Driving from Banff to the Okanagan

Aug 13th, 2007, 02:32 AM
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Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 764
Driving from Banff to the Okanagan

We have just returned from a trip to BC which involved, amongst other things, a journey by rental car from Banff to the Okanagan. On advice received from Judy in Calgary, instead of travelling directly to Kelowna via Revelstoke and Sicamous, we detoured from Revelstoke down the Arrow Lakes to Nelson and then came into the Okanagan from the south through Osoyoos. Thanks, Judy. This was a great detour, and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone else doing this drive. Another time, I would allow an extra couple of days for stop-overs if possible.
Two comments in passing:
1.The service from the Avis depot in Banff was appalling. The car was so dirty that it was impossible to check it for scratches, etc, and the windscreen was so splattered with bugs that I had to scrape it clear with my credit card before water would make any impression on it. Other cars going out were in the same condition, but the attendant couldn't have cared less.
2. Lunch at Midway was the best value-for-money meal that we encountered on the entire trip. Two caesar side-salads and a plate of cold meat (six slices) shared by the two of us cost a total of $4.47! Remarkable!
kiwi_rob is offline  
Aug 15th, 2007, 05:00 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
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Thanks for the report; we'll be doing a very similar drive next month. BTW -- where exactly is Midway?
sludick is offline  
Aug 16th, 2007, 12:54 AM
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Midway is about 70km west of Grand Forks -- virtually on the US border. There seems to be nothing of any particular interest there. It was a place that was suggested to us by the Information Centre in Grand Forks as somewhere to stop for lunch and it was convenient for us to do so, otherwise we would have driven straight past it. It wasn't gourmet, but it sure was cheap!
kiwi_rob is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 10:21 PM
Join Date: May 2003
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Would this drive be possible in April?
We are Aussies, a bit unfamiliar where snow is. Thanks.
Carrabella is offline  
Aug 17th, 2007, 10:31 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
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>>>>>>Would this drive be possible in April?<<<<<<

You might be lucky, and the roads might be in good shape.

You might be unlucky and have a white-knuckle driving experience. It could be horrible.

If you insist on doing the drive, add one or two spare days to your timetable, in case the authorities close a road owing to a blizzard, rock slide or whatever. In that case you may find your trip delayed by a day or so. If you have advanced reservations at your next destination, make sure the cancellation policy allows you to cancel by 6.00 p.m. on your planned arrival date. This will give you an opportunity to phone and cancel without penalty if need be. Mind you April is not high season, and you should be able to "wing it" as far as accommodation in the Canadian Rockies is concerned.

Banff tends to fill up a bit more than usual during the Easter long weekend and during Calgary schools' spring break. However, Easter will be on March 24th in 2008, and the Calgary schools' spring break will take place during the last week of March 2008. So those blips on the radar screen should not effect you.

If you're going to land at Calgary Airport and get to Banff by ground transportation, you could consider using one of the several airport shuttle services. Banff Airporter is a popular and reliable one. The "Mountain Connector" service that SunDog Tours operates also gets good reviews.

Once you're in Banff you could see what driving conditions are like. Most likely they'll be fine. (The eastern side of the Rocky Mountain range is in a rain shadow, relatively speaking, and tends to get less precipitation than the western side, which falls in the neighbouring province of British Columbia.) If you see that driving conditions are respectable in Banff -- and I expect they will be -- it would be nice to rent a car and drive through the Alberta Rockies (Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, etc.).

Then, to get from the Rocky Mountains to the coast (i.e., Vancouver), I would let someone else do the driving if it was my trip. I would use the Moose Travel Network bus service. Alternatively, I might return to Calgary and fly to Vancouver.

My website may be of assistance:

Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Aug 18th, 2007, 06:10 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 774
Thank you, Judy, for your thoughtful information. We arrive in Vancouver, and have a hire car organised for our few weeks in Canada. DH learned to drive in Europe on snowy roads, and we have driven in snow before in Canada - I remember a rather scary, but exhilarating exit from Banff early one April morning, on the TC Highway, cautiously getting our "snow legs" back, but being overtaken at scary speeds by huge trucks. Back roads, if open, are nicer for us, if we can. Thanks again - I'm off to your website!

Carrabella is offline  

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