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Driving the Rockies

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Jan 11th, 2014, 08:45 PM
  #1
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Driving the Rockies

We are planning to hire a car in Vancouver and drive the Rockies for 10.5 days at the second half of September this year. Our first stop will be Whistler, from there the planned itinerary is Kamloops, Jasper, down to Banff and then across to Kelowna and back to Vancouver. Are we giving ourselves enough time? Any suggestions on how much time to allow in places and also time to do any extra tours, for eg Alabaster glacier would be greatly appreciated. Also are we following the best route to see the most. We will have 2 nights in Banff but not sure where else to have an extra night. Thanks
Iandor is offline  
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Jan 12th, 2014, 05:51 AM
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That will give you time to at least get the flavor of the area, yes. Rule of thumb for us, Vancouver to Banff or Jasper, is to allow 2 driving days each way, plus time in selected areas. Although you CAN drive it in about 12 hours without stops, that's certainly not what you want to do for a driving vacation. Then you add additional days for the stops you have in mind.

Hello BC (www.hellobc.com) is a wonderful resource for you. We use it all the time for our visits to BC. One section has driving routes with suggested things to do/see - http://www.hellobc.com/british-colum...ng-routes.aspx

Last fall, part of our drive included routing through Lilloet (past Whistler) - beautiful. We also spent some time in the Wells Gray Provincial Park area (Clearwater, BC), which is on the way to Jasper. If you go this route, try to build in at least a half day to visit some of the park with its wonderful waterfalls. We've also gone through Nelson (stayed at the Hume), and taken a route that included an inland ferry.

Kelowna, of course, invites you to spend time in the Okanagan wine region. I didn't realize that the Sonoran Desert actually creeps up into this area of British Columbia until about 10 years ago. Spend at least 1 day, maybe 2, driving down to Osoyoos and back to visit wineries. Vancouver to/from the Okanagan is about a half day (4 hours).

Kamloops is a common stopover point on the drive, but really has not much to recommend it as a destination. If it's along your route, then nearby Sicamous/Salmon Arm would be more scenic. As a start, I'd plan a couple nights each in Jasper, Banff, Okanagan area, then a night in Kamloops or Sicamous.

Of course, if you find you can add any additional time, that will just give you more latitude in your driving loop to explore this beautiful area.
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Jan 12th, 2014, 08:23 AM
  #3
 
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Ambitious trip, and worth it. By the end of September the high mountain areas will be chilly. One small hint: Some locals can get snippy when the term "Rockies" is used to describe the entire span of mountains. They see separate ranges with distinctive, historic names. The previous, excellent, post gives some sense of the topography.
Whatever you call them, the views are spectacular and the peaks and valleys offer lots of varied climates and attractions.
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Jan 12th, 2014, 12:37 PM
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Incidentaly not only does the Sonoran desert creep into BC but the Chihuahan(sp?) creeps into southern Alberta..Amazing. But to you query, this trip you describe can and should be done. You must stop mid way from Vanc. to Banff as suggested..Do a circle Vanc to Jasper via Yellowhead Hiway,stopping mid way again, then south to Banff then west to Okanagan and on to Vanc. to end this outstanding experience, or reverse the order. Have some warm clothes for the mountains which you may not need but better safe than sorry..Layers will do the job. Welcome to our beautiful land!!!
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Jan 12th, 2014, 04:35 PM
  #5
 
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Great part of the world that I had the privilege of growing up in. Your time is decent, so should be able to see lots. I lived in Kelowna, so know the area really well.
What are you looking to do? What interests do you have?
Kamloops isn't worth spending time in to be honest. In the Okanagan, Kelowna of course is the main hub, but go down to Penticton and Naramata (only 5 min from Penticton) on your way to Osoyoos. All those areas are great - and stop off for a pint at the Gasthaus in Peachland which is one of the best patios in the area on a nice day.
In Banff, make sure to see Lake Louise, as well as Lake Morraine which are both gorgeous. Some great hiking in that area as well, with a very cool tea house you can hike to from the bottom of Lake Louise.
I seem to be rambling a little here, so will cut myself off, but if you let us know some of your interests, I could give you some suggestions. Unfortunately I haven't done many tours (besides white water rafting) in the area.
Have a great trip!
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Jan 12th, 2014, 04:41 PM
  #6
ltt
 
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i would suggest that your stop between whistler and jasper be at clearwater instead of kamloops. the drive from whistler through lilloet is beautiful. lots of curvy roads so it is slow so get an early start. stay in clearwater area for the night, again, get an early start and go see wells gray provincial park till late afternoon and then it's only about 3 1/2 hour to jasper.
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Jan 12th, 2014, 09:52 PM
  #7
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Thanks everyone for your responses. A bit of info on us - we are a middle aged couple from Australia, we love to travel and see awesome scenery. This 10 days is just part of an 8 week wonderful holiday. We are starting the trip with a 12 day small boat cruise in Alaska, then some time in Denali Nat.Park, then Vancouver Is before this Rockie Driving trip. After we are flying to Iceland for a few days and then back to Boston for a 10 driving trip around New England/Nova Scotia. Then onto New York with a brief stopover in Honolulu before flying back to Aussie. We have been to Vancouver before as have skied Whistler the last 3 years. This time we want to see the country in autumn. We are not into adrenalin activities and whilst we enjoy walking cities to get to know them, hiking up mountains is not something we do. Our time frame for this driving trip is 10 and a half days. We thought we would go as far as Whistler the first day as we have only seen it under snow but feel very familiar with it, so under autumn leaves would be quite different. We are also familiar with cold weather and driving in cold conditions - should winter come early - hope not. We live in the coldest area of Australia, nothing like Canada of course but still minus temps at night in winter. I will certainly be looking at the info given so far and checking out the places mentioned. Winding roads are not an issue. We recently drove a road on Reunion Island that had 400 hairpin bends in 35km. That was windy!
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Jan 13th, 2014, 05:27 PM
  #8
 
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I drove from Osoyoos to Vancouver the end of Sept this year and there was a big snowstorm on the pass so when I hit it, there was packed snow and ice. It was a little scary and I was white knuckled until I got over the pass.
Be prepared for any kind of weather.

It is a beautiful part of the country
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