Road Trip 2016

Started by Ash_Tegz in Canada - 3 Replies

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Ash_Tegz posted Jun-2015

Hi All!
I'm a newbie here but thought its best to ask the people who have done it all before! I am basically wanting to know the in's and out's of "road tripping" Canada in 2016. My partner and I are keen snowboarders and are really interested in checking out as many resorts within reason, as possible in the 3-4 weeks we are heading over.
Also, wanting to know weather an RV is the go or just a car and cheap hotels?
What sort of budget would we be looking at?
Any info at all would be greatly appreciated!
Cheers Guys!

reply to 'Road Trip 2016'
posted Jul-2015

I'm going to assume that you're interested in Western Canada.

Outside of Whistler, you should probably budget between 80-150 CAD per night for hotels depending on when and where. Whistler can be much more expensive so I would book ahead if you are looking for deals there.

With 3-4 weeks, you could do an amazing road trip with or without Whistler. The conditions around the southern British Columbia (BC) interior and Alberta vary a lot, so it would be possible to follow the snow.

Hiring an RV would be a stretch. They are very popular in summer. However, in winter you will need to have something with very good traction and that can withstand a 'deep freeze' snap of a few -20 to -40 degree c nights which happens at least a couple of times every season. Bear in mind that you will want to be driving into the best ski conditions, which are also the worst driving conditions. You will be covering large distances, so the low efficiency of an RV will reduce any savings you make on accommodation. Go for something small and nimble if you decide to do this option, do some research on winterized RV's, and be sure to understand how to prevent the plumbing from freezing up. Canadream rent winter RV's. I would call them for some advice if you are taking this option seriously and ask them about the pros and cons of winter RV'ing. Note that some places are ralaxed about you parking up a small RV in the winter, other's aren't. So you will probably still have to shell out some money to park and hook up your RV. Many RV parks throughout the interior do not open in winter. It's just not worth the effort for them to clear snow when 95% of their business is in the summer season. Check what's open and what's not before committing to this option.

Don't fall into the trap of getting too obsessed with getting an SUV or 4x4. A decent sized car with winter tires is all you need and will save you a lot in rental fees and gas. Winter tires are a must, despite what some people say about all-season tires. I would rather do a winter road trip in a 2 wheel drive Ford fusion on winter tires than in any SUV with summer or all season tires. Be sure to insist on winter tires from the rental company, especially if you are renting from Vancouver where it isn't standard to fit them in the winter.

On to the skiing...

This would be the ideal road trip...

Fly into Calgary YYC possibly staying a night in downtown Calgary, you could save a lot on your rental by picking it up downtown. This also gives you some time to acclimatize to the altitude and dry atmosphere and allows you to do following days trip in daylight. Most winter visitors to Calgary would head to Banff for a few days. However, you have plenty of time so head south down the Cowboy trail (Hwy 22) that runs north-south to the west of the city. The drive is amazing and gives you a good sense of both the Alberta prairies, the foothills and the looming mountains to the West. Make a quick stop at Lundbreck Falls on the way to Ski Castle Mountain, if the conditions are good. Then, your first main destination is Fernie across the border into BC. You will pass the Frank slide, site of a huge landslide in which half a mountain slid onto part of a coalmining town. The interpretive centre is worth a stop if you have time. Spend a few days skiing Fernie, stay in the town. Then head to Rossland. The scenery on drive is very good and so it's worth doing it during daylight if you need to rest your legs. Spend a few days staying in Rossland and ski Red Mountain, then head to and stay in Nelson to ski Whitewater mountain for a couple of days.

Your next destination will be Revelstoke. A good way of getting there is, after a day of skiing Whitewater, head north on Hwy 31 along Kootenay lake. Stop for a soak at Ainsworth Hot Springs which overlooks the lake. Then stay a night in the Kaslo hotel. The journey the following day also has amazing scenery. It involves some free BC Ferry crossings across the lakes so be sure to check the winter schedule and factor it into your schedule.

Stay in Revelstoke for a few days and ski Revelstoke Mountain resort. It's challenging with about 6,000 ft of vertical, gondola served skiing. If you like ungroomed glades, steeps and large bowls, you will like Revelstoke.

From Revelstoke you can head down to Vernon for Silver Star and/or head via Kamloops to Sun Peaks. From Kamloops/Sun Peaks, you can drive to Whistler Blackcomb via the 99. Try and do this during the week as it gets very busy at the weekends.

For the return leg to YYC, pick up Big White or Sun Peaks if you missed them on the way over. Then take the main Trans Canada Hwy 1 to Golden, BC to ski Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. The on mountain accommodation is very good value here and there is always good skiing to be found somewhere in the resort, with loads of chutes and ungroomed bowls and trees.

At some point you will pass the Rogers Pass visitors information centre on Hwy1 between Revelstoke and Golden. It's free if you show your park pass. This is a very worthwhile and convenient stop to get some historical perspective on the Canadian Pacific railroad, the highway and avalanche control that keeps the highway you have just driven open. There is a great film about this in the visitors centre theatre.

Then you should head to Lake-Louise and then Banff to hit the Banff area resorts of Lake-Louise/Norquay and Sunshine Village. There's a ton of information about these resorts so I won't elaborate further.

It sounds like a lot, and it is, but if you have 3+ weeks it's a realistic proposition to cover all or most of these ski areas.

Other variations include taking in some more scenery via the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93 N) to Jasper to ski Marmot Basin.

You'll want to pick up a park pass for your car. Figure out if buying the annual Parks Canada pass saves you any money at 136.40 CAD per car. You'll also want to pick up a big cheap shovel (the store 'Canadian Tire' is your friend), some 'emergency chocolate'  and plenty of water for the journeys between areas. Some of the areas away from the Trans Canada Highway have very sparsely distributed services. It's not like the UK, in that you will need to keep an eye on gas consumption and where you can next fill up, that's all. Don't run out of gas in -20 without cellphone coverage and no supplies! (about 40% of driving on this trip will have poor or no cellphone coverage) Someone will come along eventually, but it could be a long time.

Canada is a great place to do this kind of road trip. You will have a blast.
Edited 1 time. Last update at 06-Aug-2015

reply to 'Road Trip 2016'
posted Jul-2015

Just realized you are both snowboarders! Replace 'ski' for 'ride' in the above

Best resorts on the trip for snowboaders in my opinion (often powder with few flat spots):
Lake Louise (esp. back bowls)
Kicking Horse
Wistler Blackcomb (good for everything really)
Silver Star

On edges
reply to 'Road Trip 2016'
posted Aug-2015

Steverandomno has made really good points but if I may I would change the driving directions just a touch. If you are flying to Calgary, land get your rental car and zoom to Banff, about and hour and a half a way, depending on Calgary traffic of course. This is a mountain trip so get in the mountains. Make sure you walk the strip and Banff springs Hotel has a menu of 40 different Caesars and I am currently on number 28. Its a must. Also Alberta is a world class beef producing area and the restaurants are full of it, so indulge. The Salt lick, The Keg and Earls are all good. Many ski shops on the back streets so don't be afraid to wonder.While in Banff ski Sunshine one day Lake Louise the next using Banff as a base unless you really want to stay in Louise. Louise is beautiful but very few places to stay ($) and very little places to eat and shop. Next travel to Radium Hot Springs, stop and enjoy the hot water bath then continue south to Panorama which has reputation for sketchy snow cover buts its BIG and steep in Taunton bowls and has gorgeous views, your driving by so why not. Next Kimberley, a smaller mountain 700m's, but is a nice resort,affordable and it has some of the nicest snow in western Canada and usually lots of it. This is not a PRO hill but you will find lots to keep you interested for a day. Go to the backside, but it can be flat in places for a snowboard so ask at the info booth where to go.
Next, meander to Fernie, and hour away, but bowls big steeps cool vibe, just gets lots of rain instead of snow.
Now back track up 93A, lets stay in the mountains not boring praries, and go to Kicking Horse in Golden. A very challenging hill, huge ridges, big snow and probably one of the best hills for you on this trip. Snow is generally good to great.
THen travel 2 hours through world famous Rodgers pass to Revelstoke, stunning views and many places to back country, just ask at the KH resort the do's and donts.Revelstoke if the snow is on is unbelieveable, high ,trees, cliffs whatever, a must see.
Then I would go to Kelowna, why, because its beautiful in the Okanagon, and I would visit Silver star in Vernon, you could easily stay in Vernon and it would be cheaper. Kind of a family hill, but its has some good boarding terrain.
Then Kamloops, Sun Peaks, kind of like Silver star and fun.
Then I would check the Duffy Highway snow report, ( BC highways .com is great) if its open drive from Kamloops to Lilloet and the Duffy Hwy to Whistler, this way is hours quicker and awesome landscape with tons of backcountry available. Youll see cars pulled over at every nook and cranny but I have no experience and where they go.
When your done at Whistler ( 5 days? LOL ) travel south on the sea to sky highway to Vancouver and tour the city for a few days and if conditions are right Cypress Grouse and Seymour are with in minutes of the city. Problem is Vancouver is so warm the surrounding hills are hit and miss for conditions.
Travelling back east from Vancouver take the trans Canada hwy south 1A ? through Manning park to the Okanagon and Kelowna and hit and drink for a day before going to Big White. There is always good snow at BW sometimes too good, as in you can't see. BW nickname is Big White Out, boarding by braille is the name of the game, but the next day will be sunny guaranteed or vise versa.
Travel to Rossland to Red mt, a secret gem, and it has everything your looking for, big cliffs to steep groomers and cheap compared to the rest.Flying steamshovel is a cheap fun hotel
1 hour away is Nelson...a chill cool town, and make reservations at the Hume hotel and go to Whitewater, another guaranteed snow steep yet short hill..very challenging.
Now this is where it gets hard to find new ground to cover, you can go east to Fernie and out the praries to Calgary in probably 6 hours or less but for me I head north back to Revelstoke via Nikusp and the ferries. Beautiful scenery and once in Rev you head back to Golden where you can make up your mind south the Fernie or east to Lake Louise and Sunshine for another go around. Your call.
Hint whether you land in Van or Calgary you want to return your vehicle to the same city you rented it in. Other wise they charge air fare to send an employee to get it back.
A small car is fine but winter tires are a must and check to see they are on. 100 to 150 a night is reasonable but B+ B are half that and hostels are even cheaper its just what you want.
One other thing, just watch weather network online and be at a hill before a storm and be prepared to stay for 2 days after.
Edited 1 time. Last update at 31-Aug-2015

Topic last updated on 31-August-2015 at 21:08

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