Alaska RV Road Trip Finale – BC Canada & Crossing The Border
It’s around 1000 miles from Stewart to Vancouver, BC and there may be 1000 things worth exploring within this route but, for us the circumstances aren’t right. What I mean by that is we’re on a deadline to get back to the lower 48 for a job (because sadly we’re not rich or retired) and it’s late in the season which means everything is closing for winter.
One big takeaway that life on the road has taught us is: it’s impossible to hit every attraction, especially in the height of its season. Which means we’re always having to pick and choose what we want to see and do this season and save the rest for a future trip. For us, this particular stretch of pavement will have to be properly explored another time.
However, this doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the journey! While we may not have fully explored this stretch of land, we still managed to find a few adventures (and bears) along the way.
Whew…that was a lot of miles covered in one video! Just in case you missed it, here are some of our stand out highlights from the route:
Twin Falls and Smithers
Smithers is a quaint little mountain town with a surprisingly wonderful café called Two Sisters that I recommend checking out, but the big attraction for us here is Twin Falls. There are a few lovely and free (yes free) dry camping sites at the trailhead and a pleasantly easy trail that leads to the spectacular falls.
108 Heritage Site
This was a neat historical area that we don’t know a lot about (other than its an old road house site from the gold rush days) because sadly we passed by too late in the day to take a tour. Even still it was a fun little walkabout and we liked peeking in the windows. It’s right along highway 97 around…you’ll never guess…mile 108. 🙂
Hells Gate was a major disappointment for us. We expected something much grander (especially with all the advertising they do) but it seemed like nothing more than a tourist trap. Especially this time of year when the water flow was not exciting and a lot of their shops and restaurants were closed…yet the price of admission was still the full rate. Didn’t make any sense to us. Sure trams are neat but this one is super short and from the looks of it, it’s nothing compared to the Jasper Sky Tram we took on the way north to Alaska. Luckily just 10km past Hells Gate we found an unexpected trail and bridge that turned out to be a fantastic view (we’d be willing to bet just as good if not better than Hells Gate). Oh, and the price of admission couldn’t be beat (its free)! Look for a tiny provincial park called Alexandra Bridge. It has a day use area and there’s parking on both sides of the highway.
We’ve visited this little town in the past (our friends the RV Geeks live near here) and we have always liked this area of BC. It’s dotted with charming small towns (like Harrison Hot Springs and Abbotsford), scenic views, lush forests, loads of farm land and mountains in every direction. This charming dot on the map is mostly known for its quirky wood carvings throughout town and as a filming location of Rambo (and they literally rolled out the red carpet for us).
Vancouver has long been one of our favorite big cites. It has so many draws I don’t even know where to begin and if I got started it would require its own blog post, or two, or three. Rather than ramble on I will just say this; visit and take the time to get lost here more than once. This city is beautiful by day and stunning by night. We typically start our trips off with a buzz at 49th Parallel coffee shop and then go from there.
In all our visits to Vancouver over the years we’ve never been to Vancouver Island. So, this time we decided to change that. We found a campground near the ferry (it wasn’t glamours), left the RV and hopped on the boat for an overnight walkabout. We didn’t even begin to scratch the surface of this island but we got enough of a taste to know it deserves a nice long visit. Victoria has the big city feel, great food, interesting neighborhoods and a unique water based life. Now this is a place we could really dive into!
Crossing the Border into the USA
Border crossings are not that big of a deal but we always get a tad antsy when we’re crossing with our entire house. With all our years of travel and border crossings you’d think we would’ve learned to clear everything fresh out before crossing. No fresh anything…no produce, no meats, no plants, no nothing. Instead we always seem to absentmindedly decide to go grocery shopping. What is wrong with us?!
Many agriculture products are prohibited because they may carry plant pests and foreign animal diseases. At this particular moment I swear everything was a no go. We had to toss out so much food! And even more frustrating as they are throwing our organic avocados into the trash bag as we watch I ask “what if we made guacamole?” Their response “That would have been fine, its the seed you can’t bring into the USA!” Talk about a knife to the heart!
To avoid this, the border agent suggested calling in the day before you plan to cross the border and asking What is currently not allowed back into the US. It all changes so often the government doesn’t keep the info on the web up to date. Call this APHIS Customer Service Call Center: 1-844-820-2234 If you have never crossed a USA border, and you’re not sure what to expect, you can find a majority of the basic Agricultural Border Crossing information on this USDA Customs Website.
Can you believe its over!?! It was one epic summer and one of our all time favorite road trips. We know we’ll make it back again someday, and we know lots of you are headed that way in the future. If you have any tips, favorite stops or Alaska/Canada road trip stories to share…we want to hear them! Tell us in the comments below.
Fuel Prices – Fuel is least expensive in the USA so we crossed with as little fuel as possible. In BC the fuel was least expensive in Prince George & Abbotsford (and both have a Costco with the absolute cheapest fuel).
Road Conditions – Because it’s the end of the season they’ve had all summer to work on the roads. We didn’t hit much construction and we didn’t hit any rough/dirt roads, seemed like everything was in great condition.
Weather – Winter is slowly beginning to settle in and rain has become more common than we’d like. Highs were around 60°F and lows dipped around 30°F.
Dates Visited – September 8 – September 20