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Vancouver to Calgary in two weeks - any suggestions?

Vancouver to Calgary in two weeks - any suggestions?

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Old May 6, 07, 7:23 am
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Vancouver to Calgary in two weeks - any suggestions?

We are currently planning our summer holiday in Western Canada. We arrive in Vancouver on 21 July, and will leave again from Calgary on 7 August, 17 days later. We have a preliminary itinerary, and I would welcome any suggestions.
  • We arrive in Vancouver and plan to stay there for 3 nights.

  • We then have a car rented for two weeks and plan to drive to Vancouver Island and spend 2 nights there (we definitely want to go to the Tofino area for whale watching is Victoria worth visiting too?).

  • We then have 8 days/7 nights to drive from Vancouver Island to Jasper National Park. Which route would you recommend for that? Via Whistler or Fraser Canyon? Should we go via Clearwater or further north via Prince George? Or maybe via Kaloomps and Mt. Revelstoke/Glacier National Parks? Any recommendations for a nice place along the way where we can relax for 3-4 days (maybe a lake)?

  • The next stops will be Jasper National Park (2 nights) and Banff National Park (2 nights). Does that sound like the right length for the parks?

  • We are planning to stay in Calgary for 1 night before flying out to Toronto.

I should say that we like nature and would like to do a few short hikes, but are not much into activities like rafting, mountain-climbing, etc. Ideally, we would prefer two-night stops over one-night stops.

Thanks very much in advance for any feedback on our plans/questions!

SmilingBoy.
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Old May 6, 07, 12:42 pm
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[*]We then have a car rented for two weeks and plan to drive to Vancouver Island and spend 2 nights there (we definitely want to go to the Tofino area for whale watching is Victoria worth visiting too?).
If you have the time to go down to Victoria, it's definitely worth the trip. Be aware though, that it is about a 5 hour drive down to Victoria from Tofino, so you should be prepared to 1) leave early and spend the afternoon or 2) stay a night if you can to have time to enjoy the city and visit the attractions you want. You'll be able to head back to Vancouver with a ferry straight from Victoria (as opposed to Nanaimo when heading to Tofino) so no real worries about having to drive back up.

[*]We then have 8 days/7 nights to drive from Vancouver Island to Jasper National Park. Which route would you recommend for that? Via Whistler or Fraser Canyon? Should we go via Clearwater or further north via Prince George? Or maybe via Kaloomps and Mt. Revelstoke/Glacier National Parks? Any recommendations for a nice place along the way where we can relax for 3-4 days (maybe a lake)?
[*]The next stops will be Jasper National Park (2 nights) and Banff National Park (2 nights). Does that sound like the right length for the parks?
The Whistler/Fraser Canyon route is longer compared to some of the other options but it gives you a chance to visit Whistler. My suggestion would be to spend one of your days in Vancouver to make a day trip up to Whistler (about a 2 hour drive) instead as it should be enough for you to enjoy the village.

Taking the Coquihalla Highway (Hwy 5 -- there is a 10 dollar toll) is probably the best option heading up to the Rockies. If you want to a place to relax along the way, take the Okanagan Connector (Hwy 97C) from Hwy 5 to the Okanagan Lake area (Kelowna, Osoyoos, etc) area. It's a touristy area well known for the lake/parks and wineries. I would personally recommend that you don't stay more than 2 days here and use the extra days in the Banff area. There are a ton of things to visit and experience in Banff and 2 days will definitely be tight.

From Kelowna, you can take Hwy 97 up to Salmon Arm, then Hwy 1 over to Lake Louise. You'll pass Glacier and Yoho National parks along the way and definitely worth a visit. Once you get to the Lake Louise area, you can take the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93) up to Jasper. Lots to see along the way, including the Columbia Icefield. You'll be taking this route down to Banff again, so it's your choice whether or not you want to see all the stuff on the way up or the way down. Two days in Jasper should be enough for sightseeing.

I should say that we like nature and would like to do a few short hikes, but are not much into activities like rafting, mountain-climbing, etc. Ideally, we would prefer two-night stops over one-night stops.
They're definitely be a lot of short hiking opportunities in all these places with great viewpoints along the way. You'll enjoy them for sure.

I think that answers all of your questions. If you want some more detailed info or have any further questions, feel free to ask!
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Old May 7, 07, 1:54 pm
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You might want to fit in the fireworks festival in Vancouver (Wed July 25, Sat July 28, Wed Aug 1, and Sat Aug 4.) Downtown Vancouver is packed.

I think visiting Tofino and Victoria and doing stuff at each place with just two nights is a bit of an effort. Victoria is nice to visit though.
One suggestion is to drive to Tofino during the day. I've only done the drive during the day. There are some pretty windy stretches and I don't recall there being a lot of highway lighting.

For your Vancouver Island to Jasper leg, have you looked into staying at a hot spring resort?
We drove the Vancouver, Banff, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver a few years back taking Hwy 3 on the way there. Lots of fruit stands and a few wineries during the first stretch. Visited the only desert in BC.
Since you have time, I'd also recommend YVRJer's daytripping suggestion for Whistler and taking Hwy 97 to Kelowna from Hwy 3.

Two nights in Banff and Jasper should be alright. We only spent one night each in Banff and Jasper and an extra night would have been nice. The towns themselves are ok but a lot of the interesting sites (waterfalls, glaciers, view points, etc) are just outside of town or on the way.
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Old May 7, 07, 7:43 pm
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definitely plant to drive during the day

To tofino... So much to see, yes 5hr drive, but with a stop at cathedral park, a short hike, maybe stop into Port Alberni, and don't forget to take the side trip to Ucluelet once you get to the west coast.
Foodwise - you have to have an organic meal at Sobo's in Tofino - at the botanical garden - great fare!
Lots of decent walks in pacific rim national park too
Weighwest should be able to hook up good whale watching - if you've got the day - do the hotsprings cove trip - you'll most likely see whales, sea lions, seals, otters, eagles, bears and hippies at the hotsprings. True west coast experience.
Think you can handle Canadian water temps? (8c) surf sister can teach you!
Enjoy
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Old May 8, 07, 8:56 am
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One other piece of advice - The first weekend in August is a long weekend in British Columbia (Monday Aug 6th is a holiday) and is traditionally the busiest travel weekend of the year, with thousands on vacation.

As a result, you'll probably want to make sure you've got some confirmed reservations ahead of time for these nights, at a minimum:

Thurs Aug 2
Friday Aug 3
Sat Aug 4
Sun Aug 5
Mon Aug 6
Tue Aug 7

The good news is its also usually the best weather of the year

Have a good trip.

Cheers,
Geoff Glave
Vancouver, Canada
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Old May 8, 07, 10:53 am
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Lots of local hiking available. Here is the BC website, which you can see what parks are available in each area www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/

For hikes near Vancouver, many good ones exist.

If you are reasonably fit, Seymour is one of my favourite ones close to home - takes about 40 minutes to get to the parking lot from downtown. About 4 to 5 hours (depending on your lunch brake) round trip to the first pump, amazing views at the top of the first pump (you just have to wind your way up to the top). If you want to challenge yourself, you can go all the way through to Mount Seymour proper, but be aware that the hike becomes much tougher as you head towards the second pump. Bring a good amount of water since you are exposed to the sun in many spots and warm/dry clothes if the weather turns on you.

If you want something with less elevation, Lynn Canyon can give you a couple of hours of walking/light hiking. No views, but still pretty. And you can get your suspension bridge experience without paying a fortune at the trap called Capillano

Avoid the Grouse Grind if you want what I call a hike (not pretty going up). If you want a stairclimber from heck, then do the Grind. Just be aware it is about 850m up and you are only traveling a bit less than 3 kms - so very steep elevation. Please do not attempt the Grind in sandals or high heeled shoes.
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Old May 8, 07, 7:27 pm
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Originally Posted by gglave View Post
One other piece of advice - The first weekend in August is a long weekend in British Columbia (Monday Aug 6th is a holiday) and is traditionally the busiest travel weekend of the year, with thousands on vacation.
Geoff brings up a very good point here. If you're going to be going to Tofino during the BC Day long weekend, you'll definitely want ferry reservations -- it's one of BC Ferries' busiest holidays.
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Old May 11, 07, 4:16 pm
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Thank you for all the suggestions and hints.

Regarding the ferry to Vancouver Island - we would probably drive from Vancouver to Vancouver Island on the afternoon on Tuesday, 24 July. We would return to Vancouver on Friday or Saturday 27/28 July. I guess no ferry reservations would be necessary for this? We would just drive there an hour before departure, correct?

And for hotel reservations: I guess it would make sense to have some for Vancouver Island, and also for Jasper/Banff, where we will be from around 2 to 7 August, because of the long weekend in BC.

I will try and put together a more detailed itinerary over the weekend and post back here.

Cheers,

SmilingBoy.
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Old May 11, 07, 5:46 pm
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Originally Posted by SmilingBoy View Post

Regarding the ferry to Vancouver Island - we would probably drive from Vancouver to Vancouver Island on the afternoon on Tuesday, 24 July. We would return to Vancouver on Friday or Saturday 27/28 July. I guess no ferry reservations would be necessary for this? We would just drive there an hour before departure, correct?

.
A Friday afternoon ferry in the summer (even on a non-holiday weekend) can be iffy in terms of capacity. They can be half full, but are often very full. A Saturday mid-day ferry is likely a safer bet if you want to avoid a reservation.

Last edited by Jalinth; May 11, 07 at 5:52 pm
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Old May 11, 07, 10:34 pm
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Originally Posted by SmilingBoy View Post
Regarding the ferry to Vancouver Island - we would probably drive from Vancouver to Vancouver Island on the afternoon on Tuesday, 24 July. We would return to Vancouver on Friday or Saturday 27/28 July. I guess no ferry reservations would be necessary for this?
For Tuesday you're probably fine. I would recommend a ferry reservation for any travel planned on a Friday or Saturday. You may not need it, but it's cheap peace-of-mind.

Cheers,
Geoff Glave
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Old May 12, 07, 2:44 am
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Originally Posted by gglave View Post
For Tuesday you're probably fine. I would recommend a ferry reservation for any travel planned on a Friday or Saturday. You may not need it, but it's cheap peace-of-mind.

Cheers,
Geoff Glave
Vancouver, Canada
Thanks - are there so many people travelling from Vancouver Island to Vancouver on a Friday/Saturday? I could understand the other way round.

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Old May 12, 07, 12:04 pm
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Originally Posted by SmilingBoy View Post
Thanks - are there so many people travelling from Vancouver Island to Vancouver on a Friday/Saturday? I could understand the other way round.

SmilingBoy.
You're right, it's usually busier the other way around, but from my experience, it's definitely not something you want to assume in order to save the reservation fee... especially in the summer. For example, I'm looking at the current conditions right now (Saturday morning ~11am), and there is a one sailing wait for both directions, which equates to a 2 hour wait.
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Old May 12, 07, 7:06 pm
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Even as of 6 pm, the Victoria/Vancouver ferry is nearly full. So a reservation is one of those better safe than sorry ideas for Fridays or likely Saturday.
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Old May 13, 07, 10:08 pm
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Originally Posted by SmilingBoy View Post
Thanks - are there so many people travelling from Vancouver Island to Vancouver on a Friday/Saturday?
Yes - Nearly three-quarters of a million people live on Vancouver Island, with three ferry routes to the mainland.

Then there's all the Vancouver people returning from their holidays on the island.

You do the math

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Geoff Glave
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Old May 28, 07, 10:44 am
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As promised, although with a delay, here is a detailed trip suggestion. Do you have any comments? We decided to skip Victoria, which does look like a nice town, but not something we could not get in Europe.

Code:
When?        Where?                        Distance  Drive Time  Overnight
21-Jul-2007  Arrival Vancouver             n/a       n/a         Vancouver, Blue Horizon Hotel
22-Jul-2007  Vancouver                     n/a       n/a         Vancouver, Blue Horizon Hotel
23-Jul-2007  Vancouver                     n/a       n/a         Vancouver, Blue Horizon Hotel
24-Jul-2007  Drive Vancouver-Ucluelet      260 km    7 hours     Ucluelet, tbd
25-Jul-2007  Ucluelet (Vancouver Island)   n/a       n/a         Ucluelet, tbd
26-Jul-2007  Ucluelet (Vancouver Island)   n/a       n/a         Ucluelet, tbd
27-Jul-2007  Drive Ucluelet-Hope           407 km    8 hours     Hope, tbd
28-Jul-2007  Drive Hope-Cache Creek        200 km    3 hours     Cache Creek, tbd
29-Jul-2007  Drive Cache Creek-Revelstoke  293 km    5 hours     Revelstoke, tbd
30-Jul-2007  Drive Revelstoke-Golden       150 km    3 hours     Golden, tbd
31-Jul-2007  Drive Golden-Jasper           309 km    7 hours     Jasper, tbd
1-Aug-2007   Jasper National Park          n/a       n/a         Jasper, tbd
2-Aug-2007   Jasper National Park          n/a       n/a         Jasper, tbd
3-Aug-2007   Drive Jasper-Banff            288 km    4 hours     Banff, tbd
4-Aug-2007   Banff National Park           n/a       n/a         Banff, tbd
5-Aug-2007   Banff National Park           n/a       n/a         Banff, tbd
6-Aug-2007   Drive Banff-Calgary           130 km    2.5 hours   Calgary, tbd
7-Aug-2007   Flight Calgary-Toronto        n/a       n/a         Toronto, tbd
8-Aug-2007   Toronto                       n/a       n/a         Toronto, tbd
9-Aug-2007   Toronto / Niagara Falls       n/a       n/a         Toronto, tbd
10-Aug-2007  Toronto                       n/a       n/a         Toronto, tbd
11-Aug-2007  Departure Toronto             n/a       n/a         Exit Row
The stops in Hope and Cache Creek are not finally determined yet, we will just look at a motel to stay at around Hope and Cache Creek to sleep.

Thanks for any comments!

SmilingBoy.
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