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Radium Hot Springs

Cranbrook to Radium or Bust

We moseyed our way from Cranbrook to Radium arriving a little after 1 pm. A short, scenic drive.

Our campground, The Canyon RV Resort, is down a long, really steep road. The “prime” campsites abut the Sinclair Creek, a fast flowing, pristine stream that goes through the middle of the campground. We’re in the cheap seats in the balcony row:

It IS in a canyon


We’ve experienced some exceptional scenery during our trip, but Holy Cow is this area of Canada beautiful. Many of the streams we drove past were turquoise and there was still snow on some of the mountain peaks.

A Wayside on our Way to Radium


Our Campsite . . .


. . . and our Neighbors



We’ll be heading to the Trailer Court Campground in Banff on Wednesday, but decided to get the jump on things by purchasing our Parks Canada “passes” . . . actually two annual, over 65, Discover passes . . .

The best bargain for a multi-day park stay


We also investigated part of the mountain road to Banff because we were concerned about how steep it was. Turns out, pretty steep.

In less than 10 miles from Radium, the elevation changes from 808 m (2651 ft) to 1480 m (4856 ft) with stretches of grades staring at 11% (yeow!), then 6%, and finally 8%. While it didn’t seem like too much while driving up in our Jeep, our 18-year-old RV handles a bit differently. Though our motorhome’s diesel has enough torque, you have to be very careful not to let the engine overheat. We’ll see tomorrow.

It’s All About the Grade



There a good chance we won’t be posting anything while in Banff. There’s no WiFi, our Verizon data is limited, and our HughesNet Gen 5 sat dish may not work up here.

O Canada!

Our Journey North (click on map to enlarge)

We crossed the border into Canada yesterday afternoon and were immediately set upon by armed Canadian militia who have imprisoned us in chain link cages.

Just kidding.

It was a lonnnng trip (for us) from the Spokane area to Cranbrook, BC. About 5 hours. We’ve been used to driving less that 100 miles for a while, so this trip was a haul.

Nevertheless, we camped at the Crandon / St Eugene KOA (Kampgrounds Of America). We usually avoid KOAs as they are the McDonald’s of campgrounds — pricey, not much substance, but a guaranteed level of mediocrity.

However, the Cranbrook KOA was different from the get go. It was the sign on the office that clued us in . . .

Ok, so it’s run by the Ktunaxa Nation


The Ktunaxa Nation opened this KOA just a year ago in 2018. So, firstly, the campground is brand new, but it’s the “room service” that got us — They Deliver Food to Your RV Site.

So after a 5-hour drive nothing beats having a burger delivered to your motorhome door. Yowzah!

The campground is spread out with great views of nearby mountains . . .


We Are There

Also, the KOA is built several kilometers (not “miles” anymore) from town and it’s next to the St Mary River . . .



  • We have been able to mingle freely with the inhabitants. I guess we’re passing as Canadians.
  • The local Safeway only had Eveready and not Duracell batteries. Also, no Keebler cookies. Plus, they don’t sell wine or hard stuff in the Safeway. Had to travel to a liquor store, but found Tanqueray 10!!! Been looking for that ambrosia for ages.
  • So far it’s been debit/credit card only. No cash.
  • Though DISH satellite TV worked just fine (and with Spokane local stations), HBO wouldn’t let us stream the Little Big Lies finale as we were no longer in the US.
  • Finally, as soon as we crossed the border my AT&T Mobley died and Verizon switched over to TELUS with a 500 MB daily data limit, but the KOA WiFi saved the day.


Crow Butte Park (Paterson, WA)

Crow Butte Park on the Columbia River Island (click to enlarge)

We stayed at camp site #28 in Crow Butte Campground for five nights. It was great!

Many of the sites are large pull-throughs and there’s plenty of space between sites. Though the Columbia riverside sites, including ours, are close to the river, you have to walk through narrow trails to get down to the river. Plus, there are rattlesnake warnings everywhere.

I will obey


Our Site #28



There’s a small swimming beach near the park. Flirt loved it, but it was wading depth only.

I want to swim, not wade


Crow Butte Beach


While we were investigating the beach, several flocks of pelicans flew over our heads.


The campground is full of sycamore trees that are “shedding”. Mowing the grass becomes something new.



Finally, during our first night we saw a line of blinking red lights in the distance. Airport? UFO landing base? Neither. Turns out they were aircraft warning lights on the tops of wind towers. Weird, but interesting.

These lights merit a reality show



How We Select Campgrounds

Our 2019 Route – 45 campgrounds in 10 states and 2 countries (5,000 miles)

I use a fairly rigorous process to plan our route. Typically. Typically, the process works, but not always as you’ll see below.

For the past year I’ve been using an Internet-based program called RV Trip Wizard. This application has made planning much much easier as it combines a Google Map-like interface with detailed campground information which park telephone, address, elevation, facilities, park reviews, and so on.

Nevertheless, for me, selecting campgrounds is a multi-step process . . .

First, Where Are We Going?

Because it’s become increasingly difficult to book choice campgrounds, we start trip planning at least a year in advance.

Our long trips have one or more “destinations”. These are places we want to see and to spend several days at like Banff National Park in Canada.

Second, What’s the Route?

After selecting the major destinations, we rough out a route between them and guesstimate when we could “comfortably” arrive at each destination. For us “comfortably” means as much as possible following the 2-2-2 Rule: driving 200 miles or less between campgrounds (we’re currently averaging 116 miles), arriving before 2 pm, and staying at least 2 days.

Third, Destination Reservations

Since destination campgrounds are very popular, you’ll typically find “No room at the inn” if you just drive in without a reservation, especially in the peak summer season. People have successully done this, but it’s a great way to ruin a trip.

We made reservations for Banff National Park at 8 am on January 9th — the time and day when Banff officially opened for 2019 reservations. Even then, most of the prime locations and times vanished in minutes. However, we were able to score 10 days in a row but in 3 different sites in July.

We made a 2-week reservation at Grand Canyon’s Trailer Court one year in advance.

Third, What are the In-Between Places?

I try to leave the in-betweens, the campgrounds between destinations, unreserved as long as possible. We might change our route, have RV problems, etc, etc. However, it is becoming increasingly harder to get campgrounds in summer, especially on weekends when families flock to the parks.

So we ended up booking many of our in-between campgrounds weeks or even months before arriving.

Fourth, Reservations: Art or Science?

A bit of both I think.

Campground reviews are indespensible. Usually I check Campground Reviews (which are incorporated into RV Trip Wizard), Google/Trip Advisor reviews, Campendium, and RV Parky.

Google and Trip Advisor Reviews

Finally, Google is indispensable. It allows you to examine the roads into a park, the terrain, local area, places to shop, and so on. Also, Google’s Street Views are fantasic because often you can look at the outside (and sometimes the inside) of an RV park.

Fifth, What Could Go Wrong?

Plenty. Here’s a recent example. Last night I was reviewing the final 3 campgrounds we’ll stay at before arriving at Banff. I had reservations at all three.

Using Google maps, I was looking for a Safeway grocery store near the Twin Rivers Canyon Resort in Moyie Springs, ID where we would be spending two days.

Then I noticed the road coming into the Twin Rivers campground . . .

Switchbacks = Serious Elevation


Switchbacks. That meant some serious elevation changes, so I checked the park reviews, and sure enough, bad mojo:

I Guess I Missed This Review — Our Motorhome is 41 feet long


Jan and I like to look at mountains, but we don’t like to drive on them.

We’re Midwestern Flatlanders at heart.

So at about midnight I decided to cancel our reservation at Twin Rivers and look for new lodgings. Luckily, given the late hour, I was able to make online reservation at two campgrounds. One is a KOA which I call the “McDonalds of campgrounds” — a sure bet, but mediocre. Mission accomplished.


After and Before (click on map to enlarge)


Columbia River Travels

Astoria, OR – Crossing the Columbia

Going Up


Coming Down


Woodland, OR – Watching the Boats



Boardman, OR – Camping @ Boardman Marina & RV Park

Front View


View from Our RV


Walking Path around the Campground




People Swimming


Flirt Swimming