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How to travel the Canadian Rockies on a budget

Plan a trip to the Canadian Rockies without breaking the bank.

Canadians know that travelling within Canada isn’t exactly cheap. The country is huge, and transportation options can be limited at times. But, with the weak Canadian dollar, it’s never been a better time to explore our own country. We came up with a list of tips to help you travel to the Canadian Rockies on a budget.

Start your trip in a major city

The Canadian Rockies are located in both British Columbia and Alberta in Western Canada. That means you’ll most likely start your journey from either Vancouver or Calgary. Flight prices to these major Canadian cities will be similar. But since most people make the trip from Vancouver to Calgary or vice-versa, you’ll need a multi-destination ticket unless you plan on doubling back. If you are planning a few days in Calgary, these Calgary hotels offer a little something for everyone.

Canadian Rockies road trip

highway in the snowy Rocky Mountains. driving is the most budget friendly option for a longer trip to the Canadian Rockies
How to travel the Canadian Rockies on a budget

The best way to see the Canadian Rockies on a budget is by renting a car. There are other options as well, such as the Rocky Mountaineer train. Travelling through the Rockies this way is great for solo travellers, says Australian Travel Blogger Hayley Simpson of Hayley on Holiday. “The trip took about 19 hours, but it was definitely cheaper than flying.” And if you’re travelling to the Rockies from Calgary, the Brewster Banff Airport Express bus is a reasonable option for the budget-conscious traveller.

If you’re driving, Kamloops is the most natural place to stop since it’s about the halfway point between Vancouver and Calgary. Kamloops has plenty of accommodations to choose from, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find something. If you plan on staying in Jasper there are two hostels in town, as well as beautiful bed & breakfasts around.

Banff also has a few hostel options, like the HI-Banff Alpine Centre, Samesun Backpackers, and Banff International Hostel. There are also plenty of hotels, but the city of Banff will likely be the most expensive place to spend the night in the Rockies. If you want to stick to your budget, try staying the night in Canmore. It’s a 25-minute drive away and accommodation prices tend to be cheaper.

Canadian Rockies attractions

hiker resting by a rock next to a turquoise glacial lake in the Canadian Rockies
How to travel the Canadian Rockies on a budget

The mountain town of Jasper is relatively small, so you can easily wander the streets and natural scenery for a more budget-friendly day in the Rockies. If you want to see more sights, you can easily visit Athabasca Falls by car via the beautiful Icefields Parkway. The Icefields Parkway is known as one of the best road trips in the world, so take your time here and enjoy the views.

Next, head to the town of Banff, where you can explore the city by foot or bike. For outdoor adventures, take a trip to see the Bow Falls by the Bow River before making your way to the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. If staying here overnight is over your travel budget, make sure to take a look inside because it’s one of the most beautiful hotels in Canada. Banff Avenue is the main street in town and has plenty of restaurants which can be a bit pricey. There are grocery stores and fast food chains here too if you prefer to eat on the cheap.

Finally, the gem of the Canadian Rockies is Lake Louise. You can easily visit for as long as you want if you have your car, but as blogger Hayley Simpson discovered, it was a bit harder as a solo traveller. “With my limited time I wanted to be able to see as much as possible, so I decided to do a tour” she says. “I chose Discover Banff Tours as their half-day trip allowed me to see both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, which was an absolute bonus.”

A local getaway to the Canadian Rockies may seem expensive at first, but with some planning, it can be done on a budget. The natural sights and scenery here are some of the most awe-inspiring in the world, so this Canadian destination will definitely not disappoint.