The Ultimate Seattle To Calgary Road Trip Guide

Are you considering a road trip from Seattle, Washington up to Calgary, Alberta in Canada? If so, you’re in for an epic journey across stunning scenery, vibrant cities, and interesting attractions along the way. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide everything you need to plan the perfect Seattle to Calgary road trip.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The best route from Seattle to Calgary is to take I-5 north to the US-Canada border, then continue on the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1). Key stops include Mount Rainier National Park, Winthrop, the Okanogan, Kamloops, Banff National Park, and Jasper National Park. The drive is roughly 14 hours not counting stops.

Choosing the Best Route from Seattle to Calgary

Embarking on a road trip from Seattle to Calgary offers a thrilling adventure filled with breathtaking landscapes and exciting stops along the way. When it comes to choosing the best route, there are a few options to consider based on your preferences and time constraints.

Let’s explore two popular routes: I-5 to Highway 1 via the Pacific Highway Border Crossing and alternative routes.

I-5 to Highway 1 via the Pacific Highway Border Crossing

The most direct and commonly chosen route from Seattle to Calgary is to take Interstate 5 (I-5) north until you reach the Pacific Highway border crossing. This route offers a seamless journey through stunning scenery, including the majestic Cascade Mountains and picturesque coastal areas.

Once you cross the border into Canada, you can continue on Highway 1, also known as the Trans-Canada Highway, which will lead you straight to Calgary.

Along this route, you’ll have the opportunity to explore charming towns and cities such as Vancouver, British Columbia, and Banff, Alberta. Vancouver is known for its vibrant city life and stunning natural beauty, while Banff offers awe-inspiring mountain landscapes and outdoor activities.

It’s important to note that the Pacific Highway border crossing can experience heavy traffic, especially during peak travel seasons. Plan your trip accordingly and consider crossing during off-peak hours to minimize delays.

Additionally, ensure you have the necessary travel documents and permits for crossing the border.

Alternative Routes

If you’re looking for a more scenic and leisurely road trip experience, there are alternative routes worth considering. One option is to take Highway 97 through Washington State, which offers stunning views of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and the Canadian Rockies.

This route allows you to explore the charming towns of Leavenworth and Winthrop before crossing the border into British Columbia.

Another alternative route is to take Highway 2 east from Seattle, which will lead you through the beautiful Cascade Mountains and into the charming town of Wenatchee. From there, you can continue on Highway 97 and cross into Canada at Osoyoos.

This route offers a more scenic drive through mountainous landscapes and vineyards.

When choosing an alternative route, keep in mind that it may add extra travel time to your journey. However, the additional time spent on the road will be rewarded with unique and memorable experiences.

Ultimately, the best route from Seattle to Calgary depends on your preferences and the experiences you wish to have along the way. Whichever route you choose, be sure to plan ahead, check road conditions, and make time for stops to fully enjoy the beauty of the journey.

Top Stops and Highlights Along the Seattle to Calgary Road Trip

Mount Rainier National Park

One of the first stops on your road trip from Seattle to Calgary should definitely be Mount Rainier National Park. This majestic mountain is an iconic symbol of the Pacific Northwest and offers breathtaking views, hiking trails, and opportunities for wildlife sightings.

Don’t forget to snap a selfie with the stunning backdrop of Mount Rainier!

North Cascades National Park

As you continue your journey, make sure to visit North Cascades National Park. Known for its rugged mountain peaks, glaciers, and pristine lakes, this park is a nature lover’s paradise. Take a hike along one of the many trails, go camping, or simply soak in the beauty of the surrounding landscapes.

Winthrop, WA

Next, make a stop in the charming town of Winthrop, WA. With its Old West theme and picturesque setting, Winthrop is a great place to take a break and explore. Enjoy a stroll through the town’s historic district, visit the local shops and galleries, and indulge in some delicious food at one of the cozy restaurants.

Okanogan Valley

Continuing north, you’ll pass through the scenic Okanogan Valley. This region is known for its vineyards, orchards, and stunning landscapes. Make sure to sample some of the local wines and take in the breathtaking views of the valley as you drive through.

Kamloops, BC

As you cross the border into Canada, make a stop in Kamloops, BC. This vibrant city offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and fishing. Take a leisurely stroll along the Thompson River or explore the local parks and gardens.

Kamloops is also home to several museums and cultural attractions, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Banff National Park

No road trip from Seattle to Calgary would be complete without a visit to Banff National Park. Known for its stunning mountain scenery, turquoise lakes, and abundant wildlife, Banff is a must-see destination.

Take a scenic drive along the Icefields Parkway, hike to the top of a mountain for panoramic views, or relax in the famous Banff Hot Springs.

Lake Louise

Just a short drive from Banff, you’ll find the enchanting Lake Louise. This iconic Canadian destination is famous for its emerald green waters and surrounding glaciers. Take a leisurely walk along the lake shore, rent a canoe for a peaceful paddle, or hike to one of the nearby viewpoints for a stunning photo opportunity.

Jasper National Park

Finally, end your road trip in Jasper National Park. This vast wilderness offers endless opportunities for adventure and exploration. Take a scenic drive along the Icefields Parkway, hike to the top of Mount Edith Cavell, or marvel at the stunning Athabasca Falls.

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for wildlife, including bears, elk, and mountain goats!

Lodging, Dining, and Nightlife Recommendations

Seattle Accommodations and Cuisine

When it comes to accommodations in Seattle, there are plenty of options to suit every traveler’s needs. From luxury hotels with stunning views of the city skyline to cozy bed and breakfasts tucked away in charming neighborhoods, you’ll find something that fits your style and budget.

Some popular choices include the Fairmont Olympic Hotel and the Edgewater Hotel. As for dining, Seattle is renowned for its vibrant food scene. Don’t miss out on trying fresh seafood at Pike Place Market or indulging in a delicious bowl of clam chowder at Ivar’s Acres of Clams.

Mount Rainier and North Cascades Dining and Lodging

When exploring the breathtaking beauty of Mount Rainier National Park and North Cascades National Park, there are several lodging options available. From rustic cabins to campgrounds, you can immerse yourself in nature while still enjoying modern amenities.

For those seeking a more luxurious experience, there are also upscale lodges and resorts. When it comes to dining, be sure to try some local specialties like wild salmon or huckleberry pie.

Winthrop Lodging Recommendations

If you’re planning to visit the charming town of Winthrop, there are a few lodging options to consider. From cozy inns to rustic cabins, you’ll find accommodations that embrace the town’s western theme. The Hotel Rio Vista and the Winthrop Inn are popular choices among travelers.

As for dining, be sure to try some delicious Western-style barbecue at the famous Sun Mountain Lodge.

Where to Eat and Stay in Kamloops

When it comes to dining in Kamloops, you’ll find a wide range of options to satisfy your taste buds. From international cuisine to local favorites, there’s something for everyone. Some popular restaurants include Brownstone Restaurant and Red Beard Cafe.

When it comes to accommodations, Kamloops offers a variety of hotels and motels that cater to different budgets. The Coast Kamloops Hotel & Conference Centre and Hotel 540 are highly recommended by travelers.

Banff Dining Options

In Banff, you’ll find a plethora of dining options that showcase the region’s culinary diversity. From fine dining restaurants offering gourmet meals to casual eateries serving up comfort food, there’s something for every palate. Be sure to try some local delicacies like Alberta beef or game meats.

Some popular dining spots in Banff include The Bison Restaurant and Chuck’s Steakhouse. When it comes to accommodations, Banff offers a range of options from luxury resorts to budget-friendly hotels. The Fairmont Banff Springs and the Rimrock Resort Hotel are highly recommended for a memorable stay.

Jasper Lodging Highlights

When visiting Jasper National Park, you’ll find a range of lodging options to suit your preferences. From cozy cabins nestled in the wilderness to upscale lodges with mountain views, there’s something for everyone.

The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and the Pyramid Lake Resort are popular choices among travelers. As for dining, Jasper offers a variety of restaurants and cafes that cater to different tastes. Be sure to try some Canadian classics like poutine or butter tarts.

Tips for Planning Your Perfect Seattle to Calgary Road Trip

Optimal Time of Year

When planning your Seattle to Calgary road trip, it’s important to consider the optimal time of year to visit. The summer months, from June to August, offer the best weather and road conditions. The temperatures are mild, ranging from the mid-60s to low 70s Fahrenheit (around 18-23 degrees Celsius), making it perfect for outdoor activities and sightseeing.

Additionally, this time of year allows you to enjoy longer daylight hours, giving you more time to explore the stunning landscapes along the way.

Length of Trip

The length of your road trip will depend on how much time you have available and how many stops you want to make along the way. The direct route from Seattle to Calgary is approximately 620 miles (998 kilometers) and can be driven in about 10-12 hours.

However, to truly experience the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and the Canadian Rockies, it is recommended to allow at least a week for the trip. This will give you enough time to explore popular destinations such as Vancouver, Banff National Park, and Jasper National Park.

Budget and Cost Considerations

Before embarking on your road trip, it’s important to consider your budget and cost considerations. Gas prices can vary along the route, so it’s a good idea to check for the most affordable options before hitting the road.

Additionally, accommodations and dining options can range from budget-friendly to luxury, so it’s important to plan accordingly. Researching and booking in advance can help you find the best deals and save money on your trip.

Packing List Essentials

When packing for your Seattle to Calgary road trip, it’s important to consider the essentials. Here are some items you should include in your packing list:

  • Valid passports and identification for crossing the US-Canada border
  • Comfortable clothing and shoes for outdoor activities and exploring
  • Weather-appropriate gear, including rain jackets, sunscreen, and hats
  • A good map or navigation system to help you navigate the route
  • Camping gear if you plan on camping along the way
  • Snacks and drinks for the road
  • Camera or smartphone to capture the breathtaking scenery

Camping and Recreational Options

One of the highlights of a Seattle to Calgary road trip is the opportunity to experience the great outdoors. There are several camping and recreational options along the route, allowing you to immerse yourself in nature.

Some popular choices include camping in Banff National Park or Jasper National Park, hiking in the North Cascades National Park, or kayaking in the stunning waters of Vancouver Island. Be sure to check for any permits or reservations required in advance.

For more information and inspiration, you can visit websites such as National Park Service and Travel Alberta for detailed information on the attractions, activities, and accommodations along the Seattle to Calgary road trip route.

By considering the optimal time of year, planning your trip length, budgeting wisely, packing essentials, and exploring camping and recreational options, you can ensure that your Seattle to Calgary road trip will be an unforgettable adventure.


A Seattle to Calgary road trip takes you through dramatic mountain scenery, quaint towns, and world-famous national parks. With smart planning and preparation, you’re bound for an unforgettable Pacific Northwest and Canadian Rockies adventure. We hope this guide gave you the information you need to map out your route and make the most of this incredible road trip opportunity.

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