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Kamloops to Whistler road trip itinerary

I’ve done the drive from Kamloops to Whistler and Whistler to Kamloops numerous times. As a Vancouverite with a house in Sun Peaks, there are only really two options for when we’re travelling between the two cities.

You can either go north from Vancouver to Whistler and then across to Kamloops or take the faster route via the Coquihalla to Kamloops which you can do from Whistler if you go south and through Vancouver.

We used to do the Kamloops to Whistler route via the Coquihalla most often but then when the road literally broke into pieces in 2021 we were forced to try the northern route from Whistler to Kamloops and it was such a pleasant change.

This route is super, super scenic. The Coquihalla is impressive, but Highway 1 from Whistler to Kamloops? That’s something else.

It’s also got a lot fewer truckers on the road which is a blessing. If you’ve ever driven the Coquihalla then you’ll know what I mean.

Unlike in the UK (where I’m from), trucks in Canada don’t seem to have a speed limiter on them so they go fast.

Sure, they’ll crawl up the hills trying to overtake each other, but when it comes to the downhill they often charged past us in our self-converted campervan van Elvis.

If you’re planning a trip to Canada and find yourself driving from Kamloops to Whistler, here’s everything you need to know from road rules and things to note, to where to stop on the beautiful drive from Kamloops to Whistler.

Though it’s a relatively short road trip when it comes to Canadian standards, this is one of my favourite trips (usually because it means we’re going skiing in Sun Peaks!). Below you’ll find all the details on where to stop along the drive from Kamloops to Whistler as well as information about the bus from Kamloops to Whistler which is one of the few public transport routes that exist in this area.

If you’re driving, pack your road trip essentials and let’s go!

About the drive from Kamloops to Whistler

driving from kamloops to whistler

Whichever of the two routes you drive from Kamloops to Whistler, remember to take your time. There are some steep climbs and descents and if you aren’t used to windy mountain roads, you’ll likely find the driving a bit more of a challenge. Plus you’ll probably be a bit distracted by the stunning views out of your window.

Distance between Kamloops to Whistler

The scenic route from Whistler to Kamloops is about 300 kilometres (186 miles) and takes between 4-5 hours if you don’t plan on stopping and you don’t hit traffic. However, it’ll likely take at least 5-6 and I’d recommend allowing up to 8 hours to really enjoy the journey or even spending a night halfway which would give you time to do some walks and explore the towns you go past.

If you’re going south from Whistler to Vancouver and then to Kamloops this will take a bit longer and you’ll likely hit some traffic either on the Sea to Sky Highway down to Vancouver, or almost definitely around Abbotsford.

This route isn’t quite as scenic and it’s busier, but it is the route that the bus will take and you can check out some of the best things to do in Vancouver in a day on the way too.

This route is at least 5 hours over 473 km (294 miles) though I would expect it to take longer due to traffic.

Kamloops to Whistler driving route

The map below includes the places to stop that I’ve mentioned on this route and can be used to guide your road trip from Whistler to Kamloops.

Road conditions between Whistler and Kamloops

The speed limit ranges from 80-100 kilometres an hour (50-62 miles per hour) on the drive, but be prepared to slow down depending on road conditions, especially if there’s rain and definitely if there’s snow.

Since you’re in mountainous areas, you should expect the weather conditions to change along the way. In early summer and late fall, you might encounter snow at the higher points along the drive.

If you’re driving between October 1 and March 31, you must check your car has snow tires or all-season (mud + snow) tires. You can tell this by either a little snowflake symbol on the tyres or an M+S marked on them. There are regular police checks and it’s just safer to have them.

It’s a good idea to have snow chains too if you’re driving in the winter, especially if you’re in a larger vehicle or have just mud and snow tires. Make sure you know how to put them on before you need them. There’s nothing worse than standing in the freezing cold in a snowstorm trying to figure out how they work.

The best way to check the road conditions along the drive from Whistler to Kamloops is to follow DriveBC on Twitter. They’re super active over the winter season to keep drivers up to date with road closures and conditions. They also have webcams on their website so you can see what the roads are looking like and make an informed decision.

We’ve used their website so many times on our drives back and forth between Whistler and Kamloops.

Services along the drive from Whistler to Kamloops

Whether you’re coming from, or going to, Whistler there aren’t many places to stop along the way once you’ve left Whistler or Kamloops.

There are a few service stations for gas along the route; Pemberton, Lillooet and Cache Creek but that’s pretty much it so make sure you fill up before you set off.

The river in Kamloops

Kamloops to Whistler via Hwy 1 (scenic route)

A common road trip in Western Canada is to fly into Calgary and then fly out of Vancouver after visiting the Canadian Rockies and Whistler.

If you’re planning a road trip to Banff, or from Banff to the West Coast, you’ll likely drive through Kamloops on the way.

Below are all the stops I recommend, as a local to this area, that’ll make the drive from Kamloops to Whistler a bit more exciting.



Kamloops gets a bit of a bad rap but having spent a significant amount of time there once we bought our place in Sun Peaks (45 minutes up the mountain and Canada’s second-largest ski area), I think it’s a lot better than people give it credit for.

Kamloops has some great breweries including Bright Eye Brewing, Iron Road Brewing and Red Collar Brewing, as well as some great coffee shops including The Art We Are (my favourite for coffee and lunch) and Amplified Cafe and for breakfast or brunch in Kamloops, there’s Hello Toast which my parents loved.

There are also some great shops like Far + Wide for plants and gifts and, since I love outdoor stores, True Outdoors in Kamloops is worth a visit for any outdoor gear you need.

Besides downtown Kamloops, there are a bunch of cool trails in Kenna Cartwright Nature Park or Lac du Bois. Plus, you’re just 45 minutes from Sun Peaks where you have lift-accessed hiking trails and mountain biking and loads of cross-country/non-lift-accessed trails to explore.

Kamloops get very, very hot in the summer, and Sun Peaks is usually about 10 degrees cooler so it’s a nicer place to escape the heat from.

There are a bunch of lakes nearby too where you can go paddleboarding Kamloops Lake is one of the prettiest. Or you could go chasing waterfalls near Kamloops in Wells Grey Provincial Park.

While Kelowna is better known for BC wine, Kamloops has some vineyards too such as Monte Creek Winery and Privato Vineyard and Winery.

For kids and families, the BC Wildlife Park is worth a visit. It’s a great rehabilitation and rescue centre in Kamloops where you can see a rare white bear, known as a spirit bear, as well as cougars, insects and other animal species you’ll find across BC.

Kamloops Lake Viewpoint

kamloops lake viewpoint
Kamloops Lake viewpoint

As you leave Kamloops and follow Hwy 1 as it climbs out of the city, there’s a small pullout that’s well worth pulling in to enjoy some impressive views of Kamloops Lake, the city and surrounding mountains.

We’ve stopped off here a few times and it’s always such a beautiful spot!

Cache Creek  

Cache Creek is a small town that doesn’t have much to offer but it’s what’s around it that makes sit a good place to stay i you want to separate this trip into two days.

There are EV chargers in Cache Creek as well as some restaurants, campgrounds, hotels and gas stations. Destination Inn Cache Creek is a good option for a place to stay if you decide to stop in Cache Creek.

Nearby there’s Juniper Beach Provincial Park which has a great beach area down on the Kamloops River as well as a boat launch and places to camp.

Other things to do in Cache Creek include visiting the Historic Hat Creek Ranch where you can experience the life of a gold miner from the 1860s. You’ll get to ride on a stagecoach, try your hand at panning for gold and see a covered wagon and shack.

Once past Cache Creek, you then join Highway 99 Whistler bound and you’ll follow Highway 99 to Whistler for the rest of the trip.

Marble Canyon Provincial Park 

I can’t quite describe how beautiful the water at Marble Canyon Provincial Park is, nor how good it feels to jump in after you’ve been driving for a few hours in the heat!

Marble Canyon Provincial Park has two quite small lakes and then the larger Pavilion Lake. There are a few parking areas where you can park up, stretch your legs, enjoy the views and take a refreshing dip in the beautiful turquoise waters here. There’s also a small campground with about 30 sites right between two lakes which I recommend you book in advance.


Lillooet whistler to kamloops drive
A large smoke cloud from a forest fire as we drove from Lillooet to Kamloops one summer

Arriving in Lillooet you’ll still be surrounded by beautiful mountains and desert landscapes and it’s just going to get better as you continue into Whistler. When you step out of your car changes you’ll be hit by a wall of heat as Lillooet has a super hot and dry climate!

You’ll find all sorts of facilities here including gas stations and places to get food and drink. Abundance Artisan Bakery is a great place to go for lunch or something sweet.

Lillooet is a small town that has a lot of ties to the Gold Rush period in British Columbia. At one point, Lillooet was actually one of the largest towns in North America which 1000s coming here looking to get rich.

If you want to learn more about the BC Gold Rush, the Lillooet Museum has lots of interesting artefacts and information about this time.

Seton Lake Lookout

seton lake lookout kamloops to whistler best stops

Coming out of Lillooet there’s another great viewpoint that’s well worth stopping off at.

Park up your car in the gravel area as marked on this trail map of the Seton Lake hike to the Seton Lake Lookout and then take a short but fairly steep walk to a beautiful viewpoint that overlooks a part of the highway with a hairpin bend, U-shape.

This spot, the Duffey Lake Road U-Turn, or Seton Lake Lookout, is super popular for photographs and it’s easy to see why. Stop here to take a short one-kilometre (0.6-mile) hike to a popular spot overlooking the lake with part of the highway making a U-shape in the foreground – known as the Duffey Lake Road U-Turn. It’s a great road trip picture!

This scenic viewpoint a little further down the road is one of the Whistler to Kamloops best stops that’s worthy of a photo.

Duffey Lake viewpoint

This next section of the road is perhaps the most scenic, and the part that requires the most concentration!

The road gets narrower here and windier and you’ll be flanked by mountains or forest or sometimes both for a lot of the journey.

As you head south towards Whistler from Seton Lake, you’ll come across another great viewpoint, the Duffey Lake viewpoint.

This is another quick stop that’s worth getting out of your car for to enjoy the views of Duffey Lake which is one of the best lakes near Whistler.

Duffey Lake Viewpoint is just a quick stop on the drive from Whistler to Kelowna. Here, you can admire the stunning view of Duffey Lake. It’s really easy to get to from the highway. Simply pull off the road into a little makeshift parking lot right beside the lake.  

This is a stunning backdrop to grab a few photos of the mountains and soak in the beautiful scenery. If you’re driving the whole time, it’s harder to really enjoy these views, so these stops help with that. 

If you’re brave, you can dip your toes in the lake, but it’s pretty cold!  

Joffre Lakes

joffre lakes trail pemberton winter v2 (13 of 32)

Joffre Lakes is one of the most famous lakes near Whistler and for good reason, it’s absolutely beautiful.

There are three lakes that make up Joffre Lakes Provincial Park and you’ll need to plan in advance if you plan to do this 10 km return trip hike since you need a (free) day pass permit to do the hike.

There’s a lower, middle and upper Joffre Lakes with the middle and the upper being the most impressive. Along the way you’ll walk through the forest, making your way uphill, past Holloway Falls and then arriving at Upper Joffre Lake with a view of Matier Glacier and surrounding mountains.

You can read a full guide to the Joffre Lakes hike, which is a must-stop on the Whistler to Kamloops drive.

You will need a day pass to access popular BC parks, Garibaldi (from June 14 – Oct 9), Joffre (May 6 – Oct 9) and Golden Ears (June 14 – Sept 4). The passes are free and available from 7 am two days before your visit. All details & information here

Lillooet Lake

lillooet lake paddleboarding

If you weren’t able to get a Joffre Lakes day pass, then you can stop off at Lillooet Lake instead.

Lillooet Lake is another beautiful lake near Whistler and Pemberton but this one doesn’t involve a hike! At the weekends in summer, this lake gets super busy with people heading off on a camping trip but during the week it’s usually a bit quieter.

You’ll have to leave the main highway and drive down the forestry service road (FSR) but you’ll find pullouts to park in where you can get out and walk down to the lake.

If you do visit Lillooet Lake in summer, be sure to pack bug spray. The mosquitoes here are pretty renowned for being awful!


Pemberton is the last town you’ll get to before arriving in Whistler from Kamloops.

Though it’s a small town it has some really great cafes, restaurants and breweries that make it well worth a stop before you get to Whistler.

If you’re coming through Pemberton in the morning, or need a coffee, then be sure to head to Blackbird Bakery for a delicious croissant.

For lunch, head to Mile 1 Eating House. They do the absolute best burgers including veggie burgers. Our host when we mountain biked in the Chilcotins used to work here and recommended it to us after we loved the burgers she made us in the backcountry. The restaurant also has a shop area where you can pick up some locally-made food products and produce.

For beer, there’s Pemberton Brewing Company or, Beer Farmers. Beer Farmers is a little further out of town but well worth making the journey out to. It’s in a beautiful setting with delicious beers and food.

Nairn Falls Provincial Park

nairn falls whistler easy hike

Just 20 minutes before you get to Whistler is your final stop on the Kamloops to Whistler road trip: Nairn Falls.

These are one of the prettiest waterfalls near Whistler and it only involves a short walk of about 1.5 km making it one of the best easy hikes near Whistler.

The trail to Nairn Falls begins in Nairn Falls Provincial Park, right off the highway and there’s a small parking lot here with some toilets.

Once you reach Nairn Falls there are two viewing platforms where you can get a look at the falls as they carve their way through the rock and cascade down.

Whistler BC

Scandinave Spa in Whistler
lost lake whistler best hikes
Lost Lake in Whistler Village

You’ve arrived!

You’ll drive into Whistler from the north, passing the beautiful Green Lake before coming into Whistler Village with beautiful views of both Blackcomb and Whistler Mountain.

Whistler is a brilliant place to visit in BC no matter what your interests. Of course, it has the renowned Whistler Blackcomb skiing area; the largest in North America, but there are plenty of things to do in Whistler for non-skiers too.

In the summer, you might want to check out some of the best hiking trails in Whistler, visit Vallea Lumina which is a through the forest with music and lights which gets really good reviews, go bungee jumping off a bridge in the canyon, kayak the River of Golden Dreams, ride the Peak2Peak Gondola, hit the mountain biking trails, visit the best Whistler museums, or relax at Scandinave Spa, there’s just so much to explore!

If you’re then heading down to Vancouver from Whistler be sure to check out this Vancouver to Whistler road trip itinerary for where to stop on the way!

sun peaks summer
Sun Peaks near Kamloops in summer

Kamloops to Whistler by bus

To get the Kamloops to Whistler bus you’re going to have to change in Vancouver as there is no direct Whistler to Kamloops bus.

There are a few bus companies offering services between Kamloops and Vancouver and I’ve taken them a couple of times before. Sometimes you’re required to change in Merritt and this is often where they’ll stop for you to use the restroom or get some food and drink along the route too.

The buses are pretty comfortable and do have wifi. You can also take a large suitcase or bag and store it underneath the bus while you travel.

I used the Ebus and booked through Busbud which I find the best way of seeing all bus schedules in one place.

A one-way bus ticket from Kamloops to Whistler is around CAD$60-70. You might be able to get it for less if you book far in advance. The journey is around 4.5 hours long and you’ll arrive at Pacific Central Station in Vancouver which is close to the Science World Skytrain station downtown.

Once you arrive in Vancouver, you’ll need to catch a second bus up to Whistler. You can catch a SkyLynx bus from Vancouver’s Pacific Central Station to Whistler. This second leg of the journey is just over 2 hours long and costs around $32. Again, I recommend booking through BusBud so you can see all the options for the day you’re planning on travelling.

Quick notes about driving from Kamloops to Whistler

Kamloops Hoodoos
Kamloops Hoodoos
  • During the winter season (from October 1 to March 31), it’s important to note that winter tires are mandatory for driving on most BC highways, including the route you’ll be taking.
  • The total drive covers a distance of approximately 300 kilometres (186 miles) and typically takes around four hours without any stops. However, with the many beautiful places to explore along the way, it’s highly recommended to allocate at least a day for the journey, especially if you plan to hike Joffre Lakes too (don’t forget your day pass!).
  • Don’t forget to bring your camera!
  • Fuel up before you leave, and top up when you can to avoid running out. Having a charged phone and a way to keep it charged as you drive is a good idea. If you’re travelling in winter, keep a blanket and warm gear in the trunk of your car.
  • Stock up on road trip snacks, that’s part of the fun.
  • Check DriveBC for Duffey Lake road conditions, Pemberton road conditions, and the current road conditions Whistler is experiencing. Also in the summer, the roads can be closed due to forest fires or be experiencing poor visibility due to smoke from them.

Canada Travel Planning Guide

Should I buy Canada travel insurance?

100% YES! — You should have travel insurance for all your trips. Though Canada has “free” healthcare, it’s only for residents. If you’re just visiting, you’ll need travel insurance should you need medical care. It also helps you claim for delayed flights or lost/stolen baggage. We use SafetyWing for our travel insurance!

Is it safe to rent a car in Canada?

Yes — Renting a car is a good idea in most of Canada as public transit isn’t the best!

Car hire is usually quite reasonable, especially compared to some other countries and they’ll all be automatic so you shouldn’t have a problem driving it if you’re used to manual transmission.

I personally use a mix of DiscoverCars and RentalCars to find the best deal that works for me when I rent a car. I used them in Norway, Italy, and Canada when we first moved, and have never had an issue. For RV rental I recommend Outdoorsy.

What’s the best way to pay/exchange money for Canada?

Wise (formerly Transferwise!) — I use my Wise card everywhere these days. I fill it with a certain currency and then I can spend it in countries across the world, online and even for direct debits. Wise has the best currency exchange rates (and they’ll even tell you when you can get it cheaper elsewhere!). When you pay in another currency through chip and pin or tap/wireless, they’ll automatically convert it for you – it’s easy! This link gets you a fee-free transfer.

Do I need a visa for Canada?

Many countries do not need a visa to travel to Canada — However, you may need an ETA which costs $7 (you need this if you’re from the UK). You can buy them online and they usually take a few hours to come through though it can take longer. Only ever buy from this official website otherwise you’ll end up paying more money necessarily. If you want to move to Canada, check out my guide to the Working Holiday Visa which is how we first moved there! Always check the official Canadian Immigration website to see whether you need a visa to travel there.

Will my phone work in Canada?

It depends — Some American and European companies work in Canada for a certain amount of data or time but many will not work at all. Getting a Canadian SIM card will help you get around with Google Maps and stay in touch with people back home. There isn’t much free WIFI in Canada so you can’t really rely on that, especially if you’re heading outside of major cities.

Where can I book my Canada accommodation?

I always check for hotels or Hostel World for hostels. If I’m looking for something for a bigger group of people, or a bit more unique (cosy cabins, luxury beach houses) then I use VRBO.

When we first moved to Canada we used Trusted Housesitters to get free accommodation!

What’s the best site to buy Canada flights?

I only ever use Skyscanner to find cheap flights no matter where I’m travelling!

FAQs about driving between Kamloops to Whistler

green lake whistler canada

Is it worth visiting Kamloops?

Yes! Having lived not far from Kamloops for a year, I think it’s worth a visit. There are some great parks around Kamloops, beautiful lakes as well as Sun Peaks mountin resort. There are also some cool shops and cafes in the town itself.

What highway is between Whistler and Kamloops?

There are several. The one detailed in this guide is Hwy 1 onto Hwy 99 to Whistler. You could also take Hwy 5 onto Hwy 1 via Merrit and Vancouver to Whistler.

Is Whistler near Kamloops?

mountains on the kamloops to whistler drive

Whistler is about 4 hours away from Kamloops, or roughly 300 km. They are both in the province of British Columbia.

How far is it from Whistler to Kamloops?

It is about 300 km from Whistler to Kamloops which takes around 4 hours or more if you allow for stops.

Can I drive from Whistler to Kamloops?

Yes definitely. There are a couple of routes. The longer one goes through Vancouver and the most direct goes up through Lillooet on Highway 99 before joining Highway 1 and heading into Kamloops.

Final thoughts on this Whistler to Kamloops route

hannah thatadventurer blog
Hannah with Elvis the van

This road trip guide has given you details of the best Kamloops to Whistler stops on the drive.

From Marble Canyon to Joffre Lakes and Pemberton, the drive from Kamloops to Whistler BC gives you so many gorgeous mountain views as you transition from the desert landscapes of Kamloops, to the alpine of Whistler.

If you’re planning a Whistler to Kamloops road trip, you can follow this guide in reverse. And, if you’re coming from Vancouver to Kamloops you can either follow this guide to the Sea to Sky highway combined with the information above, or take the more direct route detailed in this road trip guide from Vancouer to Banff National Park which covers the Kamloops to Jasper drive, Kamloops to Banff and Kamloops to Lake Louise too.

For those continuing on to Banff Lake Louise, you might be interested in this guide to the best things to do in Revelstoke, or what to do in Golden BC. Two super cool BC mountain towns along route.

If you’re staying in Vancouver for a few days after this road trip or before. Be sure to check out all my Vancouver travel guides!

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