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Old 07-03-2009, 02:09 PM   #1
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Rest Areas In Canada

I'm in the middle of planning a trip to Alberta and BC. for early Sept. I have a Rand McNally road atlas that has a few pages dedicated to Canada. I've noticed that on the US maps of the states it shows the rest areas along the main roads but there are no rest stops marked on the Canadian main roads.
Are there rest areas in Canada?

What is the best source for that information.
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Old 07-03-2009, 05:52 PM   #2
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I spent 6 weeks traveling and camping in Western Alberta and through BC, then lived in Vancouver, BC for 3 years with side trips. The first thing you will notice in CA is that many of the main roads are two lane roads or highways. Traveling in Western Canada is EXTREMELY refreshing after being an experienced US road tripper. I quickly realized in Alberta and especially in BC, that there are Provincial campgrounds EVERYWHERE! look for the little tent icons in any Atlas, you'll notice a lot more of them North of the border. After a day or two traveling in CA, I realized there was no need to plan that evenings stop, that there would always be a Provincial Campground around the next corner and most often in a beautiful spot with no croud and very affordable (14-20$CDN/per night) This was 5 years ago. Anyway, regarding rest areas, Canada does not have an "Interprovincial" system like the US Interstate system (with the exception of maybe CA1, which I would recommend you avoid, unless necessary) The views and scenery that you most likely want to see will mostly not be on CA1. So rest areas, not so much, but plenty of places to pull over that have bathrooms, beautiful views and friendly people. Have Fun!
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Old 07-04-2009, 11:42 AM   #3
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Thanks for that info. I'm looking forward to this trip very much. I have changed the Canada trip(on paper) several times in the last month or so. Just can't seem to make up my mind what area I wanted to visit. Have finally narrowed it down to the western part of the country. maybe next year I'll try the eastern sections. I'll take your advice and avoid the CA1. I want get away from major hwy's and cities, I guess, like most of us who enjoy camping feel the same way.
One more question: Is it better to get money exchanged once I get up there, or try to do it down here before heading out?
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Old 07-04-2009, 11:46 AM   #4
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I don't think it makes much of a difference where you exchange currency. However, try to use a credit card as much as possible. You will get the best exchange rate from your credit card co..

John
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Old 07-04-2009, 12:57 PM   #5
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We also like to use a mix of credit/debit cards when travelling out-of-country - mainly for the convenience - and yes - you will get the best exchange rate - but be aware that your credit card company may apply a hidden foreign exchange transaction fee every time you use it - the fee just gets rolled in with the exchange and you never see it. Check with your credit card company to see if this is their practice and what the fee structure is.


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Old 07-04-2009, 06:12 PM   #6
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I highly recommend going up to Jasper NP in Western Alberta and heading West from there, and a guided hike on the Athabasca Glacier is a must! Skip Banff and camp in Jasper NP for a few days then head West through the Kootenay's and ultimately end up at Green Point Campground, Pacific Rim NP on Vancouver Island. I am an advocate for "just winging it"... but info for reservations can be helpful:
BC Parks - Provincial Park Campgrounds: Vancouver Island & British Columbia
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Old 07-04-2009, 10:40 PM   #7
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... be aware that your credit card company may apply a hidden foreign exchange transaction fee every time you use it - the fee just gets rolled in with the exchange and you never see it.
Much as their Viking ads are a bit weird, I've heard Capital One is one of the few credit cards that doesn't impose this surcharge (read their fine print anyway). I've got a USBank REI card, a USAA card, and a credit union cash card -- they all levy the annoying foreign exchange unearned profit. I mean surcharge.
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Old 07-05-2009, 09:54 PM   #8
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Some of you touched on some areas that I had nerver considered till now. I will definately check with my credit card companies to see what's up on the fees.

Mr. Decent, I find your comments about where to visit and travel interesting and will take a look at visiting those areas. I had been thinking about Vancover Island all along and it is part of the route.


I'm just planning a "loose" trip. I don't have anything in stone and probably won't. But I am open to any suggestions anyone wants to share. I want to get as much out of the trip as possible.
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Old 07-05-2009, 10:28 PM   #9
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While the West has lots to see and plenty of astounding places to visit, the only comment I would offer is that the East does too, and they are far more "condensed" in terms of travel time between them.

Look at the Maritime Provinces on your map and do some time estimates to see them (they are PEI, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland) and compare them to the West.

You may be surprised. Then again, you're from TX, so maybe not
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Old 07-05-2009, 11:12 PM   #10
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I've gotten used to the travel time out west—it's longer in miles, but sometimes a lot shorter in time. Drive up through the NE on I-95 and see how far you can go. If you want to experience distance travel go through northern Canada and Alaska. Along the Alaska Hwy. and other roads in the north country there are not "rest stops", but hundreds of turn outs where you can stop, use your bathroom, lunch and sleep. The Milepost tells where everyone of them is and which ones have dumpsters.

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Old 07-05-2009, 11:27 PM   #11
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...head West through the Kootenay's and ultimately end up at Green Point Campground, Pacific Rim NP on Vancouver Island.
Green Point is now very busy and reservations are recommended (if you can get one). Failing that, there are some decent private camp grounds to the South in Ucluelet.
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Old 07-05-2009, 11:48 PM   #12
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The #1 is the main hwy out west with the#16 yellow head Route Spectacular if you have the time! You must see Dinosor valley and Then Banff Lake Louise and the ice fields on way west!!
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Old 07-06-2009, 01:05 AM   #13
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I second Jhenry's idea! A great circle tour would be to see the dino's in Alberta, then on to Banff , Lake Louise (just a few miles up the road), then take the Icefields Parkway from LL north to Jasper. The Parkway goes through National Parks all the way, and there are no transport trucks--just loads of buses with Asian tourists. The great thing about these places is that they were discovered and built by the railroads in the late 1800s, so there is a lot of history. From Jasper, you could head down Hwy 5 to Kamloops, and then detour east for an hour and stay at Shuswap Lake Provincial Campground for a day or two (beautiful). Then back through Kamloops and get on the Coquihalla Hwy (freeway) for a quick jaunt to Vancouver and the ferry to V. Island, or take the much-more-scenic Hwy 1 (Trans-Canada Hwy) through the Fraser Canyon and Hell's Gate. Another way south from Jasper is to head west on Hwy 16 to Prince George (my town), and then south on Hwy 97 and do an overnight at Barkerville Historic Town (Cariboo Gold Rush history in that area--prospectors came up from California in the 1860s and made Barkerville a big city at that time. They have saloon shows, etc. there now in the summer).

Another way into BC from Alberta would be the southerly route that goes by Waterton/Glacier Nat'l Parks (straddling the US/Can border). That takes you in the Kootenay region of the province, and major attractions there are Fort Steele Historic Site (in reference to Supt Sam Steele of the Northwest Mounted Police c1880s), and the city of Nelson (well-preserved and very artsy).

Anyway, there is lots to see and do (and lots of rest stops, prov. parks, and private campgrounds). A good map publisher for Canada is "MapArt"--just Google them, and you can order online. Good luck and enjoy the trip! If you need more specific info, let me know....

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Old 07-06-2009, 05:33 AM   #14
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The "dinos" are at the Royal Terrell Museum near Drumheller, roughly east of Calgary. It's a very good dinosaur exhibit, as good as it gets.

Once you get to Pr. George, you can continue west to the coast where the highway ends at Pr. Rupert. Car ferries go north or south from there. Halfway (well more than half) across BC on the Yellowhead Hwy., you can take the Cassiar Hwy. north to Yukon Terr. where it meets the Alaska Hwy.

Of course, you can go north in Alberta too—all the way to the NWT and eventually Yellowknife. We've only been through part of Saskatchewan, but enjoyed a few days in Moose Jaw.

Bluto, the provinces are really big and it takes a long time to go places. There's a lot to see, so much, we have gone to Canada about 5 times in the past 8 years. We get travel books on various areas and read them to figure out what we want to see and also check AAA Tour books. The AAA/CAA maps can also be helpful. We like Frommer's travel books, but there are other good ones too. Sometimes we discover places we never heard of to go see and think they're great, like the Royal Terrell Museum. You can't see it all, so you'll have to come back.

The TransCanada Hwy (1 in many, but not all places) sometimes is the only way to get there. It's often a 2 lane highway and even when 4 lanes, is not like a US interstate in that it isn't usually limited access. People don't drive as fast as Texans (or us) and there aren't nearly as many of them—little over 30 million and most of them live in Ontario and Quebec. Some of the Canadian taxes can be recovered—it's what we call a sales tax. It's kind of complicated, but it can amount to a day's expenses when you get it.

The first trip to Canada is exploring for where you want to go on another trip. We spent a week on Vancouver Is., for example.

Gene
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