Europeans love Canada’s rugged wilderness, especially from the comfort of a rental RV

By Jan Westell   Trail Canada

Backcountry camping, cooking over an open fire, enjoying spectacular vistas, and potentially viewing wildlife unique to this country. That is the kind of natural appeal that many Europeans are seeking, when they visit Canada.

One of the most popular means of travel is with a rental recreational vehicle, (RV) in which a small family can sleep, eat, drive and sightsee in comfort. It’s one of Canada’s growing tourism industries. Some RV rental companies have made this form of travel, especially convenient, for those who want long distance travel. Visitors can arrive in Halifax, Nova Scotia on the east coast, rent an RV, and drop in it off in Montreal, (Quebec) Halifax, Calgary (Alberta) Vancouver (B.C.), or even White Horse (Yukon Territories), depending on the drop-off options available from an RV rental agency.

Travelers to B.C., may elect to rent their RV in Delta, B.C., near the city of Vancouver, which is close to the Tsawwassen B.C. Ferries terminal, for destinations on Vancouver Island, or ports further north, such as Prince Rupert, where highway travel to Vancouver – or across the Rockies – to Calgary, are just two of many tour options.

With good weather, not always a guarantee in coastal areas, the Inside Passage can be a memorable B.C. travel experience. Depending on the time of year, visitors may view Orca whales, dolphins, sea lions and seals, on their passage across Georgia Strait, or the northerly route to Prince Rupert. Those visiting the southern part of Vancouver Island can enjoy shopping, fine dining, and comfortable RV parks. Those visiting northern Vancouver Island, or further beyond the port of Prince Rupert, will enjoy a more rustic experience, including a rugged landscape, and an opportunity to spot deer, bear and occasionally, moose.

International visitors who arrive in Calgary, Alberta, will have similar travel opportunities with a rental RV. They can travel west to the national parks in the Rocky Mountains, including Jasper, Banff, and the more remote Waterton National Park, which has not suffered from development pressures, as its neighbour has.

“It’s a throw back to the 50’s,” says Brian Gronberg, the president of
CanaDream RV Vacations, based in Calgary. “That’s what Banff used to look like.”

Occasionally Gronberg gets to travel to CanaDream’s nine RV sales and service centres located across Canada, and marvels at the beauty that isn’t restricted to the rugged wilderness of the west. Canada’s prairies have their own charm, which are dry, flat and golden with wheat and canola fields in the south, but heavily wooded in the north, with hundreds of lakes and excellent fishing. It’s a nation that competes well with any other international destinations, according to Gronberg.

“It truly is amazing,” he says. “We have a great product.”

About 10 per cent of Fraserway RV customers are Canadian, says the public relations and customer service manager of an RV rental company with outlets in B.C., Calgary, Halifax, Toronto and White Horse. Bernie Lehmann notes that business has grown substantially in the past 15 years. That growth is mainly with European customers who are escaping their own heavily populated countries, in favour of solitude and natural surroundings typical of northern B.C., the Yukon Territories and Alaska. “They like the wide open spaces,” he adds.

Many international visitors have ambitious plans to travel from coast to coast, with some succeeding in that quest, while others opt for a more relaxed pace. One of the most popular destinations for visitors to the west coast, according to Lehmann, is Wells Gray Provincial Park in B.C., located north of Kamloops on the Yellowhead Highway. This park can be conveniently approached from Vancouver or Calgary, yet offers the kind of isolated experience that is typical of more remote areas. As for campsite availability: even in summer months, Lehmann says there is never a problem with an RV, which can be parked anywhere – with simplicity

“ˇThere is always over flow camping, that they will find.”

British Columbia

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