BC rail, bus and ferry loop

May 30th, 2005, 05:00 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 9
BC rail, bus and ferry loop

I am planning (I plan quite a bit and actually follow through half a bit) a visit to Vancouver where my mom was born. While there I want to set aside enough time to also take a circle or loop trip utilizing the trains and ferries.

I list "travel days" since I may want to spend more than one night in any location, especially in the locations where the train schedule does not force a next day departure.

Travel day 1 - Rocky Mountaineer from Vancouver to Kamloops and overnight stop.

Travel day 2 - Rocky Mountaineer from Kamloops to Banff and overnight stop.

Travel day 3 - Bus from Banff via the Icefield Parkway to Jasper and overnight stop.

Travel day 4 - Skeena VIA Rail from Jasper to Prince George and overnight stop.

Travel day 5 - Skeena from Prince George to Prince Rupert and overnight stop.

Travel day 6 - BC Ferry from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy and overnight stop.

Travel day 7 - Bus down Vancouver Island to Victoria and either overnight stop or continue across via ferry to Vancouver for overnight stop.

Some where in this there has got to be some great scenery and stops along the way worth dawdling over. I have read similar itineraries both directions, clockwise as well as the way I laid it out.

I would appreciate comments and suggestions as I would really love to pull this off, if not this travel season then in 2006.


dgpile is offline  
May 30th, 2005, 06:13 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
Hello Jester,

Much of your itinerary looks fine to me, but I would suggest a couple of tweaks.

Generally speaking, I'm an advocate of driving from Banff to Lake Louise and Jasper rather than taking a bus. The scheduled bus services, e.g., Greyhound, do not stop at scenic lookout points such as Peyto Lake Lookout, which is on the Icefields Parkway. The coach tours, e.g., Brewster, do stop for brief photo opportunities, but I still don't consider them to be satisfactory. To add insult to injury, they're quite expensive.

If you must use buses in the mountains, you might look into Giddy Goat Adventures who operate out of Banff and Sundog Tours who operate out of Jasper. I've heard that both companies cater to small groups, and I believe they would provide you with a more meaningful exposure to the attractions than a big tour bus would give you.

I think it would be crazy to catch a bus from Port Hardy to Victoria and then catch the ferry across to Vancouver on the same day. For the love of Pete, if you're going to visit Victoria at all, at least spend a night there. Then, before you go on to Vancouver the next afternoon, you'll have time to visit Butchart Gardens and the Royal BC Museum.

In fact I don't even know if you can catch a bus from Port Hardy to Victoria in a single day. My brief surf through Gray Line's web site suggests that you may have to catch one bus from Port Hardy to Campbell River, another bus from Campbell River to Nanaimo, and yet another bus from Nanaimo to Victoria. The time tables don't look all that compatible to me. But I must confess I did not spend much time researching the possibilities.

It would be nice if you could devote 3 full days to Vancouver. That's how much time it takes to do the city justice, IMO.

You need a day for the centrally located stuff (Stanley Park, Granville Island Market, Robson Street).

You need another day for the North Shore stuff (Lynn Canyon, Grouse Mountain, Horseshoe Bay).

Then you need still another day for the Museum of Anthropology (my favourite Vancouver attraction after Stanley Park), Queen Elizabeth Park and VanDusen Gardens.

I'm a bit puzzled by your methodology. On the one hand, you're planning to take the expensive Rocky Mountaineer, and on the other hand you're planning to use buses in the Canadian Rockies and on Vancouver Island. These are places where buses, in my opinion, are not the most convenient in the world. I think you would even out the quality of your experience if you were willing to drive these segments of the trip.

If you really do want to rely on buses, I also have heard some good things about Moose Travel Network, which operates a hop-on / hop-off bus service for backpackers.

Hope that helps.

Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
May 30th, 2005, 09:41 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 982
"you may have to catch one bus from Port Hardy to Campbell River, another bus from Campbell River to Nanaimo, and yet another bus from Nanaimo to Victoria."
Not at all-i've bussed south from Port Hardy a number of times-it's the same bus all the way.
I have to say that the first half of the southbound Inside Passage route is something of a bore-lots of drab grey rock/small trees and more rock.
You're a long way from the water and what sea life there is is difficult to see.
I hope you're going in June so that the long daylight hours allow you to see the beauty of the mid coast/north Vancouver Island portion.
Sam_Salmon is offline  
May 31st, 2005, 10:48 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,087
I would rethink some of your itinerary. As someone said earlier you must spend time in Victoria. That is essential. You will regret it if you don't. There is so much to see and do there and the consensus of opinons of visitors is always that they wished they had stayed longer. Enjoy your trip.
traveller69 is offline  
Jun 1st, 2005, 03:55 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 430

I traveled the loop last year by car. It can be very scenic, if weather is o.k. We has an all-day rain during the ferry trip and it was very boring (no scenic look-out).

I recommend to do the trip with a car, as your schedule does not allow any stops. You will have to much time pressuere. You should spend more days for the loop (at least 14 days).
tom22 is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2005, 03:09 PM
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Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 9
Thanks for the suggestions and cautions. As I work through the places that are "family musts" I will build in the flexibility to ensure the "scenic musts" as well.

dgpile is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 07:14 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 286
We are thinking of doing something similar this year. In late May would the northbound ferry route have more scenery during daylight hours than the southbound route?
Thanks for any info.
susan4 is offline  
Feb 4th, 2006, 07:41 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,854
I would also add some time in the Jasper area. Both the scenery and the wildlife opportunities are superb.
dwooddon is offline  
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