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gkb May 17th, 2003 01:16 PM

Oh Canada-The Beautiful!
Thinking about Banff area for first week of June; have never been to this area of Canada. Group of 6 adults- all different likes and interests who want to be WOWED by the beauty of Canada. How will the weather be this time of year and what recommendations are out there. Can't do any hiking or biking, but will have a car. HELP! Time is running out.

BAK May 17th, 2003 07:09 PM

Early June is fine. Bring warm jackets, becausue it gets cold at night.

One good trick is to make a point of driving off the main highway, following the signs to the viewpoints and lookouts because, more often than not, those really are good lookouts and viewpoints. Peyto Lake comes to mine. The Columbia Icefields is worth the drive, too.

I think the foothills and cowboy country, north-west and south west of Calgary, between the main north-south Montana border - Calgary - Edmonton Highway and the mountains, is well worth a visit.


gkb May 18th, 2003 09:32 AM

Have now extended the trip to a week. What is the drive from Calgary to Vancouver like? Is the scenery the same as the Banff area or will it be different? Thought we might take in Vanc.Island and the ocean since we will have mountains in the Banff area. If driving is not going to be wonderful scenery might consider flying to Vancouver. We drove from Vanc. to Tofoino in March and it was awesome scenery along the way.

Carmanah May 19th, 2003 11:05 AM

The scenery will be very different. There is no equivalent to the peaks of the Rockies elsewhere in Canada, except perhaps in the Yukon territory.

When you drive east-west across BC, there are several routes you can take, but all of them cross several mountain chains and valleys. That's the beauty of driving that direction in BC. Every few hours, you enter a new climate/geographical zone, usually with its own distinct vegetation. It makes for a really interesting drive.

Each mountain chain is unique, and each valley is unique. Some routes travel along the Fraser Canyon, giving you stunning scenery of cliffs and whitewater rapids, with desert-dry tumbleweed mountains in the back. In this area is BC's cowboy country, usually with many ranches dotting the hills.

Others will take you through the Salmon Arm/Shuswap Lake region, where you'll be in a lush forested area next to giant glacial-fed lakes.

The Okanagan Valley is my favourite, which is a route you can take if you follow Hwy 97 down through Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton. Okanagan Lake is a gigantic long and narrow (but very deep) lake that snakes its way over a hundred miles down through the valley. There are cities and towns dotted along the lake. And from the lake, there are rolling hills. It's BC's fruit and wine producing region, so along those hills are miles of vineyards and orchards. There will be fruitstands to buy local fruit and vegis from, and many world-class wineries to tour and taste. The climate in this area is semi-arid, almost desert-like... it's gorgeous in June.

The drive across generally takes 9 hours, give or take, but it's well worth it to stop somewhere in between, so you can actually enjoy the drive and make some stops along the way.

GaryA May 19th, 2003 11:51 AM

If you enjoy driving and don't mind curving two lane highways for the most part then the many routes to Vancouver from Alberta are very, very much worth the effort. As the above post has said there are a number of options. I personally favour the Trans Canada Highway #1 route all the way as the most scenic, especially through the Fraser Canyon and the Arid South Thompson valley. But the Okanogan has much to offer but be warned it is very congested even in the springtime and while the highways are mostly 4 lanes they should be 6.

gkb May 19th, 2003 12:58 PM

You guys finally "posted"; I was waiting anxiously for the pros! Gary you gave me some wonderful advice for our March trip to Vanc./Tofino and Whistler; and here we are coming back to Canada 3 months later,THANKS AGAIN!
Great, drive it we will! Need to stay overnight in the Okanagan area; come on suggestions. Have looked into the Grand Okanagan and the Penticton Lakeside-feedback is welcome, please. Which vinyards are a must to tour or better yet what are the best "reds"? We fell in LOVE with Paradise Ranch Icewines and Hester Creek Merlots - good reason to return to Canada huh! Can't buy these in Texas. Dont think we would be interested in the cowboy/ranch stuff...being from Texas :)
Not able to "book" at the Aeerie Inn, but can at the Sooke Harbour House on the Island; is this a good choice? Or do YALL (had to put that in) have another idea? It is quite costly ($350 usa)per night. Had booked the Empress but found out no aircond.; in June is it needed? Would like to maybe stay one night somewhere else less expensive than the Sooke. Have planned on the Rimrock for Banff how is this-or should I do the Chateau Lake Louise? I'm so excited about this trip!

GaryA May 19th, 2003 06:46 PM

Yeah, I thought 'gkb' was familiar. Actually we just got back from Spain on the 15th and I've been too busy catching up on paperwork to do much fodorwork.

The Grand Okanogan is really a resort accross the Lake from Downtown Kelowna. It's considered very good though I've always preferred to stay in Kelowna itself. I think though if you're looking for atmosphere the Grand Okanogan would be fine.

We've stayed a few times at the Penticton Lakeside through it's many incarnations. Currently it's still probably the finest hotel in Penticton with a great lakeside location, (ask for a lakeview), and a big casino with all the bells and whistles.

This spring, as you know from being here in March continues to be a lot cooler and wetter than usual. Hopefully it will turn around by the time you get here but in Victoria by the water it's usually fairly cool. But I am suprised that the Empress doesn't have A/C though being from Texas even a 'warm' Victoria day will seem cool to you. I'll get back to you tomorrow with some reccomendations for some top notch hotels with A/C.

gkb May 19th, 2003 10:54 PM

Ok Gary...your not getiing off that easy; so which should it be? Grand Okanagan or Lakeside Resort- they both sound similar to me, but what do I know. I'm really jeaous!

Lynette May 20th, 2003 08:28 AM

Being a local of Kelowna I think I will throw my 2 cents into the mix here.
The Grand Okanagan Resort is located right in Kelowna on the Lake.
(Gary, you are thinking of Lake Okanagan Resort, which is on the westside of Okanagan Lake about 20 minutes from town).
The Gand is probably the largest hotel here in that it has a full convention center and casino. It also has a couple of nice lakeview restaurants, and lounges. There is a fitness center, full service spa, an indoor/outdoor pool and another outdoor pool, as well as 2 hot tubs. 1 indoor and 1 outdoor. Adjacent to the Grand is a beautiful lakefront park, and promenade. You can walk the 2 blocks into downtown on the promenade. There are standard style hotel rooms, but they also have timeshare condos, that probably go into a rental pool. A 2 or 3 bedroom might be perfect for your group of 6.
Just for fun we stayed in the hotel for a night last fall. Even though it was October, we could still swim in the outdoor pool, it was that warm.
The Grand is much nicer and newer than the Lakside in Penticton, but Penticton has more of a small town feel to it than Kelowna does.
As far as wineries go....
My faves are Mission Hill Winery...
Overlooking Okanagan Lake on the Westside, a bell tower, and a new setup built to look like it has been there forever,
Summerhill Winery in the Kelowna mission area, great veiws and restaurant there.
Cedar Creek is also really nice. Their buildings are all white, so it reminds me of Greece.
One more.. Sumac Ridge in Summerland... wonderful views and they make a port type red called Pipe
that is sooooo smooth. You cannot get this at the liquor store, but the wine museum in Kelowna sells it or you get it at the winery.
Hope this helps.

Lynette May 20th, 2003 08:39 AM

Forgot to add something...
Another hotel you might want to check into is Manteo Resort.
It is also on the lake, with hotel rooms as well as 2 and 3 bedroom condos. It rates right up there with the Grand, but it is not right downtown, but you have a car, so that will be no problem.
it also has both an indoor and outdoor pool. the the restaurant "the Wild Apple Grill" is really good.
BTW The Grand Bay Cafe in the Grand hotel and the Wild Apple Grill at Manteo are both in the Kelowna Entertainment book, as well as the restaurant at Summerhill Winery.
If you can get a $10.00 book it might be worthwhile as it covers the region from Vernon - Kelowna - Penticton as well as Kamloops

GaryA May 20th, 2003 10:40 AM

Lynette, you're right. Mea culpa.

gkb I think Lynette got it right. Kelowna is much more of a 'city' with a population of just over 100,000, (and in the summer it seems like many times that), while Penticton is a much quieter town of around 35,000. Not that there's a lack of services in Penticton and in fact when the weather is 'iffy' in Kelowna it's usually sunny and warmer in Penticton even though it's only about 60 K's south. Both Casinos are nice although I was in the Grand last summer and it was much glitzier than I remember the Lakeside to be.

Anyhow - big city glitz over small town tranquility - that's the choice and considering how you'll be spending most of your time in rural areas maybe you should go for the former.

LJ May 20th, 2003 02:44 PM

As long as you are in the Okanagon Valley, don't forget pretty little Summerland. We never miss a visit to The Stonehouse restaurant, the desserts are to die for but do ask for the ones made on site.

gkb May 20th, 2003 05:11 PM

Yippee!! It sounds wonderful. Thanks everyone. The itinerary thus far is:
1 Rimrock Resort
2 Rimrock Resort
3 ???? (somewhere in the LL area)
Chateau LL ??? perhaps
4 Okanagan (perhaps Grand-Casino fun
after the mts. of Banff and a change
5 F.Empress (getting in late on ferry)
6 Sooke Harbour House
7 Pan Pacific Vancouver

I am up for suggestions/changes except for the Pan Pacific. Want a variety of different hotels, not all rustic nor formal. Is it best to catch the highway to Okanagan at Banff or LL?

GaryA May 20th, 2003 08:40 PM

gkb, you turn off Highway #1 well past the Alberta Border at Salmon Arm or Chase. Just watch for the signs promoting the Okanogan turnoff, (Highway 97). Even without a map you can't miss the signs hyping the Okanogan route to Vancouver.

gkb May 21st, 2003 09:56 AM

Thnaks Gary, how did the itinerary sound
Since we will be 2 nights at Rimrock what other hotel should I do? Thought maybe the Chateau or Post- something different from style of Rimrock but nice and memorable. It is so hard to judge travel times for this type of trip; with driving, sightseeing, and then catching ferries, arriving at hotels in a good time frame.

GaryA May 21st, 2003 10:25 AM

Just a correction to my above post. To get to the Okanogan from Banff you take the 97A off the Trans Canada #1 at Sicamous. The drive should take 6-8 hours depending on how much stopping you do - probably closer to the 8 hours because it's almost entirely two lanes.

Your itinery sounds hectic but fun. Most people would take two weeks to do that trip not just seven days. Good luck at the tables and drive carefully!

gkb May 22nd, 2003 08:22 AM

Gracias, Merci Gary! I know that this will be a fast paced trip, but we dont really have the opportunity to get 2-3 weeks off at a time. Also, since my in-laws wont be able to do any hiking,etc. I'm hoping we will see a lot from the car or "lookout" spots. The Casino is for my father-in-law who loves Vegas, but here will only play the slots. Thought this would give us something to do at night in Okanagan. Want to join us for a glass of wine? Thanks for the advice and concern.

James May 23rd, 2003 05:45 AM

Post Hotel in LL.
Ask for one of their private 3 cabins along the creek.

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