RV to Western Canadian: 4 Great Destinations

Canada is a land of diversity and outstanding natural beauty, and every region of this great country offers different opportunities for adventure and excitement.

The rush of the Chuckwagon Races,  Calgary Stampede (Credit: Tourism Calgary)

The rush of the Chuckwagon Races,
Calgary Stampede
(Credit: Tourism Calgary)

From sea to sea, Canada is a land filled with fascinating places and amazing adventures.

But, where to travel? Following are four of the best, must-see spots in Western Canada.

Calgary (Alberta)

The Stampede is always a reason to visit Calgary. It is a mega-event that doesn’t disappoint. Cities become most interesting when they embrace what is distinct about themselves. Calgary did that over a century ago when the Calgary Stampede was born. When the hay starts flyin’ you know it’s time to gallop over to the Calgary Stampede (102nd annual; July 4-13, 2014).

Alberta’s largest city launched an intriguing event called Beakerhead, a festival that celebrates innovation through engineering and science. Astronaut Chris Hadfield was the celebrity participant in this curious cultural experiment. Calgary has more engineers per capita than most cities in the world, meaning Beakerhead has the foundation to build something big and cool. It’s a festival to watch as it gears up for its second go-round from September 10-14, 2014.

Calgary is also emerging as a destination because of its wealth of, well, wealth. Big money from the energy and finance sectors is sponsoring creative projects and helping to sustain the city’s culinary scene, which is one of the best in the country.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve (British Columbia)

No trip to Vancouver Island is complete without a visit to Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park

No trip to Vancouver Island is complete without a visit to Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park (Credit: vancouverisland.travel)

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is a thin strip of land along the southwestern coast of Vancouver Island. Its magnificent islands, beaches, and dramatic seascapes divide into three geographically distinct park units: Long Beach (the most accessible), Broken Group Islands (about 100 islands in Barkley Sound), and the challenging 45-mile West Coast Trail.

The Long Beach Unit is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island between the villages of Ucluelet and Tofino. They host the annual Whale Festival from mid-March to mid-April to mark the gray whale spring migration north through park waters. Long Beach is an almost mystical place, a broad and—yes—long beach of great waves and breathtaking beauty. Long Beach Unit includes Green Point Campground, with 105 campsites situated on a forested terrace with trail access to Long Beach.

The West Coast Trail includes the section of coast southeast of Barkley Sound between the villages of Bamfield and Port Renfrew. One of the best-known and most challenging hikes in North America, it follows a rugged shoreline where approximately 66 ships have met their demise along this stretch of the “Graveyard of the Pacific”.

Park’s marine and forest environment features sand beaches, an island archipelago, old-growth coastal temperate rainforest, and significant archeological sites. The area is home to a variety of marine mammals, including seals, sea lions, and whales.

Okanagan Valley (British Columbia)

The sunny corridor of the Okanagan Valley, with its river and chain of lakes, leads

Okanagan Valley

I breathe in deeply. I’m back in the Sunny Okanagan… © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

northward from the U.S. border through a smiling countryside of irrigated orchards and vineyards. The mild climate, delightful landscape, and easy access from north and south draw RVers as well as retired people.

There are attractions and recreational activities aplenty, from water sports to zoo parks. One of the best ways to explore the Okanagan is to follow the signed Okanagan Wine Route, which takes in over 40 of the region’s wineries, now enjoying a renaissance after the introduction of new vines and advanced winemaking techniques.

Kluane National Park & Reserve (Yukon)

Home to Canada’s tallest peak (Mount Logan, altitude 19,551 feet), this giant park in western Yukon—8,490 square miles of untamed territory—can be seen from the sky, aboard a helicopter or an airplane equipped with skis (which allow high-altitude snow landings).

Kluane National Park and Reserve of Canada. Natural Wonders & Cultural Treasures. A National Treasure. Aerial view of the St. Elias Mountains

Kluane National Park and Reserve of Canada. Natural Wonders & Cultural Treasures. A National Treasure. Aerial view of the St. Elias Mountains (Credit: Parks Canada/Laura Gorecki)

Or, even better, hike it using the park’s vast network of trails—you could walk for days without seeing another person.

It is a land of precipitous, high mountains, immense icefields, and lush valleys that yield a diverse array of plant and wildlife species and provides for a host of outdoor activities.

Haines Junction is Kluane National Park and Reserve’s administrative centre and the location of the main park visitor reception centre. The Alaska Highway and the Haines Highway parallel the park boundary in the Haines Junction area. Visitors are able to drive into the park at Kathleen Lake and Tachäl Dhäl (Sheep Mountain).

Worth Pondering…

“It’s a friendly town

A friendly town

Cal-gar-eeeee!”

—Friendly Town (sung to the tune of Bonanza) in Shadowy Men On a Shadowy Planet, 1988

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