The Ultimate Mountain Road Trip: Boulder to Banff

For anyone who knows Mitch + I or follows our adventures over the years, you know we love to road trip. For some people, road tripping isn’t their thing and I totally respect that. For us, there’s no better feeling than hitting the open road, with pups in tow, and embarking on a new adventure. This past summer, we took on one of our biggest feats yet – driving from Boulder, Colorado to Alberta, Canada. If you’re interested in recreating our route, or just curious to know how we pulled it off, read on below:

  1. Boulder, CO to Casper, WY

Our first day on the road was a short stretch to ease ourselves into the journey ahead. We hit the road right after work and drove a few hours up to Casper, WY for our first stop on the road.

A few things that worked well with this start: 1), we were able to make our drive the next day more manageable and enjoyable 2) we were able to get on the road earlier and start the vacation earlier 3) we weren’t completely exhausted from our first day of driving and started our second day on the road more energized and ready than ever. While Casper itself wasn’t high on our list as a “destination”, we made the most of it while we were there and started on our way to Montana bright and early the next morning.

  1. Casper, WY to Great Falls, MT

It’s hard for me to contain my excitement about Great Falls, Montana. This place was an absolute hidden gem that we fell fast and hard for. We have some friends who are making a trip to Great Falls this summer after hearing us talk non-stop about it! Montana in general is incredible and an up-and-coming destination, and Great Falls feels like a town that could easily turn into the next Boulder or Jackson. Great Falls features endless miles of trails from the Lewis & Clark Trail, some of the best craft beer we’ve ever had (which takes a lot to admit as a Coloradoan), and nicest people you could ever meet. On top of that, there were actually waterfalls!

  1. Great Falls, MT to Cochrane, Alberta

Visiting Banff in the summer can be a little tricky given the high tourist season and large crowds. Particularly given we had our dog, Max, with us, we decided to get a hotel in Cochrane, outside of the park, that fit our dog-friendly needs and still had us close to the action. On the way to Cochrane, we passed over the Canadian border and through Calgary before arriving at our hotel.

  1. Banff National Park

Banff has been high on my bucket-list before I even knew Banff was Banff. I’d see pictures of these absolutely beautiful, pristine peaks and aquamarine alpine lakes on Instagram and Pinterest and say “I must go here” without even knowing the name of where this magical land existed. Once I found out, I was determined. And I have to say, Banff more than lived up to the hype.

The crowds were what you’d expect, but Lake Louise and namely Lake Moraine, actually gave me chills when we got there just looking at their immense beauty. And, national parks in Canada are dog friendly! Go Canada 😊 We loved all the hiking we were able to do with our pup in Banff.

  1. Cochrane, Alberta to Wateron Lakes, Alberta

After spending a few days exploring the park, downtown Banff, and Icefields Parkway, we began to make our way back down to the US of A. On the way, we stopped through the lesser- known Canadian side of Glacier National Park, Wateron Lakes. After exploring the park, we began to make our way towards the border, only to come across a black bear and her cubs playing in a river. A more than fitting end to our time in Canada.

  1. Wateron Lakes to Glacier National Park, Montana

After making our way back to the US and into Glacier National Park, our bear streak continued with a giant grizzly bear crossing the road to welcome us to the park. In Glacier, we decided to take the Going to the Sun Road from west to east Glacier, an absolutely breathtaking and equally unnerving road that hugs the side of the mountain tops as you make your way through the park.

  1. Glacier National Park to Kalispell, Montana

After exploring Glacier, we posted up in Whitefish, Montana, a town that sits at the base of the national park and is full of fantastic people, breweries, and stunning scenery; as is the Montana way. We spent the night in a hotel just outside of Whitefish in Kalispell, Montana before hitting the road the next morning.

  1. Kalispell, MT to Henrys Lake State Park, Idaho

As we started to wind our way back down to Colorado, we next had some serious ground to cover in the western side of Wyoming. Before making it to Yellowstone, Mitch and I made an extra stop a few miles out-of-the-way to see Henrys Lake State Park in Idaho. Idaho is a state I cannot wait to get back and explore more of. Our visit was short, but memorable, before we continued on our way towards Yellowstone.

  1. Yellowstone + Grand Teton National Parks

Mitch and I hit the jackpot and found a cabin in between Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks that became our home base for our time in Wyoming. After checking in, we were able to start exploring Yellowstone (the park is massive, and always crowded so make sure to give yourself extra time to explore) before turning in for the night.

We spent two nights in our little cabin before we started our last long stretch towards home. With the Tetons being to the south of our cabin, we saved the park for after we cleared out of our cabin and started to make our way back to Colorado.

  1. Grand Teton National Park to Jackson, WY

After taking in the Tetons, we stopped for lunch in Jackson (not to be confused with Jackson Hole, WY – the ski resort; we learned from some locals it’s a big deal to mistake these two) with a friend Mitch grew up with. We had some of THE best breakfast burritos a girl could ask for, got our picture in front of a rack of elk antlers, and then we were back on the road.

  1. Jackson, WY to Rawlins, WY

Similar to Casper, I wouldn’t expect Rawlins to be high on many road trippers lists to stop through. But for me, this stop was a very special one. My grandmother grew up in Rawlins in a sheep ranching family. For the first time in my life, I got to see where she was born and grew up, including the house she was raised in. It is pretty incredible what kinds of magic small little towns like Rawlins hold inside of them.

  1. Rawlins, WY to Boulder, CO

After taking a stroll down memory lane in small-town Wyoming we fueled up with some Taco John’s for dinner for the rest of the drive home. This time when we hit the road, we’d end back in Boulder in our own beds at home.

For more tips on planning a road trip like this one, check out – Boulder to Banff: 7 Road Trip Tips from 3,600 Miles on the Road


Published by From the Road I'm On

Hi friends, I'm Kim. I started writing at an early age, mailing short stories and song lyrics cross country to my favorite penpal, my grandfather. As a journalist and editor by profession, he didn't go easy on me and equipped me with revisions well beyond my years. I credit him with both giving me the writing bug, and challenging me to push my work. Since then, I've written anything and everything I can get my hands on. Articles, social media posts, songs, short stories, academic reports, to-do lists, journal entries, and everything in between. In addition to my own travel blog, From The Road I'm On, I am a regularly featured contributor for Visit Pittsburgh.

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