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Old 01-17-2023, 04:30 PM   #1
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2023 Interstate 19
Copperopolis , California
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Planning road trip from Sacramento to Banff/Jasper and back.


Setting aside two weeks end of May for this adventure. Plan to do a combo of Harvest Host/Boondockers, KOA's, and Hotels. Looking for wisdom from anyone who has taken this journey?

All the best,

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Old 01-17-2023, 08:08 PM   #2
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I have taken this trip a few times from Sac to Calgary and east. Avoided Jasper, either no access due to fire, or too crowded.
From Rio Vista, I took 8 days to get to the Canada border, but was taking it easy with ~200 miles a day. For you to do this round trip in two weeks is...ambitious.
Stay in any of the casino parking lots in Reno.
Jackpot, Nevada has a Harvest Host golf course - nice quiet overnight. Park where they tell you to avoid course sprinkler system.
Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot, Idaho is another HH - nice parking lot, plenty of room and an interesting museum.
Sportsman's Lodging and RV Park in Melrose, Montana is a prime fly-fishing spot and nice camp.
From there, provision in Great Falls, Montana Walmart, then overnight in Fort Benton, Montana county park. Gravel road, inexpensive, right on the Missouri. Lot of Lewis and Clark history there, worth walking through town.
Lewis and Clark camp in Shelby, Montana is near the border at Coutts. Check their website and abide by their regs.
Banff/Jasper is booking up now. Good luck.

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Old 01-18-2023, 05:21 AM   #3
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We did banff at the end of may a few years ago. Lake Louise still had a thin layer of ice over the majority of the lake and the road to lake moraine was just opening when we arrived but it looks like itís public transit only now due to traffic with personal vehicles. It was beautiful. Some hiking trails were closed due to ice at upper elevations but mostly accessible and the town of banff was cute as well.

This was May 22. Itís safe to say July and August are their peak months. Itís the number one national park in Canada so it will be busy.

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If youíre able to cut your trip to just banff, Iíd recommend that. Jasper is a full day drive (I think it was 6 hours when towing) but again a very pretty drive. You would just be able to do more but taking an extra day or two to get to and from banff or just spending a few extra days in banff.

In both national parks we were able to snag first come first serve sites BUT it was very busy so get there early if they still offer them. Also be prepared for extended light already. I feel like it was about 10pm or 11pm for sunset?

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Old 01-18-2023, 07:44 AM   #4
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Also living in Sacramento we generally prefer to take Route 97 north from Weed off I-5. This road is mostly flat and straight, with much less traffic than I-5. If you can make it to Ridgecrest just north of Bend in there a decently priced and new RV park at the nearby fairgrounds. Otherwise I'd stay in Bend if you'd like to explore that quirky town. An option for free camping if you'd rather not drive as far is the casino parking lot at Chiloquin.

I also like taking Route 395 north, but its slower and services along that way are pretty sparse. A few sections there's signs sayin no gas or service next 60 or 90 miles.

I'd probably keep on route 97 into Canada then eventually pick up the trans Canada highway Route 1) east into Banff.
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Old 01-18-2023, 09:53 AM   #5
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We also prefer 97 over interstates.

97 crosses into Canada near Osoyoos, and then continues up the Okanagan Valley to Vernon. Nice drive. If headed east to Banff, take 97A from Vernon to Sicamous to join Hwy 1, the TransCanada.
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Old 01-18-2023, 10:44 AM   #6
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BTW. I meant to write Redmond north of Bend when I wrote Ridgecrest.
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Old 01-18-2023, 12:47 PM   #7
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80 to winniemucca. To boise, Lewiston Spokane and north quick way. Lots of livin off the grid
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Old 01-18-2023, 01:13 PM   #8
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Two weeks there and back? Plan for a month at least.
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Old 01-19-2023, 03:14 PM   #9
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If going up 97 Kelowna is a very busy city (fastest growing city in Canada) - but has a lovely small campsite in the orchard area just outside (orchard Hill RV park) and close to the Myra Canyon Trestles.

Next Revelstoke Lamplighter campground is an ideal location for visiting Mt Revelstoke National park and Glacier National park and Rogers pass summit. In May there may still be snow on the trails.

If you have time and get tired of the mass crowds in Banff you can go North to Jasper (on the Icefield parkway as mentioned above) to Whistlers campground. Not as manic as Banff but still a large number of visitors make it advisable to start early (pre 8 am) to visit the popular trails and areas - particularly Maligne Canyon and Icefields Parkway trails such as Valley of five lakes, Athabasca Falls and Sunawapta falls. We were there in late May and really enjoyed it.

And / or head South to Waterton Lakes National Park, which is a North extension of the US Glacier National Park and in our view one of the best of all the national parks in the area, and a lot quieter. Townsite campground is excellent. From there a short hop to the border at Coutts.

Book as soon as possible for all the parks, and if necessary be prepared to build a visit night by night. Note H Hosts are few and far between in the Canadian mountains.
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Old 01-29-2023, 11:13 AM   #10
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It’s a great trip! Go all the way up 395 through Banff and DO go to Jasper because the ice fields parkway is beautiful. Go to Lake Maligne in Jasper- it’s stunning! Come back down 97.
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Old 01-29-2023, 11:24 AM   #11
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Canadian National Parks

All Canadian National Parks are busy and reservations are a must. Reservations can be made 90 days in advance of season opening (Usually the beginning of MayJ. Parks hasnít posted any any information yet. Attached is Banffís website.

Any addition to Banff you may want to consider Waterton, Yoho, Lake Louise and Jasper.

Happy Trails!
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Old 01-29-2023, 08:58 PM   #12
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We found that hotels in the vicinity of both parks to be hideously-priced; stayed one night in Jasper in August last year was $350 for two queens and a temporary air conditioner that did not cool the room at all. The beds’ mattresses SUCKED and even the shower tub had some weird soft bottom, and it was NOT CLEAN.

We travelled for 28 days and ended up staying in hotel rooms a total of four nights due to the high costs and poor quality of hotels along the way.

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Old 01-29-2023, 09:52 PM   #13
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Canadian National Parks

You can choose to not visit the western Canadian National Parks, but then you will never get to see sights like these.
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Old 01-30-2023, 07:27 AM   #14
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Parks Canada just announced reservation dates starting in March.
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Old 03-12-2023, 05:05 PM   #15
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We did the Canadian Rockies Caravan last year from Seattle. Here is our journal/blog on the trip and where we stayed.
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