It is charming by its discretion, its nature, its freshness and its authenticity. It can also be strong, breathtaking and temperamental. It is almost perfect, to admire it is a privilege as one admires a work of art, painted with daring and unique natural colors. I’m talking about the western Canada, it will remain my greatest discovery, even though I already know it. What route did we take? For how long ? What places have we visited? I’m telling you all about it.
Vancouver – Osoyoos
Let’s get it started! We fasten our seat belts and this time we drive in a normal car, because usually, for those who follow us we rent an RV like we have already done in this article. For our first stop, we left Vancouver heading for Osoyoos in the Okanagan Valley. It is about 400 km between these two cities, or about 4 hours drive. Also considered the Canadian desert for its semi-arid climate, Osoyoos lands are suitable for viticulture. So, here we are, off to explore the vineyards of British Columbia!
For our first vineyard, we stopped at Bordertown Winery, went there without a reservation and one of the employees greeted us for a tasting of red and white wines of our choice. Perfect, we just drove 4 hours! The decor is elegant, with a patio that overlooks the vineyards. I can’t remember exactly the price of the tastings, but it was not expensive at all, because if you buy their wine (s) the tasting is free. So, we left with two white wines that we liked.
This vineyard was also located in a great place for us as we stayed at a motel nearby and walked there. For accommodation, we took a simple motel with very good reviews, the Boundary Motel, perfectly located in the center, close to everything to park and explore the surroundings by walking. The next day we had coffee and a take-out breakfast to enjoy it in front of the beautiful Osoyoos Lake, known to be the hottest in Canada.
Cycling in Penticton, BC
We’re back on the road but not for very long as we are heading towards Penticton which is 60km north of Osoyoos, a 50-minute trip. We passed through towns like Oliver, driving along vineyards and orchards most of the owners are Punjab origin (North West India region).
Arrived in Hollywood, well I mean Penticton, we decided to rent bikes to visit the city and the vineyards. The city is nothing like Los Angeles or the Hollywood neighborhood, it’s just that it has the same sign on top of a mountain with the city name Penticton, and we rode our bikes past . We rented them from Penticton Bike Rentals located across from the Okanagan Lake, rental was $45 for the day or $20 for an hour, we took it for the day. We were very well guided with a map and recommendations according to the time we had. It was with a good breath of fresh air that we pedaled along the Okanagan Lake, past vineyards to Namara, by the time to enjoy the scenery and the good weather, then we came back. It was a beautiful road which took about 2h30.
The Okanagan Valley Wine Route couldn’t be done without passing through the famous Kelowna vineyards. But it’s not just for the wines, there are the landscapes, the lakes, the mountains, we couldn’t wait to taste the best wines of Canada.
We visited the two vineyards whose reputation is unanimous for their beauty and quality. The Mission Hill Family Estate is located on Mount Boucherie, a former volcano, which therefore gives it a breathtaking view of Lake Okanagan. And what about the architecture of the buildings! I found its ambiance and decor quite chic and serious, but very peaceful at the same time, with the main building quite impressive. The tasting of their reserve wines is $25 per person, it is highly recommended to book ahead of time, especially in high season. For a behind-the-scenes tour of their barrel cellar and a tasting of their new wines, it’s $ 50 for about an hour.
Our favorite goes to the Quail’s Gate wine estate with its view of the vineyards and the lake to the delight of the eyes and taste buds. The tasting is $15 per person or $20 for Collector’s wines. The service was excellent, the decor quite charming and the view (yes I keep talking about it) is astonishing! We left again with two bottles of wine 😊 They also give you a $10 coupon during the tasting.
Other wineries in the area are certainly just as beautiful and good, but due to lack of time we just visited these two main ones.
Yoho National Park
Fasten your seatbelts, strong feeling and emotion guaranteed! We left Kelowna and headed north to Yoho National Park, a 4-5 hour drive. #YOLO don’t miss the magnificent and breathtaking views, our favorite spot is actually in this park, it is the Natural Bridge. No internet connection but just a connection with nature, the color and the power of the water flowing under the bridge, the snow on the mountain that we can see from far, the clear blue sky, the tall green trees, we still have this wonder, although we already knew this place.
Then if you continue on the same path you will see Emerald Lake and this is another scenery that we have there. The water is an emerald green color, no waterfalls, a soothing calm at the bottom of the mountains, we almost wanted to whisper so we don’t wake up nature.
The place we didn’t know about in this area was Takakkaw Falls… and what a fall! A thunderous noise was already being heard on the way there! To get to the bottom of the falls there is just a small forest path of 10-15 minutes, nothing difficult in this walk. There is also a bridge and red chairs on the side to stop for a moment and admire these impressive falls. They are worth a visit if you are in the area!
Banff National Park
We stay in the same country, but we change province. Heading to Alberta to see the famous and very popular Banff National Park! So popular that to access Moraine Lake the access was already full by 5am, but who gets up at 5am? Besides, there are fewer tourists because of the Covid and even that, the forest agents who blocked the access informed us that it was full since 5am! So, we went there at 5 o’clock in the evening 😊 And yes the colors are just as beautiful and the entrance is accessible at that time. It was the first time I was able to see Moraine Lake and now I understand its popularity. It also hypnotized me with his charisma, his presence, his peaceful naturalness and his forms, I’m still talking about Moraine Lake. Besides, my boyfriend also fell in love with it.
Then we have Lake Louise, which wasn’t that busy compared to my first trip when it was packed with people from all over the world. It is undoubtedly a lake to see and I would even advise you to see it before Moraine Lake, because the beauty of the places is increasing from there. Lake Louise is also very beautiful with its turquoise water surrounded by mountains, but Moraine Lake is just majestic.
The Icefields Parway
We continue our road trip north and take the Icefields Parkway, also called Highway 93. It connects the cities of Lake Louise to Jasper with 230 km road and I would recommend refuelling before your departure, because there is only one gas station between these two places. Let’s cut to the chase: The Icefields Parkway was actually the best part of this adventure! I had never seen such a magnificent landscape.
First, we have Bow Lake where you say “Wow” what a show of colors in this nature, you even wonder how such a landscape can exist on Earth. In fact, this Icefields Parkway is like an amusement park but it is a natural park and the rides are landscapes that make you a life-size performance. In addition, we went there in early October and the colors are magical.
Then we have the Mistaya Canyon and once again you will be amazed by the color of the pale blue-green water from the melting glaciers. The canyon is close to the parking lot, a short 10-15 minutes walk will allow you to breathe a little in nature. It’s worth stopping for a moment.
Keep going and stop often when you see a beautiful scenery, which we did all the time! We’re now in Jasper National Park and stopping for a coffee at the Discovery Center at Columbia Icefield. So here it feels like leaving planet Earth to go to another, I want to say Mars, but I’ve never been. We are in front of a large mass of ice, the Athabasca Glacier, the most accessible of the Canadian Rockies which dates back thousands of years. It was a very sunny day, so I was in a t-shirt on a huge mass of ice on another planet! The view is even more impressive at the bottom of the mountains because you can see its gigantic size.
Recovered from our emotions, we hit the road for our next stop, Sunwapta Falls. Access is very easy from the parking lot with a short walk. The water comes from the Athabasca Glacier and the small island of trees just before the falls makes it very charming.
An absolute must-see is Athabasca Falls, much like the grand finale of a show filled with visual fireworks. They are so impressive and powerful that they have deformed the rocks over the years, to make their way and land in the Athabasca River. Breathtaking view and sound!
Our trip ended with a last night in the town of Jasper and departure the next day for Edmonton Airport. We were able to see, the day before our departure, the Maligne canyon, it is about 10km from Jasper, so we took the opportunity to take our last walk in this nature that has given us so much. It is an easy 4km loop trail with views as amazing as each other. There are other hikes and attractions to see around Jasper, but we didn’t have enough time, so it’s just postponed for a future trip 😉
I have visited Western Canada again … and intend to return there again. We didn’t meet a bear on the road and yet it was berry season. It is recommended that you have a repellant spray in case you encounter a violent bear, but it would be of last resort as apparently making noise and talking loudly would keep it away too. If you meet one, feel free to let me know, I would be curious 😊
Take care of yourself and your loved ones, we’ll meet for a next adventure!