Day 1: 1,000 km
Itinerary: Vancouver > Hope + Breakfast > Kamloops + Lunch > Revel Stoke > Golden > Provincial border > Calgary
On our very first day of this adventure, excitement ran so high that sleep remained elusive, despite the looming 4:00 AM wake-up call. The anticipation kept us wide awake until the late hours, around 2-3 AM.
4:00 AM: The moment arrived, and my friend, Richard, sprang into action, picking up our Evo.
> Tip: Evo charges users every 24 hours from the moment you log in. Be sure to grab the car when you're packed and ready to hit the road.
> Tip: Evo boasts an array of models. Opt for the newest one for extended road trips, and always conduct a thorough car check before embarking. You can't switch to another Evo once you leave the home zone.
As we gathered the rest of our group, loaded our luggage, and fueled our spirits, we geared up for our grand departure at 7:00 AM.
Two hours into our journey, we reached our first destination: Hope, at 9:00 AM. It was time for a quick breakfast stop at the ever-reliable Tim Horton's. After a couple of hours more on the road, we decided to satisfy our hunger with a delightful sushi lunch in Kamloops around 1:00 PM.
Continuing onward for another 2-3 hours, we arrived in Revelstoke, where we filled up our tanks. Our next fuel stop came in Golden, BC, the final BC town before crossing the provincial border.
At 8:48 PM, we finally reached the bustling Alberta border, just as the day began to transition into a dark, chilly night. Eager to commemorate this moment, we snapped pictures and videos at the Alberta border before resuming our journey.
By 11:00 PM, after an uninterrupted drive from the BC border, we entered the City of Calgary. Swiftly checking into our Airbnb, a charming 2-bedroom, 1-bath basement, we couldn't wait to head out for a late dinner.
We had done some research on Calgary's nightlife and found recommendations for various eating spots, including shawarma places and Chinese restaurants. For our first night, we settled on a late-night Vietnamese restaurant. I, personally, savored a delicious bowl of congee from a nearby Chinese eatery in Chinatown, while my friends delighted in steaming bowls of Pho.
Day 2: Take it easy!
The day kicked off at 8:00 AM, with me seizing the moment to secure our bus tickets to Moraine Lake, setting the stage for a thrilling day ahead.
But wait, isn't there a twist in the story?
With the previous day's marathon drive of over 1000 kilometers, our intrepid drivers were understandably in need of a break. So, we collectively opted for a leisurely start, cozying up in our beds until noon. The morning was a laid-back affair, with a quick breakfast comprised of leftovers, before the clock struck 12.
By 3:00 PM, we were back in action, making our way to the local superstore. Vacation mode didn't mean reckless spending, and we intended to keep our budget in check. To our surprise, the grocery prices at the Calgary superstore were slightly steeper than what we'd found in Vancouver.
Feeling budget-savvy, we shopped with glee.
The sun was still shining, and the day was ripe with possibility. So, with groceries in tow, we embarked on a delightful side quest. Our destination? The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Dinosaurs, a mere hour and a half away from Calgary.
Off to the dinosaur kingdom we go!
As we closed in on the museum at 7:00 PM, with just an hour or two until closing time, we knew we had to pick up the pace. Along the way, the landscape around Calgary began to reveal its character. Flat expanses stretched in all directions, with fields waiting to be harvested. The differences between Calgary and Vancouver were evident. Vancouver's lush mountains and greens gave way to Calgary's flatlands and sprawling fields. The closer we got to Dinosaur Town, the more we encountered rugged terrain and intriguing rock formations.
Our journey became a geological adventure.
Inside the museum, two hours flew by as we marveled at an array of dinosaurs. The mighty T. Rex stood out, its black form commanding attention. The findings about Earth's prehistoric times left us in awe. The lifelike dinosaur models were colossal and captivating.
But here's the twist:
While the museum was a wonder, I couldn't help but compare it to the Vancouver Aquarium, where living creatures danced before our eyes. Walking into a live dinosaur zoo? Well, that's a thought that conjures images of Jurassic Park, and it's a concept that's yet to be explored in our adventures.
Our journey takes us to places both real and imagined.
Day 3: To the ice field
On day three of our epic journey, we embarked on an adventure that would take us from the vibrant city of Calgary to the mesmerizing natural wonders of Banff, Peyto Lake, and the awe-inspiring Icefield Parkway, all before heading back to our cozy base in Calgary.
10-11:00 AM: Our day began with the usual vacation tradition of staying up late the night before. Nevertheless, we managed to rally ourselves, savor a delicious breakfast, and finally hit the road by 1:00 PM.
> Tip: Before leaving for Banff, make sure to download an offline map, as phone signal disappears once you enter the breathtaking wilderness of Banff.
**1:00 PM:** Our journey commenced, with a two-hour drive from Calgary to Banff. As we reached this charming mountain town, we made a quick pit stop for gas, ensuring our windshields and windows were spotless to fully immerse ourselves in the impending beauty of the Icefield Parkway.
The drive from Banff to Jasper showcased some of the most astonishing scenery we've ever laid our eyes on. With only one road to follow, you can't miss this unforgettable route. The day was absolutely perfect, with beauty around every bend, and we found ourselves in awe at each turn. Imagine driving through majestic mountains, and you'll understand why I couldn't stop capturing it all on video.
**4:30 PM:** Our next destination was Peyto Lake, one of the most vibrant and picturesque lakes in North America. The water's remarkable green hue was a sight to behold, easily visible from a convenient viewpoint platform. Though there were some fellow travelers, it wasn't overwhelmingly crowded. In our quest for the ultimate Instagram-worthy shots, we initially tried to venture off the beaten path following an online tip, but it seemed we missed the elusive second platform. So, we decided to press on with our adventure.
After 30 minutes of exploration and capturing the lake's beauty, we continued our journey towards the Icefield Parkway. Along the way, we discovered a spot with breathtaking city views and couldn't resist a group photo, even though the exact location eludes my memory.
6:00 PM: At long last, we reached the Icefield. A friend, who had visited a few years earlier, mentioned there was more ice at that time, but now it was melting due to the season. To my surprise, there was a well-constructed hotel right across the road from the icefield, complete with Wi-Fi access. It left me wondering about the extraordinary effort it took to build a hotel so high up in the mountains.
Nevertheless, we decided to have our BBQ in the heart of nature, just opposite the hotel, with an outhouse conveniently nearby.
The temperature at the icefield was notably cooler than in Banff, so I strongly recommend dressing in warm layers. I was wearing a thermal undershirt from Uniqlo, layered with a cozy hoodie, and I could still feel the chill.
Our barbecue adventure took more time than expected. After two hours, we still hadn't devoured all of our grilled goodies. As the sun started to set around 8:30, the weather grew colder, prompting us to make a quick detour to the glass walkway and a nearby waterfall before we headed back to Calgary, wanting to avoid navigating the roads in the dark.
As the sun quickly disappeared beneath the horizon, we realized the importance of returning before nightfall. Just ten minutes after sunset, darkness had already enveloped the landscape, and the moon watched over us as we raced back to our welcoming AirBnB. We finally arrived at our cozy accommodation around 11:00 PM, tired but filled with unforgettable memories of a day spent amidst nature's grandeur.
Day 4: Beautiful Banff
On day four of our unforgettable journey, our sights were set on the natural wonders of Banff National Park. We rose around 10:30 AM, indulged in a leisurely breakfast, and got everything ready for the day ahead before setting out at approximately 12:30 PM.
A must-visit destination was Moraine Lake, a place of such splendor that private vehicles are not allowed. To ensure we didn't miss out, we had pre-booked our transit bus tickets two days in advance, securing our spot. Here's a valuable tip for fellow travelers: these tickets sell out quickly when they become available at 8:00 AM.
We found ourselves starting a bit later than planned, and in a rush, we sped up to make it to our pre-purchased bus on time. At 2:40 PM, we reached the parking lot, where we caught the bus right at 3:00 PM.
Moraine Lake, a true gem, was revealed to us after a 30-minute bus ride, with the towering, glacier-fed waters and the famous "Lego screen" background. We spent about 30 minutes there, capturing its beauty and essence.
As Lake Louise is more accessible by car and closer to main roads compared to Moraine Lake, we made the decision to head there on our terms. After taking the bus back to the bus stop area, we retrieved our car and proceeded to Lake Louise.
> Here's a handy tip: you don't necessarily need to purchase tickets at Lake Louise, especially if you plan for a brief visit. We parked our car for a 30-minute exploration, and to our luck, no tickets were required. Additionally, restrooms are available nearby, and the Fairmont Hotel, with its grandeur, offers a stunning view of Lake Louise, even though we didn't have the chance to visit.
5:00 PM: We arrived at Lake Louise, and I must say, in comparison to Moraine Lake, Lake Louise offered a broader and equally breathtaking vista. We indulged in a 30-minute photo session from 5:30 PM to 6:00 PM.
8:00 PM: After our visit to Lake Louise, we embarked on a two-hour drive back to Calgary. By 8:00 PM, we found ourselves in the city and determined to savor some Alberta burgers. We headed to a restaurant called Boston Burger, which was bustling with patrons. We enjoyed our burgers at lightning speed, concluding our meal around 9:30 PM, eager to make our way to Calgary Tower.
I had previously purchased Calgary Tower tickets for an 8:00 PM entry. However, as our day unfolded at the lakes, we realized making it back to Calgary by 8 was infeasible. I decided to call the Calgary Tower and learned that as long as you have a ticket, you can enter any time before closing. With only 30 minutes remaining, we raced back to the city and reached the tower at 9:40 PM, just 20 minutes before closing. The receptionist kindly allowed us in, and it felt like a scene from Mission Impossible.
After an enchanting 20 minutes on the tower, we ventured downtown, strolling through streets bustling with life. My favorite spot was a colorful gate, which we couldn't resist capturing in numerous photos. We spent a delightful hour or two exploring Calgary, concluding our busy four-day adventure of Banff, Lake Louise, and downtown Calgary.
We also checked out a casino bar, as recommended by a coworker, but our group wasn't particularly interested in gambling that night. We enjoyed the atmosphere, took in the sights, and later returned to our cozy Airbnb, concluding another remarkable day of our journey.
Day 5: Back to Vancouver
With a touch of nostalgia and adventure still in our hearts, we welcomed the dawn of the fifth day, the grand finale of our road trip. Our rise-and-shine moment happened around 10-11 AM, when we whipped up a hearty breakfast, fueling up for the day ahead.
But there was a mission to accomplish before we could bid farewell to Calgary.
Our friend needed to snag some Apple products, and Calgary's 5% tax rate proved much more enticing than BC's hefty 12%. Thus, we embarked on a mall adventure, browsing and shopping before we eventually left the city at 3:00 PM, a tad later than we'd initially planned.
3:00 PM: Calgary's skyline receded in our rearview mirror as we set our course for Banff. By 5:00 PM, we'd reached Banff, and our growling stomachs signaled it was time for lunch. We decided to spend a bit of time exploring Banff's downtown. The town was a charming blend of souvenir shops and eateries, though some of the souvenirs proved a bit overpriced.
Our culinary journey led us to a small Korean gem in Banff.
Intrigued by the prospect of affordability, we sat down for a meal. For $9 or $10, we relished a satisfying feast, a real bang for our buck. The experience didn't end there; we couldn't resist the allure of Cow's Ice Cream, an iconic treat with a perpetual line. While it was a delightful experience, I couldn't help but compare it to the waffles at Rain or Shine in Vancouver. The thicker waffles back home won me over.
Our keepsake hunt was also successful.
A couple of lovely hoodies and a refrigerator magnet later, we were back on the road at 7:00 PM, bidding farewell to Banff as we sped toward Vancouver. With the wildfire season in full swing, a haze hung over the landscape, obscuring the horizon. The smoky air couldn't deter our resolve, and we cruised along the highway, alongside other travelers. The 120-140 km/h speed limit was no obstacle.
4:00 AM or 5:00 AM: Our journey reached its ultimate destination as we crossed the border into BC and Vancouver. We were greeted by the city's familiar embrace. It was around 4:00 AM when we touched down in Vancouver, exhausted yet exhilarated.
We had one final task - dropping off our travel companions.
With the dawn approaching, we bid adieu to our fellow adventurers, and I had a quick turnaround. Work awaited at 8:00 AM. The alarm was set for 7 AM, and a bittersweet sense of accomplishment filled the air as we rested, cherishing the memories of our epic road trip.
Total Number of Days: 5 days (August 24 - August 28 2023)
Total Distance: 1,000 km from Vancouver to Calgary
Total Evo: $108.81 per day * 5 days = $544.05 / 4 people = $136.01 / person
Total Airbnb: $555.62 / 4 people = $138.90 / person
Moraine Lake: $35 / 4 people =$8.75 /person
Calgary Tower: $ 82.80 / 4 people = $ 20.7 / person
Total Spend = $304.36/person