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Family Roadtrip from US to explore Canadian Rockies

Everett, WA
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Family Roadtrip from US to explore Canadian Rockies

We are planning a trip with our 2 teenagers for July. About 8 days. Basically I wonder if it make sense to explore the Canadian Rockies from north to south (Jasper first then to Banff area and beyond)?

Day 1. Driving from US to Kamloops area (wildlife park) sleep in Sun Peaks (5 hour drive)

Day 2. Drive to Jasper via 5, then 6 (about 6 hours), sleep there for 2 nights

Day 3. Explore Jasper area

Day 4. Drive south to Banff area, explore along the way. Sleep 3 nights there.

Day 5. Around Banf

Day 5 Around Banf

Day 6. Drive south and visit Radium Hotsprings, Fairmont Hotsprings and sleep in Kimberley.

Day 7. Drive over the border to Rebublic in WA and explore the fossil site, sleep there.

Day 8. Drive home to Everett, WA

Any suggestions?

Calgary, Canada
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1. Re: Family Roadtrip from US to explore Canadian Rockies

Welcome to TripAdvisor!

My first suggestion would be to skip Sun Peaks, and stay overnight in Kamloops instead. For an overnight stop, there are plenty of decent hotels in Kamloops, and far more amenities than at an isolated resort which is about 25 minutes off of your main route. Also, the BC wildlife park is about 15 minutes east of Kamloops on the Highway 1 (Trans-Canada Highway), while Sun Peaks is an hour's drive north and then east of Kamloops, So if for some reason you arrive in Kamloops after the wildlife park closes at 5 pm, it would make it very difficult to visit the park the next morning if you're using Sun Peaks as a base. But if you're staying in Kamloops, it's a piece of cake.

I'd love to write more, but I have to run right now - I'll check back in later. Meanwhile, can you tell me a little bit more about your interest in fossils? I may have a few other suggestions.

Everett, WA
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2. Re: Family Roadtrip from US to explore Canadian Rockies

Thanks Country_Wife!

You are rigth about Sun Peaks...

The only reason we considering it is to sleep somewhere halfway between Everett (US) and Jasper. I looked in Kamloops, but for the 4 of it would cost almost double to sleep there (Sun Peaks does not charge extra for kids under 17 - they offer a big room for $125 per night)... I thought this side trip will add no more than 45 minutes to our trip...

But if you have a suggestion in Kamloops where we could sleep for about the same price, then please let me know... (We had some bad experiences before with noisy budget accomodations before...)

We are planning to get to Kamloops around 2:30, that should give us enough time to visit the wildlife park there, right? We don't want to go back there next morning, but continue to Jasper...

The only other place where we will stop along the way is in Hope, BC to visit the Othello Tunnels, where they filmed a Rambo movies long time ago...

Calgary, Canada
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3. Re: Family Roadtrip from US to explore Canadian Rockies

Well, that is a good deal at Sun Peaks, and I don't know offhand of anything that would be cheaper. The other thing that you can do is (to borrow my husband's pet motto) to set your family's expectations - let them know *now* that if you don't get to Kamloops by (say) 3:30, then you won't be able to visit the wildlife park. That may help to get everyone on the road early enough in the morning, and keep them from dawdling during stops for food, fuel, and bathroom breaks.

Looking in more detail at your proposed itinerary:

Day 1: Everett-Sun Peaks - 6 hours driving, not including stops for food, fuel, bathroom breaks, and crossing the border.

Day 2: Sun Peaks-Jasper - 6 hours driving, driving, not including stops for food, fuel, bathroom breaks, and any possible delays due to road maintenance.

Day 3: Jasper

Day 4: Jasper-Banff via the extremely scenic Icefields Parkway. 3.5 hours driving, but plan to spend most of the day stopping along the way and checking out the scenery. See this TripAdvisor Traveler Article for full details, and tips on how to avoid possible glitches:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g659487-c74055/Canadi…

Day 5: Banff

Day 6: Banff to Kimberley. 3 hours driving, not including stops.

Day 7. Kimberley-Republic. 5 hours driving, not including time for border crossing and the other usual stops.

Day 8: Republic-Everett. 5 hours driving.

You can see this route on Google Maps: http://tinyurl.com/y5g6z7a

Note that you will be spending 2 nights in Banff, not 3 - you had two "Day 5" entries in your original itinerary.

In this itinerary, there are only got two days with less than three hours of driving scheduled. I'm something of a road warrior myself (I've gone across Canada by RV with my family twice, and we're hoping to make another trip this summer), but I think you might be pushing it to go to Jasper. You may have a much more pleasant, slower-paced trip by skipping Jasper and focussing on Banff instead:

Day 1: Everett-Sun Peaks - 6 hours driving, not including stops for food, fuel, bathroom breaks, and crossing the border. Or you might choose to stay in Salmon Arm overnight, on the shores of the huge Shuswap Lake, since the change in destination from Jasper to Banff puts Sun Peaks a little out of the way. Salmon Arm is a small tourist-oriented city with plenty of accomodation and restaurants, and staying in Salmon Arm will shorten your driving the next day by about an hour.

Day 2: Sun Peaks (Salmon Arm?) -Banff - 6 hours driving, driving, not including stops for food, fuel, bathroom breaks, and any possible delays due to road maintenance. This route passes through four Canadian national parks: Mt Revelstoke NP (best known for its Meadows in the Sky), Glacier NP, Kootenay NP, Yoho NP (site of Takkakaw Falls, a waterfall which rivals Niagara in beauty, in my opinion), and Banff NP.

Day 3,4,5: Banff

Day 6: Banff to Kimberley. 3 hours driving, not including stops.

Day 7. Kimberley-Republic. 5 hours driving, not including time for border crossing and the other usual stops.

Day 8: Republic-Everett. 5 hours driving, not including the usual stops

If you're interested in fossils, you might consider a trip to the famous Burgess Shale fossil site in Yoho National Park; because of the huge scientific value of the fossils there, access is only by guided hike: www.burgess-shale.bc.ca/guided-hikes/about

Edited: 20 April 2010, 15:08
Calgary, Canada
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4. Re: Family Roadtrip from US to explore Canadian Rockies

One other thing that I should mention is that July 1 is Canada Day, Canada's national holiday. If you are travelling July 1-4, make sure to have your reservations in hand, and reconfirm them shortly before your departure, as accommodations in the mountain parks are completely full up for the summer long weekends.

Also, you may find that staying in Canmore is more budget-friendly for your family than staying in Banff; Canmore is about 15 minutes east of the Banff townsite. And don't forget to include the cost of a national parks pass in your budget calculations:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g154910-c13975/Banff-…

Kamloops, Canada
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5. Re: Family Roadtrip from US to explore Canadian Rockies

Suggestions:

I have never stayed here but it is convenient and the prices do not seem too bad.

http://www.riverlandinn.kamloops.com/

If staying in Kamloops the main park in town(Riverside) has evening music performances (free!!) This is the 2009 schedule, 2010 should be out soon.

www.kamloops.ca/events/musicinthepark.shtml

The trip from the main highway to Sunpeaks is about 0.5 hours(1 hour roundtrip).

From Kamloops to Jasper is ~6 hours travel plus 1 hour time zone change at the BC/Alberta border.

Stopping at Wells Grey Park near Clearwater is almost a must.

http://www.wellsgray.ca/

As you well know kids are out of scool in July so pre-booking rooms will be a must for locations that you are visiting.

Everett, WA
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6. Re: Family Roadtrip from US to explore Canadian Rockies

Thanks for the great tips and ideas! Canmore was an excellent suggestion. With a travelzoo.com I was able to get a 1 bedroom place for almost 50% off the regular price in high season... As I found out a big portion of our travel budget will go towards accomodations...

So my approach was to find these first on our planned route and worry later about what we are going to see along the way... I can change these if I found a better place... So here is my skeleton for our roadtrip:

Night 1. Delta Sun Peaks ($125 + tax)

Night 2 and 3. Jasper (private home, 2 rooms, family room, kitchen area: $150, no extra tax)

Nigth 3,4,5 Canmore (1 bedroom apartment at Blackstone Mountain Lodge $135 + tax)

Night 6 Kimberley Inn & Suites ($99 + tax)

Night 7 Tifanny's Resort, Republic WA (cabin 89 + tax)

I am working on adding things to visit along the way... My kids are used to roadtrips, I think they will be able to handle 5-6 hours per day just fine (I guess they practiced last year in Europe when we visited many countries within 2 weeks...)

We don't plan to squeeze in everything a certain place offers, but somehow still get the highlights and have a great time while visiting some of these incredible places... At least that's the goal...

Everett, WA
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7. Re: Family Roadtrip from US to explore Canadian Rockies

Thanks!

I tried the riverlandinn, seems to be a great place to stay... Unfortunately they did not have anything for us for 07/09. But we will add Wells Grey Park near Clearwater to the places we will check out along the way... If you have any other suggestion, let me know...

Kamloops, Canada
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8. Re: Family Roadtrip from US to explore Canadian Rockies

We have been to Fort Steele due east of Kimberley a few times and the kids had a blast.

http://www.fortsteele.ca/

You will be driving by (within 17km from main highway) a pretty neat hotsprings (free too). If you want more info about it contact me.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lussier_Hot_Springs

:0)

Calgary, Canada
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9. Re: Family Roadtrip from US to explore Canadian Rockies

I agree, Fort Steele is well worth a visit; I was only there once, some years ago, but I was quite impressed by their living history presentations. Their train ride is nice as well.

Everett, WA
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10. Re: Family Roadtrip from US to explore Canadian Rockies

Fort Steele looks way better than the fake German town with the world biggest Cuckoo Clock... I wish we could find a place to sleep close by... If nothing else, I guess it is not that far from Kimberley... Thanks for the suggestion, we will not leave it out...