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 > Trip planning help needed!

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lindalp

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Posted: 06/09/18 04:01pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

In 2017 we rented a car and did a 1week DIY road trip in AK, before boarding our cruise ship...(our 2nd AK cruise). I tell you that so you know what type a beauty we appreciate most. Since then we bought a 24’ Motorhome, and had hoped to drive to AK. This year we decided we can only get away for 16 days. We live in northern Calif. We are thinking about going into Canada, but not sure where we should go. We don’t hike, we like to drive thru the beautiful scenery, making stops along the way. We’re not familiar with Canada, and I’m hopeful for suggestions of beautiful scenic routes, and places. I’ve heard Baniff is beautiful and Whistler. Any advise or suggestions of places to see, routes to take, would be greatly appreciated. I might add, my husband was mentioned driving to Haines AK instead of touring Canada. Has anyone here done that.

* This post was edited 06/09/18 04:56pm by lindalp *

MDKMDK

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Posted: 06/09/18 04:21pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

16 days probably isn't enough time to do a lazy sightseeing tour of BC and the Yukon, make a side trip to Haines AK, on your way to Alaska to have a look around. Problem is, the roads in northern BC and the Yukon can be pretty bad, they definitely aren't interstates, 55mph is the speed limit average up there for a reason. In places, it's too fast.

If you just head straight up through central BC to Prince George, you can decide which route you want to take to Watson Lake, YT. I've done the Alaska Hwy (Hwy 97), but not the Cassiar (Hwy 37) which is the other route. The Alaska Hwy has plenty of scenery and wildlife, as do the main highways in Alaska.
No idea what the Haines Hwy is like.

Sorry, not trying to rain on your parade, but 16 days to Alaska and back will be a challenging whirlwind tour. That said, it's doable, but I don't think you'll have a lot of time for stopping and sightseeing.

Try doing some google maps "routes" - I did Sacramento to Anchorage, it's around 3,000 miles one way and the average drive time is 60 hours. That's 6 X 10 hour drive days.
If you want to do the BC/Alberta border route north to see Banff/Jasper etc. it's 3400 miles one way.

Hope your rig gets good mileage if you go through BC. Their fuel prices are ridiculous, approaching absurd.


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Tom/Barb

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Posted: 06/09/18 04:42pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

16 days, up I-5, cross to State route 20 in Wa. join 97 north cross into Canada at Osoyoos take Ca #3 east to #2 north to Calgary, That alone is a beautiful trip, then do the park and the Columbia ice fields on the way home thru Revelstoke and Kalowna, hope and I-5 south, should take about 2 weeks.


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SideHillSoup

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Posted: 06/09/18 04:56pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We live 3 hrs north of Spokane Washington, and 30 minutes from the US / Canada boarder. My wife grew up in Stewart BC which is located at the southern tip of Alaska 1 mile from Hyder Alaska. We have done the trip from our home to Stewart many ti es and that is a two day drive of 12 to 13 hrs each day. From Stewart to Whitehorse Yukon is another 11 hr drive. Hyder Alaska is located on a street that winds around back in to Canada ( British Columbia. Hyder is kinda stuck on a big bend in the road and once you drive through Hyder you have no choice bu to continue driving of gravel mining roads which are in Canada or turn around staying on Pavement back into Stewart. There is no US customs only Canadian Customs, so you drive right into Alaska and when you come back you have to stop at Canadian Customs.
16 days it not long enough for a driving trip to Alaska, even if just to Hyder. Whistler is a big city, not a village like everyone calls it, it in my mind is a big waste of time, and way to expensive. Banff and Jasper are in your grasp however it is one of the busiest place in western Canada, especially in the summer. It’s busy all the time but winter is slows down and the road from Lake Louise to Jasper has secondary road rating meaning the snowplows plow everything else like the Trans Canada Hwy 1 before they do the road up to Jasper. If you really want to visit Banff and Jasper try after the first week in September, it is still busy but no where as bad as July and August.
Route would be drive north on I-5 to Portland, take I-84 to just past the Dalles Oregon and the cross the Columbia river on Hwy 97 and stay on it right to the Canadian boarder at Osoyoos British Columbia. Continue on Hwy 97 North through B.C. wine country in the Okanagan Valley Okanagan Wine country
There are hop on hop off busses that take you to the wineries so you don’t have to worry about driving after.
Continue on Hwy 97 North through Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon, Armstrong to Salmon Arm where you will join up with Hwy 1 east towards Revelstoke, Golden, Field BC, and then I to Alberta. You have been in the Canadian Rockies since you left Golden but everyone always says the Canadian Rockies are in Alberta, nope, they just have a nice Hwy between Lake Louise North to Jasper, and lake Louise south to Banff. When you get to Jasper turn around and drive back the way you came, you will see stuff on the return trip that you missed on the route you have just driven. On the way south to Home, between Banff and Lake Louise ( 1/2 way 25 minute drive) there is a Hwy Jct with Hwy 93/ 95 south to Cranbrook BC then east about 30 minutes on Hwy 3 to the Jct with Hwy 93 south back into Montana. Once across the line about 1 hr from the boarder is Kaslispell Montana, stay on 93 south to just west of Missoula Montana, where Hwy 93 joins up with I- 90 west past Spokane Washington to Ritville Washington where you join up with Hwy 395 south through Kenawick Washington and you will again cross the Columbia river and find I-84 south to Portland and then back on I-5 to home.
I do the Ristville to Portland leg all the time as I have a Cuz in Portland. I driven the Canadian parts of this route many many times as we have relatives between Calgary and Banff, just east of Saskatchewan Crossing with is just north of Lake Louise, and the Okanagan valley is only 3 hrs away and we go there shopping and visiting. All the roads listed in the USA and Canada I pulled my 35 ft 5wheel on, however we down sized when we retired and now have a truck and camper.
What you should really do is visit Vancouver Island. There is a couple of Ferries between Washington state and Vancouver island which are cheaper than the Canadian Ferries. I just happened to have this good website as my Cuz from Portland are thinking of meeting us over there next year.
Washington state ferry
Your 16 days will be well spent on Vancouver Island traveling over to Uculet and Trofino. West of Campbell river there is a road that will lead you to Gold River, my buddy used to live on Campbell Lake and it is a beautiful drive all the way to Gold river. From Camp ell River North to Port Hardy which is about as far as you would want to go. Don’t forget Victoria our Provincial Capital. There are a lot of places to camp in a campground or in the bush depending what you want. I would say Vancouver Island would be a good choice.
Good luck and read up on the Canadian Boarder Customs regulations so you don’t have any trouble crossing.
And when you decide to do Alaska in the RV, get the book Mile Post, an new addition comes out the end March I believe. And don’t go to Alaska unless you have way more than 16 days... more like 36 days would be the minimum.
Have fun.
Soup.


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lindalp

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Posted: 06/09/18 05:50pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thank you all for taking the time to help me out. You make this forum, the great community It is! SideHillSoup, thank you for the heads up about Banff being SO busy during the Summer months. We will take your advise to waiting until around Sept. for that trip.
Vancouver Island sounds great....We have been to Victoria, (love it and Spinnakers for fish and chips) but have traveled no further on the island. I think we’re going to go with Vancouver Island.

DrewE

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Posted: 06/09/18 06:03pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

While Banff and Jasper are busy, the Ice Fields Parkway is one of the very most scenic roads in the world and a delightful experience regardless. Seeing Banff town and especially Lake Louise is harder; camping unless one has reservations well in advance generally means overflow camping (i.e. a parking lot with a fee and a porta-potty), and you'll definitely be best off taking the shuttle bus services rather than trying to drive around and find parking in the villages/towns. There will be many people around. The scenery is spectacular, though. If not this trip, plan to see it sometime if at all possible.

The Trans-Canada highway between Camloops and the Banff area is a lovely road, too, going through (Canadian) Glacier National Park and Mt Revelstoke National Park.

Getting to Haines (or Skagway, or both) by road is a long way around, not really good if you're pressed for time. The Taylor Highyway to Skagway is another very scenic drive, with surprisingly varied topography and flora.





Artum Snowbird

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Posted: 06/09/18 06:42pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Brookings, Cape Lookout, LaPush, then onto the Coho to Victoria. PM me if you want some great suggestions for Vancouver Island.

It's a long ways up to Victoria if you enjoy the trip, but your vacation will be so much better if you stop at neat spots along the way.

I live here.


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SideHillSoup

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Posted: 06/09/18 07:09pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Artum Snowbird wrote:

Brookings, Cape Lookout, LaPush, then onto the Coho to Victoria. PM me if you want some great suggestions for Vancouver Island.

It's a long ways up to Victoria if you enjoy the trip, but your vacation will be so much better if you stop at neat spots along the way.

I live here.


Also she can probably fill you in on side trips over to Quadra Island from Campbell River and Qaudra island over to Cortes Island. I know there is camping at Harriet Bay on Quadra Island but unsure about Cortes Island.
Soup.

AKsilvereagle

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Posted: 06/10/18 12:39am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I am with Tom Barb on the foundation suggestion here upon a tight 16 day itinerary scenic trip, getting the most out of it without cramming long distance travel and over driving in a short time frame.....

From NorCal it is easily a 2 day to 3 day conservative drive towards the Canadian border on the I-5 corridor with other connecting routes along Washington state, as I have a few other option suggestions as well.....

Note that I am only familiar with some of the routes in southern Canada.... with that in mind - I am sure others will chime in on alternate routes I am not familiar with.....

I have not been in the Osoyoos regional area but have seen pictures to where I want to visit there someday...which I would follow Tom Barb's suggestion to make it the gateway to Canada on this particular trip if the OP's heart is set on seeing the majestic Canadian Rockies !!!!!!.

Upon commuting east on BC 3, you have OPTIONS upon commuting north thru the Kootenays which is SideHillSoup's neck of the woods in southeast BC (which I would consider doing so), or continue farther east on BC 3 towards connecting other roads towards Calgary and such.

SideHillSoup's suggestions are also key on as one post I made in the past on Rosebery Provincial Park where I spent the night (me not knowing the general area) where he posted in detail about the constant shade that place is known for....as I had to walk all the way down to the riverbank the following morning just to get some sun.

Upon practically every portion of travel thru this region of Canada, just remember that you will be surrounded in a national park setting even if you are not within any designated national park boundary, so there are many options of routes to take and enjoy the majestic beauty until you are well east of the rockies.

If wanting to visit the Canadian Rockies bad enough on a 16 day journey, I would option to travel thru the Kootenays from Castlegar to Revelstoke (highways BC 3a, BC 6, and BC 23) as I am only familiar with this route between Revelstoke to New Denver.....

Revelstoke is historic with it's railroad roots and a nice town, real clean too and sits along the Columbia River thats worth a visit should one is heading to the Canadian Rockies...

Fair warning as mentioned before in the past, Trans Canada Highway 1 is a real busy roadway especially when it is a two lane portion as Revelstoke will have lots of semi truck and car traffic running thru there at the junction crossroads where you turn into the main part of town.

If heading north on BC 6 and BC 23 along the way to Revelstoke, there is a free BC ferry which connects you from Galena Bay to Shelter Bay :

September 2012 - Galena Bay terminal :
[image]


September 2012 - Shelter Bay terminal :
[image]

[image]



Once one gets past Yoho National Park and enters Banff National Park crossing into Alberta, stopping at Lake Louise area is a must as one can visit Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, or even perhaps Lake Louise Ski Resort as I did overlooking spectacular views of the Canadian Rockies...

September 2011 - overlooking Lake Louise :
[image]



Just outside of Banff is the gondola lift to take one on top of Sulphur Mountain with more spectacular views :

September 2012 - Sulphur Mountain upper terminal :
[image]



Not to be missed is the world famous Icefields Parkway where there are a lot of places to stop and see along the way between Lake Louise and Jasper like Bow Lake, Peyto Lake, Mistaya Canyon, Saskatchewan Crossing Trail, Columbia Glacier, Sunwapta Falls, Athabaska Falls off the top of my head there - as the roadway itself is truly scenic period !

September 2011 - Icefields Parkway - Banff National Park :
[image]



Spent the night here in cold windy dense fog drizzling weather and woke up to clearer skies with this view.....

September 2013 - Columbia Glacier at Jasper National Park :
[image]



Nearby Whistlers Campground and the town of Jasper is the Jasper Aerial Tramway where you can see another amazing view of the Canadian Rockies.....

September 2011 - Whistlers Mountain upper terminal :
[image]


If the OP does take on the Canadian Rockies at the four national park region, if ahead or par on the designated 16 day trip, maybe take an additional side trip on Maligne Lake Road in Jasper National Park as I gotten a meet and greet with this bighorn sheep that came right up to me.....

September 2011 - Maligne Lake Road - bighorn sheep :
[image]



I would not try to drive to Haines Alaska upon a 16 day window from NorCal as although Haines is certainly worth visiting as I have done so in June 1994 and September 2015, it ain't got nothing in comparison to the Canadian Rockies that are far more strategically closer for the OP's location and has certainly much more to offer, as well as every one else mentioning there can be delays in road conditions or weather etc. to slow down a traveler on a tight schedule in the far north roads of North America which us Alaskans, Yukoners, Northwest Territoriers, Northern BC'ers can easily attest to year round.



Another option worth suggesting if the OP does visit the Canadian Rockies is that when starting to head back south - drive the Icefields Parkway again back to Lake Louise and head to Castle Mountain which is also the junction of BC 93 which takes you thru Kootenay National Park as you will make easy driving time on that stretch of road as well as BC 93 and 95 at Radium Hot Springs on south....and will still cover good ground and time on BC 3 along Cranbrook and Yawk and cross back into the US at Eastport Idaho on US 95 and connect to other various routes heading west back towards the I-5 corridor...

Or take other routes outside of Jasper in order to head back south as Trans Canada Highway 16 from Jasper to Prince George is a great stretch of roadway too and you can make good time on it.....if one does go this route headed west, don't forget to look behind you upon a few miles into BC if it's a clear day to see Mount Robson....

September 2011 - Mount Robson :
[image]



As SideHillSoup posted, fair warning about the Canadian Rockies in the Banff and Jasper areas about being a real busy place by visitors is no lie....many campgrounds are full as many RV'ers will resort to the overflow designated areas...

If in or near the Banff area, one might see if they can stay at nearby Canmore if there are no campsites available and it would be less of a hassle to stay at Canmore during the peak summer season anyway...I always enjoy stopping in Canmore for that matter.

I only visited the area three consecutive years in September 2011, 2012, and 2013 because of my line of work I cannot have mid summer off but it does work out as not being so busy in the Canadian Rocky region of Canada (but actually is still busy enough during that time of year too which crowds do not bother me most of the time except in the Kenai Peninsula area where I have never taken my camper at to this day although I been there two dozen times)....

Hope this post gives the OP a better idea on planning as there are still many options of routes to tweak with here and there on their desired decision on where they tend to travel if they take on the area for their 16 day vacation getaway......I can see 6 to 7 days in the Canadian Rockies easily with little to no constraint while enjoying the travel in between on a 16 day vacation from NoCal.


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PghBob

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Posted: 06/11/18 05:50pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Only my opinion, but I think with only 16 days for your trip, you will need to put on a lot of quick miles and maybe not SEE the beauty you came for. Consider a smaller trip to Banff and Jasper NPs in Canada, then home. Or consider flying to Anchorage or Fairbanks and renting an RV so you can spend your time in Alaska, not getting there. Enjoy the trip no matter how it works out.

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