View Full Version : Travelling in Canada

11th Nov 2002, 09:27
I am thinking of heading off to Canada for 3 weeks. The plan is to fly into Calgary, do the Rockies then drive to VAncouver then head down to Mount St Helens.
The Question:
Should I hire a car and stay in motels or a motorhome? Bearing in mind motorhomes seem to be restricted to 100kms a day?
Cheers me deers:)

11th Nov 2002, 11:31
When are you planning to go? If it is in the winter then go with the car option and stay in hotels because you will freeze your butt off if you don't. Also the rent of a motorhome is one thing but also you have to pay for the campsite too plus lots of gas money. You might find that a car and motel is the way ahead.

Notso Fantastic
11th Nov 2002, 11:53
Mt. St. Helens access is not that easy in the winter, especially in a motorhome! Phone ahead to check.

11th Nov 2002, 12:06
I travelled around the USA this summer, did both car/hotel and also travelled 7000 miles in a motorhome. I think they a great for visiting scenic areas, because you can stay cheaply right in or near national parks, and it is excellent being able to park up anywhere and eat/sleep. Most motorhomes have everything you could want (aircon, heating, mains genset, microwave, hot/cold running water, shower, flushing WC etc.) They are pretty shitty in cities, we found driving a 30 feet motorhome around LA interesting, although you can do it. Just park at malls and get public transport around the centres.
You use a lot of fuel in them, we got about 6-7 US miles/gallon. It dropped to about 5mpg when we went 70 mph. LPG is cheap though for the fridge/water heater/ heater. Thing to watch is if where you are travelling has temperatures constantly below freezing, you will not be able to use water systems in the R.V.
Re: the mileage restriction, someone like cruise america/canada offers 500 mile excess mileage blocks you can pre-purchase. Oh yeah, if you do get a motorhome, work out mileage you will do, then add 20% for prepurchased mileage. My only other suggestion would be if you are in the area of seattle, visit Mt. Ranier. Oh yeah, in Vancouver don't bother seeing the steam clock. It sucks.

11th Nov 2002, 12:53
Cheers guys,

I am planning on going in May/June so the temp should not be a problem. The issues I have is ease of travel and also cost.
As for Mt. St Helens. I was there in 1988 as a kid of 8 yrs old so I was wondering how much had grown back etc.
Any snippets of advice would be gratefully received.:)

11th Nov 2002, 16:42
I have it on good authority that you should do the rockies on the train then hire a car and stay in motels. Pros and cons are, in the car, you can stop at Banff, but the some of the roads are a bit iffy but most are ok. On the train you get to enjoy the view and let someone else do the driving. Its up to you really whether you want to sleep in a motorhome or a hotel. Enjoy it whatever your choice. Extremely jealous here.... :)

13th Nov 2002, 18:50
You should look into the Rocky Mountaineer (http://www.rkymtnrail.com/DesktopDefault.asp). It's meant to be a really grea trip.

As for driving, the main roads should be fine at that time of year. Driving would allow you to stay in places that interest you longer, and skip what doesn't. I've driven between Calgary and Vancouver many times, and I can say that there are parts of the trip that are amazing (Ie. the National Parks), and other parts that aren't all that exciting. You could easily spend a month in The National Parks if you have the time.

The area around Mount St. Helens is slowly growing back. There are a lot of small plants growing in the blast area, but it is still quite obvious which areas got hit the most.

Hope this helps a little. :)


13th Nov 2002, 22:20
May/June in the Canadian Rockies? Good chance you will be very cold when you're up high. I recall trudging through 4ft snow to get to a car park toilet in about June.

My lad did a journey similar to the one you propose in August this year and camped on the Columbia Icefield Parkway. When he got back from his trip onto the glacier his car (Rent-a-Wreck - highly recommended) was under fresh snow. So was his tent.

Suggest you browse some of the excellent Canadian Tourism Web Sites for climatic information. Not to put you off of course. Either choice would work; and those log cabins in Jasper (Pine Bungalows) are very cosy indeed when its chilly.

Allow at least a 7-10 days for the Drive from Calgary through Banff up to Jasper and then another week or so for the drive to Vancouver. Then you've got Vancouver Island, Victoria and the Butchart Gardens (they'll be brilliant in June) and ...

Three weeks did you say. Better make it four.

If you want specifics to get your planning started I can get them from the afore-mentioned lad and send them by e-mail.

14th Nov 2002, 00:54
I live next door to the Rockies, and early last June I was shoveling a foot of wet snow off my driveway so be prepared with some warm clothing, especially for the nights.

We like to joke, but some years it's true, our Canadian seasons:

June - spring
July and August - summer
September - fall
The other 8 months are winter.

That's pretty much what this year was, so hopefully it won't happen back to back and you'll have great weather for your trip.

There's ton's of info on the net to help you decide, fuel prices are ranging from 66.9 to 72.9 cents/litre right now. Fueling up a motorhome will probably cost as much as a hotel room and some campgrounds higher up in the Rockies don't even open until the end of June.

PS: Have a great trip!

14th Nov 2002, 01:27
Somewhat jaded I guess,

Did Calgary - Vancouver in 7.3 hours on the ground. Now do it it in 1.03 hours.

Did Montreal - Vancouver in 57 hours on the ground. Now do it in 4.5 hours +/-.

Scenary... yeah lots of it. Do it in daylight. Enjoy.

14th Nov 2002, 12:36
I'd get a car rather than a motor home, accomodation seems to be pretty reasonable in the places you have mentioned and you can get some good one way deals. Banff/Jasper to Vancouver is a beautiful drive, it really is.

Might want to consider some aircraft hire on the west coast if that's a possibility for you. Avgas is dirt cheap, St. Helens is a nice flight from Vancouver and you get a fantastic view of the mountain and it's surroundings (still very many bare tree trunks there, a lot of wood in crater lake and the lava flows are still clear as day). It's beautiful, and Ranier isn't much of a detour either. Got some cracking photos this year. Just make sure you have the correct visa if you're a Brit crossing the border by air.