The best road trips to take when living in Calgary are obviously into British Columbia. Living in scenic Calgary means we have lots of road trip opportunities and if you’re anything like us when it comes to travel you avoid crowds. It’s not because we don’t enjoy being tourists, it’s quite the opposite actually. It’s because we like to do things on our own pace. Not to mention we love to see things off the beaten path. That’s why we love to travel by road and we’re always taking the road less traveled. Literally.
This past summer we had the greatest privilege of heading outdoors and exploring beautiful British Columbia. Our home in Calgary allows us to explore our backyard through countless different road trips but this summer proved to be some of the most scenic.
Road Trip to Prince George, British Columbia
Our first road trip took us to Northern British Columbia through majestic Jasper and the Columbia Icefields on route to Prince George then back east to Dawson Creek. This trek was our first to the area and after driving 3 days we managed to add an extra 2000 km onto our 100 series Toyota Land Cruiser. This beauty of a truck has kept us exploring on our road trips from Calgary for the past 13 years. She is a beast of a vehicle and can handle the most vicious of road trips. For any Land Cruiser enthusiasts out there you know the reliability of these machines and their unique skill set to get you through anything.
Road Tripping isn’t for everyone
There is nothing more exhilarating than leaving the city life behind and exploring the open road. When we left Calgary in July we knew the exact route we wanted to take on this particular road trip. So one Friday evening and headed west on highway 1 towards the Columbia Icefields Parkway. As we ventured closer towards our destination we were on the lookout for camp spots along the way. Typically you would reserve your campsite before leaving but that’s not our style of travel. We prefer to leave everything to chance. Our truck is equipped with an ARB rooftop tent as well as the space in the back for sleeping. This way we never have to rely on finding a campsite but can get away with stealth sleeping on the side of the road. This type of travel isn’t for everyone but it suits us just fine.
The first leg of our road trip from Calgary took us through Banff and into Columbia Icefields Parkway. Although luck was not on our side for finding a campsite we were able to set up in the parking lot conveniently located at the foot of the Athabasca Glacier. Nothing beats a good nights sleep in your truck and waking up to this view!
Waking up with the sun is only part of the adventure of travelling in your truck. We have done enough of these road trips to figure out what we need in order to make it both comfortable but also convenient. First, our travelling companion is our ever loving and neurotic Doberman named Alice. She does every road trip with us and we make sure she is comfortable on the road. Although there are times when we are pretty sure she hates us, no road trip would be complete without her constant whining.
Columbia Icefields to Prince George Road Trip Day 2
As we left Columbia Icefields in the rearview mirror we made sure to make a pit stop at Athabasca Falls off Highway 93. This area is a spectacular lookout point to view the power of water and Mother Nature. Make sure you stop here on your road trip from Calgary. This is a must see for anyone!
Although we did not get to see the crystal glacier waters it was definitely worth the stop. You have a better chance of seeing the crystal blue waters in early spring or late summer but nonetheless the lookouts are still spectacular.
After leaving Athabasca Falls you head North on Highway 93 towards Jasper. Jasper is a small town located in the heart of Canadian Rocky Mountains in Jasper National Park. This is by far one of the most scenic roads to take when leaving Calgary on your trip. If you’ve got the time stop and take the Jasper Sky Tram up to the top of Whistlers Mountain. The views are one of a kind from up there but make sure to dress warm even in summer, the winds can get pretty intense all the way up there.
Leaving scenic Jasper behind
From Jasper we continued west along highway 16 also known as the Yellowhead Highway. This particular road will take you through Mount Robson along the Fraser River into Prince George. There’s plenty of photo opportunities along this stretch of highway from lakes to historic provincial parks and lookouts. You cross into British Columbia on this stretch of the road with breathtaking views of the mountain range all around you. As we drew closer to Prince George we found a great little spot to take a dip in the Willow River. Made for a fabulous dip in the heat of the July sun.
When we were planning our British Columbia road trip we knew that our stops would be minimal and our overnight sleeping arrangements not planned. This type of travel is always risky but we usually end up finding something at the last minute. But as we drew further north from Prince George and as the sun started to set we still had not managed to find an appropriate camp spot. Things were looking a little grim for our second night on the road. But as luck would have it we found a secluded spot just East of Chetwynd along highway 97.
Chetwynd to Dawson Creek Road Trip Day 3
As the new day started we were able to take in the sights and sounds of what we had missed the night before. Our overnight comp spot proved to be off the beaten path entirely. 34 kms east of Chetwynd, British Columbia there is a little place called the East Pine Provincial Park. There is an unimproved campsite which proved perfect for our truck. Call it luck of a complete fluke but this was a great place to get a good nights sleep.
Day three would bring us into Dawson Creek where the famous mile 0 to Alaska highway starts. This particular stretch of highway was not as picturesque as the previous day but well worth the drive.
As our road trip took us away from British Columbia we ventured back into Alberta. We would drive through Grand Prairie, then head south through Grand Cache and further south into Hinton. For our final night on the road we knew we would end up of Highway 40 and try our luck on crown land. If you’re adventurous enough the best camp spots can be found on crown land. We advise you know your trucks capabilities before venturing into unknown trails. For us, this is the epitome of road trips. The wilderness and calm of the great outdoors.
Going to the woods is going homeJohn Muir
All road trips lead back home
Our last leg of the journey would take us closer to home. But not before we bore witness to the most intense hail storm in our lifetime. Living in Calgary you’re used to hail but this was something all together different. Our truck got so pounded that our ARB tent suffered major damage. The outside cover had to be replaced and our tent ended up getting soaked from the rain. All in all it was definitely an epic way to end a road trip.