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  1. Default LA to Whitehorse and back

    G'day folks,
    What a great site - been poking through quite a few features and threads but of course there are many variations possible to time and general and objectives for any trip, so one would have difficulty finding a duplicate of what we have in mind.
    We are a couple of semi-retired aussies who have visited the states several times in the past 15 years and travelled a fair amount of the Amtrac system detraining for some cycling in areas of interest. This time it is all 42 days on your roads (and trails) in a camper as rail is fairly limited in Canada heading north.

    Leaving Palmdale after 2 days with friends we are then looking for a lazy but interesting and varied route to Whitehorse where we should catch up with friends for a few days checking out their haunts in the Yukon and then back to Calgary for nephew's wedding on the 20th June and then back to LA by the 1st July, and then perhaps ironically home to a little village called American River on an island south of South Australia called Kangaroo Island.

    Thinking of an inland trail heading north, including the rockies and parks, but also would like some open country as well as the mountains.

    Possibly drop south from Calgary on the return and pick up the I-90(?) back to the western side (portland, crater lake, monterey and LA.)

    We will be taking cycles with the hope of doing some riding but don't expect it will be a lot, but would appreciate a few must do cycle rides if they are not too secret.
    Not a lot of interest in the bigger cities preferring to experience the rural character of people and places.

    Appreciate that mountain passes may or may not be open in the early parts of this period.

    It would be great to get suggestions of 'priority' locations and routes along our general route.

    thanks in anticipation of a few musts.
    regards
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 02-21-2015 at 12:29 PM. Reason: added some white space

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default You're in for a wonderful trip.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    Even though your final destination is not all the way to AK, I still suggest you would benefit greatly from getting a copy of The Milepost, and the map which comes with it. It really is the bible of all those travelling from the lower 48 up north.

    The three times I have driven from the lower 48 to AK, I have taken different routes each time. All of which are mountainous. There is no such thing as large areas of flat land west of the Calgary/Jasper line - the Rockies. None-the-less I have seen all types of transport along the way, from cyclists to the largest imaginable motor homes, and everything in between.

    By July all mountain passes should be open. My trips have ranged from late May to early Sept.

    My suggestion is that you head north to Prince George, then west to the Cassair (37) up to the Yukon, taking in the side trip to Hyder and to the glacier. There are some very interesting little side trips along this route.

    On the way back it would be great to travel down the Alaska Highway to Dawson Creek, and then head down to the Icefields Parkway from Jasper to Calgary.

    There is no shortage of camping places all along these routes, both fully equipped commercial campgrounds and rustic bush campgrounds.

    While in Whitehorse, a really nice remote city, there hopefully will be the opportunity to take some day trips. To the north you have Dawson City, a lovely gold rush town, and Keno a small semi ghost town. To the south there is Emerald Lake, Carcross and the Carcross Desert - the smallest desert in the world. Over White Pass there is Skagway, another very attractive gold town with its harbour where the cruise ships all stop.

    May I also suggest that you contact your local authorities and see if you can get hold of an old city or street name sign. When you get to Watson Lake, you will understand why. LOL

    You may also be interested in reading my last trip to AK

    Lifey

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Before Canada

    Lifey has done a good job of laying out your possibilities north of the US/Canada border, so let me try to do the same on the southern side. There are a couple of major differences. First it will be warmer in the 'lower 48' than in Canada, and secondly, it will be much easier to find wide-open flat terrain since the Rockies are much farther inland and there's the entire Great Basin between them and the Coastal Ranges farther west.

    So what might a meandering multi-day trip up the Great Basin from Los Angeles look like? Well, it would probably start by heading past the Mojave National Preserve to Las Vegas where there are some good cycling opportunities in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Valley of Fire State Park and Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. A side trip from here to Death Valley would also be in order, but biking might be out of the question depending on temperature. You could then work your way north along I-15, visiting some great national parks such as Zion and Bryce Canyon, up to the Great Salt Lake and the Bonneville Salt Flats to the west of there.

    At this point, you could heard northwest through the last of the Basin and Range Province to the Snake River Valley and then northeast into the one of the larger, older, and more spectacular of our national parks: Yellowstone. Continuing north from there, now on the eastern side of the Rockies, would bring you to Glacier National Park and set you up to continue north to Calgary and the great Canadian national parks, Banff and Jasper.

    Certainly, there are many more parks and other venues along such a route, but that would be the general way to go to get some of the best of the inland western United States.

    AZBuck

  4. #4

    Default

    Hi I am from Southwestern BC... Kootenay NP,Banff NP,Jasper NP all have tons of things to see. Banff is only 1-1.5 hrs from Calgary. The Banff gonola is a must, along with the other sites in Banff. Remember though that Banff is a huge tourist trap.. very expensive!!! Canmore which is 20 min from banff may be a bit cheaper. About 10 min out of banff to west take bow valley parkway(1A) it travels along the #1, very scenic we see bear and huge elk most times we drive this, also stop at johnson canyon, hike to(very easy .5 hrs or 1 hr to upper falls) a hidden gem of an area to see. if you head towards radium hot springs(invermere) after coming out of bow valley parkway at castle junction about 15 min drive is marble canyon right on hwy, short .5 hr hike up marble canyon to falls at end a forest fire went thru here about 10 years ago so trees are burnt. you could make this a day trip from Banff, along with johnson canyon.( you MUST check out johnson canyon though.) if you came thru kootenay national park... invermere area has radium hot springs and beautiful lake take a quick drive/walk up mt swansea about 30 min from town. spectacular! Mt Swansea also has mountain biking trails, if you are mountain biking. Panorama Ski Resort also has biking. Along with Fernie area. Again, lots of free recreation camping areas.

    I find the drive from MacBride to Terrace not a very scenic drive but looks like you don't have much choice in your route. It is not flat prairies but not mountains either. I have only went as far as Terrace so can't comment on further along. There are numerous areas(lakes) in BC that are recreational sites, most are free.. but have no water/electricity & outhouses only. So many camping choices. Many are along gravel roads but are perfectly fine for even driving cars on. All parks & mountain passes are open... they only close for short durations(hrs/days)during extreme snowstorms or avalanche warnings.. but never at this time of year.

    I would drive up through Redding/Crater Lake/Columbia River Gorge area into BC near Osoyoos, take 97 up through Okanogan Valley area( beautiful area) to Sicamous- then take Hwy 1 through Glacier NP/Rogers Pass-Golden_Field-Lake Louise(Beautiful) & then take 93 up thru Jasper Np-Hwy 16 to Prince George-Terrace-then 37 to Whitehorse Yukon.

    Leaving towards Calgary I would take 1 & 97 to Fort Nelson,Grand Prairie,Edmonton. If you detoured off to Stettler, they have a train that does rides out into the prairie & feeds you a meal at a community hall later. Alberta Prairie Railroad is the website. From Calgary you could do a loop to Banff/Kootenay/Invermere/Radium/Fairmont Hot Springs/Fernie & then head down into US Via 93 to Kalispell Montana. From there you could do a loop thru yellowstone-livingstone-gardiner-212(Lamar Valley)-296-to Cody Wyoming back into Yellowstone 14-16-20-287-26(to Grand Tentons) Jackson... you could then do I-15 back to California or continue thru to parks in Utah(Zion NP) is not far from I-15. We did part of this trip down into Yellowstone- From BC- Jackson was about 4 days-saw most of sites & did short hikes,lots of photos. We also did a BC-Columbia River Gorge-Crater Lake-California trip one year.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Different eyes, different views.

    Quote Originally Posted by bctraveler View Post
    I find the drive from MacBride to Terrace not a very scenic drive but looks like you don't have much choice in your route. It is not flat prairies but not mountains either. I have only went as far as Terrace so can't comment on further along.

    This comment rather surprised me. Having driven from Prince George to Kitwana several times, and to Prince Rupert and back once, I can only say, that not only is it marked as a scenic route on all maps, it is a most pleasant drive. There are many places where one gets magnificent views of the huge river which runs this way as well as small interesting spots to explore. You might also like to read up why this road is known as the Highway of Tears. I find knowing something about the history of any route makes it more interesting (and scenic) to drive. At a roadside stop rest area between Kitwana and Terrace there is a small memorial, with a history. For me, like so much of BC, it is beautiful scenery... though as said, not mountainous. From Terrace to the coast you cross another mountain range.

    On the other hand, the post above is what this forum is all about. We all look at things through different eyes, and come with a different approach. It is these different opinions which helps you make up your mind where your preferences are.

    Lifey

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    This comment rather surprised me. Having driven from Prince George to Kitwana several times, and to Prince Rupert and back once, I can only say, that not only is it marked as a scenic route on all maps, it is a most pleasant drive. There are many places where one gets magnificent views of the huge river which runs this way as well as small interesting spots to explore. You might also like to read up why this road is known as the Highway of Tears. I find knowing something about the history of any route makes it more interesting (and scenic) to drive. At a roadside stop rest area between Kitwana and Terrace there is a small memorial, with a history. For me, like so much of BC, it is beautiful scenery... though as said, not mountainous. From Terrace to the coast you cross another mountain range.

    On the other hand, the post above is what this forum is all about. We all look at things through different eyes, and come with a different approach. It is these different opinions which helps you make up your mind where your preferences are.

    Lifey
    Yes, Lifey... I agree it takes all our different opinions that make this site so helpful. & true we do all see things thru different eyes. I do know the history behind "the highway of tears" a very tragic thing indeed. Even sadder that they still haven't found any answers. True, I have never explored the area... just drove from point A to point B. BC is such a beautiful province... maybe I have been so spoiled by seeing other areas that I maybe didn't appreciate this area as much. I should clarify it is a scenic area, maybe just not as scenic as some places in BC.

  7. Default

    Many thanks for some truly wonderful "hands on" advice. I have used it all to look in great detail at the areas we will visit and pass through. Quite clear that we could do with an extra month to do it justice.
    Apologies for not responding to your detailed input: firstly I spent much spare time in the first few weeks hashing and re-hashing a line of best fit using the site maps and site info, and then have been distracted with some unexpected legal issues that I have had to deal with.
    What came out of my fine tuning of the trip is our decision to head back from Calgary on some of the inland areas we would miss heading north - the area southwest of Portland and through Yosemite to Hwy395 and back to LA, rather than nearer the coast which we have done a couple of times before, although by train.
    Another issue that bobbed up was the difficulties we will have in accessing the parks (Vegas and Salt Lake areas) over the memorial day weekend which is going to be very difficult to avoid with our dates set. Certainly would have rescheduled if we had been more aware of just how popular the parks are over this weekend.
    Any local knowledge/advice how to fit around this problem would be greatly appreciated.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default I can relate.

    Sounds like you are no longer 'rudderless'. Good to hear. Do you have the maps of the areas where you will be travelling?

    You may be aware that the RACV, NRMA, etc, whichever State you are in, all have reciprocal arrangements with the AAA and CAA. So if you are a member of your local automobile club at home, be sure to take your membership card with you. It will entitle you to free maps and tourism information from the AAA and CAA in North America. You could, while in LA, pick up the maps of each State and Province through which your route passes.

    As for the crowds on Memorial Day.... yup, I too have been caught up in those before I knew better. In the Grand Canyon it was almost impossible to park and move. Not sure how you get around that. Thank your lucky stars you will not be there for the 4th of July weekend as well. Do you have a campground secured for the last weekend in May? Can't do that too soon.

    I would also like to ask you - urge you - to write up a roadtrip field report in our special forum. We like to read how folk got on and see the pictures. Not to mention how it will help newcomers to the site.

    Lifey

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