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Honeymoon January 2009

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N Ireland
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Honeymoon January 2009

hi - we are thinking about taking our honeymoon in Western Canada next year but we are unsure about the weather conditions and whether it is recommended to visit the national parks at this time of the year. We are hoping to fly into Calgary or Vancouver and from there spend 10-12 days going to Banff, Jasper, Whistler and any other recommended areas. Any itinerary ideas would be greatly appreciated as we are total first timers to these destinations

Thank you in advance

Calgary, Canada
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1. Re: Honeymoon January 2009

January is winter in most of Canada. BUT Vancouver has a warm coastal climate, which means that their winter is cool and wet, not cold and snowy. They may get one or two snowfalls throughout the entire winter. Victoria, which you can reach via a ferry from Vancouver, is much the same.

Calgary has winters which are enlivened by the occasional breath of spring or summer, brought to it by warm Pacific winds called chinooks. It's too bad that they are so unpredictable, because the chinook experience could be a real tourist draw: you are slogging around in your parka and winter boots, toque, and mitts, and then, sometimes overnight, sometimes in just a few hours, the wind starts to blow, the temperature rises, the snow melts, and you shed coat and all to walk around in a light jacket or even shirtsleeves. Chinooks can last for a day or last for a couple of weeks; it's what makes winter bearable here. The temperature can change by as much as +30 degrees Celsius!

In the mountains, winter means skiing or snowboarding, and other winter activities, like snowshoeing, sleigh rides and dogsledding. A lot of the smaller summer viewpoints and destinations are closed, and of course most hikes are not practical (although some lower valley walks can be done, if the weather cooperates a little). If you are non-skiers, and not interested in learning to ski or board, then you might be happier if you visit at a different time of year. If you are skiers/snowboarders, then you will find a large number of major ski areas with snow better than Europe's, and shorter lift lines.

One last point: I do NOT recommend driving from Vancouver to Banff in the winter. Winter driving through the Rockies is some of the most challenging driving you will ever do, unless you are already familar with winter driving *and* mountain driving. And if you are, you know it's not something you're likely to enjoy doing on your holiday! Instead, fly between Calgary and Vancouver; the drive from Banff to Calgary is much safer. It's not mountain driving--no steep hills or sharp drop-offs--and the 4 -lane divided highway has the top priority for snow removal in winter; the sanders and plows are usually out there as the snow is falling. (Not that I would recommend anyone drive on the highway during a heavy snowfall or immediately after; it takes time to win the battle against Mother Nature.)

2. Re: Honeymoon January 2009

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