Recommended Route, Glacier to Vancouver? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-02-2010, 07:11 AM   #1
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My son landed an internship at Glacier National Park (Montana, not BC) this summer, so that's where the Casita is headed. We're thinking pretty seriously about extending the trip over to Vancouver and we're wondering about the best route for scenic travel and towability. Google comes up with I-90 across Washington, AAA recommends a loop up through Calgary for the scenery, and I see Highway 3 bisecting these two ways. Any suggestions, both for routing and good places to tie up for a night or two along the way?

Thanks,
Parker
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Old 05-02-2010, 09:42 AM   #2
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I am going to assume that you are interested in Vancouver B.C. and not Vancouver Washington.

If you want the ease of travelling the Interstate then I would stay on I-90. Along the route , my favourite spot would be Courd'alene in ID. You would travel through Spokane, and up the pass to Seattle. Taking I-5 through Seattle to Vancouver is not my favorite trip, but I am biased.

The Canadian half of Glacier National park is Waterton Lakes National park and since you are so close to the border, come on up and visit. There are two main corridors going west. Hwy #3 is called the Crownest Hwy. The geography is reasonably flat, the Crowsnet Pass is not as dramatic as through Banff and Lake Louise. One would travel through Fernie, Cranbrook, Yahk, Creston, There is a high pass, Kootenay pass, between Creston and Salmo, Trail, Rossland,to GrandForks, Osoyoos, Keremeos, Princeton, Manning Park, one of the first parks in B.c., Hope, and then four lane freeway into Vancouver.

The other route west is the Trans Canada, #1

If you want scenery and drama, one can travel up Hwy #22, or #2, visit Calgary, a beautiful spot to camp /visit is a recreation area called Kananskis. One can access this through the Foresty Trunk Road, further west, but much of it is gravel.

Banff and Lake Louise is a historic developed tourist area and very dramatic scenery. campground in Banff, Tunnel Mountain, or a little smaller, less congested just a few miles east of Banff at Two Jack lake. If you have the time, park at Lake louise and take the drive up the Columbia Icefields parkway, its a toll road, and go to Jasper and travell back. One of the most scenic roads in the world. Hopefull its sunny and clear or otherwise its a dissapointment.

One can move south to #3 at a variety of spots, one can travel through Radium and down to Cranbrook, one can travel from Revelstoke to Nakusp, and go south to New Denver, Silverton and Castlegar. One can go south at Sicamous, to Armstrong, Vernon one can go south from Kamloops on the Coquhalla, which is four lanes inter state like, one can take the #1 through the Fraser Canyon through Boston Bar and on to Hope.

I would recomend going south at Sicamous, Armstrong , Vernon, Kelowna. This is a hot, warm, sunny, valley, dominated by the Okanagan Lake. a exciting tourist area, agricultural area, with fruit production and a lot of winereries. Lots of rv camping. One can go west from West bank to Merrit on the Connector, four lanes but it goes high or take #3 out of Penticton, a lot of two lane and winding, but not as high.

I am fond of the provincial parks but they have no services. B.C. provincial parks, have large sites.
Reservations are possible in the popular ones.

ONce you pick your route. I can be more specific.
MY favorite spot to stay in Vancouver is Capilano RV park which is right under Lion's Gate Bridge in Vancouver/ West Vancouver, it is a very short walk to a large Shopping area at Park Royal. The other side of Lion's Gate Bridge is Stanley park and downtown Vancouver. Another very nice RV park is Burnaby Cariboo RV There are others in surrey. If you want a nice Park like setting, and do not mind driving into Vancouver Metro area to vist, Fort Langley Camping, Brae Island is part of a regional park. but in my mind. Capilano is the best location. A litle noisey, but just have some ear plugs. Location is fantastic and you can easily walk along the ocean along trails , sea wall , in West Vancouver , towards Ambleside park.

In advance welcome to beautiful B.C.
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Old 05-02-2010, 09:49 AM   #3
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In advance welcome to beautiful B.C.
Kent,

Wow, what a wonderful response! Thank you! I'll print it out and pass it to our chief trip planner. We'll be in the area mid-late August, so I'm hoping we can find places to stay without being pinned too closely to advance reservations. We'll be lugging a generator, so we can dry camp as needed.

We really appreciate the welcome.

Parker
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Old 05-02-2010, 10:15 AM   #4
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Yes that was a nice welcome.

Note that Kootenay Pass is a climb! You'll want to take your time coming down. There are several parts of the Crowsnest Highway #3 that have some mighty 7-8% grades that can smoke your brakes WITHOUT a trailer, so be very cautious. Oddly, Crowsnest Pass is gradual as far as Continental Divide crossings go, so that shouldn't be a problem. Route 3 is a very nice trip, scenically.

Highway 22 runs through the more blustery parts of the Chinook Belt, so be cautious of crosswinds, especially coming north out of Crowsnest Pass, also known as one of the windiest places on Earth. You'll see the leaning trees and waving grass, as well as the forests of wind turbines, as a testament.
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Old 05-02-2010, 11:07 AM   #5
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Yes that was a nice welcome.

Note that Kootenay Pass is a climb! You'll want to take your time coming down. There are several parts of the Crowsnest Highway #3 that have some mighty 7-8% grades that can smoke your brakes WITHOUT a trailer, so be very cautious. Oddly, Crowsnest Pass is gradual as far as Continental Divide crossings go, so that shouldn't be a problem. Route 3 is a very nice trip, scenically.

Highway 22 runs through the more blustery parts of the Chinook Belt, so be cautious of crosswinds, especially coming north out of Crowsnest Pass, also known as one of the windiest places on Earth. You'll see the leaning trees and waving grass, as well as the forests of wind turbines, as a testament.
Mike,

I greatly appreciate your comments and cautions about the climbs/descents. We're towing a 16' Casita with our Subaru Outback, so we want to be careful about over-committing to some of the steeper areas.

Parker
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Old 05-03-2010, 10:23 AM   #6
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What part of Glacier will you be in, I am thinking West Glacier? If you get out to enjoy a wonderful dinner, I would suggest the Belton! Belton Chalet It's wonderful eating out on the deck.



Warning: That time of the year is very heavy tourist season. If you plan on staying in a campground I would have reservations. You may get away without in the park (maybe) but Labor day is a must! Private campgrounds will be running full, The season up there is really all about July/Aug, sure some heavy tourist traffic in Sept. But the majority is July/Aug.


I agree with hitting Coeur d' alene ID. Beautiful! But while in the West Glacier area, may I suggest the town of Bigfork! It's a little artsy fartsy town that is wonderful to explore, enjoy, relax

Glacier If you need a suggestion of a campground/rv park in the West Glacier area, let me know. Tell me what amenities your looking for and I can suggest one that would fit your camping want's.
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Old 05-03-2010, 11:58 AM   #7
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I agree with hitting Coeur d' alene ID. Beautiful!

....and coming north out of Coeur d'Alene on US 95/BC 95 can connect you with some of the less hilly parts of BC/AB #3, or the Crowsnest highway. 95 mostly follows the grain of the mountains, so the hills aren't as bad.
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:04 PM   #8
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In my opinion there really aren't any hard grades in Montana. Most skirt around the mountains. And the ones that are hairy are not accessible with the trailer anyway. So you should be fine.


Hwy 2 is really a beautiful drive no matter what. Skirts along the park from east to west.
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:42 PM   #9
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If you go the USA route through Washington I-90 is NOT the way to go - the most scenic is Highway 20, which is lovely and takes you over North Cascade Highway - high elevation and breath takingly beautiful, second in elevation only to Going To The Sun road in Glacier. It is a good highway with gradual grades and folks drive it all the time with RVs and towables (unlike Going To The Sun - we had our little Burro when we were there and left it behind to go up that hair raising road!). It's a pretty drive even before you get to North Cascade highway, going through north central Washington where there are pine mountains as well as open areas, easy traveling, camping various places. You can take I -90 part of the way then to up to 20. If you decide on this route I can give you more details of your options - we've been on them all.
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Old 05-03-2010, 05:52 PM   #10
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We too really like Hwy 20 across northern WA. Not a fast drive by any means.

The town of Republic WA has a fossil place that is worth a look. We have never seen such pretty fossils. When we stopped they let us take a couple along with us. Too hot for us to go out and try our luck at finding our own.

http://www.stonerosefossil.org/

From there we continued across 20 and ended up at Colonial Creek in the Cascades. Diablo and Newhalem area is fantastic. That was the first night we ever camped under huge, tall trees. A new experience for Midwest folk.

My husband and I could not decide if we had to pick only one of these two options: See the Banff to Jasper area or go across 20 to Seattle area. I really hope you can somehow have enough time to make a big loop and do both.

We were in East Glacier, St. Mary. Had campsite C-134 which was high and dry. For shower we had to go to another campground (Rising Sun?) down the road and purchase coins for the shower. Had fun taking the Many Glacier hotel tour. We tried to visit and/or eat at all the Natl Park hotels we could. They are interesting to visit. East Glacier is not so busy as West Glacier.

We have used the KOA in both Billings and Bozeman if you are going that way. Both were very nice. The one in Butte also looked OK, next to the info center where you can get a bus/trolley ride.

Have a wonderful trip. The dollar is not going to be kind to you in Canada this year. Be prepared to pay a lot for gas if you go that route.

Nancy

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Old 05-03-2010, 06:19 PM   #11
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The dollar is not going to be kind to you in Canada this year. Be prepared to pay a lot for gas if you go that route.

Nancy
As of May 3, gasoline is 3.80 USD/gallon (1.00 per litre)
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Old 05-03-2010, 11:01 PM   #12
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I like to look at gasbuddy.com when planning a trip. Sometimes it pays to stop in certain counties.

http://www.gasbuddy.com/gb_can_gastemperaturemap.aspx

For some reason we got better mileage when in Canada. Maybe the octane is higher than what we usually use, probably no ethanol?

Shouldn't have looked at the map above. We have been thinking of going to the Atlantic Provinces this summer.....maybe not.

Nancy
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Old 05-05-2010, 08:01 AM   #13
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Thank you all for your responses thus far. This is extremely helpful. I would like to answer in more detail, but I'm on a hotel computer on a work trip right now. I'm really looking forward to getting home, sitting down in front of a map with my navigator/co-pilot, and digesting all the info you've provided.

Parker

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Old 05-05-2010, 09:05 AM   #14
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Have fun!
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