Ideas for 3 Week Road trip in BC & Alberta

Old Jul 1st, 2010, 04:20 AM
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Ideas for 3 Week Road trip in BC & Alberta

Fellow Travellers!

You guys have helped me out before, and all your suggestions for my most recent trip to California were very helpful, so I send a huge thank you to you all!

So our next trip is British Columbia & Alberta and we're trying to compile a list of "must see" places on our road trip. We (German 25f and Aussie 31m)

We'll be hitting Vancouver on the 11th of October 2010 and have 3 weeks to play with before flying out of Vancouver.

Having read up on Western Canada, there's so much to see and do. We love nature, and most of our time shall be spent outdoors of course.

We've got a few places in mind to visit, although very vague:

- Vancouver Island (Victoria)
- Vancouver
- Jasper
- Icefields Parkway
- Banff
- Whistler

Our transport shall be a rental car (something with guts to tackle the mighty Rockies), and accommodation shall be a mixture of hotels, hostels and private accommodation offered via the NP websites that we've been reading about. Has anyone done private accom in the National Parks before?

So if you have any tips, suggestions, accommodation or road trip itineraries that will occupy us for 3 weeks then that would be just so helpful to us.

Thanks again, any help/advice would be greatly appreciated!!

Matt & Mel
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Old Jul 1st, 2010, 08:19 AM
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Having looked at some posts, and getting some more ideas, could the following looped road trip be done inside 18 days or so?

Vancouver, BC
Whistler, BC
Pemberton, BC
Lillooet, BC
Cache Creek, BC
Kamloops, BC
Clearwater, BC
Blue River, BC
Valemount, BC
Jasper, AB
Canmore, AB
Sulphur Mountain, AB
Banff, AB
Moraine Lake, AB
Lake Louise, Banff, AB
Revelstoke, BC
Shelter Bay, BC
Nakusp, BC
Osoyoos, BC
Hope, BC
Vancouver, BC
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 02:56 PM
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Sometimes you can feel the harsh Canadian winter even in late August in some of those spots (LOL).

So October is indeed taking your chances... and it will be November by the time you're done.

If inclined to get to all or most of those spots, be sure to do the northern and eastern spots first, and expeditiously, before ending up in Vancouver where you will take time to get to know the city.

Upon closer inspection, it seems you have some pretty remote targets on your list, and I think you would be better served if sticking with better-known spots which are easier to reach.

On the other hand, I just clicked on your offered link, and it does NOT seem so far-reaching when mapped as you have done. (you just named a few small places I needed to look up)

Traveling is great and all, but how many times during the whole time in this area will you stay in the same place for two or more nights in a row? (the strain of constantly relocating may weigh on you)

I commend your having mapped out a thorough plan for the Canadian Rockies. Given all that you've mapped out, I still have a vibe that says to take the northern path on the way, and the southern path back, juuuuuuuuust to cut down on the colder weather.

Not only that, but if you find yourselves pressed for time, you will have already seen the Canadian Rockies and could, if you wanted, amend the trip while in progress to go from point "P" on your map (Revelstoke) to point "T" (Hope) on a quicker, more direct path. (perhaps to free up more time for Vancouver upon return)

I cannot make any promises about the weather, but I do know that the localities are certainly used to wintery weather, and that they are pretty good at reacting in the event of unseasonally bad weather.

I think your trip is reasonable as listed
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 10:25 PM
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It's a doable itinerary although ambitious. If it may be your only chance to visit the region, I understand wanting to see as much as possible. However, that is a lot of driving on mountain roads and during a time of year where weather may hinder your travel times. So be prepared to be flexible.

Also because of the time of year you are coming, some of the hiking trails in the Rockies may be closed due to snowfall, especially at higher elevations, or bear activity at lower elevations as they come down for winter.

You may or may not be able to visit Moraine Lake on your trip as the road is closed for winter.

The Moraine Lake Road is closed to vehicles from early fall to late spring due to ice, snow and avalanche hazard. Exact opening and closing dates are dependent on seasonal conditions. The road is usually open from early June to early October. For most of the winter, the lower 8 km section of the road is maintained as a cross-country ski trail. Contact a Parks Canada Information Centre for further information. (from

I don't mean to scare you, but that time of year is unpredictable. It could be gorgeous weather or it could be an early winter. So be prepared for both.
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Old Jul 16th, 2010, 06:48 AM
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Hi Travelers!

We've been very lucky to have so many responses to our forum posts. I've not had enough time to collate all the information and tips as yet, however from what I have read we are both in for a lovely trip in October.

Quiet a few people have mentioned that traveling through the Rockies in October is going to be hit and miss weather wise.

Would it be wise to try and head as far north as we can (Jasper) and then work our way down towards Banff etc. Thus driving clockwise from Vancouver.

Thanks again for every one's advice and tips. We shall certainly report back!

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Old Jul 16th, 2010, 07:43 PM
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Jasper is not that much further north (weatherwise) than Banff, and usually has much drier (less snow) weather than Banff or Lake Louise (especially Lake Louise!!!!) so I wouldn't make that a deciding factor.

The weather might make a difference whether you can drive the Icefield Parkway (between Lake Louise and Jasper) where you will be going over some high passes, and during snowstorms and blizzards the road might be closed. Still - not that likely that there will be truly wintery weather in October (although not impossible).
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Old Jul 18th, 2010, 04:50 PM
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It is the altitude that is going to make more of a difference than the latitude.

You need to heed the advice that some of the places you want to see in the Rockies will not be as "accessible" as you would hope by late October, maybe even by mid-October.

You can certainly get to Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise, etc.. as they are all served by major highways, but some the roads and hiking trials into the mountains could very well be closed if winter comes early.

I always recommend Takakkaw Falls, just north of Lake Louise, near Field B.C., but, like Moraine Lake, the road might be closed.

If at all possible, get to the Jasper Lake Louise, Banff area as quickly as you can and then head back to B.C.. If the weather is good, then stay longer in the mountains, you will want to. If not then you can head back and hit your B.C. spots. It means you might have to just travel quickly along one of your legs between Van and AB, but if the weather is good, you will not regret it.

Just for reference, Sulphur Mountain is "in" the Banff town site, Lake Louise is Banff Provincial Park (but 1.5 hours from the town of Banff), and Canmore is 15 minutes from the town of Banff, just outside the park gates. There is not much to see in Canmore, apart from rampant development, that you cannot see better inside the park.

I see that you are planning a northern route to Jasper that goes through Whistler and Kamloops and then comes back from Banff down by the US border. If I might, a route that takes you through the Okanagan Valley, in Central B.C,; Kelowna, Salmon Arm , etc.. would be faster and it is a route that would likely have excellent weather in late October. It is actually a high desert and quite an interesting contrast to the Rockies.

You do need to think contingencies in the event of an early winter.
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Old Jul 27th, 2010, 03:18 AM
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Hi guys,

Firstly I must say sorry about all the 'Destination Points' in the first set of Google Maps from my first posting. The intention was to highlight a road map, not to stay at those places.

So we've been collating the many replies we've had across the forum posts, and have pretty much decided on a clockwise route to the Rockies.

Question: Driving Vancouver to Jasper - which way?
A few people have mentioned it's worth heading up Highway #1 from Hope, which merges into Highway 97 then to highway 24, and joining back up with Highway 5 at Little Fort.

See Map:

Or should we just press on from Vancouver and head straight to Jasper via Kamloops.

See Map:

Where would you recommend we stay for a day or two between Vancouver and Jasper? Is it worth spending a day or two exploring Wells Gray Park?

Question: Driving Banff to Vancouver - which way?
What is the most scenic way to travel back to Vancouver from Banff? We'd like to hit the wineries around Osoyoos. Should we go direct and travel directly south via Cranbrook, and then west along the US/Canada border; or should we drive South-West via Glacier NP and Mt Revelstoke NP and finally passing through Kelowna and the down to Osoyoos?

Question: Thanksgiving Day
I should probably put this in the Vancouver forum. It's come to our attention that we are arriving on Canada Thanksgiving Day (Monday October 11th). Is it worth starting the road trip on this day, or spending the day in Vancouver. I'm assuming most things are closed in Vancouver and the day is spent celebrating with families. If we do stay for the day, can anyone recommend some places to stay/eat on this day?

I do partly regret booking our flight over to Vancouver and beginning the road trip there. I think we should of really flown into Calgary and started from West to East instead of doing the loop.

That being said, if there are some 'must see' places to explore on our way to Jasper from Vancouver, we are all ears.

Thank you again for your time and wonderful ideas - you are all great people! We have made sure our rental car has all weather tires, so that's sorted!


Matt & Mel.
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