Alberta Experience

Discussion in 'Trip Planning and Travel Concerns' started by RPerry, Jan 14, 2016.

  1. RPerry

    RPerry
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    We have 40ft, 5th wheel and would like to take trip through Alberta (Banff, Jasper, etc) and would like recommendations, tips, "must sees", experience, campgrounds, etc. Keep in mind, we are "glampers", cost no problem, 50Amp, pull through, etc. We (two of us ) are in our 70's, traveling with two small dogs. We'll be heading north from Northern California. Also best time of year (would think late August). Greatly appreciate any input.
     
  2. drfife

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    Don't miss the Athabasca glacier and Peyto lake. I would advise early to mid August. Head south by Labor day.
     
  3. docj

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    You just missed the season opening for the Jasper and Banff national park campgrounds. I was late to login yesterday but I did manage to grab a week at Whistler campground in Jasper with full hookups. You might still be able to grab some time in August.

    We spent a week each at Jasper and Banff a few years ago. There's a lot to see and since this is your first time you'll want to do some or all of the tourist stuff. Walking on a glacier is fun, the boatrides somewhat less so (in our opinion) but the scenery is stunning and there is wildlife everywhere. Be sure to dine at the Lake Louise Fairmont and walk around the lake.
     
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  4. Onemoretrail

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    The gondola rides at Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper take you up to grand vistas. As far as the boat rides, if you must take one then it should be the Maligne Lake one. The scenery there has been on countless calendar pictures of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
     
  5. docj

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    Yeah, the scenery on the Maligne Lake trip is great (when you finally get to Spirit Island) but it's one of those things that takes 2 hours for 5 minutes of photo ops and costs ~$30-40/per person as do every one of these tourist opportunities.
     
  6. Hutch333id

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    Hi, I live in Alberta and believe me, it can snow at any time of the year (Labour Day LW 2015). July and August are probably the best months - June can be very wet. Right now the Canadian $ is at an all time low against the U$, making it so inexpensive for our US visitors. You will need a Parks Canada pass that is valid for 12 months (24 months this time round because 2017 is a free year due to the 150 year celebration) and will cost about U$100.

    Watertown NP (the Canadian side of Glacier NP) is worth visiting and they have a campsite in the middle of the very small town and on the shores of the lake. Here you can take a bus ride on the "Going to the Sun" road. It is also a good place to see bears in the wild.

    Whatever you do, don't plan on camping around Calgary, the CG's here are dire. However, there is a very good CG (Bow River) in Cochrane which is about 25 miles west of Calgary and on the way to Banff. There is a pretty good Parks Canada site with 30amp P/W/S at Tunnel Mountain in Banff. Also nice PC CG at Lake Louise and another with P/W/S in Jasper. A site will set you back about U$28 per night.

    From Banff, heading north along The Icefield Parkway is a very scenic drive up past the glacier and where you can take a bus tour on to the glacier. A little further up the road is a new, glass walkway out over the edge of a ravine.

    Right now, with the exchange rate, gas is about U$2.06 per US Gallon. Sales tax is 5%. Speeds are in Km's (110km = about 70mph). We're very friendly too. No firearms or ammunition to be brought over the border.

    Have a great trip
     
  7. docj

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    IMO the worst border crossing restriction has to do with alcoholic beverages. The limit is a little over 1 liter per person and the duty for the excess isn't worth paying since it can easily cost more than the liquor.
     
  8. Hutch333id

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    Lol.....my brother came back a few years ago after two weeks thinking that he and his wife could bring back 1 liter per person per day absent from Canada. He had a bit of a shock when he got to the border crossing. Fortunately he had declared his loot but paid a heavy price.
     
  9. Rollin Ollens

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    I once lived in Banff and still visit family there often. Since you are Glamping, I am guessing you are not into back packs and hiking (Nor am I anymore) so we will stick somewhat close to pavement

    If I were you I would plan my trip starting around the first of July. July is one of the warmest months and most people don’t realize that the high country can be cooler than expected. Late August in the mountains can mean below freezing temps at night. You don’t say how long you plan to stay or where you plan to cross the border so I’ll give you some suggestions.
    Depending on your driving capabilities and sense of adventure I would exit I5 at Sedro Woolley, Washington and head east on Washington State Highway 20 (North Cascades Highway).
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_State_Route_20
    In a few places it is not for the faint of heart especially pulling a 40 footer but the scenery is spectacular. (Use your transmission and engine for braking as much as you can and you will do fine. There are pull outs for you to let speedier traffic by so relax. Take your time and enjoy the scenery.)
    Turn north on highway 97 just past the little town of Brewster and cross the border at Osoyoos. From there you will head north through some of the finest wine country in North America. There are a number of R V Parks in the Valley but you need to reserve early as July and August is prime vacation season for Canadians. Besides wine, there are plenty of other attractions in the Okanagan
    http://www.okanaganwines.ca/
    Highway 97 will take you to Highway 1 (Trans Canada) where you will head west to the small city of Kamloops.
    If you are looking to fast track and need to stay away from winding and hilly terrain stay on I5 to highway 539 which is just north of Bellingham, Washington. You will cross the border at Langley B.C and a few miles north will come to Highway 1 (Trans Canada) then head east to Hope. From there take highway 5 (Coquihalla) to Kamloops. Most of these roads will remind you of driving the I5.
    Kamloops is the southern terminus of the Yellow head (highway 16). There is some nice scenery between Kamloops and Jasper but most doesn’t appeal to me. Perhaps I’m spoiled. You will not find many (or any) resort style RV parks along the way but larger towns should be able to accommodate a larger rig.
    There are lots of points of interest along the way and one of the best is the town of Barkerville.
    http://www.barkerville.ca/
    Also Mount Robson The highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Robson_Provincial_Park
    I would use the town of Jasper as a base to tour the local area.
    http://www.jasperskytram.com/?gclid=CNWG5_TSrcoCFcRgfgod_qcPSg
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maligne_Canyon
    http://www.malignelake.com
    http://www.jasperstables.com You might have a sore butt for a little while if you’re not used to riding horses but well worth the access to scenery you can't see from the road.
    On your way to Lake Louise and Banff
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunwapta_Falls
    http://www.brewster.ca/activities-i...tions/columbia-icefield-glacier-adventure/#/0
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mistaya_Canyon
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peyto_Lake
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bow_Lake_(Alberta)
    Lake Louise is a very small town with a very big name. There are basic needs here as in groceries, fuel etc. It is a tourist destination so a number of restaurants and lodging. A little short on RV Parks so reserve early. I would plan a week or more in this area. What to do….
    Lunch at the Chateau.
    http://www.fairmont.com/lake-louise/dining/
    Tea at the top.
    http://www.lakeagnesteahouse.com/
    This is a bit more than just a hike for folks not in the best of physical shape but you can hire a horse. Really, it’s worth it. A bit of a walk past the tea house gets you a view of the Plain of Six Glaciers and serious climbers may want to continue on to a lofty place to spend the night.
    https://www.alpineclubofcanada.ca/huts/abbot-pass-hut/
    Dinner at the Post Hotel
    http://posthotel.com/cuisine/dining/
    Sorry no Mickey Ds or other fast food chains but there are a few sandwich shops etc.
    In the area……
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moraine_Lake Picture of which used to be on the Canadian 10 dollar bill.
    A few miles west of Louise is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takakkaw_Falls
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerald_Lake_(British_Columbia)
    http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/bc/yoho/natcul/ohara.aspx
    A good place to spot wildlife. Late evening just before dusk is best for bears…..
    http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/banff/plan/transport/pvb-bvp.aspx
    There are lots of short walking trails and hikes too numerous to list but one of my favorites is
    http://banffandbeyond.com/johnston-canyon-hiking-in-spring-summer-and-fall/
    A day trip not really part of the Banff Lake Louise experience but if you need a break take a drive to Radium Hot Springs. It’s not all that far from Banff or Louise but it has nice scenery and a great way to rest and ease the pains. The water is heated naturally and is odorless. The pool is engineered for soaking not swimming (but there is a separate swimming/diving pool in the complex).
    http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/voyage-travel/sources-springs/radium/radium.aspx
    Banff is a much larger center than Lake Louise. It has pretty much all of the services you may require. It is also very busy. Book your full service campsite as early as possible. I would plan on spending a week in this area as well. There is everything from Mickey Ds to fine dining available. Plenty of stores to restock the pantry and bar.
    Things to do….
    Mount Norquay. Ski hill in the winter. Place for some good views in the summer. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mt_Norquay
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Minnewanka
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulphur_Mountain_(Alberta)
    http://banffandbeyond.com/escape-the-crowds-of-banff-avenue-in-cascade-gardens/
    I am sorry if this is a little long but it’s hard to fit a long list into a short space. I’m sure you will enjoy your trip and if you need any more information I’m glad to help where I can.
    Darrell
     
  10. Luvtheroad

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    My only bad experience coming back into the US from Canada was the (gasp!) possession of citrus fruit. After spending some time on the Group W bench, we now know not to ever, ever, ever bring citrus fruit from Canada to the US, even if said citrus fruit was originally purchased in the US.

    The funny thing was that when we unpacked the camper, the offending citrus fruit was still in the refrigerator. It took me three years to get up the nerve to go to Canada again ... lol.
     
  11. docj

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    We have spent the past three summers in Canada and have had no problems going back and forth across the border with respect to foodstuffs we are carrying.

    What we have found is that there is an awful lot of misinformation traded on RV forums about what you can and cannot take from one country to the other. In today's "connected" world, the correct authoritative information is only a keystroke away.

    Here's the official Canadian webpage on the topic of taking food into Canada. Last summer it was invaluable since it was continually updated to reflect the avian flu issue: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/in...-into-canada-/eng/1389648337546/1389648516990

    Here's a link to the equivalent US site: https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/de...-bringing-food-into-the-u.s.-for-personal-use

    The problem recounted in the previous post about bringing citrus fruit into the US from Canada no doubt resulted from the "country of origin" issue. Most fruits and vegetables can be brought from Canada into the US if they were grown in Canada. Oranges are one crop that obviously is not grown in Canada and, therefore, if they didn't have a country of origin label on them there was no way to know that they were originally purchased in the US. The issue of where something was grown is quite a bit different from the one of where it was purchased.

    It's probably worth noting that although we've always been in compliance with the regs when we cross the border in either direction, we've yet to be asked about any consumable other than alcohol.
     
  12. Luvtheroad

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    <It's probably worth noting that although we've always been in compliance with the regs when we cross the border in either direction, we've yet to be asked about any consumable other than alcohol.>

    You're lucky then, Doc. We were specifically asked if we had citrus fruit and being the honest folks we are, we answered yes. Maybe we just fit the profile of people who are the type to smuggle oranges across the border. After all that, it was pretty funny to find the oranges still in the refrigerator when we unloaded.
     
  13. docj

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    I did, inadvertently, discover a great way to avoid being asked too many questions when coming back into the US. Last fall, when entering at Houlton ME my mirror slid against the back of the guard shack on the right side. The ICE guys were so concerned about the mirror and their building that they pretty much waved us through with hardly any questions at all!

    Fortunately, the mirror sustained only a few scratches so the overall effect of the incident was a net positive! Now, if I could only figure out a way to do that again and not make it look intentional! :cool:
     
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  14. Traveling man

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    [
    That's one of my favorite areas. You will enjoy it. My last trip up there was in Sept., just after the crowds left, and before the bad weather. Leaves were turning, it was wonderful. Some places not to miss are Ft. Steele, a "ghost town" that is alive with activity during the summer months, as an acting company does skits throughout the town. Every building has something going on- for example the visitors make and eat home made ice cream in one house; there are fresh bakery tarts made in a turn of the century oven in the bakery. After labor day most of the activities cease, but you can still wander through the town. There are also many relaxing hot springs resorts, some in the national parks. Radium is a wonderful little town with a couple of great Austrian restaurants. When you get to Jasper you will see more wildlife than tourists (mountain sheep, black bear etc). If you get a chance go back West through some of the other national parks, and down towards Kootney Lake..again many hot springs, such as Ainsworh with caves overlooking the lake etc., and some much more isolated state park campgrounds. I went through in Sept., and didn't have to pay any park fees as they were working on the highways (not sure the status- hopefully finished by now). Have fun, it's a wonderful region to relax and take in the scenery.
     
  15. HowieS82

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    "Group W bench" That's funny. :)
     
  16. Traveling man

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    Luvtheroad:
    I've never had a problem with fruit crossing from Canada, but think back to a time crossing into California from Oregon. We thought about the border check a few minutes before, and I asked one of the kids to check the refrigerator for fresh fruit. It's funny thinking back because he pulled out a bag of grapes, and rapidly divided it up with the other kids in the motor home, yelling "quick you have 10 miles to eat these in".They made their goal.
     
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  17. BankShot

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    I have often wondered about the guy or gal driving/towing an RV and coming up to a border checkpoint. The inspection guy asks them if they are carrying any fruit or veggies on board and the reply is, "NOPE". Wonder how many times that response has been given and the RV has been let pass right on thru? My response when coming back into our state is usually that we do have some fruit but that it was all purchased in California prior to leaving and that they still have the original California fruit stickers on them. And if they want them they can have them. Haven't had to surrender anything as of yet................
     
  18. Onemoretrail

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    The stickers are the key. We had some apples that would have been okay if the stickers had still been on them, but since they weren't some customs agents got some fresh fruit for lunch.:D
     
  19. RPerry

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    We could not make this past year due to wife illness, so we're attempting again this year. Thanks much for all your detail
     

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