Driving from Glacier N.P. to Calgary

Mar 7th, 2002, 06:11 PM
Posts: n/a
Driving from Glacier N.P. to Calgary

Just wondering how long and/or difficult the drive is from the east side of Glacier N.P. to Calgary. We are doing the Banff/Calgary/Glacier loop this summer and are catching a 2:45 p.m. flight out of Calgary to fly home. Is it doable to drive from Glacier to Calgary that same morning, or should we drive part of the way the night before our flight? If we should drive part of the way, any suggestions on where to stop?
Thanks for your input!
Mar 9th, 2002, 08:35 AM
Bob Brown
Posts: n/a
Hi Anne. I replied to this rather extensively, but Fodors has seen fit to destroy my response. I have driven that stretch of road in the past and have plans to do it again this summer.

I will risk my answer one more time.
I do not know why Fodors deleted my other one, but we seem to operate under some strange ground rules these days.

From the east Glacier gate, St Mary, you are 46 K from Cardston. From Cardston to the Calgary airport is about 250 K, so you have a 300 K drive, or about 185 miles. In terms of driving time, you have about 3 to 3 and a half hours. But that does not allowt time to stop and eat.

Then you need to allow time to return your car, check your luggage, and go through security. If you are flying to a destination in the US you also must clear US customs and passport control.
I know, you are in Canada, but US customs officials are on duty in Calgary.

If you have a passport, take it. I don't care what the de jure requirements are for entering Canada and returning home, the de facto situation says take your passport. Even before September 11, there was a different set of rules in effect for air passengers. I have yet to show a document at a highway check point, but at the Calgary and Toronto airports, I profited from having my passport. People with no passport were quizzed, some extensively; people with passports breezed on through.

The best route is to enter Canada at the Port of Piegan and drive through Cardston. There you pick up Alberta route 2 and take it all the way to Calgary. In Calgary, you want to get off of the Macleod Trail at Anderson Road. There, you turn east to Deerfoot Trail and follow it north until you reach the intersection with Memorial Drive. Turn east to Barlow Trail
Go north on Barlow Trail all the way to the airport.

If you miss the Memorial Drive exit ramp, do not worry. You have two more chances. You can turn at the intersection with the Trans Canada Highway, or continue on to McKnight Blvd. In both cases you turn east to Barlow Trail, and then turn north to the airport.

To allow a little safety margin, you would need to be rolling in high gear from Glacier by 7 AM.

The road from Cardston to Calgary is quite good. From Fort Macleod it is all multi lane and you can cruise at 65 or so or 110 kph. Some people drive faster, so you adjust your speed to what the group is doing.

Because motels on the east side of Glacier are crummy, I would try to make progress toward Calgary the night before.

Cardston has a couple of fair places.
Fort Macleod has a few more.
Cardston has a great carriage museum that is well worth visiting. And Claresholm has a neat little railroad museum that is in an old train station that dates back to the 1930 time period.

Mar 9th, 2002, 08:41 AM
Posts: n/a
Bob. . . Thanks for your wonderful info. I hadn't thought about the time involved in returning the rental, going through customs, etc. We've decided to drive to Calgary the night before so that we can have a relaxing breakfast and make it to the airport in plenty of time!
Mar 9th, 2002, 09:08 AM
Posts: n/a
Bob and I disagree about this route. Hwy 2 is a boring and not very scenic drive. I prefer travelling from Waterton to Hwy 2 and then turning west towards the Crowsnest pass and taking Hwy 22 through Longview. Hwy 22 takes you directly to Hwy 22X right outside of Calgary. From 22X you can drive straight to Deerfoot and from Deerfoot take the McKnight exit. Deerfoot is extremely well marked but very fast traffic and heavy traffic.

In fact, I hate driving Deerfoot but if you take McLeod to Memorial and then exit onto Deerfoot, it may be even harder. Memorial and Deerfoot have the most accidents of any intersection in Calgary.

It is a longer drive using 22 to 22X but so much more scenic as you travel along the Porcupine Hills on one side and the foothills of the Rockies on the other. Not to far out of your way, you may want to visit the Frank Slide. It is only about 10 or 15 kms. past the exit to 22 and well worth your time.

On the other hand, if you chose the direct route via Hwy 2, you can visit the world renowned "Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump" outside of Fort Macleod.
Mar 9th, 2002, 10:44 AM
Bob Brown
Posts: n/a
Route 22 is fine, as I have described to several Canadian division posters who had time for the scenic route.
But, if someone is leaving Glacier NP in the morning to make a 2:45 PM flight out of Calgary, they hardly have time for detouring by Frank Slide.

In fact, I will be taking that route myself in July. It is a toss up between the paved route and the forest road, which is even more scenic.

Anne, when you drive from Banff to Glacier NP, you should consider taking route 40 south from its junction with the Trans Canada a few K east of Canmore to where it changes route numbers and leads into the town of Longview. There you pick up route 22 and continue south toward Pincher Creek. From Pincher Creek, you continue past Waterton Park to Glacier, crossing the border at the Port of Chief Mountain.

Route 40 leads past the entrance to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, which is highly scenic. South of Peter Lougheed Route 40 reaches an elevation of about 7200 feet which makes it one of the highest roads in Alberta.

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