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Driving from Montreal to Mont Tremblant (Dec19 to 21, 2011)

Sydney
3 posts
1 review
Driving from Montreal to Mont Tremblant (Dec19 to 21, 2011)

Hi,

This is the first leg of the trip OS for my partner and I, we have hired a car in NYC and will be driving to Montreal, then on the 19th December to Mont Tremblant. On the 21st Dec we leave Mont Tremblant to drive to NYC.

My only concern is the road condition from Montreal to Mont Tremblant. It would be appreciated if you could provide some advice as to the road conditions from Montreal to Mont Tremblant? some tips on Winter driving? I know the usual cautious approach, slower than usual, conservative driving etc but is there anything in particular that I should note for the drive from Montreal to Mont Tremblant?

I have queried whether our hire car will come with a set of snow tyres - is this essential for the drive?

Tyre Chains - if the vehicle doesn't come with snow tyres, will tyre chains be sufficient?

I've never driven in such a climate like Canada before. We get some snow here in the southern regions, but nothing like the depths experienced in North America.

Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

Edited: 17 November 2011, 05:45
Quebec
Destination Expert
for Mont Tremblant
Level Contributor
13,044 posts
34 reviews
1. Re: Driving from Montreal to Mont Tremblant (Dec19 to 21, 2011)

Well as to what will be on the ground I have no idea, but snow storms can happen at any time. So lets work from that scenario. I will give you some linkg for winter driving tips and ideas.

Your rental car will have snow tires on, it is illegal in Quebec to have otherwise. Do not bother getting an SUV, they do not help with driving, though they can help if you get stuck, but that won't likely happen.

Snow chains are something we don't see up here, except on machinery. Winter tires are great, as is cautious driving. Things you might consider having on hand are a bag of kitty litter and a small shovel, you can buy these at any big stores. Kitty litter is great if you need a bit of traction, a shovel is good for digging, but I guess you knew that.

If there is a big snow storm forecast, delay your driving, or bring it forward. The trip to Montreal is about 90 mins long, but the bit from Montreal to NYC is about 8 hours and parts of the road is very high and can be extremely snowy, more so than the Tremblant route at times. I try not to do long drives if the weather is atrocious, if they cancel school that is a big clue to stay home. YOu will not the roads up here any worse than the roads through the northern part of US state, the companies that plough the roads are excellent.

Before you leave check the tire pressure, cold does something wierd to air in tires, it just vanishes overnight, clean all snow off the car and mirrors, you can buy special brushes for this. It can take a while, but you must do it. Especially off the roof of you car, snow flying off can literally cause a crash.

NOw as to the actual drive. FIrstly have the kind of clothes on that are comfy, and if you break down, that you will be warm in. A hat and gloves etc that are deep in a suitcase is NOT a great idea. DIgging for stuff after the fact is no fun when it is cold.

Snow is like porrige, if you get your tire into a deeper part of snow on the road or the edge of the road it will pull you in, so do watch carefully. Stopping, as you can imagine, is just way different than on ashphalt. Allow twice the distance, brake slowly, gently and steer straight. Do not get enthusiastic with the speed, you will see others who do, then you will see them in the ditch further along the way. They are usually driving SUV's too. We call these folk ditch pigs, they think they are superman and usually prove themselves wrong. All new cars have ABS brakes, they are great, if you need to stop jam quickly, them slam on thos suckers as hard as you can, you can still steer and they will do the work of pumping the brakes.

Have some sunglasses handy, sun reflectiong off snow is BRUTAL on the eyes.

MAny folk will suggest that you ditch the rental and fly because of the weather, I would not do the drive if I knew there was a storm in the forecast, just not worth the stress and I drive 60,000km a year. SO do ponder how badly you want to drive becuase there are other options.

Here are the helpful links.

…gouv.qc.ca/portal/…conseils_securite

caaquebec.com/Automobile/…

Edited: 17 November 2011, 12:42
Dearborn, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Mont Tremblant
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4,485 posts
83 reviews
2. Re: Driving from Montreal to Mont Tremblant (Dec19 to 21, 2011)

Generally, most of us recommend that people unfamiliar with winter driving be very careful or, ideally, not drive in snow at all during the few days that they are visiting. In your case, it appears that you won't have a no-driving option, so please be careful and you should be fine. You can find lots of websites that offer winter driving advice, including the governmental site of Transports Quebec. It requires adjustment in expectations, but it not rocket science.

ROAD CONDITIONS. The muti-lane highway from Montreal to Mont Tremblant is excellent, generally well maintained and well-traveled. Depending upon time of day, traffic might be more an issue than snow on the road. Snow is so unpredictable, but during the Dec 19-21 period there is a good chance that you will not encounter any snow at all on the route north from Montreal. BUT watch the weather forecast and road conditions bulletins when you get to NYC.

If it does snow, plow trucks will be out in force. I live in Michigan, which gets snow too and am always very favorably impressed with the winter road maintenance in Quebec. It is far better than in Michigan.

RENTAL CARS FROM U.S. TO CANADA. Normally, there is no problem driving a rental car across the border (I do it frequently), but be careful to check this with your rental car company and make sure that they approve and that insurance coverage still applies. For major companies, it is very routine.

SNOW TIRES. They are required in Quebec and on all rental cars rented in Quebec, but may a rental car picked up in NYC might NOT be equipped with them. The best advice is to check with your rental car company and to request winter/snow tires on the vehicle that your rent. For added security, I also recommend that you specify an all-wheel drive vehicle. There are many available, from SUVs to sedans, but you definitely will have to be very specific with the rental car company. Also, while many SUVs are all-wheel, some are 2-wheel drive only, just as in Australia.

TIRE CHAINS. Tire chains are not commonly used in and around urban areas of North America and are actually prohibited in many places because of the damage they can do. Chains are supposed to be used only at slow speeds and cannot be used on dry pavement. I cannot recall ever seeing tire chains in use in and around Mont Tremblant or on the road from Montreal.

Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
13,856 posts
47 reviews
3. Re: Driving from Montreal to Mont Tremblant (Dec19 to 21, 2011)

Hi Joel C C,

Welcome to the MONTREAL TRAVEL FORUM

And I see that you are a Brand NEW Member of TripAdvisor… so a BIG Welcome Aboard as well !!

Good info here from my colleagues let me add some more.

FIRST...

I have real concerns because you are picking up this car in NY City and driving north…

Rental Cars in the USA generally do not come with Winter Tires (you or may not be able to request them) … they come with all season radials which do not perform well at temperatures below 40 F (about 5 C)… they truly are not what you want to be driving on here in a major snow belt where we don’t usually see 40 F temperatures between October and May !!

Infact the only place in North America that it is law to have snow tires is Quebec… and they come on all rental vehicles there. Chains & Tire Studs are not legal in most of Eastern Canada and the USA… as they are too damaging to the roads.

Without Winter Tires, Snow Tires or Ice Tires (all similar just specialized in different things) you are truly waging an uphill battle against Mother Nature and winter road conditions… example… your stopping distance with winter tires is about considerably better (and hence less accidents… which is why Quebec made them law)

My concerns are compounded by the fact that your route will take you thru several major snow belts… and not just the one you seem to be expecting (Montreal to Mont Tremblant)…

You will also cross thru The Catskills – The Hudson River Valley – The Lake Champlain Valley – and the St Lawrence Lowlands Plain.. all of which have their own issues when it comes to weather (and weather patterns)... and lastly up into The Laurentians.

SECOND...

I have to be totally honest with you… if you are coming from a Warmer Climate (I am guessing that Sydney is perhaps Sydney Australia) you may not have SIGNIFICANT Winter Driving Experience to be able to handle what Mother Nature will throw at you…

Winter Driving is a real skill learned thru life experiences (some of them many of us who have been driving 10, 20, 30, or 40 more years would not care to repeat… thinking here of finding myself doing a 270º turn on an Expressway… and waiting for the inevitable “bang”… and hoping to heck that I wasn’t seeing my last moments of my life flash before my eyes)…

Winter Driving is not something to be undertaken without a worry… it is serious stuff, and not a skill easily picked up with strange rental car in an unfamiliar city in a foreign land (IMO). As I travel a lot (Road Tripping is by far my favourite form of vacation) I have seen too many unprepared drivers who have found themselves in a fender bender, in the ditch… or worse.

So although Winter Driving is something we can “describe” to you…

See the TA CANADA TRAVELLER ARTICLE on *Winter Driving* = tripadvisor.com/Travel-g153339-c55003/Canada…

It really and truly is something to perform effectively you have to do over a long period of time (example… I can tell you not to touch the brakes if you find yourself in a skid and to drive out of it… but inevitably most drivers are going to go to the brakes by automatic reflex… and once you do that, you could very well be done for… as the ice / slush etc will grab a hold of your car and then you have no ability to steer whatsoever)

Add in the fact that Winter Weather is highly unpredictable… it can change day to day, hour to hour… or even minute to minute… you could be in a great situation clear roads sunny location one moment, and facing sleet or freezing rain the next… not to mention Blowing Snow, Drifting Snow, White Outs, Freaky Fog… all of which can make both you and the vehicles around you and the road itself “invisible”. And we haven’t even touched on the “deadly” Black Ice.

Can’t tell you when a snow storm or some other BIG event could happen… only that they do… and mess up driving plans for sure. Most Canadians will tell you that we don’t make any “firm” plans during our Winter season… we usually just “play it by ear”… so it isn’t uncommon for us to say something like “We plan to leave on Friday… but IF the weather looks bad it could be Thursday Night, Saturday or even Sunday”. We build flexibility into things… never truly committing entirely to “a date”.

This can work for us… but not so much for someone Travelling and tied to Bookings, Non-Refundable Reservations and things like Airline Schedules. Which is why we also advise that Travellers coming here during the Winter without a whole lot of winter driving experience… just rely on public transit.

For the most part, public transit is good… decent enough between cities, and definitely excellent in our major cities… has to be, as so many of us depend it during the Winter Season (many Canadians who live in large cities choosing not to drive at all in the wintertime… lol, put your car into storage and you don’t have the hassle of having to dig it out of a 3 foot snowbank !!)

--- --- ---

So far this season, Quebec has been spared any snow as of yet… but it certainly has happened elsewhere in the country…

So I post a couple of recent links that have appeared elsewhere in the CANADA TRAVEL FORUMS to actually “see” what winter driving can be like… they tie in nicely to the above reference TA TRAVELLER ARTICLE on Winter Driving... in that you can actually "see" some of the things that have been discussed.

Winter 2011 – Slideshow = castanet.net/edition/…67283

Things to note… What it looks like to drive on a major highway in a snowstorm (pictures certainly remind me of the Northern USA areas on Interstates found in New York State – Vermont – and New Hampshire). How one accident (a car losing control) can easily set off a series of other accidents… How although there has probably been a plow thru, it isn’t enough to keep up with the snowfall… and that the road eventually becomes two bare lines and bumpy bits inbetween… these bumpy bits are extremely treacherous to cross thru… and more so if you have to do so at any speed (pass someone, or get out of the way quickly) it is very easy to lose control in these strips… they are often referred to as the “devil’s or deadman strip”. And lastly, there is an excellent picture in the series of what happens in a whiteout when you cannot see much at all (not even the tail-lights of a vehicle infront of you).

My best advice… honestly for peace of mind… if you don’t have SIGNIFICANT Winter Driving experience I’d be looking at public transit options…

By land you have the train (Amtrak) or bus (Greyhound) to Montreal. Or you could fly in (various airlines)… in all these cases you’d be looking at the bus or a shuttle to get you up to Tremblant from Montreal (about 2 Hours)

Or you could fly to Mont Tremblant Airport and take a shuttle from there to Mont Tremblant Ski Resort (about 1 Hour)

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

NOTE - TA TRAVELLER ARTICLES are Wiki Documents written cooperatively by some of the more frequent users of TA... they form "the Guide Book" aspect of this website... and can be found in the TRAVEL PAGES (those buttons to the left of the screen... and in the section marked TRAVEL GUIDE). In the case of the CANADA ARTICLE on *Winter Driving* it has been contributed to by many DEs across Canada from coast-to-coast and is one of the most relied documents for informing out-of-country Travellers about the facts in regards to winter driving here in Canada. If you do a GOOGLE Search you can find that much of this info is also documented on a variety of sources such as CAA (Canadian Automobile Association) - Provincial Ministry of Transportation Websites - and our Provincial Police & RCMP Websites as well.

Edited: 17 November 2011, 13:43
Montreal, Quebec...
Level Contributor
379 posts
9 reviews
4. Re: Driving from Montreal to Mont Tremblant (Dec19 to 21, 2011)

To minimize risks and costs, you could travel from New York City to Montreal by bus, train, or plane, and then rent a car in Montreal, which will be equiped with snow tires (it's mandatory, as other have explained) - that will not be the case in NYC, where you'll have to pay a big extra to get the snow tires.

Sydney
3 posts
1 review
5. Re: Driving from Montreal to Mont Tremblant (Dec19 to 21, 2011)

Thank you for the cOmprehensive information. It's greatly appreciated! Obviously I don't have the luxury to change dates, however I will definitely keep an eye on things and hope that the weather gods are nice to me!

Are there any weather sites you could recommend I keep track of to ensure a white-out free trip...?

If the weather was extremely bad, I would just cancel the hire and fly, but the hard decision is deciding at what point to do so - I love adventure & experiences so accomplishing snow driving or just the road trip north would be amazing!

Quebec
Destination Expert
for Mont Tremblant
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13,044 posts
34 reviews
6. Re: Driving from Montreal to Mont Tremblant (Dec19 to 21, 2011)

weatheroffice.gc.ca/city/pages/qc-167_metric…

This is my favourite Canadian one. Intellicast.com is a very good US one with great radar pictures etc. remember our East Coast storms can close down everything, including airports. Be prepared to sit tight if the weather looks rough rough.

If you are sensible about driving you will see some incredible scenery. Do check up on those snow tires though, I hadn't realized that this is a US rental, they are worth their weight on gold. I wouldn't do the trip without them. Also do get a letter that confirms that you can take the car across the border into Canada, not all rental companies allow it. This is not something you want to discover after an 8 hour drive.

I'll be doing the same trip last weekend in March, I will be taking all the same precautions to ensure a safe and fun trip.

West Grey, Ontario
Destination Expert
for Toronto
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83,362 posts
103 reviews
7. Re: Driving from Montreal to Mont Tremblant (Dec19 to 21, 2011)

Hi Joel;

If I may...

It is my opinion that operating a 4x4, without genuine winter driving experience, usually gets a driver into MORE trouble as a 4x4 provides a false sense of security, which causes the driver to become over confident.

4 wheel drives, even all wheel drives, will only help you when trying to get unstuck, which is a situation you want to avoid in the first place. Plus, the extra weight of these vehicles causes extra momentum, which makes them harder to stop !

On a drive of more than 370 miles / 600 km, regardless of the forecast, road and weather conditions can change rapidly. You're on vacation. Enjoy your time, stress free.

Skip the drive from NYC to Montreal, and fly. THEN, once in Montreal, make a decision on the weather and renting a car for the remaining 83 miles / 135 km drive to Mont Tremblant.

Best Regards

Sydney
3 posts
1 review
8. Re: Driving from Montreal to Mont Tremblant (Dec19 to 21, 2011)

RescueTeam - I take your opinion on board, but the drive from NYC to Montreal is just too picturesque to give up that quickly, our decision to fly will be made within days of our trip if the weather looks like it is going to turn for the worst.

Thank you all for your input - just one last question, are there any recommended stop offs along the route either from Mont Tremblant to Montreal or Montreal to NYC (and vice-versa), we will more than likely take the most direct route I-87/I-90 and from Montreal to MT we will take the 117.

Quebec
Destination Expert
for Mont Tremblant
Level Contributor
13,044 posts
34 reviews
9. Re: Driving from Montreal to Mont Tremblant (Dec19 to 21, 2011)

Saratoga Springs, Lake George on the NYC MTL leg. On the MTL Tremblant leg I would only stop if you need to, then St Sauveur is a good halfway point and full of shopping, though remember shopping in Canada is more pricey than in the US.

Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
13,856 posts
47 reviews
10. Re: Driving from Montreal to Mont Tremblant (Dec19 to 21, 2011)

Hi Joel C C,

You are very welcome... glad to help.

Weather sites are only good for maybe 12 to 24 Hours during our Winter Months... things just can change so quickly... or be localized (which is why I said you can be driving in sunshine one minute... and be in the middle of a blowing drifting snow white out the next)... and some of this stuff doesn't come up on radar as it happens at ground level... also the case for BLACK ICE !!

Black Ice is when the dampness on the road freezes into a clear ice that cannot be seen... it is called black ice because it is invisible as it takes on the colour of the asphalt of the road surface. Black Ice can happen not only in our Winter when we have snow... but anytime when we have wet conditions and then it freezes... so just as likely to happen in October (particularly so due to the dampness of the falling leaves... or in the springtime... when we may get a shower and then a quick freeze)

Environment Canada Weather Service is probably the best source.. but in the US you'll see "The Weather Channel" on Tv... we have their sister company here in Canada "The Weather Network" they are also on the net.

RESCUE TEAM makes a good point about SUVs... although they can preform wonderfully in a signficant amount of snow accumulation... not enough folks really know how to drive one safely... they do as he says "provide a false sense of security"... and folks drive too fast for the conditions... and with their light rear ends and top heavy construction... they are more prone to losing control quicker and roll-overs.

Note that the photos I linked to in my previous post had an assortment of vehicles off the road... a car, a semi-tractor trailer, and 2 SUVS. So although not a "scientific" example, it does show they can be seen more often in trouble (at least that is my experience)

Hope this is helpful,

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

EDIT - NOTE... I was drafting this reply after RESCUE TEAM's (# 7)... so before Replies # 8 and # 9

Edited: 17 November 2011, 22:26