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Driving to Resorts in BC & Alberta

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
We are heading to Canada Jan. 2008, with 4 days firstly in Vancouver, then 2 weeks at SunPeaks (organised group tour, 5th Jan. to 19th Jan.). After this we were thinking of heading to another resort for 7-10 days, but it has been suggested to us that if we really want to see the sights then we should look at driving to some other resorts by renting a 4WD.

I spoke it over with my wife and she thought it would be a great idea to have a look at some other areas of Canada (big place, but you can only do so much in one trip). I’ve had a look at the map and thought this may fit in:

Day 1: Leave SunPeaks, travel to Jasper
Days 2-4: Ski Marmot Basin / Sightsee around Jasper
Day 5: Travel to Lake Louise (may get an afternoon ski)
Day 6: Ski Lake Louise
Day 7: Travel to Banff and have a look around
Day 8 & 9: Ski surrounding resorts (still to work out which ones, but possibly 1 day Sunshine Village & another day back at Lake Louise)
Day 10: Travel to Panorama (may get an afternoon ski)
Day 11 & 12: Ski Panorama
Day 13: Travel to Kimberley or Fernie (may get an afternoon ski)
Day 14 & 15: Ski Kimberley or Fernie
Day 16: Fly back to Australia (leave from Cranbrook or Clagary)

This may drop back to 14 days, but we’ll decide this later (originally was only looking at 7-10 days at another resort), but we think that if we are going to do it then the extra days will allow us to enjoy it so much more (rather than rushing). The extra days will also allow a little leeway if the weather slows us down. My wife’s still a wee bit worried about driving during late January, but as long as we take our time it shouldn’t be to bad (Canada doesn’t shutdown because it’s winter, so we shouldn’t either). Also the weather will be a lot colder in Jasper / Banff regions, but again it may be a great opportunity to see another part of the country during our trip, and a couple more layers underneath should see us through (hopefully).

It’s going to cost us a bl__dy fortune this holiday, but no doubt we’ll have memories to last us a life time. Presently the itinerary is leave Perth (Oz) Xmas day, 1 week in Scotland to see family (kids get to see Gran & Grandad), leave Scotland New Years day, 4 days Vancouver, 2 weeks SunPeaks, 16 days driving around as above, 3-4 days Hong Kong, then back to Perth (Oz).

Any thoughts/tips/suggestions would be most appreciated
post #2 of 16
jasper is a smaller place, nice for a few days, and the drive jasper to banff is the most impressive 300km of road that I have ever driven. (AK to mexico).

great holiday plan,

if you are looking for more skiing, I would just rent the 4wd from sunpeaks, and follow the snow. If fernie is getting rain, go to banff, If banff is -30'C go to Nelson. If the dope smoking hippies drive you nuts, go to Castle mountain. IF you have the funds go heli or cat skiing.

lots of good options.

Also depends on what kind of terrain you are looking for?
cruising or cliffs?

also from banff you can get a day bus to panorama, and kicking horse. and a bus to Jasper for a 1-2 day, so might want to spend a bit more time in that area?

also the drive from SP to banff is a bit better then jasper to banff, so goo to banff, and let someone else to the bnf/jsp drive

also leave time for dog sledding, ice canyon walks, heli skiing, ice skating, a hockey game, snowmobile tours.

driving on the main roads is not a big deal, if the roads are open, they are passable. Go slow, let others pass, and don't do anything quickly (steering, braking, etc)

PM me if you want.
post #3 of 16
Fernie- Kimberley: Kimberlry for groomed cruisers, Fernie if there is new snow

Hong Kong: Dim Sum by the harbor, take a day ferry to Macau
post #4 of 16
I was told by ppl from HK that the Dim Sum in Vancouver is better, why bother fly to Hong Kong?
post #5 of 16
Originally Posted by mntlion View Post
jasper is a smaller place, nice for a few days, and the drive jasper to banff is the most impressive 300km of road that I have ever driven. (AK to mexico).
I've never skied the BC interior, so I don't have much to offer there, but I just wanted to chime in and agree with this statement. That drive is absolutely stunning.
post #6 of 16
Originally Posted by jackwan1 View Post
I was told by ppl from HK that the Dim Sum in Vancouver is better, why bother fly to Hong Kong?
True . I missed the line that said four days in Hongcouver. I've yet to find a Dim Sum worthwhile in the interior.
post #7 of 16
If you can manage to time a night drive with a full moon, both Jasper or Lake Louise are beautiful.

If you should decide to visit the island, Mt. Washington is a nice little ski hill with some great terrain and lots of snow when the weather cooperates.

We had dim sum in Toronto (too far a drive for you). (Forest View or something like that). My 12-year old son just watched my wife and me eat. He wouldn't even touch the yummy chicken's feet. He was afraid of what might be in the tasty buns.

Later he told me, "I don't want to eat anything that looks like it should still be on an animal."
post #8 of 16
Given your desire to see lots of Canadian areas, I don't think it makes much sense to spend 2 full weeks at Sun Peaks. Whistler is probably the only place to consider staying that long in one place. Try to negotiate it down to one week; more time for your road trip.

Very sound advice by mtnlion. Keep it flexible, so you can avoid PNW monsoons in the Kootenays if it's too warm, or Arctic blasts in Banff/Jasper if it's too cold.

Yellowhead Hwy Kamloops to Jasper is a very good road. Mike Wiegele Heliskiing is halfway in between. They have not been full the last two years when I've been there in February. You could probably get a short notice day there (I got a 2-day reservation on 3 weeks notice last year), even doable as a daytrip from SunPeaks.

Agree on Jasper-Banff scenic drive in daytime; do not drive this road at night in winter.

Plan to exit from a major airport like Vancouver or Calgary, maybe Kelowna. You'll get ripped off using Cranbrook or Castlegar.
post #9 of 16
Yikes... two weeks in Sun Peaks???? 4 days is the max you would want to spend at a 2nd tier area like that when there are so many other great ski resorts to visit in western Canada. If you plan on staying more than 4 days at any area, there are only two top tier resorts to consider spending that much time at, Whistler and Banff. Everything else is considered 2nd or 3rd tier, and 2-3 days is sufficient at any one of them.

Like Crocker said, plan on leaving from a major gateway (Vancouver and Calgary are your two options).
post #10 of 16
What does your group intend to do at Sun Peaks for 2 weeks? You'll be very tired of the place by the end if all you do is lift serviced skiing. There's nothing wrong with the resort, but it's just not big enough. Also, bring food from Vancouver when you go to SP. The groceries there are unbelievably expensive and very limited.
post #11 of 16
I cannot imagine spending 2 weeks at sun peaks. If it was me i would do a week at Whistler and a week at Lake Louise/ Sunshine/ Kicking Horse.
post #12 of 16
although i guess the tour may go to apex, silver star, all that stuff, which could be pretty cool actually :-)
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
We realise that most people think we are crazy doing 2 weeks at SunPeaks, but my wife has only now started to enjoy skiing after the 3rd year (hated it the first 2 years), and that she is only a mid-to-high beginner level then these 2 weeks would allow her to really get comfortable/confident when we start to travel around the other resorts (only ever skied in Oz at FallsCreek, 3 times x 8 days).

The 2 weeks will include all day hosted adult skiing throughout SunPeaks (kids, 10 & 8, will get full-time lessons), which will really help her confidence. Also by that stage myself and the kids will have moved up as well (we're low to mid-intermediate at the moment) and during our time there we will do all the other touristy bits (night at the ice hockey, dog-sleigh, snow-mobile, etc., etc.). One of the days will also include a trip to SilverStar for the day, so that will give us a chance to have a look there.

While at SunPeaks we're looking at getting some good boots for my wife & me (first time, but we do realise that a good pair of properly fitted boots will really help), but may also get skis for us and skis/boots for the kids (4 weeks hiring equipment would be similar cost to buying mid-level equipment).

Yes, we may be crazy doing the 2 weeks at SunPeaks, but I still feel that it will help us get to the next level before we start travelling around (I know lots will disagree).

I still appreciate any advise or if necessary criticism (constructive)
post #14 of 16
Based on your skiing ability, and you have a young family, 2 weeks at one place is a great idea. Anyone who tells you differrent is simply clueless. For low level intermediates there is more then enough to keep you busy at Sun Peaks, plus it is unlikely you will ski everyday....I know you plan on it now...but the reality is you will be very sore after the first few days, feet will hurt, etc, and a good sleep in, and day at the pool is all part of a good family vacation.

If you did the "tour" as some suggest, you would feel like you spent 2 weeks just driving around...yes the scenery is amazing, but you wouldn't actually see any of it, since I assume you would travel after skiing, hence it would be dark. If you want to see some impressive country, take a day off and drive to Revelstoke and Rogers Pass. There you will see BIG mountains (kinda small at Sun Peaks). It would be a reasonable day trip, about 3 hours to Revy from SP, and RP is about an hour past Revy....so long day, but would be intresting. No point driving to Silver Star, or Big White, basically the same scenery as Sun Peaks, although granted different mountians, so maybe would offer some variety on the skiing...but I doubt you will get bored.

I skied almost 5 days a week during the winter at my little hill in Ontario (700 vertical feet) for about 15years. Don't recall ever getting bored.
post #15 of 16
Low intermediates and kids. That was information that was lacking and it makes a big difference. I withdraw my concern about two weeks at Sun Peaks. It'll be great. You've got a great itinerary, just be ready to be flexible. The weather may dictate changes.
post #16 of 16

Your plan look's great ! Plus when travelling between Banf and Kimberly you will encounter many hot springs that you will want to check out....one that I really like is the Whiteswan hot spring just past a small town call Canal Flats 25 minutes past Fairmont hot spring. The Whiteswan is a natural setting easy accessible hot spring down a canyon by a glacier feed river It would be an awsome spot to spend an afternoon of recuperation in sulphur water before going to Kimberly (1h30 min. away or Fernie (2h).

I use to live in Kimberly an I would suggest it over Fernie, the sking might not be as great as Fernie but I think it woulld be more appropriate to a familly of your level. Another reason is that this place is very different than any other resorts because of it European caracter (architecture,restaurant,shops ect.) Great little town !

Have fun !
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