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Road Trip from Montana to AK via BC

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Israel
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Road Trip from Montana to AK via BC

Family of four (kids aged 9 and 11), taking a rental minivan and driving from NYC to Alaska and back (no worries, we're taking four months to do that, so not too rushed).

We've already visited both the US and Canada before. We've been to the Canadian Rockies, as well as Whistler, Vancouver and Victoria.

I've sketched the following route for our travels through Canada. Would love some feedback. The Alberta part I'm familiar with, but the BC (and Yukon) parts are more of a challenge.

Would love feedback on the route, places to see on the way and places to stay (emphasis on clean and cheap, no frills). Do my stops make sense?

This itinerary begins on July 10th and goes like this -

Day 1 - Travel from the US into Canmore (we've spent a week here in the past, so I know where we'll be staying).

Day 2 - Drive to Jasper (again, been here before and we have a B&B to stay at).

Day 3 - Jasper

Day 4 - Drive to Fort St John

Day 5 - Fort St John

Day 6 - Drive to Fort Nelson

Day 7 - Fort Nelson

Day 8 - Drive up to Waston Lake

Day 9 - Drive to Whitehorse

Day 10 - Whitehorse

Day 11 - Drive into Alaska (will probably stay the night at Tok Junction

Then, coming out of Alaska, a few weeks later, starting on August 14th

Day 1 Drive from Skagway to Dease Lake

Day 2 Drive to Stuart, BC / Hyder, AK

Day 3 Hyder, AL (bear watching!)

Day 4 Drive to Prince Rupert, BC

Day 5, 6 Prince Rupert

Day 7 Drive to Prince George

Day 8 Prince George

Day 9 Jasper

Day 10,11 Canmore again, or possibly Calgary

Day 12 Fort MacLeod, AB, Canada

Day 13 entering the US again

Thank you in advance for any tips, ideas and feedback!

Greater Sydney...
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1. Re: Road Trip from Montana to AK via BC

Might I suggest that you post this on the Alaska forum as there are a few people who contribute there who have done similar in the past, or in some cases, one-way.

tripadvisor.com.au/ShowForum-g28923-i349-Ala…

Israel
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2. Re: Road Trip from Montana to AK via BC

That would be the second time for me to move the thread ;) I had already posted on the Alaska forum about our itinerary there but thought this might belong here being "out of Alaska"?

I'll give it a couple of days and if I don't get the feedback I need here, I'll move it again. Thank you so much for your suggestion!

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: Road Trip from Montana to AK via BC

I can speak to the BC section.

What is taking you to Prince Rupert for 3 days? I would def move those days to the Rockies, where you seem to have scheduled a whistle stop.

I would drive from Hyder to Jasper, then spend some time on the Icefields Parkway, the glacier and Banff. The trouble is Hwy 16 has not much going for it in the way of places to stop. Smithers is a nice little town but it is a short drive from Hyder. So you'd need another stop before Jasper, unless you were willing to drive a long day. If you stay in Prince George, do research carefully where to stay and where to go. It is a rough city. I would look at Tête Jaune Cache, or even down Hwy 5 a bit at Valemount before continuing 2 more hours to Jasper.

1 night Smithers

1 night T-Jaune or Valemount

2 Jasper

2 Banff

I think it would be a shame to not explore the two National Parks. And what about Drumheller and the Royal Dinosaur Museum?

Greater Sydney...
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4. Re: Road Trip from Montana to AK via BC

I have just reviewed your post on the Alaska forum and see that you itemised your itinerary for the Alaska leg and did not request advice on routes to get there. Some of the people that I know who have done similar road trips have already given advice, and all very good advice I might add, on that thread, but not in relation to the BC/Alberta end.

Please accept my apologies, as on closer reading of your present post above I now see your intentions more clearly.

I would still post on the Alaska forum, but make sure that you mention and link your previous thread so the advisers are aware of what has been said before.

Happy travels.

Edited: 24 January 2013, 10:10
Greater Sydney...
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5. Re: Road Trip from Montana to AK via BC

By way of redeeming myself I remembered a great trip report on the AK forum regarding Hyder. The poster of that report, Places, does not visit the AK forum that often these days unfortunately. Here is the link that you might like to read:

tripadvisor.com.au/ShowTopic-g28923-i349-k49…

Israel
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6. Re: Road Trip from Montana to AK via BC

No need to apologize! Ours is a fairly complicated itinerary, so it's not easy to put it in a single forum. There's also the road trip forum, which I'll probably also use with feedback on an overview of our entire trip (it's going to be 4 months in total, and covering other areas as well).

Muftimix, the reason we won't be spending much time in the Canadian Rockies is that we have been there already on our previous trip. I'm sure there's always more to see there, but we did spend a couple of weeks, hiked etc, so it was not a priority for this itinerary.

Given that we don't want to spend a whole lot longer in the Rockies, I thought Prince Rupert would be a nice taste of the northern BC? It's actually beginning to look like we won't be going into Alaska at all, as the car rental company won't allow it (and renting from any other company would cost about $3-4K more, so not really an option). We may just travel all the way up to the Yukon and then back to the US. So, without Alaska as a consideration, and without the Canadian Rockies necessarily, any special places or routes you would recommend? Should I try posting in the Yukon forum as well? Or would that be a duplicate?

Not sure what you mean by Prince George being rough? We're traveling with children and generally would prefer to avoid "rough" areas.

Israel
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7. Re: Road Trip from Montana to AK via BC

Also, thanks for the Hyder trip report! Hyder is the one little piece of Alaska I'd like to keep in our itinerary. We won't be able to cross over the border with the car, but it's so close (3km), I hope we can get a taxi across the border.

Vancouver, Canada
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8. Re: Road Trip from Montana to AK via BC

Ok, I'm having to go on second hand knowledge, but I'll toss in my $0.02.

My dad went to the Seniors Games in Fort St. John and spent a day driving the loop around to Chetwynd and Dawson Creek. He really liked the area and his photos were lovely. Lots of history.

On the return, I don't know that you really want to spend a day in Prince George. Its a long way from Prince Rupert to Prince George, so I'm not sure how you'd arrange this, but the place to spend your day is Barkerville, which is a couple of hours from Prince George. Maybe you head to Wells the next day and tour Barkerville.

http://www.barkerville.ca

From there, rather than returning to Alberta, perhaps you might consider traveling south through some new territory and arriving in Fort McLeod along highway 3 through the Crows Nest Pass?

http://goo.gl/maps/WOjX5

This route has at least three different options between Kamloops (point D) and Cranbrook (point G), all of them are really worthwhile and lovely and offer you something different to the others. If you want to look at this option, then we can certainly offer you more details on your options for that leg.

Overall, I think my suggestion will be slower and longer than running down through Alberta, but you did ask. :>

Also, I presume you are aware of Head-Smashed-In at Fort MacLeod?

history.alberta.ca/headsmashedin/default.aspx

Jasper, Canada
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9. Re: Road Trip from Montana to AK via BC

Prince George is an industrial town, and not particularly appealing either as a destination nor scenically. It has a high crime rate, although a lot of it is gang/drug-related, not random crime against tourists. But P.G. has twice been named Canada's most dangerous city by MacLean's magazine (which is the Canadian equivalent to "Time" magazine), including at the end of 2011 based on 2009 data.

I know many Jasper railway employees (mainly men but a few women too) who work into P.G. from Jasper; they are laid over at one of the downtown P.G. hotels, and many of them won't leave the hotel and go walking around (to find somewhere to eat etc.) after dark.

There is a hotel strip out on the highway, which is probably more convenient for travellers passing through, but like similar "strips" all across Canada (and the US), it's a bunch of chain hotels, fast food and chain restaurants etc. ... no local charm or quaintness, that's for sure.

Edited: 24 January 2013, 21:15
Vancouver, Canada
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10. Re: Road Trip from Montana to AK via BC

Thanks for that clarification, Israelimom ~

In BC, you've basically got a bunch of N-S valleys, separated by mountain ranges and highways going up and over those ranges. There's the Columbia Valley, East Kootenays from west of Banff down to Cranbrook. --

britishcolumbia.com/regions/towns/index.asp…

There's the Slocan Valley, West Kootenays from roughly Creston up to Revelstoke ---

britishcolumbia.com/regions/towns/index.asp…

"Take a journey" through the Slocan Valley: http://www.slocanvalley.com/index.php

There's the Okanagan Valley from Osoyoos up to Vernon --

britishcolumbia.com/regions/towns/index.asp…

There's the Fraser Canyon from Hope up to about Lytton -

http://www.travelthecanyon.com/welcome.html

hellobc.com/vancouver-coast-mountains/transp…

Wikipedia will tell you plenty about the Fraser Canyon.

Note on the hellobc.com website, there are offerings of "driving routes," often called Circles that would be well worth researching.

Each of these regions has its own micro climate and landscapes. It sounds as though you will have to regroup with regard to an itinerary, so perhaps the above websites information will help.