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  1. Default January drive from Toronto to Jasper, Alberta

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm looking for some advice on a drive i'm thinking of taking. It would be early January.

    The route i'm thinking of is:

    Toronto -> Madison, WI -> Fargo, ND -> Saskatoon, SK -> Jasper, AB
    1st day - approx. 11hrs
    2nd day - approx. 8.5 hrs
    3rd day - approx. 12 hrs
    4th day - approx. 10 hrs

    I have driven from Banff -> Toronto in 4 days, and driven Toronto -> Edmonton in 5 days due to a road closure (it was Jan.)
    Both routes were Northern Ontario.

    Any advice regarding this route, crossing the border (I will have my dog with me), weather, road conditions, places to stay, always appreciated!

    Thanks :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I've got to say your drive time estimates are wildly optimistic. For example, Toronto to Madison is nearly 700 miles, and even the over-optimistic predictions of google expect it to take 12 hours. I can tell you that I've done that trip, and while I made a couple of stops, it took much closer to 15 hours (and despite loving the time I spend on the road), I wouldn't have wanted to try to drive all day the next day. Once you factor in basic stops, plus the border, plus Chicago, I'd be shocked if you did it in under 13 - and really if you are just planning to get to Fargo the next day, I'd stop shorter, perhaps around Rockford or in the Western burbs of Chicago like Schamburg or Elgin. Of course, this assumes good weather, with poor conditions, you could easily need more time.

    With the dogs, I'd make sure you have a record of all vaccinations, and I'd contact Customs to see what other documents they might want to make the trip go most smoothly.

  3. Default

    Haha you nailed me with "wildly optimistic". Sometimes it's good to have a reality check ;)

    Great points made...I will look at those smaller areas outside Chicago. Is driving past/thru Chicago a small nightmare?


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Chicago certainly has plenty of traffic, and it can be horrific if you end up there during rush hour.

    You can bypass downtown by either using I-294 or I-355, which I would recommend unless you are arriving in Chicago quite late at night.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Bear in mind that I-294, AKA "Tri-State", is a toll road. Have plenty of change available.

    Having driven the Tri-State in rush hour once before, I can tell you it's NO FUN.


  6. Default

    so now i'm wondering if I take the original route planned, or if I go across to Montana, then up to Calgary?
    Any suggestions on the difference between the two routes? Any one that might be better?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Illinois is doubling the tolls on the tollway system on Jan 1.

    355 is also a toll road.

  8. Default

    Advice wanted:

    Should I go -
    A) I94, I52 (through Madison, Fargo, Minot, Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton route)
    B) I90, and up through Billings/Great Falls Montana, up to Calgary, Edmonton

    There is a 4 hour difference as per google maps, but that's fine if one is a better route than the other. No sightseeing, more just driving during the day, and staying in a hotel overnight. Tolls are also a consideration for me...which is the lesser of two evils? Are there any tools out there that can help give an estimated cost?
    Thanks :)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Other than the Chicago Area and the whichever Detroit Area Border Crossing (bridge or tunnel toll) you use, there won't be any tolls. So that shouldn't play a roll in your route decision, and even among the routes through Detroit and Chicago, the toll difference is at most going to be a few dollars on a trip where you'll spend a few hundred on gas.

    Your option B adds about 400 miles, so that's a pretty significant difference in both time and fuel cost (although you'd save some by staying in the US longer.) I actually think an option C you might be best off looking at would involve taking I-29 north at Fargo to Winnipeg, and then heading up to Saskatoon and Edmonton. That I think would put you on some more heavily traveled roads than US-52 through North Dakota and into Saskatchewan.

  10. Default

    Good to know about the tolls!

    It's funny how looking at 400km doesn't seem much now, but I'm sure mid-drive it will feel like, "holy crap, what was I thinking..."

    Option C seems good as well. I've done the Trans Canada at the same time of year previously and it was ok...(just maybe a little boring!)

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