Last year, I lived in Comox, British Columbia. I spent the whole year working, traveling and having the time of my life. Unfortunately, when June came around, my contract also came to an end and it was time for me to say goodbye and go back home to Quebec City. Goodbyes are always hard, but nothing helps more than a brand new trip to take your mind off the old one. So instead of driving straight to Quebec, I took the long way home and brought a friend along. And that is how our 26 days of driving through North America started. It was a trip full of ups and down, but we saw the most beautiful places where you should definitely stop while on a road trip through North America.
First stop, Vancouver. Of course, the first stop always depends on where you start, but in our case, since we started on Vancouver Island, the city of Vancouver was our first stop. Vancouver is the third biggest city in Canada and probably the most breath-taking. Its location right by the Pacific Ocean and next to a magnificent mountain range makes it the perfect mix of nature and city life. Check out my article on What Not to Miss on a Short Trip to Vancouver to see the different activites you should plan for your trip to VanCity.
2. The okanagan
The Okanagan Valley is a wide region of the South East of British Columbia. It is located on lake Okanagan and includes multiple cities like Kelowna and Pentiction. If you want to thoroughly explore this area, plan for at least a couple of days as there is a lot to see and the distances between the different activities are long. The area is renowned for its wineries and if you are looking to taste some good wines during your stay, I suggest going to Naramata. The little village will transport you to Tuscany while you drive through winding roads and walk in the orchards with a beautiful view of lake Okanagan. The tastings are affordable, the wine, delicious and the ambiance, irreplaceable.
3. the rockies
You can’t drive through North America and not stop in the Rockies. If you thought the mountains were beautiful in Vancouver, prepare to be blown away by this mountain range that stretches way further than you can see in every direction. And once you start getting used to the mountains, the colour of the lakes astonish you by their blue hues that range from baby blue to teal to a bright electric blue. For a more complete look at the Rockies and the different National Parks of this region check out The Canadian Rockies: from Mount Robson to Waterton.
Yellowstone was the first national park ever created in the United States, but also the first in the world. It was created in 1872 to protect the biodiversity of the area and its many geothermal features. The park is home to bison, elk, grizzly bears, wolves and hundreds of other species of mammal, birds, fish and plants. Half of the world’s geothermal features are kept safe in the park and you can spend days checking out lava flows and different coloured geysers and lakes, but a visit to Yellowstone wouldn’t be complete without an eruption from Old Faithful. The geyser is very predictable and erupts approximately every 90 minutes. I was so impressed that we stayed a complete 93 minutes to see it erupt a second time.
5. mount rushmore
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is an emblem of the United States located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The sculptures represent presidents Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt. It took fourteen years and four hundred workers to complete the sculptures, but the results, although a little creepy from up close, are impressive and show true talent from sculptor Gutzon Borglum.
6. badlands National Park
Badlands was one of the surprises and highlights of my trip. I had come across the website while researching for things to do in South Dakota and thought it looked pretty cool, but the pictures really didn’t do it justice. I had very low expectations since I had never heard about it before, but the warm and dry air, the little prairie dogs and the endless buttes and spires charmed me. The sunset was absolutely breath taking and the open hiking policy allows you to really explore the park.
Chicago is the third most populated city in the United States and is home to the second busiest airport in the world. Let’s just say, it is big and there is lots to do! Just in the downtown area, there is Millennium Park with its silver bean (Cloud Gate), Navy Pier, a dozen museums, Willis Tower and its Skydeck, boat tours on Lake Michigan and, before you know it, you have been there for a week and haven’t seen everything yet! I loved the view of the city from Lake Michigan. The lake is so big and blue; it feels like the city is right on the ocean.
Whether you go East to West or North to South, you will find plenty of surprises and natural beauty in North America. I hope one day I will get the chance to see all of the Canadian provinces and all of the American and Mexican states.
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