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Old 01-03-2008, 12:40 PM   #1
AmuleK OP
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Calgary to Grande Prairie - questions

Hey inmates, is anyone familiar with the roads from Calgary, CA to Grande Prairie via Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper and then up through Grande Cache? I heard the scenery is remarkable.

We are planning an Alaska trip, like everyone else, and I want to make sure that this leg of our journey has fine roads and gas within a reasonable distance. Is there any seasonal closures or other issues?

It is one thing to Google Earth and Mapquest, but someone's experience is worth much more. I have included a gpx file of this leg of our planned route.

Thanks in advance, AmuleK
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File Type: gpx Calgary to Grande Prairie.gpx (201.3 KB, 527 views)
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Old 01-03-2008, 06:35 PM   #2
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You might want to cross link this thread to the Great White North forum over in regionals.
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Old 01-07-2008, 09:48 AM   #3
Kieth
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I did this ride in 1998, went thru Yellowstone, Glacier National park, up to Banff, thru lake Louise, on to Jasper, then back down the Yellow Head trail into the US. Kind of depends on when you do the ride, we had snow in August between Banff and Jasper and were glad we had electric vests. The scenery is awesome, but the speed limits are low all thru the canadian parks........
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Old 03-19-2008, 01:29 PM   #4
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What kind of riding are you looking for?

I used to do that trip a lot, but I haven't done the full trip for a few years now. The roads are all good via the main highways. The maximum speed in the National Parks (about half the trip) is 90 km/h (56 mph), but most traffic travels about 110 (68). The Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A between Banff and Lake Louise) is my preferred route through that part of the Bow Valley. There is also the 1A from Calgary - via Cochrane - to Canmore, but you're not missing too much by taking the #1 (Trans-Canada) instead.

Like anywhere, there could be weather issues. The most serious being a thunder storm or hail. We have had snow, at some point, in all twelve months. Usually though, if you're going to get any snow in the summer, it will be a wet flurry and there won't be too much to worry about. I would be more concerned about critters, especially if riding after dark (not recommended).

As far as facilities, this too should be no problem depending on the mileage you get. Once you get past Banff, there's gas, lodging/camping and food at Castle Junction (just east of where Highway 93 to Radium, BC, meets Highway 1), Lake Louise, Saskatchewan Crossing (where Highway 93 to Jasper meets Highway 11 - open from late March through ~October?), Jasper, Hinton, Grande Cache, Grande Prairie, and a couple of other spots.

If you are looking for some gravel roads then you could take the Forestry Trunk Road (mostly Highway 40) which is, IMHO, a far more spectacular trip - mostly because it will be much less travelled, although you may have to dodge the odd logging or oilfield truck.

HTH
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Old 03-19-2008, 02:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CGH
What kind of riding are you looking for?

I used to do that trip a lot, but I haven't done the full trip for a few years now. The roads are all good via the main highways. The maximum speed in the National Parks (about half the trip) is 90 km/h (56 mph), but most traffic travels about 110 (68). The Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A between Banff and Lake Louise) is my preferred route through that part of the Bow Valley. There is also the 1A from Calgary - via Cochrane - to Canmore, but you're not missing too much by taking the #1 (Trans-Canada) instead.

Like anywhere, there could be weather issues. The most serious being a thunder storm or hail. We have had snow, at some point, in all twelve months. Usually though, if you're going to get any snow in the summer, it will be a wet flurry and there won't be too much to worry about. I would be more concerned about critters, especially if riding after dark (not recommended).

As far as facilities, this too should be no problem depending on the mileage you get. Once you get past Banff, there's gas, lodging/camping and food at Castle Junction (just east of where Highway 93 to Radium, BC, meets Highway 1), Lake Louise, Saskatchewan Crossing (where Highway 93 to Jasper meets Highway 11 - open from late March through ~October?), Jasper, Hinton, Grande Cache, Grande Prairie, and a couple of other spots.

If you are looking for some gravel roads then you could take the Forestry Trunk Road (mostly Highway 40) which is, IMHO, a far more spectacular trip - mostly because it will be much less travelled, although you may have to dodge the odd logging or oilfield truck.

HTH
We are looking for scenic byway type of riding, and we will avoid interstates (or whatever they may be called in Canada) Good fire roads will be fine, but honestly, we won't have the time needed to go that far off the beaten path. We've figured to make the trip in the time we have, we'll be averaging 400-500 miles per day.

That is good information. Man, thanks for taking the time.... AmuleK
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Old 03-23-2008, 10:42 AM   #6
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I passed through that area last July on my ride on the way back from riding the Dempster hwy. There are no issues finding fuel along the way if you get more than 250km (155 miles) on a tank. Fill up often and you should not have any problems. After 6PM it can become an issue as some places close up early. Even with the big 33liter tank on my GSA I still filled up every 300 or so km`s to force me to take a rest. I rode back down with a couple of guy on Harley’s and they had no problems with fuel even though they had considerable less range. They stopped every 160 to 200 miles for gas along the Alaska Hwy.

If you are planning on staying in Waston Lake in a motel then book in advance. I got into Watson Lake and got the last room on that night. Watson Lake was the only place that I had an issue finding a place to stay for the night. I suggest the Air Force Lodge in Watson Lake (867-536-2890), it clean and cheap.

The roads last year were in good shape but there were a number of sections under construction. I don`t think that there was anything that a rider with experience riding on dirt roads would have trouble with.


The scenery through Banff is spectacular but the traffic is crazy. Riding back south thought the park after having the roads to myself for days on end was a shocker. Lots of tourists in rental cars not paying attention to where they are going, you have to be extra carful.

When you are coming back down from Alaska take the Stewart Cassiar Hwy (Hwy 37).

If you have any questions let me know and I`ll try and help you out.
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Old 03-23-2008, 11:42 AM   #7
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The road from Highway 16 through Grande Cache is very nice. There is a sign on hwy 16 that calls it the "scenic route" to Alaska. You will see wildlife, logging trucks and oil field trucks. There are no shoulders, so use caution. My last trip I saw 2 Moose and 2 bear on the road. As big as moose are, you don't see em till the last second.

Your other choice (I'm doing it in July 08) is go west from Jasper and ride the Cassiar north.

On my trip I plan on returning via the Alcan and Grande Cache back to Edmonton
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Old 03-29-2008, 11:07 PM   #8
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Calgary to Grande Prairie

One road that most people don't take is the Spray Lakes road. Take the exit off the Trans Can 2mi east of Seebe to highway 40 south toward Kananaskis. Then exit to the west (right) and follow the road toward Spray Lakes Road. This route will take you into Canmore through spectacular scenery, lots of wildlife, and less traffic. I was last there in January 2008, windchill -75C...riding in a Jeep. Canmore can be a bit of a pain, given the crowds, but Banff is worse.
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Old 03-30-2008, 07:01 PM   #9
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Did this in 2006. Scenery is spectacular, roads are good. No shortage of fuel/food, but it's all more $$$ between Banff and Jasper. If you have time (like someone else stated above), try to catch Hwy 40 (Kananaskis) through Turner Valley. This will take you right on to Hwy 93 and through the Rockies.

As for getting to Alaska, via Yukon, the roads are in decent shape. The severe winters cause heaving - so there will be some road construction throughout the spring/summer. These can stretch from 3 meters to 10+ kms.
Most visitor centres (in Canada anyway) have free maps and up-to-date road conditions and construction areas.

Enjoy!!
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Old 03-08-2009, 08:51 PM   #10
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Thumb Trunk Road

If you do take the Forestry Trunk Road, (and I think you should at least one direction--mainly gravel!!) fuel may be an issue. Don't skip any fuel stations if you have short legs. I brought a jerry can running that road on my DR with standard tank and needed it. Since my IMS tank mod though I will be OK in that area.

Some stations in that neck of the woods may not be open when you need them to be. There is fuel at Hiwood Junction east of Longview (worth it going that way...Hiwood pass is I believe the highest driveable pass in Canada or NA), Castle Junction, Cochrane, sometimes at Mountian Vew Lodge. From there is nothing untill Nordegg. Past Nordegg there is not much either. Cadomine might have fuel but you should be able to make it to Hinton where there is. Beyond that i don't know as I have never been up that way by ground anyway.

Oh, and if you go that way, do stop off at Ram Falls and take the short walk to the falls. It is worth it and you will want to strech your legs then anyway....
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Old 03-28-2009, 08:26 PM   #11
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I Live in Grande Prairie, and although the ride is nice up to Grande Cache and the 180 km of nothing to GP, you can keep things more interesting by avoiding GP and heading west from Jasper to mount robson, then going west to prince george then up the pine pass (snow heaven in winter) to Chetwynd, and either head to Dawson creek from there, or even go north of Chetwynd to hudsons hope and east to Charlie lake, meeting up with the highway then. just a thought, Grande Prairie is not a great place, booming oilfield is making it super busy. although if you like the plains, the countryside is very nice.
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Old 01-01-2013, 02:49 PM   #12
dieselpete
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If you take the highwood pass, it takes you close to the Smith-Dorian trail (earlier mentioned Spray lakes trail), and you end up in Canmore. Do watch out for the tourists in rental cars... Lost the RZ350 to one of them distracted drivers, and six months off work.
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:29 PM   #13
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We did this exact same route this past summer on DR650's without any issues. Finding fuel wasn't an issue, paying for it in the park was another story. By far the most expensive fuel anywhere, including the Yukon and Alaska.
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