Road Trip to Revelstoke
I’m going to admit I was very excited for this road trip, yet somewhat apprehensive! Growing up in England, I always drove European style manual transmission rally cars, like Peugeots, and Renaults, and my first vehicle in Canada was a Subaru, which I chose because of the all wheel drive element. I have to confess, the ‘bu is getting a little old these days, and I fear this drive will leave me with a strong desire to trade her in for something new. All wheel drive and standard gears are something I need in a vehicle (Call me a control freak, but automatic makes me feel lazy) so with Audi’s Quattro technology, history of racing mechanics and general DNA…I think an Audi may be a new match made in heaven for me…but, I am one lucky driver as I have 3 days with an Audi A3 to test it out on some of Canada’s most stunning, and challenging roads. So let’s see if an Audi could potentially be a new set of wheels for this excited road-tripper.
The model I was given was a Audi A3 TDI Diesel, FWD, so this was a perfect test for me to drive something very different to what I am used to. Firstly, for a diesel, the engine was surprisingly quiet, and I later learned, really powerful. Erik from Audi Royal Oak was incredibly helpful and got my phone and music all set up and synced and helped me get fully acquainted with the vehicle. He walked me through all the excellent toys and tools in the cockpit, and after a bit of time to get familiar with everything I headed out on highway 1, and began my relationship with my first Audi.
With 3 national parks to pass through on the route, this drive is truly stunning with everything you would wish to see in the Canadian mountains. Not only will did my drive take me through the rockies but also the Columbia mountain range. We have bends, inclines, nature, varying speeds and the inherent challenges of other drivers and traffic! A perfect road test.
The first National Park is Banff, with a stop just before it’s gates at the Three Sisters in Canmore…
As the drive becomes more spectacular, it’s time to take advantage of some pit stops and views along the way. First, Spiral Tunnels in Field. I found the history of this to be more fascinating than the views, however the sounds of the trains coming down and around is magnificent. J.E Schwitzer designed this part of track in an effort to overcome the steep gradient for the trains in this area, He modeled the Spiral Tunnels after a system used in Switzerland. In 1909 the Spiral Tunnels were completed and after 25 years of use, the Big Hill grade was abandoned. With a gentler grade, descents became safer and slower, spur lines and rear pushers were no longer necessary, and scheduling delays and operating costs were reduced. Although the Spiral Tunnels were a great improvement for the grade, rockfall, mudslides and avalanches are some of the challenges we still face today in this area where nature reigns supreme.
There are two viewpoints where you can safely watch trains and learn more about the Spiral Tunnels and Kicking Horse Pass National Historic Site of Canada. On average, 25 to 30 trains pass through the Spiral Tunnels daily, though not on a regular schedule.
Just on the other side of Banff /Yoho National Park is our halfway stop in Golden. Amazing BBQ food is available at the Firepit BBQ Smokehouse! If you have time for a really great meal at this stop…do it! I stop to refuel here only to notice that I have only used one eighth of a tank. Wow.
Glacier National park is our next mountain climb in the Audi, and these roads were no challenge at all for the A3. On inclines and passing lanes the car felt really safe, there’s peace of mind passing big trucks knowing that the engine has guts and power, and quick speed increases are no problem at all even for the diesel. Rogers pass was a great test, and a perfect spot for a hike along the Hermit Trail.
There’s more to see along the route as we get to Mount Revelstoke National Park. including the Giant Cedars Nature Trail, or lush wetland along the Skunk Cabbage Nature Trail and Meadows-in-the-Sky Parkway where you can enjoy stunning mountaintop views from the summit of Mount Revelstoke, and view the town below.
I always thought of Revelstoke as a “stop for gas” town, unless you are skiing or boarding. However, this trip taught me that you need more than a couple of days to enjoy everything it has to offer.
Day two came with weather warnings and heat reaching a record highs, so I had to check out some of the cooler spots in the area, including the beach at Williamson Lake and then out to Begbie Falls.
Although we were at record highs, the areas were not over crowded and totally peaceful.
For lunch I chose the Revelstoke Golf Club. The town has many offerings for food and beverages but this is by far the nicest patio with great food and realistic prices. It’s peaceful and also has an award winning golf course well worth playing on if you have time.
All of these spots are easy to get to and a pleasure to drive to in the A3. The Bang & Olufsen stereo and media centre provide phenomenal sound for your entertainment, or if the peace of the mountains is your thing, open up the large sunroof to enjoy the mountain air.
After a busy day exploring in the A3, I head to bed, excited for my drive home the following day!
I fill up at the gas station, again, only needing less than half a tank, and hit the highway.
Sadly there was not enough time to stop to hike one more of the many trails that Glacier National Park has to offer, or the hot springs and suspension bridges just outside of town, but a quick stop at the Kicking Horse Rest stop gives great views of the river and interesting history of the area.
Lake Louise is always a true delight to stop at and visit. The ski hill looks great even in summer and the stunning glacier water looks deceptively inviting!
I pass Banff shortly after, where a quick and easy climb for the A3 takes us up to Mt. Norquay for another beautiful view of the town and surrounding mountain peaks.
After arriving back in the city it’s time to say goodbye to my new best friend. As someone who is very attached to standard transmission, the control I had with the automatic in the Audi was amazing. Not to mention, not needing to use the clutch was a blessing after a 5 hr hike up Hermit! Even without Quattro, the Audi A3 grips the road tightly even on the craziest mountain bends, and had some serious muscle for a FWD diesel. It was a beautiful looking car too. Most importantly I felt safe in this car and the trip was a total pleasure in this vehicle. I am however excited to one day test a model with the Quattro system, perhaps next time Audi Royal Oak will let me try an Audi R8 Coupe on the Autobahn?!
For your test drive or for any information on the Audi A3, give Audi Royal Oak a call at 403.547.5900 or check out their website