Author Topic: Great Parks Questions  (Read 2012 times)

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Offline PeteJack

Great Parks Questions
« on: November 27, 2011, 06:45:37 pm »
I want to ride the ACA Great Parks route from Jasper to Whitefish MT next year and I have some questions

a) what's the earliest I can start and have a hope of all the roads being passable

b) is it possible to do this route without camping? if so should I be booking places now?

c) I plan on catching the train from Vancouver to Jasper. Any known problems with that?

Thanks for any input

Offline jamawani

Re: Great Parks Questions
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2011, 11:01:18 pm »
A) The Icefields Parkway is open year-round - but there are often winter closures.
My best guesstimate is May 15th for the earliest departure.
Bear in mind that the limiting factor may well be lodging opening dates.

B) It is possible to do the route without camping.
The are fabulous hostels the lenght of the Canadian Parks -
but they are partially closed in winter/spring and may have full closures.
Check Hosteling Alberta's website.  Many are primitive - but wonderful.
Lodges midway along the parkway will not be open in the off seasons.

C) Remember, VIA Rail is struggling.
The train to Jasper only runs three days per week.
Make sure to check the specific date for availability.
The Jasper train station is very bike friendly.  Bike shops nearby.
Also - the hostel for Jasper is way out of town.
Many town residents offer inexpensive home lodging.
Check with the Parks Visitor Centre.

D) From Whitefish - you can take Amtrak back to Seattle/Vancouver.

Offline 2bikegirl

Re: Great Parks Questions
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2012, 02:40:43 pm »
And last year, The Going to the Sun Highway in Glacier had it's latest opening ever--July 13.  There is a work around along the southern edge of the park.

Offline 2bikegirl

Re: Great Parks Questions
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2012, 02:45:58 pm »
We are looking at doing the same trip in early summer.  Here are a couple of questions I have: 

1) The "quiet 21-mile alternative between Elko and Fernie":  Does any one know if this is doable on 28c width tires?  Is the gravel compacted or deep and loose?

2) Wait, I only have one question!  The last post covered all the rest.  Thank you for the excellent information!

Donna

Offline CyclesafeSr

Re: Great Parks Questions
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2012, 12:31:31 pm »
In summer 2009 the gravel road on the east side of the Elk River between Elko and Fernie was of good quality easily doable on 28c tires with a confident rider who is generally comfortable on hard-packed gravel.  There are few, if any, steep parts on that road, which incidentally, is a welcome respite from the traffic on Hwy 3.

As mentioned, your starting date will be dictated by when Logan Pass is scheduled to open.

In summer, Waterton and Glacier NP are crowded.  Your best bet is to pick an itinerary that ensures that the pass will be  open and book accommodations along the route now.  Otherwise, you may find that camping (which is well-appointed enroute) is the only alternative.     

Offline indyfabz

Re: Great Parks Questions
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2012, 12:50:26 pm »
We are looking at doing the same trip in early summer.  Here are a couple of questions I have: 

1) The "quiet 21-mile alternative between Elko and Fernie":  Does any one know if this is doable on 28c width tires?  Is the gravel compacted or deep and loose?

This will only be of limited help since we stuck to the highway, but in '09 a woman working at the store in Elko suggested what I think you are talking about--the unpaved road across the river from PR3--as an alternative.  FWIF, we were there mid-June. While there was some traffic on PR3, it wasn't that bad. No problem getting through the tunnel. It's very short, and there were long periods without any traffic. There is a bike shop in Fernie. Maybe you could give them a call for some intel.

Our trip was a loop out of Whitefish. We went up to Eureka and then to Elko, Fernie, Sparwood and Waterton Village before crossing back into the U.S. at Chief Mountain. GTS was still closed when we got to St. Mary, so we had to go around via U.S. 89, Looking Glass and Marias Pass. We then went into the park so we could at least ride up and back down the west side of GTS.  If you have any questions about the segment send me a PM.

The photos from the "Store" on are from Elko to the park:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2007/sets/72157620763740044/

Offline indyfabz

Re: Great Parks Questions
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2012, 12:56:16 pm »
Looks like someone has first hand experience.

+1 on booking early in the parks if you are not camping. There are limited indoor options. I remember only two in Waterton Village--the Prince of Wales Hotel and a smaller place right in town.

Offline 2bikegirl

Re: Great Parks Questions
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2012, 04:09:36 pm »
Thanks so much for the excellent information!  This board and its members are a terrific resource!