Road Trip Nation: On The Road To Adventure

Summer has finally arrived, which means it’s time to hit the road in search of adventure.

Hyannis, Massachusetts © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Hyannis, Massachusetts © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So get out there and make some memories as you travel this beautiful country of ours.

But before you go, there’s the planning. Don’t just hit the road. Choose right.

The road trip is one of North America’s grand traditions—a chance to travel and see things from ground level. And with thoughtful planning you’ll avoid the “are we there yet” blues often associated with family vacations.

Where to road trip? Here are four road trips that will awaken your senses and make you glad to be “on the road again…”

Highway 6, Cape Cod, Massachusetts 

Cape Cod is an arm-shaped peninsula located on the Easternmost portion of Massachusetts. It is a well-traveled tourist and vacation area, featuring miles and miles of beaches, natural attractions, historic sites, art galleries, restaurants, and a variety of campgrounds and RV parks.

Scenic Byway 12 travels through some of the most diverse, remote and ruggedly beautiful landscapes in the country. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Scenic Byway 12 travels through some of the most diverse, remote and ruggedly beautiful landscapes in the country. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Allocate some time to explore this charming 117-mile route that wends through Cape Cod. You will go through forests, past saltbox homes in colonial villages, tidal ponds, and eventually end up at the Provincetown harbor. Don’t miss the towering sand dunes and beaches.

Along the route you can enjoy a bike ride along the sandy shores or bask in the sun before finishing the day munching on a plate of delectable, fresh seafood. But be prepared to spend a lot of time on stops in quaint Cape Cod towns like Hyannis, Easton, Wellfleet, Truro. You will have good chowder. See sand dunes. Drink some craft beer. Hear the slapping Atlantic Ocean. Maybe buy some antiques. This is Americana.

Word of advice: stick with weekdays.

Scenic Byway 12, Utah

Highway 12 is one of the most scenic highways in America, receiving the designation of All American Road in 2002. The highway has two National Parks, Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef, at each end and many other scenic points in between.

The route goes for 124 miles at significant elevations (9,000 feet) through forested mountains to the amazing bald mountains in Boulder. From there the road begins following a narrow ridge along the red canyons of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bryce Canyon National Parks.

The Green-backed Heron, the smallest Florida heron, is found along the Tamiami Trail. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Green-backed Heron, the smallest Florida heron, is found along the Tamiami Trail. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Around each bend, there are surprises: eroded towers and ramparts, dense forests of aspen and fir, pinyon and sagebrush, rolling slickrock, variegated buttes and mesas, snaking canyons, and rock walls varnished with mineral stains.

Part of the challenge of a road trip on Scenic Byway 12 is deciding which of several beautiful side trips to take: Bryce Canyon National Park, Kodachrome Basin State Park, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Calf Creek Falls, Burr Trail, and Capitol Reef National Park.

Tamiami Trail, Florida

Take a scenic road trip through the Sunshine State, enjoying a route that connects historical Florida with its modern counterpart. A National Scenic Byway, the Tamiami Trail (U.S. Highway 41/State Road 90) is 264 miles of warm sunlight, salty breezes, and lush vegetation. The highway is described as the Beauty and the Beast of Florida roadways by the St. Petersburg Times, winding its way through the Florida Everglades, hammock oaks, and sandy pines.

Passing through Ruskin, Bradenton, Sarasota, Fort Myers, and Naples, the Tamiami Trail connects Tampa to Miami. It forms a portion of the northern boundary of Everglades National Park and provides access to Shark Valley Slough and observation tower. The road is the only way to access the Big Cypress National Preserve Visitor Center and Headquarters.

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Discover Okanagan Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Now, let’s go RVing to the beautiful Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Osoyoos? Okanagan? Oh, and how do you pronounce that again?

The northern most point of the Sonora Desert is British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan Valley.

Located in the southern interior, the Okanagan is characterized by a dry, sunny climate, beautiful landscapes, and a series of lakes. The mountains are lined with ponderosa pine, which give way to cacti, tumbleweeds, and fragrant sage brush. An ever-changing panorama, the valley stretches over 150 miles from Osoyoos in the south to Vernon in the north.

If you’re not familiar with this pocket of British Columbia, then think, peaches and beaches, wine-tasting, foodie-filled, great outdoor experience and fun in this, Canada’s only desert.

The pairing of some stellar Okanagan Valley wines is all part of the experience.

And that’s the beauty of the Okanagan Valley region, and Osoyoos in particular. Grapes grow alongside desert-like dunes; low-lying golf course greens huddle between mountain peaks.

Worth Pondering…

Free again! All it takes is a clean windshield and a full tank of gas, and you feel a terrible craving to be “on the road again”. Let’s see what’s over the next hill complex. Is that Willie Nelson singing. For real, there’s the music of this friendly engine pushing you along with the lyrics of the road.

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Discover Okanagan Valley

The northern most point of the Sonora Desert is Western Canada’s beautiful Okanagan Valley, home to British Columbia’s prime grape-growing region with over 8,000 acres planted and 131 vineyards and wineries.

Discover Okanagan Valley   © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Discover Okanagan Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located in the southern interior, the Okanagan is characterized by a dry, sunny climate, beautiful landscapes, and a series of lakes.

The mountains are lined with ponderosa pine, which give way to cacti, tumbleweeds, and fragrant sage brush.

The region receives a mere 10 to 12 inches of rain annually and is geographically considered a semi-desert—the hottest and driest place in Canada. But the sandy slopes are the foundation of an ever-expanding industry that is producing world class, award-winning wines.

An ever-changing panorama, the valley stretches over 150 miles, across distinct sub-regions, each with different soil and climate conditions suited to a growing range of varietals.

Lake Country/Kelowna/West Kelowna

Home to more than 25 wineries, this region has become synonymous with wine, and for good reason. BC’s first vines were planted in Kelowna in 1859 by Father Pandosy. Kelowna also boasts the province’s oldest continually operating winery, Calona Vineyard (established 1931).

Discover Okanagan Valley   © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Discover Okanagan Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many of the first families of the BC wine industry call this area home such as Gray Monk Estate Winery’s Heiss’ family, the Cipes of Summerhill Pyramid Organic Winery, and the Stewart family of Quails’ Gate Winery. Several wineries in the region also offer exceptional culinary experiences, some with year-round dining options.

Peachland/Summerland

Driving into Peachland and Summerland, you are greeted with spectacular views of Okanagan Lake and a glimpse of the striking Naramata Bench across the lake. Not only is this an exciting area of new development, but the region is also soaked in history with a few wineries and vineyards over 25 years old. The picturesque rolling hills will lead you to delicious Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, and Rosé in addition to a lineup of sparkling wines to make any occasion a little more special.

Penticton/Naramata Bench

The vineyards of Penticton and Naramata Bench boast ideal conditions for ripening Merlot and Bordeaux varieties and full-flavored Pinot Gris and Viognier. To the south of Penticton is Skaha Bench where Painted Rock Estate Winery and Pentâge Winery produce award-winning wines. And with an established (and simple) wine touring route, breathtaking views, and several wineries with delicious dining spectacular settings, it’s easy to see why the Naramata Bench is one of the hottest wine regions in the province

Okanagan Falls

Discover Okanagan Valley   © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Discover Okanagan Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Okanagan Falls claims some of the most charming vistas in the Okanagan. Better still, this compact region is home to more than 10 wineries and 32 vineyards. Famous for its rolling hills and winding roads, the wineries are well worth the drive, offering a plethora of wine styles. Because of the unique climate and elevation, cool-climate varietals thrive here producing some of the province’s most awarded sparkling wines, Gewürztraminer, and Riesling. With wines as delightful as their owners, this a must-visit region.

Oliver

The ‘Wine Capital of Canada’, Oliver is home to nearly half of British Columbia’s vines. To the west, the Golden Mile soaks up the morning sun making it ideal for white wines such as Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, and bright fruity reds like Cabernet Franc. To the east lies the Black Sage Bench which basks in the afternoon sun, and cultivates powerful red wines and full-flavored whites. The combination of hot days and cool night’s produces fruit with the perfect BC balance―exceptional flavors as well as vibrant acidity.

Osoyoos

Osoyoos lies at the Okanagan’s southern-most tip, stretching all the way to the US border.  Officially Canada’s hottest spot, this is red wine country. Wineries from many other regions utilize grapes from the south to produce award-winning red wines. Osoyoos is home to well-known vineyards including Jackson-Triggs and the famed SunRock Vineyard, producer of the world’s Best Shiraz (2006 International Wine & Spirit Competition). North America’s first aboriginal winery, Nk’Mip Cellars is also located here.

Discover Okanagan Valley   © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Discover Okanagan Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wine Festivals

Wine festivals are a great opportunity to meet the winemakers and sample wine. A superb wine experience, the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival is now in its 35th year (October 1-11, 2015).

Worth Pondering…

Anyone who tries to make you believe that he knows all about wines is obviously a fake.

―Leon D. Adams, The Commonsense Book of Wine

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Top National Parks of British Columbia

The license plates say it all—“Beautiful British Columbia.”

Glacier National Park (Photo Credit: Parks Canada)
Glacier National Park (Photo Credit: Parks Canada)

British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province is a land of lush forests, massive mountains, picturesque coastlines, and fertile valleys.

British Columbia is one of Canada’s most popular outdoor retreats. This vast province offers more natural wonders than any other part of Canada and, much like the American West, is an absolute haven for campers and RVers.

The origin of Canada’s National Parks lies in the mountain parks of Western Canada. Some of the first national parks are located in British Columbia. Yoho and Glacier national parks were among the first to be established. Later, Mount Revelstoke and the Kootenay national parks were founded. Today, the province of British Columbia features six national parks in total.

Glacier National Park 

Carved from the rugged Selkirk and Purcell Mountains by glaciers, Glacier National Park is bisected by the Trans-Canada Highway. This mountainous wilderness is named for its more than 400 permanent  glaciers. Today you will find rugged mountain landscape, narrow valleys, icefields, and glaciers. Many avalanche slopes, caused by heavy snowfall can be seen.

Kootenay National Park

Kootenay National Park (Photo credit: Parks Canada)
Kootenay National Park (Photo credit: Parks Canada)

Kootenay National Park showcases a diverse landscape of impressive range of mountains, lush meadows, crystal clear lakes, canyons, dense forests, and hot springs. Wildlife is abundant, with mountain goat, bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, black and grizzly bear.

Marble Canyon is a 2,000-foot canyon carved out by the meandering Tokkum Creek. Today the walls of the canyon are so polished after centuries of wind and rain that the limestone walls resemble marble (hence the name). The Paint Pots is a series of pools formed by river minerals, compliments of the Vermilion River that flows nearby.

Mount Revelstoke National Park

Mount Revelstoke National Park (Photo credit: Summit Post)
Mount Revelstoke National Park (Photo credit: Summit Post)

Located near the community of Revelstoke, Mount Revelstoke National Park is bounded by the Trans Canada Highway to the southeast. The contrasting landscape ranges from dense rain forests and lush alpine meadows to rocky ridges and glaciers. Red cedars, more than 1,000 years of age, can be discovered on the Giant Cedars hiking trail.

Drive the 16-mile Meadows in the Sky Parkway as it winds up the side of Mount Revelstoke and its 6,388-foot summit. During the summer months, the meadows near the summit are a dazzling display of wildflowers.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve near Tofino (Photo credit: Tofino Accommodation)
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve near Tofino (Photo credit: Tofino Accommodation)

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is a thin strip of land along the southwestern coast of Vancouver Island. Its magnificent islands, beaches, and dramatic seascapes divide into three geographically distinct park units: Long Beach (the most accessible), Broken Group Islands (about 100 islands in Barkley Sound), and the challenging 45-mile West Coast Trail.

The Long Beach Unit is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island between the villages of Ucluelet and Tofino. Long Beach is an almost mystical place, a broad and—yes—long beach of great waves and breathtaking beauty.

One of the best-known and most challenging hikes in North America, the West Coast Trail follows a rugged shoreline where approximately 66 ships have met their demise along this stretch of the “Graveyard of the Pacific”.

Yoho National Park

Takakkaw Falls, Yoho National Park (Photo credit: (Matthew Timmins)
Takakkaw Falls, Yoho National Park (Photo credit: (Matthew Timmins)

Named for a Cree expression of ‘awe and wonder’, a trip to Yoho is truly awesome. The park offers a diverse landscape of towering mountain peaks, sparkling lakes, expansive glaciers, thundering waterfalls, and spectacular alpine landscape.

These same features were the curse of railway engineers and inspired the construction of the Spiral Tunnels, an engineering marvel. Although many of its highlights are accessible by road, Yoho is also a hiker’s dream. Discover half a billion-year old fossils on a guided hike to the restricted Burgess Shale fossil beds or take an afternoon stroll around Emerald Lake or to Wapta Falls.

For more information on the national parks of Super, Natural British Columbia, visit www.hellobc.com.

Worth Pondering…

Mountains are earth’s undecaying monuments.

—Nathaniel Hawthorne

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How To Avoid A Wildlife Collision

Every year, deer, elk, and moose collisions are the cause of hundreds of thousands of vehicle accidents along North American roads.

The elk or wapiti is one of the largest land mammals in North America © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The elk or wapiti is one of the largest land mammals in North America © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Colliding with these animals, particularly moose, is potentially fatal for driver and passengers and is likely to cause significant damage to your vehicle—and to the animals.

To avoid a collision, whether driving a car, truck, or recreational vehicle, be alert and know what to do if you come head-to-head with one.

It is important for motorists to have information about the factors that influence animal behavior. This will lead to an increased level of understanding about when, where, and why wildlife is most likely to be present near the road.

Animals are active 24 hours of the day, and all year round, but records kept by insurance and government agencies show that there are some peak times when wildlife vehicle collisions may be more likely and drivers should be especially alert.

Drivers need to be alert and cautious because moose are on the move, according to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. Moose are more likely to be crossing roadways at this time of year, especially after dark or early in the morning as they move from wintering areas to spring feeding locations.

Rocky Mountain Goats in the Canadian Rockies. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Rocky Mountain Goats in the Canadian Rockies. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

More moose are hit by motorists in the spring than at any other time of the year. There is another peak of activity in September and October, the breeding season for moose.

Moose are especially difficult to see at night because their fur is very dark, and they are so tall that their eyes are normally above most headlight beams, and therefore their eyes may not reflect the head lights.

“Motorists hit 64 moose on Vermont highways during 2014,” said Col. Jason Batchelder of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

“We are asking drivers to be especially careful and for people to enjoy watching moose from a distance. Moose can be unpredictable and dangerous if you get too close and they feel cornered or get irritated.”

Most literature suggests that dusk and dawn are traditionally times of high wildlife vehicle collisions. Light levels are low, and animals are active at these times.

Based in British Columbia, the Wildlife Collision Prevention Program (WCPP) reports that 35-45 percent of all collisions with wildlife in British Columbia and Alberta occur between 7:00 p.m. and midnight with Fridays accounting for 15.8 percent of all collisions.

Deer are involved in approximately 80 percent of wildlife vehicle collisions. May and November have the highest rates of deer crashes.

Moose are involved in approximately 7 percent of all wildlife vehicle collisions. Due to the extremely large size of these animals, (a mature bull moose may weigh up to 1,200 pounds – 500 kg), there is a significant chance that a moose-vehicle collision will result in a human fatality.

Rocky Mountain Sheep. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Rocky Mountain Sheep. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Elk are involved in approximately 3 percent of wildlife vehicle collisions.

Avoiding a Collision

Wild animals are a threat to motorists, but there are measures you can take to avoid hitting them.

Watch for the Signs

Collisions occur most often in prime deer, elk, and moose habitat such as forested areas and waterways. Heed the warning signs and increase your roadside awareness. If you see a deer, elk, or moose crossing sign, be extra alert and slow down. These wild animals cross roads for a wide variety of reasons and at different times of the year. They cross the road randomly, as well as at their regular crossings.

Reduce Speed

Speed is a major factor in collisions. Wildlife experts have recommended 55mph/90 kph as a suitable speed for wildlife zones in good weather conditions, as it provides you with some reaction time to stop.

Drive Defensively

Actively watch for wildlife, movement, or shining eyes on and beside the road. Drivers should be cautious between dusk and dawn. Light levels are low, and animals are active.

Always be aware of the danger.

Observe your Surroundings

The elk or wapiti is one of the largest land mammals in North America © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The elk or wapiti is one of the largest land mammals in North America © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Actively scan the sides of the roads as you drive for any signs of wildlife. Look on the road sides, the shoulders, down into ditches (they love the grass there), median strips, intersecting roads, on the road itself and try to spot any signs of movement, flashes of eyes or body shapes. Be sure to scan both sides.

Worth Pondering…

The best way of being kind to bears is not to be very close to them.
―Margaret Atwood, MaddAddam

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RVing To Canada Planning & Border Requirements

With the loonie (Canadian dollar) under pressure, RVing in Canada is gaining in popularity as an affordable vacation.

Nestled amongst the peaks of the Canadian Rockies, Banff is known as a traveler’s mecca for good reason. Whether by car, bicycle, hiking boots, skis, snowshoes or canoe, in Banff National
Nestled amongst the peaks of the Canadian Rockies, Banff is known as a traveler’s mecca for good reason. Whether by car, bicycle, hiking boots, skis, snowshoes or canoe, in Banff National. Respect the fact that mountain weather can change quickly and it can be severe. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

At present, one US dollar is worth $1.25 Canadian. With the loonier being lower than it has been in years, many RVers and travelers from the U.S. will no doubt view Canada as a place where they can stretch their money further and get more out of their vacation dollar than in other destinations.

Another boon to RV travel this summer is the exceptionally low fuel prices.

A major travel destination renowned for its vast natural landscapes and stunning scenery, Canada is a great place to create RVing memories for you and your family.

America’s northern neighbor offers visitors a truly unique vacation experience with a exceptional diversity of natural attractions. Whatever adventure you may seek, Canada has a destination.

From the rugged Pacific coastline and ancient rain forests of British Columbia, across the majestic Rockies and the rolling wheat field plains of the prairie provinces, past the great waterways of the east and on to historic sites and small fishing villages along the Atlantic coast…Canada has it all!

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep lamb.
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep lamb. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Some of the finest National Parks anywhere in the world are found in Canada. The peaceful serenity of the parks, the unique wildlife, and the jaw-dropping scenery create magical RVing memories.

The Canadian Rockies are stunningly beautiful and immense, with spellbinding views of snowcapped peaks, glacial lakes, fast-flowing rivers, and endless forests. Within the Canadian Rockies is some of the most beautiful, serene and, at the same time, breathtaking scenery on the earth’s surface.

You will never tire of RVing in Canada because over the next horizon there is something amazing to see and experience.

Metric System

Canada uses the metric system. American visitors may find the following conversions helpful.

Rocky Mountain Goat in the Canadian Rockies. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Rocky Mountain Goat in the Canadian Rockies. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fuel in Canada is measured in liters. One U.S. gallon equals 3.785 liters.

Temperature in Canada is measured in degrees Celsius (°C). To convert a Celsius temperature to Fahrenheit: Degrees Celsius = Degrees Fahrenheit x 1.8 + 32 (e.g. 20°C = 20 x 1.8 + 32 = 68°F)

Distance in Canada is measured in meters (m) and kilometers (km). One yard equals 0.9 m; one mile equals 1.6 km.

Speed in Canada is measured in kilometers per hour (km/h).

RVing to Canada Border Requirements

To ease your border crossing the following regulations and suggestions are offered.

Canadian law requires that all persons entering Canada carry both proof of citizenship and proof of identity. A valid U.S. passport, passport card, or NEXUS card satisfies these requirements for U.S. citizens. Children under 16 need only present proof of U.S. citizenship.

Have proof of where you call home, especially if your driver’s license and vehicle tags list different states.

You must have proof of ownership and insurance for all vehicles. If towing a second vehicle be prepared to show the agent the registration for both vehicles.

If your RV is a diesel pusher DO NOT set air brakes when stopping at the booth.

Remove your sunglasses so the border agent can see your eyes. It allows them to read your expressions and shows you aren’t hiding anything,

Answer only questions asked and NEVER volunteer additional information.

The newly opened Glacial Skywalk over the Athabasca Glacier (Jasper National Park, Alberta) lets you experience waterfalls, wildlife, fossils, and more on an exciting cliff-edge walkway that leads to a platform where glass is all that separates you from a 918-foot drop. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The newly opened Glacial Skywalk over the Athabasca Glacier (Jasper National Park, Alberta) lets you experience waterfalls, wildlife, fossils, and more on an exciting cliff-edge walkway that leads to a platform where glass is all that separates you from a 918-foot drop. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do NOT relay to an agent that you are a fulltime RVer. Officials feel that if you have no home you may have no reason to return to your home country.

Due to new diseases that surface from time to time, the rules of what food—especially meat—that you can have on board may differ from day to day. As a result it’s best to travel north OR south across the border with minimal food.

Every traveler entering Canada must declare all food, plants, animals, and related products.

Worth Pondering…

Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder.”
―John F. Kennedy

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Low Loonie Expected To Bring More RVers to Canada

It doesn’t take an economist to understand what’s happening with the Canadian dollar.

The newly opened Glacial Skywalk over the Athabasca Glacier (Jasper National Park, Alberta) lets you experience waterfalls, wildlife, fossils, and more on an exciting cliff-edge walkway that leads to a platform where glass is all that separates you from a 918-foot drop. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The newly opened Glacial Skywalk over the Athabasca Glacier (Jasper National Park, Alberta) lets you experience waterfalls, wildlife, fossils, and more on an exciting cliff-edge walkway that leads to a platform where glass is all that separates you from a 918-foot drop. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The loonie is under pressure and that is not great news for Canadian snowbirds. But it is good news if you’re a Canadian in the export business.

RVers and other traveling visitors to Canada is another group that will benefit from the currency exchange. At present, one US dollar is worth $1.25 Canadian. With the loonier being lower than it has been in years, many RVers and travelers from out of country will no doubt view Canada as a place where they can stretch their money further and get more out of their vacation dollar than in other destinations.

While a deflated loonie will entice more people to visit Canada, Canadians thinking of traveling to the U.S may rethink that trip this summer and keep their dollars at home. That’s bad news if your kids are keen to head to Disney World or Southern California this year. But it’s welcome news for Canadian tourism, which can expect more domestic travelers and a long-needed increase in American visitors, who will take advantage of the lower loonie.

Another boon to RV travel this summer is the exceptionally low fuel prices.

The beautiful Okanagan Valley of southern British Columbia is a summer tourism mecca. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The beautiful Okanagan Valley of southern British Columbia is a summer tourism mecca. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Canada’s greatest tourism partner is the United States. According to the Canadian Tourism Commission, Canada welcomes approximately 10 million overnight visitors from the US each year. In recent times, no other country has contributed more than 1 million travelers.

Tourism is an $84-billion industry in Canada that directly employs more than 600,000 workers and supports another 1 million jobs, according to the Tourism Industry Association of Canada. That’s 9.2 per cent of all jobs in the country. Anything that can boost the industry is viewed as a pleasant change after a flurry of events since the start of the century caused headwinds.

Gabor Forgacs, associate professor at the Ted Rogers School of Tourism and Hospitality at Ryerson College, explained that Canada lost half of US visitors because of a much higher dollar and new passport requirements that were introduced in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorists attacks. Canada also had to withstand the negative news around the SATS crisis in 2003-04 and, like the US, and just about every other country, was adversely impacted by the global economic recession from 2008-12.

A major travel destination renowned for its vast natural landscapes and stunning scenery, Canada is a great place to create RVing memories for you and your family.

Rocky Mountain Goat in the Canadian Rockies. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Rocky Mountain Goat in the Canadian Rockies. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

America’s northern neighbor offers visitors a truly unique vacation experience with a exceptional diversity of natural attractions. Whatever adventure you may seek, Canada has a destination.

From the rugged Pacific coastline and ancient rain forests of British Columbia, across the majestic Rockies and the rolling wheat field plains of the prairie provinces, past the great waterways of the east and on to historic sites and small fishing villages along the Atlantic coast…Canada has it all!

Some of the finest National Parks anywhere in the world are found in Canada. The peaceful serenity of the parks, the unique wildlife, and the jaw-dropping scenery create magical RVing memories.

The Canadian Rockies are stunningly beautiful and immense, with spellbinding views of snowcapped peaks, glacial lakes, fast-flowing rivers, and endless forests. Within the Canadian Rockies is some of the most beautiful, serene and, at the same time, breathtaking scenery on the earth’s surface.

You will never tire of RVing in Canada because over the next horizon there is something amazing to see and experience.

Tourism centers in British Columbia and Alberta are also expecting the low Canadian dollar will bring more American travelers through the region on their way to Alaska.

The Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) joins the two parks of Jasper and Banff in one of the most breathtaking, beautiful drives that anyone can travel in the world. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) joins the two parks of Jasper and Banff in one of the most breathtaking, beautiful drives that anyone can travel in the world. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Samantha Gibeault, tourism development coordinator for Dawson Creek, British Columbia, says the spin-offs this year for the local economy in the Mile Zero City could be bigger than in previous summers.

According to Gibeault who recently attended a travel convention in Florida, the low dollar has many on the East Coast of the United States talking about making the trip to Alaska.

“Because they are on the East Coast, it’s different because it’s a long haul trip, but there were a number of people who said the (Alaska Highway) trip has gone from number five on their list to number one, because they now have more money the second they cross the border.”

Although last summer’s numbers were strong, Gibeault is hoping for as much as a 15 per cent increase in 2015.

Worth Pondering…

I always thought of this as God’s country.
—Jack Granatstein

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Top 5 Western Canadian Destinations

From sea to sea, Canada is a land filled with fascinating places and amazing adventures.

But, where to travel? Following are five of the best, must-see spots in Western Canada.

Banff National Park

Mt. Rundle, a prominent wedge-shaped peak, overlooks the townsite of Banff
Mt. Rundle, a prominent wedge-shaped peak, overlooks the townsite of Banff © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Founded in 1885 after the discovery of the Cave and Basin Hot Springs, Banff is Canada’s first and most famous national park. The park is a Rocky Mountain wonder, a place of blue glacial lakes and alpine meadows, massive mountains and glaciers, canyons and waterfalls, mineral hot springs and abundant wildlife (from elk to bighorn sheep to black and grizzly bears), and breathtaking grandeur.

Lake Louise is a glacial lake named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta and is famous for its stunning emerald water that reflects the surrounding glaciers that formed it.

Other major attractions include Banff Gondola, Upper Hot Springs, Bow River Loop, Johnston Canyon, Banff Park Museum, Lake Louise Gondola, Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks, and Icefields Parkway.

Vancouver

Vancouver Skyline with Cruise Ships
Vancouver Skyline with Cruise Ships (Credit: Tourism Vancouver/ Albert Normandin)

Surrounded by mountains and beaches, Vancouver is both an urban and a natural playground.

The reason for the city’s existence, the splendid deepwater harbor formed by the fjord-like Burrard Inlet, is backed by the often snowcapped Coast Mountains.

Stanley Park, a nearly 1,000-acre park is home to some of the city’s favorite, most-visited attractions. Walk, cycle, or jog around the nearly 14-mile-long Seawall that hugs Vancouver’s waterfront. Family-friendly activities include an outdoor water park and a separate heated, outdoor pool, and the Vancouver Aquarium.

Other local attractions include Capilano Suspension Bridge, Granville Island, Queen Elizabeth Park, Grouse Mountain, Kitsilano and Spanish Banks beaches, Vancouver Lookout, and VanDusen Botanical Gardens.

Calgary

The Stampede is always a reason to visit Calgary. It is a mega-event that doesn’t disappoint. Cities become most interesting when they embrace what is distinct about themselves. Calgary did that over a century ago when the Calgary Stampede was born (102nd annual; July 4-13, 2014).

Alberta’s largest city launched an intriguing event called Beakerhead (2nd annual; September 10-14, 2014), a festival that celebrates innovation through engineering and science. Engineers show their creative sides, artists get technical, science hits the street, and everyone gets ingenious.

Calgary is also emerging as a destination because of its wealth. Big money from the energy and finance sectors is sponsoring creative projects and helping to sustain the city’s culinary scene.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve 

 

No trip to Vancouver Island is complete without a visit to Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park
No trip to Vancouver Island is complete without a visit to Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park (Credit: vancouverisland.travel)

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is a thin strip of land along the southwestern coast of Vancouver Island. Its magnificent islands, beaches, and dramatic seascapes divide into three geographically distinct park units: Long Beach (the most accessible), Broken Group Islands (about 100 islands in Barkley Sound), and the challenging 45-mile West Coast Trail.

The Long Beach Unit is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island between the villages of Ucluelet and Tofino. Long Beach is an almost mystical place, a broad and—yes—long beach of great waves and breathtaking beauty. One of the best-known and most challenging hikes in North America, the West Coast Trail follows a rugged shoreline where approximately 66 ships have met their demise along this stretch of the “Graveyard of the Pacific”.

Jasper National Park

A winding road leads to Patricia and Pyramid lakes where fishing, picnicking, boating, and hiking are popular.
A winding road leads to Patricia and Pyramid lakes where fishing, picnicking, boating, and hiking are popular. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Picture yourself in a mountain getaway surrounded by towering peaks, untouched wilderness, and turquoise lakes tucked into alpine valleys. Wildlife is abundant, even right in the town of Jasper. Where else will you find a herd of elk grazing on the lawn?

The Icefields Parkway joins the two parks of Jasper and Banff in one of the most breathtaking, beautiful drives that anyone can travel in the world. A series of massive glaciers line the entire length of the Icefield Parkway, with the Columbia Icefield lying along the parkway at the southern end of Jasper National Park.

Other major attractions include the Jasper Skytram, Maligne Lake and Spirit Island ( one of the most photographed locations in the world), Mt. Edith Cavell and Angel Glacier, and Miette Hot Springs.

Worth Pondering…

Hysterically funny, amazingly talented people. That’s what I think of when I think of Canada. That, and cold beer. And mountains.
—Richard Patrick

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Vancouver: Stanley Park & So Much More

Surrounded by mountains and beaches, Vancouver is both an urban and a natural playground.

Downtown Vancouver aerial (Credit: Tourism Vancouver/ Albert Normandin)
Downtown Vancouver aerial (Credit: Tourism Vancouver/ Albert Normandin)

Renowned for its scenic beauty and endless opportunities for outdoor activities, Vancouver is also a cosmopolitan city with all the urban amenities—fine dining, shopping, museums, galleries, music, and theatre.

Vancouver is located on the southwest corner of the mainland of British Columbia, and is bounded on three sides by water. The reason for the city’s existence, the splendid deepwater harbor formed by the fjord-like Burrard Inlet, is backed by the often snowcapped Coast Mountains, which rise more than 5,000 feet.

To the city’s north, Burrard Inlet separates Vancouver from North Vancouver and West Vancouver. On its western boundary is the Pacific Ocean’s Strait of Georgia. And to the south, the Fraser River separates Vancouver from its smaller satellite communities.

To the west, the peaks of Vancouver Island rise over the waters of the Strait of Georgia, while to the south Mount Baker, the giant of the U.S. Cascade Range, can often be seen.

Stanley Park, a nearly 1,000-acre park on the tip of Vancouver’s “thumb” is home to some of the city’s favorite, most-visited attractions. In fact, you could easily spend several days here and still not see everything this urban oasis has to offer. Walk, cycle, or jog around the nearly 14-mile-long Seawall that hugs Vancouver’s waterfront.

Stanley Park Totem Poles
Stanley Park Totem Poles (Credit: Tourism Vancouver/ Al Harvey)

The path starts at the Vancouver Convention Centre and ends at popular Kitsilano Beach Park. Stop along the Seawall at Brockton Point to see the First Nation totem pole display. It’s estimated that some of the original totem poles were carved in the late 1880s. Also explore the more than 17 miles of forest trails that are much less crowded than the rest of the park.

Family-friendly activities include an outdoor water park and a separate heated, outdoor pool, and the Vancouver Aquarium. The park also boasts four playgrounds and a miniature train that snakes through more than a mile of forest.

The Capilano Suspension Bridge is the oldest tourist attraction in the city (originally constructed in 1889), and the 450-foot long, 230-foot high bridge offers spectacular views of the Capilano Canyon and River below.

Energetic Robson Street is the place to see and be seen in Vancouver, and boasts more than 200 shops, cafés, and services. Robson Street runs east-west through downtown Vancouver, from Yaletown to the West End.

Hop on a water taxi from downtown Vancouver, relish the view of the downtown skyline, and get ready to spend an enjoyable day at Granville Island. An eclectic mix of shops, boutiques, and galleries, Granville Island is best known for its large and bustling Public Market, where local food vendors and artisans peddle their wares. Granville Island is also dotted with an array of arts-and-crafts studios and galleries dedicated to local and regional work.

Shopping for fresh produce at Grandville Island Market (Credit: Tourism Vancouver/ Clayton Perry)
Shopping for fresh produce at Grandville Island Market (Credit: Tourism Vancouver/ Clayton Perry)

Once a gritty area of loading bays and brick warehouses, Yaletown has undergone a facelift and is now a stylish mix of the fashion-savvy, dot-commers. Yaletown sits at the southeastern tip of downtown Vancouver.

Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver’s horticultural jewel, is a major draw for floral display enthusiasts and view-seekers. At 500 feet above sea level, it’s the highest point in Vancouver and makes for spectacular views of the park, city, and mountains on the North Shore.

The 130-acre park is home to the stunning Bloedel Conservatory. There is also a gorgeously landscaped quarry garden, the arboretum with its collection of exotic and native trees.

Enjoy breathtaking scenery at VanDusen Botanical Gardens: 54 acres of elegant landscapes with plant species representing ecosystems ranging from the Himalayas to the Mediterranean, from Louisiana swamps to the Pacific Northwest.

Vancouver Skyline with Cruise Ships
Vancouver Skyline with Cruise Ships (Credit: Tourism Vancouver/ Albert Normandin)

A wilderness paradise, Grouse Mountain is located 15-minutes from downtown Vancouver. The famous Grouse Mountain Skyride (North America’s largest aerial tram system) takes visitors on a one-mile aerial journey to the Alpine Station, 3,700 feet above sea level. Breathtaking panoramic views of the city, sea, and surrounding mountains unfold, culminating with a summit altitude of 4,100 feet. Grouse Mountain enjoys the status of Vancouver’s most visited attraction receiving over 1.2 million visitors each year.

Almost 11 miles of beaches surround Vancouver, including eight ocean-side locations (ten, if you count the three beaches that make up Spanish Banks) and one fresh water lake.

Worth Pondering…

My favorite place in the world to run is Stanley Park in Vancouver. One loop around there is perfect.

—Matthew Morrison

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RV to Western Canadian: 4 Great Destinations

Canada is a land of diversity and outstanding natural beauty, and every region of this great country offers different opportunities for adventure and excitement.

The rush of the Chuckwagon Races,  Calgary Stampede (Credit: Tourism Calgary)
The rush of the Chuckwagon Races,
Calgary Stampede
(Credit: Tourism Calgary)

From sea to sea, Canada is a land filled with fascinating places and amazing adventures.

But, where to travel? Following are four of the best, must-see spots in Western Canada.

Calgary (Alberta)

The Stampede is always a reason to visit Calgary. It is a mega-event that doesn’t disappoint. Cities become most interesting when they embrace what is distinct about themselves. Calgary did that over a century ago when the Calgary Stampede was born. When the hay starts flyin’ you know it’s time to gallop over to the Calgary Stampede (102nd annual; July 4-13, 2014).

Alberta’s largest city launched an intriguing event called Beakerhead, a festival that celebrates innovation through engineering and science. Astronaut Chris Hadfield was the celebrity participant in this curious cultural experiment. Calgary has more engineers per capita than most cities in the world, meaning Beakerhead has the foundation to build something big and cool. It’s a festival to watch as it gears up for its second go-round from September 10-14, 2014.

Calgary is also emerging as a destination because of its wealth of, well, wealth. Big money from the energy and finance sectors is sponsoring creative projects and helping to sustain the city’s culinary scene, which is one of the best in the country.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve (British Columbia)

No trip to Vancouver Island is complete without a visit to Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park
No trip to Vancouver Island is complete without a visit to Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park (Credit: vancouverisland.travel)

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is a thin strip of land along the southwestern coast of Vancouver Island. Its magnificent islands, beaches, and dramatic seascapes divide into three geographically distinct park units: Long Beach (the most accessible), Broken Group Islands (about 100 islands in Barkley Sound), and the challenging 45-mile West Coast Trail.

The Long Beach Unit is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island between the villages of Ucluelet and Tofino. They host the annual Whale Festival from mid-March to mid-April to mark the gray whale spring migration north through park waters. Long Beach is an almost mystical place, a broad and—yes—long beach of great waves and breathtaking beauty. Long Beach Unit includes Green Point Campground, with 105 campsites situated on a forested terrace with trail access to Long Beach.

The West Coast Trail includes the section of coast southeast of Barkley Sound between the villages of Bamfield and Port Renfrew. One of the best-known and most challenging hikes in North America, it follows a rugged shoreline where approximately 66 ships have met their demise along this stretch of the “Graveyard of the Pacific”.

Park’s marine and forest environment features sand beaches, an island archipelago, old-growth coastal temperate rainforest, and significant archeological sites. The area is home to a variety of marine mammals, including seals, sea lions, and whales.

Okanagan Valley (British Columbia)

The sunny corridor of the Okanagan Valley, with its river and chain of lakes, leads

Okanagan Valley
I breathe in deeply. I’m back in the Sunny Okanagan… © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

northward from the U.S. border through a smiling countryside of irrigated orchards and vineyards. The mild climate, delightful landscape, and easy access from north and south draw RVers as well as retired people.

There are attractions and recreational activities aplenty, from water sports to zoo parks. One of the best ways to explore the Okanagan is to follow the signed Okanagan Wine Route, which takes in over 40 of the region’s wineries, now enjoying a renaissance after the introduction of new vines and advanced winemaking techniques.

Kluane National Park & Reserve (Yukon)

Home to Canada’s tallest peak (Mount Logan, altitude 19,551 feet), this giant park in western Yukon—8,490 square miles of untamed territory—can be seen from the sky, aboard a helicopter or an airplane equipped with skis (which allow high-altitude snow landings).

Kluane National Park and Reserve of Canada. Natural Wonders & Cultural Treasures. A National Treasure. Aerial view of the St. Elias Mountains
Kluane National Park and Reserve of Canada. Natural Wonders & Cultural Treasures. A National Treasure. Aerial view of the St. Elias Mountains (Credit: Parks Canada/Laura Gorecki)

Or, even better, hike it using the park’s vast network of trails—you could walk for days without seeing another person.

It is a land of precipitous, high mountains, immense icefields, and lush valleys that yield a diverse array of plant and wildlife species and provides for a host of outdoor activities.

Haines Junction is Kluane National Park and Reserve’s administrative centre and the location of the main park visitor reception centre. The Alaska Highway and the Haines Highway parallel the park boundary in the Haines Junction area. Visitors are able to drive into the park at Kathleen Lake and Tachäl Dhäl (Sheep Mountain).

Worth Pondering…

“It’s a friendly town

A friendly town

Cal-gar-eeeee!”

—Friendly Town (sung to the tune of Bonanza) in Shadowy Men On a Shadowy Planet, 1988

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Top 3 Canadian Scenic Drives

With its vast natural landscape, Canada offers a wide-range of scenic drives. Beginning in the west of Canada and working east, following are three of Canada’s best scenic drives.

Sea-to-Sky Highway (British Columbia)

A legendary route from Vancouver to Whistler and beyond, the Sea-to-Sky Highway is a drive with incredible sights at just about every turn. (Source: stay.com)
A legendary route from Vancouver to Whistler and beyond, the Sea-to-Sky Highway is a drive with incredible sights at just about every turn. (Source: stay.com)

Considered one of the world’s most beautiful drives, the Sea-to-Sky Highway (Highway 99) offers awe-inspiring scenery. A legendary route from Vancouver to Whistler and beyond, it’s a drive with incredible sights at just about every turn. It’s also filled with fun stops, including outdoor destinations, cultural points of interest, and historic sites.

Discover scenic ocean vistas, soaring mountains, dramatic waterfalls, bustling communities, parks, and outdoor activities. Beginning at sea level and tracing a route along the shore of Howe Sound, the route weaves deep into the Coast Mountains and then climbs through old-growth rainforests before reaching Whistler 2,200 feet (670 metres) above sea level.

It takes you from downtown Vancouver through Stanley Park, over the Lions Gate Bridge, and along the upper levels of West Vancouver into the Sea-to-Sky Corridor, which starts at Horseshoe Bay.

The amazing Sea-to-Sky Highway has several stops along the way that are often missed. From the more obvious, Brandywine Falls and Porteau Cove to the less well known, Whistler Train Wreck and Lighthouse Park.

The highway has many viewing points and interpretive storyboards (the Cultural Journey) on the history of the land and its deep ties with the Coast Salish Aboriginal People. Located about half way between Horseshoe Bay and Whistler, the newly opened Sea to Sky Gondola is a spectacular place stop to see the spectacular views of the world renowned geography of alpine mountains, great rivers, valleys, and the Howe Sound fjord from above.

Icefields Parkway (Alberta)

Glacier Skywalk Offers Stunning Views of Columbia Icefield (Credit: Brewster Travel Canada)
Glacier Skywalk Offers Stunning Views of Columbia Icefield (Credit: Brewster Travel Canada)

Named for the massive glaciers it sneaks in-between, the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) is a spectacular drive that winds its way you through Banff and Jasper national parks.

To travel the Icefields Parkway is to experience one of Canada’s national treasures and most rewarding destinations. Stretching 144 miles (231 kilometres) through the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site, this world-class journey offers access to a vast wilderness of pristine mountain lakes, ancient glaciers, and broad sweeping valleys.

“This wondertrail will be world renowned,” a surveyor predicted in 1920 when Highway 93 was only a dream. When it opened 20 years later, thanks to a Depression-era public works program, The Banff Crag and Canyon crowed, “20 Switzerlands in one.”

Stretching from Lake Louise to Jasper, the Icefields Parkway affords constantly changing views of more than 600 glaciers, six icefields, and an abundance of mountains.

Selected highlights (from south to north) include: Bow Summit and Peyto Lake viewpoint; Saskatchewan River Crossing; The Weeping Wall; Sunwapta Pass; Columbia Icefield, Athabasca Glacier, Icefield Centre, and the newly opened Glacier Skywalk; Sunwapta Falls; and Athabasca Falls.

Cabot Trail (Nova Scotia)

One of the most famous drives in Canada, the Cabot Trail makes a loop around Cape Breton Island, cutting across the top of the island and closely following the western and eastern coastlines.
One of the most famous drives in Canada, the Cabot Trail makes a loop around Cape Breton Island, cutting across the top of the island and closely following the western and eastern coastlines. (Source: cabottrail.travel)

Named for explorer John Cabot, the 185-mile (300-kilometre) -long Cabot Trail is a scenic roadway that takes you around the greater part of Cape Breton. Many visitors to Cape Breton Island set aside an entire day—or two, three, or four days—to see the sights along the Cabot Trail. Because there are so many scenic overlooks, cultural heritage sites, whale watching, and hiking trails on the Cabot Trail, spending some time planning your excursion and campgrounds will make your road trip much more enjoyable.

One of the most famous drives in Canada, the Cabot Trail makes a loop around Cape Breton Island, cutting across the top of the island and closely following the western and eastern coastlines. If you travel in a clockwise direction, you’ll be on the “inside” lane as you drive along both coasts. Because the road goes up and down steep grades and curves, the clockwise direction is better for RVers who dislike driving next to steep drops. Many of the turnoffs into Cape Breton Highlands National Park are right turns if you are traveling clockwise.

Some of the more popular Cabot Trail stops include: Margaree Harbour and villages in the Margaree River valley;  Chéticamp, the largest village on Cape Breton Island’s Acadian coast; Pleasant Bay, for whale watching; hiking trails and scenic viewpoints in Cape Breton Highlands National Park; Ingonish and the surrounding beaches; St. Ann’s, for the Gaelic College and local art studios; Baddeck, for the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, golf and summer ceilidhs (Celtic music and dance events).

Worth Pondering…

I have traveled around the globe.

I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes and the Alps and the Highlands of Scotland; but for simple beauty, Cape Breton Island outrivals them all.

—Alexander Graham Bell

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