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HDT friendly RV Parks - Seattle to Banff to Calgary to St Mary's Glacier National Park


budeneighe

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We are in Chimacum at the Evergreen Escapees SOHO park and planning a route to Glacier National Park.... soon, probably Aug or Sept (more likely).

 

At 65' (+) we are looking for recommendations of parks along this route via the Trans Canada Highway.

 

We have two routes planned:

  1. Seattle to Kamloops then over to Lake Louise and Banff area. Either coming down to Glacier National Park on the west side or going on over to Calgary and then down to GNP on the East side to St Mary's, MT.
  2. Or- Just taking I-90 straight over to GNP West Glacier.

I am having a lot of difficulty finding RV parks in Canada that can handle our rig. Of course "Big Rig Friendly" is almost meaningless for HDTs so I am looking for personal reviews of parks that you have stayed in along the Canada route and/or along the I-90 route.

 

I am particularly interested in places that were easy in/outs and reasonable attitudes.

 

Whatever experience, comments, suggestions anyone can offer would be appreciated. This is our first venture into Canada and I am trying to contain the unpredictable as much as possible. I know that the TRAVEL forum might seem to be an appropriate place but it appears that I would be better served by real HDTers with experience here.

 

Here is what I have roughed out already:

Below, the items in BOLD are where I think we can fit in. Those that are disabled are alternates.

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Details about the route and stops:

 

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Thanks in advance for whatever insights you guys can offer.

 

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You might want to look at Country Lane RV Park Aldersyde, AB. It's about 20 miles south of Calgary. It's just off HWY #2. When we stayed there as few years ago it had some fair size rigs in there. I don't have an HDT but there were some class 7s there. Give them a call or check out there web site. http://www.countrylanervcalgary.com/about.html

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If you travel the Ice Fields Parkway between Jasper and Canmore, and I suggest you do, there are several "overflow" campgrounds near the national park campgrounds. We went to one in desperation last year (Friday evening before Canada Day), and were thrilled. No hookups, but it was nearly empty, peaceful and beautiful.

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The program is RVing Plan-N-Go 2013 by Undertow software. It is the successor to the Trailer Life Campground Directory DVD which was built by Undertow and based on their Map N go product base. It is no longer sold by Undertow but there are still copies available on Amazon and other places.

 

A few things to know about it, though.

  1. When Trailer Life discontinued their DVD versions they also decided to not let Undertow access their campground database contents so UTS had to start building their own from scratch. It was a nice effort but lacked the reviews and ratings info and was a totally manual process. However, the contents were automatically updated online so if you had an internet connection you always had the latest information on each RV park. UTS was always updating without any charges so that was good..
  2. The primary functions of it are the same and the files completely compatible with the Trailer Life DVD. The last version of that was 2012 then GoodSamClub decided to be very stupid and go to an all online POS which has very little function and is certainly not any kind of a useful replacement for even their DVD.
  3. Because the database is so sparse in RVPnG2013, I build my initial trip plans in the TLCGD DVD 2012 version which includes things like the # sites, lengths, restrictions and a lot of other necessary details. Once I have a skeleton plan worked up, I save that trip file then open it in the RVPnGo 2013 package, mostly because it is bug free and recalculates and maps much faster. I refine my trips and stops mostly in it. At any time I want the older version of the TL database info, I just save that trip file and reload it in the TLDCG DVD program and it is all good.
  4. There is no other package I have been able to find that does all that this program does. Among the great things it does is:
    1. It projects dates and arrival times each time it recalculates a route so you can tell when you will get there. This is very important when reservations are involved because staying over a few days in one place may affect several arrival dates for later stops.
    2. I can state a starting date/time, set a daily mileage or time driving limit, cost of fuel, meals, average nightly fees,etc. It knows about RV heights (sortof) and legal length limits by state (if you want to activate that).
    3. A biggie is that you can just disable any stop or via to have it ignored in recalculations but still available for reactivation with a check box for alternate route planning.
    4. Of course it does the personalization things too, like user POIs, Journal/pictures associations and exportable routes that can be used by Google Maps. Kinda nice all around.
  5. Having said all this, I can throw together a really quick "try-this" route, find RV parks by filtering (on things like Big Rig, Wifi, Sewer, water, FHUs, pets, etc. and its search capability is pretty good (once you figure out how to use it easily).
  6. Now, in serious planning, I use not only this but several other tools, like RVPARKREVIEWS.com, AllStays.com, Goodsamsclub.com, KOA, etc to vette different parks. I use Google maps and Google Earth to help keep me out of trouble going into a location blind by zooming in the satellite views to see the sites, roads, access streets, etc. Have you ever noticed how many RV parks are located next to train tracks and rock quarrys?
  7. To pull all of this together I use Microsoft OneNote to work up my outlines and flesh them out with automatic links to maps, pictures, sites, reviews and such. I put together a little quick YouTube overview of how I get started planning a trip using these tools and OneNote. You can see it at: Plan RV Travel with OneNote . I hope this is all of some help.

I use Snagit 12 to do all the clipping, markups, image postings to ScreenCast (part of Snagit) for forums posts. Here's an overview:

 

I use Spartan Multi Clip by M8 Software to help me do all the cutting and pasting into the posts. Here's a short Demo.

 

The combination of these two tools makes the impossible, easy. Use them just a few times and you will eagerly pay for the full versions.

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Budd, are you tied to Calgary, or the Trans-Canada? I find the trip through that pass to be very wearing and rushed. If you have no prior commitments, I'd go through via the Crowsnest Pass. It's a little slower travelling, but the scenery is a lot closer to the road, and there's more pull offs to take in the view.

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Maybe, if the fact that I am 67.5 feet long isn't an issue. Pull-offs, like "Big rig friendly" has no standard of measure. I have found in the Pacific NW, signed pulloffs that were just wide driveways.

 

In the planning, I try to plan fewer hours driving the more grades over 4% that I see on the route. But in Canada, I am having a lot of trouble finding any RV Parks that can handle my size in large stretches across those areas. Thus, this thread. Got park suggestions, got game.?

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Any of the resorts in the Holiday Trails Resort system http://www.holidaytrailsresorts.com/resorts/ can accomodate big (HDT)rigs. We stay at (we are members)their Camperland RV Resort in Bridal Falls, BC (just before Hope) can definitely accomodate a HDT and trailer. Many spots that are large enough to accomodate our 45ft motorcoach,18ft car hauler trailer and still have room to park my pickup (Dodge 1ton crewcab 4x4) and still be able to sit outside and have supper, let our kids play etc.

 

I would not recommend any of the KOA's in BC (and only referencing BC with this), most are way smaller than the websites say. For example the Revelstoke KOA website says all sites are 80ft pull through, but in when I pull my 45ft motorhome in there is only about 5ft on either end to spare(so more like 60-65ft long), plus very narrow with large trees and no place to park your tow rig once unhooked.

 

Also remove Calaway Park RV from your alternate list, if it is still open (last year was supposed to be its last) the sites are small both in length and width, the road is narrow in the campground, which makes maneuvering a large unit next to impossible. But it is attached to the Calaway Park amusement park if you are into roller coasters, etc.

 

The Montana KOA's look to be HDT friendly, but I cannot substantiate that, and there are many just south of St Mary. And unless you have a specific reason to stay in St mary (family etc) I would recommend heading further south towards Whitefish or Columbia Falls as there is very little other than beautiful scenery around St Mary.

 

If you were willing to detour a little while in southern Alberta I would recommend Waterton National Park (it is the Canadian side of Glacier National Park)as it is beautiful there and all of the campgrounds in the area are HDT capable.

 

Just a warning that from the Canada/US border (Carway/Peigan crossing)north of St. Mary south to St. Mary is a fairly skinny, hilly 2lane highway, but is beautiful scenery if you get a chance to look away from the road for a minute.

 

Just for reference when we travel from Bridal Falls back home to Lethbridge AB(or the otherdirection to get there) we do it in two easy 6 or 7hr driving time days. The route you are taking across BC is mostly 4lane divided highway and where it is 2lane there are a decent number of passing lanes and pullout if you want to stop, relax and take in the scenery.

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Budd,

We stay at Tunnel Mtn Trailer Court when in the area. Big pull through sites, full hookups and a good base for seeing the area. We will be staying there for a few days in mid August on our way to the Kootenay Lakes area of BC. This is a picture of the site we stayed at in Banff this past spring. Our rig is 72ft long.

 

Banff%252520May%2525202015%252520truck%2

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We stopped at Wild Rose our first night on the way to Alaska with our 40' MH and the site we had was tight although we didn't look at all of them. As I recall, it's a lot of manicured grass. You might inquire, for sure, especially if it's been raining. It's a pleasant little town with awesome wood carvings along the streets.

 

Also, if you're going to Banff, it would be worthwhile to continue up the Icefield Hwy to Jasper. . . lots of pretty country north of Banff. Jasper is completely different from Banff in that i's more of a low-key Western town. Banff is more upscale. Have a good trip!

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Having lived and travelled in both AB and BC, I could make one or 2 suggestions and pointers....if your interested.

 

Firstly, is your route and stopping points carved in stone?

You have missed some spectacular locations from my viewpoint, but then that's just my opinion.

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Give Calgary West RV a miss. It is a former KOA that has the same faulty tape measure ... We are 56ft long and didn't fit in the 70ft site I reserved. Had to unhook and park the ton truck corner ways with one hind tire on the grass ... Staff and that was fine.

 

There is a casino west of Calgary on Hwy 1 that has a roomy RV parking area.

 

Hwy 3 is a more interesting drive. We have parked overnight with permission behind the Kal Tire store in Grand Forks.

 

Going to be a nice trip.

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This is not cast in stone but is just a outline to build from. Definitely YES to anything that would be great to see or do. The only real constraints are about size and the time of year with the end destination still being Glacier National Park.

 

So far these are exactly the kinds of suggestions and critiques I am looking for. Incredibly helpful already. PLease keep them coming. My trip is starting to get a lot more interesting... and comfortable.

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I also suggest Waterton National Park townsite or Waterton Springs Campground. The mountains are real close. We stay at Waterton Springs Campground, which is only a couple of miles north of the Park gate. If you stay in the park or outside the park, you'll have to buy a park pass and the price will depend on how long you stay in the park or you can get a day pass every time you enter the park. Come through the Crows Nest Pass and go south from Pincher Creek on Hwy #6. Another pea.

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www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/goingtothesunroad.htm

 

I stayed at Johnsons a few years ago, there was room for bigger units as I recall so that spot is OK. You will want to take the day trip to the above link provided. They will come and pick you up.

 

One of the locations you axed, Spring Creek, I've stayed there as well. If you look at their home page there is the main office or cabin in the middle of the picture, the river, in view, runs off to the left. All along the river is back in parking and some big enough for a bigger trailer but the truck would have to be unhooked. The place was pretty flat as I recall. Best call in advance to all these locations and advise them of your rig.

 

More info tonight with links if possible.

 

First stage will be from your location to Kamloops.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Here you go.

 

 

Port Townsend to Keystone

Clinton to Edgewater

Rt on, looks like exit 256 A and B onto Guide Meridian North in Bellingham

Rt on 546 and east to incept ( northbound to the border at Sumas). You have now bypassed all the towns, communities and other clutter such as people cutting in at hiway speeds etc. Not that you planned it but you absolutely want to avoid the stretch around Langley to Coverdale. Stop-go, detours etc. Been there dozens of times.

North from border to intercept Canada 1, you are now on the main Hiway heading east.

Hope is the jump off point for going to the interior. Choices are up the Fraser Canyon or up the Coquahalla, we call it the Coke. The Coke is the equivalent of the I-5 in the US but with major hills. You are traveling from sea level to the interior plateau. Lots of traffic, main route from Calgary to the West Coast. Can't speak to camping in Hope, I was always passing thru one way or the other. The city itself is easy enough to drive the rig around, it is off the main hiway so you will have no problems there. Rambo was filmed in Hope.

If you choose the Coke, you will notice all the dark splotches on the side of the road where engines and transmissions detonated along with the odd big burn spot where a rig burnt. Your next main town is Merrit. You come over the top of a hill and are see it at your 10 oclock. Exit 286, Hiway 5A. Good place for a pit stop and re group. Try out Tim Horton's, food is really good and cheap....something like Subways.

From there it is a straight shot to Kamloops.

After you pass the weigh scales on the left and rt side of the road, there is a big hill going down into Kamloops. There is a large mall on the left going down the hill. If you need to make a pitstop there is a Flying J just east of town on your left.

I lived in Kamloops from 67 to 69

 

There are Passing lanes but never enough, re roadside pullouts in general, they are not posted soon enough or at all, pullouts are small. By the time you come around a corner and see it, there is not enough time to turn into it and stop safely. They are not meant for 65' rigs travelling at 63 mph weighing 40,000 lbs ish. I don't care if you have discs or drum brakes. Trust me, I looked last year when I was tired and wanted to stop anywhere.

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

So far you have done the I-5 route. Personally, I go up the Fraser Canyon. It died on the vine when the Coke was built. Much less traffic, more places to stop or pull over, fruit, jam and veggie stands. Less stress. Main stop will be Cache Creek. Fuel stop with a retro 50's restaurant just north of the intersection on the rt. There is also a tourist info center at the intersection . On-site there is a dump station and plenty of parking....been there.

 

From there you head East. You will run into the only 2 provincial campgrounds in BC with power. They were formerly privately owned and are now provincial. 30 amps if you are luck enough to get one with power. Recommend reservations. If you are interested I have some pics of my foray into that location last year. My rig fit in backwards and didn't need to be unhooked...but it was a challenge none the less.

 

www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/juniper_bch/

 

www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/steelhead/

 

 

 

 

Juniper beach on your right and Steelhead further east on your left. Both have RR tracks close by. Welcome to BC. These 2 are pretty much the only 2 provincial parks I would visit. Most others are tite quarters for my truck alone, never mind pulling the trailer. BC doesn't get it re RV camping. I don't know if reservations are available or possible. Info may be on line, not sure but can check later.

 

Both of these campgrounds are on the banks of the Thompson River, clear water and route for returning salmon. Fish from the shore for sockeye, Use a red lure. Lots of folks do it. I missed last year but will catch it this year.

 

www.flattestroute.com

 

This was posted by another contributor, I find it useful to zoom in on locations I'm interested in. I type in, say Golden BC in both boxes then search and zoom in and drag to whatever interests me like the Golden municipal campground for instance.

 

Going east from there you will come to a big hill. There is a great viewpoint at the top overlooking the lake. Be careful turning left across traffic if a left turn is possible...can't remember. Good spot for a break and lots of pictures.

 

Found this, you can make a left turn. Other vids on U Tube.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhrDYcyzVq4

 

 

Down hill from there to a small community called Savona then push on east to Kamloops.

 

 

This whole stretch is tumbleweed but along the left side of the road up high are the remnants of a sluice/aquifer for transporting water built close to 100 yrs ago. I remember it from my time in Kamloops and sections of it are still there. The wood turns dark brown/black from the sun. Very little moisture in the area.

 

The 50 miles from Cache Creek to Kamloops is one of my favourites of all areas visited so far, period.

 

 

 

Is this info overload??

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Budd, I have sent you a PM with our contact info, as we are located just minutes from the Okotoks RV Park you are thinking of and be a pleasure to have you stay as our guests. I can't comment much on the CGs that take big rigs as we tend to boondock a lot at our 37ft +/- length and would hate to lead you astray but I can comment below a little on so many options for you.

 

Hypothetically if you decided to head from Glacier into Waterton entering into Canada, you might find some of the following would work for you. Also be wonderful if you could stay a little longer to embrace so much more that's on offer.

 

One of the readers mentioned you are missing out on a lot of great areas with your route. I concur, some areas you might want to touch on if you have the time, are for sure the Crowsnest Pass - We tend to do the loop from South Alberta through the Crowsnest Pass, stopping at places enroute like Lundbreck Falls, Frank Slide, Sparwood Big Truck, Fernie/Cranbrook, Christina Lake (Provincial Park there seemed roomy!), Osoyoos, through to Vancouver area (Fraser River, Gaslight district and around the waterfront markets), or if not going into Vancouver areas can head north up through the Okanagan (wine country), then along the Shuswap (Canada's houseboat capital & salmon run) coming back towards Alberta along the Transcanada (Revelstoke has become an interesting little stop off look see area nowadays, likewise Golden).

 

CG at Lake Louise the trains may keep you up all night (we stayed one night there years ago and forewent our second!), you can head south back down to the Crowsnest Pass through the Kootneys, and along beautiful river systems, or you could head North towards Jasper (beautiful to spend a couple of days). Enroute to Jasper you'll hit the Columbian Icefields (some boondock at Brewsters parking area there). Surrounding areas of Banff such as Lake Minnewanka, Two Jack Lake and towards Johnston Canyon are wonderful. Lake Louise, Morraine Lake, Emerald Lake, the Chateau Lake Louise and Banff Springs Hotel are worth a look see and quite breathtaking. Banff townsite is worth a walk through but alas we have seen huge changes in the stores since we first embraced it 20 years ago, so you might feel it a little touristy trap today, but do visit the free museum in town, albeit small it is very nice.

 

Bragg Creek is just west of Calgary on 22X/Marquis of Lorne Trail to Hwy 66, and a wonderful village to visit, even heading out further west into Kananaski's country to Elbow Falls, Allen Bill Pond, Forget Me Not Pond = some breathtaking scenery and typically tons of wildlife like moose, bear, cougar, mountain sheep & goats, horses and of course cattle grazing. The Elbow river is popular for rafting, and Maclean Creek is a known OHV or ATV Camping area (they have large sites to accommodate RV's with trailers for the toys of course!). You could head from here further east and then drop down towards Turner Valley/Longview or better still take Hwy 40 from Canmore (interesting town split on both sides of the TransCanada) going through many of our parks, past Spray Lakes and again through some stunning countryside. Far nicer than going east to Calgary and then down the main arteries. The Cowboy Trail is a very popular road to take as well when RVing.

Don't get me wrong Calgary has an absolute stunning downtown with the Bow River, Princess Island Park, 17th Ave, a fabulous Zoo, Pelican Island and so very much more. It is well worth a visit into and would be a sin to not do so when so very close. KOA West has started to get quite a few bad reviews of late on reliability of services to the sites and even commentary of rudeness - not experienced it personally but usually there's little smoke without fire so to speak.

 

Looking at your itinerary I would personally reduce my time spent in Banff and try to take in towards Jasper at minimum.

 

Just sharing a lot of various options you have if time permits for you, and we've not even scratched the surface (LOL). Enjoy and don't hesitate to get in touch if we can help you in any way shape or form during your travels as a guest in our country.

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If you travel the Ice Fields Parkway between Jasper and Canmore, and I suggest you do, there are several "overflow" campgrounds near the national park campgrounds. We went to one in desperation last year (Friday evening before Canada Day), and were thrilled. No hookups, but it was nearly empty, peaceful and beautiful.

So you are saying take 5 from Kamloops up to Jasper then down 93 to Canmore? From your rig I am guess I should not have any problems with size on either of these roads?

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From Jasper south on the Icefields Parkway, you'll have no issues. We're 67' overall. I have no knowledge of 5 from Kamloops.

 

I will say, from what Roger and peety have said, I'm ready to pack up and join in the fun. This group is great.

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Hwy 5 is the main (pretty much only) commercial truck route from Vancouver to Edmonton.

 

My employer has had over 200loads (camp modules) hauled over that route, loads would have been 14ft wide and over 100ft long when travelling, so your HDT and 5er will be nothing.

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