Driving to BC with Dogs, Prairies to Rockies

Days 4-6 of travelling to British Columbia with dogs. My partner Graham, our 2 chihuahuas, Becca and Delgado and I take a 30 day road trip from Toronto to Pacific Rim National Park, on Vancouver Island, BC and back again. We will be camping, staying at pet friendly hotels and participating in whatever activities will allow us to bring our furry family along.

The Plan: After crossing Ontario, the plan was to zip across Manitoba and Saskatchewan as quickly as possible and get to Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta.

The Reality: We had one night of decent weather, camping in east Saskatchewan, but the forecast was for rain and more rain if we stuck to our plan. Fortunately, we are flexible people.

We stayed at Fieldstone Campground near Moosomin, Saskatchewan on night four. Some fortuitous google maps misdirection led us into the actual town of Moosomin, rather than the campground. There was a really cool looking vintage grain elevator and we got some great shots of it, so google is forgiven this time (but not for all the other times it has led us astray on this trip!)

Grain Elevator
Grain Elevator

The campground itself was not located in the most scenic corner of Canada, but it was well kept and the sites seemed to have fairly good privacy. There were only a handful of people staying in the whole campground when we were there, so we barely saw or heard another soul. We visited mid-week in June, before the kids get out from school and the owners were obviously just getting geared up for summer.

There was a beautiful grove of fruit trees that met overhead along a lane way. I got some amazing photos early in the morning of the mist among the trees. I was a little bit devastated by all the blossoms on the ground - it looked like we missed them in full bloom by a week or so.

Morning Fog in Fieldstone Campground, Moosomin, Saskatchewan.
Morning Fog in Fieldstone Campground, Moosomin, Saskatchewan.

We had a very bold ground squirrel neighbour in our campsite. He did not care about the dogs AT ALL. He was foraging all around them, coming within inches. Becca was trembling, she just wanted to give him a little shake, SOOOO badly! If we had turned our backs for a second, I think she would have snatched him right up, but he didn't seem too concerned. Delgado was hilarious - the squirrel would come within a couple of inches of him and he would just turn his back and refuse to even look at it. This is the dog who is prepared to take on any Great Dane he meets, but he was completely defeated in the face of a little ground squirrel.  Fortunately for this fellow, we keep the dogs on leash at the campsite at all times.

A Ground Squirrel at our campsite in Saskatchewan was definitely pushing his luck with the dogs!
A Ground Squirrel at our campsite in Saskatchewan was definitely pushing his luck with the dogs!

We packed up and hit the road day 5, a lovely morning but it didn't last and soon enough we were back in rain. We kept our hopes up until about 4pm, but by that time the downpour was so torrential that camping was out of the question. We stayed in a motel in Swift Current, on the far west side of Saskatchewan. It was time to regroup. It was calling for the rain to continue for the next few days in the area of Dinosaur Park and for nice weather in the Rockies, but a few days later, it would reverse. Basically, it looked like sticking to our plan would mean we were stuck with bad weather indefinitely. We finally made the decision on the morning of day 6 to skip the badlands and head straight for The Rockies.

The rain was still heavy as we packed up the car that morning and we were really glad we hadn't tried to camp! I was becoming more and more apprehensive as the day wore on; the rain just was not letting up, but I was checking my weather app whenever I had a signal and it kept insisting that Banff was sunny. We reached Calgary...still raining and then, FINALLY, just past Calgary, the Rockies came into view AND WE COULD SEE THE SUN, streaming through the clouds! It was definitely a "hallelujah" moment...if we were that kind of people. Instead, we just took a lot of photos and felt our moods elevate, along with the...well...elevation.

The clouds break up and sun streams through, just as we approach the Rocky Mountains, near Banff National Park, Alberta. Hooray!
The clouds break up and sun streams through, just as we approach the Rocky Mountains, near Banff National Park, Alberta. Hooray!

I had gone on the Parks Canada website that morning to reserve us a site. I googled "best campground in Banff" and "best place to camp in Banff" and so on, and got little beyond the Parks' website and trip advisor. From reading trip advisor reviews, I had chosen Two Jack Lakeside Campground and it was lovely. If you are able to reserve one of the sites right on the lake, it would be well worth it. Having reserved only that morning, I wasn't able to get one of those sites, but ours was still pretty and only a short walk to the lake. The campground has lots of mature coniferous trees, which provide some privacy, but you can still see your neighbours. Despite this and the fact that the campground was full when we were there, it was almost eerily quiet. I kept catching myself whispering around the campsite! Although I didn't get a chance to check out the other campgrounds in Banff, I would not hesitate to recommend Two Jack Lakeside. In fact, we ran into some hikers from Red Deer a couple of days later, in Jasper. They spend a lot of time in the Rockies and said that Two Jack Lakeside was their favourite of the campgrounds in Banff.

Our two chihuahuas have a contemplative moment at Two Jack Lake.
Our two chihuahuas have a contemplative moment at Two Jack Lake.

Tracy Munson

Tracy Munson Photography, Humberside Ave, Toronto, ON, M6P, Canada