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Old Yesterday, 08:35 AM   #1
PhilLynot OP
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2 weeks in the Canadian Rockies - advice?

I am planning a trip to the Canadian Rockies in early June and I could use some advice. I've never been to this area but I've wanted to visit it for some time. I'll be leaving from Fargo, ND and will probably cross the border into Canada at Glacier National Park. From there I'm tentatively planning to start with Waterton Lakes NP, then ride north hitting all the NP's until I get to Jasper, then head back. I could keep going a bit farther north if I wanted to, but I haven't investigated things enough yet to know whether this would make sense. I've got up to three weeks for the entire trip and if I decide not to spend all of them in Canada, I may head south on the Continental Divide trail from Glacier.

I've got a Moon's handbook to the Canadian Rockies that I just started to read. I'm taking an 1150 GS, camping gear, probably some hiking gear, a camelbak, bear spray, and a high-end point and shoot camera. I don't know that I'll do much or any hiking, but I might want to do it for a couple of days just to mix things up since I enjoy being fit and physically active. In general, I'm a lot more into being outside and seeing beautiful parks and scenery (from the bike) as opposed to cities, but if there are some city areas I should see I don't want to miss them either.

Here are some questions I have:

1. About how many days should I plan to spend in Canada?
2. What's the cheapest way to pay for access to all the NP's? Do they have a universal pass like in the US?
3. I'd like to save money and Canada is expensive. Are there any good campgrounds or cheap hotels that are recommended?
4. Are there any scenic places, roads, or other attractions I shouldn't miss?
5. Does the Continental Divide trail continue into Canada such that it is ridable by licensed motorcycles? If not, are there any dirt routes on any parts of this trip that parallel my general course?
6. Is there a general itinerary that would be good for this trip? For example, since Banff, Yoho, and Kootenay are all clustered together, I could skip the latter two on the was up so that there would be some different elements on the ride back. Beyond that, how much time should I consider spending at each park?
7. Are there any sources you could recommend to help me with planning?
8. Is there anything I've overlooked?

I realize that these questions are general and I may find the answers to some of them soon, but my trip is only a month away so I wanted to post this ASAP so others would have more time to offer input.

Thanks!

John
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Old Yesterday, 11:24 AM   #2
Scott_F
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Buy your bear spray here. Less hassle at the border.

Check out this thread:
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1038619
Lots of information there.

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Old Yesterday, 12:48 PM   #3
DYNOBOB
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We did this trip in 2013. Toward the end is my summary. http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=947936

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Old Yesterday, 02:45 PM   #4
Scott_F
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilLynot View Post
I am planning a trip to the Canadian Rockies in early June and I could use some advice. I've never been to this area but I've wanted to visit it for some time. I'll be leaving from Fargo, ND and will probably cross the border into Canada at Glacier National Park. From there I'm tentatively planning to start with Waterton Lakes NP, then ride north hitting all the NP's until I get to Jasper, then head back. I could keep going a bit farther north if I wanted to, but I haven't investigated things enough yet to know whether this would make sense. I've got up to three weeks for the entire trip and if I decide not to spend all of them in Canada, I may head south on the Continental Divide trail from Glacier.


Define your objectives.

If you want to see mountains, BC93 north from Cranbrook comes through a wide valley (the Columbia) to Radium, where it enters Kootenay Park and ends up near Banff. Wide valley surrounded by mountains, long sweepers, nice scenery. (It's all relative.)

On the other side, AB22 comes north from AB3 through foothills, some of them high, wide expanse of grasslands with nothing else but nature as far as Longview. Go left on AB541 and up AB40, the Kananaskis Highway, and you will see the Alberta side of the Rockies up close. Highwood Pass opens June 13.

From Banff, the ride to Jasper is epic. If you go farther north, it is a very long way around through Prince George to get back to civilization. Better to backtrack and head for Revelstoke. While your there, check out the Banff Parkway, which leaves the main highway west of Banff and winds through the Bow valley to Lake Louise.

If you want the best riding, from Revelstoke, if you have an extra day, you can run up to the Mica Creek Dam and back. Gorgeaous and twisty. Otherwise, head for the Kootenays, the Galena Bay ferry. Do the loop from Nakusp to Nelson to Kaslo and back, then head west over the Monashees on BC6 to Vernon. This route is arguably the best riding in BC. It's all through mountains.

From Vernon, you can decide to retrace your steps (the scenery is different going the other way) and have another tour of the Kootenays or you can go south through the Okanogan, or through Cache Creek and Pemberton to the Coast along the Duffey Lake Road, BC's other best motorcycle road. Dip your toe in the ocean and head home. Epic.

Basically, all of the riding in BC is awesome, as long as you stay off the Trans-Canada and Coquihalla Highway and don't go past Hope. There is no hope past Hope. You enter "Greater Vancouver" which is a rat's nest of bad roads and too much traffic, dangerous on a motorcycle.

Destination Highways is still the best guide to riding in BC. The map is essential if you plan to seek out the best roads.

Regards
Scott Fraser
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Old Yesterday, 08:01 PM   #5
cjh137
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Scott knows what he is talking about. Do that. Especially the 31a and 3a in the Kaslo area. Camp at Toad Rock, Mary is the owner/operator and 100% awesome.
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Old Today, 08:20 AM   #6
GreatWhiteNorth
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott_F View Post
... Go left on AB541 and up AB40, the Kananaskis Highway, and you will see the Alberta side of the Rockies up close. Highwood Pass opens June 13. From Banff, the ride to Jasper is epic. ...

Great advice! Cutting through AB40 through Peter Loughheed Provincial Park gives you the option of stopping and camping there in Kananaskis. The campgrounds there, by the Kananaskis Lakes, are IMO even nicer than Banff, Lake Louise or Jasper. The Highwood Pass is spectacular. Suggest taking the Smith Dorrien Trail AB-742 (also referred to as the Spray Lakes Trail) to Canmore - a very nice shortcut, and good gravel.

BTW, Waterton Nat'l Park is fantastic, but camping at the townsite campground is RV style camping. If you're looking for a nicer experience, I suggest taking the Red Rock Parkway to the Crandell Mountain Campground - very nice! Be bear aware everywhere there in the foothills and mountains.
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Old Today, 10:05 AM   #7
Scott_F
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreatWhiteNorth View Post
Great advice! Cutting through AB40 through Peter Loughheed Provincial Park gives you the option of stopping and camping there in Kananaskis. The campgrounds there, by the Kananaskis Lakes, are IMO even nicer than Banff, Lake Louise or Jasper. The Highwood Pass is spectacular. Suggest taking the Smith Dorrien Trail AB-742 (also referred to as the Spray Lakes Trail) to Canmore - a very nice shortcut, and good gravel.

BTW, Waterton Nat'l Park is fantastic, but camping at the townsite campground is RV style camping. If you're looking for a nicer experience, I suggest taking the Red Rock Parkway to the Crandell Mountain Campground - very nice! Be bear aware everywhere there in the foothills and mountains.
The municipal campground in Pincher Creek is cheap and clean. Anything in or near a park is very expensive, double what it is elsewhere.

Toad Rock m/c campground, between Balfour and Ainsworth, is a wonderful place to hang out. You can stash your stuff there for a few days while you ride the New Denver - Kaslo - Nelson loop. There are hot springs at Ainsworth and at Nakusp. The Kaslo Hotel has great food. Buck Mountain m/c campground is across the Needles ferry near Edgewood.

Touch back when your itinerary starts to shape up and we can offer more suggestions.

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Old Today, 01:51 PM   #8
Garnotte
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The forestry trunk road (FTR) between Coleman and Hinton worth the ride! Great way to cross Alberta from south to north.


For Pinchercreek campground, there's 2 right in town, the municipal like Scott_f said, and the sleepy hollow, I tried both last year and the sleepy hollow worth the extra 3$ a night, much more amenities.


Check also for: Idaho peak, Sandon BC, nice ghost town and a nice 2 km hike, the scenery is awesome, Grey Creek pass near Kimberly BC, old cascade hwy between Cristina lake and Rossland BC.

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Old Today, 05:02 PM   #9
PhilLynot OP
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Thanks for the responses, and thanks especially for the precise details, Scott Fraser. I donít have a detailed map yet, so it looks like Iíll be ordering the DHBC Gold, which should have tons of info. I really need one to start planning.

Iíve been in Canada before (Toronto and Ottawa), so I know itís pricey, the police take the law VERY seriously, and everything seems to cost about 35% more than in the US. Love Toronto - so clean for a big city.

As far as my objectives, theyíre mostly beautiful, scenic, and if possible, not too populated, rides. I like mountains more than plains, prefer high-altitude vistas over riding through forests, prefer being on the bike most of the time as opposed to parking and wandering or walking about, prefer less travelled roads as opposed to more congested ones, prefer to be reasonably thrifty on lodging, and prefer quiet over family-oriented places.

I called Destination Highways and the person I spoke with recommended making a loop that involves going south into Washington state on my return. I know he wanted to sell me an extra guidebook, but I believe he was being genuine. I think this would make sense because I would avoid repeating similar terrain and I really havenít spent much time in Washington state.
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Old Today, 07:02 PM   #10
Steve G.
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Some really good advice above. As noted, the ghost town [nearly!] of Sandon really is worth a stop to check out closest to New Denver. The road from Kaslo to New Denver is one of the best street motorcycle roads in Canada. In fact, most of the truly great bike roads reside within the Monashee Mtn range rather than the Rockies, which tend to be long and boring.

And I should point out that this is serious hot spring country. With majestic Halcyon Hot Springs north of Nakusp, olde fashioned homey Nakusp Hot springs just outside Nakusp, and my all time favourite, Ainsworth Hot Springs, which is just south of Kaslo. All have camping possibilities close by or right at the hot spring locations. I attend the annual world Laverda rally in July every year in Nakusp, and Ainsworth is most usually where everyone goes for a Saturday blast, followed by a late lunch in 'crazy beautiful' downtown Kaslo.

The advice to head back in Washington State is a sound one. While the best street roads in Canada are found in south/central BC, Washington, Oregon, and western Montana are as good as it gets on this continent outside of California.

http://www.hellobc.com/


http://www.travel.bc.ca/


http://bcadventure.com/adventure/circletours/index.html


http://www.bestbikingroads.com/motor...-___13400.html

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Old Today, 07:17 PM   #11
Garnotte
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilLynot View Post
Thanks for the responses, and thanks especially for the precise details, Scott Fraser. I donít have a detailed map yet, so it looks like Iíll be ordering the DHBC Gold, which should have tons of info. I really need one to start planning.

Iíve been in Canada before (Toronto and Ottawa), so I know itís pricey, the police take the law VERY seriously, and everything seems to cost about 35% more than in the US. Love Toronto - so clean for a big city.

As far as my objectives, theyíre mostly beautiful, scenic, and if possible, not too populated, rides. I like mountains more than plains, prefer high-altitude vistas over riding through forests, prefer being on the bike most of the time as opposed to parking and wandering or walking about, prefer less travelled roads as opposed to more congested ones, prefer to be reasonably thrifty on lodging, and prefer quiet over family-oriented places.

I called Destination Highways and the person I spoke with recommended making a loop that involves going south into Washington state on my return. I know he wanted to sell me an extra guidebook, but I believe he was being genuine. I think this would make sense because I would avoid repeating similar terrain and I really havenít spent much time in Washington state.
About thing that cost 35% more than the US, the exange rate are in your favor now, 100$ us give you around 120$ can...

As for the law, western canada as nothing to do with Ottawa and Toronto, in alberta almost every trucks and bike are straith pipe lol! RCMP are nearly invisible.
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Old Today, 08:53 PM   #12
Scott_F
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilLynot View Post
Thanks for the responses, and thanks especially for the precise details, Scott Fraser. I donít have a detailed map yet, so it looks like Iíll be ordering the DHBC Gold, which should have tons of info. I really need one to start planning.
No problem. If you're gonna come this far, you might as well get the most out of it.

Quote:
Iíve been in Canada before (Toronto and Ottawa), so I know itís pricey, the police take the law VERY seriously, and everything seems to cost about 35% more than in the US. Love Toronto - so clean for a big city.
US Dollar is 120% of Canadian dollar these days. Still cheaper to travel in the US, but not as much now.

Quote:
As far as my objectives, theyíre mostly beautiful, scenic, and if possible, not too populated, rides. I like mountains more than plains, prefer high-altitude vistas over riding through forests, prefer being on the bike most of the time as opposed to parking and wandering or walking about, prefer less travelled roads as opposed to more congested ones, prefer to be reasonably thrifty on lodging, and prefer quiet over family-oriented places.
Jasper and Banff are tourist traps, many people, much traffic on the Trans-Canada. The Okanogan is also packed with people, from Vernon south. The Kootenays are not.

Quote:
I called Destination Highways and the person I spoke with recommended making a loop that involves going south into Washington state on my return. I know he wanted to sell me an extra guidebook, but I believe he was being genuine. I think this would make sense because I would avoid repeating similar terrain and I really havenít spent much time in Washington state.
I can tell you a bit about Washington, too. The DH Washinton map is not as complete as DHBC. I don't think you need it if you are merely going east-west across the top of the state. Get it if you have loiter time.

If you want to come back across Washington, I suggest taking the Duffey Lake Road to Horseshoe Bay, catch a ferry to Nanaimo ($50) the go south to Victoria. From Sidney, take the Washington State Ferry to Anacortes ($20) then head east over the North Cascades Highway (US20) to Omak - Republic (Klondike Inn) - Kettle Falls - Newport and into Idaho. Falls Motel in Thompson Falls is recommended: clean, inexpensive and awesome owners, if you go that way. There is nothing worth seeing on the Interstate. Montana drivers drive very fast.

Another option is to go to the Bull Lake Rd, MT 56 and head north to Troy, then across on US2 to Kalispell. The Seeley Lake Rd (MT83) is a nice scenic route that offers outstanding views of the Swan Range. There is a state park at Salmon Lake that is clean and reasonable for camping. Continuing, you will hit MT200 and MT141, which will bring you out of the Rockies at Helena. The rest is Flatland.

Don't miss Red Lodge and Bearfoot Pass - Dead Indian Pass on your way by. It is maybe the most awesome sidetrip in North America.

Butler Maps has excellent maps of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

You might also consider asking on the WA and MT forums for suggestions.

Anyway, you're in for an adventure. Ride safe.

Regards
Scott Fraser
Calgary
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