Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall

Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall

Two Months On A Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall

We did a road trip across Canada and back in the Fall.  Our route took us from Toronto and as far west as Vancouver Island.  After 7 weeks in British Columbia (BC), we drove back to Toronto.

When we planned our road trip to Western Canada there was much to consider. The first time we drove from Toronto to Vancouver, we did the trip through the U.S.  When we did this second road trip, we planned the drive in Canada.  This trip from Toronto to Vancouver took us about 10 days at the beginning of September.  It was easy driving and we had some great stops in Canada along the way.  

When we arrived in British Columbia (BC) for the Fall, we enjoyed some time in Vancouver, headed over to Vancouver Island and spent time on the Sunshine Coast with family.  Fall was a lovely time to explore BC. 

We headed back home to Toronto at the end of October.  We knew that winter weather approached and might change our plans.  So we considered taking a route further south in the U.S. like we did on our first winter return from BC.  But we ultimately decided we were early enough to head back through Canada.  But we did add to our road trip tips along the way!

By The Numbers

We drove from Toronto to Vancouver through Canada and then toured around BC for 7 weeks.  Then we turned around and headed back to Toronto through Canada.

Kootenay National Park

The total trip took us 67 days – 18 days for the cross country drives and 49 days in BC.  We crossed 5 Canadian Provinces and 3 time zones.  

The total mileage was 11,560km (7,183 miles) and we logged over 153 hours driving (116 of that solely crossing the country and back).  On our travels around BC we took 6 BC Ferries trips.  And did a few small ferry trips on False Creek in Vancouver.

BC Ferries Horseshoe Bay - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall
False Creek Aquabus Ferry Vancouver

On our trip we stayed in 19 hotels for 46 hotel nights.  This road trip sure helped with getting points and elite status this year.  But we also needed a few Airbnb stays.  Three different Airbnb stays covered 21 nights when we wanted to be close to family and have more room to get together.

Hotel Saskatchewan Regina - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall
Airbnb Sunshine Coast

Looking at our road trip across Canada and back in the Fall by the numbers sure showed the work that went into planning and executing this trip.

Great Stops On Our Travels From Toronto To Vancouver

Our trip from Toronto started with 3 days through Northern Ontario.  We made some colourful waterfall stops along the way.  And enjoyed a lovely one night stay in Thunder Bay.

Mink Creek Falls - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall
Thunder Bay Delta - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall

When we stopped for 2 days in Winnipeg in Manitoba, we had enough time to explore some of the great sights around the city.  We wandered the city and visited the Manitoba Legislature Building, the River Walk on the Assiniboine River and marvelled at the interesting architecture of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.  

Winnipeg Legislature
Winnipeg Museum - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall

A luxury stop in Regina in Saskatchewan let us relax for 2 days.  But when we headed out we discovered Wascana Lake, the Saskatchewan Legislative Building and the Royal Saskatchewan Museum.

Regina Legislature - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall
Wascana Lake Kwakiutl Totem

After a quick one night stop in Calgary, we enjoyed a sunny stop in Banff before we headed through and over the mountains into British Columbia.

Banff Town

Our two night stop in Revelstoke took us to the outdoors.  One day we explored the waterfalls around Revelstoke.  And we went high up on Mount Revelstoke.  This was a great welcome to BC.

Revelstoke Sutherland Falls - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall
Revelstoke Summit

We had some great stops on our travels from Toronto to Vancouver.  It was a perfect start to our road trip across Canada and back in the Fall.

Enjoying Stays in Vancouver

We started our fall visit to Vancouver with some time with family at an Airbnb in Port Moody.  Then we moved to the JW Marriott Parq on False Creek in Vancouver for a little pampering.  We loved being right on the water and enjoyed all the things to do around False Creek.  

False Creek Granville Island Vancouver - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall
False Creek Granville Island Vancouver Boat Rental

When we returned to Vancouver before we began our long trip home, we went back to the JW Marriott Parq. It was great to be back in a part of the city we knew well.  

False Creek Vancouver - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall
False Creek Vancouver

We always loved spending time in Vancouver when we got to BC.  We got a little pampering break at the end of our road trip west and before we started our road trip for home.  

Along The Sunshine Coast On Our Road Trip Across Canada And Back

With family on the Sunshine Coast in BC, we planned two longer Airbnb stays and enjoyed some family time.  We were based in the Sechelt area and had many outdoor adventures on the Sunshine Coast.  We never tired of the amazing waterfront views.

Sechelt Waterfront View - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall

Great hikes with cascading waterfalls kept us enthralled as we enjoyed the natural beauty of this area.  Hiking to the Skookumchuck Rapids provided another fun day trip.

Sunshine Coast Cliff Gilker Bridge
Skookumchuck Rapids - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall

It was great to enjoy a few weeks with family on our road trip across Canada and back in the Fall.

Exploring Vancouver Island

Between our two stays on the Sunshine Coast we spent two weeks on Vancouver Island.  From the north to the south we enjoyed so many great outdoor adventures.  On our stay in the Courtenay area we explored the Comox Valley.  When we headed south we stopped for a few days in Parksville at a great resort.

Courtenay Old House Hotel
Comox Valley - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall

For our final stay on Vancouver Island we headed back to the Westin Bear Mountain Resort.  This was a great spot to explore the area around the Malahat on Saanich Inlet.   One day we stopped and discovered the outdoor colourful art we found in Chemainus.  On another day, we were captivated by the beautiful Fall colours we found when we visited the Butchart Gardens.

For a fun adventure, we explored the Malahat Skywalk.  We walked along the treetops and then climbed the tower for some amazing panoramic views.  And then had so much fun when we took the giant slide down.

Malahat Skywalk Victoria
Malahat Skywalk Spiral Tower Victoria - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall
Malahat Skywalk Tower Slide.jpg

We had a great outdoor break when we explored Vancouver Island.  And were so glad we added this to our plans for our road trip across Canada and back in the Fall.

Planning Our Return Road Trip From Vancouver To Toronto

The first time we drove home from Vancouver to Toronto we did the trip later in the year and winter weather was a real possibility. We decided it made sense to head into the U.S. and drive along a more southern route.  For this road trip across Canada and back we planned to travel earlier and head home through Canada.

We knew that weather could change our plans.  So we made all of our hotel reservations as cancellable.  We ultimately used this flexibility when we changed our final stop before we got to Toronto.  

On our trip from Toronto to Vancouver, we were happy we planned stops for 2 nights in Regina and Winnipeg. On the return trip we made our stop in Thunder Bay for 2 nights.  We worried that winter driving might be slower and more stressful.  So we wanted a little time to relax before we headed off on the road again.

Our new SUV had all season tires. We were not late enough in the season to need any special equipment for our car for our mountain drive.  We knew that winter crossings required chains on some roads.  But we did ensure we had a full road safety kit in our car and warm clothing was always available.

The planning we did for our return trip from Vancouver to Toronto helped to make it successful and it caused us less anxiety.

Returning Through The Rocky Mountains

We left Vancouver and headed for our first one night return visit to Revelstoke.  We had no stops planned but we could not miss a stop at the “Last Spike” in Craigellachie.  This was the final spike when the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) across Canada was finished.

Last Spike Craigellachie - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall
Last Spike Craigellachie

As we got close to Revelstoke we got a reminder of the challenges faced on road trips.  There were signs warning about winter weather.  And we had a long delay when construction shut down the highway for a time.  When we finally arrived late in Revelstoke, we had a quick dinner and went to bed early not knowing what the next driving day might bring.

Revelstoke Traffic and Weather
Revelstoke Traffic and Weather

We started our drive early the next morning.  Fires and floods in BC caused major issues with the highway systems and major work was underway before the winter settled in.  We learned that the normal route along Hwy 1 was closed.  The detour route went south along Hwy 95 to Radium Hot Springs and then turned west on Hwy 93 into Alberta.  It was a longer route but gave us some new sights along the way.

Revelstoke Morning Mountains - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall
Vancouver To Toronto Route

Dealing with routing changes was one thing we learned on our road trip across Canada and back in the Fall.

Passing Radium Hot Springs Enroute To Alberta

The drive along Hwy 95 was through a valley with a stunning view of the mountains in the distance.  It was easy to see why this was the flat detour route.  As we approached Radium Hot Springs the signs warned about wildlife on the roads.  We found a spot to pull off and saw the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep close up.

Radium Hot Springs - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall
Radium Hot Springs

Leaving Radium Springs we entered Kootenay National Park and immediately saw the Radium Hot Springs pools.  We pulled in and walking around saw the steam coming off the different pools.  We considered a relaxing break in the thermal spring water.  But the pools were not open when we arrived and we did not want to wait.

Radium Hot Springs - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall
Radium Hot Springs

The drive through Kootenay National Park gave us some stunning viewpoints to the mountains in the distance.  In places the road went through narrow and steep rocky passes.

Kootenay National Park
Kootenay National Park
Kootenay National Park - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall

We crossed into Alberta and when Hwy 93 connected to Hwy 1 we were back on our original route home. There were several great mountain view stops as we approached Banff.  We stopped in Banff when we drove from Toronto to Vancouver.  But did not have time for a stop on our trip home.

Banff Rocky Mountains - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall
Banff Rocky Mountains - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall

Our stop for the night was on the east side of Calgary back at the Element Calgary Airport.  When the sun set we looked out the window and saw flat views as far as we could see.  We had left the Rocky Mountains far behind us on this run home on our road trip across Canada and back.

Calgary Sunset

Across The Prairies On Our Road Trip Across Canada And Back

The next morning we started our return run through the prairies in Canada.  It was a very different landscape that we had for our first 3 days on the road.

Regina Flat Roads

We returned to the elegant Hotel Saskatchewan for a 2 night stop in Regina.  It was a great spot for relaxation and some good food.  We explored Regina on our first visit.  It was cold but sunny for this stop. So bundled up, we headed out to the City Hall and along the Fredrick W Hill Mall Walking Street to see a bit of the area close to the hotel.

Hotel Saskatchewan Regina - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall
City Hall Regina - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall
Frederick W Hill Mall Walking Street Regina

From Regina we headed back to Winnipeg for a return 2 night stay at the Delta Winnipeg.  We visited The Forks on our first visit to Winnipeg.  Walking through this area we got more views of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Memorial, the Canadian Museum For Human Rights and the Esplanade Riel Pedestrian Bridge.

The Forks Winnipeg - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall
The Forks Esplanade Riel Pedestrian Bridge - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall
The Forks Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Winnipeg - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall

Our two night stops in Regina and Winnipeg gave us a chance to rest.  We had quite amazing weather on our drive from Vancouver to Winnipeg.  But we knew that would not last on our road trip across Canada and back in the late Fall.

Racing The Winter Weather To Ontario

When we were in Winnipeg we checked the weather forecast and saw winter weather was rapidly approaching.  So we got up and left really early.  We went through snow before we left the Winnipeg area but we got ahead of the storm and did not dawdle.  When we crossed into Ontario, we immediately saw road signs warning of severe weather.

Ontario Drive Weather

All day we watched the storm clouds gathering behind us but we gained a little on the weather.  When we approached Thunder Bay we took a calculated risk and planned a short stop at Kakabeka Falls.  We were only about 32km (20 miles) west of our stop for two nights.  Kakabeka Falls were the second highest waterfalls open year-round in Ontario, so we really did not want to miss them.

Kakabeka Falls Outside Thunder Bay In Ontario  - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall
Kakabaka Falls Far Side Close View

We arrived at the Delta Thunder Bay and went to our lovely upgraded suite with a view.  As we settled in, the promised storm descended.  From our first stay in Thunder Bay, we knew the hotel was a great spot to weather the storm on our road trip across Canada and back.

Ontario Drive Weather
Thunder Bay Delta Room
Thunder Bay Delta Food

Final Stretch Home To Toronto

We had no hotel booked after Thunder Bay.  We watched the weather forecasts closely to determine if we needed to stay longer than the planned 2 nights in Thunder Bay.  When it looked like we might have a few days to run ahead of the weather, we started out without firm plans for our stop that night.  On the initial part of our drive we hit winter weather.  The car GPS showed road closures that the iPhone Maps app did not.  Luckily we followed the iPhone direction and did not get detoured.

Ontario Nipigon Bridge

We had two different options for our final night stop.  One took us back to Sault Ste Marie and the other had us stopping a bit later in North Bay.  When the weather cleared up we decided to do a longer drive to North Bay to reduce our drive time the next day.

Ontario Drive - Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall

A short night stay in North Bay had us up early the next morning.  The bad weather caught up with us again.  And the first part of our drive went through several snow storms.  We were happy when we finally exited the snow for the last few hours home to Toronto.

Ontario Drive Snow

We arrived back in Toronto after more than 2 months on the road for our road trip across Canada and back.

A Great Road Trip Across Canada And Back In The Fall

We were glad we had great a road trip across Canada and back in the Fall.  The drives across the country in both directions went far more smoothly than we might have expected.  And we saw some amazing sights along the way. We only had a short period on the drive home that caused some road trip anxiety.

A long stay in BC in the Fall let us relax and we enjoyed this perfect time of the year on the West coast.  This was the second time we drove from Toronto to Vancouver and back.  We were sure this was not the last time!

Have you done a road trip across Canada and back in the Fall?  Any other tips if we do this again?

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  1. I was really interested to read this post as we did a road trip from BC across Canada to Toronto a few years ago. We did it slightly differently as we were in our motorhome, but we did see many of the same sights as you. It was a fabulous trip and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Next time though, I would want to go the whole way to PEI and Nova Scotia! Have you been?

    • We have done this trip between Toronto and Vancouver and back again twice. The first time we went through the U.S. and this trip we stayed in Canada. We did the trip to PEI and Nova Scotia just before we headed west. So we covered most of Canada on two road trips.

  2. Wow what an incredible road trip! 21 days on the road is a long time but you really saw a lot of Canada. I would love to visit BC and Vancouver Island one day, both really appeal to me. I felt your anxiety about the winter weather coming. In Italy we don’t have extreme cold like you do so I feel anxious thinking about it! I’m glad you made it home safely.

    • We loved our road trip across Canada and were sad when we turned around to go home. But we had Plan B to head south through the U.S. if the weather really turned bad. On a previous trip that sure kept the anxiety level down return as winter approached.

  3. As someone who lives in BC and has road tripped the other way to Toronto, I LOVE this post. How nostalgic! I’m so glad you visited Vancouver Island too, it’s so beautiful! We also took a few weeks to cross the country (something Europeans won’t get) and am so glad we did! There is so much to see in between Toronto and Vancouver! Lovely photos 🙂

    • There was indeed so much to see and do along the way between Toronto and Vancouver. We were glad we planned this trip through Canada as we have done the trip years ago through the U.S. Road tripping right now in Europe and the distances we covered in Canada are just not understood.

  4. Wow, a seven-week trip sounds amazing! You had so many incredible stops along the way. I have heard Revelstoke is a skier’s paradise.

  5. Woooow! What an amazing trip! I have done most of the routes you took through BC and Alberta, but not the long section beyond that to Toronto… It really looks like you had a fantastic time and chose your routes well. 🙂

    I think you lucked out by having Highway 1 close and divert your through Kootenay National park. That route is so lovely. I like it more than the normal route.

    If you ever do it again, the southern route (along Highway 3) is reeeeally gorgeous too.

    • With family on the west coast we will definitely do the road trip from Toronto again one day. Good suggestion to try Highway 3 along the bottom. So many great ways to wander around BC and Alberta too.

  6. I would love to do a Road Trip like this through Canada! Although it seems to be a lot of driving. I am a huge fan of Hot Springs, so I would definitely make sure, that Radium Hot Springs is open during my visit there.

  7. Wow what a trip! Everything looks beautiful, I’m interested in doing the Malahat Skywalk and exploring Kootenay National Park! The drive through the rocks looks incredible!

  8. Since i had done the Calgary-Vancouver drive a few times, i was more interested in the Saskatchewan and Manitoba parts of your cross-country road trip. Specifically, I was wondering how uneventful those long drives from Alberta to Ontario. This was a great road trip!

  9. WOW, what an incredible road trip across Canada! I’d love to drive from Ontario to BC, but it would be so hard not to stop at all the incredible stops along the way. I think setting aside a decent time frame is key.

  10. What an incredible trip! Just wow! When I saw the 67 days note, I had to read that twice, as it is rare to find such long trip reviews in one article! Your photographs made the story come alive, incredible work on capturing that! Truly, living the dream, I hope I can do a similar trip one day!!!

    • It was great to be able to plan such a long visit. We often visit British Columbia by plane but this time with the car we got to wander at our own pace until it was time to head back. Hope you get to do a similar trip one day.

  11. I’ve only ever done a road trip in my home state Western Australia but I’d love to try a road trip in Canada. From your article, Canada sounds like such a picturesque place to visit. I’d love to visit Revelstoke in particular as it looks so stunning with all the natural scenery. If I ever visit I’ll be sure to check out your recommendations! Thanks for sharing this.

    • We had no trouble finding great spots to stop on our road trip across Canada and back. We were glad we got the break from driving and got to see a lot of things too. Hope you do get to do a long road trip in Canada one day.

    • We do love to head out on the road and meander at our own pace. We loved the chance to do this trip through Canada and to spend a long time with family on the west coast.

  12. What an extensive and well executed trip! You covered so much and really captured great sites and views. I’d love to visit Kootenay National Park and the Rocky Mountains. The weather caused some hiccups along the way, but you both handled it masterfully.

    • It is always a challenge to plan a long trip when weather could be an issue. But we had an amazing long road trip and stay in BC with little issues until the end. Good luck for sure.

    • We had to think about lots of things indeed planning such a long road trip. But we tried to be flexible enough to go with the flow at times. So much to see and do across Canada.

  13. What a fantastic road trip through Canada. You would have seen so much I’d love to do this for a couple of months. You’ve inspired me.

  14. Such an amazing road trip across Canada and back! It’s clear you put a lot of thought into planning, like where to stay and how to handle the weather.

    I liked reading about all the places you visited, like the waterfalls and the Rocky Mountains. It’s awesome that you got to spend time with family on the Sunshine Coast and have fun adventures on Vancouver Island. Thanks for sharing your trip!

  15. I have recently visited a bit of Canada for the first time I did a road trip around Nova Scotia. I loved it so much, driving in Canada is so easy! I would love to return and do a longer road trip, from one coast to another. I hate flying but love driving, so I would have no problem driving 10 days from Toronto to Vancouver. I would, of course, same as you, stop on the way and visit some of the cities along. I like how the scenery changes so much, I don’t think I have ever driven on a road surrounded by such impressive mountains. I would stop every 5 minutes for photos haha.

    • There are indeed so many great stops to make on a road trip in Canada. You got a small taste in Nova Scotia but each province offers a very different view. Hope you do get to visit for a longer road trip.

  16. Wow! This has been really an exciting experience. You had a lot of amazing stops. I think my favorite is the one at Revelstoke. The view is so beautiful.

    Thank you for sharing this. You really inspire us so much with all your trips.

  17. I love this long road trip. It’s so tempting to do a road trip for two months at a stretch without breaks. The Thunder falls and Revelstoke are places I would love to visit. Staying in 21 different places sounds familiar, we did that in our two month Aussie NZ trip. I love adventures like this. I have plans to do a long Canada trip, and your blog post is such an inspiration.

    • I hope you do get to do a long road trip in Canada. There are so many great stops along the way. We definitely plan to do the same kind of trip when we finally get to NZ and Australia.

  18. There is so much to do and see between Toronto and Vancouver. Gorgeous waterfalls, beautiful nature, eye-catching architecture, and of course, the food! Surely the trip back in the fall was even more beautiful with the leaves changing colors. We are planning a trip across Canada, so this post will help me a lot in making an itinerary.

  19. Wow! What a great way to see a lot of Canada. I’d love to take a road trip from Toronto to Vancouver and see the nature, history, and beauty along the way. It’s a bonus that you got to visit family. I also have to supplement by getting Airbnbs instead of hotels depending on where I’m staying, and it’s good to know that it’s something that hotel points experts (I always admire how many free stays and perks you get!) do, too. Looks like an amazing trip!!

  20. Looks like you had a great road trip despite the fires and floods and changes of plans. This looks like a great itinerary. It’s a shame you couldn’t go in radium hot springs, I loved going there when we stayed in golden.

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