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travel in campervan/RV in April?

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posts: 3
travel in campervan/RV in April?

We will be arriving in Vancouver mid April 2013.

We have 2 and half weeks in Canada.

We would like to travel to Calgary and back to Vancouver.

We are a family of two adults, 3 children aged 6, 10 andd 12.

As we will be on the move and enjoy camping we are thinking of hiring a campervan.

Is it reasonable at this time of year to drive a campervan and are there enough serviced campsites open at this time of year to make the trip comfortable enough?

Route we are considering is something like: Vancouver, Whistler, Kamloops, Jasper, Banff, Calgary, Banff, Revelstoke, Kelowna, Penticton, Hope, Vancouver

We live in Australia, so not really in touch with exact weather conditions, although realise that it is still winter in Rockies and Calgary. Have been in Vancouver/Calgary in May in the past!

Greater Sydney...
posts: 9,735
reviews: 61
1. Re: travel in campervan/RV in April?

G'day Al, and welcome to the TA forums.

I am not an experienced RV'er, nor a visitor to the Rockies in winter, but have been around these forums for a few years and really think that you need a reality check for your idea. Here are my thoughts, and others more knowledgeable than I will I am sure come by later and provide more detailed advice.

1. It is indeed still winter in the Rockies, and here are the average weather statistics for Banff,


You should note that the average minimum temperature for April is -2c with an average daily temperature below 0c for being 23.3 days. Lowest temperature has been -27c .

2. If you could rent an RV at that time of the year, and that is problematic, you would need the furnace burning all night and that will chew up the propane gas bottles. The water lines inside the RV will freeze overnight as well.

3. There could be very few serviced RV camping sites open at that time of the year, and I don't think any in the Rockies will be.

4. Driving conditions could be very dangerous with ice and snow, and an RV is inherently unsafe in such condition with no weight over the rear end. There are also quite a few roads in BC and Alberta which local laws require that only vehicles fitted with winter snow tyres or carrying chains may legally use. Nearly all rental vehicles do not come with winter tyres and nearly all companies prohibit the use of chains on their vehicles.

5. Being from Perth I imagine that you have no, or little, driving experience in snow or ice, and all of the locals will advise that the Rockies IS NOT the place to try to learn such skills.

That is just a starter for you to contemplate. I truly believe that you should totally rethink the idea.

Vancouver, Canada
posts: 16,310
reviews: 53
2. Re: travel in campervan/RV in April?

Here's what I suggest with the time you have.

Things will be much milder down on the coast in April, still wet and a mixture of weather and not very warm, but not ice and snow either. Why not have a week of camping on Vancouver Island and then just drive to the Rockies in a car? Access to many areas in the Rockies will be blocked due to snow, and in fact they will still be skiing.

Another good destination at that time of year is the Okanagan Valley. You could fly into Kelowna and plan a one week RV circuit from there that keeps you out of the mountains and hopefully fairly dry. Then switch to a car and do the drive to Calgary from there. Or a one way RV rental between Vancouver and Kelowna might be possible. I noted yesterday that Fraserway RV has a special deal of $99/day for rentals complete before May 15th.

I think some variation of your plan is possible, but I would very much avoid camping at elevation at that time of year. Its quite miserable.

posts: 3
3. Re: travel in campervan/RV in April?

Hi... just sorting thru old mails and came across this!!! Just to set the record straight do feel I need to reply!! We (Myself, my husband and 3 kids aged 6, 10 and 12) hired a van mid-April in Vancouver, drove to Whistler, Jasper, Banff, Calgary, back thru Okanagan and back to Vancouver. What a fabulous trip!!!! There are some serviced sites open thru winter in the Rockies (Japser even has heated bathrooms!!!). Except for Jasper, where we stayed for a couple of nights, we stayed in a different spot every nite. Facilities are great! We skied in Jasper (Marmot Basin was still open), swam outside in hot springs with snow capped mnts in the background, walked to frozen waterfalls, walked on a still frozen Lake Louise, were awestruck walking across Athabasca Glacier, enjoyed crossing the lakes on the free ferries and were warm in our van with the furnace on. The furnace dried our clothing overnight (we had power sites, so could use electricity for heating). The kids had a ball in the snow... they will never forget Manning Park for the games in the snow there. The main roads were all clear of ice and snow and in 3 weeks we only had one day when it really rained (sadly it was the day we drove thru Glacier Nat park, so we missed a fair bit of the beauty). Maybe we were lucky with the great weather, but if you are on a budget it seems a good time to go to that area, as they are between seasons, so all rates were good. Also, unlike in the summer months, it is easy to get a site in the camp grounds. Warm underclothing and jacket, beanie, buffs, gloves, waterproof shoes are obviously a must! Only downside was some of the attractions were closed for renovation after winter season or not yet open for summer....and some of the roads in the Rockies were closed, so some natural attractions were not accessible... but there was plenty that we could do, and we came home special memories of a wonderful holiday.

Vancouver, Canada
posts: 16,310
reviews: 53
4. Re: travel in campervan/RV in April?

So great that you came back to let us know how it went. Thanks! It does sound like a great trip. Its all in what you expect and what you are prepared for. And great to know that you had no trouble with the cold weather and finding suitable camping. You were extremely lucky with the weather. I was so surprised with how good we had it in late April/early May. It really was much sunnier and warmer than we usually have it at that time of year. That always helps.

Calgary, Canada
posts: 81
5. Re: travel in campervan/RV in April?

may I ask who you rented the van from and just roughly what were the rates,? You had three kids - was it big enough?



posts: 3
6. Re: travel in campervan/RV in April?

Hi ... We rented the van from Cruise Canada. Great van, perfect condition, great service. Only thing really was that we were just were glad that we had taken an extra blanket each as the bedding was a basic sleeping bag each (and pillow). Would be fine for summer...a bit minimal for winter even in a warm van! We took the kids' own sleeping bags as the basic rate only covered bedding for 2... their bags were warmer than the van's ones, so was a good move.

I cannot remember the daily rate!!!! Will have to try and find paper work, but it was really low season base rate with unlimited mileage... I think at that time of the year you can find a good deal....ask around for quotes...

After much debate we hired the largest 7 sleeper van. It was worth it for the length of time we had it as each child had their own sleeping space. We were SO lucky with the great weather and of course the long evenings, with daylight 'til late, as the kids were almost always able to be outside and just came in to sleep. No TV in van, so a good book and pack of cards/fav family game is a must. We got the kids to write/draw in a diary each eve.... so yes, big enough, but 3 weeks of rainy weather could have been dismal!!!

Driving such a huge vehicle (on the "wrong" side of the road - we drive on the left in Australia) did require concentration for driver and co-driver alike, but we were fine and really enjoyed the experience!

Calgary, Canada
posts: 81
7. Re: travel in campervan/RV in April?

that is wonderful, thank you for the advice. The fact that you could get unlimited mileage really excites me as I did not know anyone offered that.

thanks again

8. Re: travel in campervan/RV in April?

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