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Driving from Vernon to Calgary

Sydney, Australia
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Driving from Vernon to Calgary

y husband and I are now considering driving from our stay in Silver Star, to Calgary for a flight home and will have about 4 days to do the drive. Wondering what places to stay overnight at and places of interest along the way (in the winter), and whether it would be easy or hard to get accommodation on the fly, as we won't know too far in advance which town we will be in. Travelling around 19th - 22nd Feb.

thanks

GBLyn

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: Driving from Vernon to Calgary

My very first thought is to suggest that you book all your accommodation. At this time of year in the Interior, you might welcome having people expect you. Driving in the west and east Kootenays in the winter is doable but not for the faint of heart. Not to be alarmist, If you skidded off the road and out of sight, better to have someone aware of where you generally are.

The trip from Vernon to Calgary is about 550 km and 7 hours of straight through driving. With 4 days, you will have plenty of time.

Craighellachie is about one-third of the way between Sicamous and Revelstoke and is well worth a looksee for the history of the CPR railway.

Revelstoke is a town of 7500 people and well worth a stop. There is the Revelstoke Railway Museum open at this time of year from F-T, 11-4. It is an old railway town as well as a town in a setting of great natural beauty.

Golden is the next town of about 4000 people.

The Spiral tunnel between Golden and the Rockies is also not to be missed as it is a feat of engineering that gets the trains through a mountain. If you're there at the right time, you will see the engine coming out of the tunnel and the last car heading into the tunnel at the same time. (Sigh, no cabooses any more.)

There is also the beauty of Glacier and Yoho Nat Parks on the way.

For a stopover, my suggestion would be Revelstoke with several nights in the Rockies.

Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: Driving from Vernon to Calgary

Just thought of this:

…gov.bc.ca/popular-topics/…winrd1.htm

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: Driving from Vernon to Calgary

One night either Revelstoke or Golden, then the rest in Banff. I agree with Mufti in that it's a good safety measure to make sure someone is expecting you, but you also don't want to be committed to traveling if you are unlucky with the weather. If there is a bad snowstorm, you will have to hunker down until it blows over, then give the ploughs and sand trucks time to do their work and get the highway clear again.

Given the time of year, you may find a lot of places are closed for the season outside of the main tourist resorts. Revelstoke and Golden both have ski resorts, so your chances are better of finding accommodations and attractions open. However, they may also be booked up, so it wouldn't hurt to do some checking, even if you don't prebook anything.

You will find Banff and the Rockies are spectacular and quite unlike the rest of the mountain ranges. Worth some extra time in this area. Banff is only a couple of hours from Calgary, so depending on the time of your flight, you could stay in Banff right up to your last day. Definitely prebook Banff.

Sydney, Australia
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4. Re: Driving from Vernon to Calgary

Thank you for those very helpful replies. Although, after reading your replies, Im feeling a bit anxious about the drive now........But we do have to get to Calgary for our outbound flight, so should we be considering an alternate route, although after googling, it would be a much longer route by the look of it and does this guarantee better driving conditions?

Thanks

GBLyn

Vancouver, Canada
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5. Re: Driving from Vernon to Calgary

GBLyn ~

You are correct in wondering about the "guarantee" of better driving conditions if you take another route.

A friend of mine drives out to Vancouver at Christmas from the East Kootenays by driving down to the States and taking the Interstate out to Seattle and then up to Vancouver which has proven to be better driving conditions than BC roads in winter but much longer.

Other friends are travelling between this Christmas and New Year's from Vancouver to Calgary, as usual, and have experience as well as a Plan B in place.

In your case, being from Australia, you would be in a much different, less experienced position. The bottom line in Winter BC is that there is no guarantee for weather or driving conditions. It could be a sparkling blue sky week or it could be a snow storm. Sorry to be such a wet blanket, but it is important to help you make an informed decision.

(Last Dec/Jan, Vancouver got over a metre of snow in a couple of weeks - surprise! It broke a record held since the 1960s. We just don't know in BC, except we can count on it getting cold.)

Would it be possible to wait until a few days before you leave Kelowna, check the 5 day forecast before you make your decision? You could then rent the car or look into taking Greyhound: www.greyhound.ca.

Kamloops, Canada
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6. Re: Driving from Vernon to Calgary

Highway #1 is THE main route for accessing BC to Calgary. Lots of vehicles use this route so it MUST be kept open. That being said the section from Revelstoke to about Golden/Field can be closed at any time throughout winter because of avalanches. With four days of time you should have no problems.Take your time in travelling and you should have no problems. If you are concerned about the driving aspect you could take the Greyhound bus and let them ease your anxiety. Get off at specific locations and stay the day.

http://www.greyhound.ca/home/

Hope this helps :0)

Vancouver, Canada
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7. Re: Driving from Vernon to Calgary

You might also consider going down to Kelowna (about an hour south of Vernon) and flying to Calgary. You could pick up a rental car and drive back to Banff, weather permitting. There would likely be a lot of traffic on that portion of the road (although the Alberta DEs could advise you further on that.

Sydney, Australia
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8. Re: Driving from Vernon to Calgary

That all sounds good advice. As we do have time on our side, I think we will do as Mufti suggests and wait and see what the forecast is when the time comes and make are transport arrangements then. Greyhound would be a good option. Although, just as a sideline, some years ago we opted to do a guided"tour" 4WD Bus on Fraser Island, so that we wouldn't have to worry about driving on sand/beaches. Unfortunately for us, the bus rolled, and our extended family of 9 and otherson the bus sustained various injuries, some being helcoptered off to hospitals). So no,there are no guarantees,

Thanks heaps again for your input - TA contributors are such a great help when organising holidays. I will post back when we return.

GBLyn

Kamloops, Canada
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9. Re: Driving from Vernon to Calgary

Another bonus of taking the bus is that both of you can watch the scenery. I as a driver sometimes miss seeing what my passengers see (as long as they stay awake). I have done the route you would be taking many times and it really is a spectacular drive, I always see something new to me, really. But you do have to pay attention to the driving especially in the winter as a momentary lapse could be trouble.

Enjoy your visit, we really do live in a beautiful part of the world and love to share!

10. Re: Driving from Vernon to Calgary

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