Road trip in BC and Alberta..ideas

Old Jun 3rd, 2021, 06:11 AM
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Road trip in BC and Alberta..ideas

Hi !
We (2 adults and 9 and 13 years old kids) want to do a road trip in the west (we are from Montréal) but we need to get your must see. Lodging is expensive and we want to keep our exepnses below 12 kk for 18-22 days. We have thought about Vancouver (3 nights)- Okanagan valey- (3 nights) Rockies (5 nights) badland (3 nights) Calgary (2 nights) And Vancouver again (1 night) ....Is it doable ?
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Old Jun 3rd, 2021, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by tostaky
Hi !
We (2 adults and 9 and 13 years old kids) want to do a road trip in the west (we are from Montréal) but we need to get your must see. Lodging is expensive and we want to keep our exepnses below 12 kk for 18-22 days. We have thought about Vancouver (3 nights)- Okanagan valey- (3 nights) Rockies (5 nights) badland (3 nights) Calgary (2 nights) And Vancouver again (1 night) ....Is it doable ?

I like your thorough effort, and I can't think of anything that won't work... you seem to allow plenty of time for the journey.

If it comes to cost-cutting measures, (and I assume you're flying in and out of Vancouver?)...

you might delay your car rental and find a hotel that is near a Skytrain station, and stay out away from central Vancouver (IF it is significantly cheaper) before using Skytrain to explore Vancouver. Vancouver is flat-ish, and surrounded by water on most sides, so not very steep at any point, and it's a fairly safe city for walking around. (OR, if it comes down to chosing to either have the car immediately, OR afford a central Vancouver hotel, then maybe splurge for the hotel with the money you save by NOT having the car at that time) (consider, also, that many central hotels effectively make you pay a hefty VALET parking charge per night, so that's another reason to NOT have a car during your initial Vancouver days)

When you're so far from home, it makes good sense to cover the bases you can, because it isn't so easy to get back there.

It seems that there will be enough to keep the kids engaged on at least most of the journey, and you seem as if you intend to mix it up well.

IF your description is in planned order, Calgary to Vancouver is a 10-hour haul of driving time, under ideal conditions... and with so many things that catch the eye to see, you might not want to be gunning all the way from Calgary to Vancouver on that last full day. (Possibly 2 nights in the Okanagan on the way east, and then one on the way back west) (with time in between to contemplate your options upon getting back there - for one more thing to see or do)

I assume too that your "5 nights" in the Rockies will get you up the Icefields Parkway, and to Jasper... and when you're up that far north, rather than backtracking, it wouldn't be a terrible move to go east to Edmonton from up there, and at least take the kids to the West Edmonton Mall, before only then heading to the Drumheller/Badlands area. I drove through Drumheller a few years ago, and I saw some various visions that made me wish I'd had more time, and I thought I'd make a point to stop if I ever got back near there again.

I don't see any OBVIOUS places where I'd toggle your time layout there, other than what I mentioned about not racing from Calgary to Vancouver on the last full day.

Maybe study more, and gain a more clear sense for what YOU want as priorities, and then with some added detail, others here can help you envision your trip before you leave!

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Old Jun 4th, 2021, 05:46 AM
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Thanks a lot for that answer. About Okanagan valley,, maybe we should put it at the end and enjoy it as a stop between Calagary and Vancouver. And yes we would arrive and fly from Vancouver. It was the least expensive option from Montreal. It was already our plan to get the car only after our stay in Vancouver. We have to figure out what would be the most central and fun location.

Maybe something like this ?

Last edited by tostaky; Jun 4th, 2021 at 05:51 AM.
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Old Jun 5th, 2021, 12:23 PM
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Bonjour Hi! I'm from Calgary originally but now live in Montreal!

Honestly the trip seems doable. Vancouver to Calgary is a looong drive (~12 hours if you include breaks for gas and food etc.) and it's very beautiful so you're gonna wanna stop a lot along the way. I used to do it one-day solo all the time when I visited family in Vancouver, but I wouldn't recommend rushing such a beautiful highway if it's your first visit. Maybe do one night in the Okanagan on the way there and one on the way back. (Or a night in Kamloops is a possiblity as well)

Instead of backtracking down the Icefields Parkway, there are two ways you could go:

1. The aforementioned loop from Jasper to Edmonton. West Edmonton Mall has far-and-away the best Waterpark in the country (I'd even say Top 5 in North America, I actually enjoyed it more than the Disney waterparks in Orlando). Your kids will love it. The theme park in the mall, Galaxyland, is decent, but I don't think it's better than either La Ronde or Canada's Wonderland. Nothing else to do in Edmonton besides the mall though, but that can easily fill up an entire day.

2. Alternatively, if the mall doesn't interest you, you could take the Yellowhead Highway from Jasper to Kamloops, taking a different but also scenic route back to Vancouver. If I was travelling with kids I would prefer the first option though.

In terms of must-dos:

- Glenbow Museum
- National Music Centre
- if you have a 2nd day there, or if you really don't like museums, then I would add in Heritage Park and the Zoo, but I wouldn't consider them must-sees.

Calgary Food Recs:
- You absolutely have to stop and get burgers and milkshakes from Peter's Drive-In. It's basically Calgary's version of Orange Julep (although better imo), a local institution that is famous across the Prairies.
-Jimmy's A&A Deli has the best shawarma I've ever had in my life. I literally cried tears of joy when I first had it. You will discover God. It will change your life.
-Calgary's most famous culinary invention is ginger beef. You can find it across Western Canada, and you should have it atleast once somewhere on your trip, but it's still probably best in Calgary. It's good pretty much anywhere it's sold that's not a mall food court.
-Calgary has Canada's largest Vietnamese population and by extension the best Vietnamese food in Canada. Tai tai is a local chain that makes really good banh mi (much better than anything I've found in MTL). Most of the best Vietnamese restaurants are in the Forest Lawn and Marlborough neighbourhoods, which have a reputation for being sketchy, but are no more dangerous than any working-class neighbourhood of Montreal.

-Royal Tyrell Museum (kids will love this too!)
-Dinosaur Provincial Park

-Lake Louise
-Moraine Lake
-Icefields Parkway
-Athabasca Glacier (If it's operating, take the bus tour that drives on top of the Icefields)
-Peyto Lake
-Mt Edith Cavell
-Guided Hike of the Burgess Shale (you need to reserve this in advance)

There's a heck of a lot more to do out in The Rockies, and you could spend an entire Summer exploring them, but I wouldn't consider a trip to The Rockies "complete" without doing atleast those things.

-World Waterpark at West Edmonton Mall

- Stanley Park & the Vancouver Aquarium
- UBC Museum of Anthropology
- Granville Island
- Capilano Suspension Bridge
- VanDusen Botanical Garden

(this is enough stuff to fill up three whole days in Vancouver)

Last edited by SirhanTheStrong; Jun 5th, 2021 at 01:02 PM.
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Old Jun 6th, 2021, 07:26 AM
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I absolutely agree with SirhanTheStrong's comment regarding the drive between Vancouver and Calgary. In my opinion, it is part of the reason to even to to B.C. and well worth at least 2 days.

Some suggestions:

Craigellachie (between Sicamous and Revelstoke), to see where the last spike was driven for the Canadian Pacific Railroad

Take one of the (free) B.C. inland ferries. One that works well is the Upper Arrow Lake ferry, which will take you from Revelstoke on the north toward Castlegar (3A) in the south (Shelter Bay - Galena).

Nelson. If you are familiar with the Steve Martin movie Roxanne, that is where it was mostly filmed. We are fond of the Hume Hotel. I remember hearing that Bob Hope once stayed there and commented that it was nice to stay in a hotel that was older than he was.

Wells Gray Provincial Park. This would be along your northern Jasper routing idea. There are some gorgeous waterfalls to see.

Skip staying in Kamloops. It's just a plain vanilla city IMO, and you'd do better to stay in Salmon Arm or Sicamous.

Do visit the Okanagan Valley. Yes, it is replete with wineries, but the lakes and other scenery are pretty spectacular. You'll find the wines tend toward white in the north end, more reds in the south. At the farthest southern part, visit the Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Center

Hope these are helpful. We do not live in B.C., but it is our favorite region anywhere to visit. And hopefully, once this pandemic has been fully wrangled, we will be able to return.

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Old Jun 6th, 2021, 07:31 AM
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Oh, I neglected to mention the Doukhobor settlement near Castlegar. It's a fascinating visit and learn a bit of history. Doukhobor Discovery Centre - Home Shining Waters: Doukhobors in the Castlegar Area

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Old Jun 7th, 2021, 02:21 PM
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Salmon Arm is definitely a prettier town to stay in than Kamloops. I've always stayed in Kamloops because I've never had issues finding a cheap room there, even during peak season. If I had the choice though, I would choose Salmon Arm or Sicamous. If you're into cheese, check out Grassroot Dairies (formerly Gort's Gouda) in Salmon Arm, some of best cheeses I've ever had in my life have come from there, and the place is still owned and operated by a family of Dutch immigrants.

Also if you're in the Okanagan area, I second the recommendation to atleast spend a couple of hours in Nelson. It's the largest hippie town in Canada and has a quirky bohemian vibe to it. (Haven't been there in 15 years, not sure if this is still true, but it was when I last visited.)
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Old Jun 18th, 2021, 02:38 AM
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If you are driving through Cranbrook BC it is worth stopping at Radium Hot Springs and Fort Steele Heritage Town
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Old Jun 21st, 2021, 01:05 PM
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Hi ...and late thanks for all those answers that we're given to us ! It seems we wont have time to see/do everything so we will have to choose wisely ! Our flights are bout. We will land in Calgaru july 21 and will leave Calgary august 11, Now more questions:
1) Our plan bring us in the Rockies july 26 to july 31 (3 nights in Banff and 2 in Jasper)....July 31 is on a long weekend (BC day) ..should we plan something else ?
2) We've read that it's a must to do the Icefield Parkway up and down. It is ?
3) We have some roads ideas...which one look the best for those 21 nights ?
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Old Jun 24th, 2021, 06:40 AM
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Banff/Yoho can get pretty busy on long weekends, but Jasper is almost always less crowded, so if possible try to arrange your trip so that you spend the weekend in Jasper and weekdays in Banff. I don't think it'll be so terrible that you should re-arrange your trip completely. Banff is busy every weekend in the summer anyways.

I wouldn't say the Icefields Parkway is absolutely neccessary both ways, but it's still fantastic nonetheless, and it's not like it's a waste of time either. (this doesn't help really, I know) Personally, I prefer the second itinerary you have planned, since it has the largest variety of scenery, landscapes and geography. If you're heading to Waterton, I'd also recommend a detour to check out the World Heritage site Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump. Adding a day to do Waterton, gives you one less day somewhere else but everything still seems doable in 20 days to me.

Were you planning to spend the night in Osoyoos, or was that just a placement marker for the route? Osoyoos to Waterton is a very long drive. Either Castlegar or Nelson would be better choices for an overnight stay.

You seem like you've done a lot of research, and this all making me very homesick. Have fun!
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