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  1. #1

    Default From Victoria, BC to Montreal, QC- through the US (or not?)

    Hi!

    We are driving from Victoria, BC, Canada, to Montreal, Quebec. We are moving and do have to pull a trailer, and we do have two kids traveling with us (ages: 8&2). I know that we are in for it, but we are going to try to make the best of it!

    We are leaving June 9th and estimate it will take us 7-8 days, depending on......EVERYTHING :)

    We have to travel a minimum of 450 miles per day as stipulated by our travel advance through my husbands job, so we are letting that be our guide. My question, is not so much about what to see, as we are not going to have much time for that, but which route would be best?

    I have seen three different suggestions:

    Canada 1- Through Canada the entire way
    I-90- aka The southern route- through Washington, Idaho, Montanta, South Dakota, etc...
    I-90 and I-94 The northern route- Pretty much the same, but cuts up through North Dakota and Minnesota

    Are there people out there who have driven these routes? And, if so, which is more "populated"? I am worried about being stuck in the plains in June! Pretty much any advice will be gladly accepted, but I am really worried about taking the best route as far as just not being in the middle of nowhere for too long.

    Also, I know there is a ferry across Lake Michigan, anyone reccomend it as opposed to driving around?

    I tried to be as detailed as possible, I saw that was a common complaint when people posted, but please ask ask away!

    Thank you in advance for your help and advice!

    Alysha

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Tucson, AZ
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    Default My Choice

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    What you describe as the 'northern route' is the fastest by just a bit over the 'southern route'. Both have the distinct advantage of crossing the Rockies on I-90 which will have grades less than 6%, no sharp curves, and multiple lanes the entire way; none of which can be said for the Trans Canada. But 450 miles a day is not all that much to cover, even when pulling a trailer. And while you won't have time for detours to major tourist venues like Yellowstone, you can plan on making a few short stops each day. for this reason O would favor the 'southern route' and plan on at least driving through Badlands National park and stopping at Wall Drug, if not making the short detour to Devils Tower on US-14.

    There is simply no chance of getting 'stuck in the middle of nowhere' in the plains. First, there are service stations and fast food joints at nearly every exit (every 25 miles or so at most), major truck plazas a bit less frequently, and enough cell phone towers that you should never be out of contact with whatever help you need. Also these are heavily traveled routes - you will not be alone.

    There is a ferry across Lake Michigan but it is rather expensive. Whether this expense is worth not having to drive around the southern tip of the lake and through Chicago and Gary is a call only you and your husband can make. The other ferry you WILL have to take of course is from Victoria to Port Angeles (or Vancouver should you decide to take the Trans Canada).

    Hope all this allays some of your fears.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    I ran it through my mapping program, and the fastest route is:

    Get to Seattle best way, using one or more ferries
    I-90 to Chicago (alternate - I-94 through Minneapolis/St.Paul, rejoining I-90)
    I-94/I-69 through Michigan
    402/401 through Toronto to Montreal

    Note that there are several ways around/through Chicago, all of which involve toll roads, and the cash tolls for vehicles pulling a trailer are quite steep in Illinois. I would advise you get off I-90 in Schaumburg, take I-290 to I-355 to I-80. Avoid the area at all costs during morning or afternoon rush hours. I also ran the Canada-only route, and this adds 8 hours to the trip even though it's 130 miles shorter.

    Advantages to the US route: All Interstate (limited access multilane) highways, cheaper fuel.
    Disadvantages to the US route: Border crossing issues, tolls and traffic around Chicago.

    If you take 7 days, this will put you slightly under the 450 mile a day requirement. The Canada-only route is 2860 miles and the US alternate is 2990 miles. The Lake Michigan ferry would cut that down to 2800 miles (and avoid Chicago) but timing would become very important and it's very costly. Note that this is not the same ferry that Buck linked to.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    There are two Lake Michigan Ferries.

    There is the SS Badger that Buck linked to which goes from from Manitowoc WI to Ludington MI. This would be a little out of the way, as you'd be looking at using some 2 lane roads to get from I-90 to Manitowoc. This ferry takes about 4 hours to Cross the Lake.

    Then there is the Lake Express that GLC linked to, which is the High Speed Ferry from Milwaukee to Muskegon MI. Its easier to get to with your route (the Port is located right off I-794) and it only take 2 hours for the trip - however, It also costs significantly more (and I wouldn't call either option cheap). With 2 people, a car, and a trailer, you'd be looking at a fee of about $350 for the Lake Express.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Tucson, AZ
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    9,358

    Default Yet Another Option or Two

    Not to confuse you, but if neither the ferry option(s) nor the Chicago option appeals to you, there is a third possibility. While it does involve two lane roads for the most part, it avoids tolls and cities while traversing level farming, logging and mining country. That would be to take I-94 WEST for just a short bit when you reach it in Wisconsin from I-90, and then take WI-21 east to I-39 north, then WI-54 east to the Green Bay area where you'd pick up US-41 north to Menominee, Michigan. MI-35 would then take you to US-2 east. A short jog north on MI-117 to MI-28 east would set you up to cross the border at Sault Ste Marie and take the Trans Canada the rest of the way into Montréal via Sudbury and Ottawa. Using this as an alternative way of joining the 'southern' and 'all Canada' routes keeps your total journey right in the 3000 mile range. If you wanted to use the Sault Ste Marie/Trans Canada option with the 'northern' route, then you'd be looking at leaving I-94 at Fargo, ND and using US-10/MN-210/I-35 across northern Minnesota, and US-2/MI-28 across northern Wisconsin and the UP of Michigan to reach Sault Ste Marie for a total drive length of 2780 miles.

    AZBuck

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Default

    The way I look at it - if you are going to be taking 2 lane roads and crossing back into Canada, you might as well take the Trans-Canada all the way from Vancouver to Montreal.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Default I Disagree

    As I noted in my original response, there are distinct reasons not to take the Trans Canada across the Rockies while trying to pull a trailer, not the least of which are the grades and curves. Using the Interstate system across the northern United States would be much better for someone with limited towing experience. However, there are also reasons not to try to navigate one of America's worst traffic cities (Chicago) in such a rig, even leaving aside the toll structure of those highways. Due to the cost of either ferry across Lake Michigan that may not be desirable alternatives either. The routes through Sault Ste Marie are viable alternative. I have driven the Trans Canada through the Rockies, and while I thoroughly enjoyed it, I was driving a small sports sedan not carrying my family while towing my household belongings. I have also driven the roads I recommended in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan as well as the entire Trans Canada from Sault Ste Marie to Montréal and found them all to be wide, level and scenic. Not all two lane roads are created equal, and not all would serve for the purposes of the original poster, but the ones I suggested very well might offer a better alternative than those we had previously come up with for getting around or across Lake Michigan.

    AZBuck

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Green County, Wisconsin
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    Default I like it

    I agree that Buck's suggestion could be a really good choice. I've only been to Montreal once, but when I went there, I took basically that same route. I'm not sure that it would be faster - and in fact it probably would take a little more time - but it would probably be and easier and more pleasant drive. Also, being that it shaves off a couple hundred miles, it would also save you a little bit of money in gas.

    Many of the routes that Buck suggested have stretches of 4 lanes, and even the ones that don't have 4 lanes often have stretches where a 3rd passing lane is added, so you won't have to worry about a big line of cars lining up behind you trying to pass (The Trans-Canada east of Sault Ste Marie is particularly good about adding frequent passing lanes)

    That would be to take I-94 WEST for just a short bit when you reach it in Wisconsin from I-90, and then take WI-21 east to I-39 north, then WI-54 east to the Green Bay area where you'd pick up US-41 north
    A very minor quibble on this, I've made the trip across the part of Wisconsin several times, and rather than jogging north on I-39, I simply continue across on WI-21 all the way to Oshkosh and pick up US-41 there. US-41 between Oshkosh and Green Bay is all freeway quality, so I think that would save you a little bit of time.

    However, if you are going to take the Sault Ste Marine/Trans-Canada option, I'd recommend simply sticking to I-94 to Fargo as Buck recommended just because it is quite a bit shorter - almost 200 miles shorter in fact. And much of US-10/MN-210 is 4 lane highway, you aren't losing much in terms of travel time even though it spends less time on the Interstate.

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