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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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