Self-driving in the Rockies

There are many reasons people choose to visit Canada, and one of its most popular attractions is undoubtedly the Rockies. While the Rocky Mountaineer is a popular option, hitting the open road and self-driving through these marvellous mountains enables you to take the journey at your own pace and stop at the many great places you’ll encounter along the way.

So, to get you started, we asked Lizzie Doyle at Destination British Columbia 10 questions about self-driving in the Rockies.

What type of car do you need to drive through the Rockies?
Any type of car, the roads are wide-open freeways and easy on which to drive.

The picture-perfect scenery in Canada will blow your mind. Hire a campervan and hit the open road, from $34 a day.

From where can you hire cars?

All major airports. Vancouver for Whistler or driving through to the Okanagan or you can fly into the Okanagan to collect a vehicle directly from Kelowna Airport or Kamloops airport.

If you’re visiting Vancouver Island, you can collect a vehicle from Victoria airport. To access the Kootenay Rockies, pick up a vehicle from Calgary.

Which are the top-three drives recommended for first timers?
Destination British Columbia has a selection of driving routes online at, including Mountains & Vineyards Circle Route, Lakes and Trails Circle Route and Vancouver to the Rockies.

self driving through the rockies canada

Where should you stay/stop on your route?
Using the Mountains & Vineyards itinerary as an example: Yoho National Park, Radium Hot Springs and the Okanagan orchards and vineyards are key highlights. 

Will the time of year affect our driving?
In winter some roads are more hazardous or closed, so it’s always best to check the HelloBC website to determine the best driving routes in winter. At other times of the year, there should be no issues.

Are there any local issues of which you should be aware?
You drive on the other side of the road, which can be confusing to start but you’ll soon get used to it. You should also be aware that entering a national park requires a permit, which needs to be purchased on entry.

Will there be enough places for us to refuel?
If you follow one of the specific driving routes provided on the website, they highlight fuel stops along the way. As distances can be vast, you should plan your fuel stops carefully.

Do you need to be careful/aware of certain wildlife?
Take note of speed limits around wildlife corridors – they will be signs posted accordingly. If you get stuck in a bear jam (a bear on the side of the road with tourists stopping), do not get out of your vehicle.

Where are the best places to take photographs?
Everywhere in British Columbia. Its Rocky Mountains are all spectacular. Wildlife, vineyards, glacial lakes, and mountains are all apparent and new sights await around each corner, so have your camera at the ready.

self driving through the rockies canada

For how long should you plan your trip/drive?
The HelloBC driving routes that you can find online suggest how long it should take to drive each route. At the very least you should give yourself seven days, and the longer you have to spend, the more you’ll see and the more fun you’ll have.

Dreaming of a driving holiday across Canada? Head to Destination Canada’s website to discover how to make your dream holiday come true, or check out Adventure World’s offers.

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Written by Debbie McTaggart

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