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A Winter Drive Across the Canadian Rockies – Photos & Tips

A few days ago John and I did yet another drive across the Canadian Rockies – though this time in the dead of winter.

Luck was on our side – and it really needs to be to get over Coquihalla Pass and Rogers Pass safely. In snowy or blowy conditions the white knuckle death grip on the steering wheel for hours on end gets old in a hurry.

Images – mostly shot from a moving car – of the Canadian Rockies in all their winter glory plus a few on the way to Revelstoke will give you a sense of how magnificent this drive can be under the right conditions.

"Sparkling fields near Salmon Arm"

Sparkling fields near Kamloops

"Scenery near Salmon Arm"

Scenery near Salmon Arm

"Craigellachie - the location of the Last Spike on the Canadian Pacific Railroad"

Craigellachie – the location of the Last Spike on the Canadian Pacific Railroad

"Views past Revelstoke - heading east"

Views past Revelstoke – heading east

"Gorgeous mountain scenery"

Gorgeous mountain scenery

"Huge avalanche chutes"

Huge avalanche chutes

"Rogers Pass area - check out the size of the snowbanks"

Rogers Pass area – check out the size of the snowbanks

"Rogers Pass area in the fall"

Rogers Pass area in the fall

"Rogers Pass area"

Washroom anyone?

"Icicles on a grand scale"

Icicles on a grand scale

"Inspiring mountain scenery"

Inspiring mountain scenery

"Mountains just west of Golden"

Mountains just west of Golden

"Kicking Horse Ski Resort"

Kicking Horse Ski Resort

"Interesting rock cut - east of Golden"

Interesting rock cut – east of Golden

"Sun setting east of Golden"

Sun setting east of Golden

"More big mountain scenery - heading towards Field"

More big mountain scenery – heading towards Field

"Banff area scenery"

Banff area scenery

"Scenery east of Banff'

Scenery east of Banff

"The road into Calgary"

The road into Calgary

Winter Driving Tips across the Rockies

It pays to be prepared on a drive across the Rockies. It took us nine hours under excellent conditions to drive from Vancouver to Banff – with one 15 minute stop and two short gas breaks. Under bad conditions you could easily add another 3-6 hours, especially if the road gets closed for avalanche blasting near Rogers Pass – which it often does – for an hour or two at a time.

I would recommend packing the following for a winter drive.

  • blankets or sleeping bags
  • shovel
  • water
  • food
  • candles and matches
  • cell phone and charger for the car
  • warm clothes and winter boots
  • extra windshield washer fluid; every third vehicle for at least half of the drive was a transport truck throwing off a lot of dirt
  • jumper cables
  • a spare tire that’s been recently checked

There are long stretches with no facilities – gas, food or lodging. If the visibility heads to zero, get off the highway and spend the night in a hotel. You can find accommodation in Merritt, Kamloops, Salmon Arm, Revelstoke, Glacier Lodge at the top of Rogers Pass, Golden, Field, Lake Louise and Banff.

Although the weather forecast isn’t always right, it would pay to check it before heading out. It’s worth waiting a day if a big storm is forecast.

Does anyone have any other winter driving tips?

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
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Author Leigh

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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