Visiting Canada from UK

Discussion in 'Canada' started by Geordietraveller, Jul 30, 2005.

  1. Geordietraveller

    Geordietraveller On the road to nowhere...

    Oct 25, 2004
    Hi we are currently 5 weeks into a 2 month(ish) visit to Canada (mainly BC and Alberta) with our 1200GS and have so far covered around 3500 miles travelling Vancouver - whistler - clearwater - Kamloops - Salmon Arm - Revelstoke - Creston - Calgary - Edmonton - Jasper - Lake Louise - Banff. To say we are impressed so far would be an understatement, this country is just unbelieveable and we have met so many people interested in what we are doing, we are having the time of our lives! Hopefully I will get the time to figure out how to post some pictures of our travels before long.

    Pretty much everywhere we've been has been fantastic (even the thunderstorms!) but we thought we would ask if anyone has any suggested rides /routes around Banff and back towards Vancouver Island. We are in Banff now and plan to spend a few days camping here and doing a bit of exploring then we planned to make our way along the Okanagan valley.

    Cheers, Simon & Fiona
  2. dastick

    dastick dastick

    Apr 2, 2004
    Alberta, Canada
    Simon and Fiona,

    Welcome to Banff, glad you like it. You picked one of the busiest weekends to visit.

    Spray lakes road (Smith dorrian)from Canmore to Kananaskis is a great back dirt road. Would be a nice day trip. Or the #1 east toward Calgary to highway 40 to Kananaskis if you dont want dirt.

    highway 1a (parallel to the #1) between Banff and Lake Louise is a must ride if you have not yet done so. -paved

    highway 1a from Canmore to Cochrane is a nice road.
    Lake miniwanka loop is nice (short)- paved

    Also, non bike related- there is afolk festival going on in Canmore that is said to be a really good time, if you are into that, im not, so cant say from personal experience.

    Okanogan is amazing and definately should be done on your way back.

    pm me if you need anything, Im in Canmore. I check this at least once per day.

    Enjoy, Dave
  3. Steve G.

    Steve G. Long timer

    Oct 30, 2004
    West is the Best
    Hi Simon and Fiona,
    You are about to ride through the best riding in these 2 provinces on your way to the Okanagan. There are many highly regarded hot springs in the west and east Kootenays, and astounting riding to get to them. Ainsworth Hot Springs is first I'd recommend, between Kaslo and Balfour, on Hwy 31. This stretch of road is simply perfect. Plus, if you are getting there from the east Kootenays, cross Kootenay Lake on the longest free ferry [boat] crossing in North America, between Balfour and Crawford Bay.
    If you happen to find yourself in Nakusp, there is a neat [and inexpensive] little B&B there, run by the wife of the biggest Laverda parts and bike supplier in the world. Wolfgang and Margo Hearter, at 357 Shakespeare Avenue, phone 250-265-4502. Wolfgang is also the tech backup fellow for the annual BMW Rally in Nakusp, I believe in mid August, hosted by the B.C. Beemers club in Vancouver. Nakusp Hot Springs is an old fashioned hot spring, up the end of a great road. Wolfgang also knows of a couple off road wild springs in the wilderness locally.
    A great place to check out locally, and you will need your GS for this one. Between Kaslo and New Denver is the ghost town of Sandon. This former bustling town still has an old water generator operating [easily viewed] and a cool old artifact museum. Wolfgang can give you exact instructions, as it's been 3 yrs since I've been in there, although I was through Kaslo and New Denver 2 weeks ago.
    On your way west, you must try Hwy 6, from the Fauquier/Needles free cable ferry to Lumby. You will go through 4 temperate zones in 2 hrs, and a very challenging road, watch for deer. An offroad option, go from Needles/Edgewood to Grand Forks. Make sure you get fuel at the Mushroom Restaurant.
    Another option, incredible off road ride through the largest cattle ranch in the world, Douglas Lake Cattle Ranch, from Westwold to Quilchena.
    Closer to Vancouver, a 3-6 hr off road ride not to miss. Astounding scenery. From Boston Bar to Harrison Hot Springs, it may be an idea to get a Back Roads B.C. map-book from a book store on your way. Pretty sure Chapters in Kelowna has them. This ride will take you along the east side of Harrison Lake, with ample camping areas, all free of course, and a detour spin up to Clear Creek [wild] Hot Springs is a must. You catch a cable ferry at Boston Bar. This time of year there may be logging trucks, so heads up. Wildlife will be well fed, so no worries there.
    On Vancouver Island, you can offroad into Bamfield from Port Alberni, Port Renfrew from Cobble Hill, and skirt down the coast into Sooke.
    Wish I could join you guys!
    Ciao, Steve G.
  4. MCP

    MCP Been here awhile

    Oct 24, 2003
    Nanaimo, B.C.
    I'd second the points Steve made, especially the Nakusp, Arrow Lakes portion, but regardless, its hard to pick a bad route between Banff & Vancouver.

    A couple add on's -

    1) South from Revelstoke & Trans Canada, #23 there is the ferry, (free), and 8 - 10 k's south of Galena Bay, there is Halcyon Hot Springs, beautiful setting, camping if you want, or just stop for a soak. New facility

    2) From Galena Bay #23, to #6 New Denver, 31A to Kaslo, 3A Nelson (nice town), Grand Forks, Keremeos, Princeton, Meritt, Spences Bridge, Lytton, Lillooet, Whistler, and it will take you toFerries - Horseshoe Bay to Van Is.

    3)On the island, Tofino - busy but nice, & Telegraph Cove north of Campbell River - my favourite - great whale watching there.

    Happy Trails :D
  5. Geordietraveller

    Geordietraveller On the road to nowhere...

    Oct 25, 2004
    Cheers for the replys guys . Apolologies for the late reply but we've been camping in Banff then Kannanaskus and then Windermere on our way down to where we are now in Creston in a cheap air conditioned motel (hiding from the 38 deg heat!) From your posts it seems like through talking to bikers we've met along the way to here we've been to many of the best places already (which proves the locals know all the best roads!) The locals also know where the cops are - cheers to the trucker who warned us of the speed traps in Longview! (we saw 3 others who wern't so lucky while we got gas!)

    DASTICK - Your right about the busy bit! We copped out and ended up spending way too much on a hotel in Banff and the had our worst night camping in a FULL Tunnel Mountain Park with no fire and babies screaming all night! We actually went down to Kannanaskus and did the Spray Lake road while we were camping there because it looked intersting on the map. Wow - if I wasn't confident riding 2 - up on gravel before I am now! I think I actually hit 70 kph a couple of times!:eek1 What a ride. Found some great little roads of it including one to a ski centre with some stunning views. Pity we hadn't gone to a Cypercafe because we stayed in Canmore twice since Banff, we could have met up.

    Steve G - Totally agree with your recommendations that we've already visited - on the way through to Alberta we stayed in Kaslow and came over on the ferry and the road is superb although very crowded,(I think we upset a few HD riders by overtaking them!). We also camped at Nakusp. The 14 Km road up there had the pegs down and the hot springs at the end of it were the icing on the cake - I just wish we were going to be there for the BeeCee Beemers rally on the 18th.
    Sandon, we found as we normally do by just turning up a track to see what is there! I can't remember how many Kms and 00's metres climb later we eventually found the ghost town - I'm just glad I remembered to switch the ABS of for the run down. If the other roads you mentioned are half as good as these then we're in for a treat.

    MCP - Cheers, the first suggestion was part of the route we took here and it was great. Stayed at Halcyon for a night and made the mistake of going for a dip before getting on the bike the next morning - boy is riding difficult when all you want to do is lie dow and go to sleep!

    We've decided to stay another night in Creston so I think I'll try to set up a Smugmug accound and dump our 700+ photos so we can post some on the rideouts section.

    If anyone fancies a rideout between Creston and the Island please let us know.

    Ta ta for now

    Simon & Fiona