Day 3 – Cranbrook to Calgary: 390 km/241 mi
The last leg of this trip takes you through the southern pass of Crowsnest, past the infamous site of Frank Slide and up through the eastern foothills back to Calgary.
Leaving Cranbrook on hwy 3 you come to a turnoff to hwy 93 a short distance out of town. If you take the 93 exit you come to Fort Steele within a few kilometers and a chance to tour the first NWMP outpost west of the Rocky Mountains, established in 1887.
Leaving Fort Steele, it’s a short jaunt back to hwy 3 and east onto the Crowsnest Pass. 87 km/54 mi down hwy 3 you come to Fernie BC. While Fernie’ s history is steeped deep in coal mining, those veins have long since run out and today Fernie is known foe its winter activities sporting Olympic style ski runs along with cross country trails and other winter sorts.
32 km/18 mi past Fernie, Sparwood captures your attention with a giant Terex Titan on display alongside the highway. Like Fernie, Sparwood got its start with coal mining as far back as 1870, but unlike Fernie, it still relies heavily on the coal mining industry for its economy.After you have finished taking pictures of the giant truck, continue on hwy 3 21 km/13 mi to the Crowsnest Pass. Crowsnest Lake is nestled alongside the highway and offers another great place to stop and take a few pictures. From there it is about 20 km/12 mi to Blairmore, home of the infamous bootlegger Emilio Picariello and another couple of kilometers to Bellevue and Frank Slide interpretive center. The Frank Slide was a rockslide that buried part of the mining town of Frank on the morning of April 29, 1903. It occurred at 4:10 am, when over 82 million tons (90 million tons) of limestone rock slid down Turtle Mountain within 100 seconds, obliterating the eastern edge of Frank, the Canadian Pacific Railway line and the coal mine. It was one of the largest landslides in Canadian history
and remains the deadliest, as between 70 and 90 of the town's residents were killed, most of whom remain buried in the rubble.
12 km/7 mi beyond Frank Slide you hit hwy 22 north. Keep a sharp eye as signage is minimal and head north about 70 km/44 mi to hwy 533. (Make sure you gas up in Blairmore or Bellevue as there are no services until you get to Nanton, 110 km/68 mi away.) Chain Lakes Provincial Park sits at this intersection and is another great rest spot and photo opportunity. From here it is a 37 km/23 mi run to Nanton and the junction of hwy 2.
Nanton, which was established in 1903, was predominately an agricultural center and while it still is today, a thriving antique industry has taken over the downtown area and it is also home to the Bomber Command Museum of Canada (formerly known as the Nanton Lancaster Society Air Museum). The museum’s main attraction is a WWII AVRO Lancaster Bomber and if you’re lucky you might hit upon the day when they roll the plane out of the hanger and run up its Rolls-Royce Merlin engines (and you thought your motorcycle engine was powerful and loud!!!). Once you have had your fill or antiques and airplanes, get back on hwy 2 north and it is a quick 97 km/60 mi back to Calgary and your starting point.
You could make this trip two or three times and never stop at the same place twice – there are so many things to see and experience on the “Tale of 2 Ferries”.
Alcohol and Motorcycles Don’t Mix
Wait until you’ve put away the bike for the day before you “pop the cap”
Day 1 – Calgary to Revelstoke: 421 km/261 mi
The Tale of 2 Ferries run is definitely a 3 day trip, 1215 km/755 mi, with every km/mi offering new experiences. Leave early and work your way through Cochrane and down the 1A to Canmore. You could take Hwy 1 (Trans Canada hwy) and get to Canmore in under an hour, but, as my logo says, “It’s all about the journey, not the destination” and I find nothing pretty about flying down a 4 lane super highway at 120 km/hr (75 mph). Canmore lies at the entrance to Banff National Park and offers a great rest break with numerous restaurants and gas stations.
While you can pass through Banff National Park without purchasing a Parks Canada Discovery Pass, you must have a pass if you plan on stopping anywhere within the park boundary. The Parks Canada Discovery Pass is a yearly pass that allows you to enjoy almost 100 different national parks and historic sites throughout Canada.
13 km/ 8mi past the park entrance you will find Banff on your left and the Minnewanka Loop on your right. The Minnewanka Loop is 15 km/ 9.5 mi long and traverses over the top the dam at the mouth of Minnewanka Lake. Back on hwy 1 and a few kilometers past the Minnewanka Loop you come to the hwy 1A turnoff. This leg of hwy 1A follows hwy 1 and comes out at Lake Louise (50 km/30 mi) and while it does offer great scenery, the speed limit is 60/km (38 mi/h).
Lake Louise is another recommended rest stop and if you have the time it is worth a ride up to the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise which is situated on the shores of the lake and offers a majestic view of the emerald waters of Lake Louise and the Victoria Glacier.
Staying on hwy 1 takes you into British Columbia through the Kicking Horse Pass (elevation of 1,643 meters (5,390 ft)), on past Field, BC and into Golden, BC (85 km/52 mi). This stretch of the ride offers not only great highway views, but a number of side trips such as Takkakaw Falls, Emerald Lake, Natural Bridge and the Spiral Tunnels.
From Golden to Revelstoke it is 150 km/93 mi with Rogers Pass approximately in the middle and seven “Snow Sheds” to pass through. The Rogers Pass interpretive center and national monument are great places to stop. Where else will you see a working Howitzer cannon ready for action – no – it’s not part of Canada’s defense but rather how they keep the highway open during the winter months.
40 km/25 mi past Rogers Pass watch for a sign marking the “Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail” on your right. This is definitely worth a stop to take the short hike through a grove of giant cedars lined with lush ferns covering the ground, babbling streams breaking the sound of silence and all navigated on a boardwalk.
From the Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail it is only 25 km/15.5 mi to Revelstoke and the end of the day. Hotels/Motels are abundant, everything from the basic motel to indoor whirlpools, but it is best to book ahead as they tend to fill up quickly during the summer months.
Did you know?
The percentage of bikers with alcohol concentrations over the legal limit who died in fatal crashes was 48.6% in 1980; 38.5% in 1993 and 28% in 2010!
Bikers are “getting it”!!!!
Day 2 – Revelstoke to Cranbrook: 412 km/254 mi
This day is the highlight of the trip – perfect winding roads, crystal blue/green waters of the Upper Arrow and Kootenay lakes, majestic snow-capped mountains, old mining towns steeped in history, all capped with two ferry rides across two gorgeous mountain lakes.
On the west side of Revelstoke just after you cross the bridge, turn south on hwy 23 and follow it 30 km/18 mi to Shelter Bay to catch the Shelter Bay ferry across the Upper Arrow Lake. The ferry operates on an “on the hour” departure from Shelter Bay and is free of charge. Once you debark continue on hwy 23 south 45 km/28 mi to Nakusp. 26 km/16 mi down the road you will come to the “Lone Creek Falls" rest area – keep a sharp eye out on your left or you will miss it (if you do, turn around – it’s worth it!). This rest stop sits at the base of a 20 m/60+ ft waterfall and has picnic tables to enjoy a lunch with the cascading falls as a backdrop. Nakusp is small town nestled on the shores of the Upper Arrow Lake. The settlement was started in 1892 as a mining town but today its main source of notoriety are its two natural hot springs; Halcyon Hot Springs and Nakusp Hot Springs.
From Nakusp take hwy 6 southeast to New Denver (48 km/30 mi). New Denver is another mining tow established in 1892 and for a brief time it was known as Eldorado City. During World War II it became a Japanese Internment Camp, housing over 1500 Japanese men, women and children.
Pick up hwy 31A out of New Denver east to Kaslo. 8 km/5 mi out of New Denver you will see Sandon-Three Forks Rd. Take this road south about 3 km/2 mi to the Sandon Museum located in the Slocan Mercantile Block which was once part of the silver mining town of Sandon. Back on 31A it is 37 km/24 mi to Kaslo and most of this is alongside the Kaslo River as it races into Kootenay Lake.
Kaslo, originally designated as a sawmill site in 1889, grew on the silver boom of the 19th century, and retains much of the history from its mining days. The town today relies mainly on the industries of forestry and tourism. It is the home of the sternwheeler S.S. Moyie, launched in 1898 and the City Hall, also completed in 1898, is still in use today. Most of the storefronts date back to the early 1900’s and there are numerous shops and restaurants to meet even the most discerning hunt.
From Kaslo it is a short 36 km/22 mi down hwy 31 to Belfour to catch the second ferry (Kootenay Bay Ferry) across Kootenay Lake to Kootenay Bay. Again, this ferry is free and because of the increased traffic, two ferries are operating during the summer months.
Kootenay Bay puts you on hwy 3A which runs alongside the east shore of Kootenay lake and offers superb winding roads to travel with numerous areas to stop for photo shoots and to walk down to the lake’s edge. Make sure you stop at the Grey Creek Store to experience a country store from the early 1900’s. It’s 81 km/50 mi on 3A to Creston where you pick up hwy 3 east for the 107 km/65 mi leg to Cranbrook and the end of day 2. A word of caution here – if you find yourself in Creston and its getting dark, stay in Creston! The 107 km/65 mi to Cranbrook is rife with wildlife, and I mean Elk, moose and bear along with large numbers of deer that all come out during the night. The last time I traveled this road at night I came across Elk in the middle of the highway, a bear on the shoulder and passed a tractor trailer with a deer plastered to its grill guard.