Canada vacation

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Jun 24th, 2004, 11:19 PM
  #1
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Canada vacation

We are a family of four (2 Adults,1 17 yr old Son and 1 13yr Old Daughter) travelling to Vancouver at the end of July for a two week vacation.We will have a hire car for the two weeks and the rough plan is to spend the first two nights in vancouver then drive to Banff stopping off at a convenient point on the way. How long does it take to drive to banff with a stopoff in the middle and what is the best route. The itinery once we get to banff is as followsbr /> 2/3 nights in Banff
2/3 nights in Whistler (how long to drive Banff to Whistler)
3 nights in Vancouver Island
2 Nights in Vancouver then back to the UK.
I was planning on booking hotels befroe travelling. Is this the best way?
Also any ideas or suggestions on things to do and see whilst in the different areas would be great.
If anyone has particular suggestions especially on Vancouver Island they would be most welcome.
Thanks
Tim
hiflow is offline  
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Jun 25th, 2004, 04:55 AM
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You have planned a very ambitous vacation. The drive from Vancouver to Banff is roughly 10 hours straight driving, I would suggest you overnight in Kamloops/Kelowna area in order to enjoy the scenery. Whistler is 3 hours north of Vancouver, so I would guess the drive from Banff back to Whistler would be 13-15 hours. Your plan takes you back and forth over the mountains. Why not fly to Calgary, rent a car and drive through the mountains to Vancouver/Whistler/Vancouver Island and then drop the car off in Vancouver and fly home from there. It would be more costly for flights, but you could take more time along way to see everything there is to see.
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Jun 25th, 2004, 08:10 AM
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Hello Hiflow,

I agree with Cruiseryyc's suggestion to fly open jaw, meaning into one city and out of the other. One direction may be cheaper than the other direction, so it would be good to compare air fares for flying into Calgary and out of Vancouver versus flying into Vancouver and out of Calgary. Similarly, it would be good to compare rental rates for a car picked up in Calgary and dropped off in Vancouver and a car picked up in Vancouver and dropped off in Calgary.

If you're going to include the Rocky Mountains in your itinerary, you might consider dropping Whistler. As Cruiseryyc said, your stated itinerary is very ambitious. The Rockies and Whistler to some extent would duplicte each other, in that they're both mountainous areas.

I think you should consider seeing the west coast only (Vancouver, Whistler, Vancouver Island) or seeing Vancouver plus the Rockies. With only two weeks, it seems to me you need to choose your priorities.

You can use Map Quest at www.mapquest.com to find out distances and driving times between any two towns.

In my next post, I will provide you with a suggested itinerary for a circular trip starting from and ending in Vancouver. This is based on a hunch that you may be locked into flights into and out of Vancouver.

If you choose to do a purely west coast itinerary, I'll leave it up to someone else to suggest the best use of your time in Vancouver, Whistler and Vancouver Island.

If you choose to include the Rockies, you definitely will be better off booking your accommodation ahead of time in that region. I suspect the same would be true of the west coast. I myself will be visiting Vancouver in the next little while. When I contacted the hotel that was my first choice, it already was booked up for my desired dates. I managed to find space in my second choice hotel.

Hope this helps.
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Jun 25th, 2004, 08:26 AM
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Round trip itinerary from Vancouver through the Canadian Rockies:

Summary

1 - 4 : Vancouver
5 : Lake Louise
6 : Lake Louise
7 : Jasper
8 : Jasper
9 : Banff / Canmore
10 : Calgary
11 : Waterton Lakes National Park
12 : Castlegar, British Columbia
13 : Vancouver
14 : Home

Detailed Explanation

Days 1 - 4 : Explore Vancouver. I recommend, amongst other things, Stanley Park, Grouse Mountain, Granville Island Market and the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia.


Day 5 : Drive to Lake Louise, Alberta. This is a LONG drive, 9.5 hours, not counting stops. The good news, if you're doing the drive in summer, is that we have many hours of daylight.

Between Salmon Arm and Sicamous is the Shuswap Lake, Canada's "houseboating capital."

Between Sicamous and Revelstoke is Craigellachie, the point at which the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railroad was driven into the ground.

In British Columbia's Glacier National Park, you'll drive over spectacular Rogers Pass.

In Yoho National Park you can see the natural bridge over the Kicking Horse River, the railways tunnels, Emerald Lake and Takakkaw Falls.

Between Revelstoke and Golden you will cross from the Pacific Time Zone to the Mountain Time Zone. Hence you will jump ahead (i.e., lose) an hour.

Overnight in Lake Louise.

Day 6 : Visit Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. Go to Moraine Lake first, so as to beat the tour buses to the parking lot. If you're into hiking, you could hike from Lake Louise to the Lake Agnes Teahouse or to the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse. Alternatively you might enjoy riding the Lake Louise Gondola part way up Mount Whitehorn. Overnight in Lake Louise.

Day 7 : Drive the Icefields Parkway to Jasper townsite. Stop to look at Peyto Lake, Sunwapta Falls and Athabasca Falls. Ride a Snocoach on the Athabasca Glacier at the Columbia Icefields.

Overnight in Jasper townsite.

Day 8 : Explore Jasper's environs. Do the Angel Glacier hike at Mount Edith Cavell, and ride the tramway up Whistlers Mountain. Walk in Maligne Canyon or cruise across Maligne Lake to photogenic Spirit Island. Overnight in Jasper townsite.

Day 9 : Return south along the Icefields Parkway, which will look different when it's viewed from the opposite direction. At Lake Louise turn east onto the Bow Valley Parkway (Route #1A). Stop at Johnston Canyon, and walk into the canyon at least until the Lower Falls, but preferably to the Upper Falls. Drive on to Banff townsite, and look around the town. If time permits, ride the gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain. Overnight in Banff townsite or in Canmore, 20 minutes' drive east of Banff.

Day 10 onwards in next post.
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Jun 25th, 2004, 08:29 AM
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Day 10 : Drive to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller, Alberta, to see the impressive dinosaur skeletons. This will be at least an 8.5 hour activity (3.5 hours to drive to Drumheller, no less than 2 hours to see the museum, 1 hour to have lunch, and 2 hours to drive to Calgary). But it will be time well spent. This museum is worth it! Overnight in Calgary.

Day 11 : Drive south on Hwy #2. After Granum, but before Fort Macleod, turn west on Route #785 to visit Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre.

It depicts the traditional lifestyle of the First Nations people of the plains. If you saw the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, you'll now see the stark contrast in the lifestyles that the west coast and prairie ecosystems afforded.

Drive west to Pincher Creek and then south on Hwy #6 to Waterton Lakes National Park. Overnight in the Waterton Lakes National Park area.

Day 12 : Drive west on Hwy #3 through the southernmost part of British Columbia. You could stop in any town along Hwy #3. Castlegar is more or less the half way point between Pincher Creek, Alberta and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Between Cranbrook and Trail you will cross from the Mountain Time Zone to the Pacific Time Zone, which means you'll fall back (i.e., gain) an hour.

Day 13 : Drive to Osoyoos, Princeton, Hope, Chilliwack, Vancouver.

Day 14 : Fly home.

If you have extra time.......

If you have one extra day, take a day trip from Vancouver to Victoria on Vancouver Island. See the Butchart Gardens and whatever else you can fit into a day. The bus / ferry combination from downtown Vancouver is convenient, and the ferry ride across Georgia Strait is beautiful. If you choose to drive your own car onto the ferry, you must have reservations, otherwise you'll spend hours waiting for space on a ferry. You can make reservations through BC Ferries at http://www.bcferries.bc.ca/ . A quick way to get from Vancouver to Victoria is to fly from harbour to harbour in a small float plane. Another way to do the outing is to go by bus/ferry combination in one direction and by plane in the other direction.

If you have two extra days, break the long drive from Vancouver to Lake Louise by stopping overnight in Kelowna. If you like, you could tour a winery upon your arrival in Kelowna. Otherwise, simply enjoy Lake Okanagan.
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Jun 26th, 2004, 10:50 AM
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Judy,
Thank you for your thoughtful and detailed itinerary which my husband and I will find most helpful as we plan our next trip to Canada. Last August we went from Vancouver to Calgary, visiting Whistler, Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff along the way. Unfortunately, we followed the wildfires the entire trip. The smoke was so dense we could not even see the glaciers in parts of the drive from Jasper to Lake Louise. While I found the area to be beautiful, I can only imagine how spectacular when there is no smoke. We are eager to return and stay at the Post Hotel again. Relaxing there by the river turned out to be a highlight after a rather frightening trip of detours and wind changes.
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Jun 26th, 2004, 11:13 AM
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Just to clarify, Whistler is NOT normally 3 hours from Vancouver. It is 2 hours, even in the winter with slushy roads and a bit of waiting on the Lions Gate bridge. The only thing that would take it over 2 hours is road work, which is always possible given the upgrading that's been proceeding for 2010.
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Jun 27th, 2004, 07:51 AM
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Wow, Judy, great post... it really makes me proud that Canada has so much to offer... and this is all just in two of our provinces !

Hiflow... I would definitely recommend Waterton Lakes National Park, it is absolutely beautiful with many hiking trails and as the name says, lakes!! Also, it is not as 'touristy' as you would get with Banff and Lake Louise... much more relaxing!

Well, happy travels all!!
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Oct 20th, 2004, 09:23 PM
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ttt
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