Edmonton or Vancouver

Mar 23rd, 2004, 03:19 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
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Edmonton or Vancouver

I am coming to Canada for 20 days in June from Wales in UK, picking up a motorhome in Calgary up to Edmonton over to Jasper and through Banff National Park for a week through Revelstoke and Kelowna down to Seattle before dropping the motorhome off and completing our trip with 2 days in Vancouver.

My question is this, is it worth discarding our long drive up to Edmonton and over to Jasper to keep an extra day for Seattle and Vancouver? I know there is the much publicised West Edmonton Mall but would extra time spent in Seattle and Vancouver be better?
Kazza1 is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2004, 04:41 AM
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Nothing against Edmonton, but my choice would be Vancouver.
Cruiseryyc is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2004, 05:33 AM
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Are you saying that you would take Jasper out of the trip, too?
If so, my advice is to spend the extra time in the mountains.

Vancouver is just another city. Some people like cities; I will take the mountains every time.

From Calgary, drive to Red Deer, and then turn west through Rocky Mountain House to The Crossing, and turn north on the Icefields Parkway to Jasper.
For Banff retrace your steps. The parkway is what I go to see; not a bunch of buildings.

In fact, if you study your map carefully, you can avoid Red Deer by taking provincial roads. In Alberta these roads tend to be straight and flat with light to moderate traffic.
bob_brown is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2004, 06:16 AM
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I am in agreement with bob brown, I would not skip Jasper but Edmonton is not a must-see city. I am from Edmonton and love living here but there are much more interesting places to visit on your trip. Also, if you do come to Edmonton, please skip West Edmonton Mall, it is very tacky and expensive. It is not at all the impression that foreign visitors should be left with about our beautiful country.

Vancouver is a very beautiful city and well worth spending some time at, in my opinion.
atilla is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2004, 06:58 AM
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Although Edmonton is not a "must see" type of place (I live here too), I think your original plan is a good one.

You don't really have to spend a lot of time in the city (and I agree with the comments above - skip West Edmonton Mall - it's just a huge ugly collection of shops, but......there is an amusment park and a wave pool and an ice rink and laser tag etc there, so if you are travelling with kids they may get a kick out of it).

Here are my reasons for including Edmonton:

1. Edmonton has a campground nearly in the middle of the city (Rainbow Valley) - it is in a valley with some walking trails that lead to the North Saskatchewan River. Since the campground has easy access to the Whitemud Freeway which connects to the Yellowhead highway, it makes the start of your drive to Jasper relatively easy.

2. If you are driving an RV, it will be an easier drive if you stick to the main divided highways rather than driving on the narrower secondary highways.

3. By driving Calgary-Edmonton-Jasper, you will see more of Alberta, and see the prairie of the southern part and the aspen parkland of the area around Edmonton, the edge of the boreal forest around Edson and Hinton - this is landscape that you will not see in British Columbia.

May I add a suggestion for a slight detour to your trip? On your way to Edmonton, drive to Drumheller and visit the Badlands and the Royal Tyrrell Museum ("ode to dinosaurs"!!!). You can do manage this in one day of you leave Calgary in the morning. The drive to Drumheller with an RV will take about 2 hours, then spend 3 or 4 hours in Drumheller, and afterwards drive the 3 hours north to Edmonton, spend the night in Edmonton and the next day continue the drive to Jasper (4 hours).
Borealis is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2004, 07:05 AM
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The places on your itinerary that are really worth seeing, IMO, are the Rocky Mountains, Vancouver and, if you could fit it in, Vancouver Island.

Neither Calgary nor Edmonton is a must see, IMO. You pretty much have to land in one or other city in order to access the mountains, though.

Bob Brown is a guru when it comes to the Canadian Rockies. You would learn a great deal by reading his previous messages. However, Bob's statement that Vancouver is just another city, which is valid from his point of view, is not true for me. I find Vancouver to be gorgeous. I believe 3 days is the bare minimum for seeing Vancouver, and one could very meaningfully occupy 5 days there, IMO.

If I were you I would cut out the second prairie city (whichever one you did not have to visit for the purposes of picking up or dropping off your camper).

Some posters may vehemently disagree with me but, in the time frame you have, I would cut out Seattle too.

If you have not already paid for your air tickets, and if you can change your flights without penalty, I would start in Vancouver and end in Calgary or Edmonton. Vancouver has a considerably milder climate than the Rockies, and gets its spring waaaay earlier. You have a fair chance of getting respectable weather in the mountains throughout June, but the weather is likely to be warmer in the latter half of the month than it is in the first half of the month. My favourite lake, Moraine, which is at quite a high elevation, typically is only about 1/3 thawed at the beginning of June, whereas you could expect it to be fully thawed (so you could see its stunning turquoise water) by the middle of June. Vancouver, on the other hand, will be experiencing summer weather even in the first half of June.

If I were you, I would divide your time roughly as follows:

* 7 nights on the coast (5 nights in Vancouver and 2 nights on the Island)

* 4 nights en route from Vancouver through the Okanagan Valley to Lake Louise

* 8 nights in the Rockies (3 in Lake Louise, 3 in Jasper, 2 in Banff)

* 1 night in Calgary before flying home
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2004, 07:19 AM
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Sorry, Borealis, I didn't see that you'd posted while I was typing.

Kazza1, much as Borealis is an expert on Alberta (she is another of those people who have contributed to the bank of information stored on the Fodors forum), I do disagree with her advice that you see Edmonton.

I'm quite fond of Edmonton. There are aspects of it that I prefer to Calgary (and that's saying something, because I like Calgary too). However, Edmonton and Calgary don't stand up to competition with Vancouver and Victoria, IMO. Given your time frame, I think you'll be forced to make some choices.

The one piece of Borealis's advice that I do agree with is the suggestion that you visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller. If you want to do that, I believe you could shave a day off your trip through the Okanagan Valley.

Sometimes one gets conflicting advice on this forum. There are times when I wonder if we've helped the person making the enquiry or if we've only confused him/her. I guess that, at the end of the day, travellers have to take the varied advice and filter it through their knowledge of themselves and their preferred travel styles. I suppose we do at least acquaint them with the options available to them.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2004, 08:23 AM
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Kazza1 - here are some websites (campgrounds to park your motorhome) that may help when planning your itinerary:



Judy - Oh I know that the mountains and Vancouver are more spectacular than Edmonton or Calgary, but I wanted to provide some information and suggestions as to why one may want to drive from Calgary to Edmonton and then to the west.
If I was travelling all the way from Wales, I definitely would want to see as much of the country as I possibly could. Although the prairies are not as eye-catchingly gorgeous as the mountains, there is a quiet prairie beauty in Alberta that is different than anything in Europe.
IMO one and a half days out of 20 isn't overwhelming, and it does give a taste of why Alberta is the richest & most exciting province in Canada .

Borealis is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2004, 11:29 AM
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Thank you all ever so much for taking the time to help me plan my trip. I cant believe people can be so kind to give their up their valued time and knowledge. I think its a great site which has helped me enormously in my planning - keep up the good work.
Kazza1 is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2004, 11:49 PM
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In reply to Bob - no we had no intention of taking Jasper out of our itinary, our main objective of coming over to Canada is for the Rockies - our dilema was whether to spend more time in Vancouver or take in a 2 day stop in Edmonton - but there is still some conflict on that one!

Judy - you most certainly havent confused me your options and opinions are really helpfull - but I do have a question for you - we have booked our flights so will land in Calgary on 29th May and set straight up for the mountains, you mention the weather could be cooler that side of June - so what preparations should we make for clothing will it be so cool we would need a jacket or would a warm jumper or fleece do?

Borealis - Cheers for the campgrounds sites - thats my next job!!

I had never visited this site before but am now hooked on it - for all you adventurous Canadians out there, we have a beautiful national park in the mountains here in Wales called the Brecon Beacons - definately worth a visit.

Kazza1 is offline  
Mar 24th, 2004, 06:27 AM
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>>>>>>what preparations should we make for clothing will it be so cool we would need a jacket or would a warm jumper or fleece do?<<<<<<

Kazza1, a warm jumper or fleece will not be enough. You should bring a water-proof or at least water-resistant outer shell to wear over your jumper or fleece (and it would be ideal if your outer jacket had a hood). You easily could (and very likely will) encounter some rain showers in June. Although snow is less common in June, it's not unknown at higher elevations.

In the early part of June I typically wear a cotton turtleneck top with a sweater (jumper) over that and a fleece-lined, water-proof jacket on top of that.

But then the weather may warm up as the day progresses and I may need to remove one or two outer layers. Which brings me to the main point about packing for the mountains. Layers are the answer, as they enable one to respond to changing weather conditions.

Footwear is important too. I recommend hiking boots or, at the very least, sensible walking shoes.

I'm what my kids call a "weather wussy," so I quite often take long underwear to the mountains, just in case. Except at the very height of summer, I also take gloves, just in case.

Banff's average high temperature for May is 14 deg C, and its night time low for May is 1.5 deg C. The average high in June is 19 deg C, while the average low for June is 5 deg C. Those figures are averages. The temperature tends to be closer to the May figures at the beginning of June, and then it tends to move upwards as the month continues.

The weather in the mountains is very changeable, and varies a lot from one locality to the next.

Here's a website about weather in Banff National Park:

Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Mar 24th, 2004, 07:07 AM
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Judy - <<I'm what my kids call a "weather wussy," >> -LOL!!! On one of your other posts you did mention something about being in South Africa, are you more comfortable in tropical places??
I ask because your descripion of what to wear in June seems like a bit too much to me - but then I am a "northerner" (hence my handle "Borealis").
We were in Banff at the end of May last year (just for the day), and it was so warm that even though I was wearing a short sleeved T-shirt (and sandals!!), I felt hot. In fact, the sun "roasted" my nose (so I looked like a lush for the rest of that week !!).
Later on a five day stay in mid-June, it was cooler and rainy, but even then I just wore a waterproof light summer jacket and a short sleeved T-shirt underneath and felt quite comfy.
So Kazza1 - here you have two viewpoints on the type of clothing to bring, and I hope we are being helpful rather than being confusing!! Keep in mind that the temperature drops quite rapidly in the evenings, so even if it is warm during the day, it will be much cooler at night.

Here are two more websites with lots of info about the weather - just follow the links to "climate data":



Borealis is offline  
Mar 24th, 2004, 07:55 AM
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Hi Borealis,

In middle age I've become a "weather wussy" with respect to BOTH extremes. I've lost the tolerance for intense heat that I used to have during my childhood in Africa.

My husband and I were in Toronto in August 2001 during a 37 deg C heat wave. As you'll recall from your Toronto days, I'm sure, it wasn't just hot but humid as well. I REALLY suffered.

You're so right about the fact that the mountains CAN be hot. We have some video footage of our family in the Peyto Lake Lookout parking lot one late May. It was a sunny day (high twenties, if not thirty, Celsius). We were stripped down to short-sleeved shirts and felt as if we were baking. Yet we had to keep our boots on as we had to tramp through a couple of feet of snow (albeit the snow was melting rapidly and probably did not last very long past our visit).

I find that the biggest mistake new visitors make, however, is that they don't appreciate how changeable mountain weather can be, and some of them come under-prepared. (But that also could be because quite a few of the first time visitors we take to the mountains are our South African relatives!) Anyway, after seeing several newcomers shivering unnecessarily, I do tend to drum it into prospective visitors that they need to be prepared for all eventualities.

By the way, while it CAN be hot in the mountains, we've also experienced the opposite scenario. I'll never forget our trip to Lake O'Hara several years ago. It was a lovely morning, and we set out on an ambitious hike. By the time we were on our return hike that afternoon, it was snowing heavily. It continued to snow through the night. When we woke up the next morning the place looked like a Christmas card. And that was the July 1st long weekend!
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Mar 24th, 2004, 09:16 AM
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Judy - you're right about the variability in the weather. One should abide by the Boy Scout's motto "always be prepared" !!
For visitors it is important to know that it is always cooler at higher elevations, so even if it is toasty hot in Banff townsite, it can be cold at the higher mountain passes. One July a few years ago, even though it was a warm summer day, there was still snow (piled up at the side of the parking lot) in Lake Louise in mid-July!!!(Lake Louise of course being at a higher elevation than Banff townsite).

That being said, aren't we having a lovely March in Alberta this year? It has been above freezing during the day since the beginning of the month in Edmonton, yesterday was almost +9C, today is forecast to be even warmer. And those beautiful blue skies!! Perhaps this means that we will have a nice warm spring and by June all talk of snow will be a distant memory!!
Borealis is offline  
Mar 24th, 2004, 10:28 AM
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>>>>>>That being said, aren't we having a lovely March in Alberta this year?<<<<<<

Isn't that the truth? The edges of our lawn are green! (But we still do have snow in the shaded part of our yard. )
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
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