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Seattle - Vancouver via as much of BC as possible - comments please!

Seattle - Vancouver via as much of BC as possible - comments please!

Aug 6th, 2006, 11:46 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 15
Seattle - Vancouver via as much of BC as possible - comments please!

Thanks to some excellent help already from Fodorites, we've come up with a possible itinerary for our trip which starts next Saturday (12th August).

Any comments, suggestions, criticisms etc. would be much appreciated.

The bit we're really unsure about is whether we've got a good itinerary between the Cascade Loops and Whistler - we're missing out on Banff and Jasper due to distance, but will the national parks we're seeing make up for that? (my wish list sights for the holiday are bears and glaciers, by the way!!)

The only bits we've booked so far are the hotels at each end, which we've booked through priceline.

General points - we're bringing our one year old daughter, which doesn't rule out most things, apart from extremely longs days/drives. We both like driving, so distances aren't too much of a problem. Our main likes are nice fresh food, stunning scenery, wildlife and great value (but not budget) places to stay.

12th (evening) - arrive Seattle (Renaissance)

13th )
14th )- sightseeing in/around Seattle
15th )

16th - pick up car - Snoqualmie (Twin Peaks scenery apparently) then on to Mt Rainier (Longmire)

17th - Drive to Leavenworth, via Cascade Loop

18th - Drive to Twisp or Winthrop, via Cascade Loop

19th - Drive to Revelstoke, across border
(see Revelstoke & Glacier National Parks)

20th - Drive to Clearwater (Wells Gray Provincial Park)

21st - Drive to Whistler

22nd - Drive/ferry to Tofino on Vancouver Island

23rd - Drive to Victoria

24th - Drive to Vancouver & drop off car (stay at Hyatt Regency)

25th - Full day in Vancouver

26th - Full day in Vancouver

27th - Morning in Vancouver - fly home in evening

Thanks for any advice you can give us,

Chris_UK is offline  
Aug 6th, 2006, 12:57 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
Although you say you both like driving, I still think you’re trying to pack way too much into this trip.

Winthrop to Revelstoke is 7 hours, not counting stops. The journey takes you through the pleasant Okanagan Valley that is worth a stop in its own right.

Revelstoke to Clearwater is 4.5 hours, not counting stops. Thank goodness that at least would allow you to go into Wells Gray Provincial Park and see Helmcken Falls and the other falls that afternoon. Still, Clearwater is an outlier on the drive from Revelstoke to Whistler (and for that matter Revelstoke is an outlier on the drive from Winthrop to Whistler).

If you've already decided to eliminate Banff and Jasper for lack of time, I can't see the point of including Revelstoke and Clearwater.

Clearwater to Whistler is 6 hours, but the road has a lot of corners and steep hills, especially between Lillooet and Pemberton. The drive requires concentration, but it also deserves stops to enjoy the stunning scenery. It is doable in a day, but it would be an ambitious day.

There is no point in going to Tofino for one night. If you cannot spend at least 3 nights there so that you can walk in the old growth temperate rainforests, etc., then I would not bother. When you take the ferry crossing into consideratiohn, Whistler to Tofino is a good 8 hours or more.

Tofino to Victoria nominally is 5 hours, but it easily could take you 7 hours in real life.

Another challenge is that you are going to have a hard time finding accommodation at any price in Tofino in August. It is a small but very popular town.

If I were you, I would eliminate the nights in Revelstoke and Clearwater and replace them with one night somewhere en route from Winthrop to Whistler. Then spend 2 nights in Whistler.

You also could eliminate Victoria and spend 2 nights in Tofino. That would go some way towards redeeming your stay on Vancouver Island.

That is not to say that I have anything against Victoria. In fact it's one of the most charming little cities I know. But, since you're from the UK, its reputation as the most "British" city in North America is not going to do much for you. Besides, since you've stated that wildlife viewing is important to you, I think you're better off spending that time in Tofino.

I would have suggested eliminating one of your Seattle nights, but since you've paid for your Seattle hotel through Priceline I suppose you'll be reluctant to do that.

Good luck with your trip.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Aug 6th, 2006, 01:38 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 189
Hi Chris - you've got an ambitious itinerary! Judy has echoed everything that I would suggest. You've picked an incredibly beautiful part of the world to explore - but the distances are vast and with a little one, you'll most certainly want to stop from time to time for rest and to take in the breathtaking scenery along the way.

If possible, I would cut one night out of Seattle and focus on your "wish list" - the bears you'll find in abundance (whales too!) when you are in Tofino, so try to spend at least 2 nights there, - for self-catering accommodations check out www.tofinobeach.com. The glaciers you'll find in Banff or Jasper, which I think are more interesting towns than Revelstoke or Clearwater.

I agree with Judy that you should skip Victoria and spend more time in the Tofino/Long Beach area.

Enjoy your holiday!

bowen is offline  
Aug 7th, 2006, 12:50 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 15
Thanks for the advice - I like the sound of eliminating Victoria - as you said, quaint 'British-feel' places aren't what we're looking for.

I feel a bit guilty coming back to you with more questions - you've already helped us way more than any travel agent or guidebook, but I'll push my luck anyway......

The reason we've got an extra day in Seattle is because my sister-in-law used to live there, so my wife's keen to visit lots of places she's heard about. In fact, my sister-in-law was supposed to be there when we visit, but that's a long story.....

The reason we'd included Revelstoke and Clearwater was because we'd heard the scenery was stunning - do you think that we'll get to see the same kind of things if we do as you suggested Judy and spend the time visiting places closer to Whistler?

I know this is a Canada board, but the other option we considered was driving the whole of the Cascade Loop in Washington and the driving up the coast to Vancouver, via Bellingham - do you have a view about whether that would be a good idea? It's certainly shorter, but we weren't sure how much the scenery would vary that way.

Finally, bowen, you mention Banf and Jasper would be better than Clearwater or Revelstoke - I'm guessing the drives direct to those towns would be a lot quicker per mile as we could stick to major routes, but would we see as much from those routes and would they give us different things to Whistler and the surrounding areas?

Thanks so much again,

Chris_UK is offline  
Aug 7th, 2006, 07:55 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
>>>>>>do you think that we'll get to see the same kind of things if we do as you suggested Judy and spend the time visiting places closer to Whistler?<<<<<<

Although this is an oversimplification, the short answer is, "Yes."

I have never done the Cascade Loop, so cannot comment on how it compares with the scenery in BC.

>>>>>>Finally, bowen, you mention Banf and Jasper would be better than Clearwater or Revelstoke - I'm guessing the drives direct to those towns would be a lot quicker per mile as we could stick to major routes,<<<<<<

I don't understand what you're saying. Revelstoke is on the TransCanada Highway (Hwy #1), which is the main road from Vancouver to Banff. Lake Louise is 3 hours' drive beyond Revelstoke, and Banff is another 45 minutes' drive beyond Lake Louise. So Revelstoke, if you were to approach it from Vancouver, would be on no less of a main road than Lake Louise and Banff.

Clearwater is on the South Yellowhead Highway (Hwy #5), which is the main road from Vancouver to Jasper. In the case of that route, Jasper is 3.5 hours' drive beyond Clearwater. So again, Clearwater is on no less of a main road than Jasper is.

If you have not already done so, you can use Map Quest ( www.mapquest.com ) to check driving distances and times.

>>>>>>but would we see as much from those routes and would they give us different things to Whistler and the surrounding areas?<<<<<<

Well, if you had the time to go beyond Revelstoke and Clearwater respectively, you would see different things. The mountains that make up the Canadian Rockies are more rugged and, well, rockier than the Coast Mountains in which Whistler is situated. The Rockies have some astonishingly turquoise lakes, like Moraine Lake, Peyto Lake and Emerald Lake. The Icefields Parkway (Hwy #93), the road that connects Lake Louise and Jasper, is incredibly scenic. Along its route you can find glaciers, lakes, waterfalls and canyons.

But the Coast Mountains in which Whistler is located also is a very pretty mountain range. It too has glaciers, forests, lakes and waterfalls. The forest around Whistler is more lush than the forest around Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper. In the Whistler area the trees are taller, and there are plenty of ferns and moss in the forest.

The Rockies are impressive because they are so rugged. But, when it comes to the forest, I prefer the temperate rainforest around Whistler to the alpine forest around Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper.

Anyway, I believe this whole discussion is academic, because you simply do not have time to do any of it. BC and Alberta together are the size of Europe excluding Russia. There is simply no way you can do more than scratch the surface of BC in 16 days, especially if a substantial number of those days are going to be taken up by a visit to Washington State.

You would need a week to do even minimal justice to the Revelstoke - Golden - Lake Louise - Banff - Jasper - Clearwater circuit.

If you manage to return to Western Canada in future, it would be nice to use Calgary as your entry and exit point. In that case you could visit the BC / Alberta Rockies from Jasper in the north to Waterton Lakes National Park in the south, and you could include a visit to Montana's Glacier National Park, which is contiguous with Waterton Lakes National Park.

But for this trip, I suggest you stick with the plan that I recommended in my first response to you.

Another piece of advice. A stroller -- I don't know what you call it, maybe a pushchair? -- is useful in cities, but it is worse than useful in forests. The trails are just too rough. When you're walking in the mountains with your baby, it's much more practical to have one of those backpack-style baby carriers. You probably know that. But I thought I'd mention it just in case you were not aware. A couple of weeks ago my husband and I saw a distressed looking couple struggling with a stroller in the forest near Whistler. The wheels had become stuck in the roots of a tree, and they were busy extricating it.

The weather in the mountains is very changeable. In Whistler you can expect day time averages in the low 20s C and night time averages around 5 deg C. However, you could encounter temperatures as high as the low-mid 30s C and as low as 2 deg C.

The moral of the story is that you have to pack layers. You need shorts, short-sleeved shirts and sandals (but make them sturdy, supportive sandals, not elegant sandals with thin straps).

You also need sunglasses, sun hats, sunscreen lotion, and insect repellant.

But, in case you run into cooler weather, you also need long trousers, long sleeved fleece tops, hooded and waterproof jackets to wear over everything else in case of rain, and hiking boots (or at least trainers).

Whichever one of you is not carrying the baby should carry a day pack in which you can store your spare jackets, water bottles, etc.

You can find more practical information in the TIPS section of my website:


Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Aug 7th, 2006, 03:19 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 15
Thanks Judy - your advice has been very useful and I've whittled the itinerary down to something much more manageable, passing through Victoria, staying a few days in Tofino, travelling up to Whistler and staying a few days there (hotels permitting)before heading down to Vancouver. I guess I was getting a bit too keen before!!

Haven't had a chance to view it in detail yet, but your website looks very impressive too - will make that my research project for tomorrow.

Will let you know how we get on.

Thanks again,

Chris_UK is offline  
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