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My MV Circular tour, Calgary - Vancouver - Calgary

Solihull, United...
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My MV Circular tour, Calgary - Vancouver - Calgary


My wife and I are planning a 21 days tour of Alberta and BC this summer by MV, starting and ending in Calgary. We are both in our late 50's and in good shape for hiking but probably not fit enough for fighting off bears. :)

What would be really helpful would be (firstly) if someone in the know could make suggestions eg; you don't need quite so long there... why not visit ...since you are so close...

Secondly, we are not planning to book any campsites in advance, except perhaps for the holiday weekend (Am I right in thinking that is the first Monday in august) Think this plan will be OK?

Planned itin. (21 nights total)

Calgary hotel 1 night; Banff NP 4 nights; Jasper NP 3 nights; Wells Gray PP 1 or 2 night; Whistler 1 or 2 night; Vancouver island 4 nights; Vancouver (Where on earth can we camp here??? 3 nights; Okanagan Valley 1 or 2 nights; Yoho NP 1 or 2 nights)

We are really looking forward to seeing some of your beautiful country.) Thanks in advance to anyone who is able to help.

Greater Sydney...
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1. Re: My MV Circular tour, Calgary - Vancouver - Calgary

OMG, what luxury. 21 days in this beautiful area. You will love it.

I am not into camping in anything but 3/4 star accommodation, nor into hiking, so I cannot help you with those. My only observation is that I would flick Whistler and probably spend more time on Vancouver Island which, unfortunately, we did not have time for, but will on our next trip if we can. The reason I would flick Whistler is that it is a winter ski resort, and does not present scenery as great as that which you would already have experienced in the Rockies, although I am not saying that it does not have summer attractions.

Your time proposed in the Banff/Jasper regions will give you great exposure for the Rockies there, and you could probably add a day into the Okanagan region.

I am sure that you will get a couple of the great local posters to provide you with a much better analysis and ideas.

Happy planning.

Calgary, Canada
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2. Re: My MV Circular tour, Calgary - Vancouver - Calgary

Sorry, I haven't seen the term MV before. Do you mean that you're camping in a minivan?

You *must* reserve a campsite for the August long weekend (first weekend in August); this is a statutory holiday in BC and in Alberta. The national park campgrounds are regularly full (and I don't mean fully reserved, I mean fully occupied) by the preceding Thursday afternoon. In the summer, it's generally smart to have your reservations for Friday and Saturday night made no later than the preceding Thursday; if it's a popular area (e.g. Okanagan), Wednesday would be better. It is no fun being stuck driving around looking for a campground with a vacancy (I've been there & done that), and boondocking (camping in a parking lot or roadside pullout without any services) is not as easy as one might think.

I've plotted your itinerary (sans Vancouver Island) on Mapquest; the driving times that Mapquest gives are generally reliable (as long as you don't include a ferry trip, that really confuses it):


Four nights in Banff and three in Jasper seems not too bad; to be honest, if you're hikers, you could quite happily spend most of your holiday in either place. Make sure to get a copy of the "hiker's bible", Patton & Robinson's Canadian Rockies Trail Guide; you'll find it and other useful books listed here:


The road from Lake Louise to Jasper is the spectacular Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93N); plan to spend the entire day enjoying the drive. Even though it's only 4 hours of driving (non-stop), to drive it without stopping is a crime. See this article for more information and important tips:


You'll want to check with the folks on the BC forums, of course, but feedback from other visitors is that Whistler is primarily a skiing destination; not a whole lot to see or do in the summer aside from the glacier skiing. The Hwy 99 into Whistler is said to be quite scenic, however.

There are campgrounds in Vancouver (or, to be more precise, the Greater Vancouver Regional District). Parkcanada ( http://www.parkcanada.com/ ) is not a great campground, but it has a pool, laundromat, security gate, and is very close to the Tsawassen ferry terminal.

Here are a few other campgrounds in & around Vancouver:

Dogwood Campgrounds, by the Port Mann bridge


Burnaby Cariboo RV Park


And more helpful Vancouver camping links here:


I know I'm in the minority on this, because the Okanagan is a very popular destination, but I'm not a fan. Yes, there is a lovely lake and the summer weather can get hot hot hot and you have the orchards and the vineyards and all the wineries there (and golfing too); but there's just something about the desert-like setting that I find off-putting. And I know I'm in the minority of people when I say that I'm just not a fan of lying on the beach and playing in the water; I like a more active holiday. But I put this unusual point of view forward just in case you belong to the same school of thought.

Well, I guess I've had my say; be sure to post on the BC forums as well for their perspective on your itinerary.

Calgary, Canada
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3. Re: My MV Circular tour, Calgary - Vancouver - Calgary

I totally agree with CW on everything she's said. I'll just add that the drive from Cache Creek to Whistler via the Duffy Lake Road is really spectacular in the summer time. There are many places to pull off the road and random camp along the way too. But I wouldn't plan on spending much time in Whistler. From Whistler to Vancouver you have the Sea to Sky highway to drive, also fabulous scenery.

You might want to check my travel pages on Alberta and BC, for photos and ideas. Here's the link:


(In particular, check out the Lillooet page for some photos of the Duffy Lake Road.)

One other thing, you might want to try and spend a couple of days in the BC Kootenays area (Nelson, Balfour, Kaslo, New Denver, Castlegar) as this is a part of BC well worth visiting, IMO. I have plenty of photos and tips on my travel pages at the above link regarding this area. There is a really nice campground at Castlegar, called Syringa Provincial Park where you could spend a couple of days. It's right along Arrow Lake.

Hope that helps.

- CG

Solihull, United...
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4. Re: My MV Circular tour, Calgary - Vancouver - Calgary

Oops. I think I meant RV not MV (Motorhome)

Thankyou all for the really helpful information and perspectives. Skipping (as we say in the UK) a night in Whistler will give us at least an extra day, and I will look very carefully at the alternatives suggested, but broadly I am confident that our itinerary is going to give us a wonderful holiday.

While I must say we both lean towards Campinggirl's viewpoint, probably preferring the more rugged parts it will still be nice to see a range of scenery.

I don't think we will be doing any moondogging (or whatever) and I shall certainly be booking the campsites well in advance at the times suggested.

Once in Oz we too spent an evening phoning around while driving from campsite to campsite searching in vain for an empty slot. Once was enough!!

Many thanks once again to all, for taking the time to help!

(I am getting excited already...)

Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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5. Re: My MV Circular tour, Calgary - Vancouver - Calgary

Your itinerary looks good, and I want to further emphasize what was earlier said about booking ahead for the August long weekend. As an example of how busy it can be (and perhaps this year may be a little different, but maybe not), all accommodation in Jasper usually sells out on that weekend by Friday evening - all hotels, campsites, B&Bs, hostels... everything. Other places with more accommodation may not get quite so booked up but will be busy too, so do book ahead, at least for then.

About campgrounds in Vancouver - we rented an RV once, about 15 years ago, and stayed in a CG beside the Lion's Gate bridge, right in the city. It was mentioned recently on one of the forums here, so I know it's still there. It was a bit noisy, but a very convenient location.

6. Re: My MV Circular tour, Calgary - Vancouver - Calgary

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