Round trip starting and finishing in Vancouver
Replies: 16 - Last Post: Nov 15, 2012 8:14 AM Last Post By: hardnosethehigh...
Oct 23, 2012 2:00 PM
Round trip starting and finishing in VancouverI am in the process of booking a 12 day holiday (give or take a couple of days) to Vancouver and would like to do a round trip exploring the region by car. We are 26 years old and interested in expericing city life as well as fantastic scenery and a little bit of the famous BC wilderness.
We will be flying to and from vancouver and hiring a car as we and plan to travel to two other places with over night stays. However we do not want to be travelling more than 4 hours drive to each destination.
So far I have looked into travelling towards Whistler, however I can't seem to find much of a round trip route back to Vancouver, therefor perhaps it would be better just seeing Whistler as part of a day trip?
The other option we've got is travelling in the other direction towards Vancouver island, however again struggling to find a round trip as the places I am interested in visiting, Victoria and Tofino seem quite far apart and both mean travelling back on yourself.
Can anyone help in suggesting a good driving route which starts in Vancouver, finishes in Vancouver and encompasses some great scenery as well as a relaxing atmosphere away from the city. Preferably two stop off points after starting in Vancouver and lasting 12 days. We are planning to travel in early September.
Oct 23, 2012 2:18 PM
1September is the beginning of quiet season, so roads should be quiet....days will be warm, nights cool.
We've done Whistler as a day/2 day trip dozens of time...nice area, but not a must. Some posters here insist on it, some hate it lol.
The island is worth 4 days! Spend at least 3 nights in Tofino.....its a MUST!...and a day in Victoria.
Canada is a tough place to "not" travel over 4 hrs between "hot spots", but its doable. Consider the Okanagan for 2-3 days if your into wine, touristy lakes, and heat. Shuswaps could be added to this as well...beautiful large lakes fun to boat and camp on.
Sunshine coast is another option....its been soooo long since I've been there, I wont be to much help in that region.
Oct 23, 2012 3:25 PM
2If you want to do a loop that starts and ends in Vancouver, I'd head to Whistler, then take the Lillooet route to Kamloops. From there exploring the Okanagan and even heading into the Kootenays can be done. (More than 4 hours)
If you go that way, Kelowna or Penticton is a good base.
Then you could spend a few days in Osoyoos, but the drive back is more than 4 hours.
To us that live here, that's chump change though. Every year I drive to the Okanagan from Vancouver on a long weekend, for 3 days (which adds traffic insanity). It's a fact of life.
Oct 23, 2012 4:16 PM
3As you list the UK as your home, it's important to acknowledge that driving is a completely different experience in Canada. Distances are farther, but population density is far lower so you can cover those distances much faster and easier. Most towns are not that interesting, but rather the roads and scenery between them is the attraction and where you should spend the majority of your time so it's quite reasonable and common to spend 8 hours per day driving mixed in with various stops. For instance, Victoria to Tofino is an easy one-day drive that leaves plenty of time for stopping at attractions along the way.
There are dozens of potential loop trips around different parts of BC if you don't stick to your 4 hour limitation.
From Vancouver there are many reasonable options that could fill or take up part of your 12 days with minimal backtracking:
Vancouver - Victoria - Tofino - Comox - Powell River & Sunshine Coast - Whistler - Vancouver
Vancouver - Whistler - Kamloops - Okanagan & Kootenays - Vancouver
You could even head further east to the Rocky Mountains if you wanted with your available time.
September's usually a great month anywhere in BC, so you really can't go wrong with whatever route you choose.
Oct 23, 2012 5:35 PM
4Poster #3 has made some great suggestions. I'll just reiterate that Vancouver Island can be a loop trip if you head back to Vancouver via the Sunshine Coast (Comox-Powell River-Gibsons-Horseshoe Bay). Whistler can be made a loop by going up to Pemberton and then to Lillooet and back to Vancouver via Hope. With 12 days you can do both loops. However, I agree with others that the Whistler loop can be extended to include the Okanagan and Kootenays. I think heading to Tofino is highly desirable, so I'd tack that on whether or not you make it part of a loop. If you skip Tofino (and maybe Whistler), you could head to Banff via Hwy 1 and then back via Hwy 3. You can't go wrong with any of these choices. Have fun!
Oct 23, 2012 6:36 PM
Oct 24, 2012 5:13 PM
Oct 26, 2012 1:03 AM
7I work in the tourist industry near a town called 'Golden' (not much there). Anyway, Canada is way to awesome to waste doing a circle in a small spot (not saying that area isnt worth it, but we have plenty of people pass through on our tours that come from vancouver and drive either via whistler or not and come through the wine region (kelowna) for a night or two, then stop off in golden to go atving/whitewater rafting/zipling in a day, then head on to lake louise (there are many awesome things to see in this area, Takakkaw falls being the 2nd highest waterfalls in canada, wapta falls, morraine lake, emerald lake) then head to banff via 1A (head upto lake louise ski hill) this isnt the highway, wildlife is usually quite frequent along here (so drive safely) then theres stop outs along the way, but must stop is johnstons canyon. then spend the rest of your time exploring banff/surrounding area as after Banff its 3hrs to Calgary and not much worth stopping for after what you've been through.
Spend a day in victoria, then head up and spend 2 days in tofino, then only back to nanaimo to get ferry across (stop at goats on the roof though), then head to whistler, then wine region for few days then back.
Personally The rocky mtns route van to calgary may seem long but you wont regret it and if you do, please let me know.
Oct 28, 2012 8:38 PM
8Hi, This government website may help you: http://www.hellobc.com/british-columbia/driving-routes.aspx
Hello BC has some driving routes suggested by theme and info on distances, etc.
I am not overly keen on Vancouver Island, although so many tourists go there. But Tofino is a special place. My favourite area in the province is the Kootenay Region, absolutely gorgeous and September is the perfect time there. The Kokanee will be spawning.
I live in the Okanagan and probably take its beauty for granted. The lake, the sunshine, the mountains and wooded trails I can walk on everyday. This year we had zero rain in August and September--the summer just went on and on.
Good luck and have fun planning!
Oct 29, 2012 3:11 AM
9Thanks for everyones replies, these really helped narrow down my decision!
We've decided to stay in Vancouver for the first 5 nights, using it as a base to explore the city but also we will have the car so we can go further a field for day trips up to Whistler and the surrounding area.
Then we will be getting the ferry to Vancouver island where we will stop at Parksville (mainly as a stop over) then over to Ucluelet where we will have the chance to explore around Ucluelet and Tofino for a few days.
Then next onto Victoria for a couple of nights and back to Vancouver!
If anyone has any specific recommendations for these areas that would be great!
We are currently thinking about staying in Ucluelet ahead of Tofino as we can find cheaper accommodation there, still at a high standard. Is it a mistake choosing to stay in Ucluelet over Tofino? I presumed as we had the car that we would still be able to see Tofino as it is only approximately a 30 minute drive.
I'm very keen to do one of the whale watching tours on our travel however i'm unsure as to which place would be the best to do so, it appears that both Vancouver, Ucluelet/Tofino , and Victoria all do Whale Watching Tours!
We are very excited about our trip!
Oct 29, 2012 5:38 AM
10It might depend on the time of year but, generally, whale-watching is better from Ucluelet/Tofino than the others. Perhaps you'll have better chance of seeing Orcas out of Victoria...but the bigger whales (Humpbacks, Greys) are more likely out of Tofino...though, again, it probably depends on when...
A note...when heading from Tofino to Victoria, jump off Hwy 1 and onto 1A just south of Ladysmith and take a scenic drive through Chemainus, Crofton, Maple Bay, and Cowichan Bay.
Nov 3, 2012 3:49 AM
11September is probably the best time of year to visit. It is still hot and sunny but there are far fewer tourists.
If you want to go to Vancouver > Whistler you can take the Duffy Lake Road through Pemberton to Lillooet, and from there you can head down through Lytton and then meet up with the Trans-Canada and make the spectacular trip down the Fraser Valley to Hope (Hell's Gate is one of the attractions on this route). From there it is only about an hour and a half to Vancouver.
Pacific Rim National Park is between Tofino and Ucluelet so many of the places you want to visit will be along the way. Tofino is VERY busy in the summer and, although it slows down a bit in September it is still a costly place to stay. If you want to go whale watching I would do it from Ucluelet/Tofino. If nothing else the scenery will be much better! Also, make sure you stop by Cathedral Grove (aka MacMillan Provincial Park) along the way. It is between Parksville and Port Alberni and you can see some of the most accessible big trees on the island. There are more impressive stands elsewhere, but none are so easy to get to.
Nov 3, 2012 3:49 AM
Nov 5, 2012 11:56 AM
13Consider renting an SUV or jeep and buy a backroads map in Tofino. You can see some incredible waterfalls and ancient trees in the Tofino area that are only accessible by gravel logging roads. We bought this map at the tourist centre.
Nov 12, 2012 11:35 AM
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