Western Canada Roadtrip: Lesser Known Places to Visit

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A Western Canada roadtrip is just what you need to experience the area’s bounty of superb mountains, abundant wildlife, and wide-open spaces. It holds great appeal for travellers looking for a unique adventure. 

A Western Canada roadtrip will take you off the main highways where there are hidden destinations that most tourists never experience. It is often overlooked for more popular destinations, making it quieter. 

See the Rocky Mountains in Alberta on a western Canada roadtrip

Most international visitors carefully arrange their itineraries. So they plan around Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, and Vancouver. Where people from around the world go to experience the splendor of the Rocky Mountains. And the beauty of the Pacific coast.

Check out Kananaskis County while you're on a Western Canada roadtrip.

Recommended Reading: 6 Adventures In Whistler, British Columbia

Now imagine how amazing it would be to see equally spectacular scenery. But without the crowds, says Greg Lynch. Greg is an avid outdoor enthusiast with Scenic Travel Canada. Because the landscape is so large, a lot of natural beauty can be enjoyed in relative solitude.

Related Reading: Writing-On-Stone: Your Guide to Exploring This Treasure in Alberta, Canada

Consider Kananaskis Country Instead of Banff National Park

Banff, Alberta welcomes millions of visitors each year. Right next door, in the front range of the Rockies, is Kananaskis Country. A place where you can glacier hike on top of a mountain. You can walk to the base of a waterfall and trek along a ridge to the very top.

K-Country is a collection of provincial parks that border the more popular Banff National Park. It’s only 1 hour away. However, it’s relatively undeveloped and visitors get to experience the vast wilderness at its finest. It’s the perfect place to stop on a Western Canada roadtrip. 

Recommended Reading: The Best Way to Experience Castle Provincial Park in Alberta

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Outdoor adventures in Kananaskis include:

  • Wildlife Viewing – Bears can be seen in the early morning, forging alongside the road. Elk, moose, and deer come out just after sunset and can be spotted in the alpine meadows.
  • Hiking – There’s plenty of day hikes suitable for hikers of all fitness levels. July, August, and September are the warmest and most scenic months. Unless you’re a backcountry skier who enjoys deep, pristine snow (November – April).
  • Backpacking – Backcountry camping doesn’t get any better than in the secluded heights of the Rocky Mountains. The approximate elevation is 2250 meters. Most adventure-seekers journey to one of the remote campgrounds. They use it as a base for day hikes to high-elevation lakes, waterfalls and mountain peaks.
  • Scenic Drives – Enjoy the views from the highest paved highway in Canada along Highway 40. Opened from June 15 – December 1. It’s a scenic wonder to drive nearly to the top of the peaks in the Highwood Pass. It’s a real treat on your Western Canada roadtrip.

Related Reading: A Canadian Adventure: Itinerary for Western Canada

Visit Wells Gray Provincial Park Instead of Jasper, Alberta

Three hours west of Jasper National Park is the relatively unknown Wells Gray Provincial Park. Located in central British Columbia, this quiet park is home to spectacular waterfalls and wildlife.

In April, bear watching is popular as hundreds of these bruins forage on roadside vegetation. Hiking can be a bit harrowing. But as long as visitors tread with care and respect, there should be no encounters.

Related Reading: 9 Ways to Experience the Natural Beauty of Vancouver

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Adventures within Wells Gray Provincial Park include:

  • Amazing hikes to waterfalls. Hikers can enjoy walking behind the falling water of Mouls Falls.
  • Wilderness camping is at its best amongst the thick forest and placid lakes.
  • White water adventures on some of the most pristine rivers in North America.
  • Enjoy over 100 kilometres of immaculate shoreline along Murtle Lake. It is one of the few canoe-only lakes in British Columbia and a great stop to make on your Western Canada roadtrip.

Related Reading: 6 Adventures in Whistler, British Columbia

Go See Vancouver Island instead of the City of Vancouver

The rugged wilds of Vancouver Island are the exact opposite of the cosmopolitan flair of Vancouver. A scenic 1.5-hour ferry ride takes adventure lovers to the rocky shores of the island. It’s about the size of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Discover a place where the rainforest meets the sea. Natural wonders include annual salmon runs, exceptional coastal hiking, and whale-watching tours. Some of the freshest air in the country comes immediately off of the Pacific Ocean.

Related Reading: The Best Hiking Journal and 7 Reasons You Should Keep One

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Recommended Reading: Elk Island National Park: One of The Best Places to See Bison

Outdoor adventures on Vancouver Island include:

  • East Sooke Park – Located just 40 minutes outside of the capital city of Victoria, BC. Hiking trails take visitors to the top of coastal mountains and down to the shore. Where Orca and Humpback whales feed.
  • Strathcona Park – Home to the highest waterfall in Canada. This rugged park has few roads and services and truly represents the rugged wilderness of British Columbia.
  • West Coast Trail – People from all over the world brave this 6-8 day hike to test their mental fortitude and physical limits. And to enjoy the protected coastal scenery. The warmest and driest time to do this backpacking trip is in September.
Hiking the West Coast Trail is one of the highlights of a Western Canada roadtrip.

Because the distances are large and the scenic wonders numerous, a Western Canada roadtrip is the best way to experience it all. So drive a little ways off of the main roads and discover the uncrowded side of Canada.

This is a guest post written by Greg Lynch of Scenic Travel Canada, All photos are courtesy of Greg Lynch.

Western Canada roadtrip

6 thoughts on “Western Canada Roadtrip: Lesser Known Places to Visit”

  1. Hi Laurel,
    What an interesting and unique travel blog. I really like how you provide alternative destinations to more common destinations. That inspired me to offer another hidden gem of BC – northern Rockies or more specifically Muncho Lake on the Alaska Highway.

    I live and work in this beautiful country full of breathtaking views and wildlife. Muncho Lake itself is located in on of the largest and most significant protected wilderness areas in North America called Muskwa Kechika. It is also a gateway to Nahanni National Park Reserve, which is one of the very first site recognized as a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE.

    I hope you find this useful.
    Thanks,
    Niro

    Reply
  2. Great post to tell people about other less travelled, but just as beautiful parts of Canada. I can’t say enough about Kananaskis. Just curious–do you know where the second photo (the big “lumpy” peak with the brown ridge to the right) is from? I don’t recognize it!

    Reply
  3. @Amanda – I lived in Western Canada and there’s still so many amazing places that I want to visit, it’s a big place!

    @Laura – Maybe he’s camera shy 🙂

    @Sue – Western Canada is great for kids, so much to discover.

    Reply

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