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Travel from Vancouver through wine country to Banff, Jasper

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Mar 9th, 2015, 09:21 AM
  #1
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Travel from Vancouver through wine country to Banff, Jasper

We are planning a trip this summer starting in Vancouver, renting a car and traveling through the wine country to Banff and Jasper and then return. We prefer to see as much of the country as we can and have 2 weeks for this trip. The idea of B&B's, seeing old towns, and doing some of the non-touristy things along the way are ideal. Moderate hiking, and poking around sights are important also. We are not interested in Whistler, Victoria but would stay in Vancouver 2 days. We may fly to Seattle from Detroit since we have enough flight miles to do that. We are of course open to your suggestions.
Thanks for your help
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Mar 9th, 2015, 09:52 AM
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Welcome!

Two weeks will be the bare minimum for this trip, especially if you are allowing two days in Vancouver.

It's generally suggested to allow a minimum of 5 nights in the Rockies - i.e. at least 3 in Banff/Lake Louise and 2 in Jasper. You need at least one night to get from Vancouver to Banff, but if you want to explore wine country, you'd need a good 3-4 nights on way across BC.

You also want to allow time to drive the Icefields Parkway in the Rockies twice in case the weather is bad one way. It's one the most spectacular drives in North America, if not the world. Usually we'd suggest doing Banff/Lake Louise, heading to Jasper and then back down to Banff & fly out/drive back to Vancouver.

I think it might be better to fly into Vancouver, spend some time to see wine country, do the Rockies, then fly back to Vancouver from Calgary. That would give you more time to actually explore, rather than just doing a lot of driving. You could allow one week for Vancouver/wine country and one week for the Rockies.

Note that summer is peak season in the Rockies and much of BC, so you need to book accommodation as soon as you can. This is especially true for weekends, July 1 and the August 3 holiday weekend. In the Rockies, there are B&Bs in Banff, but in Jasper, non hotel accommodation is in Private Home Accomodations (PHAs). These tend to be pretty much like B&Bs except that very few provide breakfast and those that do only provide a continental (cold) breakfast.

What did you have in mind by non-touristy things to do? In the summer months, especially, things on offer are going to be very tourist driven because there's a pretty narrow window for tourist visits/income. At least in places like Banff/Canmore/Jasper, you can look in the local papers/town websites for notices about local talks, concerts, hikes offered by local trails groups and local live music. Or buy a pass for the local rec centre.
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Mar 9th, 2015, 08:38 PM
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ltt
 
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summer / non-touristy and those areas do not go together. as stated, 2 weeks is a little rushed. you could do 2 nights vancouver, 3 nights in the okanagan area (naramata might meet your needs), 3 nights banff, 2 nights jasper, 1 night in clearwater (visiting wells gray provincial park) and back to vancouver.
if vancouver isn't important to you, consider flying in and out of calgary. that would give you more time for banff / jasper / okanagan.
either way, you should make reservations as soon as possible.
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Mar 11th, 2015, 05:28 PM
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We've done a few variations on this trip. I'll offer a few suggestions:

- Nelson. Leaving the Okanagan from Osoyoos, take 3 west and stay the night in The Hume. It's a historic hotel, although some rooms have been given a beautiful upgrade. (I did read somewhere that Bob Hope stayed there once and commented that it was nice to stay in a hotel that was older than he was. ) Have a drink and maybe dinner in the Library Lounge there. www.humehotel.com

- Doukhobors. A dissident Russian religious sect that established a settlement/farm in BC, stop and visit as you get close to Nelson. Fascinating insight into a little-known group, site maintained by current-day Doukhobors. Non-touristy for sure. http://doukhobor-museum.org/

- From Nelson, you have an option of 2 different inland ferry routes. Although we've only done one route, we have the other in mind as well. At any rate, the road just ends, and you wait for the (free) ferry to pull up. You drive on, and enjoy the ride across the water. http://tranbc.ca/2013/06/27/welcome-...nland-ferries/
The Galena Bay ferry is the one we've taken, and it will take you north up to Revelstoke. The other route can take you along to Kimberly, which has a German theme. It's more touristy, though.

-Craigellachie: Where the last spike of the Canadian Railroad was driven. You'll find this small non-touristy site if you take the more northern route out of the Okanagan towards Banff. Not far past Sicamous/Salmon Arm, this is worth a stop of about 30 minutes (tops). http://www.hellobc.com/revelstoke/th...age-sites.aspx

And BTW, the Hello BC link I gave you above is a website with a wealth of good information for you.

Wells Gray: ltt mentioned staying in Clearwater and visiting Wells Gray provincial park. This is along the route between Jasper and Vancouver. It has some absolutely stunning waterfalls, and there are a couple of interesting B&Bs in the area. Use Hello BC or this link: http://tinyurl.com/p4z2bwq
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Mar 11th, 2015, 05:34 PM
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Oh, and almost forgot to mention that the Steve Martin movie, Roxanne, was filmed in Nelson. If you've seen it, you'll know it's a hilarious modern retelling of Cirano de Bergerac. There is a walking tour map you can pick up and visit the firehouse and some of the sites in the movie. It's really hilly, you'll get a workout.
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Mar 11th, 2015, 05:40 PM
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If you go into Banff via 97, you'll find an eccentric Swiss woodcutter at the intersection going on into the mountains. His place is across the street from a Swiss/German restaurant. You can't miss it - it's a stockade with goats walking along the top, water cannons, odd signs and a few "trophies," etc. He may or may not be open; but if he is you MUST stop in. Chat with him, buy something, smile. Don't take pictures or he will turn the water cannons on you. You may well see big horn sheep along the road after passing his place.

If any of this is what you are looking for, I'd be happy to give you some more detail.
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Mar 11th, 2015, 06:05 PM
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Ok, one other thought - since you are essentially going to do a loop, Spokane is an airport worth considering. It's easy in/out, likely favorable car rental rates, and convenient airport hotels (esp. Radisson).

You can take a route past the Grand Coulee dam (stop and visit) into Osoyoos in about 4 hours or a bit less. From there, you can visit the Okanagan, then on to either Vancouver or Banff, finishing your loop however you like.

Oh, and I meant to say 95 earlier, not 97, for Radium.
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Mar 12th, 2015, 09:27 AM
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I did not consider Spokane but now that you mention it I will take that into consideration. We have narrowed our trip to cover the mountains/wine country circle and also taking in Banff, Jasper, etc. We have decided to stay away from Vancouver and Calgary and just enjoy the mountains, towns, wine country and lessen the driving time. If you have any other ideas for this revised trip, please share it.
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Mar 12th, 2015, 06:44 PM
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That sounds good. Are any of the suggestions I made above of interest? They cover several routes, so that will be informative.

What sorts of wines do you prefer? You'll find that southern Okanagan is semi-desert (northern tip of the Sonoran Desert, believe it or not), while at the northern end it is beautiful farmland and a view of the distant (maybe snowy) mountains. We've found the best reds in the south, and whites farther north. That will help determine your route. Know that it takes about an hour to 1.5 hours to drive from Osoyoos to Kelowna, adding some time for summer traffic. Plus any stops. It continues on north, but we concentrate on that stretch.

Let me know your thoughts on those questions and any other interests, and I will post a few suggested routings, stops, and wineries. Traveller69 may come in to give some great insight here.
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Mar 14th, 2015, 01:46 PM
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You have given us some interesting things to consider and appreciate passing on what you have encountered while traveling the rockies. Looking at flying into Spokane, I think we will head towards Cranbrook, BC seeing sights and then onto Banff. Then head towards Lake Louise, Jasper, Malingne Lake, etc. I think we will take the same route back to Lake Louise and head west towards Golden, and Revelstoke. Then south to Kelowna, Peachland, Penticton, Osoyoos and to Nelson and back to Spokane. This route makes sense to me but I am open to any of your ideas. Also, could we do this trip in 10-12 days?
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Mar 14th, 2015, 03:22 PM
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I like your agenda. If you are looking for a stop between Spokane and Cranbrook, consider staying in Kimberley. There are some German/Bavarian restaurants where you can get a tasty meal as well.

http://www.hellobc.com/kimberley.aspx

I think it's doable. It is not leisurely, but you will be traveling through spectacular scenery and makes for a great road trip. If you want to bring wine back, keep in mind that the duty per bottle is low, low, low. If you buy a shipping case from one of the wineries, it will travel just fine as additional checked luggage on your flight home (we always bring a few cases home)
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Mar 15th, 2015, 02:45 AM
  #12
 
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I am from Cranbrook and highly recommend it as a route!

Don't miss the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel http://www.trainsdeluxe.com

And a trip to Fort Steele (10 minutes outside town on the way to Banff) http://fortsteele.ca

Radium hot springs is a natural hot spring pool at the foot of the Rockies on the way to Banff http://www.hotsprings.ca

Have a fabulous trip!
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