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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.