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Trip Report Part 2: Vancouver to the Rockies and Back

Brisbane
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Trip Report Part 2: Vancouver to the Rockies and Back

Hello again everyone! Part 1 of my report is on the link below, covering our week in Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

tripadvisor.com/…51297664

This report covers the next two weeks. In case you don't get a chance to read the first part of the report, travelling are myself and hubby with our kids age 10 and 13.

There are a lot of itinerary questions asked on this forum about the Vancouver-Rockies round trip and it seems sooo confusing when you are trying to plan from home. I asked a couple of questions of this and the Alberta forum and we came up with this itinerary. I don't think I would have changed anything about the itinerary - we were very happy with it!

So here goes! When I left off part 1, we were at the Hilton Airport hotel. We dropped the rental car off at the airport and had a relaxing night in, with dinner at the hotel restaurant. The next morning we had organised an early departure in our Canadream RV, booked through a broker http://www.motorhomebookers.com. Our deal included early pickup, late drop off, insurance and extra kilometres. The pickup at Canadream was very straightforward and the operation there was very slick. Everyone seemed to move in and out fairly quickly. Our RV was 28ft and although the toilet and shower area was tiny, it was certainly adequate for our needs. We left Canadream before mid-day, stopped for fuel, a trip to the supermarket and lunch, finally leaving Vancouver at around 2pm. Our destination for that night was Clinton after a recommendation on this forum that we drive up the Fraser Canyon rather than through Kamloops. It was a lovely drive, through a variety of scenery and we really enjoyed it. I had booked a site at the Willow Springs campground, www.willowspringscampground.com which is just out of town on a lovely little lake. The kids immediately found other kids to play with and they spent a nice couple of hours on the lake and playing ball games.

Brisbane
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1. Re: Trip Report Part 2: Vancouver to the Rockies and Back

We were back on the road reasonably early the next day, taking the 97 north towards 100 Mile House and then turning east on the 24E to meet up with the 5 and on to Clearwater. The 24 is a gorgeous drive, passing a series of lovely lakes and rural scenery. We enjoyed that. We made a couple of stops along the way but our destination for the afternoon was Blue River and the bear safari. http://riversafari.com/WP/. We had seen bears on Vancouver Island, but I can never get too much wildlife, so we wanted another crack! Unfortunately for us we spent most of the trip searching, but the scenery was again beautiful, with a strong smell of pine trees which always remind us of Christmas! We saw one bear right near the end of our tour - he was making his way through the bush at the edge of the lake so we followed him for around 15mins before heading back. My 10 year old said to the driver that she really enjoyed the ride and wouldn't have minded if she hadn't seen any bears anyway! We checked in at the Blue River Campground www.bluerivercampground.ca before walking down to Eleanor Lake for the kids to have a swim. What a beautiful little spot that was - it was how I imagined Canada to be - a lovely lake, surrounded by pine trees and a dock in the middle to swim out to. The kids had a great time!

The next day was Canada Day and we were headed for Jasper. We headed out early so that we could stop at Mt Robson on the way. On the way we saw a black bear just walking along the side of the road - we got a much better view of him for free than we did on the river safari the day before! On arrival at Mt Robson park, we walked some of the Lake Kinney trail, but the kids aren't very cooperative hikers so we didn't get to see the actual lake! The weather was lovely and I think Mt Robson is one of my favourites! We hit Jasper early afternoon but we had missed the parade, and we didn't manage to find the celebrations in town either, but never mind! I had booked a Gypsy Guide so we picked that up, checked into our pre-booked campsite at Whistlers campground and then headed up the Jasper Tramway. It was later in the afternoon by now so it wasn't too crowded. We didn't have enough time to walk all the way to the top but we explored what we could before having a (rather ordinary) meal at the restaurant there. (On a side note, we found as a general rule that the food at the major attractions was all a bit ordinary, so would recommend you avoid it if possible!). When we got back down on the second to last tram, we headed back to the campground and the ranger talk. The kids were keen to get their Explorer badges so they listened to the talk while I photographed the elk and their babies who were just happily relaxing in the middle of the campground! Fortunately the babies weren't too little, as people didn't seem to heed the warnings to stay away from them! We could have stayed up to watch the Canada Day fireworks, but as it gets dark so late at that time of year, we didn't make it! Fast asleep and missed all the fun!

We liked Whistler's campground - I had read reviews that said how busy it was, but really the sites are well separated and the sites are surrounded by trees so it didn't seem crowded to us at all.

Brisbane
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2. Re: Trip Report Part 2: Vancouver to the Rockies and Back

Another reason for us to not stay up late was because I had promised myself a dawn photo shoot the next morning. Photography is my hobby, and I hadn't really had a lot of chances to do dedicated shoots on the trip so far, with bad weather and long days contributing to that. I had purchased Darwin Wiggett's ebooks about how to photograph Jasper, Banff and the Icefields Parkway (and would recommend keen photographers do the same) so had picked out Patricia Lake as the spot to go to, along the Pyramid Lake Road. We woke the kids early, got them to sit with their seatbelts on until we got there, and then they crawled back into bed and went back to sleep while I took my shots, just a few feet away from them on the foreshore (gotta love RVs for the ability to do this!!). The sunrise wasn't all that interesting, but I enjoyed my couple of hours photographing there and a bit further along at Pyramid Lake. We breakfasted there on the side of the road and then headed down the Maligne Lake Road, another of Darwin's recommendations. We spent time throwing stones into Lake Annette - so close to Jasper but we were the only ones there - and then headed down to Maligne Canyon where we spent an enjoyable couple of hours. We had lunch at the restaurant here too - again, a bit ordinary! Our plan for that afternoon was the boat cruise to Spirit Island. I was booked on the inaugural "Through the Lens" cruise which allows extra time on Spirit Island under the guidance of a professional photographer, and the others were booked on the standard cruise. When we got there though, I was the only booking for that cruise so the others were allowed to join me. It turned out to be us 4, two professional photographers (as it was the inaugural cruise), a driver and a guide! For me, it was awesome to have the extra time on Spirit Island - of course it still wasn't long enough - and to have the tutoring from the guides was great. I would recommend this cruise for any other keen photographers. http://www.malignelake.com/act_lens.html They also supplied a superb afternoon tea!

On the way back to Jasper, we were so lucky to see a mother bear and THREE cubs on the side of the road. There was quite a bear jam but we were able to watch them for a few minutes before we moved on. That road is well known for wildlife, and we saw deer, goats and the mountain sheep as well that day. Overall, a great day of photography!

Greater Sydney...
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3. Re: Trip Report Part 2: Vancouver to the Rockies and Back

You write a nice TR, jemmwn. Keep them coming. I have enjoyed your trip so far.

Brisbane
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4. Re: Trip Report Part 2: Vancouver to the Rockies and Back

(Gosh this is going to be long isn't it - I'll speed up! This next section is possibly in the wrong forum too so feel free to move it if appropriate admins!)

Our plan for the next day was an icewalk on the Athabasca glacier with Ice Walks, www.icewalks.com. We left early from Jasper for the 10am departure and we had a great time! It was a little strenuous in parts, but if this slightly overweight unfit middle-aged woman can do it I'm sure you can too! It was great to spend that much time on the glacier (over 3 hours) not just drive over it and spend 10 minutes. We back-tracked to Jasper, catching Athabasca Falls and Sunwapta Falls on the way back, stopping anywhere that took our fancy. I didn't mind back-tracking along the Icefields Parkway - it is everything people say about it and more!

After our last night in Jasper, we were headed for Banff, with a full day on the Icefields Parkway. Again we stopped wherever we fancied, listening to the Gypsy Guide along the way and generally taking our time. Peyto Lake was gorgeous and probably my highlight of the day. We didn't stop at Lake Louise, as we were heading there for a few nights after Banff. We drove the Bow Valley Parkway instead of the TransCanada, and can thoroughly recommend that drive. We had a booking at Tunnel Mountain Village 2 - quite a contrast from Whistler's campground - being more like a concreted carpark than a campground, but never mind - we didn't spend much time here anyway!

The next morning was another dedicated photography morning for me. I was picked up at stupid o'clock (4.30am) by Dani and Callum of Banff Photo Workshops and Tours http://banffphotoworkshops.com We headed to Vermillion Lakes and spent sunrise there before heading to Two Jack Lake and then (I think it was) Johnson Lake. I learned a lot from them and was happy to be taken to some wonderful scenery. When we got back mid-morning the others had been enjoying a very quiet start to the day but it was time to move so we headed to the Banff Gondola. Another great spot where we were lucky enough to see a marmot, as well as heaps of squirrels (our favourites!) and goats. Heading back into town we did a spot of shopping, visited a museum (which one escapes me for the moment - it was run by Parks Canada and had stuffed animals in it!) before treating ourselves to a nice restaurant dinner in town.

Brisbane
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5. Re: Trip Report Part 2: Vancouver to the Rockies and Back

Thanks Frommy - I'm pushing to finish tonight while I'm on a roll!!

So we had had two nights in Banff and we were off to Lake Louise for two nights. We went back along the Bow Valley Parkway again, and this time we were treated to a great bear sighting - so close to us on the side of the road!

I had booked a horse ride this morning through Timberline tours www.timberlinetours.ca Now in case you missed my self-description before, I'm not fit, but when I read about the Lake Agnes teahouse I knew I wanted to go there. For someone like myself, who tries not to do "up", it didn't seem likely that I would get to see it, but I'm nothing if not determined and that's when I managed to discover that I could employ a horse to do the "up" for me! Happy days! Now I just had to convince hubby that a 3 hour horse ride was a good idea!! Fortunately I did, and we had a ball. The weather was a bit iffy, but it cleared up as we headed off and by the time we got all the way up to the Little Beehive it was beautiful. What gorgeous scenery - probably my favourite - and I am so glad I found a way to see it! Unfortunately by the time we got to the teahouse a storm rolled in, with hail and chilly winds, so back on the horses and down we went. It was over 4 hours altogether and we really enjoyed it!

A less exciting afternoon was spent doing laundry (hint - DON'T do laundry in Lake Louise! There are only two machines for public use in the town and there was a queue. The laundromat in Jasper was great, and there was also a big one in Banff - do it there!).

We stayed at the Lake Louise Campground for our two nights. I was a little concerned about how we would go, with all the reports of the noise from the trains, but we found it to be a lovely campground, right on the river and again surrounded by trees. The trains never woke us - we had had too much fresh air and sunshine so slept soundly!

We had a big scenery day the next day, spending time at Lake Louise, Morraine Lake (OMG - my favourite!), Takakkaw Falls and Emerald Lake. The rain had stopped and we had a lovely day.

So in the Rockies we had had three nights in Jasper, and two each in Banff and Lake Louise and for us that was great.

Brisbane
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6. Re: Trip Report Part 2: Vancouver to the Rockies and Back

It was time to start the trip back towards Vancouver. We headed from Lake Louise towards Revelstoke, stopping at the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre in Golden on the way. www.northernlightswildlife.com/index.html It was a nice little place, with passionate carers and we all enjoyed seeing the wolves so close.

Roger's Pass was really pretty but unfortunately it was raining so we might not have seen it at it's best.

We spent the afternoon up the Meadows in the sky Parkway, where we found enough snow for the kids to have a snowball fight. It was really pretty up there and there were some early wildflowers too.

Our campground for the night was at Blanket Creek Provincial Park and it was our favourite campground of the whole trip. Beautiful sites with heaps of space between them and lovely forest. There is a man-made lake there which is really warm, and the weather had improved so the kids had a swim. There were heaps of squirrels and I spent ages "stalking" them with my camera, trying to get that perfect shot! We had a campfire and made S'Mores which the kids loved! Top night! Unfortunately we only had one night here - I could have easily stayed longer and had a relax day.

Our next destination was Penticton. We stopped at the SkyTrek Adventure Park on the way http://www.skytrekadventurepark.com. The kids did the ropes course, my daughter making it until just after the start of the black course, and my son almost finished. It was a great confidence booster for her as she does have a fear of heights. She was very proud of herself!

In Penticton we stayed at the Wright's Beach Camp RV park. Now, I'm not one to complain about holidays but after the wonderful Blanket Creek, I think I got culture shock on arrival here. The vans were sooooo close together and there were so many people! Even getting down to the lake front was difficult with all the vans blocking the routes through. Now I understand that it is a popular spot, but it wasn't my thing! We had decided to stay here for two nights so that we could do a winery tour the next day but if we had our time again we would stay in Oliver which seemed much nicer! Campground aside, we had a wonderful day with Ron on his winery tour around Oliver -http://sunshineandwinetours.com. We were 6 in a minivan (us 4 and a mother-daughter team from Vancouver) and we visited 7 wineries over the course of the day. There was something unique about all of them - whether it was the wine, the location, or the characters at the winery! I would thoroughly recommend this tour, and it made the camping experience worthwhile!

Brisbane
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7. Re: Trip Report Part 2: Vancouver to the Rockies and Back

(We are in the home-stretch now.....!)

So, one more night before we started the trek home. We drove from Penticton to Cultus Lake via EC Manning Park. We stopped at one of the little lakes for lunch along the way and had the best time playing with the very tame squirrels! www.youtube.com/watch… (gosh we miss there here!)

We arrived in Cultus Lake in time for a few hours at the waterpark which the kids loved. It wasn't quite warm enough to coax me on the rides though....We treated ourselves to dinner at the local golf course which was quite nice.

Our campground that night was the Cultus Lake Provincal Park - another gem of a place which we really enjoyed.

The next morning started our long journey home - we dropped the RV back just after lunch and headed to the airport. We flew to LA first, then back to Brisbane. Thoroughly exhausted, but very happy after our great trip.

I am happy to answer any questions people may have! I will start working on my photos as soon as I get a chance and will post a link when they are ready (it'll be a while though.....).

Cheers!

Vancouver, Canada
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8. Re: Trip Report Part 2: Vancouver to the Rockies and Back

jem - well done! I have yet to complete a trip report. [shame face] It usually comes out in drips and drabs as I answer questions.

You have nailed the difference between the government-run campgrounds and the private ones. If you can do without power, always try for the provincial parks sites first if you can. The privately run parks do tend to be very crowded, although some are better than others. There is a lot of pressure to develop land in the Okanagan, so the campgrounds are disappearing in favour of condos. They have to pack 'em in to stay profitable.

Sounds like a great trip.

Port Moody, Canada
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9. Re: Trip Report Part 2: Vancouver to the Rockies and Back

Wonderful TR.

Brisbane
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10. Re: Trip Report Part 2: Vancouver to the Rockies and Back

Vancouverite - I would have loved to have stayed in more provincial parks. We do need power from time to time though, with ipads, iphones, laptops and camera batteries.....!