On May 31st we entered Canada and it was no big deal. We waited in line for about 20 minutes and then when we got to the window it was just standard border crossing stuff:
- Show me your passports and driver’s license.
- Where are you going?
- Do you have any weapons?
- Do you have any felonies?
- Are you going to sale anything in Canada?
I thought it was all pretty routine and took maybe five minutes, no big deal. Then we were in Canada. Of course lots of things are different, everything is in Kilometers and some of the road signs are very strange, but all I all, it was quite similar to America. Our goal for that day was Radium Hot Spring where we took a fork and left Highway 97/93 and took 93 up into the National Parks of the Canadian Rockies. We drove through Kottenay, Yoho, Banff and Jasper National Parks in the next two days. One reason we went through Radium Hot Springs is they had an Information Center on the National Parks so I went in there and purchased an Annual Entrance Pass to all the Canadian Parks good for one year. It very similar to the US Parks Pass except it is more expensive. The US Pass is $80 and the Canadian Pass is $136. In the US the Pass lets the car and up to 3 occupants in, but in Canada I had to spend extra to get a Family Pass for Judy and I. I am planning to visit there again in the fall so I will get my money’s worth.
Fortunately, the book says that just like in US National Forests, if you find a good place to camp, it’s perfectly legal to just pull over and camp on it. So rather than go all the way back to a campground we took the first nice campsite we could find. I’d tell you how to find our campsite, but we were actually lost when we found it so there is no way I could tell you how to get there. Instead I’m going to recommend you get a copy of the book if you plan to do much camping in BC. I found a used one on Amazon from 2006 and it worked fine, but if you do much camping in BC, get a new one. Buy it from Amazon here:
Camp Free in B.C.
The next morning, June 1st, we drove on up into the Canadian Rockies National Parks and started exploring. Sadly, my worst fear came true and the Parks still had a lot of snow and ice in them. When you go this far North and at high elevation, winter can last well into June and it had here. One of the main things to photograph in the Candian Rockies is reflections of the gorgeous mountains in the lakes, and with the lakes frozen over it just isn’t the same. Not only that, but the bright white snow is such a high contrast with the dark mountains and forests that it does not lend itself to fine art photography. The one day was enough for me to know that I’d simply come too early and it was not worth staying. So we decided to spend the night there and head out to Alaska in the morning. There was only one open campground in the area Mosquito Creek Campground, (and half of it was still closed because of snow) so we stayed there.
What a great campground it was though! Our campsite was directly on the Mosquito River and below some gorgeous mountains. We loved it! It was $17 a night but it was worth it. In US National Parks I can usually find dispersed camping right outside the entrance to the Park, but these are so huge that the traveling distances are too great to drive in and out every day. The only practical way to really see them is to camp inside of them. When I come back here in the fall, I’ll stay here again!
In this post I’m going to include some of my photos from the Banff and Jasper National Parks, and finish them in the next.
welcome to Canada! Your pictures take me back to my trip of a couple of years ago. Looking forward to your September pics!
Hi Bob, Thanks for sharing your experiences. I missed a few posts, and I would like to know what happened to Homer. Wayne
Something happened to Homer?
Canada looks gorgeous from here, but I think I would probably give it another month if it were me. I tend to dislike snow.
You’re right Calvin. Except June is the best month to be in Alaska (least rain usually). And I will see it all again in JUly or August when we drive back down!
I keep wanting to migrate north, but the weather keeps saying, “No.”
Al, for the most part the weather has been great although we have had some cold nights, we’ve never been cold. We did run into one snowstorm though!!
if you think the logging roads are bad too, then maybe I’m not just being paranoid about the Honda Fit killing potholes, rocks, and monster trucks barreling down on me! 🙂
My most frightening moment so far was on a highway that narrows to a one lane dirt road on the side of a cliff. It’s a back way to Lillooet where there is a very nice free campsite. I had driven it years ago without incident and wanted to try that short cut again. As we started down the narrow one lane dirt part, I saw that there were some rocks that had come down from the rock face onto the highway. We drove around those, then the rocks got more numerous and my partner got out to throw rocks off the road to clear a way. Then we came across a mud slide across the roadway that the Fit was not going to be able to clear. Oh-oh. Then we really looked at the road and realized that half of the roadway we had just driven was buried in a rock slide, the part ahead was 90% buried, and it all looked FRESH!
There had been a big rain storm the night before and it must have loosened the rock face enough for a big slide to happen. That’s when we realized that more cliff face could come down at any second to kill us and bury our car. There followed some very tense moments of moving rocks off the roadway very quietly, whispered conversations about how we would turn the car around since there is no way that we could dodge rocks while reversing like we could while coming in… the adrenaline was running quite high by the time we made it out of there, just in time to meet the highways truck that was coming to close the gate to the road because of the danger.
They were also sending in a helicopter to assess the stability of the area before attempting to rescue a motorcyclist who had gotten beyond where we stopped and then got stuck. Yikes!
Now I’m saving up for a truck to be better able to access forestry campsites, but I hope it won’t help me get stuck in tighter places.
Ming, I think the Fit is a GREAT car! But it wasn’t meant to be driven a lot on Forestry roads!! I think a Toyota Tacoma 4×4 would be ideal.
agreed, that is the truck I am saving for. I’m waffling between 4×2 and 4×4. Better gas mileage vs getting less stuck. Which would you choose, given the places that you travel to?
When you took the picture from the top of the van, you got a cool reflection in the solar panels. I enjoy the pictures.