The ultimate Rocky Mountain road trip | USA & Canada

Imagine setting out to explore the great outdoors in both Canada and the US in a single road trip! 

If you're looking for a route that will let you discover the best scenery in North America, buckle up, it's time for 21 days of outdoors adventures!
 

Road trip map

canadian usa road trip map
Road trip map

Day 1 : Salt Lake City


Your North American adventure begins with Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah.

The city is known for having hosted the Winter Olympics in 2002. 

It is also the world headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), a major modern religion.

When you arrive, be sure to visit the largest Mormon temple in the world: Temple Square. With 3 to 5 million visitors a year, it's the busiest tourist site in the state. 

Guided tours are offered in over 30 languages by professional guides.

Nearby, you'll find the elegant Capitol Building with its neoclassical architecture. 

Standing on top of Capitol Hill, it overlooks the downtown area and offers a beautiful view of the mountains in the background.

Days 2-3 : Grand Teton (444 km)


This morning, let the adventure begin!

Your first destination is Grand Teton National Park, located in the heart of the Wyoming wilderness.

Discovered by French trappers with fertile imaginations, the park's name (which means "large nipple") was inspired by the suggestive shape of the mountains as seen from the west. Of course, there were no women in the group... 

This is animal country and wildlife is everywhere: elk, wolves, bison, grizzly bears, moose, and more. Keep your eyes peeled as the forest along the many trails is teeming with life.

If you like long hikes, the loop around Jenny Lake is a must. Despite the distance of 10 km, the hike is relatively easy and accessible to all, as there is virtually no change in elevation. 

Along the way, you'll come across two of the park's star attractions: the breathtaking view at Inspiration Point and the magnificent Hidden Falls. 

During your short stay, you can also visit Moulton Barn, an old barn located at the base of the Teton mountain range in a picture-perfect setting.

And if the scenery looks familiar, it may be because it's the most photographed spot in the park, or because it reminds you of a famous snowy scene from the movie Rocky 4!

Finally, the town of Jackson is sure to entertain you with its Wild West style. 

 

Days 4-6 : Yellowstone (480 km)


This morning, set a course for Yellowstone National Park, known around the world for its colourful hot springs and its powerful geysers.

This vast playground is home to more than 66% of the geysers on the planet. The most famous of these is Old Faithful, which shoots a column of hot water more than 50 metres into the air every 90 minutes.

On your arrival, enquire at the Visitor Center for approximate eruption times.

Also, be sure to visit the most spectacular hot spring in the park, Grand Prismatic Spring. This 112-metre-wide natural basin is absolutely stunning.

For the best view, drive to the Fairy Falls Trail parking area, where you can hike to the top of a small hill overlooking the crater.

During your visit, keep in mind that Yellowstone is an important wildlife reserve. It is home to many animals, including bison and grizzly bears.  

Be careful when hiking, but also behind the wheel. Don't be in too much of a hurry, as a herd of bison can quickly create traffic jams on the road.

 

Day 7 : Missoula (431 km)


Today's destination is Missoula, a great stopover town for travellers who want to visit Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. 

At the end of the day, take a stroll through downtown, where you'll see several early 20th century buildings listed in the National Historic Registry.

If you prefer nature, the Missoula Riverfront Walking Trail is perfect for a walk along the water. 

 

Day 8 : Glacier (206 km)


After a good night's sleep, it's already time to hit the road. 

Your destination is Glacier National Park, where you will make a short stopover.

At 4,101 square kilometers, it is so large that it extends into the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, where it is known as Waterton Lakes National Park. 

During your day of exploration, take the scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road, which links some of the park's most beautiful features from east to west over a distance of 84 km. 

A designated historic landmark, the road is also the starting point for many hiking trails. 

If you are travelling with children, the Trail of the Cedars is very easy. 

Otherwise, I recommend the Hidden Lake Trail. This 10-km round trip hike will take you to a lookout point where you can see a small lake nestled in the mountains. 

 

Days 9-10 : Waterton (195 km)


Welcome to Canada! 

Your first destination in the great Canadian outdoors is Waterton Lakes National Park.

It offers hikers a vast area to explore, with over 1,000 species of plants and flowers, some of which are unique to the region. 

Experienced hikers will want to make their way to Crypt Lake to enjoy the exceptional mountain views. 

This 17 km long trek is a challenge for even the most experienced hiker.

If Crypt Lake sounds like too much of a challenge, consider Cameron Lake, which is accessible by vehicle via a winding 16-km road. Once there, you can take a short trail along its western shore for 3 km.

As in the other parks, wildlife is abundant. In fact, the park's golf course is said to be a prime location for bear sightings!

 

Days 11-12 : Banff (373 km)


This morning, set a course for the jewel of the Alberta Rockies: Banff National Park.

In the heart of the park, at an elevation of over 1380 metres, is the quaint and charming alpine village of Banff, built to accommodate tourists visiting the area. 

Upon arrival, spend the afternoon strolling along Banff Avenue, the main street. You'll find plenty of restaurants to grab a bite to eat, as well as several boutiques offering great souvenirs to take home. 

At the end of the day, relax at Upper Hot Springs; it's a great way to recharge your batteries for the busy day ahead. 

The next day, it's time to explore the park's natural attractions. 

Early in the morning, head to the legendary Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. The reflection of the snow-capped mountains on the emerald waters is absolutely stunning. Many consider this to be the most beautiful place in Western Canada. 

And although the site is overly touristy, a Canadian road trip would not be complete without a photo stop at Lake Louise. 

At the end of the day, be sure to head to the top of Sulphur Mountain, where you will enjoy a breathtaking panorama at an elevation of 2,300 meters! 

Don't worry, you don't have to hike up: a gondola will whisk you up the mountain in under 10 minutes. 

 

 

Days 13-15 : Jasper (292 km)


Today it's time to explore Jasper National Park, which is on the prestigious list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

Like Banff, Jasper is also the name of a small town nestled in the heart of the mountains. 

With three nights on the program, you'll have plenty of opportunity to discover many of the region's top attractions.

Along the way, make a first stop at Peyto Lake, located less than 40 km from the town of Banff, where an incredible overlook will start your day off right! After a short 15-minute hike, you can admire the turquoise waters of this lake, which is fed by the glacier of the same name. It's a real beauty! 

Continue on the Icefields Parkway towards Jasper. This magnificent road will leave you breathless. Be sure to keep an eye out for wildlife, including bears, along the way. 

Once you reach your destination, you'll be spoiled for choice when it comes to activities. And with over 1,200 km of hiking trails, this is truly a hiking paradise. 

One thing is for sure, you absolutely must treat yourself to a cruise to Spirit Island, an small island in Maligne Lake. It is rumored to be the most photographed island in the world!

 

Day 16 : Wells Gray Park (453 km)


The adventure continues with Wells Gray National Park, also known as the "Waterfall Park".

With far fewer tourists than Banff and Jasper, this park offers a true immersion in nature.

Along the scenic highway between Jasper and Mount Robson, there are plenty of opportunities to see the iconic wildlife of the western provinces. 

Once you reach Mount Robson, take a short break to admire the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. 

Upon arrival at the park, head to Helmcken Falls, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in western Canada.

 

Day 17 : Whistler (368 km)


This morning you begin a long day of driving. 

Your destination is Whistler, a popular resort for the athletically inclined, offering downhill skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking and more.

There's no shortage of things to do here! This small village is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Canada.

If you only do one activity in the area, it should be the Sea to Sky Gondola, which will whisk you 885 meters above sea level. From there, you'll enjoy breathtaking views of Howe Sound Fjord and the surrounding mountains.  

 

Days 18-19 : Vancouver (120 km)


This morning you head to Vancouver, the most beautiful city in Canada.

Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the majestic Coast Mountain Range, it's ranked as one of the best cities in the world to live in

While you're here, do a little shopping on Robson Street, then head to Gastown, the historic heart of the city. 

Of course, you can't leave Vancouver without taking a stroll through the huge Stanley Park, where the ocean meets the tall buildings of the downtown core. 

If you have the time, the park's aquarium, home to over 70,000 animals, is also worth a visit. 

 

Days 20-21 : Seattle (230 km)


The last stop, but not the least, of your trip is Seattle.

This beautiful American coastal city is very popular with cruise ship passengers. Every day, many ships stop here for a short visit.

Wherever you are in the downtown area, you can see the iconic Space Needle, a 183-meter-high observatory offering a 360-degree panoramic view. 

And if you're a fan of iconic American brands, in Seattle you can visit the world's very first Starbucks. Expect to wait in line for your Frappuccino, though, as this is a major tourist attraction. 

The next day, head to the airport, where you'll catch your flight home.

It's time to leave North America, filled with lasting memories. 

And there you go!

So are you ready for a road trip in the American and Canadian Rockies?

If you have any questions and/or suggestions, be sure to share them in the comments section below.

Karolane Lessard

An enthusiast of both our vibrant cities & great oudoors, my life revolves around travel & adventure. It's a no brainer that I have to share the wonders & secrets of my neck of the woods with other travelling souls. Enjoy the journey!

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