Canada Road Trip next year Q's

Discussion in 'Canada' started by pedub, Feb 16, 2017.

  1. pedub

    pedub Well-Known Member

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    First time to Canada will be next season and have a few questions.
    The plan is to roughly do a 'loop' starting in Calgary on Feb 1st and heading south first (e.g. towards Fernie) and finish up with 1 week in Banff, first week of March (we are getting some free accom here - dates are fixed).

    1)
    We will hire a car for the 5 weeks. Is Calgary a good place to hire?
    We want an SUV large enough for 4 persons + gear as my folks will join us for a couple of weeks on this trip. Most of the time it'll just be 2 of us though.
    Will we get snow tyres?
    Are chains needed?

    2)
    I'd like to know which resorts we should focus our time at. We prefer:
    - Uncrowded/low-key places
    - Easy access to ungroomed runs/side country/BC, we don't want to ride piste at all if possible
    - Lots of snowfall, high chance of powder days

    3)
    Given the kinds of resorts above, any suggestions for which towns/places to stay in?
    Happy to drive reasonable distances e.g up to 1-2hrs for day trips
    Do not care about ski-in-ski-out
    Do not care about nightlife/bars that much, just some good places to eat.

    4)
    We are staying essentially for free at Banff Rocky Mountain Resort, anyone know this place?
    What are the best resorts we could to from there? (Keeping in mind Q2 preferences)

    Our philosophy on ski trips is: Ski, Eat, Sleep and repeat..

    I've seen some 'first time' threads get rubbished before, sorry if you don't like it. I tried to be a detailed as possible. I have done some research. The more southern area of BC is on my radar: Fernie, Nelson, Rossland etc
     
  2. pedub

    pedub Well-Known Member

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    Here is a rough idea of the trip. We are locked into Banff for a week as mentioned.
    Is this otherwise too much driving for 4 weeks?
    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Ajmit321

    Ajmit321 Active Member

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    Why not also get helied in to a backcountry lodge they are great value - icefall etc .. I'm gonna do that ..

    Was backcountry with a girl working as a chef in a lodge , got paid real well and got to ski ! Dream job

    Also kicking horse sounds good
     
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  4. pedub

    pedub Well-Known Member

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    Sounds nice but should mention that we need mostly lift accessed terrain. We have avi gear, but won't be snow-shoing or skinning. Boot packing and hiking is fine.
     
  5. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire
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    If you like the more relaxed/steep locals resorts I can recommend...Apex, Revelstoke, Kickinghorse, Fernie, Red and Silverstar.
     
  6. Doonks

    Doonks Let's cook!
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    Out of Banff you've really only got 3 choices:
    Lake Louise
    Sunshine
    Nakiska

    They're all commercial resorts but I think you'll like Sunshine most out of them.
     
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  7. Doonks

    Doonks Let's cook!
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  8. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire
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    With that amount of driving if it's a mego snow year you will have to be very flexible with drive days. Some days you may not be able to get through the passes easily or at all or they may even take double the drive time.
     
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  9. Doonks

    Doonks Let's cook!
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    Assuming you go from Calgary to Banff and continue anti-clockwise, there's a lot of barren driving in that, particularly in the back half. And remember, Calgary as an airport hub only really serves transit through the USA, i.e. no direct flights out of Canada to Australia per se. It's also a shithole as a city goes.

    This is what we did, and in terms of Off-Piste, at least 4 of these resorts are far less commercialised than the the others. We did 8 in total:


    The 2 big drives here were from Revelstoke to Red Mountain, and Big White to Whistler. Both were a whole day, but both were stunningly beautiful, particularly Rev to Red.
     
    #9 Doonks, Feb 17, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017
  10. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Old And Crusty
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    Car hire tends to be more expensive when you hire away from Vancouver, for example Calgary.

    If you are looking to rent for 5 weeks you might want to research a bit more
     
  11. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire
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    any hire car booking over 28 days though attracts the monthly rate rather than the daily rate....massive savings.
     
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  12. skidiva

    skidiva Well-Known Member

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    Make sure you can get travel insurance for BC that is out of the ski resort boundary.
     
  13. pedub

    pedub Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your advice

    The reason I thought Calgary was that its more likely that cars hired there will have snow tyres? (Maybe I'm wrong)
    In Japan it works this way - hire in a snowy region and you get snow tyres/4WD as standard. Although maybe Calgary is no more snowy than Vancouver?

    We can certainly drive from Vancouver, it just seems further away from "the goods"? Also, Calgary hire would allow pickup/drop-off in same location. Thought this may be cheaper? (maybe not)

    So is Vancouver the best place to hire from in general? Will I get snow tyres and racks?

    @Doonks that route looks quite good, but misses Fernie/Kimberley.
    Definately interested in Apex, Red, Big White, Whitewater, Revelstoke, Kicking Horse, Fernie, Sunshine. Would like to find a route to try all these if possible.
     
  14. absentskier

    absentskier Old And Crusty
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    Unless you really want an great family intermediate mountain, I'd skip Big White.
     
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  15. Doonks

    Doonks Let's cook!
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    That's the dilemma. There's basically 3 routes you can be do in a reasonable time and driving without literally having to spend 10 -14 weeks around the joint.

    1 - your Calgary loop with Fernie and Kimberley
    2 - my route with Apex, BW, possible adjust to include Silver Star etc.
    3 - Banff, head West up the Trans Canadian, hang a right up the Icefields Parkway and do Jasper and Marmot.

    You could probably do 3 and a part of 1 ands then back to Calgary.

    My other tip is to not lock into accommodation for your entire trip. If you get somewhere and absolutely love it, stay longer, or if the next place on the itinerary is shit (rain, ice, rocks etc), you can stay longer. Alternatively, if where you are is a bit shit, leave earlier for the next joint. It's stupidly easy to just rock up and find a decent place to stay.

    Good luck dude, you're going to have a blast no matter how it plays out!
     
  16. Doonks

    Doonks Let's cook!
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    Largely agree, although, it does have its social bits, and is fantastically run and organised
     
  17. absentskier

    absentskier Old And Crusty
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    It's the least interesting mountain in Canada that I have been to for very strong skiers. It's an excellent family resort if you like purpose built resorts.
     
  18. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    I think your loop tour looks decent given the places you indicated you like. You could also fly into and out of Kelowna and do the same tour. Rental car options should be better in Calgary if city size is the only criterion, but Kelowna is 200,000 people, hardly a backwater. It might come down to flight timing and pricing and probably little difference there either.

    Vehicles questions:
    You can get either a crew cab truck or a full size SUV, I'd go the SUV as everything is enclosed and lockable unless you track down a truck with a canopy. Both a roomy, comfortable and handle winter roads like nobody's business. They pretty much all come from the factory with M+S tires which meets legal requirements for BC and Alberta. Those heavy big truck chassis SUVs like Suburban and Expedition sit on a snowy road real nice, so heavy if they lose traction for a moment it all happens slow and easy. They all have an AWD mode these days which is better on gas than full 4WD and you don't have to recognise the need to engage it. You won't need chains.

    Resorts - you'll want to check out Revelstoke, Kicking Horse, Fernie, Red, Whitewater, Apex. Kimberley too if you have time and the snow is good.

    Towns - these are always good options for saving money. In winter, all the towns have way more motel and hotel rooms than they need. Prices can be negotiated if you're that way inclined - and you're talking to the owner or manager. Easy to find rooms for $70-80 a night, if not less. Exceptions might be Rossland and Fernie, towns that are so close to the mountain and so small that they're more visibly ski-oriented than the other base towns. Penticton to Apex would be the longest drive of all the resorts I've listed, and it's a whopping 35 minutes. But they have a large summer tourism business so there's a gazillion motel rooms. Many motels rent rooms by the month in winter just to get some revenue. Not much beach business when the lake is frozen and the beach is piled up with ice! All the other resort-town combinations are under 30 minute drives. Stay in Nelson and ski Whitewater obviously, but you could also drive to Red, it's just an hour. Then you don't have to move shop.
     
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  19. pedub

    pedub Well-Known Member

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    Thanks a lot.
    Will price up flights and car hire from Calgary and compare to Vancouver or Kelowna. (But to be honest I don't fancy the extra driving from Vancouver)

    Calgary is probably preferable as we can move around in a clockwise route (have to finish in Banff). Meet the folks in Kelowna for the last 2 weeks.

    Nelson sounds really good and 1hr drive to Red is nothing for us. Maybe we will slot in a couple of days staying at a resort somewhere along the way but it's not really important to us. We prefer towns.
     
  20. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Old And Crusty
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    we've been 4 times, and there is a very high chance you won't get snow tyres out of Vancouver, you will get M&S.

    However, we've had no problems with the M&S even driving over the Coq at 100+ in light snowy conditions and around SP with completely snow covered roads.

    You could try to avoid driving in really bad conditions if you have flexibility.

    There is some possibility that you can book snow tyres through some rental places, but they will really screw you for this.

    Same with luggage racks, GPs etc
     
  21. Ajmit321

    Ajmit321 Active Member

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    Sliverstar and big white are boring i wouldn't bother to include them , maybe just for a day , but it's one or two days less to explore a good mountain

    Some great tips here ...

    Hijack but what do people do people think about sleeping in a hire car for three weeks ? Was going to do 4 days at a time then hostel it ? Any other ways to save money ?
     
  22. pedub

    pedub Well-Known Member

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    OK i'm not even sure what m&s tyres are?

    I just want to make sure I'm driving whatever the locals are driving. I've got plenty of experience driving in snow & ice. So if m&s is common and recommended then I'm happy with that.

    We could probably skip racks if we can get an SUV, and Google maps should hopefully do in place of a GPS. I'm mainly concerned about having the right tyres

    Sorry sly I didnt pick up earlier that you mentioned M&s tyres too. So are most vehicles on these roads using them?
     
  23. pedub

    pedub Well-Known Member

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    Knowing how cold it gets, I wouldnt do it, not for that long. But I'm sure it could be done. You need a decent quality sleeping bag. But from what I've seen accom is not expensive anyway, especially at hostels

    You could probably save more with clever food or lift pass tricks + have a much more comfortable time :)
     
    #23 pedub, Feb 18, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017
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  24. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Old And Crusty
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    M&S is Mud and Snow, not as great as snow tyres, but perfect for 90% of situations.

    They come stock on most SUVs etc sold in Canada
     
  25. Doonks

    Doonks Let's cook!
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    When I was there snow chains were illegal in Alberta
     
  26. Cham

    Cham Dedicated Member

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    Your loop was very near identical to ours just recently in Jan 2017 just gone. Don't think any longer or doubt about your decision. Canada kicks ar@e. No matter what loop you do it will be ace. We hired from Enterprise in Calgary international airport. Our experience with Enterprise was excellent. We hired a Dodge Ram 1500 including damage waiver for 18 days. Roughly $82 AU per day + fuel. This may not be your thing but gives you an idea if you want something smaller it should be cheaper. We dropped vehicle back off in Calgary. Our loop was clockwise....first stop Fernie. It came with M & S tyres. They did the job, but certainly need to take it easy. Have M & S as a minimum and you will be fine, as long as you drive accordingly to the conditions presented to you. Leave plenty of room between vehicles and take it slow through cornering. Don't look back....enjoy your trip!
     
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  27. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Old And Crusty
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    if you do end up renting from Vancouver, then you could get to Kelowna via Whistler/Kamloops, which is very picturesque via Hwy 99.

    You could also throw is Sun Peaks, which is only 45 minutes from Kamloops.


    [​IMG]
     
  28. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    M+S tyres have a somewhat chunky tread pattern for mud and snow but are made from normal rubber compound. Severe Winter is an industry standard and tyres that conform to it have a 'mountain and snowflake' logo on the sidewall. They use a softer compound that resists stiffening in low temperatures. This is what most people are talking about when they refer to 'snow tyres'.

    Most SUVs and trucks made for the north American market come with M+S standard so that is the most likely rubber you'll get on any rental vehicle in western Canada. I have almost 70,000 km on my truck's factory Goodyear M+S and they've been fine in this colder than normal winter. Mrs Sly drives a FWD hatchback and we always put proper snow tyres on it every fall. My experience has been that the weight and width of the bigger vehicles with AWD/4WD make them less fussy about rubber compound. Lighter vehicles don't have as much 'bite' on the road surface, particularly in slush. So my 2 cents worth is get an SUV or pickup with AWD or 4WD and don't worry about snow tyres, for sure don't pay extra.

    BC requires at least M+S or chains carried on its highways Oct 1 to Apr 30, the rental company can't rent you a vehicle that's not legal to drive on the highway. Alberta rental might be amother story but it's largely a moot point because most of those vehicles will have factory tyres still on them and they are usually M+S.
     
    #28 sly_karma, Feb 19, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2017
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  29. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Old And Crusty
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    I spent a lot of time and effort and heartache on my first trip trying to find Snow tyres, especiaslly ss I'd never driven on snow without chains.

    However, I've now realised that, unless conditions are extreme, then they are probably overkill, and I can be smarter by not driving in extreme conditions.

    This is the sort of conditions we have easily cruised on with M&S
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  30. Ralph_implement

    Ralph_implement Addicted Member

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    Fly to Kamloops, hire a truck from Canex, the savings will pay for the flight and you'l have decent M&S tyres. From there you can pretty much do your loop, starting at Revvy (SP if you wish, but it doesn't sound like your cup of tea given your other choices/parameters)
     
  31. chunky

    chunky Old And Crusty

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    Second pic gareth on the way to Helmecken Falls?
     
  32. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Old And Crusty
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    yep
     
  33. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver Dedicated Member

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    Plenty of time to drive and ski that stretch.

    Don't spend a lot of time and energy worrying about the tyre/car situation. I note people spend a lot of time on this. Get something that fits everything and go from there. Accom is easy to find and cheap. Good food can be harder to find.

    Remember finding your own way is generally the best part of the vacation. Enjoy, there's some great skiing and amazing scenery in that loop.
     
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  34. Ralph_implement

    Ralph_implement Addicted Member

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    Stuff this, get a big assed truck, because they are fun ;)
     
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  35. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver Dedicated Member

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    That they are. Yeah get a big assed truck and a skidoo and cowboy hat. Oh and make sure it's got Alberta plates when driving in BC.
     
  36. pedub

    pedub Well-Known Member

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    Its going to happen, don't you worry about that :)

    Sort of like your idea Ralph. To be honest as long as I am doing it 'Canadian style' then it'll turn out good
    I just don't want to be that tourist that's doing it all wrong (you've seen them)
    If people drive M+S over there regularly then it sounds fine to me
    More important how safely you drive IMO

    So originally I wanted to get around as many places as possible, but now were thinking about consolidating the trip to where there is the best/most powder...
    From reading reviews etc I am I right to assume that includes these places: Whitewater, Red Mountain, Revelstoke, Kicking Horse
    ??
     
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  37. pedub

    pedub Well-Known Member

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    Also, anyone got info/links to official avalanche reports for these areas?
     
  38. absentskier

    absentskier Old And Crusty
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    Whitewater has some of the best snow in Canada. Averages a lot more snow than Red. Likewise, Revelstoke (or at least the upper half) gets more snow than KH.

    If you are not acquainted with Tony Crocker's bestsnownet, have a look.
     
  39. Ralph_Plough

    Ralph_Plough Dedicated Member

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    https://www.avalanche.ca/map

    Get the app, it's quite good.
     
  40. northsail

    northsail Dedicated Member

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    Spent a few nights in Revelstoke due to road closure over the pass. It just seems to have that POW feel to it.
     
  41. sly_karma

    sly_karma Part of the Furniture
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    You got Revelstuck!
     
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  42. pedub

    pedub Well-Known Member

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    So far, pretty certain we will spend a big chunk of time at Nelson or surrounding areas. Castlegar etc. Any accom recommendations?

    I guess we will be looking for a place we can book into for a few days and hopefully extend our stay if conditions are good. Would prob need to be a hotel or motel type place with a decent number of rooms I assume?
     
  43. pedub

    pedub Well-Known Member

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    Also Fernie :)
     
  44. blowfin

    blowfin Dedicated Member
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    Nice plan @pedub. Feb is ideal for inland BC. Personally I'd probably drop the west side of that loop out completely and consider going straight from Rossland or Nelson to Revelstoke. Given your parameters, Apex is probably the only hill worth visiting out that way, and it's a fair hike for what's a pretty small (but fun) mountain.
     
  45. Slowman

    Slowman Active Member

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    I like the Hume Hotel in Nelson. Nice and central. I had to use a nearby parking station sometimes but the fees for this were modest.
     
  46. pedub

    pedub Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, took a look at price (200+/n?) TBH Looking for something a little cheaper :) Ideally with a park

    There seemed to be some options for around 100-150?
     
  47. Cham

    Cham Dedicated Member

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    Hume Hotel in Nelson is excellent. Central location. They threw in the car park next door for free as we were there for 6 nights. Booked direct.

    Lizard creek lodge for Fernie. Nice and clean, great location on the hill right near ski lifts.

    Booked Lizard through travel plan early bird...typically do multiple night stay nights discounted.
     
  48. DPS Driver

    DPS Driver Dedicated Member

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    Here's a good deal for the Hume and Whitewater.
    https://www.hellobc.com/nelson/accommodations.aspx

    I stay at the Mountain Hound Inn. It's been renovated and it's nice and comfortable at a good price.

    Don't know about Fernie I've always stayed as a guest of the mountain so didn't need any accom. In Revvy the Mountain View Motel is Ok but super cheap as you can talk the owner into a deal if staying for a bit.
     
  49. pedub

    pedub Well-Known Member

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    Mountain Hound looks good. Only 100/NZD night if I wanted to book for next week for example. No parking though, I guess there are some pay parking lots around??
    The concrete block walls don't envoke a feeling of luxury, but hopefully my luxury will be on the powder
    Thanks for the suggestions

    Also that deal for Hume sounds good. Starting at CAD$133 for double room + 1 lift pass.
     
  50. pedub

    pedub Well-Known Member

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    Yeah that is what I am thinking now.
    Depending where we get car hire. Prob head to Fernie or Nelson. Will drive to Red from Nelson and if we like it maybe move over to Rossland for a bit. Then after 3 weeks we need to meet my folks at Kelowna, may head to Big White for a couple of days ski-in-ski-out with them. Then try Revelstoke/Kicking Horse until we have our booking in Banff.
     
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