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Old 08-17-2010, 02:22 PM   #1
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Seattle to Banff/Jasper/Waterton/Glacier NP

Well my first trip report so here goes. Let me preface this by saying I took over 1000 photos so here is just a sampling......

Family of 4 in our 2006 SMB 4x4 Sportsmobile build RB50 V-10
2300 miles
7 Canadian National Parks visited (Revelstoke, Glacier, Yoho, Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, Waterton)
1 US National Park visited (Glacier)
9 days and great weather with only two days with rain.

Friday August 6th
Left after work around 4:00pm from Seattle WA. We got on I-90 and headed East. We dropped our Chocolate lab off with mother and father in laws in Ellensburg as they live in Yakima. We then took cut off I-90 at Quincy and headed North up 281 into 28 which turns into 97. We got to Lake Chelan around 7:30 ish so decided to camp our first night at a state campground on Lake Chelan snagging the last site in the campground available. It was a crowded site with no privacy, hot (temp around 85 degrees). We did not like this first campground but it worked for a quick stopover. Won't include pic as it isn't worth it.

Saturday August 7
Had to do a full pancake breakfast with bacon and eggs as it was my youngest boys birthday today (turned 6). We made it to the border in good time and with some interogation, quick inspection of the van, checking our passports, and confiscating some fruit we had, we were on our way. Do not bring firewood, fruit, guns, limited quantity alcohol, has to be specific bear spray (saying bear spray on can) not mace, or citrus to Canada. Made our way through Kelowna and on to Revelstoke where we wanted to camp but found out they didn't have any campsites and before we knew it we had already passed through Revelstoke by the time we got the maps out.


Glacier was next and came up fast. We ended up camping at the campground near the loop trail on the river. Plenty of availability as all the site around us were empty! In Canada you pay for the night and add $8 extra for a fire permit if you want a campfire. At each campground they have a firewood area that is fully stocked and you can grab as much wood as you want for your fire which is free if you pay the $8 fire permit. This is something we did not know until we got there and was a nice surprise. We made our meal over the fire. Temps around 50 and night around 38.





This was the view from our campsite with a hint of the mountains in the background and a preview of what to come.


Sunday August 8
Went for a small 2 mile hike around the loop trail from the campsite. Went up the road to another hike into Balu pass which left from the Glacier visitors center parking lot. Went straight up for a mile but then put us into a sweet high alpine meadow and valley. Lots of bear warnings here but didn't see any.




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Old 08-17-2010, 02:36 PM   #2
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Re: Seattle to Banff/Jasper/Waterton/Glacier NP

We left Glacier and entered Yoho National Park which is basically the entrance to Banff. I must say the signage for the parks is poor in Canada as we didn't know even when we left Yoho and actually entered Banff. We hit the Icefields parkway and went North on 93 heading to Jasper. Saw a black bear just off the road about 10 feet away from the car window.


We stopped in at a few campgrounds along the way to check them out like mosquito creek. Here is the first lake we came across on 93 in Banff, Bow lake I believe. The blue is from the glacier silt.... no photo doctoring here.




One of the many glaciers we are seeing now that all run down into the lakes. This one is atop Bow lake. (pic above).



I wanted to stay near the Athabasca Glacier so we made it to Wilcox campground around 5:00pm which is a mile from the visitors center at the Athbasca Glacier. The wood stock here was poor and almost gone as it is a cold place to camp. I had to use a stick and scrounge through all the pilings of wood to find enough pieces of wet wood to burn for our dinner and fire. Cold here around 50 and night time below freezing. Woke up to the van inside temp 45 degrees (don't have heater but now want one badly).

A picture from Wilcox campground looking out to the Athabascan Glacier and Mt Athabasca. I really wanted to show my kids this area as I had summited Mt Athabasca years earlier and wanted to show them the mountain I had climbed. It was a great mix of ice and glacier travel in a high alpine environment kind of climb.
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Old 08-17-2010, 03:00 PM   #3
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Re: Seattle to Banff/Jasper/Waterton/Glacier NP

Monday August 9

Woke up early from a cold night and wanted to see if we could take the tour on the Athabascan glacier in those big tour buses. We heard they opened at 9:00 so we got there in time, got our tickets (plenty of seats first thing in morning) and took the tour. Only 23 of these buses ever made and all are at the Athabascan glacier. I wanted to get closer to the mountain to show the kids what it was about and to have them on the actual glacier.





cool old buses they used to use for touring the glacier no longer in service.


After the tour we headed North up the 93 to Honeymoon lakes and got our campsite around noon for lunch. This had a great view and we got the site right next to the water but it was primarily road bicyclists around us and it offered little privacy.




Plenty of time so we continued on to the town of Jasper and strolled around it briefly in the visitors center... long enough to get a temporary fishing license. Then headed to Maligne lake. Got there at about 4:30pm and got tickets to take the last boat tour up the lake at 5:00. The entire lake is not accessible except by boat so we got to see the northern part of this lake which was cool. They took us to Spirit Island and back again with history lessons along the way.








Got back from the boat tour and everyone had left as there is no camping around this lake. I decided to do some fly fishing and teach the kids how to fish.




Left the lake went into the town of Jasper and ate at a pizza joint and got back to Honeymoon lakes campground around 10:00 pm. came across a huge heard of elk at dusk just outside the town of Jasper near the Wapiti campgrounds along 97.
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Old 08-17-2010, 03:45 PM   #4
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Re: Seattle to Banff/Jasper/Waterton/Glacier NP

Another great rip report! Thank you for posting all the pictures. I have camped and canoed at Honeymoon lake several times and you can't beat the views of the surrounding mountains from the water.
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Old 08-17-2010, 04:06 PM   #5
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Re: Seattle to Banff/Jasper/Waterton/Glacier NP

Trip report isn't finished yet... 1/2 way through will finish tonight
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Old 08-17-2010, 04:28 PM   #6
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Re: Seattle to Banff/Jasper/Waterton/Glacier NP

Great so far!! Keep it coming...
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Old 08-17-2010, 05:21 PM   #7
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Re: Seattle to Banff/Jasper/Waterton/Glacier NP

Perfect inaugural trip for the van.

Looks like a great trip with perfect hiking weather although perhaps one of those catalytic heaters would be a good idea

I remember that we had elk walk through our camp at Wapiti while we were making dinners and the kids still talk about it.

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Old 08-17-2010, 05:48 PM   #8
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Re: Seattle to Banff/Jasper/Waterton/Glacier NP

Tuesday August 10
Forgot to mention I used the shower for the first time as well at Wilcox campground. We had enough privacy I was able to stand in back and lather up and wash down with the SMB on board shower. No hot water but that is going to change. The kids took one too.
We took our time in the morning around Honeymoon and I did some fishing with my oldest.


Then we stopped and did a hike into Athabasca Falls. A serious falls that pictures do not give it justice as it was loud!




We went south down 97 to Waterfowl Campgrounds which was our favorite in many ways. We had privacy and it was on a big lake and stream. Also had several hikes right from the campground to high alpine lakes. We set up camp and went for a hike (about 5 miles round trip) to some alpine lakes to do some more fishing right from the campground


Almost there when we got turned back due to rain and us not bringing rain jackets. Almost cool enough for snow so didn't want to chance it with the kids getting soaked and cold.


Came back to camp and hobo pizza made over the fire.... everything tastes better when camping. Tried to fish the big lake next to the campground but to silty and a few bites. Instead watched the sun set over the mountains.






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Old 08-17-2010, 06:12 PM   #9
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Re: Seattle to Banff/Jasper/Waterton/Glacier NP

Wednesday August 11
We drove south to Lake Louise and ate breakfast at the Fairmont hotel all you can eat buffet which was good.

Then we headed South and did the Bow Valley parkway hoping to see some animals as it was still morning. All we saw was a lone coyote and lots of cars. In fact it started getting really crowded the closer we got to the town of Banff. We got to Banff and couldn't even find a parking spot as it was so crowded. Bummer.... so we got gas and decided to check out Kootenay National park. We went South down 93 and stopped at the mud pots. This was a really neat historical site where the Native Americans used to come to get the paint they used for their faces and horses. The soil is unique that is is all Ochre color due to high iron and mineral content. They used to even mine the area for the pigment to be used in paints until they turned it into a National Park.





We then stopped at Radium Hot Springs to take showers and do some swimming and fun time for the kids. We decided to continue on to Waterton which was 4 hours away or more. We hit the road and got to Waterton about 11:00 at night. Unfortunately every campsite was full! So we ended up camping on a pull out along a road in the National Park. It was a real let down to get close to the US and have problems finding camping. We had absolutely no problems prior to this with plenty of camping available. We did the stealth mode without the top up with the kids sleeping on the floor in front of the fridge area. Saw some spectacular shooting stars here that shot completely across the entire sky and sparks at the end almost like fireworks. Had our first Grizzly visit us in the middle of the night as it walked around the van several times and then left. Had the awning windows open so could hear it breathing and snorting. Glad we were in a hard sided van!
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Old 08-17-2010, 06:44 PM   #10
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Re: Seattle to Banff/Jasper/Waterton/Glacier NP

Thursday August 12

Woke up to a great view in Waterton. Had breakfast and decided to check out the Prince of Wales hotel.








Headed to the border at Glacier where they seriously interrogated us and searched our van due to the escaped felons?? We decided to stop in at Many Glacier in Glacier National Park to do some hiking. Got out of the vehicle and started up the trail only to run into a big male grizzly. Luckily he didn't consider us breakfast.




We then ran across another grizzly less than 1/2 mile down the road.


We decided to do another hike here even after a 2 bear morning around Grinnel lake. Was a gorgeous hike and well worth it but ran across a mother grizzly and her cub on the trail. No pictures of this as we got the hell out of there fast. I carried bear spray on me at all times. Glad to be back at the safety of the Sportsmobile!








After 4 grizzly bear run-ins in the same morning decided to move on and do the going to the sun road and up to Logan Pass. More like going to the rain road. Checked out the visitor center. Some guy had a heart attack there and died in the parking lot while we were there..... Also tons of road construction so we were stopped for 15 minutes or more at times. Heck of a place to be stuck in traffic.












All Glacier campgrounds were full!
The rest of our trip was a complete change as we stayed in a cabin and 3 days involved family time and we spent it at my brothers and sisters ranch they have near Glacier. I am not going to include those pics as it is private. We had some good parties, did some waterskiing, went river rafting twice (niece is working as rafting guide at Glacier this summer) and did fishing down the river. Had an excellent time and this trip holds many memories that we will have and the kids too.

Took us 11 hours to get home on Sunday and got home late. Lots of bugs but an excellent adventure.



Funny we kept a chart of how many times people asked me about the sportsmobile. It topped 24 times. Also a category was how many times we heard "cool" used in their description. Topped 40 times. I wish we had on video some of the expressions of people as we went by..... priceless. The Sportsmobile proved to be a very useful rig for exactly what we did as we took a lot of backroads around Glacier and needed the clearance.

Kid's favorite quotes they heard about the Sportsmobile;
"Look Mommy a Monster truck"
a wife to her husband in car next to us getting gas, "Now honey, that's an off-road vehicle!"
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