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Camping across CA

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Camping across CA

I will be driving across Canada next month in a conversion camper van (19 ft.). We are leaving from Philadelphia, PA and plan to drive to Tofino and then ferry to Bellingham, WA, USA. I am thinking of crossing into CA around the Thousand Islands, Kingston area. We need to be in San Francisco the first weekend of October. Any suggestions on campgrounds, camping, gassing up, places to linger, etc. We love the outdoors, though are older and so we will hike a couple miles rather than 10-20 at a time. Are particularly interested in music of all kinds and hope to hear local performers in pubs or night spots. We will be traveling without children or pets.

Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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1. Re: Camping across CA

Hi and welcome to the TripAdvisor forums! This "Canada" forum is a rather lonely place - there are only a few of us that monitor it, and since it is an agglomeration of all the posts from all the regional forums across the entire country, your question fell down to page 6 in less than 24 hours.

The best thing to do would be to break up your trip into regional sections and then post your questions in the forums for those regions... perhaps at the provincial level, or maybe even more locally, in some instances. Also, it really would be best if you start with a bit of research and post a draft itinerary and ask for feedback... your questions are so broad and all-encompassing that it is rather difficult for us as volunteers to even know where to start in answering them. Note also that each forum has its own set of "Top Questions" (top right of forum page) as well as "Traveller's Articles", which are accessed via the menu at the top of the page. These contain a lot of the basic, background info that will help you in your planning.

I would suggest taking in our Canadian Rocky Mountain national parks - Banff and Jasper - and especially driving the Icefields Parkway between Jasper and Lake Louise, Alberta. National Geographic has rated this extremely stunning scenic drive as one of "Twenty Drives of a LIfetime". There is a folk music festival here in Jasper on the weekend of Sept. 13 and 14.

Edited: 09 August 2013, 19:02
Vancouver, Canada
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for Vancouver
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2. Re: Camping across CA

Welcome from me too. The best thing you can do for getting advice for your trip is to get off the Canada Forum. Those who can help you through the provinces will spend their time on the provincial forums, so that's where you need to go. As I read your post, some questions come to mind. What date are you leaving Philly? Sept which week? How many nights are you going to take between Philly and Canada? The first weekend of October is good enough for the ending date. I''m going to guess 5 weeks from start to finish? Hopefully not 4. Then you need to say how many hours you want to spend behind the wheel each day. That's going to determine how much ground you will be able to cover (and enjoy) in Canada. Nothing like pedal to the metal to make it a tough go. You might want to consider if you want to go from the Thousand Island, Kingston, Niagara Falls, Toronto region, through the US via Chicago and up to Winnipeg, or if you want to drive ALL the way around the Great Lakes via Sudbury. Sault Ste Marie to Thunder Bay and on to Winnipeg that way. That's something people will be mentioning to you.

The Manitoba Forum and the Saskatchewan Forum may not be worth your while to post on. They have 700 and 300 topics posted so very small forums. Never mind, there are plenty of posters who follow the province forums who have done what you want to do many times and will have enough to say to you.

When you post on the provincial forums, include the above "vital statistics" for your trip in all of them, then focus in on the campgrounds, camping, gassing up, places to linger for each province after that. The green navigation bar on each destination forum has "Things to Do" to browse for activities and attractions. Lots to research there. If you open that on the provincial forum, you will see all the things to do for the whole province... one stop shopping. :-)

Google Maps is a great online tool for using their "get direction" feature to plot destinations - the routes between, the driving time and distances. Here is a map of a journey across Canada to Tofino and down to Bellingham. (There is no ferry down to Bellingham from Canada, specifically Vancouver Island. Seattle yes, but Bellingham no.) I have tried to set the map at 4-6 hours driving, sightseeing stops extra so you can see what might be involved in 5 weeks. The locations mean nothing, I don't know that part of Canada well enough to be choosing "good" locations. I'm just wanting to show you how you would do, given an average of 3 nights at each of these representative locations. Of course you would redesign where you spend one night and where you would spend a number of nights.

Map #1: Philadelphia to Kenora, Ontario ~18 nights, half your time:


Map #2: Kenora to Tofino to Bellingham, which would very likely take ~17 nights. Here an average really doesn't help. For balloon B and C, 1 night each and keep on going across the prairies. Balloon D and E, share 7 nights between Banff and Jasper. Balloon F, 1 night just to take a break on the way to Vancouver. 3 nights Vancouver, 3 nights Tofino, 1 night Victoria, drive to Bellingham for night 18.


This is not an itinerary to follow, except for the Rockies and BC sections. It is only to give you a look see at what a driving trip across Canada would look like, the distances and time involved. The driving times and distances are all outlined in the left sidebar on the map. You can zoom the map in with the slider bar to see greater detail.

There is a Road Trips Forum on TA where you might post as well. That forum is followed by any number of people who have driven all over the place. Just try to get your "vital statistics" in order to post there. Information to go with the questions I asked above. They too can't do a lot with info that is too general.

Click here to go to the RTF:


The Ontario Forum: tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g154979-i54-Ontari…

The Alberta Forum for travelling across the province: tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g154909-i219-Alber…

The Canadian Rockies Forum, for your questions about Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise: tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g659487-i11598-Can…

The BC Forum: tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g154922-i80-Britis…

It sounds like a fantastic trip that will give you some excellent experiences.

Edited: 09 August 2013, 21:00
Dauphin, Canada
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3. Re: Camping across CA

Are you looking to cross through Manitoba? Based on your quick overview above and depending what your schedule looks like, I would suggest going through Riding Mountain National park and there are great spots to camp in Wasagaming or the City of Dauphin.

Jasper, Canada
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4. Re: Camping across CA

Forgot to mention in my earlier post, and perhaps the timing may work out for you, there is a folk music festival in Jasper, Alberta on the weekend of Sept. 13 to 15.

Penticton, Canada
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5. Re: Camping across CA


some notes for your trip: it is worth looking into the gas buddy app http://www.gasbuddy.com/ to get gas prices and, a membership in the AAA and use their trip planning especially the paper maps.

I always tried to find a KOA along the way, I found people that had come from where I was going the next day and got lots of good advise. I found the provincial/state campgrounds were often locals.

There are wifi connections everywhere; so if you are not on Skype it is a good idea and buy credits if you need to call land lines - otherwise make sure you have a good data plan for your smartphone that is good for Canada or just use a laptop.

6. Re: Camping across CA

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