Wednesday, February 13, 2019

5 Destinations to Explore on your Summer Road Trip

We are big fans of the classic summer road trip, trailer loaded with camping gear for at least a week, kayak and paddleboard mounted on top of our vehicle, and bikes filling the box of our truck. Somewhere we find storage space for our hiking and climbing gear as well, and off we go!

Summer vacation doesn't get much better than this!

The challenge - booking these amazing trips - in February - when there's still snow on the ground! Does anybody even know their vacation schedule yet?

And upfront honesty - there is no hidden agenda in this story, no sponsored links to sunblock companies, no paid endorsements for bug spray... Just my words and me sharing my favourite places to travel with you!

My husband nearly died when I told him our giant peacock was coming with us last year!

We will be visiting every destination featured in this story at some point this coming summer, launching each trip from Calgary, Alberta, and I am beyond excited that 90% of my reservations are already booked. Now I can enjoy the rest of the winter while I dream of happy camping and traveling days to come.

One - North to Jasper National Park (Alberta)

Jasper is an annual road trip destination for us (for at least a weekend) and we've been taking a photo of my son and I in the exact same spot every year for the past 8 years! (in hindsight we should have added my husband but it was never intended to become an annual thing.)

The annual photo that we travel to Jasper for every single year!

Highlights of a Trip to Jasper

  • An easy multi-use trail system that loops the town and surrounding lakes - perfect for novice riders wanting to try some easy mountain biking

  • Gorgeous calm lakes for paddling

  • Beautiful hiking trails with something suitable for all abilities

  • The best nachos in the Canadian Rockies at the Jasper Brewing Company (the beer is pretty good too)

  • The tramway ride that takes you up Whistlers Mountain will be something you remember for years if you time your visit for a warm sunny day and hike to the summit

  • Driving the Icefields Parkway, one of the most scenic highways in Canada, and stopping at the Columbia Icefields Centre for a tour on the Athabasca Glacier on a giant snowcoach. 

Hiking on Whistlers Mountain in Jasper

Read: Our Top Ten Favourite Things to do in Jasper 

Read: Family-friendly Summits in Jasper National Park 

Read: The Best Family Bike Trails in Jasper 

Read: Experiencing Awesome in Jasper National Park 

Read: Local's Guide to Exploring the Best of Banff and Jasper 

Read: Summer Planning: Where to Camp in the National Parks of Alberta 

Paddling across Pyramid Lake in Jasper 

Two - Exploring the BEST of the East Kootenays and the Columbia Valley (BC)

We spend multiple weekends in the Columbia Valley around Radium Hot Springs every summer. We also plan at least one longer trip to Fernie every summer. The East Kootenay Rockies feel like home to us and we can never spend enough time here.

Mountain biking in the Columbia Valley 

Highlights of a trip to the East Kootenays or the Columbia Valley

  • The most amazing smooth flowy mountain bike trails ever! (my personal opinion of course)

  • Swimming and paddling with painted turtles at Surveyors Lake

  • Floating down the Columbia River and camping overnight on an island

  • Lots of hot springs!!

  • Warm camping! (as early as Easter some years and as late as Thanksgiving)

Hiking in Radium Hot Springs with views of the Columbia River wetlands

Radium Hot Springs, Invermere, Fairmont Hot Springs, and Golden

Read: The Best of the Columbia Valley (Radium Hot Springs to Invermere - and beyond)

Read: Summer Vacation Camping at Fairmont Hot Springs, BC

Read: Family Adventure Bucket List for Golden, BC 

Read: Active Family Guide to Radium Hot Springs, BC 

Hours of fun at the Fairmont Hot Springs Pool

Kimberley, Fernie and surrounding area

Read: Family Adventure Bucket List for Kimberley, BC 

Read: The Best Family Bike Trails in Fernie, BC 

Read: Family Downhill Mountain Biking at Fernie Alpine Resort 

Read: Camping at Surveyors Lake, Kikomun Creek Provincial Park 

Read: First Summits - Polar Peak, Fernie Alpine Resort 

Painted turtles at Surveyors Lake near Fernie

Three - Touring the West Kootenays, Nelson and area (BC)

We spent a few days exploring the area around Nelson two years ago, and liked Kokanee Creek Provincial Park so much, we returned last year. Playing on the sand spit is an annual summer highlight and it's surreal to be able to walk out into the middle of the lake to play in ankle deep water.

Fun on the sand spit at Kokanee Creek Provincial Park 

Highlights of a trip to Nelson and the surrounding area around the West Kootenays 

  • Beach time at Kokanee Creek Provincial Park and hours of fun on the sand spit

  • Biking on the Great Northern Rail Trail

  • Paddling on Kootenay Lake, an official paddle route of the Trans Canada Trail

  • Hot Springs! (with a cave if you go to Ainsworth)

Playing on the sand spit in Kootenay Lake

Read: Family Touring around Nelson and the West Kootenays, BC

Sunset fishing at Kokanee Creek Provincial Park 

Four - Discovering Vacation Wonderland in the Okanagan (BC)

Every year we tell ourselves that maybe we're done with the Okanagan and that we can move on to explore other places. We sit down for a couple of seconds until the feeling passes, and then I go book a campsite. I don't think we'll ever get tired of spending a week here and I suspect my son will remember his time here as some of his happiest summer memories when he's all grown up.

Swim Bay in Peachland, a major summer highlight for us

Highlights of a Trip to the Okanagan 

  • Zip lines, diving boards, and a rope swing at the Swim Bay outdoor aquatic centre in Peachland

  • Wibit inflatable water parks in Kelowna, Peachland, and Penticton

  • Floating the channel in Penticton

  • Beach time and gloriously hot sunny weather

  • Biking on the Kettle Valley Railway over trestle bridges and through tunnels

  • Touring Wineries for at least an hour every day (and you can bring the kids)

Biking through the Little Tunnel on the Kettle Valley Railway 

Read: The Importance of Summer Vacations (and the BEST of the Okanagan) 

Read: Biking the Kettle Valley Railway from Kelowna to Osoyoos 

Bridge jumping in Okanagan Falls 

Five - South to Idaho, Silverwood, and Farragut State Park (USA)

This was a new destination for us last year and we enjoyed the area so much, we're returning this year. We love the Farragut State Park Campground and we're all looking forward to spending a couple more days at the Silverwood Theme Park.

Silverwood water park (by far the best water park we've been to)

Highlights of a trip to Farragut State Park and Northern Idaho

  • Biking the Route of the Hiawatha, a restored rail trail, with a a tunnel that's 2.7 km long (and pitch black inside!) - downhill rail grade the entire time with a shuttle ride back at the end

  • Beach time at Farragut State Park (make sure you find the rope swing)

  • A trip to Silverwood, a giant theme park with an incredible water park
Family biking on the Route of the Hiawatha in Northern Idaho

Read: Road Trip to Bike the Route of the Hiawatha in Northern Idaho 

Giant rope swing at Farragut State Park, Idaho

Questions about where we've camped, where we recommend staying, or about any of the activities mentioned here? Send me an email, leave a comment below, or connect with me on Facebook. I answer every message.

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