driving in Canada

Summit

Old n' Crusty
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Looking forward to seeing the pics. We have contemplated a trip up there in the autumn.
I've been to Jasper once, 28 years ago. Picked up a car early morning in Seattle, drove to Jasper via Blue River (Hwy 5), getting there about 8pm for dinner at a pub with live music. You know how you spend your first day in Canada and there's a cover band doing good versions of Neil Young songs, so you have to stay for an extra beer, getting to your wilderness hostel north east of Jasper at about 10 with no electricity and a bear sighting alert...now that I've grown up a bit, might get to Jasper via a 4hr drive along the Columbia Parkway from Banff :D
 

Alex.C

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Skichic2

Part of the Furniture
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What’s more important, AWD or tyres? One car hire place is advertising an Elantra with winter tyres. It’s just me and my skis would fit inside. Would that be better than chancing a Rav 4 or similar which could end up 2wd anyway?

Calgary, Revelstoke return.
 

Skichic2

Part of the Furniture
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My only other trip to Canada, in the ‘80’s we had no experience with snow at all. Bought an old Ford Econovan, fitted it up with a bed and drove from Edmonton to Vancouver, via Banff, side trip to Jasper along the Icefields. Then through the Okanagans to Vancouver. It was late season but we skiied and saw snowy days. Drive back from the USA 6 months later through Montana to Edmonton, drove through more early snow. $20 retreads on the van LOL

Sure overthinking things a lot this trip!
 
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KneeDeep

One of Us
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Avalanche detection system just installed at Rogers Pass. This will enable a quick response for road clearing.
 

Beerman

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Drive bc has just issued a snow warning for Hwy 5 north from Hope. 20-30cm expected, driving will be problematic, be carefull or choose alternate route.
 

Chalkie

A Local
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There have been unusually low temperatures throughout B.C. and Alberta over the last few days. And Vancouver has not been spared. There's also been way more snow in Vancouver that it usually gets. While this has been nice for us (around where we live is looking very pretty), it has made the roads a nightmare. From my kitchen window, I just watched a collision. And I saw a thankfully non-fatal accident on the Sea to Sky on the way to Whistler on Sunday. And I've seen some shocking driving for the conditions out and about over the last few days.

There are some treacherous conditions around at the moment in B.C. If the drivers of the vehicles had followed everything that @sly_karma has said upthread about driving slowly, taking your time and taking great care, I'm fairly sure the accidents I've seen would have been avoided. The one on the Sea to Sky was purely because of excessive speed for the conditions.

If you're driving in B.C. right now, please be careful and follow @sly_karma's advice in this thread!!!
 
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sly_karma

Green Bastard
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Follow the number one rule and don't drive if you don't have to! Wait for a few hours or even the following day if need be. Hotel booking be damned, when the weather decides to do its thing, we don't get a say.
 
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Alexo

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Sly, thanks for initiating this topic.
I am going to Vancouver early Feb and driving to Revelstoke and back so I am sure the driving tips will be handy.

I have limited snow driving experience, but I think I have experienced the extremes of snow driving in Japan and AU and I know how important tires are for snow driving.

In Japan I drove a Nissan Micra with snow tires and I felt safe all the time: on ice, fresh snow and everything else in between...
In the other hand, in Australia 5 years ago during the Opening Weekend, I spun my Pajero (4x4 low gear but without chains) on my way to Perisher. I was doing less than 20Km/h so after completing a 360 the car stopped on the side of the road. Luckily, I kept more than 100 meters distance from the car in front of me an I had no issues to continue (now even slower). That day was carnage, I remember an ute with chains in the rear being completely unable to steer ... anyway I digress...

Absolutely double check that your rental vehicle has snow tires, not all season or even worse, summer tires. Ring the outlet you intend to pick it up from if necessary. Snow tires are the single biggest thing you can do for your safety - better than AWD by far when driving on snow and ice. Often the rental companies don't know on the desk, but be prepared to walk away if they don't fit them.

From plus seven degrees Celsius and below, summer tires become brittle and pretty useless for traction. It's why you see all those AWD cars off the road in Australia whenever it snows. And remember that large 4WD's take a lot longer to stop than smaller vehicles and have a tendency to slide sideways, trip on an obstacle and roll over more easily than lower centre of gravity vehicles.

Also watch out for black ice, the road surface may look quite normal from a distance - nice black tarmac - but a layer of see-through ice can create carnage at highway speeds.

My last tip is to as soon as possible find a deserted snow covered area - an empty snowy car park at a shopping mall is ideal - turn off traction control and spend some time learning the feeling of a car sliding and squirming beneath you so that you don't panic the first time it happens on the road. See how long it takes to brake on snow, how much pedal pressure you can use before lock-up and also learn to counter steer when the car begins to drift sideways. Don't forget to turn traction control back on afterwards!
 

gareth_oau

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Absolutely double check that your rental vehicle has snow tires, not all season or even worse, summer tires. Ring the outlet you intend to pick it up from if necessary. Snow tires are the single biggest thing you can do for your safety - better than AWD by far when driving on snow and ice. Often the rental companies don't know on the desk, but be prepared to walk away if they don't fit them.

From plus seven degrees Celsius and below, summer tires become brittle and pretty useless for traction. It's why you see all those AWD cars off the road in Australia whenever it snows. And remember that large 4WD's take a lot longer to stop than smaller vehicles and have a tendency to slide sideways, trip on an obstacle and roll over more easily than lower centre of gravity vehicles.

Also watch out for black ice, the road surface may look quite normal from a distance - nice black tarmac - but a layer of see-through ice can create carnage at highway speeds.

My last tip is to as soon as possible find a deserted snow covered area - an empty snowy car park at a shopping mall is ideal - turn off traction control and spend some time learning the feeling of a car sliding and squirming beneath you so that you don't panic the first time it happens on the road. See how long it takes to brake on snow, how much pedal pressure you can use before lock-up and also learn to counter steer when the car begins to drift sideways. Don't forget to turn traction control back on afterwards!

wow melodrama.

Ive had 6 vehicles and driven all sorts of deep snow and icy, all with M&S tyres
 

sly_karma

Green Bastard
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wow melodrama.

Ive had 6 vehicles and driven all sorts of deep snow and icy, all with M&S tyres
Read the whole post. Experimenting with sliding, test braking in an empty parking lot, those are sensible things to do with a unfamiliar vehicle and tyre combination. I too run M+S on my truck, but it's 2400 kg with full time AWD or selectable 4WD. Big heavy truck is pretty predictable when it slides, and it comes back nice and easy. I know my vehicle and I have 30 Canadian winters under my belt. But advice for occasional visitors in rental cars is a different matter. Yes M+S is good enough most of the time. But I wouldn't tell people not to seek out full winters.
 
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gareth_oau

Pool Room
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Read the whole post. Experimenting with sliding, test braking in an empty parking lot, those are sensible things to do with a unfamiliar vehicle and tyre combination. I too run M+S on my truck, but it's 2400 kg with full time AWD or selectable 4WD. Big heavy truck is pretty predictable when it slides, and it comes back nice and easy. I know my vehicle and I have 30 Canadian winters under my belt. But advice for occasional visitors in rental cars is a different matter. Yes M+S is good enough most of the time. But I wouldn't tell people not to seek out full winters.

but the probability of getting winters is not 100% and there’s often a sizeable price premium attached.

the post to me , and I suspect a lot of newbies urged winters or don’t go/die
 
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There have been unusually low temperatures throughout B.C. and Alberta over the last few days. And Vancouver has not been spared. There's also been way more snow in Vancouver that it usually gets. While this has been nice for us (around where we live is looking very pretty), it has made the roads a nightmare. From my kitchen window, I just watched a collision. And I saw a thankfully non-fatal accident on the Sea to Sky on the way to Whistler on Sunday. And I've seen some shocking driving for the conditions out and about over the last few days.

There are some treacherous conditions around at the moment in B.C. If the drivers of the vehicles had followed everything that @sly_karma has said upthread about driving slowly, taking your time and taking great care, I'm fairly sure the accidents I've seen would have been avoided. The one on the Sea to Sky was purely because of excessive speed for the conditions.

If you're driving in B.C. right now, please be careful and follow @sly_karma's advice in this thread!!!

The worst conditions we saw in Van were in January 2017, when we had a lot of snow, then a melt followed very quickly by a couple of weeks of subzero temps so everything except the main roads, which were ploughed and salted, turned to an ice rink - literally (kids were playing hockey in the streets) It's been said in this thread before but Van is not set up for snow.

As for the S2S, there will always be some absolute lunatics who think they are bulletproof and don't adjust their speed for the conditions. But that can be said for any part of the world I guess.

Hope you enjoyed you first "snow" day(s) Sure looked nice from the pics were sent.
 
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Beerman

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Drove the Coq yesterday, Kamloops > Vancouver. Drive BC had warnings of slippery sections and compacted snow. By the time we got through Kamloops, the plows, salties and sunshine had done their job. Although there was plenty of spray off tyres, the road could not have been in better condition for driving in mid winter.
 
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gareth_oau

Pool Room
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Drove the Coq yesterday, Kamloops > Vancouver. Drive BC had warnings of slippery sections and compacted snow. By the time we got through Kamloops, the plows, salties and sunshine had done their job. Although there was plenty of spray off tyres, the road could not have been in better condition for driving in mid winter.

the mist difficult drive Ive done was early march down that hill with the sun blazing, rivers running across the road and massive spray off the truck tyres
 

Crystal

Sand skier extraordinaire
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We are making our way back to the coast tomorrow...won't even bother looking at drive conditions on the Coq.... we'll go the long way, have lots of time, it's more scenic and we have our fav places to stop :) The Coq can be so boring.
 
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sly_karma

Green Bastard
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Same here, we take the Hope-Princeton about 90% of our trips to/from the coast. Coq is maybe 20 minutes quicker, more if you wanna risk a ticket. But still too boring and more of a grind on vehicle. The climb out of Peachland is relentless, 1400 m in 30 km. Much rather the twists and turns and little towns/villages along hwy 3. Choices are more limited from Kamloops or Kelowna though.
 
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Skichic2

Part of the Furniture
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@sly_karma whats your thoughts on the weather over the next couple of days? My rough plan was ski LL tomorrow (staying at Banff) then to Golden for the night. Driving onto Revy on Sunday. AWD with snow tyres.
 

zac150

A Local
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we Had the M&S tyres last time and snow tyres this time, to be honest I didn’t even know we had snow tyres till we handed the car in and the manager asked what I thought of them!

+1 and I have both noticed a massive difference between Canadian and Aussie drivers, Aussies want to be first everywhere and want you out of the way. Canadians politeness extends to driving and are very relaxed, they have to be, can’t hit the breaks fast in ice.

just a personal opinion but I reckon the way you drive will have far more impact than tyres.
 
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sly_karma

Green Bastard
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@sly_karma whats your thoughts on the weather over the next couple of days? My rough plan was ski LL tomorrow (staying at Banff) then to Golden for the night. Driving onto Revy on Sunday. AWD with snow tyres.
Weathercan app (federal govt) has a heavy snowfall warning for Revy and Rogers Pass today and tomorrow, Sunday is clearing and Monday might almost be sunny. You should be ok to do the drive to Golden tomorrow afternoon, but check weathercan and drivebc. Might be wise to be ready to leave LL earlyish afternoon, you'll be less fatigued and will have more daylight to play with. Only an hour to Golden normally but snow followed by rain can make life tricky.
 

Skichic2

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Weathercan app (federal govt) has a heavy snowfall warning for Revy and Rogers Pass today and tomorrow, Sunday is clearing and Monday might almost be sunny. You should be ok to do the drive to Golden tomorrow afternoon, but check weathercan and drivebc. Might be wise to be ready to leave LL earlyish afternoon, you'll be less fatigued and will have more daylight to play with. Only an hour to Golden normally but snow followed by rain can make life tricky.
ok thanks. A sunny Monday sounds great!
 

Skichic2

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Opted for a rest day and look at Lake Louise before a cruisy?? drive to Golden. Currently having lunch in Field waiting for the Hiway to open. What a funny little place is Field.
 

Skichic2

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Between Field and Lake Louise today, lots of police cars along the highway too, catching speeders.

509A77A5-9BBD-45DA-8914-95D3BC1A5556.jpeg
 
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Gumbie

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Our family has had a US road trip cancelled due to the virus. Out goes Yellowstone NP, Arches NP, Grand Canyon, Penn and Teller in Vegas, Disneyland, Yosemite and more.
But now we'll be spending more time exploring the Rockies, Okanagan, Vancouver Island, inside passage and more. It makes me wonder why I was even going to the states.
I have been looking at RV sites. Outdoorsy, Rvezy and similar sites advertise a low price per night, wait until you are through and about to confirm only to whack you with fees: service fees, cleaning fees, booking fees, etc which added two grand to the total.
I was looking at Canadream and they clearly do a lot of business but reviews indicate a habit of 'nickels and dimes' expense at the backend of your trip. I just learnt that term today but was sort of aware of the concept. I know that a lot of car rentals places try that on unsuspecting customers. They had some bad reviews but it sounded mostly that if you didn't read the fine print and had any damage you were going to be out of pocket. Their 'peace of mind insurance' doesn't actually doesn't cover that much, with hefty excesses still payable. They also had many great reviews.
Anyone travelled with Canadream?
I feel I've done my research but wonder if there's a magic company out there that I should check out.
Does anyone know of a great RV rental company in Canada? Any recommendations?
We will be travelling in July for 3 weeks with pick up/drop off in Calgary. Hot tips on campsites, especially free ones will also be appreciated.


****touch wood that easing of restrictions continue as planned in Canada****
 

absentskier

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Our family has had a US road trip cancelled due to the virus. Out goes Yellowstone NP, Arches NP, Grand Canyon, Penn and Teller in Vegas, Disneyland, Yosemite and more.
But now we'll be spending more time exploring the Rockies, Okanagan, Vancouver Island, inside passage and more. It makes me wonder why I was even going to the states.
You were on the right path - the places you were going to visit in the USA are awesome. Zion NP is a must too IMO.
 
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zac150

A Local
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2020, we're already over here for the year. We have 2 months school holidays to go for it.

nice, I can’t help on the RV or camp ground side of things but I’m sure you will have an awesome adventure. It’s a shame about missing some of the great US sites as who knows what damage will be done to them by the current regime.

in terms of Canada we had a great time on Vancouver island but all our travel was in the winter.
 

sly_karma

Green Bastard
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Tough luck missing out on the four corners region US national parks, they're amazing. I guess this sums up why:
1 AUD = 0.91 CAD
1 AUD = 0.65 USD

Keep a close eye on govt of Canada news releases, as at this time you are required on entry to provide a plan detailing the where and how of your 14 day quarantine period, and there will probably be followup checks by RCMP. Today it was announced that the closure of the US/Canada border for non essential travel has been extended another 30 days through to June 21.

Assuming you gain admittance to the True North, please be aware that July and August are prime time any year and that there is huge pent up demand for camping this year after the virus kept everyone inside all spring. Many parks will have modified configurations according to management's interpretation of safe distancing - expect sites to be limited to some degree. Bookings will be really important because so many people will want to go camping. There are three levels of parks to consider, plus private campgrounds.

National parks are genuinely national, as in operated by the federal govt. Parks Canada has 41 parks covering a cross section of the finest and most diverse natural environments in Canada.
https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/index

Provincial parks and their campsites are just starting to open up in BC; provincial parks are open for day use only at the moment, with overnighting permitted from June 1 onward.
http://bcparks.ca/covid-19/

Also some super nice campsites in the BC forestry ministry's jurisdiction. Rec sites have bare bones amenities and are mostly accessed by gravel roads, but attract fewer people and cost less (often $zero). No booking system, it's FCFS.
http://www.sitesandtrailsbc.ca/

Private campsites. Like caravan parks in Australia, a dying breed in urban areas and fringes. But still important and useful further away from the cities. Probably best here to try google searches such as "camping near xxx".

I've never rented an RV, but you sure see a lot of Canadream units on the highways in our warmer months. I can only surmise that they're fulfilling the expectations of a reasonable proportion of their customers or they wouldn't have thrived the way they have.
 
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