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Driving Through the Canadian Rocky Mountains in Winter

I have been having a discussion with myself if I was going to write this post.  It is a very personal journey through the Rocky Mountains and I was not sure if anyone else would be interested.  But since I am not  cooking while I am still under renovation, and I am having withdrawal symptoms from blogging, I thought 'Why not?'  The picture above is Banff, Alberta.

My drive is actually from Mile 83, British Columbia to Swift Current, Saskatchewan.  While I did not stop to take any pictures, I have found some that depict the areas.  It was winter and a long drive and was not easy to stop for photo ops.

Mile 83 is near to 100 Mile House in the interior of British Columbia.  It is a blend of mountains, ranches, lakes and meadows.  The summers are not that warm and gardening is a definite challenge.  My father and his wife enjoy the hummingbirds every summer.  In the winter the chickadees are always there.  Otherwise, there are lots of ravens, owls, hawks, foxes, bears and game animals such as deer and moose.  It is a very out of the way place to live.  It is very much country life.

My father is almost 85 years old and still enjoys doing everything that he can.  They also spend their vacations in Africa.

Along that road from Mile 83 to Kamloops it changes from more lush mountain to very dry mountain terrain.  I am reminded  of the time that my sister and father walked off the road to look at some ramshackled old cabin only to find a rattle snake.

The farms irrigate.  Ginseng is grown along with many typical vegetables and even a vineyard.

You pass through the western mountain town of Cache Creek.  It is so adorable in a rustic way.

Kamloops is a hub.  It has all the shopping a country person needs.  It has colleges and all.

The drive from Kamloops west wends through rough countryside.  It is lush and productive land again and with some irrigation.  There are towns with specialities like cheese and ice creams, fruits and vegetables and a lavender farm.

The road winds along the edge of the Kootenay Lake.  You pass through Three Valley Gap.  Although touristy, and I have never stopped there, it adds to the intrigue.   I love the whole rustic hotel complex by the water.  There are hot springs along the way.

You gradually find yourself climbing through the mountains and arrive at Rogers Pass and then Kicking Horse Pass.  Rogers Pass has a nice stopping place.  There is a hotel, restaurant, service station and trinket shop.  I always stop there for a rest.  It is the summit as driving through the mountains.

There are a half dozen or so snow sheds to drive through.

Kicking Horse Pass, in my humble opinion, is more scenic.  You drive over the river and the canyon, around mountains and there are lots of switchbacks.  It is lovely in all seasons.

Craigellachie is an historic stopping place.  That is where the Last Spike was driven on the trans Canada railway in 1885.  It is a very simple roadside stop but as a Canadian, it was a part of my grade school history that stuck in my head.

I love the ancient cedars and hemlock groves.  There are boardwalks built so there will be no impact on the environment.  The trees are hundreds of years old and absolutely huge.  I love the air in the forest.  It is so fresh.  I love the streams.  And the solitude.  You can truly feel connected to nature even on this tourist stop.

Revelstoke is another favourite rest stop.  I have only once stayed overnight.  It is so quiet and really in the mountains.  Golden is the next stop.  We always gas up there.  Today they are building a lot of ski runs and resorts at Golden.  However, my absolute stop is Field.  It is a gem of a stop with mountains all around.  The river passes right by the town and braids  shallow but wide along the highway.

At this point you pass by the ever popular and famous Emerald Lake.  It is a must-see if ever in this part of the country any season.  Actually you don't view it.  You get a room and stay.

After Field is Lake Louise.  There is nothing to see from the highway.  But I love the area!  It is my favourite ski hill.  I is small and intimate.  The Chateau Lake Louise overlooks the lake.  It is one of those lovely old Canadian Pacific Hotels with lots of charm and character.  Every winter there is a world class ice carving competition.

Next will be Sunshine Village ski resort, Castle Mountain, Red Earth Creek for hiking and cross country skiing and....Three Second Peak!  I lived and skiied in the area for years before anyone told me about Three Second Peak.  You can only see this Matterhorn-ish mountain for three seconds from the highway.  I always try to catch the glimpse when I am on the road.

This pretty much sums up the trip through the mountains.  Banff is world famous and what can a person say in a blog about this jewel of the Rockies.  It is exquisite.

Continuing on to Calgary you pass by Mount Yamnuska, which I have climbed!  There is a little lake called Lac des Arc that is wind swept clean of snow and used to be a favourite spot for ice boating.  I have not seen them there recently.

The landscape abruptly changes into ranch land and gently rolling foothills into Calgary.

To continue past Calgary takes you into the Canadian Prairies.  There are the prehistoric hunting grounds of Dinosaur Provincial Park.

We pass by the general landscape of Grasslands National Park and the sand dunes in Saskatchewan.  This is where antelope roam.

And finally I am home!  Swift Current is a little city on the Canadian prairies.  It is winter and the driving was white knuckle.  But I arrived home safely.  Until next time...


  1. Canada is stunning in the Winter! I don't think it can get any prettier.

  2. This was a wonderful post! I've only been to Niagra Falls (and that was on my honeymoon). I do so wish to see more of Canada.

  3. Happy New Year, Sarah and Miss Suger.

    Thank you for sharing your incredible journey home. Great to see that a you also have a young Octogenerian Dad. You dear Father looks no older than 65!

    Sending cosily warm huggles from me, afarid there is only loud snoring from Zebby just now (lol)

  4. Did you take that first photo also? I love it! In college..many left that yr before University heading for Revelstoke..They took a yr. off..

    Clients of mine that left here moved to Kicking Horse Pass..I had never seen it..thank you..Your dad and his wife look so happy and healthy..Good for you and them!
    I've been to lake Louise..beau! we stayed at the Banff Springs was luxurious at the time..:)

    Thank you!

  5. Thanks so much for sharing with us. This is a lovely post. Diane

  6. Sarah<>>> I've never been to that neck of the woods but so wish I could after seeing those pictures. Awesome landscape! The snow looks so wonderful.

  7. Thanks for taking us alomg on your journey. I have been to most of these places but it has been years since I travelled in the direction of Calgary.

  8. I loved following along on your journey. I have travelled around Banff to Calgary, Brooks and Red Deer areas, family there, and I will never tire of the mountains. We hope to drive from Ontario through the Prairies to BC one day. Thanks for sharing many interesting observations.

  9. Your trip must have been so gorgeous in the winter. I've travelled to all of those places at one time or another, but only in the summer. If only you had a driver so your knuckles weren't white and you could have taken photos for us. I'm glad you are home safe and sound and you got to see such an amazing slice of Canada.

  10. Evidently, I'm not the only one who loves tours around a place we've never been! It looks like a lovely drive, even if some of it were "white knuckle!" How is the house coming?

  11. I love posts like this, Sarah. We don't have to have recipes all the time. Some of my favorite blogs aren't cooking blogs at all.
    What a fun trip. Banff is lovely!

  12. Sounds like amazing scenery! I'd love to see that section of the Rockies one of these days.

  13. I live here, and I cannot get enough! A beautiful post and I love the first picture. I want it!

  14. Wow - this post brought back great memories - have made the drive many times too. Thanks Sarah for a "great trip"


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