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Old 05-20-2016, 11:19 AM   #1
PKI
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British Columbia

Thinking about a trip through British Columbia and the Jasper/Banff Parks. Assume the trip would need to be later than the first of June to get more sun and less cold.

Looking at heading up 99 from Vancouver. Would pick up 97 to Prince George. Grab 16 over to Jasper. Take the Icefield Highway down to Banff. Cross back into BC on 93. Work 95 back up to 1 and over to Sicamous and then take 97 South into Washington.

When I searched on Banff, I saw that some of the passes were reported to be more than the 5-6% grades that we see on US interstates. So any info is appreciated. Really like the Colorado site that gives grades for all their passes. Someday, I'll smarten up and order the Mountain Directory.

Any recommendations on RV parks with at least water and electric services that you would not miss. Best camping in the Jasper/Banff parks.

We prefer to travel without reservations. Is that possible? When does it get busy? When does it transition to wall to wall people?

Any places you would avoid due to traffic, industrial environment, 15-20% grades, temperatures below 25 degrees for multiple days in a row, visitor pressure, or lack of camp grounds?

Appreciate your input. Travel safe. Pat
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Old 05-20-2016, 11:36 AM   #2
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If you go to Jasper first don't be in a hurry to leave for Banff. Try for a reservation in Jasper National Park. The word is which ever area you go to first will be your favorite so stay as long as you can in Jasper.

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Old 05-20-2016, 12:05 PM   #3
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It is a nice drive up 99 from Vancouver, through Whistler and across to the 97.

Instead of heading north on the 97 to Prince George, you may want to consider Hwy 1 to Kamloops, and then up Hwy 5 through Blue River to the Yellowhead (Hwy 16). That misses Barkerville, in case that was on your destination list.

Your route will cover a lot of different regions of BC, and all of the roads you list are reasonable IMO. I don't think you need to worry about grades, just realize that these are not interstates but rather highways.


We like Jasper and Banff, but they are different. Jasper is more back to nature, Banff is more developed. Both are very popular. Both have great scenery. In Banff we always stay in Tunnel Mountain. We like Redstreak at Radium, too.

I would consider making some reservations in the more popular locations, and keep it flexible between those spots.

Jeff
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Old 05-20-2016, 12:09 PM   #4
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You will have some pulls going up onto the plateau on #99 but the rest of the route will be easy. Take your time and enjoy the country, as it is true paradise!

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Old 05-20-2016, 01:08 PM   #5
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Thank you Howie, Jeff and Massy.

Jeff, is your suggested route more scenic than 97?

Howie, we may take a shine to Jasper, but we are also looking forward to the Icefield highway.

Massy, we hope you are correct and look forward to beautiful sights.

Travel safe. Pat
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Old 05-20-2016, 03:38 PM   #6
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Pat, the two routes have different scenery.

IMO, the biggest reason to go through Prince George is to visit Barkerville, an old gold rush town. It isn't on the highway though, it is a side trip.

If you go from 99 via Prince George, you add on around 300 km, since you have to come back south from Prince George to Tete Jaune Cache. The country that way is logging and ranching. There are mills in many of the towns. Lumber mills are fine with us, pulp mills not so much.

On Hwy 5 through Blue River, you can see more mountains, and it is an easy drive. We think of it as a transit section, we stay at either end of the route. I would take Hwy 5.

Don't skimp on Jasper. We try to stay at Whistler's Campground. And take your time down the Icefields Parkway, check out Athabasca Falls and Sunwapta Falls. In Banff we enjoy the Sulphur Mountain Gondola.

When you turn south at Sicamous, you will eventually wind down through the Okanagan Valley, our wine country. Lots of wineries to visit. We enjoy the south end of the valley near Oliver and Osoyoos, a little quieter.

You will be covering a lot of ground. Lots to see.

Jeff
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Old 05-20-2016, 03:55 PM   #7
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Pat, you asked about grades. While these are mountain passes, I don't think of the grades as extreme. I suppose it depends on what you are used to.

The Coquihalla (which you aren't planning on taking) is what I think of as our steepest longest grade. It gets to 8.5% for about 5 km or so.

Representative routes around your
Banff routes are these, peaking at 6% and 8%

http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/dri...de-profile.pdf

http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/dri...de-profile.pdf

There are some steeper sections on the Duffey Lake Road (Hwy 99 from Pemberton through to Hwy 97), up to 15% for shorter sections. It isn't a high speed road, so it is just a stretch to drive defensively and enjoy the scenery.

Our government web site for route planning is Drive BC.

http://www.drivebc.ca/

Cheers

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Old 05-20-2016, 04:29 PM   #8
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I would suggest some reservations for the national parks, as the campsites can fill up. Early June might be a bit better than late June, as the public schools don't get out till later in June. For sure visit the Columbia Ice Field, and if you like hot springs there are several along your route. As with the popular US parks, the "front country" can get pretty crowded, with busloads of tourists all unloading at Lake Louise. So getting an early start to your morning's activities is helpful.

There are several threads on this forum for American visitors to Canada, which you might find helpful. The exchange rate is much in your favour.

Banff and Jasper are actually in Alberta. The scenery to reach them is beautiful all across BC, whichever route you take. Bigger rigs than yours manage the roads through the parks with no trouble.

The commuter traffic around Vancouver can be wicked, so any route you take that steers clear of the urban outskirts is a good idea, unless you happen to want to visit the city.

If you're a wine drinker, we'd ditto touring wineries in the Okanagon Valley of BC.
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Old 05-20-2016, 04:40 PM   #9
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Jeff - thanks for the information. We don't mind a grade, but a few km is different than 50 km, and 10% is one thing 15-20% is quite another. You travel those roads if you have to, but there really needs to be a good reason.

Sounds like 97 will get a pass. Thanks for the advice. I have a unique ability to visit industrial areas when arriving in a new city. The plan to travel HW97 sounds like an excellent example of that ability.

Now, wine country .... that's getting close to the border. Got to check how many bottles the US allows before duty calls. That Canadian deal is two bottles a person, right?

Jasper by all accounts is fantastic and worth our time. We are just struggling with where to stay. The FHU camps seem to be well outside the park. A night off the grid will likely work if it's not too cold. What we don't want to do is rush on down the road and miss out on the Jasper Banff experience just to get to an electrical connection.

Really appreciate the help and suggestions. Pat
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Old 05-20-2016, 04:51 PM   #10
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L&J - that info helps a lot. We suffered in Yellowstone from all the day trip visitors. Actually wish they had been on buses. We are front country people, so your point is appreciated as it is dead on.

Yes, understand that Banff and Jasper are in Alberta. My ignorance was a bit obstructionist in the beginning of the planning phase. About have it under control now.

Great suggestions. You travel safe. Pat
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Old 05-20-2016, 05:31 PM   #11
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Here is a link with the number of serviced and unserviced sites in Jasper Park.

http://www.pc.gc.ca/qrt/Jasper-EN.pdf

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Old 05-20-2016, 05:48 PM   #12
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Could you please explain the charges for the Nat. Parks in Canada. It is my understanding, from reading their info that in addition to the nightly camping fee they will also charge the daily entrance charges. Is that daily charge shown per person or per vehicle ???? If I decide to purchase the annual parks pass is that pass also a per person pass or one pass per vehicle ??? Still undecided so thanx in advance for helping to clear this up for me.
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Old 05-20-2016, 05:56 PM   #13
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Don't worry. It's beautiful. Enjoy it.

I think the Canadian Rockies are the most beautiful of all.
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Old 05-20-2016, 08:53 PM   #14
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This article explains the fees better than I can. It isn't from this year but the concepts are valid.

http://banffandbeyond.com/understand...da-entry-fees/
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