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Old 03-05-2006, 09:44 PM   #1
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Question Canada's Crowsnest Hwy. -- Route 3???

I'm in the process of planning a trip across Southern Canada. For the most part, I'm planning to travel the Canadian Route 1. On the map, the Crowsnet Highway runs parallel and to the south of Route 1 from Medicine Hat to Laidlaw. It looks to be more senic but I would like the advice from someone who has driven this less traveled road.

I should add, I'm pulling a 25' Sovereign witn a Ford F150. What are the Mountains like? Should I stay with the interstate?

Penny
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Old 03-06-2006, 08:07 AM   #2
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welcome to the forum penny,
you will miss out on banff/lake louise, but route 3 is well worth it.
norby
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Old 03-06-2006, 08:31 AM   #3
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Cool

I believe the extra distance to go through the Banff and Lake Louise area on your way is more than worth the time and fuel. . . even on up to Jasper! This is a beautiful region, and fantastic mountain vistas that you won't forget. The roads through the mountains are all really good roads, and you shouldn't have any real trouble. Take your time if you can, and just enjoy the time there, because it is spectacular!
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Old 03-06-2006, 11:03 AM   #4
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The Trans-Canada (Hwy 1) is a beautiful trip and Banff, Lake Louise, and even up into Jasper if you wish to take that side trip, are very beautiful. You also pass through Calgary which can be a bit of a hassle but neat all the same. The rolling foothills as you come out of Banff and head towards Calgary is very scenic, and then on to Medicine Hat on the prairies. If you do that you may want to zip up to Drumheller where there is a world class dinosaur museum. It's spectacular if you are into that sort of thing and it is quite unique. Hwy 1 is very scenic, very mountainous for the BC part, and good passing lanes to let the normal traffic get past you, lots of truck stops and good camping options all the way.

The Crowsnest Pass (Hwy 3) is also beautiful, a slower road, lot's of big hills to climb on both but although the mileage is less on Hwy 3 due to the fact that it's got a ton of small towns and can be two lanes for long stretches on the way it tends to slow the pace down. More "local" type of traffic, lot's of camping options again, also scenic, but not nearly the tourist stuff like Banff etc. You come out of the mountains at Blairmore and head east to Medicine Hat and Lethbridge and then on to Medicine Hat. If you do this route there's the Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump before you get to Medicine Hat where the hunters of old would run buffalo off a cliff to feed the family for many months. There's an intepretive centre there.

We make the trip to Southern Alberta several times a year and rotate between the two roads. For sheer scenery and a still reasonably quick trip I take Hwy 1. For the times when we are less in a hurry and are not towing our trailer we take Hwy 3. Not that Hwy 3 is harder to tow a trailer on as there are less passing lanes, a lot more curves and vehicles going slower than even I am with my car/trailer rig. When we a taking someone from elsewhere on the trip we take the Hwy 1 option for it's spectacular mountains, passes, nice places to pull out and take pictures, etc.

So, you will have beautiful scenery either way but if you have not been to Banff/Lake Louise then it is well worth the visit even with all the other tourists, and time wise you will find for actual driving time that it can be four or five hours total difference over a 1,200KM (800 mile) trip so not that big a difference.

If you have more questions you are welcome to email me directly at safari57@telus.net and I'll get the detail for you. I live in Vancouver, BC but all my family live in Lethbridge, AB so we travel the roads a LOT.

Have fun.
Barry
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Old 03-07-2006, 08:33 PM   #5
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I forgot to say that I was once camping at Kinking horse.

I forgot to say that we took a vacation tent camping in the Canadian Rockies years ago. I remember a mud slide at the Kicking Horse Campground that stopped Route 1 for three days. We only spent a week there and I'm sure there would be plenty more to see. What I need to know, does Route 3 require more time that Route 1?
Which is more senic?

Thanks for your input,
Penny
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Old 03-07-2006, 09:28 PM   #6
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Penny -

I did a bit of both Hwy 3 and Hwy 1 this past summer when my wife and I ventured into south central BC from MT.

The scenery was wonderful, but did anyone mention the hills on both roads. Hills kills! Those aren't hills. Those are highways to heaven, but I'd have sworn at the time they were leading straight to Hell!

My F250 had all it could handle with many of them - I sail over all the Rockies in the US with no problem, but those in Canada are in a class by themselves.

I'm sure you aren't towing the weight that I am with my 30' Classic, but you haven't got nearly the brakes that an F250 does either.

I humbly suggest that you carefully evaluate just what you might be getting into, regardless of the route, because both have beeeeg hills to climb, before you go.

John
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Old 03-07-2006, 10:56 PM   #7
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Penny,
Last June we came north out of north central Washington and went west on Hiway 3. A very nice drive with some long up and down grades. We have a 1995 25 foot Soverign and a 2002 F150, 5.4L, automatic. We were down to second gear and 35 MPH on some of the up grades and second gear on some of the long down grades to keep the brakes from getting too hot. A good trip and would do it again.
Phil
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Old 03-08-2006, 01:14 PM   #8
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Hwy 1 would be more scenic, but fewer towns. Hwy 3, due to the towns and fewer passing lanes, would be a bit slower, but by a few hours, not days.

Yes, there are some pretty significant climbs and descents. Check your trailer brakes and drive within the speedlimits and you do just fine. We use a 1957 Pontiac stationwagon (with 1977 Firebird brakes so nothing fancy) to tow all over BC and no problems. Both roads have the hills, both have nice scenery, but of the two Hwy 1 has more spectacular mountain views.

Depending on the time of year you travel both roads can experience mud and rock slides. By June that's pretty much not a problem excepting an occasional surprise rain (or even snow) storm but they are very infrequent.

Barry
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Old 03-08-2006, 02:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Golden Girl
I'm in the process of planning a trip across Southern Canada. For the most part, I'm planning to travel the Canadian Route 1. On the map, the Crowsnet Highway runs parallel and to the south of Route 1 from Medicine Hat to Laidlaw. It looks to be more senic but I would like the advice from someone who has driven this less traveled road.

I should add, I'm pulling a 25' Sovereign witn a Ford F150. What are the Mountains like? Should I stay with the interstate?

Penny
no interstates up here

Highway 1 for the most part is a twinned highway with plenty of room for trailers. Banff and Lake Louise is beautiful and don't forget about Canmore. The road is really beautiful especially deeper into BC around Revelstoke.

Highway 3 through the crowsnest is a completely different drive. It's a divided single lane with some double lane stuff. It goes through some really interesting places including the Frank Slide area and probably my favorite places around here which is Fernie. The route itself is more windey but not more scenic than highway 1 but moderately steeper climbs and descents. Highway 3 can be significantly warmer in the Summertime as it is quite a bit further south.

Speed limits on both highways are the same at 90km/h max.

Both highways see alot of RV traffic and you shouldn't have any problems on either with your rig in terms of space.

Let me know if you need some specific recommendations for places along that way, "it's my neck of the woods".

Cheers,
Brad.
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Old 03-23-2006, 10:04 AM   #10
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Smile Thanks for all of your advice.

All,

Thanks for all of your advice. After reviewing all of your info, I believe we will travel the Trans Canada Hwy 1 from Medicine Hat to Salmon Arm. Then head south on 97. Turn West on 20 to the North Casacades NP. I'm really looking forward to this trip. Any suggestions on campsites?

Golden Girl,
Penny
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