Rockin’ in the Rockies-Part 1: Getting to the Canadian Rockies

While nothing can compare with our epic trip “to Alaska and back in 80 days” last summer, we had been wanting to return to the Canadian Rockies, which we had not visited since 2008 (pre-motorhome). So this was the year for this multi-week trip.

Getting out of Southern California to anywhere else takes a while, and as always, we began by spending a night in our home campground, Valencia Travel Village. We traveled up Interstate 5 over four days, enjoying pleasant return visits to campgrounds in Lodi and Dunsmuir, CA. We especially like the Railroad Park Resort in Dunsmuir, where the motel rooms are cabooses, and the train theme runs throughout the park.

A train tour at Railroad Park
Cindy the train conductor

On the way to Dunsmuir, we enjoyed beautiful views of Mt Shasta, Black Butte, and Lake Shasta. Once again, the lake is full of water after a very wet winter and spring. We had great burgers at Yaks on the 5 just a few miles up the road, and even met the owner!

Mt. Shasta, especially beautiful this year with lots of snow
Yaks on the 5!

Next day, we drove through the gorgeous Siskiyou Mountains, with a few more views of Mt Shasta, into and through Oregon, landing outside of Salem for the night.

After that we passed through Portland with its beautiful Willamette and Columbia Rivers and into Washington. 

Campground in Salem
Crossing the Willamette River in Portland
And crossing the Columbia River into Washington State

On our way to the northern part of Washington State, we stopped for a short lunch with Cindy’s mom, brother, and sister-in-law.

Cindy's mom with brother Ron and sister-in-law Merrie

As we continued to head north, we decided that I-405 and I-5 in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area are just as bad as (if not worse than) the 405 and I-5 in Los Angeles. But we finally made it to a favorite campground—Oostema Farmstead—just a few miles from the Canadian border.

When you drive an RV, there are always challenges that arise. While in Washington, we realized that our thermostats, ceiling fans, A/C, and propane heater were all not working. A circuit breaker had popped, and nothing seemed to be able to restore it to power. Fortunately, we were in this location for 2 nights, and Hank spent all morning on the phone with repair people and the Winnebago tech guy. Though no one could service our rig for another week or two (!), Hank learned enough from the various mechanics to figure out the source of the problem (a wire that was rubbing against a piece of metal) and fix it with only one electrical shock (😊). Yay, Hank!

This was great news because we didn’t think we could handle life in the Canadian Rockies without heat nor driving through the desert on the way home without air conditioning.

It's so fun and peaceful to camp on this farm!
Fix-it-man Hank at work

We entered British Columbia, Canada, with no problems at the Sumas/Abbotsford border. We enjoyed a pretty drive past mountains and along rivers as we drove out of the Cascade Range and eventually into the Rockies. Our home for one night was a campsite in the North Thompson River Provincial Park, where we camped right on the river. After dinner, we hiked through the park, encountering spectacular views of the mountains we were soon to drive by.

Our last view of the Cascade Range
Entering the Canadian Rockies and a beautiful campground
A river view from our campsite
Our view of the North Thompson River and the Rockies from the campground trail

During our last day in B.C., we had a rainy, beautiful drive through the mountains, past Mt. Robson (which we couldn’t really see), past two black bears on the highway, and over the Continental Divide into Alberta, a new province for our motorhome (and a place we hadn’t been to since 2008).  Jasper National Park was our destination, and we were thrilled to arrive at Whistlers Campground to be greeted by several female elk, bear scat in our campsite, and friends Jacky and Howard, who had arrived the day before from Calgary.

A little view of Mt Robson
We know a grizzly was in the campground before we arrived, and here's some proof!
Howard removes the bear scat while Hank supervises!
The elk frequently enjoy snacking in the campground.
We made it to Jasper!
Enjoying pizza with Jacky and Howard

Since we were in Jasper to see bears, on our first evening we headed out with Howard and Jacky to go searching. We spotted several bighorn sheep enjoying dinner outside of town.

This was followed by a gorgeous rainbow over Medicine Lake, where a bald eagle nest and two parents greeted us.

A double rainbow over Medicine Lake--stunning!
Bald eagles are always a thrill to see!
And check out the size of that nest!

And then we found the bears—a grizzly mama and cub, a lone male grizzly, and a cinnamon-colored black bear. We were excited to see these bears as we drove around the park, and Howard and Jacky provided great commentary and insights, since they have come many times to Jasper primarily to find and photograph bears (more bear pictures will come in subsequent posts).

We think this is the grizzly that killed an elk calf in our campground. The rangers use paint guns to move the bears away from populated areas.
These claws are no joke!

This trip almost didn’t happen. Just a few days before our scheduled departure, we learned that Hank’s younger brother Mike had passed away after an almost-4-year battle with pancreatic cancer. When we learned that Mike’s Celebration of Life would be held a little later this summer, we decided to go ahead, dedicating the trip to Mike, who loved to ride his bike in the great outdoors (hopefully we’ll get on our bikes before too many more days have elapsed). We have spent many hours on the road reminiscing and telling stories about Mike from Hank’s childhood up to this year. We wish you were here, Mike!

Brenda and Mike

Thanks for reading. We love your comments as well! Until the next post…be well.

17 thoughts on “Rockin’ in the Rockies-Part 1: Getting to the Canadian Rockies”

  1. Hank so sorry to read you lost your younger brother, Mike. Condolences on his passing.

    Enjoy your adventures in the Rockies.
    Thanks so very much posting photos of you and your mom and your brother Ron and wife Merrie.

  2. Loved the photos. Probably my favorite place in the world–the Canadian Rockies.
    When I was young we rented an RV and camped on the Thompson River. Your site looks identical to the one we stayed at.
    So glad that Hank could fix the problem in the RV. What a gift!

    • I think this place is becoming my favorite too! Wait till you see the bear pics we got from Jasper. Internet data is hard to come by up here! I suppose that’s the way it should be.

  3. Glad you made it to Jasper safely! Have fun with your guides —J&H😄 They know of what they speak😂. My goodness … Hank & Mike sure look alike😍
    See you in Waterton soon!!

    • There was a time when Mike and I were older that some of my parent’s friends could not remember which of us was Mike or Hank. It was always fun being the oldest somehow. Be there soon!

  4. One of my favorited places in the world! the Canadian Rockies. I guess i am a little biased since I grew up just 4 hours west of them. But looks like you had a beautiful time. I have camped at Whistlers campground and enjoyed the elk roaming by as well.

    • Doug, the bears in Jasper are amazing! Sightings every day. Plus the added benefit of elk every day in the campground as you mentioned. The cats had wide eyes when they spotted those! We’re coming back here!!

  5. So sorry about Mike. Your trip honors him in a lovely way. And what beautiful photos! Thank you for taking us along with you if only in our imaginations! P.s Like Larry Thiel, I am so glad – and impressed – Hank was able to make the needed repairs!

    • Lynn, thank you. You would have enjoyed Mike’s company. So much fun. Like you, loved to party in a good way. And such a positive guy too. And he too could fix stuff!!!

  6. We will all miss Mike. Just this past Memorial Day, Chestertown, Maryland, held its annual Tea Party Festival. The weather was perfect and Mike would have loved every minute of the day. So glad your trip was dedicated to him. A friend of mine here in Chestertown remembers going on a Kent County bike ride with Mike. He is known from coast to coast!! God speed, Mike.
    Love, Phyllis

    • Thank you so much Phyllis. I think of him every day. Yes, Chestertown was his home away from home. He would have been there if he could. Love to you.

  7. So sorry about Mike’s passing, but grateful you could share the memories and continue in his honor. I love Alberta, my home province. The Rockies are spectacular!

    • Thanks, Mary. Mike was quite a guy and so much fun. We popped over to BC and canoed on Emerald Lake directly beneath Michael Peak. I’m reminded of him now wherever I think about canoeing that lake which I have done several times.

  8. I love reading about your adventures and seeing the gorgeous pictures. Glad you’re getting to see a lot of wildlife. I know how much you two love the ‘critters’. Growing up in Calgary, the Rockies were my ‘backyard’. Love them. Enjoy what I call ‘God’s country’. I am unashamedly very biased 😂.

    • All I can say is…we will be back. Already talking about next year at the same time. Bear pics from Jasper coming soon.

  9. Love your photos of the wild animals and the beautiful Canadian wilderness. Great ideas for campgrounds
    – especially the farm! Maybe we’ll try to make it to Jasper this year. Glad you were able to go despite Mike’s passing and talk about times with him…..but Alan Alda?


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