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Critique my plan Vancouver to Calgary

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Folsom, California
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Critique my plan Vancouver to Calgary

Ok. I'm at that planning stage in our trip that I am hoping for some feedback, please : )

Flying into Vancouver and out of Calgary with 2 adults and active kids 4.5 and 11. Am realizing I am skipping all the big city, museum, history attraction in exchange for lots of nature, hiking, canoeing, etc. We going smack dab in the high season mid July. (missing Calgary Stampede)

Day 1 arrive noon at Vancouver airport and plan to go to Lynn Canyon for a little hike, see the suspension bridge, (not sure we are getting suspension bridges anywhere else in the trip so want to throw it in) then do the scenic drive to Squamish along Howe Sound and night in Squamish (not sure if this is worth our time, but it sounded great in the description and we won't be driving by a fjord like place later in the trip) Is Squamish a cute enough town or would you recommend elsewhere?

Day 2 see mining museum in Brittania and then spend some time with waterfalls, walking around, night in Squamish (any comments, is this worth it?)

Day 3 drive from Squamish to Revelstoke, I know this is a long drive but it claims to be scenic taking the road via Whistler so figure we will stop along the way lots of waterfalls, views, etc. dinner in Salmon Arm maybe? night in Revelstoke, is this the best town for us?

Day 4 visit Revelstoke Park and night in Revelstoke

Day 5 visit Glacier Park and night in Revelstoke, not sure if this should be a priority and I should just move on earlier and spend the time in Jasper or Banff

Day 6 long drive day and go from Revelstoke to Jasper

Day 7 Maligne Canyon walk, Jasper night

Day 8 Icefields tour on snocoach and viewing the icefield parkway Jasper night

Day 9 up to Miette Hot Springs, Jasper night

Day 10 drive to Banff, see town Discovery and Marsh Trail and short walk, maybe Hoodoos Trail and night in Banff

Day 11 Lake Louise walk, rent canoes, night Banff

Day 12 Johnston Canyon trail, Lake Minnwanka, night in Banff

Day 13 drive from Banff to Radium Hot Spring to see Kootenay National Park Paint Pots, marble canyon and Radium Hot Spring pool, night in Banff

Day 14 drive Banff to Calgary, stopping at the luge ride outside of town at the Olympic Park, night in Calgary close to airport

Day 15 fly out super early

Questions: Is this too much time for Jasper and are there more things to do from Banff? Is Revelstoke a good use of our time or is there something else I missed?

Which hot springs are your favorite, not sure we will go to all of them: Miette, Radum and Banff? I figured Banff would be the busiest so thought might skip that one.

Are there crazy busy traffic patterns I need to know. ie is driving from Squamish to Revelstoke much busier on a weekend?

I feel like I don't know how to prioritize the national parks, they all look so good! Not sure if anyone has other recommendations on something to see that I missed.

Should I be spending this much time hiking if the mosquitos are going to be aggressive? We don't have them where I live so not sure how far my kiddos want to walk if they are flying round. Do you avoid it by going 1st thing in the morning or should I avoid hikes by a few of the lakes?

The only luge ride I saw in the area we are visting is the one in Calgary. Do you know of any others?

Any feedback would be appreciated.

Jenn

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1. Re: Critique my plan Vancouver to Calgary

Just quickly- by that time the new gondola @ Squamish is scheduled to be open that increases your hiking options and the views from up there are astounding-as is the drive along Highway 99 up past Whistler.

http://www.seatoskygondola.com/

Vancouver BC
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2. Re: Critique my plan Vancouver to Calgary

Good idea from Sam. Squamish is OK but certainly not a cute town. It is a town in transition. Britannia is doubling back a bit so you really are not much better off staying in Squamish over North Vancouver. There is a lot in Whistler to enjoy if you overnight there. For reference It is 90 minutes from Vancouver without traffic. Through Whistler is worthwhile but all the way to Revelstoke in a day is pushing it. I'd be more inclined to overnight in Salmon Arm.

Edited: 4:32 pm, January 12, 2014
Folsom, California
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3. Re: Critique my plan Vancouver to Calgary

I will look into the new gondola, didn't know it was coming in and didn't plan any time for hiking in that area if it does. What would the views be of in that area? Rainforest? Views of the river? Are the trails up there getting used much now? Wonder if that will affect the hotel availability, etc. I could drive all the way to Whistler for the night and then come back for the mining in Britannia or is there a better place to stay closer to Brittania that was worth while? I wanted to have some time to linger at Howe Sound which is why I had some time there. Have been to Vancouver on other trips and while I LOVED it, was hoping to not do the big cities this trip.

I know the drive is a bit rough all the way to Revelstoke, but I wanted to change hotels as few times as possible and I think I want to do Revelstoke Park and Glacier Park and in that case Revelstoke made more sense. Not sure if I am going to feel like there are too many similar National parks and if Revelstoke and Glacier are a good use of time or if I should do something different.

Do you feel comfortable leaving your luggage in the car while going on a hike? I wouldn't have it in plan view, but wondering how much I should be concerned.

Jenn

Jenn

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4. Re: Critique my plan Vancouver to Calgary

I wouldn't drive back from Whistler. To keep things in perspective Squamish is only 40 miles (70km) from downtown Vancouver and over half way to Whistler. The view from the new gondola is over Howe Sound.

Vancouver, Canada
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5. Re: Critique my plan Vancouver to Calgary

Its a good start, but I would tweak it a bit.

Day 1 - A good start, but I think you either need to do the Mining Museum that day, or perhaps you have to miss that particular attraction. Keep in mind that Britannia Mining Museum is the first Parks Canada site you will stop at, so you are well advised to just pick up the annual family pass for all the national parks and get the most value from the pass.

Day 2 - it doesn't make sense to me to head back down to Britannia from Squamish. The Chief is right there, and that's where the gondola is going in. Here's the view:

http://tinyurl.com/meucnno

I also think you are trying to do WAY too much getting all the way from Squamish to Revelstoke. I would strongly recommend that either you push on to at least Pemberton for that night, or you only get as far as Kamloops/Salmon Arm the next night. If you see some things around Squamish and then just press on and see Whistler and finish in Pemberton, it would take the edge off the next day's driving. That road from Pemberton through to Lillooet is lovely, but slow driving. Type "Duffy Lake Road" into You Tube for images of the route. (eg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cvg3mHX681g)

Day 5 - As much as I like that you are spending two nights in Revelstoke, it makes sense to carry on from Glacier and head towards Golden, rather than returning to Revelstoke to drive that way again the following day. There is plenty right in Revelstoke, with the national park, the museum and the dam, as well as the charming town itself, that you don't need to go all the way to Glacier to find something to do and then come back.

Day 8 - The tour of the Columbia Glacier is a long way from Jasper and is best done in transit between Banff and Jasper. Instead, you could drive out to Mount Robson Provincial Park, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. This is not worth it if you don't have a clear day.

Day 10 - The Icefields Parkway is a 10 hour day with so many wonderful stops between Banff and Jasper, that you can't plan on seeing any Banff features on day 10. Yes, looking at your plan, I don't think you have researched the Icefields Parkway, as you have missed all of those highlights and features, which will utterly consume both day 6 and day 10, so those activities will have to be moved to another day.

Folsom, California
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6. Re: Critique my plan Vancouver to Calgary

Wow, those pictures are beautiful! I'll check into the gondola more and see if that is something we want to consider. The mining museum needs more time than I have on my first day, we want to go into the mine and I think the last tour in was 3pm and I REALLY want to see Lynn Canyon. I think after a 2.5 hour flight my kiddos will be itching to go for a walk. If the weather is bad we might go straight to the mine instead. I think I can play it by ear. Still planning on doing the scenic drive though.

Vancouverite, you mentioned buying the park pass and for how many days we are planning to buy one so we don't have to wait to buy daily tix. I thought it was just for national parks, but does it include the mining museum also or were you saying they just sell them? I heard AAA had a discount, do you know if you can buy them in the US or only when you get there?

I will research what else there is to do in the Icefield park, I thought it was just a trip on the snocoach and the visitor center. I have to drive it twice, once up and then back so figured we would hit some viewpoints and stopping at some of the waterfalls and lakes.

The Duffy Road looks like fun, wish we could drive it in a convertible : ) Maybe in retirement!

Were you saying that you like Revelstoke Park better than Glacier or more that location wise it is just easier to stay in Revelstoke? Can you compare the 2?

Just FYI I didn't say it but I plan to see Peyto Lake, and a waterfall or 2 in Yoho National Park if we have time.

Thank you for the feedback, it really helps me fine tune my plan, there are just so many amazing places to visit and not enough time!

Jenn

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7. Re: Critique my plan Vancouver to Calgary

I'll offer another possible itinerary for your consideration.

I think getting to Squamish on the first day is reasonable given your arrival time at YVR, the hour? to come through Canadian Customs, the hour? to arrange your car rental. It does have a nice setting with mountains rising on most sides. The logging industry was established for a long long time. Now that it is basically dead, the town is still trying to find an identity. At the moment, it seems to be the outdoor adventure capital of BC. Maybe your family could see people windsurfing and kiteboarding in Howe Sound. The word Squamish after all means "windy place."

You can count on 40-45 minutes to get to Lynn Canyon from the airport and a couple of hours exploring the Park and the Ecology Centre. Then off to Squamish. Things to see on the way: Porteau Cove, The Chief (parking lot at the base so you can crane your neck up to watch the climbers on the rock face). Plenty of decent restaurants to eat, both downtown as well as in the neighbourhood of Garibaldi Estates and even in Brackendale. Chef Big D, Wigan Pier, The Nest, Pepe and Gringo's, Fergie's Cafe.

tripadvisor.com/Restaurants-g181771-Squamish…

From Squamish back to Britannia is 9 km and about 10 minutes drive, so not onerous at all.

From Squamish, you might consider driving to Clinton for the night. It does look a bit of a detour, but not in the scheme of things and it does take you into horse country, dry, desert-like high country. The Duffey Lake Road is a twisting and turning road from ~sea level at Pemberton up to the high country.

From Clinton to Revelstoke where you can visit the town and attractions around, then next day move on to Banff, visiting Yoho NP on the way (Takakkaw Falls, Emerald Lake). I'm not sure Glacier NP is the go to park to visit.

One day on the Icefields Parkway to Jasper.

One additional day on the IP back to Banff. You won't regret it.

Off to Calgary.

To put all this in itinerary form:

2 nights Squamish

1 night Clinton

2 nights Revelstoke

4 nights Banff

3 nights Jasper

1 night Banff or Lake Louise

1 night Calgary

Map for this suggestion. See the driving times and distances in the left sidebar: http://goo.gl/maps/zXFok

Here are the Points of Interest on the Icefields Parkway. Open the PDF link below the map you see here:

pc.gc.ca/eng/…Parkway.aspx

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8. Re: Critique my plan Vancouver to Calgary

What's in Clinton, you ask? britishcolumbia.com/regions/towns/index.asp…

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9. Re: Critique my plan Vancouver to Calgary

If you buy the Parks Canada Annual Pass for you family, it provides access to all national parks and historic sites for the year. This would include the Britannia Mining Museum and Cave and Basin NHS in Banff. I think there's another one around Calgary somewhere. If you look at that, plus the national park daily fees for all your stops, you may find its worth it.

Yes, its up to you if you want to bounce back down to the Britannia Mine on day 2. Agreed its not a big deal, just so many decisions and choices to make, so you'll have to decide how important it is to you. And then its just a case of whether you press on to Pemberton for that second night.

I like Clinton, cute little town, but off your route quite a bit. I would stick with heading through Kamloops for Revelstoke.

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10. Re: Critique my plan Vancouver to Calgary

Just want to mention that the time needed to drive from the junction of Hwy 99 and 97 to go up to Clinton, is about 27 km/15 minutes.

http://goo.gl/maps/aahqd