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driving canada in winter - banff to prince rupert

driving canada in winter - banff to prince rupert

Old Jun 2nd, 2012, 10:03 PM
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driving canada in winter - banff to prince rupert

Is this doable?
we have a week to do it in and then have to get back to vancouver to fly home

so far we are planning to fly into vancouver and then drive to banff and stay there for seven nights...OH will ski lake louise and ill potter doing non-skiing things

have booked the charlton cedar court down on banff ave and will continue to research activities

now...after the skiing part is over, we have another seven days and we were simply going to drive back to vancouver and do that part of the world
however OH is now thinking about driving from banff to prince rupert...he did it once in summer and it was beautiful country
im not so keen...not in winter but i can be talked into it

what are the conditions like? im aware of the snow falls and that roads can be closed
anything else?
should we just stick with the original plan and go back to vancouver?
any ideas/ routes would be greatly appreciated!
lanejohann is offline  
Old Jun 3rd, 2012, 09:36 AM
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Of course it's doable, but why anyone in their right mind would want to do this in winter is beyond me. Once in Prince Rupert would you then drive to Vancouver?

Are you aware of the distances involved and driving conditions in the mountains in winter? I'm not sure where you are from, but do you have much experience with winter driving? Even in Canada the first snowfall usually brings a spate of accidents as drivers relearn the lessons of winter driving.

Road closures due to avalanches and heavy snowfalls are not uncommon and sometime passes can be closed for several days.

Moreover, days are short at those latitudes in winter and unless you want to drive at night, it will take longer to get there than in the summer.

Even your drives from and to Vancouver could turn into quite gruelling experiences. With good conditions you are looking at ten hours each way, and with snow covered roads, much more.

My advice: Fly to Calgary, rent a car, enjoy the Banff area, fly back to Vancouver and have a great time there. Cut out the unnecessary driving.

One more thing--rental cars, even in Calgary in winter, are unlikely to come with snow tires, and that just makes things worse. I don't think that the situation would be any better renting a car in Vancouver.
laverendrye is offline  
Old Jun 3rd, 2012, 10:08 AM
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if recalled as being beautiful in the summer, then that's the time to do the drive. winter is an entirely different beast. there are only two main routes to get to Prince Rupert from Banff. one is up the Icefield Parkway, considered one of the most beautiful drives in the world, even in winter.
it ends in Jasper National Park.the other route heads back toward Vancouver, turning northward at Kamloops. this is probably the route you'd drive to Banff, so it's just backtracking until Kamloops. but north from Kamloops or west from Jasper are not so spectacular. both routes meeting up in Prince George,BC, also not so exciting in winter (not to mention rather cold). west from PG is a long, dreary two lane for about 400km until you get to Smithers, and from there it is a beautiful drive, especially Terrace to Prince Rupert, but in February could be in the midst of a snow storm. from PR you could take a ferry on the Inside Passage to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island. from there, drive back to Vancouver (via one more ferry). otherwise the entire trip from Prince George has to be backtracked. bad weather, limited accommodations, challenging road conditions, heavy truck traffic and limited ferries from PR to Van Island could make for a not so great a road trip. perhaps a RT flight from Vancouver to Prince Rupert, renting a car and driving to Terrace and back might cover the best of the scenery without a long, challenging winter drive.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2012, 02:42 PM
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Short days and very possible hazardous Winter conditions. I live in the general area and I would only do as drive like that in the Winter if I had to.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2012, 06:51 PM
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How about taking the ViaRail Canadian from Vancouver to Jasper and driving south to Banff. Return the car at Jasper and take the Skeena from Jasper to Prince Rupert. http://www.viarail.ca/en/trains/rock...-prince-rupert
It sounds a whole lot safer even if it is more expensive.
I like Jasper better than Banff actually.
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Old Jun 4th, 2012, 05:11 AM
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thank you all for your fulsome responses

I am not one to take risks...but i live with an adventurer...
hes the one who is keen to drive in snow...

i will endeavour to talk him into flying both ways

wish me luck
lanejohann is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2012, 09:29 PM
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Most Canadians don't take leisure road trips in the winter... it's too stressful with the possibility of bad driving conditions, and in the mountains, road closures from accidents or avalanches etc. Not too mention only about 7 hours of daylight.

Winter tires are required, by law, on most highways in BC from November through April, and on the Icefields Parkway in Banff & Jasper National Park, however, very few car rental companies offer cars with them.
krp329 is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2012, 11:12 PM
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thanks krp
just asked OH about the tyres...he usually does the trip from vancouver to whistler (and once to calgary).. in feb
skiing with buddies or family....has been doing it for the last few years

he reckons the tyres are 'all season' nowadays
and is quite relaxed about the prospect of driving at least from vancouver to banff...prince rupert we wont do

my concern ...still..is that we have only two days to get from vancouver to banff and we will be straight off a plane...
after a long flight
it will save us a 1000 dollars if we drive rather than catch a flight from vancouver to calgary....money isnt the biggest issue...not really...
for me ...hmmm...i dont know how much time we will have to really enjoy the drive if we are meeting a deadline in banff...
in those temps its not likely that we are going to do much more than take a few quick snaps along the way...
i love scenery...hate to pass up the opportunity even just doing a drive right through basically but...
like most of you say...there are the chances of holdups and heaven forbid ...misadventures

...still thinking....
lanejohann is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2012, 08:02 AM
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Since you spell tires with a "y" (tyres) I'm guessing you're British or Australian. How familiar with winter are you? Also, I don't think your OH has much winter driving expericence if he is "quite relaxed" about it. Seasoned winter drivers wouldn't be for that trip. There are chances of holdups and misadventures. There's also chances of serious injury or death (most likely from hypothermia).

First, all-season tires are NOT winter tires.




I put winter tires on my car just for driving in the city in winter. I would not consider attempting that journey with all season tires. Not only are they better in snow and ice, they are better on clear pavement as well. All season tires are made of harder rubber than winter tires and in the cold they harden up considerably more and lose their ability to grip. Winter tires are made of softer rubber that will still grip the pavement when the roads are below freezing.

Second, the roads between Vancouver and Whistler and to Calgary are heavily travelled and get priority road clearing etc. I doubt that the roads to Prince Rupert are as well maintained in winter. If you do break down/get stuck, there's going to be fewer travellers on the roads to provide assistance.

Third, there's no cell coverage between Jasper and Prince Rupert and you lose coverage quickly north of Kamloops. You'll need to be prepared to be on your own. This means having a winter emergency kit in the car (not usually provided by rental companies). Personally, mine contains:

- blankets
- candles/matches (provides both light and heat)
- flashlight with spare batteries
- handwarmers (those chemical pouches that get warm)
- food (nuts, chocolate)
- tire traction aids
- 12V compact compressor
- booster cables

That is always in my car, all year long. If I'm going to the mountains in winter, I also bring a shovel, my heavy winter boots (they're rated to -100C), my down jacket that's good to -30C and my snow pants and big mitts (not gloves).

Thankfully I've never got stuck. But I've helped dig out a number of other people.
ShelliDawn is offline  
Old Jun 18th, 2012, 08:38 AM
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On a positive note - the mosquitos will have gone south for
the winter and the black flies are in hibernation.

Having done that trek in the autumn in continual pouring rain,
I wouldn't drive it in the winter on a bet. A big bet.
immimi is offline  
Old Jul 5th, 2012, 02:13 PM
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Are your flights locked in? I would try to fly into Calgary and out of Vancouver on an open jaw ticket.
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