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  1. Default Winter Road trip - Montreal to British Columbia

    Hi all,
    We are a family of 4 and we are contemplating the idea of moving from Montreal to Nelson, BC. We are planning on staying there for at least 6 months, starting end of Dec 2016.

    As we will need a car up there, I am wondering if we should drive there, which route use, through the US and I90, or Canada? How safe are both options in Dec? We have a Mazda 5 with decent snow and mud winter tires.

    I read a number of post in different website and some of them are quite discouraging. I cannot beleive the country is blocked all winter months.

    The flight and the purchase of a car in bc seem quitte à pricey option.

    Thanks for your help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default TIME will tell in more ways than one.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    No, the country is not locked up all winter. In fact trucks need to get through everyday of the year.

    Hence the advice for winter driving that you will read over and over on this forum, is that your most important assett for winter driving is TIME. Time to sit out a winter storm, should you strike one.

    Right now, no one can tell you what your best route will be, come end of December. All you can do is to familiarise yourself with the routes available to you. Then before your departure start watching and taking notice of the long range weather forecast.

    The route you will eventually choose, will be the one which will give you the least chance of meeting up with a winter storm. The more time you have for this trip, the better off you will be.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Lifey has some very good advice. The best thing going for winter travel would be TIME. The other thing would be to look at a good atlas or set of paper maps, and look at several possible routes. Just at a glance, for the quicker routes:

    1) Go down to Chicago first through Canada and then Michigan, then take I-90/94 through WI, MN, ND, Montana and briefly ID, into BC. Roughly 2700 miles -- 5-1/2 to 6 days.

    2) Go down to Chicago first through Canada and then Michigan, then take 90 through WI, MN, SD, WY, to MT and into Idaho, shooting north at Coeur d'Alene on US 95/ID-1 into BC. About 2800 miles -- 5-1/2 to 6 days.

    3) Kind of a combination of the above two routes. When 90 and 94 split in MT, take 90 across MT to Coeur d'Alene ID, catching US-95/ID-1 into BC. Also roughly 2800 miles -- 5-1/2 to 6 days.

    I don't know anything about the eastern section of the Trans-Canada Highway, nor much about Canadian snowplows. I do know that US Interstate highways are last to shut down in event of weather, because the truckers must go through. Still, they do close occasionally. You are given plenty of warning in advance and can hole up in a warm comfy motel if you need the advice and get off the road early.


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


    Driving across the continent is certainly possible all year round. Certainly, you can run into winter storms that could stop you or slow you down for a day or two, but it's pretty rare to be blocked longer than that.

    I will say, I would certainly be looking at a US base route. The Trans-Canada likely is likely well plowed throughout the winter, but it's not freeway quality for large sections of the highway, and it would take you through some pretty remote places that see huge amounts of snowfall in the winter - really far more than you'd see almost anywhere in the US. Staying to Interstates should increase your odds of having an easy trip, and will certainly increase your chances of having a wide variety of services to pick from if a storm forces you to stop.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default A US route for preference.

    Having in the last month driven the Trns Canadian from Lake Louise to Cache Creek, it is not something I would want to do in winter. As it is, it rained most of the time, and ten mile hill out of Yoho NP, with all the trucks, the car in low gear, was still white knuckes - despite it having recently been upgraded. If the roads were slippery, it would be a nightmare. Most of the rest of the road is narrow, winding and hilly, especially over the Rocky's.

    Everything I wrote in my post still stands, but if you can get clear weather on a US route, I would highly recommend you take that.


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