You know, how these summer weekends are special… Sunny days, warm nights, juicy fruits, the smell of fresh-cut grass and lots of ice cream… I feel especially active and adventurous. Harrying to hike all the picks, swim all the lakes and oceans and find new amazing routes.
So this Canada Day long weekend my husband, our dog and I decided to travel along the southern border of Canada-USA to the Prairie. That was awesome! Let me share our detailed itinerary and some great locations we visited during this 5-day trip.
Vancouver – Keremeos (1 night) – Cranbrook (1 night) – Brooks (1 night) – Calgary (1 night) – Revelstoke (1 night) – Vancouver
I tried to mention all the delicious cafes/restaurants and good hotels. If there is no name of the place – it means that I didn’t like it and don’t want to share it with you.
Day 1: Cherry, Doukhobors, the best coffee and free ferry ride
In fact, we cheated a little and left the house in the evening. We drove 350 km to Keremeos and spent the night in a motel.
- In the morning we went to Osoyoos for breakfast. Osoyoos is an adorable town on the lake, surrounded by wineries. It is one of the warmest places in all of Canada. I recommend spending here 2-3 days. This time we just stopped by at Jojo’s Café, bought some fresh cherries (4Cad/lb) and enjoyed the view from Anarchist Mountain Lookout (2 hours)
- Road to Castlegar (2 hours 40 min)
- Doukhobor Discovery Centre in Castlegar – Doukhobors are a sect of Russian dissenters. In the 19th century, lots of them had to leave Russia to settle in Canada. Now there are about 30k of them here. They kept their religion and traditions. To my great disappointment, none of the museum staff spoke the ancient language. But the borsch and nalistniki at the cafe were delicious! (2 hours)
- Road to Nelson (30 min)
- Nelson – this town was a gem! The streets, buildings and murals in this town were so pretty! Oso Negro Café – is a must visit! A great view is from Gyro Park. (1.5 hours)
- Road to Balfour (30 min)
- Kootenay Bay ferry – that was fun! We took a ferry to cross Lake Kootenay and sailed 35 picturesque minutes for free. You can find the ferry timetable here (1 hour)
- On the other shore, we stopped by The Glass House – made completely from bottles. It was already closed.
- Road to Cranbrook (2 hours)
- Night in Motel6 – more-less ok for 1 night with a dog.
Day 2: Gold Rush Fort, miners and Prairie’s heritage site
- Breakfast at ELLA’S (30 min)
- Fort Steele – is the whole village of heritage houses, the stables, old-style dressed staff and a real steam train! It was found during the Gold Rush in 1864. Very similar to the famous Barkerville, but smaller and cozier. Our dog was especially happy because this historic town is pet-friendly! (2 hours)
- Road to Sparwood (1 hour 20 min)
- Quick stop in Fernie for Rooftop Coffee Roasters (try hazelnut chocolate croissant) and Big Bang Bagels (30 min)
- World’s Largest Tandem Axle Truck in Sparwood. Since 1974 Terex Titan was the largest, highest capacity haul truck in the world for 25 years. (15 min)
- Road to Bellevue (30 min)
- Frank Slide – It was a thriving mining village once. Until The Frank Slide of 1903 destroyed much of the village, killing 70–90 people. There is a great Interpretive Centre nearby. Also Bellevue Mine is still open for tourists. You can book an underground tour online. (20 min)
- Lundbreck Falls – it was such a pleasure to rest here for some time on a hot day. The waterfall is very nice, you can go down to the water and cool up (30 min)
- Road to the Prairie (50 min)
- Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site – we drove to that Unesco Site, where indigenous peoples hunted buffalos 6000 years ago. Museum was about to close, so we hiked one trail around and met a very chubby prairie dog. (1 hour)
- For the rest of the day, we drove on a straight road with green flat fields along the sides, occasionally disturbed by the cranes of private oil rigs (2 hours 15 min)
- Night in Canalta Brooks Hotel
Day 3: Dinosaur Park and Calgary
- Road to Dinosaur Provincial Park (30 min)
- Dinosaur Provincial Park – another Unesco Heritage of Alberta. The park is well known for being one of the richest dinosaur fossil locales in the world. Fifty-eight dinosaur species have been discovered at the park and more than 500 specimens have been removed and exhibited in museums around the globe. Some of the fossils you can see in Visitor Centre for 2CAD. The area of the park is also very interesting. You can hike and try to find some ancient dino fossils yourself (it’s illegal to take one home)! I personally adored the hoodoo mysterious landscape. Entrance to the park is free! Check badlands trail (1.3km) and Prairie Trail viewpoint. (1.5 hours)
- Road to Calgary (2.5 hours)
- Calgary – recently The Economic Intelligence Unit has named Calgary the most liveable city in North America and a top-three liveable city in the world! We parked at CPA Lot 7 for a very good price. Had some lunch at Milestones (they have dog’s menu!), drank a cup of great coffee at Rosso Coffee Roasters and explored the city by foot until the rain. My favourite is Wonderland Sculpture and Peace Bridge. Don’t miss Calgary Tower! (3 hours)
- In the evening we visited some friends and spent the night in a local hotel.
Day 4: Rockies are calling and I must go!
We come to the Canadian Rockies every year, I love this place so much! We didn’t have much time and the weather wasn’t great, but the mountains were amazing as always!
- Must-Visit Places in the Canadian Rockies
- Jasper National Park: The Complete Guide
- Yoho Park, Canadian Rockies
- Mt Robson: How We Hiked Canada’s Most Beautiful Trail
- Breakfast at Sierra Cafe Inc. Coffee and baked goods were delicious, don’t take avocado toast (it was ruined by tons of sauce)
- Road to Banff (1 hour 20 min).
- Cave and Basin National Historic Site in Banff – here, In 1883 three railway workers found the thermal springs, sparking a series of events that led to the creation of Canada’s first national park. Now you can’t swim in these hot springs but just observe. The one in the cave was absolutely stunning! Museum was quite boring, but for history admirers, it’s a decent stop in Banff. (1 hour)
- Road to Peyto Lake (1 hour 10 min)
- We had some picnic lunch in the middle. There is a perfect rest area near the river with the tables and washrooms. It’s not marked on Google maps, so these are the coordinates. (1 hour)
- Peyto Lake – the colour of this lake just blew my mind! I even can’t describe it in words (actually on photos this is also not accurate), so unusual and beautiful blue tint it has. The viewpoint was closed for 2 years and they have just opened it in 2022. There is a big parking lot and you need to walk about 10 min up to see this wonder (40 min)
- Road to Revelstoke (3 hours).
- All the way it was bucketing down so we were very happy about our hotel Peaks Lodge with sauna, outdoor hot tubs and barbecue cafe on site.
Day 5: Kelowna, home sweet home
- Breakfast at La Baguette. I simply can’t miss this place in Revelstoke, they are the best! (40 min)
- If you have some free time, check out Railway Museum and drive to the top of Mount Revelstoke National Park. There is a huge ghost town called Three valley Gap and amazing The Enchanted Forest for the kids, not far from the town.
- Usually we take the road to Kamloops, but this time decided to visit Kelowna for a few hours. Nice view point Kalamalka Lakeview Drive Lookout (2.5 hours)
- Kelowna is a beautiful city, you can easily spend here 3+ days. We had some sushi in the centre, enjoyed the lake promenade and bought some bread at Bread Co. (I wrote about them here). We found a great pet-friendly coffee shop – Pulp Fiction Coffee House (2.5 hours)
READ MORE: Kelowna: why I want to go back there
- From Kelowna we drove back to Vancouver with 2 stops: in Merritt – a Canadian capital of country music, and Hope – the gates to the Gold Rush Trail (around 4 hours)
In total, we travelled more than 2.700 km. This route was not crowded and very diverse. I would add up additional 4-5 days for the Rockies. But it was awesome anyway! Please share your favourite places that we missed on these roads or the ones you’d like to see in the comments. Great adventures for all!