Northern Rockies/Alberta Calgary Area 2018/19

Discussion in 'General Resort Discussion' started by Mike Rogers, Nov 21, 2018.

  1. Stacks

    Stacks Stacks Skier

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    Quick question about cars? I've hired a VW Passat for our trip in Banff late March thinking it was AWD but it's not. Should I upgrade to 4WD or will the VW be fine? Shouldn't be an issue if it has decent tyres and they throw in chains I suppose but would prefer not to be putting chains on and off. What will the road conditions be like, appreciating that anything can happen and I will be checking the weather systems carefully.
     
  2. dovski

    dovski Getting on the lift Skier

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    Alberta is truck and SUV country, but as long as you are sticking to the main roads you should be fine … you will look like a tourist, but will be fine ;)
    Personally I am renting a massive Yukon XLT, but that is driven by the need to accommodate 5-6 pairs of skis, all our luggage and my family of 5. The nice thing about Alberta is whatever you rent given the climate you will likely have snow tires which makes a huge difference
     
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  3. Thread Starter
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    Mike Rogers

    Mike Rogers Getting off the lift Skier

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    You are supposed to have winter tires to drive on BC highways. The law states October 1- April 30.

    https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/...on/seasonal/winter-driving/about-winter-tires


    You will also need them to travel on the icefileds parkway between november 1 and march 31 (outside of your dates).

    https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/banff/activ/conduite-driving

    Recommended, though not likely a law, to use on ski resort access roads.

    They don't check though, and it won't likely be an issue unless you are off the road.

    I don't think winter tires are standard on Calgary rentals, but they can be requested. The standard all seasons will probably meet the BC requirements though.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/want-winter-tires-on-your-rental-car-good-luck-1.3951378



    I drive about 80,000km a year. I am in a small SUV with AWD now, but I didn't have many issues with my old honda civic w/winters....just as long as the roads were plowed enough for clearance.

    When skiing Lake Louise or Sunshine, you can easily take the shuttle from Banff to the ski hill if the roads are look dicey.
     
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  4. blah

    blah Getting on the lift Skier

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    Brings back memories... This past Thanksgiving, my flight arrived into YYC late (almost 1am), and Budget was kind enough to free upgrade me to a Caddiac 'Sclade, since that's all they had left. Blacked out windows and chrome dubs; all that was missing were some spinners for the rap mogul look, as I rolled into Sunshine and Louise. It was 4WD, so there was that going for it.

    As @Mike Rogers has already mentioned, winter tires are definitely NOT standard on rentals from the airport. If you're sticking around Banff and Lake Louise, I've found you can get away with 2WD. If you're looking to drive over Rogers Pass to Revy, then it may be time to reconsider upgrading.
     
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  5. raytseng

    raytseng Out on the slopes Skier

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    The rental car company will likely have a snowtires option, but it will be a large upcharge. i don't think you will need chains or heavy snow setup to go from airport to Banff though.
    Unless the weather shows it to be bad+ you plan to do long early drives into the far awasy resorts, you should be fine with just the AWD vehicle.

    If it is THAT bad that you feel you need snowtires; maybe scrap the plans to drive yourself, and instead hire the shuttle service and just base yourself in banff.

    Def just take the ski shuttles if you are unsure. Also, it appears to be customary to bootup in lodge, so just bring your bootbag and bootup in lodge.
    +1 on Whitebark, they use real chocolate shavings to prepare their hot chocolates and mochas, that is not just syrupy sweet, def. give whitebark a visit.

    You will need to get the parks pass though; they check the vehicles in the parking lots; but from what I saw, the "tickets" they write are just warnings that can be rectified by buying the park pass without any additional fine.
     
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  6. dovski

    dovski Getting on the lift Skier

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    Just an FYI Shuttle to Banff from Calgary airport gets pretty pricy. I have found you can get rental car deals at the Calgary airport through Costco travel. My 9 day rental of a premium SUV (Yukon XLT) worked out to $648 Canadian with tax. In other words if you shop around you can find a great deal on an SUV with AWD. Once in Banff there is a great shuttle system to get you to the ski hills from most hotels. Some hotels also offer private shuttle, so while have a car is definitely useful it is not an absolute necessity.

    I lived in Alberta for 25+ years and never once owned or used tire chains. Only bought chains when I moved to Seattle. They have a ton of infrastructure for clearing the roads and you can almost guarantee that the roads from the Airport to Banff and Lake Louise will be fine. If it snows so much that they cannot clear the roads, your bigger risk is that they will close them, but this really only applies to the mountain passes.
     
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  7. ADKmel

    ADKmel Turning Skier

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    I rented from Alamo. I got a mid size SUV (Hundai Tucson) for 436$ for 8days It is AWD. (I reserved thru SW a long time ago)
    Yes You HAVE To have AWD on Banff the highway. My rental is a new car so tires are good.

    Also!!! I used my AM EX Card= it will cover car damage- They use ROCKS not sand/salt! Walking thru the Sunshine parking lot I saw SO many windshields w/rock strike
    Cracks!!

    Also you need to buy a Park Pass. Our VRBO has one for us to use but I forgot to put on my windshield at Sunshine- I got a ticket along w/tons of other cars in the Sunshine parking lot! I stopped today at the 'welcome buy a pass booth"- showed my pass and my ticket was cleared.

    Like Mike said If you are Staying in Banff, there are shuttle buses to the Mt's you could take and leave your car in town if you are worried.

    Lake Louise has Boot up area w/Free shelves on the 2nd Floor, Lockers 10$ (Canadian on the ground floor)
    Sunshine Upstairs in the building next to the gondola is changing, bathrooms and room w/free shelves to put boot bags
    there is a small locker room via the gondola at the sunshine village-you can't see the mt or the 'village from the base" village only accessible from the gondola!
    Norquay has free racks too. Going to Norquay tomorrow :)
     
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  8. Stacks

    Stacks Stacks Skier

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    Thanks for loads of great information. I'm relatively confident and comfortable in driving in winter conditions and if you know NZ mountain roads you will know that they can present their own set of serious challenges. I'll be following the weather patterns carefully.
     
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  9. dovski

    dovski Getting on the lift Skier

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    I have to take issue with the requirement for AWD on the Banff highway. Having grown up in Alberta I can tell you they do a very good job clearing the highways so that AWD and chains are not necessary especially between Calgary and Banff. Side roads and back roads are another story. I would also say the AWD is not that useful if you do not know how to drive in snow. Cannot tell you how many folks I have seen people gun it in their AWD vehicle only to have their tires spin and slide:roflmao::roflmao::roflmao:
     
  10. ADKmel

    ADKmel Turning Skier

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  11. ADKmel

    ADKmel Turning Skier

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    When the police turn you back for no AWD/4WD then what?
     
  12. dovski

    dovski Getting on the lift Skier

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    I was born and raised in Edmonton and lived there for 25 year, we use to drive up to Jasper and Banff all the time and never saw that happen once once. You have to remember that the highway from Edmonton or Calgary to Jasper or Banff is not a mountain pass. Also in Alberta in winter there is snow everywhere so they plow the Trans Canada highway and city streets like crazy, also everyone has snow tires so not really an issue. Now if you are talking mountain passes or secondary roads that is a different story, but typically what we would see is if the conditions were that bad they would close the highway until they could clear it and re-open it.
     
  13. Thread Starter
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    Mike Rogers

    Mike Rogers Getting off the lift Skier

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    I haven't seen this happen either. Apart from a handful of roads, notably the icefields parkway, Alberta does not have mandatory winter tires or awd. Instead, the RCMP will just issue a statement saying that travel is not recommended, but they won't likely to spot checks....at least not for tires or 4wd...alcohol, for sure.

    I don't share @dovski 's optimism about the road conditions though.

    While highway 1 is often well maintained, travel can be pretty rough at times, especially early mornings. Plows are not always able to keep up with the volume of snow on a big blizzard, and accidents between calgary and banff, and banff and lake louise are not uncommon.

    Although you might find it is unnecessary, it is wise to be choose a vehicle that can handle a snow event...so long as it fits in your budget. We all want it to snow anyway, right? :)

    A car equipped with AWD and/or winter tires can make things easier in the resort's lots and access roads. Without decent traction, it can be tough to get going again after stopping on a slick hill due to bumper to bumper traffic.

    I drive 100km on Alberta's busiest highway every weekday morning to work, then 100km home. I spend every weekend day in the mountains. From September to May there are always a few challenging days on the road. Fortunately, most are okay.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2019
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  14. Thread Starter
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    Mike Rogers

    Mike Rogers Getting off the lift Skier

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  15. Decreed_It

    Decreed_It I'd rather be skiing Skier

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    Great info so far - for our trip it's Calgary through Banff (assuming we go through Banff?) to Kicking Horse for 2 nights, then down to Fernie - then back to Calgary. We rented suburbans, hopefully with decent all weather tires. Any worries for that route? I hope it snows like a best between now and then but not looking too promising long term. This is last weekend of March. Not on facebook so appreciate input here.
     
  16. Thread Starter
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    Mike Rogers

    Mike Rogers Getting off the lift Skier

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    Nothing really to worry about. Kicking Horse pass between Lake Louise and Field can get a bit of snow, and the drop down into the Kicking Horse Canyon, right before golden is pretty winding, but most days the roads will be fine. Gas tends to be more expensive in BC than Alberta due to a higher carbon tax and provincial sales tax. It is especially high in Golden...Fernie tends to be more reasonable, so fill up in Alberta if you can.


    On the way home, Crowsnest Pass is a fairly low pass. Most people don't notice it. Highway 22, north towards Calgary can have extreme wind. There is a sign before the turnoff warning you of the windspeed though. The cross road between Highway 22 and Nanton on Highway 2 is not maintained during a storm, but is usually okay a day or two after.

    I'm off to Castle (worthwhile if you have the time) on Saturday morning and will ski Fernie Sunday and Monday. I'll let you know how the snow is holding up. I have found the long term forecasts to be pretty unreliable so far this year. The big storms really sneak up on us...so lots of hope!


    I know the mountains around here, and could meet up for a few runs on a weekend day if our schedules align. I don't really ski Sunshine often anymore, but Kicking Horse and Fernie for sure, and Louise sometimes as well. Those three are on my pass.
     
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  17. Decreed_It

    Decreed_It I'd rather be skiing Skier

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    @Mike Rogers sounds great! For our Banff area trip next weekend - Th-F-Sa we did a 3-day guided thing - not sure about tag along, or if it goes all day, so we'll for sure be at LL Th the 14th, beyond that, no idea! Kicking Horse I think that group hired a guide as well as none of us have ever been there, those dates are Th-F 28-29th. I'll be in touch with # closer to go time.
     
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  18. ADKmel

    ADKmel Turning Skier

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    Living in the NE literally on a snowmobile trail I guess I would always choose to be safe than sorry in snow country. Due to all my NE Ice I even put studded tires on my Subaru this year.

    Back to out here in Alberta. I was glad to have AWD as we did go on secondary roads that were pretty crappy.

    Yes the Trans Canadian is well maintained but we did see signs flashing as we drove North- AWD/4W mandatory. (I guess you can ignore but why?)

    I use https://511.alberta.ca/ It Tells REAL Time road conditions.

    Everywhere I travel I google "511 Road conditions" to get Real Time conditions, even cameras! .

    Today was GREAT as Sunshine, Snow showers all day, piled up nicely, temps finally comfortable (20'sF)
    Figures, I'm headed home but will most definitely be back.
     
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  19. ADKmel

    ADKmel Turning Skier

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    BTW-- the Banff Park Pass,

    At Sunshine the other day anyone without one visible got a ticket including us. LOTS Of people without them. We did have one but forgot to put on dash/mirror- oops
    I stopped at the "welcome buy a pass" just outside Canmore to show my pass and get my license plate cleared.

    When I rented the car they said my credit card would be charged for tolls (there were none)
    I wonder if they would have charged the $20/day park fee if I hadn't stopped to show and clear my car?
     
  20. Thread Starter
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    Mike Rogers

    Mike Rogers Getting off the lift Skier

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