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To the Canadian Rockies: have dog, will travel (in an EV)

We first adventured far, far North to the Canadian Rockies more than a decade ago. It was a dream back then and we gawked at the distance and time. Since that trip, we have been back to this incredibly spectacular place at just about every available opportunity. And we crave that sparkling summer beauty-the huge lakes, glacial valleys, raging rivers, welcoming towns (even being from Colorado)- and can't wait to paddle, backpack, hike, camp and eat our way through the Northern Rockies again and again. 


Waterton Lakes




Mt. Robson

For our most recent trip, we added a few variables to the adventure: our trusty sidekick, Joonah (dog) and our method of transportation, an electric vehicle (EV).  We all know that U.S. National Parks are not dog friendly, though we did manage to navigate short stops through Yellowstone and Teton en route to British Columbia.  Here's the video:

But, good news! Canada's National Parks, for the most part, are open to dogs!  The bad news, as we've learned from previous road trips with dog in an EV, is that spontaneous doesn't always result in fun when you need a place to sleep for a family of four: to include about six hours of slow-charging and that allows a dog.

So, first things first! Big, big trips require a little more purpose for us now and we need a plan: where are dogs welcome? where is charging infrastructure? and where do they overlap? This takes time and patience but thankfully many resources are dedicated to help. 

Love, love, love the dog-friendly Lander Llama Bunk House!

Traveling with a Pet:

Have you ever used BringFido? This is a great resource that is rapidly bringing together information on the world of businesses and places that love pets. We also frequently filter Tripadvisor for "pet friendly."  And, every backcountry and frontcountry campground reservation on the Parks Canada reservation website lets you know if dogs are welcome. In addition to these resources, we've found that it's usually worth a little more online investigation around rules, cost and requirements for pets...just to be safe. 


We drive electric vehicles powered at home with rooftop PV and Renewable*Connect  (and, BTW, in Colorado all of our electricity is happily, rapidly transitioning to clean and renewable)-- because every time I climbed into our gas-guzzling, greenhouse-gas-emitting, internal-combustion-driven coches, I felt like a terrible hypocrite.  We will never go back to gas and fortunately we won't need to. 

We went with Tesla because, well, we drive often and far into the wild. When we decided to go electric, Tesla EVs had the longest range and most convenient charging infrastructure (I think still true for the next few years) and, frankly, our Model 3 is the best vehicle we have ever owned and we have used it for everything: errands, road trips, backpacking and winter sports (+ snow tires and the Model 3 shreds!).  

Coming back to a full battery (and pre-cooled interior) after 4 days in the backcountry.

For Tesla cars, superchargers make things very fast and easy. And there is a supercharger in Jasper! But there are still gaps in supercharging infrastructure (think anywhere close to Glacier National Park) which requires a longer stay to fill up the battery on slower electrons. We call this trickle charging and it has made for some of our best hotel finds (Entrada Escalante Lodge in Escalante, Utah), created serendipitous experiences in new locations (hiking the Trail of the Cedars while charging in the Northern Cascades), but also can be very frustrating (there is one charger that works for our cars in Pagosa Springs, Colorado which we have used twice, is often occupied, and is ridiculously expensive).  Also, some slow chargers include $/kWh fees plus parking fees and have time limits which can make for a cold midnight jaunt to move the car.

charging in Newhalem, WA (Northern Cascades)

Charging locations can be found through the Tesla destination charging map, and, our go-to charging resource, PlugShare.  Slow charging can be very pleasant if you find a spot walkable to any of the following: shopping, food, hikes, a movie theater, museums, paddling, a place where you can spend some time working remotely (i.e. digital nomad) or even if it's just close to a park.  We've also reserved campsites with electric hook-ups for really slow charging. 

campsite with electric hookup (we were the only non-RV)

To the North!

So we can't backpack the Tonquin Valley or Skyline trails because dogs are not allowed. But dogs are allowed just about everywhere else in the Canadian Rockies. And campgrounds have running water, kitchen shelters (sometimes with wood burning stoves) and showers. Many are located within walking or biking distance to welcoming townsites (Waterton, Redstreak, Wapiti, Tunnel Mountain, Lake Louise) which provide supplies, nice breaks and access to restaurants, museums, movie theaters and basketball courts. 

Redstreak campground is walkable-ish to town and hot springs.

As for charging, getting from the supercharger in Missoula or Helena to the next supercharger in Canmore or Invermere is still a challenge without going many miles out of our way.  We loved our quiet early June stay at Mountain Lake Lodge but it is a bit pricey and is typically fully booked for the summer season.

So stay tuned for more on traveling, with dog in an EV through the Canadian Rockies and British Columbia. 

Bring on the adventure!