Explore the remote corners of British Colombia on the Skeena Train from Jasper to Prince Rupert. Starting your trip by road, along the scenic Icefields Parkway, you’ll take in the best of Banff and Jasper before climbing aboard the Skeena Train to Prince Rupert. Passing tiny timber villages, huge lakes and looking out for bears, this scenic journey will take you through areas of BC that you would never normally see, delivering you from the Rocky Mountains to the forested islands of the west coast.
After taking the ferry to Port Hardy, you’ll begin your return drive through the beauty of Vancouver Island. Here, whale watching, eating fresh fish and walking along spectacular beaches at sunset in Telegraph Cove and Tofino will bring you all the way to Victoria. After looking for orcas in the San Juan Islands, you’ll finish your holiday in Vancouver, where mountains and ocean collide with the big city. It’s the perfect way to end your time in British Columbia.
This itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements, so please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.
Depart the UK from your chosen airport. On arrival, you’ll pick up your car and drive the 1.5-hour journey into the Rockies towards Banff, where you’ll check-in for three nights.
Spend two whole days hiking and driving through one of the finest landscapes in Canada – the Rocky Mountains. We’ve included admission to the Banff gondola, so you can take the cable car to the top of Sulphur Mountain and enjoy the breath-taking panorama from the summit.
Banff is a great place to explore, whether you choose to hike around the bright blue waters of Lake Louise, kayak on Moraine Lake or find a cosy café for a hot chocolate at the end of the day. If you want to explore further afield then the adjacent park, Yoho National Park, is home to Emerald Lake – a wonderful place to walk and even swim away from the crowds. Be warned though, even in midsummer the water is cold!
Today, you’ll drive north along the Icefields Parkway towards Jasper. The drive itself only takes around 3.5 hours, but take your time and enjoy the journey, as there are many beautiful sights along the way.
Your first stop will be the Colombia Icefield, where you’ll head out onto the ice and learn about how glaciers are formed while standing on ice made from snowfall over 400 years old. A few minutes up the road, you’ll find the Glacier Skywalk, where a 500-metre boardwalk with a glass-floored observation deck extends over the Sunwapta Valley, so you can soak in the views beneath your feet over the forest landscape.
The day will quickly go by as you enjoy the scenic drive up to Jasper and on arrival, you’ll check into your hotel for two nights.
Jasper National Park is another beautiful area along the spine of the Rocky Mountains. While you’re here, be sure to visit the Athabasca Falls, where you can try white water rafting, and Beauvert Lake where you can go kayaking. There are all kinds of exciting activities here, so if you want us to book you some extra tours, just ask!
Deep in the heart of the national park lies Maligne Lake. Here, we’ve included a cruise that will take you through the deep blue waters while you fall in love with the magnificent views across the water.
This morning, you’ll climb aboard the Skeena Train which will take you through the British Columbian wilderness to Prince Rupert on the Pacific coast. You’ll be seated in Touring Class, which means you’ll have comfortable reclining seats and is located in the Panorama Dome Car, which has the best views of the surrounding landscapes. You'll also get commentary from the staff on what you are travelling past, helping you to understand the beautiful scenery around the train. Hot meals are included, making your journey through the mountainous scenery of the Rockies even more enjoyable. You’ll stay overnight in a hotel in Prince George, the halfway point your journey.
The Skeena Train travels 1,160 km through remarkable and varied landscapes. Great stretches of wilderness and lakes are punctuated by farms and sawmills, as you follow the Skeena River out to the ocean. It’s a quietly spectacular journey, tucked away from the more popular areas of the Rockies, giving you a quiet and peaceful transit through this beautiful corner of Canada.
Huge sections of the route are uninhabited, and the train is the only evidence that humans have ever set foot here. There is lots of wildlife but the bears, moose and wolves that make their home in the region are shy, so you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled to spot them. On arrival in Prince George, you’ll make your own way to the hotel near the station and check-in for one night.
Getting back on the train today, you’ll start the second half of this scenic journey, transitioning into the temperate rainforest that makes up the west coast of Canada. Following the Skeena River, meaning “Water of the Clouds” in the aboriginal language Tsimshian, you’ll wind your way towards the sea. Around midday, the river will start to mix with the tidal waters of the Pacific Ocean as you glide towards the coast. Arriving into Prince Rupert, you’ll make your way to your hotel where you’ll check-in for two nights.
Tucked into the British Columbian coastline, Prince Rupert is a small town supported by the local fishing and timber industries, as well as tourism from the Skeena Train.
It’s a good area to spot whales in August and September, so we’ve included a boat trip to take you out into the ocean on the lookout for grey whales feeding around the kelp beds and orcas following the salmon migration, as well as sea lions playing in the water, porpoises that love to follow the boat and bald eagles flying overhead.
Make sure you try some local halibut for dinner – you won’t find it anywhere fresher than here.
Today, you’ll take the ferry from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy. We have reserved you a relaxing Outside Cabin with 2 beds, should you wish to have a rest on the long journey. You’ll depart from Prince Rupert in the early morning and arrive in Port Hardy at approximately 11.30 pm.
Sailing south to Port Hardy, you’ll head through the Inside Passage before reaching the open waters of Queen Charlotte Strait. Along the way, you’ll sail through fjords and coves where waterfalls tumble from cliffs into the ocean, all the while looking for whales and seals that lounge on the rugged rocks. On arrival in Port Hardy, you’ll make your own way to your hotel and check-in for one night.
Today, you’ll pick up your hire car in Port Hardy and drive down the coast to Telegraph Cove. If you fancy a detour, you can squeeze in a visit to Cape Scott Provincial Park on the way. This will take you to the very tip of Vancouver Island, where lonely bays and rainforest walks await. San Josef Bay is quiet, peaceful and outrageously beautiful. On arrival in Telegraph Cove, you will check into your hotel for two nights.
Named after the telegraph station that was used by timber merchants and fishermen to stay in contact with the outside world, this tiny community has grown since it’s humble beginnings, but not by much. It’s still a quiet place where you can spend your time whale watching, kayaking and hiking, before tucking into some delicious fresh fish each evening. If you want to get away from the rat race, this is an excellent place to visit.
We’ve included a whale watching tour for you to enjoy today, and it will be a very different experience to your tour in Prince Rupert. The trip takes place entirely within the Johnstone Strait, with the boat zipping between the small pine tree-covered islands that make up the Broughton Archipelago, looking for orcas and humpbacks as you go.
Leaving Telegraph Cove behind, you’ll drive south towards Campbell River and catch the ten-minute ferry across to Quadra Island. From the pier, it’s only a ten-minute drive to April Point Resort & Spa where you’ll be staying for two nights.
Quadra Island is the kind of place where you can do as much, or as little, as you like. This evergreen island, made of ancient trees and mossy forests, is surrounded by bays and inlets with tiny beaches, crystal clear water and wildlife tucked away in every nook.
Go biking, hiking, kayaking or canoeing and look for sea lions, porpoises and black bears as you explore the beautiful island. Alternatively, take a book out onto the deck of the hotel, sit back, relax, and enjoy the views with a glass of wine. Whatever you decide to do, we know you’ll enjoy it.
After taking the ferry back to Campbell River, you’ll drive through lush forests towards Tofino, a tiny haven nestled amongst the beaches and rainforest of the Pacific Rim National Park on the west coast of Canada. On arrival, you’ll check-in for three nights at Middle Beach Lodge, with dreamy views across the ocean at sunset.
On your first day in Tofino, you’ll head off on a coastal bear watching tour, exploring the fjords and inlets of Clayoquot Sound. In May, the bears leave the cosy dens where they have been holed up all winter and head for the closest food source – the ocean! While the bears forage along the shore, you can easily observe and photograph them from the boat. It’s an exciting day and it will give you a great introduction to the bears that you’ll hopefully see more of later in the trip. The rest of your time is free to enjoy Tofino at your own pace.
This tiny town sits on the edge of the Pacific Rim National Park, where you can hike through mossy rainforest and wander along windswept beaches while surfers ride the waves along the shore. You can hire a kayak and paddle out amongst the islands by the harbour or just settle in with a good book by the ocean. It’s also worth stopping at Tofino Brewery to try the local ales and heading to Wolf in the Fog for drinks or grabbing dinner from Tacofino – the best tacos on the island!
Today, you’ll leave Tofino and drive through Vancouver Island towards Victoria. On your way back, be sure to stop for lunch at the Old Country Market, famous for the goats that graze on its grass rooftop. It’ll take a total of around 5 hours to drive down to Victoria. When you arrive, you’ll check into your hotel for two nights.
This morning, you’ll set off on a whale watching tour on an open zodiac boat – perfect for the adventurous at heart! It’s an exhilarating experience, complete with sea spray, and the vessels are well known for their safety. Keep an eye out for the orcas that make their home in the bay - they’re mostly seen between May and October, but a few resident killer whales can be found on a year-round basis. During the tour, you can also spot humpbacks, grey whales, porpoises and Californian sea lions frolicking in the water.
Spend the afternoon at leisure in Victoria, where you can have a coffee by the harbour or head to the Royal British Columbia Museum and learn about First Nation’s history.
Today, you’ll leave Victoria and drive to Swartz Bay just north of the city, where you’ll take the car ferry back to Vancouver. On arrival in the city, you’ll drop off your car and make your way to your final hotel, where you’ll check-in for three nights.
Vancouver is a fresh, outdoorsy city. No matter the weather, you’ll want to get outside and explore. Start in Gastown, where you can roam the historic streets and pop into the tiny art galleries and boutique shops. Afterwards, move on to Chinatown where you can dig into a delicious dim sum lunch. Next, head to Stanley Park for the afternoon. The best way to get around is cycling, so why not rent a bike head to see the colourful totem poles at Brockton Point or English Bay Beach to relax in the sun?
On your second day, we’ve included a seaplane flight over the city. This will give you an awesome view of the north shore, Grouse Mountain and the whole city centre. On a clear day, you’ll even get great views of the Olympic Mountains over the border in Washington State.
If you’re interested in the history of this region, there are plenty of museums to enjoy, and the Museum of Anthropology is especially good for First Nations artefacts. If you love food, head down to Granville Island Public Market, where you can browse the stalls, picking up all sorts of goodies, from local BC cherries to freshly-baked pastries. Getting out of the city here is also easy, so if you get time, try to visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge which hangs precariously over the river in the North Shore.
Today you’ll be transferred to the airport in time for your flight back to the UK.
The Canadian summer runs from mid-May to early-September, offering little rainfall and warm temperatures. It’s great for outdoor activities so tourism peaks in summer. Spring is pleasant, as the cherry blossoms bloom and the winter clouds make way for sunny skies. Temperatures drop during Autumn, bringing chilly days and increased rainfall. Winter in Canada may only appeal to the brave, but British Columbia has the mildest winters in the country and the close proximity to some world-class skiing brings a fair number of outdoor enthusiasts. If you decided to brave the elements in winter, you’re also likely to find reduced room rates.
If you'd like to get a feel for this trip, read our blog post ‘The most scenic drive of your life: a Canadian Rockies road trip’ - written by one of our consultants who has been there.
This itinerary is purely a suggestion and can be tailor-made to your requirements, so please contact us with your dates and requests, and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.