How to prepare for your trip to the Canadian Rockies

Everything you need to know to organize a trip to the Canadian Rockies: when to go, the budget, choosing your type of accommodation… On our side, we chose to do a 15-day road trip in the fall between Calgary and Vancouver.

How to choose the time period, duration and itinerary in the Rockies

When to go to the Canadian Rockies?

The best period in terms of weather would be from June to October, temperatures are milder and the risk of rain is lower. We loved discovering the landscapes in the fall with the beautiful yellow colours of the larch trees. They sublimated the landscapes of our hikes. But if you don’t fear the cold, winter must also be magical. On the other hand, even outside the summer period, you will have many organized tour buses….

The duration of a trip to the Canadian Rockies

To determine the duration of your trip, you must first find out what you want to see. For our part, we wanted to mix nature and cities and see Calgary, Banff National Park, Jasper, Yoho, Glacier and Vancouver. Some people prefer to loop from Calgary like our friend Julie, or from Vancouver, depending on your desires, time and budget. In any case, we do not regret our itinerary at all, it allowed us to discover incredible places and take our time. Slow travel is our new motto.

How to create your itinerary?

Once the number of days has been defined, you can create your itinerary. We start by doing research in guides, here we used Fabulous Canadian West at Ulysses Editions. Then on the internet, Instagram or on Pinterest. Finally, we use a planning tool to see what can be done. We usually use Google My Maps but we recently discovered Rome2Rio. These tools are essential in our opinion because they allow you to see the distances between each point of interest.

Practical tips for planning your trip to the Canadian Rockies

Airline tickets

Since we were going on a two-month trip across Western Canada and the United States, we chose a trip from Paris to Calgary and back again to Los Angeles to Paris. We looked at the Easy Voyage flight comparator. It allows you to quickly see which company best suits your needs: schedules, prices etc.

Our advice to get the best prices:

First of all, aviation experts believe that the best time to book a cheaper flight is around 60 days before your departure.

Then, do not hesitate to be flexible about your departure times and days. Prefer weekday trips. For example: we left Paris on a Tuesday morning and chose a night return flight to return on a Tuesday morning. There’s no point in putting you in private navigation. These are complex algorithms that vary the prices of your airline tickets, not the number of times you go to check them.

Finally, choose low-cost airlines, paying close attention to their additional cost policies. For the outward journey we had Vueling for our Paris > London, then Westjet for London > Calgary. And we have a return to Los Angeles > Paris with Norwegian Airlines.

The accommodation

For this trip we have chosen to combine typical chalet-type hotels, Airbnb and GuesttoGuest. Since we were leaving in the fall and the temperatures were low (there was already snow) we preferred to choose hotels in the Rocky Mountain National Parks. It has a certain cost you have to be aware of it because it will probably be the biggest part of your budget… The camping option will certainly be cheaper if you leave in the summer.

Camping:
If you wish to camp but you are not equipped you can ask for a quote from Windigo. They rent complete camping equipment (tents, duvets, accessories…) in Canada and the USA and there are several addresses available to pick up and drop off the equipment.

Airbnb: In
Calgary and Canmore we chose to sleep in airbnb, which was cheaper than hotels. Moreover, if you do not have an account yet, you can use our sponsorship code to get 30 € / 45 $CA on your next reservation.

The car rental

We chose to rent the car in an Enterprise in Calgary and drop it off in Vancouver. Since we have lived in Montreal we have chosen them, their customer service is perfect and we accumulate points.

The starting price of the rental was not very high, but it was necessary to add the road insurance which covers damage to windows, tires… and tow truck costs if necessary. As well as the “one-way” option of 200 € / 300 $CA, which is added when you take a car from a branch and drop it off in a different one….

To rent a car, you must have:

  • 18 years old minimum,
  • your driver’s license,
  • your valid passport.

The food

We went shopping to plan picnics for lunch and then dinners in our hotel rooms in the evening. We only did three restaurants over 15 days. One in Calgary, one in Revelstoke and one in Vancouver, which reduces the budget quite a bit.

The motto

In Canada the currency is the Canadian dollar, its symbols are $CA or CAD. The euro being stronger, you have more purchasing power when you travel in Canada.

Time difference

You have an 8-hour gap with France from Alberta and 9 hours from British Columbia. In Glacier National Park, a sign warns you to add one hour to your watch.

Be careful though, as France changes time two weeks before Canada. This means that when France spends summer or winter time the difference is 7 hours and 8 hours for 2 weeks.

Electricity

Don’t forget your adapters when you go to Canada because the plugs and voltage are different.

What to pack in your suitcase in the fall?

T-shirts for hiking because you will be warm if it is good, but also big socks, gloves and a winter coat because it can be very cold! Then a tip, if you like hiking, get a bear spray.

What is the budget for a 15-day road trip from Calgary to Vancouver?

For our 15-day trip to the Rockies, we spent €3,660 / C$5,425 for two people.

  • Airfare: 1176 €/ 1743 $CA
  • Car rental for 11 days, 2492 km : 636 €/ 942 $CA
  • Gasoline: 142 €/ 210 $CA
  • Accommodation: €1093 / C$1620
  • Food: €405 / C$600
  • Activities*: 210 € / 311 $CA

What to remember when planning a trip to the Canadian Rockies

Western Canada is a fairly expensive destination because housing, transportation and food are not cheap… But the beauty of the landscape quickly makes us forget all this.

In conclusion, the Canadian Rockies are:

  • a paradise for lovers of wide open spaces: forests, lakes and mountains,
  • filled with wild animals, each more beautiful than the next,
  • touristic and therefore quite expensive.

Travel to British Columbia, heading for the great outdoors

Before you leave

Located in the far west of Canada, British Columbia is intertwined between the Rockies and the Pacific Ocean. This province, almost twice the size of France, is a magnificent adventure park for all those who go there. The discovery often begins in Vancouver. Every year, this city ranks among the top 10 most pleasant cities on the planet. Yet, travellers arriving to these remote parts of Canada are often in search of fresh air, nature and the greatest change of scenery. All you have to do is leave the few quiet cities that dot the landscape to blend in completely with a most unspoilt environment. On the menu for your trip to British Columbia: River walks, hikes through huge fir forests, northern safaris in search of large specimens of local wildlife. In winter, skis, snowshoes and sled dogs take over. In short, a stay in British Columbia offers a wide range of activities that are exciting to discover!

Advice from the editorial staff

If the east coast of Canada is French-speaking, here, we speak English and only English! Don’t forget to revisit the few memories you have of Shakespeare’s language. Otherwise, don’t leave without a small pocket dictionary!
Be sufficiently equipped if you travel to British Columbia during the winter. The climate is harsh, temperatures are rarely positive between November and March!

The pros

  • +The calm and relaxed atmosphere of the streets of Vancouver
  • +The magic of landscapes with different shades
  • +Nature preserved over most of the territory

The cons

  • -The harsh climate during the winter months (October to March)

Cooking

Local cuisine is not particularly well known. Of course, you will find all the elements of classic North American cuisine. Some specialities must be tested, such as surf and turf, a set of fish and meat dishes, bread rolls called Bannocks or toasted seaweed.
British Columbia is also known for its vineyards and wine route. There are two wine regions in the southern part of the province: the Similkameen Valley and the Okanagan Valley. The relatively mild climate of these valleys allows the vines to flourish and the wines produced from them are known to be of good quality. Be sure to soak your lips in a 2007 Chardonnay Estate River or Sun Rock Shiraz.

WEATHER COMFORT INDEX

Discover the weekly weather forecasts for British Columbia. Different criteria provided by Météo France allow us to accurately display the best period to leave British Columbia. The temperature, weather, sunshine and wind indexes will allow you, thanks to an overall score, to choose the most suitable activities for the weather and thus make your holidays a success.

Remembrance and crafts

Indian handicrafts offer pleasant souvenirs: sculptures, trapper’s snowshoes, calumets, moccasins, jewellery and skins. You will also find beautiful handmade pottery. Go directly to the reserves, it’s nicer and the money goes directly to the producers and craftsmen! To be sure of the origin and manufacture of a sculpture, for example, you only need to ask for the authenticity sticker, issued by the government. Stores are generally open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Convenience stores (neighbourhood grocery stores) are open later and sometimes 24 hours a day.