Easy Riding: The Ultimate Motorcycle Tours

Montana and Canada
  |  Gorp.com

For spectacular high alpine scenery, Canada's Rockies rival anything you'll find in the European Alps. A good place to start your Canadian odyssey is just south of the border, in Kalispell, Montana. From there, head east through Glacier National Park, operated jointly by the U.S. and Canada. The route through the park on the famed Going-to-the-Sun Road is extraordinary. Hugging sheer granite walls, you climb to Logan Pass at 6,646 feet, with waterfalls and scenic overlooks every few hundred yards.

Once out of Glacier Park, head north on US 89 to Canada. On the far side of the border, be sure to visit Waterton Lakes Park and the Prince of Wales Hotel. Heading west on Highway 3 takes you across the Continental Divide into British Columbia. At Cranbrook, pick up Highway 93 north, which will take you into Kootenay National Park and the heart of the Rockies.

Continue on Highway 93 through the high passes to Lake Louise, the jumping-off point for the Icefields Parkway—a modern scenic highway that runs 145 miles north all the way to Jasper. Snow-capped peaks 12,000 feet high line the entire route, and in places the icefields run right down to the roadside. Although the Icefields Parkway is an easy one-day ride, pause to explore some of the high-country foot trails you'll find along the way. The trailheads, clearly marked, crop up every five miles or so; just park your bike at the side of the road and head for the hills. Within an hour or two you can be sitting on a mountainside full of wild flowers, looking down at an unbelievably aquamarine alpine lakes. Although Canada's parks have been shielded from overdevelopment, there's no lack of places to rest your head. Canada has an extensive system of campgrounds, and there are many quality lodges situated near the roads. There is also an excellent system of youth hostels that will accept travelers of all ages.

Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Holidays (604.938.0126. www.rockymtnmoto.com) offers the best escorted motorcycle tours in western Canada. The routes are ideal, the Triumph bikes are new, and the customer service is second to none; the guides wash your bike each day and carry your bags to your room in very nice hotels.

For a self-guided tour, rent a bike in Vancouver or Calgary from Great Canadian Motor Corp (800.667.8865. www.gcmc.com). For $55 to $130 per day, GCMC rents a wide selection of bikes, including BMWs, Honda Goldwings, and full-dress Harleys. GCMC also offers ten-day U-ride vacations for $1,600, a fee that includes bike rentals, lodging, and detailed maps. For another $700 you can run the route as part of an escourted tour.

Paul McMenamin is the author, editor, and photo director of the original Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook.

Published: 21 Aug 2001 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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