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Thread: Wanted: Advice for riding the Canadian Rockies

  1. #1
    Registered marching ant Antaeas's Avatar
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    Wanted: Advice for riding the Canadian Rockies

    Between September 5 and 19, I'm planning to ride from Wisconsin to the Canadian Rockies and back via Glacier National Park. Icefields Parkway and Going to the Sun Road, here I come! Advice would be welcome.
    Antaeas

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  2. #2
    Prefers to play martinph's Avatar
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    Be prepared for cold nights.
    Ice fields parkway is a beautiful ride. Check out Jasper at one end, Lake Louise and Banff the other.
    On the way try and ride Hwy 40 Longview to Kananaskis.
    I’m sure the Calgary crowd will chime in.
    Have fun.
    Last edited by martinPH; 08-18-2011 at 10:35 PM. Reason: spelling
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  3. #3
    Registered User dancogan's Avatar
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    One of the most beautiful roads I've ever traveled is the Beartooth Highway - from Red Lodge, MT to Cooke City, WY. If you can work that into your travels you won't be disappointed.
    Dan

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    24991 Pauls1150's Avatar
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    There is sometimes no gas along the Icefields - gas up at either end. It is an absolutely beautiful road; watch for flatlanders not paying attention to the road. If you have time to take the "bus" up Athabasca Glacier, that's fun; it'll be cold & windy up top. Routes 6, 3A, and 23 (all south of Revelstoke and east of Kelowna) are all lots of fun too. The ferries that cross the lakes are part of the road system, so they're free and run reasonably frequently.

    The KOA on the west side of Glacier Nat'l Park was steep and rocky; further west will get you flatter or reasonable motels. The KOA on the east side (north of the junction) can be windy but is otherwise excellent. I've gotten sick twice thanks to the tourist restaurant in Saint Mary.
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    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    Antaeas:

    That's right in our back yard. Suggest you come up from Glacier Park on Highway 89, then up the Cowboy Trail (Alberta 22) to Longview, then west to Highway 40 and north to Trans Canada Highway. Go west to the Icefields Parkway junction, and north to Jasper.

    Returning south, backtrack from Jasper to Saskatchewan River Crossing and head east to 22, and then work your way south.

    For more information, do an advanced search in Ride Reports under the following words: Kiowa, Longview, Icefields Parkway, Jasper, Browning. Here are a couple of other threads:

    http://www.bmwmoa.org/forum/showthre...au+lake+louise

    http://www.bmwmoa.org/forum/showthre...au+lake+louise

    Don't stop in Browning MT, just ride through it. As mentioned above, gas up before you hit the Icefields Parkway. Lake Louise is convenient, and have a drink in the Lakeview Lounge at Chateau Lake Louise, enjoying the dazzling view of Lake Louise and Victoria Glacier, before you head north.

    If you need BMW work while near Calgary, Dave Anderson of Anderwerks BMW, is our local genius. But pre-book, if you can.

    Have a great trip!
    Last edited by rinty; 08-20-2011 at 09:54 PM.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  6. #6
    Registered marching ant Antaeas's Avatar
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    Canadian Rockies tips

    Thanks everyone for your tips. I plan on riding the Icefields Parkway from north to South, so I'll invert some of those directions.

    I also plan to detour to Hillcrest, Alberta, where my grandfather worked in 1905 (see attached).

    I may not ride south of Helena. If I do, I'd be tempted to try that Beartooth Highway. Does it get snow in mid- September?
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    Last edited by antaeas; 08-21-2011 at 01:33 PM.
    Antaeas

    2005 R1200RT (Artie)

    "Can I move? I'm better when I move." - Sundance Kid (by Wm. Goldman)

  7. #7
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by antaeas View Post
    I may not ride west of Glacier. If I do, I'd be tepee dot try that Beartooth Highway. Does it get snow in mid- September?
    Beartooth is high enough that it gets snow whenever it feels like it. It is certainly possible that it'll snow in September. You should keep an eye on the weather before committing.
    David Brick
    Santa Cruz CA
    2007 R1200R

  8. #8
    Registered marching ant Antaeas's Avatar
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    My big sister's advice about Beartooth

    My sister wrote this to me today:

    [Beartooth Highway] is a spectacular set of switchbacks climbing up to high elevation, about 11,00 feet and doesnÔÇÖt offer much chance to look around at the scenery if youÔÇÖre the driver. TheyÔÇÖve added guardrails I hear and there are scenic pullouts, but it would call for some super extra caution in cold and wet conditions. And at 11,000 feet there can be snowfall at any time of year. The road generally closes for the winter in mid-October.

    Do not camp near Cooke City or anywhere in Yellowstone National Park (except maybe at Mammoth) in September. Not only will it be cold, but thatÔÇÖs when griz are seriously cruising around for pre-sleep food and most likely to encounter humans. Without a solid rig to store gear and food, youÔÇÖd be vulnerable to even a nuisance bear.

    The ride from Cooke City westward to the parkÔÇÖs north entrance at Gardiner is through the wildlife-rich Lamar Valley, which means that drivers are distracted and will frequently slow down (speed limit in the park is 40 mph anyway). Given that the 70 or so miles from Red Lodge to Cooke City will take almost 2 hours on dry roads, and that the Lamar Valley could take another two hours, youÔÇÖd spend about 5 hours in beautiful country on slow, winding roads to get from Red Lodge to Mammoth and then down to Gardiner. In bad weather, forget it and detour at lower elevations. If the weather is nice, take your time and expect to spend an entire day covering fewer than 200 miles. The sights are everything, the ÔÇ£rideÔÇØ just how you get there to see things.

    I would agree with the writer who says to skip Browning. ItÔÇÖs at the east entrance to Glacier NP and is mostly a bars, casino and down-on-their-luck Indian town. There is however a neat museum about the Plains Indians and an interesting (to us) ÔÇ£signatureÔÇØ of a treaty outside. ItÔÇÖs a big bronze thing... That could be worth a stop, but we were very unimpressed with the rest of the town, and it actually felt a little dangerous. No bar hopping in Browning, OK?

    Banff is fun and has a very nice system of campgrounds about 2 miles from town. You choose the section for ÔÇ£motor homes-with-full-hookups and generatorsÔÇØ, or ÔÇ£motorized-with-water-onlyÔÇØ, or ÔÇ£tents-with-firepitsÔÇØ (wood provided), or ÔÇ£tents-no-fireÔÇØ, and the tent sections have central buildings with sinks, flush toilets and pay showers. There is a $2 bus into town. About 10 years ago we spent $7 a night on lodging and $40 a night on dinner in town. ItÔÇÖs such a great set up for such a popular tourist destination.

    There is a bear-secure campground at Lake Louise, but not right at the lake. ItÔÇÖs down closer to the highway. You could spend 3-4 days poking around in Banff and Lake Louise, hiking and checking out the viewpoints. Buy a canister of bear spray if you want to hike alone, or hook up with other folks to make a group of 4-6.
    Antaeas

    2005 R1200RT (Artie)

    "Can I move? I'm better when I move." - Sundance Kid (by Wm. Goldman)

  9. #9
    MysticRed
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    Don't forget to ride in to Lake Moraine. Thought it was prettier than Louise myself.



    More info here.

    My picture.


  10. #10
    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    Does it snow in mid-September...antaeas
    Here's a mid September shot, up top:



    But it as Dave mentioned, it can snow anytime; just check before you go up; or ride to the snow level and do a U-turn.

    I may not ride west of Glacier. If I do...
    The Beartooth is way south east of Glacier, right on your route from Wisconsin, and you won't have to go further west. Just plan your route through Red Lodge, so you can ride the Absaroke Cut Off (78) to Columbus.
    Last edited by rinty; 08-21-2011 at 04:17 PM.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  11. #11
    Registered marching ant Antaeas's Avatar
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    Eastward ho!

    That for that compass correction, Rinty. I had mistakenly assumed that my sister's directions were taking me toward Idaho, where she lives.

    It's tempting to ride the Beartooth Highway on my way home, but I have to do all my leisurely touring in Canada on this trip. My itinerary includes a leg southeast from Glacier to Helena, where I'll stay with relatives before a 1,325-mile slab shot on the I-90 back to home and work.

    BTW, nice 911!
    Antaeas

    2005 R1200RT (Artie)

    "Can I move? I'm better when I move." - Sundance Kid (by Wm. Goldman)

  12. #12
    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    ...Glacier to Helena...
    Suggest 89 and 287 for that leg; it's fast, and scenic. There is a twisty piece between St. Mary and Kiowa, that's one of my favourite roads. But it won't "cost" you more than 30 minutes, or so.

    If you can, I would suggest you avoid Coutts for your border crossing; they can be miserable, and there can be long line ups.

    ...nice 911...
    Thank you; it's the perfect Beartooth vehicle: you have air conditioning for the bottom, and heat for the top. My wife and I did the three B's on that trip, Beartooth, Bighorns, and Black Hills.

    But I've had both my RS's down there, to the Beartooth Rendezvous:



    I'm in the jeans, which was a bad decision that day.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  13. #13
    Registered marching ant Antaeas's Avatar
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    I'm back!

    It was a great 12-day ride, in perfect weather. I saw great scenery, rode fun roads, and met wonderful people. Thanks, everyone who offered advice. Details at

    http://www.antaeas.org/Site/Canada_2011.html
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    Last edited by antaeas; 09-19-2011 at 03:28 AM.
    Antaeas

    2005 R1200RT (Artie)

    "Can I move? I'm better when I move." - Sundance Kid (by Wm. Goldman)

  14. #14
    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    Interesting report, Antaeas, and good that everything worked out for you, especially the wallet return! The Columbia Icefield picture is outstanding.

    We just drove Marias Pass (#2) and the Going To The Sun yesterday, in the P-car, as the GTTS closes tonight. It was pretty busy.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

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