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Thread: Vancouver Loop

  1. #1

    Default Vancouver Loop

    Hi folks, only me!

    As part of my larger trip I am planning a loop out of Vancouver and would love to hear your thoughts on my (very rough) plans so far.

    I'll be arriving on the morning (7.30am) of Fri 23rd May via train from Toronto. I'll be picking up a car and then heading out of town. Will return the car on Sat 7th June to Vancouver airport.

    I would like to have a look around Vancouver (any tips for must see/do?) and also loop round through Glacier National Park, Banff National Park, Lake Louise, Jasper National Park and return to Vancouver via Whistler and the Sea to Sky Highway

    As I say, I'd love to hear your thought on this. Am I allowing the right amount of time for that route? (Streets and Trips suggests 1207 miles) Is there anywhere I should add? What should I do in Vancouver? Anything you can tell me really! Links to existing threads covering this route would also be welcome.

    Thanks in advance ;)
    Last edited by UKCraig; 03-10-2008 at 12:47 PM. Reason: mispelt Louise!

  2. Default Check out my road trip report from last summer..

    Hi Craig -- you might want to look through my road trip report from last summer -- I basically did this loop as part of that.

    I did
    - Cross the border near Abbotsford (east of Vancouver) to avoid traffic, then toll road to Kamloops and night at Roger's Pass (Glacier National Park)
    - Through Lake Louise and up to Jasper, night camping at Jasper.
    - Jasper down to near Kamloops, then west to Cache Creek for the night
    - Cache Creek over the mountains to Whistler, then down to Vancouver, and back across the border.

    That was a pretty fast moving trip. You've got 2 weeks to do a similar loop, and I did it in 4 days.

    I'd recommend adding a couple of days along the way. Most definitely on Icefields Highway, as that was an area which we could have spend 2-3x as long doing pictures and hiking. Perhaps a day in Banff, and a couple of days in Jasper.

    For places to see, things to do in Vancouver most of what I'd suggest are fairly touristy stuff, and you'll pick that up from other guides.

    What I would recommend in addition would be
    a) Take the ferry to Victoria, spend a day in Victoria doing the provincial parliament and the museum and Empress hotel there.
    b) take either the road round to the west coast from vancouver, or preferrably up to the north end of Vancouver island. Some very scenic spots up there to visit, or take the boat into Knight Inlet for Grizzly Bear sightings, or Orca watching.
    c) Return via ferry from Naiamo to Vancouver.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 03-27-2008 at 10:00 AM. Reason: added the link to the field report

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default I should know this area better than I do

    It seems most of our real explorations of Canada were years ago. Just a few quick trips up there in recent years. So my memory is hazy.

    Yes, the road to Whistler is worth driving. Lovely drive. On the way up there, be sure to stop in lovely Horseshoe Bay. Capilano Suspension Bridge is fun....very scary, too, but in a good way. They've added the Treetops Adventure since I was there. Hmmm....this looks like it's worth a repeat visit. I'd love to do that! Gastown is also pretty cool. Our last trip up that way, we really enjoyed Fort Langley. The pier and promenade in White Rock is also a nice place to visit. A nice place to spend part of a day is also Stanley Park.

    Anyway, that's what I'd start with in/near Vancouver. If I think of something else, I'll pop back.

  4. #4

    Default Cheers guys

    Thanks for the reminder of your report. I'd read it before but will study it over the next few days and see what I can incorporate into my own trip - fantastic - that's exactl what I love about these reports and why I insist on boring people with mine! :)

    Great tips also - thanks! I'd hoped to do the treetop walk in Perth but it was about 400km away from where I'd be so your suggestion could just prove a worthy replacement!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Border Crossings

    Ya know, I think you should just take the border crossing that is the most convenient for your trip rather than trying to find the easiest place to cross. We went to a car show a few years back in BC. We were advised to do the Sumas/Abbotsford crossing instead of the one on I-5. We sat there for about two hours. We ran into some other Americans at the car show who had crossed the same evening at the I-5 crossing, and they said they got through in about 20 minutes. So on the way home, we crossed on I-5. While the line did seem much longer, they were much quicker getting you through. There seemed to be a lot more staff there to move the cars through.

    Here's a cool website with webcams about what's going on at the various crossing points. If you have a chance to check this out, it might give you a better idea about which one to take.

  6. #6

    Default Crossing the border

    Thanks, but the train into Vancouver, the rental car and the flight out again are all booked. So I just need to fill in the gaps of where I'm going inbetween arrival and departure.

  7. #7

    Default Your thoughts?

    Just had a reply back from an old mate who has relocated from Andover in the UK to Vancouver. Below is what he had to say. I'm posting it up in case it helps anyone planning a similar trip at a future point and in case it prompts any additional thoughts from you guys :)

    Hi Craig

    Sorry its taken so long to write this up.

    Where to start. OK, first thing is first Vancouver airport doesnt have fantastic transit with the main city, your a year early! Buses and Taxi's are your best bet, but there wont be a tube until next year. Vancouver downtown is fairly small by US standards and much more dense than a US city. The blocks are smaller so walking two-three blocks takes minutes, very different to somewhere like LA.

    Downtown, if your looking to stay somewhere, but make sure you don't stay in the 'West Hastings area' of the city. Its rough and full of down and outs. Vancouver has a real problem here and they are slowly trying to sort it out. Expect the news to be plastered with this in 2010 when we have the Winter Olympics. The area to avoid is East of Richards and North of Georgia.

    Downtown area is great to stay if your backpacking around as everything goes from there. Other areas would be Kitsilano (more trendy) or South Granville ( near Broadway on a map). Personally all our friends have staid downtown when there backpacking. There is quite a bit to do here as well. If your adventurous, then you have Diving,Caboeing, biking etc as well as the usual touristy stuff. We have three mountains immediately north of Vancouver, so you can go mountain biking and tr eking. Further North, Whister offers lots of summer activities as well. Lots to see sightseeing wise as well. Vancouver has a great (but not really big) Aquarium. Old City (Gastown), Stanley Park, Capilano Suspension Bridge, Granville Island, Science World (from Expo) plus others. The only things that aren't really worth it are the Space Centre (for kids) and the Zoo (which isn't in Vancouver!)

    If you have more time, you should look at going to the Okanagan and the Rockies. You can take a train here, or drive. Simply Stunning. We went to the Rockies and spent a few days there and it was magical. You can also visit a massive glacier (Columbia Icefields) in the summer which is 1000's of years old.

    Re you questions. Ferry - The ferry doesnt stop at Vancouver. I dont believe there are any ferries, only curise ships, which are expensive. Its quite amazing

    Immigration - Canadians will ask you where your staying, what your doing and give you a bit of grief. Just have your trip planned out in your head and have addresses ready. They love addresses. Other than that, its easy! US - going into the US you will need to fill out a green form which gives you 90 days as a visitor in the US. Once you have it, then you just show it each time you cross the border. Again, know what your doing etc. You obviously need your passport! If your on a bus, coach or train its no different you still have to show the green visa and passport. I went on a coach to Seattle last year to import my car. Everyone had to depart the coach, queue up at customs, show (or get) the paperwork, then back on the coach. Slow, but not that painful really. You'll find longer line ups at this side (US is cheaper for shopping so lots of people venture down south in the morning)

    One thing with the borders, you cant do hire cars one-way. Some hire car companies will not let you taken a car over the border and then back, but IIRC Canadian divisions are more relaxed about this so double check if your thinking about it.

    I would recommend the train from the Pacific Coast (which is near the downtown core) or a bus. There is a coach that goes from Vancouver-Seattle and stops in Bellingham as well as Seattle and SETAC. The coach starts in downtown Van and is the one I used when I imported the car its cheaper than train, but not as fast or fun! Coach is more frequent (although do allow for delays at the border)

    Mountain bikes on trains - yes, I'm pretty sure they do. The skytrain also allows them at non-peak times. Almost all buses in Vancouver area have bike carriers on the front, so you could get a bus from airport with your bike.

    Anyway, I'm ure you have lots of questions, so fire them my way. While we've been here, we have also been to Portland (v nice), Seattle (similar to Vancouver), Canadian Rockies, Okanagan, LA (didnt like!) and San Fransisco (fantastic) if you have any questions. We actually made a 2 week holiday last year driving down the coast to SF, staying there a few days and then working our way back up through Sacremeto, Nappa Valley, Crater Lake (Stunning), Columbian River Gorge and back.

    drop me a line, I'll answer quicker next time :)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Good intel...thanks for sharing

    I just feel the need to make a couple of comments.

    While there are no ferries that come directly into Vancouver itself, ferries sail from Horseshoe Bay and Tsawwassen. Each are about 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver. One north; one south.

    I love Vancouver. It's a beautiful city. Seattle is beautiful, too. But, except for the fact that they're both on the inland coast, I see nothing similar about them. Density, architecture, flavor/vibe....all quite different, in my opinion.

  9. Default

    Hi boys and girls. Though I now no longer live in Vancouver, I grew up there, so I have a fairly good idea of the place. In my personal opinion I would say, avoid Vancouver's gastown. It's a tourist trap, unless the jazz festival is going on when your there, there's not too much to see, it's crowded and expensive. The steam clock doesn't actually use steam to keep the time, it's a hoax. I used to pass through gastown regularly commuting to and from work. The brick streets are cool, but not worth visiting the place to see, and the traffic is bad. I much prefer Granville Island, it's more fun, and it has more sun, it's on false creek, rather than shady gastowns railines, and as a bonus, you can leave East Vans myraid problems behind you. (Gastown itself is okay, but the fun begins slightly East (and South) of it). That being said, Granville Island is way more crowded, and the traffic is even worse... But hey, just one mans opinion.

  10. #10

    Default Seattle & Vancouver

    I guess, to an English immigrant, they're similar? I look forward to finding out for myself! :)

    Thanks for the tips, totallytempo, appreciate them. It's always great to get feedback from locals (or, in this case, ex-locals!) What do you think to my route? If I were looking for interesting scenery and fun /challenging driving, would you say what I have planned is a good route? Or is there anywhere that I really must add?

    I've added Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks to the list of destinations but, other than that, it's all the same as before.

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