but camped about half an hour north at Nairn Falls, a provincial park.
From the day parking area of the park you can make your way down a few km trail to a viewing platform! We went first thing the next morning before leaving to go further north. This isn't the main, I believe, but if you turn around you can see down the river.
Joffre Lakes/ Kamloops/ Revelstoke 7/10
Day Two: Continued our way up Highway 99 and stopped at Joffre Lakes to take some pictures before the parking lot filled up! The highway continued to impress as you worked your way through the mountains. I wish I took more photos of the view, it was definitely one of the best leisurely drives I've been on.
To the left is at Joffre Lakes, below is Marble Canyon. A little park off the side of the highway, before Lillooet if I remember correctly, it has few camping spots. No service out there though we did take a dip in the lake and it was amazing.
Revelstoke, didn't get to explore much of and would 10/10 go back to see what it has to offer. We really just made it to the campground and enjoyed the wifi.
Takakkaw Falls/ Banff/ Lake Louise/ Rocky Mountain House 8/10
Day Three: Left Revelstoke and headed to the Rockies! Lots of construction, much traffic, but we did see some mountain goats. Highlight right there. Although we were basically B-Lining it to Banff, we did make a stop at Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park at the recommendation of my favourite high school teacher. 10/10 would recommend, it was breathtaking and the switchback road to get their was so exciting I'm almost embarrassed of my enthusiasm toward it.
When we finally got to Banff, it was the busiest place I have seen in Canada. Straight up Whistler times ten, though I shouldn't be surprised, it was pretty nice. Almost looks fake, honestly. We got lunch here and then walked through the mall where I finally caved in and bought a pair of flip flops to end my suffering. While we were in the area, amazed by the amount of parking lots to visit Lake Louise, we braved the main lot and found a spot! Very busy. Would stay at the hotel there and visit at dawn or dusk because midday was not the time to enjoy that place.
After hours upon hours of travelling and tiredness taking hold we left Banff with the intention of finding a campground along Alberta's Highway 11, along the North Saskatchewan River. A place with absolutely no service and a surprising amount of rather too crowded campgrounds or suspiciously deserted ones. There was one named after a fish I wanted to stay at but was quite full and loud so we set sight on Rocky Mountain House National Park!
As you can see, I was very excited. Great highway by the way- the middle part at least. Alberta really came through with that straight road life real quick. Mountains were gorgeous on the left and river on the right was crazy.
We eventually, after a downpour, made it down a dirt road to Rocky Mountain House park. Thank god for that time change because I think we would've arrived at like 9pm if it weren't for it. V hazy day. We unknowingly set up our tent on what would be a puddle that evening as rain/ lightning took over the entire night. This campground is beautiful though and their showers were cleaner than my dorms. 50 points to the government for that. Went for a stroll in the morning, it was dead and I didn't get mauled by wildlife- yay. Left a fish rock there too that I brought from Ucluelet. Shout out to, "Hey, Where's my rock now?" on FB.
Day Four and Five: Alberta has the LONGEST roads I have ever seen in my life. Like, they just don't end, ever. Made it through a lot of towns on our way to Calgary, I vaguely remember one named after cheese. Lots of farms. Chill day till we got to the city and then proceeded to park 2 blocks away from the AirBnB we booked and had to carry our bags and damp tent to.
Went for a stroll by myself, saw a drug deal, the water and then bought beer because I was 18 and why not. Didn't get carded, was v disappointing. Stayed here for two days.
Drumheller/ Dinosaur Provincial Park 8/10
Day Six: Met my old coworker that moved away here! Great day, awesome rocks all around and the dinosaur was huge. Bought a magnet but did not go up the dinosaur, was too cheap. The park though, I would definitely go back to and camp at. There's a little convenience store above the campsites and they have lots of snacks and all that. BUT- my main reason for staying here is to drive on the loop that goes around the park. It takes you through all the rocks, there's a few trails to enjoy and places to park and look at bones!
Waterton Lakes National Park 9/10
Day Seven: We didn't plan on stopping here, but I'm so glad we did! I'd describe as a small town, similar to Whistler but a lot more hometown-is and quiet. There's a lake in the middle of the town that I'd definitely stop to spend the day at next time. After stopping here, we headed back to BC! Where the trip kind of just turned to a mad dash home.
I had never felt so tired by the time we got to the ferry. Where there was a two sailing wait btw. The Okanagan was stunning as usual and I had the best peaches of my life.