Thursday, March 6, 2014

Rocky Mountain Winter Road Trips

Every other weekend for the past month and a half, we've packed our bags, and hit Highway 1 heading West. With the beautiful Canadian Rocky Mountains ahead of us, and a case or two of beer in the trunk for consumption upon arrival, it really doesn't get any better than that!

Or does it?

The sun set's early in mountain winter. Straight and wide highway 1 begins twisting and turning through mountain valleys before you know it. And you just don't know driving in the dark until you see the way those rocky slopes eat up all the light. Add in gusting winds strong enough to slide your car all over the lanes, road covering snow squalls and icing conditions, and you've got yourself some serious white knuckle winter driving.

Which all would still be manageable, if it weren't for the fact that half of Calgary is out on the highway with you.

If's it's all that bad why is it that all us Calgarians rush out to the mountains weekend after weekend? Because it's so so worth it!

This is Revelstoke, only 4 and a half hours down the highway.

This is Lake Louise, only 2 hours from your doorstep.

Don't feel like going quite so far? This is Banff, a mere hour 15.

Clearly worth battling winter driving conditions!

So here's 10 tips for taking to the highway in Rocky Mountain Winter!

  1. Hit the road early! If ever there's a time to slip out of work and hour or two early on Friday, winter is it! Trust me, after 5 o'clock things are getting dark real quick (if it isn't dark already).
  2. Make sure your car is gassed up, packed up and everyone is ready to go! Do all this Thursday night. It's surprising how much time last minute running around on Friday after work can cost you!
  3. Winter tires, winter tires, winter tires! Trust me, there is a difference between winters and all seasons.
  4. If you don't have a car, or like me, you drive a perfectly suitable little city Civic... you might want to consider renting a reliable 4WD. Especially if you're heading off the main highway! You can get some really good weekend rental deals and it'll be worth the money to stay on the road and not get stuck!
  5. Pack some just in cases! Even tho I like to drive in smaller shoes, you know my sorrels boots are in the back seat. Always keep a blanket, mittens and hat, some food and water in your car for longer winter road trips. Should you get stuck/go off the road, you may be waiting a loooong time for your tow!
  6. Don't wait until you hit the terrible conditions before you slow down. As soon as it starts getting dicey, slow it down. I can't tell you how many times I've slowed down as soon as it gets a bit snowy, been passed by someone, and then seen them waiting by their car in the ditch a kilometer or two up the road.
  7. If it's really bad, throw on your four ways, on a dark snowy highway you want to do everything you can to make sure people can see you!
  8. Throw on your GPS, even if you know the way, it's easy to miss the signs for your exit when the weather gets bad!
  9. Swap drivers or take a break if you get tired.
  10. Make sure you have an incredible time when you get there to make it worth it!
 So those are tips for safe winter travels. Transport Canada offers their own list of 10 here.

Where are you headed this weekend? Have lots of fun, and safe travels!

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