Our first destination in the van was going to be Banff National Park, a famous set of mountainous lakes and ski towns saddling Alberta and British Columbia. Our original plan was to drive it in a day (around a 10 hour drive). Then the plan was to drive it over two days, so around 5 – 6 hours driving a day. As it turned out it took us longer than we thought to pack the van before leaving, so you can see our somewhat fuddled route below.
Our first few nights were spent adjusting to how we were going to live our day to day in the van. One of the challenges is finding a place to camp – ideally for free… Whilst there’s a universal source ioverlander.com which has a super useful list of free sites, the information can sometimes be outdated and it doesn’t always cover every site. Luckily we discovered an official BC parks site which allowed us to track down our campsites for the night. At first it was a slow process taking a while trying to find the perfect one, but now we’re a little more clinical.
That said, we were welcomed into our new lifestyle with a pretty spectacular spot by a flowing river in Chilliwack, and the views only got better.
We took a premature turn off the motorway into a little town called Harrison Hot Springs, who can resist a little dip right? Sometimes, it turned out, it’s better not to just follow your gut. When we arrived it was a bit of a ghost town and asked the girl in the liquor store where the hot springs were to which we were told they don’t really exist here, at least not in a form you can swim in. Still a very interesting little town to visit though!
Next we went to Kelowna, and settled into a free campground on Okanagan lake for 5 nights. It was probably in part the comfort of knowing we had a nice, pretty & free campsite there which led us to stay so long. We also encountered problems with our water filter system breaking, and one day it poured with rain which led us to point south and head for the USA. We calmed down soon after thought and bought a tarp and some straps to build our own rain shelter, rather than knee jerk react our way to the USA a month early.
The final few stops to our trip were Revelstoke and Golden, two cool ski towns nestled in the mountain. We opted for some Snowmobiling in Golden, which pushed us over our budget quite a bit, but was so so worth it! We decided to get one each, 600CC skidoo’s, rather than sharing one. Neither of us wanted to ride passenger! After a bit of riding down a trail we got to play around on a frozen lake which was terrifying but brilliant. Would definitely recommend this to anyone without back problems, after 5 hours of bumping around we needed a bottle of wine and a hot tub – but unfortunately we could only have the wine…
From Golden we dove on through the national park (our final destination on our mini trip), but we’ll write about that in our next post.
Hasta Luego x