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Itinerary advice for last minute plans

Cairns, Australia
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Itinerary advice for last minute plans

Hello

I am planning a rather last minute and quickly researched road trip due to our tour provider cancelling our trip :( I have researched the forums and multiple websites and have come up with the following itinerary, I would appreciate ANY advice on this. We are going in mid March for 14 nights. From what i have read weather should not be a problem other than cold for us coming from the tropics haha.

We are hiring a car and just plan to stay in hotel/motel accoms.

*Vancouver - 2 nights

(124km drive)

*Whistler - 2 nights

(300km drive)

*Kamloops - 1 night

(442km drive)

*Jasper - 2 nights

(288km drive)

*Banff - 2 nights

(127km drive)

*Calgary - 2 nights

(600km drive)

*Vernon (Salmon Arm) - 1 night

(400km drive)

*Vancouver - 1 night

Depart for NY

I Hope this is in the correct forum I could not find a 'roadtrip' forum.

Thanks in advance for any advice on this, need to start booking asap the stress from this cancellation is driving me nuts!!

:)

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: Itinerary advice for last minute plans

Hello ryben ~

What a shame! Lots of pressure to take over the planning. I think weather could be a problem in March, inland, not at the coast. Snow, icy roads, avalanches or avalanche control. And if you haven't driven in winter in Canada at all, this is not the time to learn.

So, some thoughts.

5-6 nights Vancouver. This could look like 4 nights Vancouver, 2 nights Victoria, then fly to Calgary from there. Or perhaps 4 Van, 1 night Whistler, although my mantra is: know exactly why you are going there if you've also got the Rockies in the works. Whistler is redundant compared to the Rockies. A day trip would do it.

Air Canada and WestJet fly frequently all day from both Van and Vic airports. 1.5 hour flight.

From Calgary, look into Brewster or SunDog Tours. They have shuttles to and from the towns in the Rockies. Banff is perhaps the easiest to get around with their Roam bus as well as more amenities. Lake Louise might be worth a night. Not much open on the Icefields Park to Jasper. Maybe local posters could comment on how to sightsee once there.

So possibly:

Banff 3 nights

LL 1 night

Jasper 2-3 nights

Shuttle service straight back to Calgary to fly out.

Sorry to rewrite the book, but I think driving across the province in March has significant risk for an Aussie. Even Canadians don't take this route on for pleasure at this time of year. Happy to help with further questions.

Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: Itinerary advice for last minute plans

Just reread your OP. You must have your flights booked through YVR by now. If so, fly back from Calgary to Vancouver. Allow 2 hours connection time in case of any weather issues and another 2.5 hours for security and US Customs pre clearance at YVR for your flight to NYC. If you are flying at our spring break, 3rd week in March (weekend before and after) allow even more time at YVR as it will be busy.

Cairns, Australia
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3. Re: Itinerary advice for last minute plans

OMG it just gets better n better dosen't it! We do have some snow driving experience but by no means an expert!

We really wanted to see more of the country than you do from yet another plane trip which in fact I just dont think I could do. When you say the roads may be a problem is this from random storms or are these expected conditions everyday for latter part of March? Are road closures etc common in these areas at this time of year?

I do apologise for the questions and do understand that weather while seasonal is also unpredictable. Just trying to make the best out of a bad situation and now tossing up whether to give it a miss altogether. This is a one-off trip for us and the expense/stress outlayed already is not one I am keen to repeat again.

Greater Sydney...
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4. Re: Itinerary advice for last minute plans

G'day ryben,

I think that March is not a good time for a trip like this. Here is a link to the AVERAGE weather statistics for Banff:

www.weatherbase.com/weather/weather.php3…

You will see that the average Low temp is -10c and snowfall 27cm, or just over a foot.

Vancouver, Canada
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5. Re: Itinerary advice for last minute plans

As you have correctly surmised, the weather is changeable and unpredictable. If we have a warm spring, there may be no snow coming down, just rain or (gasp) sunshine. But avalanches are formed by a layer of snow developing over an earlier layer of snow thawed then refrozen. There is then a weakness in the layers which can cause the top slab to come sliding down. These need to be blasted before they slide. So it's anybody's guess what March weather will be. Here are some videos of some snow driving.

March 15, 2012, Revelstoke to Golden on Hwy 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvcFou7vT90

February, Revelstoke to Kelowna. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uP5EjeETHSI

March 21, left Kamloops for Revy at 7h30 am and now waiting for avalanche control, could be until 11 am: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWmDxt9qTIA

I'm really sorry, I can't find a video with a March date without snow. Because good days do exist. Sometimes, March can be warm and wet/dry/sunny. But not so warm in the Rockies. It will be much cooler there in March with much greater chance of snow.

If you are arriving and departing Vancouver, would you be interested in a perfectly good two weeks on the coast. There is Vancouver and environs - 4 nights, there is Whistler - 2 nights, there is Vancouver Island where you could spend 6 nights, with the last night in Vancouver the night before your flight out. The temps will be above freezing, the weather will be temperate with a degree of rain, the spring blossoms in Victoria and on VI will all have been ceremoniously counted in the last week of February and spring will have arrived in Vancouver with tree blossoms and flower blossoms all over the place. That could work quite well, as you will bring the appropriate clothing. Right??

How many in your group?

Edit: Frommy posted while I was typing... and digging around for videos.

Edited: 10:11 pm, January 01, 2014
Greater Sydney...
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6. Re: Itinerary advice for last minute plans

Here is one from Alberta, and it is not even in the mountains:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhPA6AvqN5E

Cairns, Australia
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7. Re: Itinerary advice for last minute plans

Thanks for all this advice it really is appreciated. Mufti in regards to your first suggestions once flown into Calgary is it then ok to hire a car etc to get around? Those spots you mentioned that are also in my itinerary are the must do's. I will look into those tours you have suggested now.

Thankyou both for the youtube links, while my husband is still keen my views of a holiday do not entail being scared witless or in hospital.

Vancouver, Canada
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8. Re: Itinerary advice for last minute plans

I do know that we have a law here about snow tires (snowflake within a mountain outline) between Oct 30 and April 30th on most inland highways. So here is a thread from the Canadian Rockies Forum with advice by the Jasper DE, krp329, about driving the Icefields Parkway which is between Lake Louise and Jasper. My expectation is that it will not be a good idea. I am not sure when the IP opens for maintenance and patrolling, could be mid-May actually, just not sure. The pullouts for the viewpoints will very likely be clogged with snow.

tripadvisor.com/…54887206

You could look into taking VIA Rail from Vancouver to Jasper. It rolls for 20 hours when the weather is fair. Then you could organize Sun Dog or Brewster from Jasper down to Banff and on to Calgary. But I must also say the train does give way to freight trains which get priority and if there is a snowfall, the trains can be delayed until an engine snow plough to clear the tracks.

www.viarail.com

http://freight.railfan.ca/cn/cn55400_2.jpg

You could also consider renting a car from Canadian Affair for part of the journey: Vancouver > Kelowna (and Vernon) and drop it there with no one way drop fee. Make your way to Kamloops, perhaps by Greyhound, and catch the train there for the eastern half of the province to Jasper and then the Rockies. It's just so hard to tell what the weather/roads will be like. Coquihalla summit is about 1200 metres, so it's like a magnet for snow. And Allison Pass on Hwy 3 across to Osoyoos is at 1300 metres, so another magnet. Whistler will have snow and the 99 north of Squamish to Lillooet (especially the Duffey which will largely be in the shade all day with the sun so low in the sky) could have enough snow to be a bit tricky.

http://www.canadianaffair.com/en/car-hire/

www.viarail.ca

www.greyhound.ca

Edited: 11:26 pm, January 01, 2014
Greater Sydney...
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9. Re: Itinerary advice for last minute plans

ryben,

I will throw another option in for you to consider, that being the Via Rail Canadian passenger train from Vancouver to Jasper. I understand it runs twice a week in winter and takes about 18.5 hours for the trip. Looking at March 4 for example it departs Vancouver at 8:30pm and reaches Jasper 4:00pm the next day. That means the most interesting scenery as you approach the Rockies will be in daylight. krp who is DE for the Rockies has travelled on Via Rail quite a bit and has advised in the past that there is no need for a sleeper for one night with the seats being quite comfortable and better than an aircraft. Just looking at the fares and it looks like for two people it would cost CAN$275 and in comparison two air fares would be between $400 and $500. (There are no Tiger Airs or Jetstars in Canada)

http://www.viarail.ca/

Sundog run a shuttle between Jasper and Banff in winter I believe, but not Brewsters. Someone will correct me if I am wrong in that.

(Edit) Now I am posting at the same time as Mufti with a similar idea re Via Rail. :)

Edited: 11:35 pm, January 01, 2014
Cairns, Australia
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10. Re: Itinerary advice for last minute plans

Haha they say great minds think alike! Well thankyou both I have now enough info n research to keep me busy all afternoon. I wouldnt be a travel planner for quids this is the pits!! Thanks again :)