DC to Vancouver/Whistler BC - HELP!

ZippyAZippyA Member Posts: 32
I'm cancelling my flight to Vancouver to see my son and opting to drive!  Biggest and most ambitious undertaking yet...and quite (very, very)  nervous.  (The longest trip so far has been from DC to Michigan last summer)  So many questions and as soon as I cancel my flight I will start to look at logistics, but if anyone has already done this route, any advice most appreciated.  I've booked an AirBnB for April 3-7 at Whistler Village so I MUST get there by April 3.  I can probably do no more than 350 miles per day (or back seizes up).  So, here are my questions in no particular order:
1- Is weather too unpredictable to safely take this long trek??
2-  Any route suggestions and campgrounds if you HAVE done this route?
3- Any recommendations of where to camp in Vancouver itself?
4- I have a condo reserved in Whistler.  Any thoughts on where (campground) to park my teardrop?  
5- Any other words of advice/inspiration/guidance for this retired solo (newbie), directionally-challenged traveler making this 3,000 mile journey with her ferocious 10-lb cockapoo??

Aggie/2019 [email protected]; Alde Compact 3020 HE/2019 Toyota Rav4 Adventure AWD/ Rockville, MD (a D.C. suburb)


  • VernaVerna Administrator Posts: 5,576
    Directionally-challenged traveler —if your vehicle doesn’t have a compass or compass enabled icon, be sure to check your phone or your GPS to see if it has a compass setting on it. Even with all the traveling I do, if it is overcast, I can lose my sense of direction very easily. I carry an engineer’s compass in the [email protected] plus I have an app on my phone. 

    If it were me planning this trip, first I’d check the weather, plus the weather for your general route. That would set the tone for whether I would go out on I-70 or I-80/90. I know Iowa has some heavy ice in places right now, so you need to be aware of situations like that. This time of the year, I stay away from the very northern most states because of the snowy and icy weather. 

    I-70 will take you to Denver and then you will have to play it by ear. Others from that part of the country will have to chime in for how to get up towards Seattle and then Vancouver.

    Washington, DC is a bit over 600 miles from Indianapolis, so that is two days of driving. 
    Denver is around 1200 miles from Indianapolis (expect chuck holes in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois because of the heavy truck traffic and the frequent freeze and thaw).  1200 miles is about 4 days of driving. 

    I usually try to take it easy after about 4 days of driving. You’ll be driving across a rather flat part of the country and it can be boring to some. Be careful of boredom. 

    So, 6 days plus or minus a day just to get to Denver. Campgrounds will be scarce as a lot don’t open until mid to late April. Use an app like Allstays Camp and RV to plot your way on your trip. If you stay in motels instead of campgrounds, I know you know to look for the dog friendly kind.

    Others will chime in—these are just my own thoughts. (Personally, I’d take the roads less travelled, meaning US 40, US 20, etc....but that’s me.)
    Verna, Columbus, IN, 2019 [email protected] 400 Boondock Lite white/red, towed by a white 2019 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab, 3.5L V6 Ecoboost; [email protected] Administrator
  • falcon1970falcon1970 Member Posts: 453
    You might look into a program called "Allstays Pro."  If my aged brain remembers correctly, it cost about $25.00 for the pro version but there are no annoying pop-up ads.  It is meant for a computer rather than as an iPhone app. I have found this a good resource for trip planning as far as nightly stops goes but don't rely on it for routing.  It covers both the US and Canada.
  • MuttonChopsMuttonChops Member Posts: 658
    @ZippyA ; Gosh short notice to detail plan a long adventure . . . but doable.

    Strongly Suggest you look at some type of travel planning software.

    I use Furkot (furkot.com) just be warned it's North America maps have a limited address database so it is helpful to use destination campground GPS positions.  Furkot allows you to set Driving Miles per Day and Driving Speed, it then provides a shortest route just like Bing or Google maps however the Furkot Map locates overnight stop locations based on your set Driving Miles per day, Driving Speed, and Travel Hours.

    Route Planning Settings for example:
          = 340 Miles per day
          = 62 MPH
          =  9:45AM to 5:30PM Driving hours

    Once Furkot has located the overnight stop location I then use campendium.com to find campgrounds in the area and Google Maps to get location GPS information if the Furkot database does not have an address. As each Campground is added to Furkot it recalculates the trip so your next overnight stop will be flagged 340 miles from your last actual stop.

    This morning created one possible trip route for you.  This route is limited to One Night Only stops - - for myself I limit one night stops to as few as possible and no more than two in a row when travel time allows - - - route includes only two sightseeing stops; Badlands NP and Devils Tower.  The Route should give you an idea of the nearly most direct and fastest trip.  You can expand based on how soon you can depart Washington DC and your traveling style.

    This Route leaves Washington DC Monday March 23, Arrives Whistler BC on Thursday April 2.
    Some details on Yellow Marker overnight stops:

    Furkot spreadsheets (.csv format) attached.

    2018 [email protected] 320 Spitched axle, 3020HE
    TV: 2017 Colorado V6 Z71 4x4, Tow Package, GM Brake Controller
    Adventures:  23       Nights:  155 
  • jkjennjkjenn Member Posts: 5,641
    I drove from Pittsburgh to Jasper,, CA last year. 

    I used Google Maps to plan my trip. Know that it will take you longer with a trailer because you will need more frequent fuel and rest stops.

    I kept most of my driving days to 8-9 hours.

    I used a combination of Campendium.com, the KOA app, and the paid Overnight Parking app to find spots to stay.

    Yes, the weather can be quite unpredictable and do not underestimate high winds, especially going west bound. I found I-90 littered with turned over vehicles heading westbound through SD in high winds. Parts of the Rocky Mountains are expecting a winter storm this weekend and meteorologists arIf you run into a storm, hunker down and wait it out. I spent 3 days in Spearfish, SD waiting out a blizzard last fall. Also, meteorologists are looking at the potential for a severe weather outbreak (likely tornados) next week. Allow yourself the time and money to wait it out for a few days, if needed.

    2015 320 S | [email protected] Nights: 211 | 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk

  • ZippyAZippyA Member Posts: 32
    Thanks @Verna - didn't even think about the fact that some campgrounds won't open until April!
    @falcon1970 - will def check out Allstays Pro!
    And @MuttonChops -- woo hoo.  I was wondering if such a tool as Furkot existed and here you have it.  This will help tremendously!!
    @jkjenn - weather is what is scaring me more than the coronavirus.  Gotta scope this out.  

    Am I crazy for trying this with so little time?  Was thinking about trying to pull out next Friday, March 20 to give myself enough buffer time.  

    Love this community!
    Aggie/2019 [email protected]; Alde Compact 3020 HE/2019 Toyota Rav4 Adventure AWD/ Rockville, MD (a D.C. suburb)
  • jkjennjkjenn Member Posts: 5,641
    @ZippyA weather should be a concern, but if you leave yourself enough time to ride out bad weather along the way, you should be fine. 

    Snow in the upper plains states is quite different than we get. It is a drier snow and that blows, everywhere.They use sand, not salt of cinders. If there is snow, you should expect ice conditions until the roads are cleared and the wind stops.

    You could also luck out and get nothing but blue skies!

    I have traveled west for 9 years, more fall than summer and this was the first time I have experienced trip disruption due to weather. March is that crazy weather that can go either way.

    If you can swing it on the return trip, some of  the roads in Yellowstone might be open and you can see the baby animals.

    2015 320 S | [email protected] Nights: 211 | 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk

  • VernaVerna Administrator Posts: 5,576
    @ZippyA, if you are used to using your Alde on propane (I hope so), you can sleep at rest stops, Flying J restaurant parking lots, some Walmart’s, Cabela’s and others. Wake up, fix your breakfast and coffee (or eat at the Denny’s at Flying J’s), take a shower in your [email protected] or use the truck stop showers for a fee,  and take off for the day. Flying J’s and some of the other truck stops have dump stations for a fee.

    The Allstays Camp and RV app shows campgrounds, propane (LP) fill locations, available free camping, Walmart’s, Cabelas,  etc. 

    I don’t know what phone you have, but Apple Maps on the iPhone will show road hazards ahead, as will Waze. Both also show speed limits. 

    Are you nuts for wanting to make the trip by driving? Nope. You are an adult and you have your reasons.  If I worried about what people thought of me, I’d never get anything done!  Just do it, be safe, keep the 10 lb’er safe and happy, and pat yourself on the back when you get to your destination. 
    Verna, Columbus, IN, 2019 [email protected] 400 Boondock Lite white/red, towed by a white 2019 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab, 3.5L V6 Ecoboost; [email protected] Administrator
  • pthomas745pthomas745 Member Posts: 1,139
    The 8-14 day forecasts are fun....but they are like betting on next year's Super Bowl winner.  Keep an eye on the big picture, but the closer the forecast is, the better they get.
    The other road resource are the individual state's Transportation Departments.  Search for Wyoming 511 or South Dakota Highway conditions, etc.  They usually have tons of information for travelers: road conditions, traffic cams, etc.  They are all sometimes a bit overwhelming to use at first, so take a little time to examine them.  You should be able to select the route or highway you are on, and see the conditions on that road.  As a flatlander in snowy Colorado, during a "small" snowstorm, I spotted a snowplow on the map about to go over the Poncha Pass, and slowly followed it up and over the pass. 
    2017 Outback
    Towed by 2014 Touareg TDi
  • N7SHG_HamN7SHG_Ham Member Posts: 783
    Just want to emphasize what has already been said about weather. Winds and snow. Pay attention and never let that fuel get less than 1/2 tank, fuel stops can be 1/2 tank away out west! Wyoming often shuts I80 for days in the winter. They also restrict light high profile vehicles at times due to winds. You assume all risk traveling in winds pulling a trailer!!!

    It can be done, it may take longer than you think and there may be weather delays. Finding an open CG will definitely be problematic this time of year in northern tiers of states, so it may be rest areas, Walmart, etc.
    2019 [email protected] 400 Boondock Lite
  • Sharon_is_SAMSharon_is_SAM Moderator Posts: 5,044
    Have you considered not towing the TaB?  I wonder if what you save in gas and time may make up for the cost of overnight motels?  Not to mention the added stress of finding parking for the TaB.  Another idea is to find someone to travel with you to share the driving.
    Sharon / 2017 [email protected] CSS / 2015 Toyota Sienna Minivan / Westlake, Ohio
  • CbusguyCbusguy Member Posts: 674
    When simply traveling,  we never stay in a campground or RV park......Harvest host,  parking lots, rest areas even truck stops.    I don't see the value in dropping $20-60 a night on a 8 hour or less parking spot. 

    I agree with Sharon,  you would probably be further a head to go without the trailer. 
    2009 GMC Canyon,   3.7 liter 
    2020 320s Boondock lite, With Lots of mods
  • Michigan_MikeMichigan_Mike Administrator Posts: 2,574
    Weather will be a factor as you could hit ice or snow in April.  I pulled off in Butte, Montana in a white out one April returning to Michigan from California.  With the current scenario if coronavirus playing out I’d definitely take the [email protected] as opposed to a motel room.  Get a good Doppler app too and if you do run into snow point your rig into the storm, fire up the Alde and stay safe.  The further west you go the better off you will be as the interior portion of the Midwest can be brutal.  This is why they have gates along the interstate if I-90 and other routes to quickly shut down the roadways.  

    Safe travels!   
    Mike Smith 
    Linden, Mi
    2019 [email protected] 400
  • Denny16Denny16 Member Posts: 302
    I I concur, why drag the trailer if you are not going to make stops to visit local landmarks, or enjoy outdoor camping along the way.  If just driving straight through, just stay at motels, save the trailer for a vacation trip, where you can enjoy the trip, and not be in a rush.
    2018 TaB400, Jeep Gladiator truck, Northern California Coast
  • 2Cougs2Cougs Member Posts: 703
    @ZippyA - I believe the Canada/US border is now closed.
    2016 [email protected] CS-S silver with white trim and WSU themed
    Pulled by a silver 2017 Chevy Silverado
    Leaves on [email protected] from Spokane, WA


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