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  1. Default Ambitious Canada/US roadtrip!

    My wife and I are planning on flying into Calgary before embarking on a road trip which is highly ambitious or possibly slightly mad. I would appreciate your opinions on the time needed to do the following:

    Calgary - Jasper - Banff - Yellowstone - Seattle - Vancouver

    I understand that a lot of driving will be necessary for certain legs, and that some journeys will need to be split (between Banff and Yellowstone for example). We are both happy to drive long stints at a time, but also don't want to totally rush any locations.

    Would this kind of thing be doable in 3 weeks?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,259

    Default Bordering on relaxed.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    I certainly don't think your trip is over ambitious and with 3 weeks it should be quite a relaxed affair. I would consider doing a loop trip starting and finishing in the same place, the place that offers cheapest flights and car rentals which is likely to be Seattle or Vancouver. You could then go (for example) Seattle>Vancouver>Jasper>Banff> (You could visit Waterton lakes and/or Glacier NP here) Yellowstone>Seattle. You need a good 3 or 4 days to fully explore Yellowstone and the neighbouring Grand Tetons and you should look at booking lodgings early as possible for this popular spot.

  3. Default

    Thanks for the reassurance and the information! This website seems a lot more 'can-do' than others and it's good to know that it could be a goer!

    I think flying in and out of Seattle would be a good idea; we also wouldn't have the issue of having to drop off a vehicle in different countries, which can be a problem I think.

    By saying that it would be bordering on a relaxed affair, you're tempting me to try and fit even more in (Portland perhaps)! We both enjoy being quite busy and seeing as much as possible on trips like this.

    As a very rough initial timeline (and cutting down slightly from 3 weeks (as we were pushing it slightly with 3 weeks anyway!) could the following work?

    Day 1 - Land Seattle
    2 - Seattle
    3 - North to Vancouver
    4 - Vancouver
    5 - Vancouver / Vancouver Island
    6 - Long journey to Jasper
    7 - Jasper NP
    8 - Jasper NP
    9 - Banff/Lake Louise
    10 - Banff/Lake Louise
    11 - Waterton/Glacier NP
    12 - Waterton/Glacier NP
    13 - Yellowstone arrival
    14 - Yellowstone
    15 - Yellowstone
    16 - Yellowstone
    17 - Back to Seattle
    18 - Departure flight


    Thanks for the advice at this early planning stage. Good to hear from experienced road-trippers!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,734

    Default d'Accord

    Dave is right. This is an ambitious trip in that it is roughly 2,200 miles (3,500 km - get used to doing the conversion in your head, especially for speed limits!) but it certainly doesn't begin to border on crazy or undoable. If your intention is to spend time in each of the places you've listed, then that's also relatively easy. The drives between Seattle and Yellowstone, as well as between Calgary and Yellowstone will each require two days, but otherwise your longest drive would be between Jasper and Vancouver which would be right around the limit of what you could accomplish in a full day of driving. Remember, there are few Autoroutes (Interstate-quality) in the Canadian Rockies. So in total you're looking at roughly eight days of driving - all of it gorgeous. That would leave you around 11 days to split between your destinations, allowing for travel days and assuming you make use of both weekends at the beginning and end of your trip. And on most of those 'driving' days, you'll have plenty of time for stops for short hikes, historic venues, and scenic vistas. The only problem I see is that you have 'only' two days on average for each of the places you've listed. That can be plenty or it may seem rushed depending on your own travel style, and you will have to give some thought as to how to apportion your time to make the best trip for you.

    Update You posted your itinerary while I was responding to your first post. I see you've dropped Calgary and added time in Waterton/Glacier as well as more time in Yellowstone. That all works and the mileage isn't too different, but I will caution you that while it is tempting to try to squeeze in as much as possible, the only way to enjoy the area you'll be visiting is with the time to adjust to and appreciate its natural rhythms. I would absolutely NOT suggest that you try to add any more at this point.

    Oh - and you absolutely need to schecdule two days for the drive back to Seattle from Yellowstone. End update

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,259

    Default

    Yes you will need to tweak that. You can't safely drive from Yellowstone to Seattle in one day. If you didn't want to shuffle anything else then you would really need to leave Yellowstone around Noon on day 16 and get close to Missoula for the night and then on to Seattle. Alternatively, if you had as late flight out of Seattle you could get to Spokane and finish the drive to Seattle on day 18, but that's more risky should you rum into problems. Start adding more in like Portland and you really will have to breeze through some of the start of your trip.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,513

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by steffrhyswill View Post
    By saying that it would be bordering on a relaxed affair, you're tempting me to try and fit even more in (Portland perhaps)! We both enjoy being quite busy and seeing as much as possible on trips like this.
    As a very rough initial timeline (and cutting down slightly from 3 weeks (as we were pushing it slightly with 3 weeks anyway!) could the following work?
    By trimming this from a 3 week trip to a 2.5 week trip, I think you can eliminate the term "relaxing" from your plan. Those few days make a pretty significant difference in that regard.

    That's not to say you've got any problems, I think this trip should work pretty well for you, but I certainly would not be looking to add any more miles for something like a detour to Portland, especially when you already need to factor more time for your drive back to Seattle.

    And while I said you shouldn't include much more, that's not going to stop me from adding a few more places I think you should consider adding to your trip. I would absolutely make sure to include some time in Yoho National Park, which I actually enjoyed more than Banff. You could still do that basically as a daytrip from the Lake Louise area. You might also consider some time in Kootenay National Park. Yoho and Kootenay are basically the British Columbian siblings to Alberta's Jasper and Banff.

    Canadian Glacier National Park (completely unrelated to the American Glacier NP) would also be on your way from Vancouver to Jasper and might be worth squeezing in.

  7. Default

    Thank you all for all your suggestions! Very much appreciated!

    We are considering dropping the car off in Bozeman Airport and catching a flight back to Seattle. Would this be a good idea in order to avoid the 2 day drive back to Seattle? I know it's not in accordance with the road-tripping spirit, but it would make the rest of the trip easier!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,513

    Default

    Flying back from Bozeman or Jackson WY might save you some time and is worth considering, however, doing so will likely make your trip significantly more expensive. Not only will you have the cost of the flights, which will likely be quite high flying from a small, tourist-driven, airport, but your car rental costs will almost certainly be much higher. Also keep in mind that if the flight schedules don't work in your favor, and/or you don't have a direct flight, you might not end up saving that much time.

    There's nothing against the roadtrip spirit by flying a leg to save time, just make sure it's both cost and time effective.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    335

    Default Canadian National Parks

    Hello!

    Adding to what Midwest Michael said about the other Canadian National Parks, you should take a look at the 5th page of my recently completed Trip Report (Titled: The Mother of all Road Trips): https://www.roadtripamerica.com/foru...d-Trips!/page5. That section of my report includes lots of photos and descriptive details about Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Revelstoke, and Waterton Lakes NP's, as well as Banff and Jasper. Check it out, if you're inclined!

    Rick

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,691

    Default

    Dropping the car in Bozeman instead of Seattle can cost you up to $1000 more. Click on the Hotels & Motels link at the bottom of the page, select Rental Cars, and check for yourself. One way flights from Bozeman to Seattle are in the $200 range, the same link can research that too. I didn't check Jackson, but I'd think it would be similar.

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