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Road trip from Seattle, WA to Ottawa, Ontario.

Seattle, Washington
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Road trip from Seattle, WA to Ottawa, Ontario.

Hi, my husband, our 7 year old daughter and I are planning a road trip from Seattle, Washington to Ottawa, Ontario this summer (leaving Seattle in mid July). Giving ourselves 11-12 days to drive there and see some cool sights.

Once we get to Ottawa we plan on visiting friends and then driving to Mont-Laurier, Montreal and Georgeville, Quebec to visit friends/family. We hope to spend approx. 11 days in this area before driving back to Seattle.

We plan on driving back to Seattle through the US. We want to come home quickly so our return will be longer driving days. However I welcome suggestions for good stops on our route back to Seattle that might be fun for a 7 year old.

My current thoughts are 12 travel days from Seattle - Ottawa (?). Around 11 days in the Ottawa and Quebec area visiting people then a quicker return home, maybe 6 days for return. All said that would be 29 days. We are flexible with time.

I have a few of questions:

1) Do I need to pre book accommodation for each night of our trip? (Seems like a daunting task for such a big trip as it's hard to predict how long we will be wanting to drive each day. I'm not sure that in the height of summer we can "wing it". We will want clean accommodations. I would appreciate tips and thoughts on this.)

2) What would you consider must stops along this route? (Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, Glacier National Park, Badlands and Drumheller museum. Maybe a hot spring somewhere? My favourite part of Canada is the BC/Alberta border which I think is the most beautiful. After those areas, we are ok driving across the prairies at a faster rate.)

3) Healthy quick food along the way? I like to eat clean real food, organic fruits and veggies and don't care for McDonald's or other types of fast food (which is what I typically see along highways) so I plan on loading up our plug in cooler with organic fruit and other healthy snacks. Will finding healthy food along our route be a challenge? I'd appreciate thoughts on this. I've read a few good posts already about the types of food that travels well for road trips but I recognize that I can't pack food for 3 meals a day and snacks for 12 days.

4) Other suggestions? We plan on having audio books for our daughter.

Thank you for taking the time to read this long post. I look forward to your suggestions.

Katherine

11 replies to this topic
Seattle, Washington
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1. Re: Road trip from Seattle, WA to Ottawa, Ontario.

Are you driving from Vancouver or Seattle? (Your profile says Vancouver.)

Some general thoughts...

I would not think advance booking is required in too many places EXCEPT anywhere near national parks in either Canada or the US, in particular Banff/Jasper and/or Glacier (or Yellowstone.)

Without knowing your driving style, six days from southern Quebec to Seattle or Vancouver is very aggressive, particularly with a child in the car. It's well over 3000mi / 5000km, so just on average you're talking 500mi / 800km+ per day, which can easily mean 10 hours or more in the car. In many cross country road trips I've found it difficult to average more than 50mph, counting stops for meals, fuel, mother nature etc., and - again, depending on your daughter - that might be hard to achieve too. So I'd be inclined to think about how you'd balance the east- and westbound legs; maybe some days in the east should be cut, or allot fewer days to the eastbound part and more coming back, etc.

As far as en-route stops and destinations are concerned, I, too am a big fan of the Canadian Rockies, but would also note that they can be time-consuming if your main aim is to scoot across the continent. While I haven't driven across Canada on the TC Highway I know people who have, and in general I'd say that the US interstate highways tend to be quicker, especially across the Prairies or Great Plains. Fuel is a lot cheaper, too.

If you wanted to shave a day or two off the eastbound trip, you might consider limiting yourselves to the southern Rockies and Kootenays in SE BC, which are very scenic but which don't constitute as big a detour off the (US) interstates as Banff or Jasper. For example, you could shoot across southern BC on BC 3 to Nelson, spend a day exploring that wonderful area, then scoot south to Spokane and pick up I-90 eastbound, or just continue on the Crowsnest Hwy into Alberta and connect to the TC Hwy there. By the way, there are nice hot springs all through the Kootenays.

I'm a huge fan of the Black Hills, but a note: the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally takes place between Aug. 3 and Aug.10 this year, and both that week and the weeks on either side are mayhem in the Black Hills, from Sturgis to Deadwood and Rapid City. Accommodation is EXTREMELY congested and there are crowds everywhere. Heaven if you're a Hog rider; tough if you're not.

Like I say, some random notes. Happy planning, sounds like a great trip!

Edited: 08 June 2018, 02:57
Penticton, Canada
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2. Re: Road trip from Seattle, WA to Ottawa, Ontario.

Same question. Your location says Vancouver and you want to start in Seattle? Curious what makes that a good idea?

Seattle, Washington
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3. Re: Road trip from Seattle, WA to Ottawa, Ontario.

Hi,

Yes, I agree, our return trip will need to be longer, that's way too much driving in a day. We are even thinking of flying home (my daughter and I) and having my husband drive home. We'll see how everything unfolds. We are flexible with time so can add some days to our return trip home. I know we will be tired and wanting to get back without much sight seeing.

Also I used to live in Vancouver but now live just outside Seattle, WA so I updated my profile. Thanks for pointing that out.

Thank you for your time!

Seattle, Washington
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4. Re: Road trip from Seattle, WA to Ottawa, Ontario.

I neglected to update my profile. I used to live in Vancouver, BC but have since moved. I live just outside Seattle, WA now.

Penticton, Canada
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5. Re: Road trip from Seattle, WA to Ottawa, Ontario.

hi

Banff and Jasper are pretty much booked solid for the summer so skipping those would be a good idea on short notice but taking Highway 3 across to Medicine Hat still gets you some Rocky mountains. Faster across the prairies is really not a good idea as the speed is the same across the Trans Canada.

Gas prices in Canada are running over $4.00 US a US Gallon which take account of exchange rate so staying on the US side is a good reason for a US Route.

Seattle, Washington
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6. Re: Road trip from Seattle, WA to Ottawa, Ontario.

Hi,

Thanks for your time.

I really want to travel through Canada on the way there, much more beautiful than the US side in my opinion. One of the main reasons we wanted to take this road trip is because I used to do something similar when I was a kid with my parents (travelling from Ottawa to Summerland, BC via Canada and then back to Ottawa via the US). My recollection is that the US is faster but not as scenic. That's why we want to take the longer more scenic route through Canada and do the faster, less scenic route through the States on the way back.

One of the main areas I want to see and show my husband and daughter in the Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise area. We haven't booked anything as we are trying to sort through the logistics now. Are you saying that we aren't likely to find any accommodation in those areas in late July? I was trying to research how far we should drive and what the points of interest would be along the way before trying to book any hotel / motels.

If all accommodation in those areas is booked solid, we might have to rethink our summer road trip which would be a big disappointment.

I realize that the speed limit is the same through the prairies but what I was trying to say was that we don't need to sightsee through the prairies...we plan on just driving through. From my memory, beautiful fields but not a much else.

Penticton, Canada
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7. Re: Road trip from Seattle, WA to Ottawa, Ontario.

hi

there is a Canadian Rockies forum https://www.tripadvisor.ca/ShowForum-g659487… with lots of people freaking out that they booked flights and can not find anything in Jasper. Planning Banff and Jasper really needs 8 months ahead much like Yellowstone.

so if you just want to drive through it to have a look this is one suggestion

Drive North to Clearwater or Valemont

Drive past Mt Robson to Jasper and try to find one night using https://www.jasper.travel/ or www.stayinjasper.com

then drive down the Icefields Parkway to get to Lake Louise and see if you can get up to the Lake - at busy times they run a shuttle from a parking lot near the highway then have supper in Banff. www.banfflakelouise.com to see if you can find a hotel if not try Canmore.

Then drive Canmore to Drumheller to visit the Royal Tyrelll Museum and either stay there or drive to Brooks.

The across the Prairies to Winnipeg then look for a US route unless you want to spend a few days driving through the Northern Ontario forest and see the goose in WaWa. You can then get to Ottawa along the northern route via North Bay.

There are lots of options for the US route after Winnipeg and some even avoid going down to Chicago as there is a ferry to get across Lake Michigan at Manitowoc WI to Ludington Michigan.

Tacoma, Washington
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8. Re: Road trip from Seattle, WA to Ottawa, Ontario.

You live. Close enough that you can wIt to do banff and jasper next year where you have time to book hotels.

You can still drive and do a pass through of the area.

I would try to balance the drives out to give time to stop each way.

Day 1-2 BC

Day 3 through banff ir jasper unto AB

Day 4-5 through SK and MB into western ON

Day 6-7 to Ottawa

Return

Day 1-2 to Niagara Falls through BH, VT and BY

Day 3-4 to Sioux Falls, so

Day 5-6 badlands, black hills

Day 7-8 return to Seattle

Seattle, Washington
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9. Re: Road trip from Seattle, WA to Ottawa, Ontario.

Hi cbaarch,

Thank you for your suggestions. I've decided after reading your post and others that we will skip the Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper part of our trip. Too congested, sounds like the area has changed a lot since my youth. The idea of taking a shuttle and trying to find a place to park by 8am doesn't rock my world. So we will plan on doing this Western Canada / Rockies trip another time, maybe off high season and look at booking accommodation several months in advance.

Now I've got to rethink our route a little, probably go through Osoyoos, Penticton, Kelowna then...not sure. Any thoughts on Revelstoke Park, Glacier Park or Yoho Park? Don't know much about them but saw them on the map and thought one of those might be an option on our way East.

Seattle, Washington
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10. Re: Road trip from Seattle, WA to Ottawa, Ontario.

Hi Dan P,

You are right, we do live close enough that we can do this another time with several months of pre planning / booking for accommodation...not my style but I guess if I want to go and it's that popular, you just have to do that.

We are looking to drive slowly and sightsee on our way East through Canada. I will probably look at adding another day or two to our return trip to make it less exhausting for us.

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