I'm planning a trip to Canada this August, flights in YVR. I'd like to fit in Vancouver Island and the Inside Passage ferry, and the Rockies. (We have 17 days but we usually like seeing several places rather than seeing everything that one place has to offer.)
This suggests two options: (i) a long, clockwise driving loop or (ii) flying from Prince Rupert to Calgary (using miles) breaking to trip into two halves. I'd appreciate some advice on which is easier.
My concerns with (i) are the driving distances. Basically Prince Rupert to Jasper is 1100km, and we'd have two-and-a-half days probably split as Prince Rupert - Smithers (353km), Smithers - McBride (580km) and McBride - Jasper (166km). What are the roads like on the long day: is 100kph, ie 6 hours realistic? Do I need to worry about conjestion / poor surfaces this far north? Are the any sights along the way (other than the Skeena valley)?
I also have to pay C$250 to take a car on the ferry this way. Are there any alternatives to this, other than one-way hire fees - eg. in NZ, Avis and Thrifty will swap your car without fee so you don't have to take it on the Interislander ferry. It seems crazy that there must be hundreds of rental cars going north and south on the IP ferry every year.
If I flew (ii) instead, I'd be without a car on Vancouver Island. Would this be a bad idea? Nanaimo to Port Hardy (390km) is seven hours by coach
, would 4-5hrs plus some stops by car be realistic (traffic/surfaces)?
It comes down to a question of what would you do? Am I right to think the Inside Passge + Northern BC is worth the hassle/cost? I'd prefer option (i), as long as I'm not being unrealistic about timings. Any advice would be gratefully received