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Old 12-25-2010, 09:49 AM   #1
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Advice on camping the Canadian Rockies

We're planning our second major trip for next summer and are leaning toward the Canadian Rockies, primarily focusing on Banff and Jasper. We'll have only 2 weeks for this but always try to pack as much in as we can. Any input or advice would be greatly appreciated. We like to dry camp or boondock and would only be looking for a location with power for 1 night during the middle of our trip to recharge. Having a campfire is a must for us. Other then passports what should be concerned with crossing the boarder? Any laws that would be a concern? Hot springs, hikes, special place to eat out for one night, ect.?
We're open minded at this point to other areas in Canada as well.

Thanks: Charlie

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Old 12-25-2010, 10:05 AM   #2
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Leave the guns at home, if you normally carry them. There are usually restrictions on plants, fruits and vegetables but it might be best to contact Canada Customs before you leave to get the latest list of restricted goods. If you have pets, bring along their vaccination certificates showing them to be up to date.

Banff is very busy and touristy, but there are some good camping opportunities a stones throw away in Kananaskis. The area is busy during the summer, as it is close to the City (Calgary), so expect the weekends in particular to be swarming with people.

Have fun!

Cameron & the Labradors, Kai & Samm
North Vancouver, BC
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Old 12-25-2010, 11:39 AM   #3
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Hi Charlie! Its 0 degrees today in calgary, so one of our chinooks will warm us up for a few days. Any time late may to early august is a great time to camp around calgary and jasper! Around first week in july is our world famous stampede if you like pancakes and sausages they are free breakfasts all over the city!! Extremely busy here but well worth a visit to the shows and rodeo!! Many camp grounds and sites are available, Here are a few places to try.. camping alberta....camping bc as well as and goingcamping bc, If you would like brochures or any maps of area just send me your address and I'll send them to you.It is very busy this time of year but if you plan ahead you will have no problem finding spots in either private or our provincial camp grounds! Thanks Jonathan
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Old 12-26-2010, 04:53 PM   #4
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we stayed in a private campgroud near radium hot springs that was nice and in a park campground at Jasper. In the park fire permits are $9.00 a night and that includes wood. I do not think the private campground we picked allowed fires at each site. Canadian rockies is at the top of my list for a place to go. lots of wildlife in the campgrounds at Jasper. The Canadian part of Glaicer is knock out goregous also. Canadian camping seems to cost a bit more than the states. But well worth it. We were traveling through with limited time coming and going and did not eat out much. A pizza was about it. And some lunches at the attractions when we were away from the trailer. It was 34 and raining a couple of days (July). If you have not been on a Glaicer, the Brewster ride is illuminating. Passports, pet vaccinations, no guns or mace or pepper spray. No firewood. Be polite. Even then we had the camper searched once and checked for gypsy moth once. I think a week or a little less is about right for icefields parkway and Jasper. Unless you hike. Lot of driving after unhooking to cover the sights.
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Old 12-26-2010, 06:01 PM   #5
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If you leave the states north of Babb, Montana, when you get to Pincher Creek go west to Crows Nest pass and then north on Hwy40 thru Kananaskis Country. ( A day in Glacier and a stop by Prince of Wales on the Canadian side are a must). It is one of the most beautiful drives I have ever taken. It will take you to the main highway from Calgary to Banff, just east of Canmore. There are several nice campground in Canmore.
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Old 12-26-2010, 06:18 PM   #6
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You can check for campgrounds in Jasper and Banff NP's on their website. We stayed at Lake Louise CG and it was nice and not too busy in late May. It snowed on the way to Calgary and sleeted while we were there. We stayed at a barely adequate private CG on the west side of Calgary before we went to Lake Louise.

It difficult to escape Calgary traffic and signing is not good to help you find a way around it to get to the road west to Banff. We drove back through Calgary during the Calgary Stampede and it took well over an hour to get through. Actually Calgary is a nice city unless you are there during sleet storms or rush hour.

We think Jasper is a nicer town than Banff. There's some RV parking in downtown Jasper. The Icefields Pkwy is well worth seeing. Personally, I wasn't impressed either time I was at Lake Louise—maybe I've seen too many mountain lakes in the wilderness. In late May, Lake Louise was mostly ice covered. There are lots of national parks in BC to the west and Waterton/Glacier NP's on the border.

Getting into Canada is usually pretty hassle free and the border guards are generally friendly. Returning to the US is often a pain. The border guards are often unfriendly and last summer were on a fruit binge—they feel fruit in Canada is deadly and will take stuff that isn't marked US. If you go to Canada, avoid crossing the border more than once because it can be a pain.

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Old 12-26-2010, 07:24 PM   #7
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August isn't usually as busy as July in the Canadian Rockies, and the weather can be just as nice. Check the Banff/Jasper (Parks Canada) websites to see about reserving a serviced campsite if you know when you will be passing through. The Cave and Basin hotsprings are near the Banff townsite and were the primary reason for the Park development in the area.

Glacier National Park west of Golden, B.C. is stunning and there are some beautiful campgrounds there too (especially Illecillewaet campground) - although I can't remember if they are R.V. sized for a 25'. A hiking trail west of the pass (something "cedars") is amazing as well.

Radium Hotsprings in Kootenay National Park (a couple of hours south of Lake Louise)are worth a soak and there are some nice Park campgrounds and private campgrounds around there too.
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Old 12-26-2010, 07:55 PM   #8
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Gene!! Don't know when you were in calgary or passed thru it last but our new by pass stoney trail is finished this summer as well as the#1 or 16th avenue is now 6 lanes wide so going thru east to west is no trouble at all! If you come up the #2 or from great falls south to north the deerfoot trail as it passes thru calgary or this also is now been finished and this hyway at breakfast or 4 to 5:30 pm will be busy! As to the signage it is very readable and easy to follow! All the upgrades are mostly finished its much easier to navigate!! Jonathan
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Old 12-26-2010, 08:00 PM   #9
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Old 12-27-2010, 10:03 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by jhenry View Post
As to the signage it is very readable and easy to follow! All the upgrades are mostly finished its much easier to navigate!! Jonathan
Glad to hear that. I think that once we missed the signs, the next time we will know what they mean. There are, I think, fewer signs long before you get to the place you have to turn than we are used to in the US. Signing is never easy for the tourist who has never seen them before. We were trying to find the highway you spoke of, but couldn't. We ended up traveling west just north of downtown on the TCH and it was during rush hour with sleet added. In 2006 we stayed in Calgary at the Best Western, had a good Chinese dinner and walked downtown in the morning. I saw on the maps, Calgary has a lot of parks too. In some ways it reminds me of Denver, except a bit further from the Rockies.

Someday we'll have to actually stop at Edmonton, a city we always pass by either going to or from Alaska and northwest Canada. Both cities have had major expressways constructed in the past 10 years. We have always run into some expressway under construction or reconstruction. In 2002 we got lost in Calgary twice, but most of the highways seem to be finished now, but in Edmonton work continued in 2010.

Another place to see in Alberta is the Royal Tyrell Museum (hope I got that right) in Drumheller, less than a hundred miles east of the highway between Calgary and Edmonton. It's one of best dinosaur museums and worth a visit. It's almost a desert there on the western edge of the prairie. There are some of the same red rocks we see in the southwest and it seems out of place in Canada.

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Old 12-27-2010, 10:22 AM   #11
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The city has a lot of one-way streets and NW-SE names on the same street name, and then is divided by a river. If it is an overcast day, it is hard to get you bearings without a good GPS. A little research before motoring around always helps.

When in a strange city and off the main route, I like to print off my route and destination, and clip it to the dash, and then set the GPS for close up instructions.

A few years ago, before I had GPS, I got lost in a northern NY State city and stopped to buy a compass for the dash. It was a cheap one and pointed N all the time as it was to close to the metal steering column. Needless to say, it did not help.
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Old 01-06-2011, 03:33 PM   #12
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Have crossed the border many times over the years. Only once in recent times towing our airstream and it was an easy and uneventful crossing. Don't bring any firewood with you. That's a big NO NO in recent years due to infected wood. I had some scrap furniture lumber to burn and that was OK but no wild wood. They did not inspect our trailer but there are some food no no's but they've been mentioned. Enjoy your trip. Border crossing's are a big grey area. You can't predict what's going to happen but just go with the flow.
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Old 01-06-2011, 06:36 PM   #13
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I liked the Canadian Rockies, gas was $1 and the speed limit was 100.
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Old 01-06-2011, 09:09 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by jbond View Post
I liked the Canadian Rockies, gas was $1 and the speed limit was 100.
I love it! That will make me feel so much better when I fill up my tank this weekend!

Lisa and Paul

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