Best Time to visit Canadian Rockies

Discussion in 'Americas' started by ishirock, Oct 14, 2009.

  1. ishirock

    ishirock Adventurer

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    Starting to plan a trip to canadian rockies in 2010 and first step is to pick some dates. Iv'e heard it gets pretty ugly with the tourist traffic near Banff and Jasper during the summer so I'm looking to catch the best weather, but miss the peak season of l ookerz. I plan to primitive camp most of the time if weather allows with occasional night in the hotel to freshen up.
    Also looking for any advice on back roads off the beaten path I shouldn't pass up. If I can get some advice on those I might just go during rush hour and skip the tourist traps.
    I will be riding 2 up on a Suz Wee Strom.:D
    #1
  2. dump-a-thump

    dump-a-thump lapsed atheist

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    Usually September is best, the air is warm and it tends to be dry. October can be nice, but things have started to cool, and the days are shorter. June can be good, but there is a greater chance of gravel on the roads, road construction and snowfall. You are wise to avoid the mountain parks in summer, or else bring a rocket launcher...
    #2
  3. FotoTEX

    FotoTEX Long timer

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    September. No bugs, RV's. Less traffic. Beautiful Scenery. Need more??
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  4. johnnyadventurepants

    johnnyadventurepants Been here awhile

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    I just did it in Sept. and had a great time. However, Sept can be a total gamble as far as weather. Could be really cold and snowy. If you can't stand any crowds, do Sept. I don't mind them that much and I have had perfect weather in early Aug on multiple trips to the Canadian Rockies. You can click on the link in my sig for trip report in Sept.
    #4
  5. ishirock

    ishirock Adventurer

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    Sounds like Sept is the time of choice. What can I expect for average day/night temp during that time? Some of those pics look pretty cold.

    I will be trailering from Ohio to a friends house in Wyoming, then Adventuring from there. Plan is to pick up the woman in Calgary after we spend a week going thru Bear tooth Highway and Road to the Sun.
    #5
  6. kraher

    kraher Been here awhile

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    September daytime temps could be anywhere from about 5C (41F) to 30C (86F).

    Nighttime temps could be anywhere from 15C (59F) down to -5C (23F)

    Obviously that depends a lot on latitude and altitude.
    #6
  7. where2next?

    where2next? Map guy

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    September cn be hit or miss. the weather is extremly variable up high. I personally don't like crowds, but there's a reason it's jammed in august. In the crowsnest pass area, it's said that August is the only snow free month (a rarity to be sure). there aren't really any backroads in the parks, but if you have a gs or vstrom, I highly recommend the 940. it's a dirt road on the east side of the mountains and is unbelieveably beautiful, goes for hundreds of km too. great camping too by the way. might be an excelent way to come home or soething after seeing the icefields parkway. if you got a hankering to camp in something resembling wilderness, pick up the book "camp free in BC" it is possibly the best resource. I also highly recommend "hotsprings of western canada". i has maps, directions, and descriptions of all the undeveloped (and developed) hotsprings (maybe the coolest vehicle mounted diversion possible). I would also recommend a lonely planet as it is a great resource for sights, attractions and restaurants.

    Fin
    #7
  8. arrcrussell

    arrcrussell Gimme Dirt

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    Cal,

    Do tell, give up some info on the 940! I just tried to find it on google maps but no luck. We're planning a trip out there next summer so we're lookin for some good dirt roads. Any and all help will be appreciated.

    Thanks
    #8
  9. ishirock

    ishirock Adventurer

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    Thanks everyone for all of the good ifo. After a pre planning meeting I was informed that my partners wife can't go in September as she is a school bus driver. We are now thinking of leaving June 12th which would put us in the canadian Rockies about a week later. Do I need to worry about black flies like they have in Eastern Canada? They can make life miserable especially when camping late June/Early July. What can I expect for the weather? Also thinking of flying the woman out and picking them up at a local airport. What would be my best location for geography and cheaper airfare? Looking at the map I'm thinking Calgary.
    #9
  10. dump-a-thump

    dump-a-thump lapsed atheist

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    Calgary or Edmonton are the closets to the parks. Flying into one and out the other is a good idea. However, if the flights into Canada are spendy, just start out of Boise, Kalispell, or even Seattle (the ride over thru winthrop is in the top 10 rides in the US).

    We don't do black-flys or mosquitos in the mountain parks. Please don't bring any with you, either. I did see a gnat, once, though. Must have been 6 or 7 years back. And some of the old timers ramble off about seeing a horse-fly, way-back-when. Nobody believes them, though.

    The 940 is a forestry/logging road. To do it properly, start in Canmore, then ride south on Spray Lakes Road, to Kananaskis, south on the Kananaskis Hwy, and then you turn off to the right about half way down to the crowsnest. It will show as a gravel road on the maps, although they may not have the 940 designation. There are many recreation sites along the way. I rode this last October/November, and since everything was closed (well, gated), I was able to put the bike inside the yurt at night.

    Unless you get onto fresh grading, the route is easy for a goldwing. However, there is a bunch of cool stuff along the way, plan 2+ just for the run from Canmore to Hwy 3.

    If you run up hwy 93 to radium, make sure to stop at Whiteswan Hotsprings, north of Cranbrook. One of the busier, but also nicer, hotsprings in the province.
    #10
  11. thetourist

    thetourist Just passing thru

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    June can be wet. July is good. Very green, spring and all that. Aug = hot. OK, hot for Canada. By mid Sept things are cooling off a bit.

    My first choice would be July with Sept-Oct second.
    #11
  12. dukedar

    dukedar 60 easy payments!

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    What about May? I need to be in Vancouver for a wedding next May, and I am planning to do a cross country trip as an excuse to get there. What are the temps/weather, traffic like?
    #12
  13. thetourist

    thetourist Just passing thru

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    For a cross country I would bear south. Or watch the weather in plains states/provinces and make a blast between storms.

    In May the whole NW is still cold and rainy. Some nice days (50 degrees) but also a chance of slushy snow at night. Weather is very volatile. Here in north Idaho the rains mostly stop by mid June. The high country is snowed in till July. Going to the Sun Road in Glacier is open by July 4th.

    There is a NW desert area that is nice this time of year. The Greater Sonoran Desert extends thru OR and WA into the Penticton valley in southern BC. BC is mostly mountains so the weather can be spotty. I was up there this fall and was dodging big storm clouds for two days. I never did get rained on. Lots of great roads.

    Further north, I'm not sure, but the east side of the mts (Calgary) should be a bit drier.

    May = rain gear and bring your electrics.
    #13
  14. drewnabobber

    drewnabobber Urban Adventurer

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    Weatherwise, the best month in the rockies is August. If you can't do Sept, I'd go in Aug and just brave the tourists. June/July can be really wet, the mosquitos can be quite bad, and the tourist volume is quite high in those months regardless.
    #14