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Tips for Driving the Icefields Parkway in Winter

Looking to drive one of the most iconic and beautiful highways in Canada during the winter months? The Icefields Parkway winds through the stunning Rocky Mountains and no matter the season will leave you breathless the entire drive.  This 230km stretch between Lake Louise and Jasper boasts one of the worlds most scenic drives.  It is often featured as a bucket list road trip but always shows photos of the highway during the summer.  The Icefields Parkway is considered to be a mountain highway and is thus not as well maintained as the TransCanada to the south. Parks Canada does a great job ensuring the road is open as much as possible during the winter months it still presents challenges from the weather. Driving the Icefields Parkway in the winter can be one of the most enjoyable and breathtaking experiences of your life as long as you prepare for driving in the winter and use this guide as your

Driving the highway that links Lake Louise to Jasper through the winter could be tricky depending on the weather.  In fact, a lot of people will avoid Highway 93 better known as the Icefields Parkway in the winter and opt to take the long way around rather than driving the unplowed snow covered road.  Do not let that scare you though as the driving the Icefields Parkway in Winter can be an absolutely beautiful drive just ensure you are prepared and know what is head before taking on the highway! We have compiled a list of tips to help you prepare for driving the beautiful snow covered Icefields Parkway.

Get a Four Wheel Drive Vehicle to Drive the Icefields Parkway in Winter

Jeep Cherokee driving along the Icefields Parkway in Winter.

Driving the Icefields Parkway is much more easily tackled if you have an SUV or truck that has four wheel drive.  The larger vechiles since they have more weight to them can handle snowy roads better than a small two wheel drive sedan.  That being said we did see it done by many cars that were only in two wheel drive and they successfully made they drive – they just had to be more careful and drive according to the conditions.  Winter Tires are also a must before driving through the Rocky Mountains in general in the winter you will be in much better shape.  A lot of rental cars offer winter tires on their rental you just have to be sure to book well ahead to get a car with winter tires guaranteed.  Some rental companies will try and offer you a vehicle with All Wheel Drive to make up for not having winter tires. Unfortunatly, it is not a legal subsitute for winter tires and you can still get ticketed under the National Parks Highway Traffic Regulations state that it is mandatory to have winter tires when driving on the highways between November 1st and March 31st.

Check the Icefields Parkway Road Report

Driving behind a two-wheel drive sedan along the snow covered Icefields Parkway in Jasper National Park in Alberta.

The parkway does not get salted and is not cleared down to the pavement like the other highways in Alberta so the snow stays compact on top of the road.  There is limited maintenance on the road and there is no maintenance done at all from 3:30pm to 7am from November to April.  If there is a snowstorm the highway will close down for a few hours up to a few days depending on the severity of the storm. You do not want to get stuck on the highway in the middle of a snow storm as there is no cell reception to call for help and the traffic is limited on the highway during the winter months. Additionally all accommodation, restaurants and the only fuel station on the road are closed in the winter.

Make sure to check both the weather forecast (www.weatheroffice.gc.ca  or www.theweathernetwork.com) as well as the road conditions before leaving to head on the Icefields Parkway. You can check the conditions here: www.ama.ab.ca orwww.511.alberta.ca.  Be sure to check the latest avalance conditions at pc.gc.ca/avalanche  if you plan on doing any back country hikes. You can also call Banff 403-762-1450 • Jasper 780-852-3311. Lastly, you can visit any information centre in Banff, Lake Louise or Jasper to check on the road conditions.

Make Sure You Fuel Up Before Driving the Icefields Parkway in Winter

Driving the snow covered icefields parkway

Before you depart from Banff, Lake Louise or Jasper make sure you fuel your car up to ensure you have a full tank of gas. During the winter months the only gas station along the Icefields Parkway is closed and you do not want to run out of gas on the highway. Plus, who wants to worry about running out of gas when you could be enjoying the spectacular views!

Another thing to make sure you have plenty of before leaving the gas station is windshield washer fluid as that can come in handy when it is snowing!

Expect The Unexpected When Driving the Icefields Parkway in Winter

The beautiful snow covered mountains along one of the most beautiful drives in Canada - the Icefields Parkway.

Whenever we go out on a road trip we plan for the worst weather and road conditions so we are never caught off guard.  We carry additional food and water in case we were to get stuck for an additional period of time as well as warm clothes. Bringing an emergency kit along with you including a first aid kit, portable shovel, swiss army knit and flares.  If you don’t want to bring this with you on a plane a lot fo the care rental companies will rent this to you for a small fee. Most people say sure its only 230km what is the worst that can happen but if you get stuck on the other side of an avalanche and cannot pass then you will be saying differently! We drove through a pretty bad snowstorm on the way to Jasper where the conditions were white out the majority of the time so always just play things on the safe side!

You Will Not Have Cell Reception while Driving the Icefields Parkway

Although we have already mentioned you will not have cell reception we feel it warrents its own section.  You lose reception depending on your provider about 5km north of Lake Louise (around Herbert Lake) and you will not get it again until you are 30km south of Jasper at Athabasca Falls. We travel with a Garmin Satellite Phone that has proven handy during our many trips into remote areas that allows you to both emergency text to your contacts and make an emergency call to 911.  Additionally, we download all the maps of where will be going before we head into an area that we have has no or limited cell reception. There are a series of payphones along the Icefields Parkway including at the following locations (from south to north):

  • Saskatchewan River Crossing Warden Station
  • Beauty Creek Hostel
  • Sunwapta Falls Warden Station
  • Athabasca Falls Hostel
  • Athabasca Falls (accepts credit cards)

Allow for Extra Travel Time While Driving the Icefields Parkway in Winter

Views of the forest and the mountains along the Icefields Parkway in the Winter.

The biggest thing we can say while driving the Icefields Parkway in winter is make sure you take your time! If you take your time you can really ensure your safety. The 230km stretch of road takes on average three hours on way in the summer so plan for it to take you at minimum four hours in the winter.  Make sure you start your drive early and plan to complete your drive while in daylight especially since snow cleaning and maitenance only happens between 7am and 3:30pm.  You will also want to allot for time to pull off at roadside stops along the way to take in the beautiful sights of the mountains, glaciers and everything else this incredible drive has to offer.

Watch Out For Wildlife

Just because it is winter doesn’t mean all the animals have gone into hibernation. There are still lots of animals that like to come out especially at dusk and dawn so make sure you keep your eyes out for them so you can slow down in time and not hit them! The main animals to keep your eyes out for is mountain goats, deer, bighorn sheep, caribou and coyotes.


Don’t let the guide scare you these tips are here for us to help you and make sure you have a safe and enjoyable journey! Driving the Icefields Parkway in Winter can be absolutely breathtaking and a very enjoyable experience as long as you are prepared.  Just drive with common sense and this guide in mind and enjoy driving one of the most scenic roads that is the Icefields Parkway!

Visiting Athabasca Falls in WInter

As you head north on the Icefields Parkway do not forget to stop at the beautiful Athabasca Falls! The most powerful of all the waterfalls in the Canadian Rockies although not the largest they are quite the sight to see!  In the winter if you are lucky the falls will not be quite frozen and you will have the opportunity to see the beautiful turquoise water that flows over the rocks.  You can see the Athabasca River as you drive along the Icefields Parkway which all funnels through the three metre canyon.   As we drove up the Icefields Parkway we ensured to pull off at the stop off and walk the short distance to see this incredible sight.

Getting to Athabasca Falls

Athabasca Falls is located 33 km south of Jasper just of Highway 93A.  There is pull off that is well marked with plenty of free parking.  Depending on how recently the snow has fallen the parking lot may not have been ploughed so drive in four-wheel drive if possible is ideal.

 

Seeing Athabasca Falls Close Up

In the winter one of the biggest perks about visiting Athabasca Falls is that you can walk almost right up to the roaring falls!  The Athabasca River freezes over the course of the winter allowing you to walk out onto the river and right up into the canyon where the falls are located.  It is quite the sight to see the falls right from the base of where the water is coming out.  Make sure to take a good listen as you can hear the water rushing underneath the frozen ice!  Make sure to be careful though while walking on the ice as some areas may not be as thick as others especially close to the open water.

Entrance to see the frozen falls. Ice bubbles forming at the bottom of the pool in Athabasca Falls. Water flowing through Athabasca Falls along the Icefields Parkway.

Staying at Tonquin Inn in Jasper, Alberta

Looking for the perfect and cozy place to stay on your trip to Jasper, Alberta? Then look no further than the Tonquin Inn located right in the heart of Jasper National Park.  Located steps away from the downtown core and mountain views you will not be disappointed in your stay at this perfect little inn.

The Rooms

We stayed in a One Bedroom Suite at the Tonquin Inn. This cozy room had a separate bedroom with ensuite bathroom and a spacious sitting area and full kitchen.  The kitchen is fully equipped with a coffee maker, microwave, utensils, plates, everything you could need for a short or long term stay! Our room was located on the main floor with direct access to the parking lot with made it perfect to unload and load up your car quickly.  There are 15 different types of rooms and suites offered at Tonquin Inn so there is something for everyone. The hotel is even pet friendly!Tonquin Inn One Bedroom Suite in Jasper, Alberta Bathroom in the one bedroom suite in Tonquin Inn in Jasper, Alberta. Living Room with pull out couch at the Tonquin Inn in Jasper, Alberta. Living area with full kitchen at the one bedroom suite at the Tonquin Inn at Jasper, Alberta. Kitchen and TV area at the Tonquin Inn in their One Bedroom Suite in Jasper, Alberta. Full Kitchen in the One Bedroom Suite at the Tonquin Inn in Jasper, Alberta.

We really enjoyed our two night stay at Tonquin Inn in Japser. It was the perfect home base to explore the snowy Japser National Park and we never felt that we were missing anything during our stay at the Tonquin Inn.

 

Staying at Emerald Lake Lodge

Emerald Lake Lodge is one of those iconic Canadian sites that many people know by photos but not by name.  If you don’t detour off the Trans Canada Highway you will miss this beautiful lodge and its quintessential Canadian views entirely!  Not as popular or as well known as its cousins Lake Louise or Moraine Lake, Emerald Lake and the surrounding area have as much to give and offer less traffic and tourists.

Emerald Lake Lodge sign snow covered during a winter storm.

How To Get to Emerald Lake Lodge

Getting to Emerald Lake Lodge is not hard but you have to know where you are going to get here.  Located roughly ten kilometers off the Trans Canada Highway near Field, British Columbia down a winding, well-maintained highway in all seasons you will find the lodge sitting on a peninsula jutting into Emerald Lake.

If you are visiting just for the day there is day parking located just in front of the bridge that takes you onto the peninsula where the lodge is located.  If you are staying at the lodge overnight you must park about 500m back down the winding road you came in on at a sign marked ‘Overnight Guest Parking’.  Here you can park anywhere in the parking lot and then walk up to the shuttle hut where you can call for a shuttle from the lodge to come pick you and your luggage up to take you up to the main building for check-in.  The shuttle services runs 24 hours a day.

The snow covered road into Emerald Lake Lodge in Yoho National Park.

The Rooms at Emerald Lake Lodge

We checked in to a Lake View Room that offered a beautiful sitting area with the wood burning stone fireplace and a private balcony that overlooked Emerald Lake.  The rooms are located in multiple lodges around the peninsula some with quite a bit of stairs to get to your cabin and then up to your room if you are not located on the main floor.  Our room had a great view of the frozen, snow covered Emerald Lake with two chairs that would be great to sit on in the summer time and enjoy the quiet surroundings of the mountains.

Nicole taking a photo at Emerald Lake Lodge during their winter stay in Yoho National Park. The cozy room at Emerald Lake Lodge. The chairs and fireplace at Emerald Lake Lodge. The cozy bed at Emerald Lake Lodge. The bathroom at Emerald Lake Lodge. The room and Chris taking a picture of it at Emerald Lake Lodge.

Things to Know for your Stay at Emerald Lake Lodge

A few things that we found out during our stay at Emerald Lake Lodge that we wanted to share with others to help your stay!

  • There is no wifi around the property only in the main building.  Additional to that service is very limited at Emerald Lake Lodge and we have no service until we were on the TransCanada Highway for quite sometime.  Take this time to disconnect from social media and enjoy a good book or the beautiful surroundings outside.
  • There is no TV in your room either so make sure to bring a good book or something to do during your downtime.
  • The rooms can be very cold at night during the winter!! Our room was quite cold upon arrival and with only floorboard heaters to heat your room your room may never be as toasty as you want it to be.  It was -30 degrees Celsius out and very cold but the heaters could only get the room up to about 15-16 degrees.  Thankfully the wood burning fireplace was the perfect addition to the room to get our room toasty but for safety you cannot run that throughout the night.  If you run cold make sure to ask for an extra blanket or two or even a space heater which they have a few of at the front desk.

The wood burning fireplace at Emerald Lake Lodge that heats the room during the winter months.

Things to do at Emerald Lake Lodge

No matter the season there is plenty to do at Emerald Lake Lodge!

One of our favourite things to do was explore the property including walking around the frozen lake and take in the breathtaking view of the mountains.  Make sure to walk back across the bridge and take in the view of the lodge from the mainland.  You can rent snowshoes or cross country skis from Emerald Sports located at the base of the lake at the end of the bridge.

Exploring the snow covered property at Emerald Lake Lodge. One of the beautiful log cabins at Emerald Lake Lodge. Views onto the beautiful lake at Emerald Lake Lodge. View towards the island at Emerald Lake Lodge. Emerald Lake Lodge restaurant sitting on the frozen lake. Beautiful frozen lake with the mountains in the background. The bridge heading to Emerald Lake Lodge. Snow covered path on the trails that wind through the beautiful property of Emerald Lake Lodge. Emerald Lake Lodge reflecting into the unfrozen water. Chris taking a photo of the snow covered pine trees at Emerald Lake Lodge. Emerald Lake Lodge iconic photo. Warm cozy inviting log cabin at Emerald Lake Lodge.

Head over to the Natural Bridge located on your way back down the winding road towards the Trans Canada Highway.  Upon first glance in the winter the Natural Bridge almost completely dissappears into the snow.  But if you walk the path to the end to the viewing point you can hear the water gugrling under the frozen ice and see the bridge formation.  If you visit at the right rime in the winter you can even visit the Natural Bridge from the riverbed beneath.

Have a meal in the Mount Burgess Dining Room with spectacular views and food to match it you it is the perfect way to unwind from a busy day outside or a relaxing day inside.  The seasonal menu offers dishes with regional ingredients that is best paired with their wine list.

Treat yourself after a busy day to a sauna and hot tub.  It is the perfect way to unwind and warm up after a chilly day in the Rockies.

Lastly, one of our favourite ways to end the day is sitting in front of the fireplace watching the fire slowly fade into the last embers before you head to sleep.

Living in Luxury at the Sandpearl Resort

Looking for the perfect place to head south as the weather gets cold and be immersed in absolute luxury? Look no further than the Sandpearl Resort in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

Rated a AAA Four-Diamond Four Star hotel, the Sandpearl Resort will not disappoint.  The pampering begins when you pull into the driveway of the hotel and are greeted by the wonderful valet team, who are more than happy to answer any questions you may have and help you with your bags.

At check-in every guest receives a glass of bubbly – champagne or mimosas for adults and sparkling apple juice for children.  Small touches like this exemplify the Sandpearl’s status as a high-end resort and gives you a glimpse into the ideal vacation that awaits you.

—The Rooms —

The Sandpearl is home to a variety of rooms: from Standard King or two Queen rooms, to large two bedroom suites.  I had the opportunity to stay in a Gulf Front Junior Suite room.

The Gulf Front Junior Suite is a 500-square-foot room that features a private balcony which overlooks the Gulf of Mexico.

A large sitting area features a queen-size sleeper sofa and work area with a desk.

One of my favourite features of the Gulf Front Junior Suite is the luxurious bathroom which boasts both a walk-in shower and a separate Roman style tub that offers a view of the Gulf once you open the plantation style shutters.

With 253 guest rooms in the resort there is a wide variety of rooms to offer something for everyone’s needs.    All the rooms in the resort come with bar-sized refrigerators, coffee makers (stocked with premium coffee and tea), wireless internet, daily newspapers, in-room safes, and twice daily housekeeping.  In addition to these standard services, the resort fee of $25/day provides you with two bottles of water a day in your room, beach towels, and complimentary chairs on the beach.

—The Food —

Sandpearl Resort has three on-site dining options to choose from, ranging from fine dining to the marketplace.  Caretta on the Gulf is the only AAA Four-Diamond restaurant in Clearwater Beach and offers breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico from both inside and on the patio. Serving food from breakfast until after dinner, Caretta’s has an extensive menu and is one of the area’s most popular destinations for group celebrations, romantic dinners, or just a good night out.  Caretta’s is my favourite place to go for a late night appetizer and drink while sitting on the patio, enjoying the fires burning and listening to the waves crash into the beach.  This incredible atmosphere can’t help but remind you that you are on vacation.

Tate Island Grill is a popular location to go for a quick bite to eat, delicious salads, sandwiches, and seafood on a beachfront deck.  Tate’s provides a relaxed and casual dining experience where you can watch live sport events or simply watch the sun set beyond the horizon.  For an even more relaxing experience, Tate’s service extends onto the pool deck as well the beach.

The Marketplace is a convenient one-stop shop for everything from grab-and-go snacks and entrées, to replace forgotten travel items or choose a gift for that special someone.  Here you can find fresh pastries made daily, Starbucks coffee and tea, salads, wraps, fruit and yogurts, and a light selection of grocery items for picnics off-site or in a condo suite.

—What To Do At The Resort —

There is lots to do at the Sandpearl Resort. Sitting on 700 feet of Clearwater’s pristine beachfront, you can splash and play in the waves all day long or lounge on the complimentary beach chairs and soak in the sun.

If the sand and beach is not for you, the lagoon-style pool might tempt you with their many chairs upon which you can relax in the sun between dips in the pool or hot tub throughout the day.

If you are looking for something a bit more private, pool-side private cabanas are available that have fans, couches, tables, chairs, a fridge, safes, a flat screen TV, and decks with chairs for sunning.

There are beach volleyball nets set up in the sand and balls to borrow at the beach activities desk, along with beach toys for kids and towels.  You can also find the game of cornhole to play on the artificial lawns just to the right of the pool deck.

Make sure to check out the beautiful decorations perfectly placed throughout the hotel.  Sandpearl has an exclusive, luxurious, yet laid back feel which will put you right at home while on your beach vacation.

There is lots to do without going off the resort, and it worth it to take advantage of everything the Sandpearl has to offer.  The Sandpearl Resort offers far better amenities than any of its competitors on Clearwater Beach, and is well worth the trip to check it out.

Hiking the Tonquin Trail in Tofino, BC

The beautiful Tonquin Trail in Tofino, British Columbia is a must do trail while you visit the coastal town.  Offering beautiful views of Clayoquot Sound the trail begins at Tofino Community Hall and winds through the old-growth forest to Tonquin Beach and Third Beach.  If you are looking to a beautiful but easy trail to hike while visiting Tofino the Tonquin Trail is must do!

Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia

Here is our guide to hiking the Tonquin Trail in Tofino, British Columbia!

Getting to the Tonquin Trail

There is three access points onto the trail which allows you to do a loop instead of having to double back on the same trail which is what we suggest!

The first access point is off Arnet Road by Tofino Community Hall.  Drive to Arnet Road off 1st Street and head west.  This is a dead end road that will take you up a hill to the parking lot.  You can park here and start from the top of the trailhead.  There are two access points here one takes you to the beach more directly and the other winds you through the forest towards Third Beach.

Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia

The second access point is where Leighton Way and Peterson Drive (off of Arnet) meet.  There is a gravel path at the corner of Leighton and Peterson where you can walk straight down the gravel trail where it meets up with the path from the first access point off Arnet Road.

The last access point is where the road forks at Arnet Road and Tonquin Park Road.  At the fork stay left and head down Tonquin Park Road where you will come to a set of wooden stairs and bridge that gives you the first look of Tonquin Beach.  Head along the wooden pathway where you will come to a set of concrete stairs that the trees have grown thick around and on the other side you will end up on Tonquin Beach!

Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia

Our suggestion for a complete loop and the easiest loop is park along the side of Arnet road before the hill and walk up towards Tofino Community Hall and take the path on your right.  You will walk down a series of hills on the gravol path that will take you to the stairs leading down to the beach.  If you want to extend your trip and see all the view points along the trail towards Third Beach keep left and make sure to stop at each of the view points and see the beautiful views of the Clayoquot Sound.  You will have to double back on this extension of the trail and then head down the stair to the beach and watch the waves roll in onto the sandy Tonquin Beach.  To have an easier hike back out take the third access point back towards Tonquin Park Road where you will only have to deal with a series of staircases and no stairs and hills if you head backtowards Tofino Community Hall.  This way you also get the opportunity to see more of the trail!

Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia


Distance of Hikes on Tonquin Trail

The Tonquin Trail in its entirety is 2.6 kilometres round-trip.  The distance from Community Hall to Tonquin Beach is 850m and Community Hall to Third Beach is 1.3km.  The difficulty of this hike is easy to moderate as there are some areas with steep gradient and a series of stairs.

Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia


Must See Spots While on the Tonquin Trail

Tonquin Beach – Tonquin Beach is a must see location – this wide sandy beach that is perfect to swimming or just exploring the sandy coast line.  The beach offers beautiful views of the Clayoquot Sound.  Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia Tonquin Trail Tofino British ColumbiaMaze Lookout – Maze lookout is probably the nicest lookout along the trail.  With its nice boardwalk that juts out over the water overlooking Templar Channel, Wickannish Island and Lennard Island. The bent trees hanging low off the trail are part of the iconic look of the area.

Tonquin Trail Tofino British ColumbiaTonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia

Bridge Leading to Tonquin Park Road  – This bridge was difficult to find but we were determined to find it.  From Tonquin Beach there is a small opening with old concrete steps leading into the forest – here you will find a beautiful wooden bridge that offers a great lookout spot back onto Tonquin Beach.

Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia


This beautiful Tonquin Trail is an absolute must do while visiting Tofino!  Where is your favourite spot to go while hiking the trail?

Hiking the Tonquin Trail Tofino British Columbia

Staying at Crystal Cove Beach Resort, Tofino

Looking for the perfect place to stay in the heart of Tofino set in the rainforest along the edge of the Pacific Ocean then Crystal Cove Beach Resort is the perfect place for you.  Offering private camping spots, beautiful log cabins, the perfect beach to watch the sunrise and so much more.

Here is our guide to staying at Crystal Cove Beach Resort in Tofino British Columbia.

Getting to Crystal Cove Beach Resort

If you are driving from Victoria it will take about five hours to reach Crystal Cove Beach Resort.  You drive North from Victoria along Highway (Island Highway), if you want to bypass Nanaimo take Highway 19 (exit right towards Campbell River) and continue to drive North from Nanaimo and watch for the Port Alberni exit (Highway 4 West).  Drive through Port Alberni and continue along Highway 4 until you reach the Ucluelet-Tofino Junction.  Turn right at the junction towards Tofino along the Pacific Rim Highway and Crystal Cove Beach Resort is another 30km down the highway on the left hand side.

Road Tripping to Tofino

Note* The drive between Port Alberni and the Ucluelet-Tofino Junction is a very mountainous and windy road that is only one lane for the majority of the way. Driving this road in the dark or rain can cause you to go much slower than initially expected especially if you are driving an RV.  Make sure to go to the speed you are comfortable and pull over at the passing spots to let other cars by.

Driving to Tofino


Checking In and Resort Office at Crystal Cove Beach Resort

The Crystal Cove Beach Resort office is open from 8:30am to 10:00pm everyday which is great to acomodate later arrivals.  Upon arrival you will be walk into a beautiful log cabin type building where you will be greeted by friendly staff to help you to check in.  The resort office beyond checking you in offers tour information, a list of sample menus for local restaurants in Tofino, complimentary DVD rentals, books to borrow as well as board games to play.  You can also purchase firewood, laundry soap, ice as well as tours.  The office also has a complimentary computer, telephone and big screen TV for guest use.

Additional to all the great amenities that Crystal Cove Beach Resort Office has to offer they also have Bean at the Cove Coffee Bar.  Bean at the Cove Coffee Bar offers complimentary brewed coffee in the morning or offer teas, lattes, americanos, pastries and more for a price.  Bean at the Cove Coffee Bar is open daily in the Summer from 8:30am to 3:00pm (June-September) and the rest of the season from 8:30am to 1:00pm.


Cabins and Cottage Accommodation at Crystal Cove Beach Resort

Cottage and Cabin Tofino Accommodation at Crystal Cove Beach Resort

One of the options for your Tofino accommodation is staying in a cabin or cottage at Crystal Cove Beach Resort.  The resort is home to 34 modern log cabins which include a full kitchen, BBQ on the deck as well as a fireplace.  Some of the cabins sit right along the MacKenzie Beach while others are tucked into the rainforest.  We did not get the opportunity to stay in the cabins as we were camping in our RV but when we return we will definitely be staying in one of these cabins!  To check out all the cabins offered at Crystal Cove Beach Resort check out their website here. 


RV Camping at Crystal Cove Beach Resort

We had the opportunity to camp for two nights at Crystal Cove Beach Resort and loved every minute of it including the rain!  This is the premiere Tofino RV park and camping that offers year-round RV camping in private spots that are tucked into the lush rainforest.  Each site offers 30 amp power, sewer and water hook ups as well as a picnic table, wireless internet and a fire pit.

Crystal Cove Beach Resort RV Park and Camping Tofino AccommodationThe shower house has flush toilets and offers warm showers that do not need tokens and have no timers shutting off the water.  We stayed in site 7 and had lots of space in our campsite and felt secluded.  We were just steps away from the laundry, washrooms, office as well as the beach.  Check out the campground map here to find the spot best for you!


Things to Know Before Visiting Crystal Cove Beach Resort

Crystal Cove Beach Resort

We highly suggest you make a reservation whether it is during peak season or low season.  Tent camping is not available at Crystal Cove Beach resort, but there are plenty of other places you can camp including Pacific Rim National Park if you are travelling with your tent.  There is a minimum of three night minimum stay during peak season and two night minimum stay during low season.  Pets are welcomed at Crystal Cove Beach Resort as long as they are on leash on the grounds.


Top Things to do at Crystal Cove Beach Resort

Our top recommended thing is to watch the sunrise over MacKenzie Beach it will be the perfect way to start your day.  The pink and purple hues that light the sky as the sun begins to rise behind the campground are a site you will not want to miss.  Watch the waves crash into the rocks and listen to the sound of the beach.  This serene setting is the best way to start your day with a cup of coffee from Bean at the Cove Coffee Bar.

Sunrise at MacKenzie Beach Tofino Crystal Cove Beach Resort

Explore the grounds of Crystal Cove Beach Resort with the beautiful organic gardening that is located throughout the grounds and the beach.  Explore the winding roads that take you through the rows of beachfront cabins and cottages, private RV sites and find your spot for your next visit to this hidden gem of a Tofino destination.

Crystal Cove Beach Resort Tofino Accommodation


Crystal Cove Beach Resort is one of the nicest campgrounds we have ever stayed in with the beach access steps away from all accommodations, the complimentary drip coffee, board games, DVDs and books all for borrow really are a nice touch.  It is the perfect getaway for family, couples and friends.  Regardless of your trip you will not be dissapointed with your stay at Crystal Cove Beach Resort and we cannot wait to come back!

Staying at Crystal Cove Beach Resort Tofino Accommodation Staying at Crystal Cove Beach Resort Tofino Accommodation

What to do in Tofino When it’s Raining

Sitting along the Pacific Ocean Tofino is well known for its storms.  People flock from around the world to cozy up in their cabins and watch the storms roll off the ocean.  But what do you do in Tofino when it’s raining and you still want to get out and explore this beautiful coastal town?

Raining in Tofino

 

We had the opportunity to experience a true Tofino rain storm where it rain over 150mm of rain during the day we were planned on exploring.  Well we didn’t let a little (A LOT) of rain stop us.  The most important thing when coming to Tofino is come prepared for the rain.  Make sure to check out our post on what to pack while visiting Tofino.

Here is our guide on what to Tofino when it’s raining!

Rainforest Trail Hike

Tofino Rainforest Trail

Head to the Rainforest Trail just outside of Tofino when it’s raining.  This beautiful hike is covered under the thick canopy of the rainforest that cuts the rain significantly.  Located in Pacific Rim National Park this scenic Rainforest Trail is one of most popular hikes amongst visitors and locals alike.  The trail has two loops one on each side of the highway.  We opted to explore loop A that is a 1.2km loop on the wooden boardwalk weaves you through the rainforest with thousands of year old trees.  The loop should take you no more than an hour with stopping at each of the interpretative signs to learn as you go. On a rainy day you wont see many others out on the trail so you will have this majestic forest all to yourself.


Bundle Up and Walk the Beaches

Tofino when its raining

People come from all over the world to watch the storms – why stay inside and miss the beauty of Tofino in the rain?  Head over to Cox beach and watch the swells roll into the beach and slam against the rocks.   Go for a walk along the beach you will be surprised how many other adventurers you will find out amongst you but it will still be very peaceful!


Head to the Long Beach Lodge Resort Grab a Drink or Bite to Eat & Play Games

Long Beach Lodge Resort

Where can you go watch the rain but stay dry in Tofino when it’s raining? Head over and check out the Long Beach Lodge Resort.  Go in for a full meal or just a cup of hot chocolate or coffee to warm up! Make sure to grab a seat by the floor to ceiling windows that over look Cox beach.  Looking to spend an few hours here? Ask your server for board games – they are tucked away but they would be happy to pull them out for you!


Go Surfing

Tofino in Rain

You get wet when you go surfing so it doesn’t matter whether its raining or not! Book a beginning surf lessions with one of the may companies that offer beginingers surf lessions or if you have surfed before rent a board and go hit the waves!


Go Whale Watching

Looking for an excursion in Tofino when it’s raining that takes you out on an adventure? Whale watching goes out rain or shine (as long as the storms arnt too bad – call your tour operator before you head over).  The whales don’t appear based on the weather so head out on a covered boat or if your brave in one of the zodiac boats for an experience you wont soon forget.


Head to Tacofino

Tacofino

Tacofino is open rain or shine and this is an experience you need to have before you leave Tofino.  Offering a variety of tacos, burritos and more this is THE place to get tacos in the city.   Surprisingly enough the line on a rainy day to get a taco was equally as long as it is on a sunny day.  Getting a taco should be on your bucket list during your visit to Tofino.


Go Puddle Jumping

Why not play in the rain? Relive your childhood a bit and go for a jump in these massive puddles! We had so much fun jumping around in the puddles and you should too!  Head outside in Tofino when it’s raining with your rainboots and make sure to have some fun!

Tofino Puddle Jumping


Tofino when it's raining

Ultimate Packing Guide for Tofino

The beautiful coastal town of Tofino is well known for its epic storms that roll off the Pacific Ocean.  Your trip to Tofino can be sun filled or equally beautiful with its moody rain storms.  It is really important when packing for your trip to make sure you are ready so you can enjoy your time here rain or shine.  When preparing your packing guide for Tofino make sure to check the weather forecast and be prepared for all types of weather since you will be on the coast.

Packing Guide for Tofino

Make sure to check out our guide on what to do in Tofino when it is raining to be sure you don’t miss out on any of the great experiences Tofino has to offer!

We have prepared our packing guide for Tofino so you are sure to be ready when you visit!

Everyday Packing Guide for Tofino

Packing Guide for Tofino

Tofino is known as a surftown and their attire reflects that with its relaxed lifestyle and casual attire that is accepted everywhere throughout the city.  Be prepared to dress in layers as the tempature can change throughout the day and with a change in the weahter as well.  Make sure to pack light weight shirts, sweaters or a fleece layer, warm socks, hat and mitts and a hair tie to help keep your hair from blowing around in the wind.


How to Prepare for the Rain

Tofino when its raining

To make sure you are well prepared for the possible rain make sure you pack a waterproof jacket, rain boots, rain pants if you plan on going outside.  A spare change of clothes is also recommended considering you may soak through your gear depending on how long you spend outside.  If you forgot to bring a part of your rain gear we highly recommend heading over to the Tofino Pharmacy located at 360 Campbell Street right in the downtown and they have everything you could need from rain boots, rain jackets and pants to food, souvenirs and more.  To top it all off Tofino Pharmacy is incredibly well priced for their rain gear – we both got a pair of rain pants for $30/each!


Hiking in Tofino

Hiking in Tofino

Planning on heading out for a hike in Tofino? Make sure to have hiking boots or sturdy running shoes.  If any of your shoes are waterproof or have waterproof soles that is even better as if it is not raining the trails could still be wet or muddy and no one likes wet feet!  Make sure to bring water and a snack on the trails with you as some of the hikes are quite long and you could find yourself in need of a drink or snack and there are no conveniences along the trails.  A hat and sunglasses are ideal on sunny days and a rain jacket or wind breaker are a good idea to bring with you if there is rain in the forecast.

Visiting Niagara Falls in Goldstream Provincial Park

While visiting the picturesque Goldstream Provincial Park make sure not to miss Niagara Falls.  Although not the world famous attraction in Niagara, Ontario this Niagara Falls is special all on its own.  The waterfall falls 47.5 metres in a narrow stream into a beautiful pool at the bottom.  This is an easy hike to reach the falls and can easily be done in less than 30 minutes round trip.  Whether you are planning on pairing this hike with the Goldstream Provincial Park Trestle Bridge Hike or doing this hike on its own it is one not to miss.

Hiking to Niagara Falls

Where to Park

Lets start with where to park! There are several different options – you can park in the main parking lot located on the east side of the Island Highway at the entrance to the provincial park.  There are two areas for parking but make sure you come early to get a spot as it quickly fills up!  We were in an RV and the main parking lot was already full, but don’t fret as just up the Island Highway heading north not even an minute away there is another large dirt area that looks like an extension of the highways shoulder is a popular area for large vehicles and overflow parking.

Getting to Niagara Falls

Once you have parked if you are coming from the main parking lot in the day use area heading north towards the Nature House and follow the trail into the forest.  You will come to a junction and turn left which will take you up a gravol path to a bridge where you will see a large tunnel that heads under the highway.  This is how you will cross to the otherside of the provincial park to start your hike.

If you are located in the overflow parking just up the Island Highway you have two options – you can either follow the shoulder of the highway up a ways and on the other side you will see an opening that goes up a hill onto the hiking trail.  You do need to cross the highway median and the highway is often very busy so be careful if this is the route you choose! The other option is to head north down a gravel path into the forest you will quickly come to the bridge on the right and the concrete tunnel that will take you under the highway.  *Note – we found it just as easy to take this path under the highway and less risky than crossing the highway*

Once you are at the concrete tunnel walk through it and you will enter a dried up creek bed.  Follow the creek bed north and within a few minutes the falls will come into view.  We really enjoyed spending sometime at Niagara Falls watching some of the fall leaves fall from the trees above and the relaxing sound of the water cascading over the rocks.

Hiking to Niagara Falls

Hiking to Niagara Falls Hiking to Niagara Falls Hiking to Niagara Falls