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Train drive or fly

Eastbourne, United...
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Train drive or fly

Next summer will be our first trip to Canada. We fly in and out of Calgary and want to spend some time in Rockies, but I've just read about PR and it sounds amazing so I can spare 6 days or so.

Options seem to be drive from Jasper to PR (2 days) stay in PR 2 days drive back to Jasper (2 days).

Park hire car at Jasper and take train as above.

Park Hire car at Jasper train to PR (2 days) stay in PR 2 days Fly to Vancouver (1 day) train to Jasper (1 day).

The aim of the trip to Canada is scenery and wildlife and to experience wilderness. Which option would you recommend or is there a better way I havent thought of?

Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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1. Re: Train drive or fly

If the train is part of your plans, check the schedule carefully to see if it works for you - it only runs three times per week in each direction. However, I'm not sure if any of the options you have listed will really have you "experiencing wilderness", unless the experience you want is to see it whizzing by you through a window.

Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: Train drive or fly

Honestly, I'd do the Rockies, then return to Calgary and fly to the coast to experience this area as a different segment. Flights between major centres are going to be more affordable.

I just had a quick look at Hawk Air for a return flight Vancouver to Rupert this month and it would cost you ~$550 return each. I didn't look at Air Canada, your other option for Rupert.

What is it about Rupert specifically that draws you? I don't want to put you off, but it is a very long way, and there might be similar coastal locations that can meet those expectations but provide easier access.

For example, I might look at Powell River and Princess Louisa Inlet.

Edited: 12 September 2012, 19:54
Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: Train drive or fly

http://www.discoverpowellriver.com

sunshinecoasttours.bc.ca/princesslouisatour.…

...for example

Edited: 12 September 2012, 19:59
Vancouver-by-the-Sea
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for British Columbia
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4. Re: Train drive or fly

Prince Rupert beats the pants off anything anywhere on the Sunshine Coast- marine wildlife abounds not to mention easily available Grizzly viewing.

http://www.palmerville.bc.ca/

Vancouver, Canada
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5. Re: Train drive or fly

I do defer to your superior knowledge on this, Sam.

My instinct on this one is still to complete your tour of the Rockies, and then fly to Rupert from Calgary (if that's even possible without coming through Vancouver first) and then visit Vancouver if you want to. Its just too far to go to spend four days driving for only a couple of days there.

Vancouver, Canada
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6. Re: Train drive or fly

I'm still stuck in the itinerary for your loop from Calgary thread. The car and lack of car is an issue. The Skeena schedule to PR is an issue as is VIA Rail schedule to Jasper. The may not coordinate in your time frame. (Assuming you are talking about VIA Rail's The Canadian and not Rocky Mountaineer?)

1. You would only want to travel Hwy 16 once, not return.

2. On VIA Rail, you would travel half the province overnight, waking up to find that approaching the Rockies would be in daylight. It's a 19 hour journey departing Vancouver at 8h30 pm and arriving Kamloops at 6h00 am, Clearwater at 8h46 am and Jasper at 4h00 pm. If the train is on time. Freight trains take priority.

Aug 1, sunrise/sunset = 5h45 am and 8h51 pm

Aug 15, = 6h05 am and 8h28 pm

Aug 31, = 6h20 am and 7h56 pm

3. On Rocky Mountaineer, the journey is done in two daylight legs with a hotel stop in Kamloops.

****

Give up the car in Jasper, take any one way drop fee that might be involved. I read somewhere that Avis is the only rental company in Jasper. (?)

The Skeena to Prince Rupert - 2 nights

Stay Prince Rupert - 3 nights

Fly Prince Rupert to Calgary on Air Canada, 4 hours with a connection in Vancouver. This would give you the scenery all down the coast, complete with fjords, as well as flying east over the province.

I personally don't think that The Canadian is good value for sightseeing purposes. I actually don't think that The Skeena is either as the tracks are lined with trees. However, a recent visitor AchesonTopekaSantaFe did this train ride a couple of years ago and left a Trip Wow slide show in our Trip Reports Collection. As well, he may very well see this thread as it is on the PR Forum and pop in to relate his experience to you, in person.

There is a link to the Trip Wow within post #39. tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g154922-i80-k42028…

***

Another option would be to fly to PR both directions, and stay in PR for 5 nights. Sam could elaborate on what to see there. And I don't know if anyone has mentioned post 1 on this thread from the PR Forum:

tripadvisor.com/…42767744

And more: britishcolumbia.com/regions/towns/index.asp…

Vancouver, Canada
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7. Re: Train drive or fly

Skeena - 1 night (was thinking days)

Stay PR - 4 nights

Eastbourne, United...
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8. Re: Train drive or fly

wow! great info so far, thank you. What interests me about PR is the chance to see marine life and bears also to visit a remote town. I shouldn't have used the word wilderness more natural and undeveloped. I have often visited West Coast of Scotland and enjoyed the remoteness (albeit through a car window).

Hull
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9. Re: Train drive or fly

Hi Paul, Mufti gave me the 'heads up' on this thread (~~).

You seem to have locked on to the essentials here- that BC is a very big place and it would take a long time to go back and forth across it.

your thoughts are similar to mine and that's why I did it the way I did- fly into YVR and then straight on to YPR; you arrive the 'same' day as you depart from England (but it is a very long 'day).

The Via Rail Skeena (through very remote and somewhat wild scenery) is 750 miles over two days (hotel in P George)and it is a very effective way to see PR and get to the Rockies without driving these huge distances. On that subject, Hw16 is a lonely place if a problem strikes and the 'elephant trap' is to attempt the 400m PG/PR trip in the day and be still not near your destination when night falls (and my lonely heart breaks{sorry}) and the elk start to wander onto the road.... you tend to hurry when you need to be specially careful...

PR definitely has a frontier feel to it and if you like this, I think you'll find plenty to interest you. Shopping is not it's strong suit!

Yes Mufti is right (as always), the Skeena line could do with a run over with a chain saw with a 3 metre bar hanging out the side to clear the view but that's unspoilt for you! Guess RM would have that sorted? ;-))

A quaint alpine village PR is not though- what buildings there are are concrete (except for the old railhead- now boarded up sadly) and one other house, I seem to recall.

Don't be constrained by flying into and back from the same airport- departing from Calgary is a good plan IMO.

Basel, Switzerland
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10. Re: Train drive or fly

Why do you want to start and end your trip in the same place? If you do, I think the best option would be renting a car for the whole stay (and have someone to switch places with you behind the wheel).

In case you are open to some modifications, why not start your trip in Calgary and end in Vancouver, or vice versa?

I did a trip like this in September: Calgary-Jasper with a car, Jasper-Prince Rupert with the Skeena train (which: true-would need some bush cutting to help the view and was 4 hours late, but at least I did not have to do the driving). Then ferry to Port Hardy (Inside Passage). Vancouver Island and to Vancouver. A memorable trip!

If you have some time to spare, visit Haida Gwaii. I did not have enough time to go there, but maybe next time.

Oh, and do the Icewalk on the Athabasca Glacier - not this bus trip, but the real walk!