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Visiting canada - I want too see it all

Yeppoon
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Visiting canada - I want too see it all

Hi, what a great site! After many years of not so patient waiting we are finally ready to make our trip from the hot qld climate of Australia with our two children (4 & 7). The trouble is I want to see everything, but that isn't really very realistic. Can anyone give an indication on when might the best time be for us to come. We were wanting to see the snow and had thought maybe april would be a good time until the travel agent, who is Canadian, shared the fact that the motorhome we were going to hire more than likely wouldn't get us through to jasper and banff etc. being from qld snow is a huge novelty but I guess with a 4 year non skier we need to be realistic. Is there a time of year where we will still get too see some snow but still be able to get round a visit places (feel free to help us out with places to visit). As we have a school age child we are trying to keep to Aussie school hols. We are know thinking end sept to end oct, as a last resort we could take her out of school and go in May. We will have about 5 weeks and were planning on starting our trip in vancouver and then heading to jasper and Calgary. I am a huge Anne of green gables fan and would like to go to Prince Edward Island (sad I know) but I'm not sure how costly it is too get from one side of the country to the other. Being from aust we are very used to traveling g long distance and aren't scared of camping as we travelled a larg potion of Australia for almost a year with a baby and 3 year old. We don't like tours and are happy to do our own thing but are happy to receive advice. We love the outdoors and want are happy doing walks etc. please help us out and fell us when we are most likely going to find a chance to ski (my 6 year old is desperate to have a go and to ice skate) as well as good travelling and site seei g. Many thanks. mel

Vancouver, B.C.
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1. Re: Visiting canada - I want too see it all

Winter in Canada is mainly from November to March/April. The best time to ski is now till mid February. The problem is that if you want to see snow, it makes it hard to travel around and you definitely don't want to be driving in the mountains in winter without a lot of experience.

We had a surprise snowstorm today in Vancouver and the commute for some people was horrendous. A report I saw on the news showed a reporter taking 2.5 hours to get to work while usually it's 40 minutes.

A quick look on Expedia shows that the shortest flight time to Charlottetown is 7.5 hours plus the 4 hour time difference.

Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: Visiting canada - I want too see it all

Welcome to the forum, Melinda ~

As with everyone who is in the initial stages of planning, things look huge and over the top. That's okay, you've got a lot of time to do the research and pick and choose.

So far we've got:

family with young children

5 weeks

RV

Aussie school hols which are end Sept to end Oct - sounds very good for this part of Canada.

**

Now you probably already know that Canada is about 15% larger than Aust and getting from Vancouver to Anne would be the same trek as Sydney to Perth.

As you have guessed you will not be able to see it all. But in 5 weeks you will be able to experience a great deal of BC and the Rockies. The first thing you really need to do is have a look through some travel books on Canada. One that might be worthwhile is by Frommer, called British Columbia and the Canadian Rockies.

I can offer some suggestions for the west side of the country. The Rockies meet up with winter a lot earlier than the coast, things begin to close down for the season after the first week of September or thereabouts. So you might consider arriving at Calgary and heading for the Rockies for perhaps a week, splitting time between Banff and Jasper. Then you could take a week if you wanted, to travel across the province. Here you would have a number of choices and you would need to do the homework to check out communities on about 3 possible routes to see where you want to go and what to do and see that appeal to you and your family. One website that is helpful for that is Hello BC which is here:

www.hellobc.com

Also on the British Columbia Forum, in the Top Questions to the upper right, 3 of the possible routes are outlined with links to google maps. That article is here:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g154922-c120076/Briti…

Now you are at the coast. You might want to give Whistler a miss as you will have been too impressed with the Rockies to bother with Whistler. But in Vancouver, you could spend 5 nights, or so. Following that, you might want to spend 10 days or so on Vancouver Island: 3 nights at the south end, 3 nights at Pacific Rim National Park with the towns of Ucluelet and Tofino and 3 nights at north Island for grizzly bear tours and whale watching, if that appeals to you. Back in Vancouver for 1-2 nights before you fly out. I'm not sure where you would find snow in Sept and October here. We don't really get going here on the coast for snow until December. But you would certainly be able to see snow in the Rockies at any time of year.

There's a very rough overview to give you some perspective.

If you wanted to visit the Anne things, you would need to fly from either Vancouver or Calgary to Charlottetown, which would be approx 7 hours of travel as you would need to make 1 or 2 connections to get there. You could definitely tweak some days in order to take the 5th week to fly to C'town for your Anne bits and pieces.

If I may kindly suggest that you write in paragraphs to break up the large block of text, it would make for easier reading. I hope this gets you thinking and helps with your planning.

Some websites that you might start to use are:

www.britishcolumbia.com

www.hellobc.com

And I would suggest that each and every forum has Things to Do in the left sidebar. There are Top Questions on most forums to the upper right. And on the British Columbia Forum, one step up from this Vancouver one, in the Top Questions, you can find Trip Reports left by previous visitors that are a wealth of information for planning purposes. You will also find Trip Reports on the Canadian Rockies Forum, in the Top Questions there. Just type Canadian Rockies Forum in the search field above the green navigation bar to go there.

Edited: 19 December 2012, 06:39
Vancouver-by-the-Sea
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3. Re: Visiting canada - I want too see it all

"the travel agent, who is Canadian, shared the fact that the motorhome we were going to hire more than likely wouldn't get us through to jasper and banff "

That is plain nonsense.

There are reasons you wouldn't want to take a tin can on wheels into the mountains in early spring but driving one to the Rockies is as simple as pointing it in the proper direction and stepping on the gas.

Hull
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4. Re: Visiting canada - I want too see it all

As I see it, your bucket list is tricky to deliver on- sightseeing/camping and snow in the one trip.

September/October it would be all but impossible to achieve that.

What is great is the timescale you envisage; this *might* allow arrival in the Rockies in mid April (snow/skiing possible?), a sojourn (by air) in the East (AoGG) and return to Vancouver for an RV trip back to the Rockies when the weather might not be so cold, at least for 'le camping' in May.

Even then, you won't believe how cold the wind can be on the Icefields Parkway!

DE's opinions?

Frommy seems to have gone into hibernation?

Greater Sydney...
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5. Re: Visiting canada - I want too see it all

G'day Melinda,

First I must agree with Mufti - paragraphs make for much easier reading.

Secondly I note that Qld school holidays for 2013 are 29/3 to 14/4, 22/6 to 8/7 and 21/9 to 7/10. This is for the benefit of others posting.

Thirdly a disclaimer. I travelled in these regions at the beginning of June a few years ago so have no winter experiences there (and nor do I desire any). We did see snow close up in the high mountain areas around Moraine Lake and on the walk to the viewing point at Peyto Lake (beautiful) still had snow on the ground. Both those areas would be inaccessible even in mid May. The mountains were all snow capped and made for wonderful photos.

I note you accept that you cannot do it all. That is a good first step. Now, as a second step, dump the AoGG idea. That is a heck of a lot of air miles and $'s just to see a house with a green roof. (Saw it last June - passing only - very commercialised - I would not pay to go in. PEI is lovely though, but part of another major destination to travel to in itself, the Maritimes.)

I will not buy into the RV discussion except to say that I agree with Sam about possibly driving in the Calgary/Baff/Jasper corridor, provided you would be flexible with your dates to avoid nasty weather days on the road. I think that your TA may have been referring to the drive from Vancouver to the Rockies, and that is a different scenario as I have read from many years on the forums in these regions. I notice that the major highway leading to the Rockies, near Revelstoke, was closed for a while today due to heavy snow fall, and then again later on for avalanche hazard reduction.

With respect to the great advisors on this forum, as many of your interests appear to be in the Rockies, I do believe that the questions and points you raise should be posted on the Canadian Rockies forum rather that this Vancouver forum on the banana coast. Not all advisors post on forums apart from their own Province/region, and there is a great advisor on the Alberta forums who is a very experienced RV'er who does not post on this forum. BTW the Rockies are about 900 km from Vancouver.

tripadvisor.com.au/ShowForum-g659487-i11598-…

Just from my general knowledge, I do not think that you will find ice skating on the high mountain lakes in April, and certainly not in September/October. There will be skiing in April/May (limited), and it still gets very cold at night in the Rockies so an RV with a furnace would be essential, These are the average weather stats for Banff for example:

www.weatherbase.com/weather/weather.php3…

Another reason to also post on the Rockies/Alberta forum is that very few camping areas are available in April within the national parks, and the best advice for that would be found on that forum.

Anyway, that is just my AU$0.02c worth. I will follow your plans with interest.

Greater Sydney...
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6. Re: Visiting canada - I want too see it all

"Frommy seems to have gone into hibernation?"

Not on your Nellie, ATSF. How long do you think it took me to write the above, posted 2 mins after you? Hibernation? Presently just after 11pm here with a temp of a lovely 22c with a max expected tomorrow of 35c.

:)

Jasper, Canada
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7. Re: Visiting canada - I want too see it all

April and early May are not exactly camping season in the Rockies - if you do come in an RV then, you'll have it to sleep in, but won't be able to use water lines due to the risk of them freezing in the overnight below freezing temperatures. There are also limited campgrounds open at that time of year - they tend to be the more "parking lot"-like ones (for ease of clearing winter snow). The nicer, forested campgrounds don't open until May and June.

Thousands of motor homes travel the Icefields Parkway and the Trans-Canada highway between Jasper and Banff every year - it's a very popular thing to do. Perhaps the travel agent was referring more to the difficulties of winter camping and RVs?

For what it's worth, I wouldn't rely on a travel agent as a sole source of information these days. I know a few; some are really good and know a lot about many destinations; some are basically clerks trained to use the agency software to book flights, hotels, attractions etc. and know nothing about the destinations they are selling other than the info they have been provided. Travel agencies are a for-profit business and most limit what they sell to hotels and attractions that are willing to pay commission. So buyer beware and do your own research!

PEI is one of my favourite places on the planet; I have been travelling there my whole life, due to family ties, and am hoping to get down there again this summer. Flights from western Canada to Charlottetown run about $300 to $400 (one way, including taxes) at the cheapest - I get email newsletters from both major Canadian airlines (Air Canada and WestJet), and usually buy my tickets 3 to 5 months in advance, for the best fares. Travel between the two will basically take up a whole day. While a 3-hour or 4-hour time difference (to Alberta, or BC, respectively) may not seem like a lot, especially if you are flying in from overseas in the first place, I find it enough to throw my body clock out of whack a bit.

Besides Green Gables, there are a number of other "Anne" and Lucy Maud Montgomery sites you can visit (although most will be of little interest to your children) .... there is the LMM birthplace in New London, PEI, and a restored rural schoolhouse at Lower Bedeque where she taught for a year or two.

On the "Anne" theme, your kids might enjoy the recreated village of Avonlea... it's rather touristy, but would be a fun outing for a family. However, tourism in PEI, like many other areas of the country, is seasonal - many sites are not open until the end of May, or even into June, and close in September. (Green Gables is open year-round, with limited hours in the off-season.)

If your travels take you to Edmonton (which is four hours' drive from Jasper National Park, and is one of the "gateways" to the Canadian Rockies, the other being Calgary), you can try ice-skating at any time of the year at the indoor ice rink at West Edmonton Mall. Even here in the Rockies, with our long winters, the outdoor skating season ends about mid-March, late March is pushing it (and the ice quality late in the season is usually horrible, with daytime melting and overnight freezing causing bumpy or slushy ice). I think many community ice rinks also close for the season about then or in April (and re-open in late September or October), however, some do put in the ice during the summer if they are holding hockey schools or similar, and might have occasional times open for public skating, however, the difficulty at that time of year would be finding skate rentals.

Edited: 19 December 2012, 17:58
Jasper, Canada
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8. Re: Visiting canada - I want too see it all

For clarification ... in that last paragraph, my reference to community ice rinks are *indoor* rinks.

Hull
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9. Re: Visiting canada - I want too see it all

Hi Frommy~,

'Just testing you, Wilson.'

This is a hackneyed phrase used by Capt Mainwaring in Dad's Army when he says something (to Sgt Wilson {John Le Mesurier})for which the answer is obvious.

;-))

Greater Sydney...
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10. Re: Visiting canada - I want too see it all

ATSF. I am more the Cpl Jones type. "Don't panic!"