The snow is melting and a road trip summer approaches. For the book, I had a wonderful opportunity to experience an RV in the Rockies with my family. We’d never taken an RV trip before, but it was easy enough to rent one (and figure out how to empty the blackwater!) Why would anyone take an RV to the Rockies? Well since you’re asking:
1. The Views
The vistas in the Rocky Mountains, along the incredible Icefields Parkway and beyond, are simply extraordinary. The visual impact of these mountains rival the Himalayas, except the Rockies are a lot easier to get to. Lined by turquoise lakes and glacier-cut mountains, craning my neck from side to side to capture the view reminded me of watching a game of tennis. Rock flour cause glacier lakes to beam almost luminous shades of blue and green, like the jaw dropping Moraine Lake, or Peyto Lake, further up the highway. There’s a photo every which way you look, and having an RV gives you the ultimate freedom to enjoy it. With the RV’s high seating platform, bigger windows, comfortable seating, and ease of movement, the overall experience of nature at its finest cannot help but be enhanced.
2. Provincial Camp Grounds
Accessible, and easy to find, provincial campgrounds (like Whistlers outside Jasper or Tunnel Mountains in Banff) are more than just a place to park your RV, load up on electricity and water and dump the garbage. Each summer, these campgrounds become small communities of like-minded travellers, centred around their welcoming mobile homes and friendly fires. Well run, clean, and providing good facilities, campgrounds offer their own affordable charm as a place to spend the night, toasting marshmallows, and watching the stars.
3. Family Bonding
There’s nothing like an epic road trip to bring the family together, and nothing like having the extra space an RV affords to ensure everyone doesn’t go insane. Driving between roadside attractions like the stunning Athabasca Falls, Icefields Helicopters must-do heli adventures or Chinook River Rafting, an RV adds to the adventure and the relaxation too. Everyone has a duty – driving, navigating, cooking, cleaning, black water pumping (make sure that hose stays attached, trust me!) Whether you’re in the back room relaxing, plotting itineraries or feel the need to escape your brother’s bad music in the toilet cubicle, family bonding is easier when there’s more room to manoeuvre.
One of the country’s most beautiful, and most famous holiday destinations, Banff makes for a terrific RV stop in any season. For one, it’s got the mountain attractions, be it skiing and cross-country in winter, or rafting, biking, climbing and hiking in summer. Second, there’s plenty of good restaurants and bars, staffed almost exclusively by Australians, to provide a fun night out. There’s a wonderful gondola and hot spring, coffee shops and shopping, or you can choose to leave it all behind and head back to the RV parks for some peace and quiet.
A little smaller and less glitzy than Banff, Jasper is surrounded by the largest national park in the Rockies. Glaciers loom in its surrounding mountains, and there’s various options to enjoy them. Drive down the Icefields Parkway to the Columbia Icefields, where huge, customized 4×4 buses drive you right onto the ice flow. Or head up the Jasper Tramway, the highest and longest tramway in the country, for a view of the surrounding mountains and lakes. The Fairmount Jasper Park Lodge is rated as the number one golf resort in Canada, and playing hole to hole, it’s easy to see why. Leave the RV behind and get into a sidecar with Jasper Motorcycle Tours, who take roar passengers alongside flashy Harley Davidsons to sites such as the breathtaking Mount Edith Cavell. There’s also convenient RV parking located right in the Jasper township, which comes in handy when it’s time to park your 30ft beast.
There’s something to be said for driving around with your own personal bathroom. Even if there’s plenty of public toilets in campgrounds, and countless trees to provide, em, coverage from traffic, there’s a certain comfort having your own clean toilet for when nature calls. Of course, you also have to empty that comfort out every once in a while, but it’s not too difficult. Unless your name is Robin Esrock, in which case, urine trouble.
The dense forests that buttress the Rocky Mountains are protected parks, home to animals like elk, caribou, moose, mountain goats, and the more fierce grizzlies, black bear, wolverines, wolves and cougars. These national parks are not game reserves, like the flat plains would find on safari. Vast herds don’t often stroll within sight, although I did awake one morning to find a dozen elk grazing right outside my RV in Jasper’s Whistlers campground. With its windows and height, an RV is a machine for superior wildlife viewing, which is how I spotted this bear, chewing on some berries not far from the road near the Jasper Tramway.
8. Cheap Gas
Putting the words cheap and gas together these days is like putting the words “bloodsucking” and “daffodil” together. With a 30ft RV holding 280 litres, one fill up is the price of a domestic plane ticket. But if you’re going to fill up, you may as well enjoy Alberta’s oil prices, which can be considerably lower than other parts in the country. And hey, it’s not like that plane ticket includes an entire family, with their kitchen sink!
9. Home Cooking
Campfire cooking is fun, but more fun is having a campfire meal with a fully loaded kitchen at your disposal. RV kitchens are wonders in space management. Fridge, freezer, stove, convection oven, sink, cutlery – all located in a workable area no bigger than the changing room of a department store. Sure, you can BBQ, but with an RV, you can feast on the refrigerated leftovers for days to come.
One of the best things about having a pet is being able to hike with them in the wild, watching them run free (and probably scare off any unwelcome predators in the process). A car is cramped enough on a road trip, never mind what happens when you bring dogs like Tobi along. RV’s are pet friendly, with plenty space for the dogs and cats, so there’s no need to leave them behind on your Rocky Mountain adventure.
For more info about renting RV’s and other RV trips in Canada , visit www.gorving.ca