Calgary to Peace River – Ride Report

Hey All,


This is my first ride report and although it’s not very adventurous, it is a great ride.  Also, I see way too many RR’s of people heading to Alaska that ride slab from the US border all the way to Grande Prairie, which is near the mile 0 marker of the Alaska highway at Dawson Creek.  The route that I took this past weekend is about 2-3 hours longer of a ride but is much safer than riding amidst the cages on the racetrack known as highway #2 between Calgary and Edmonton.  Plus the scenery is dramatically better.


Anyway, my route would have me starting out in Calgary at around 6:30 am in an effort to get to my destination of Peace River in good time without feeling rushed.  The route is about 1050 kms (~650 miles) of which almost all of it is single lane mountain road with some of the best scenery Alberta has to offer.  I took about 300 pics on my trip up so I should have representative images from all the “hot spots” along the route.


My ride is an ’02 VFR that I got this past winter with some slight cosmetic damage.  I repainted it, added GPS (Zumo), a communication system (Autocom), heated grips/vest, Corbin seat, lowered footpegs, Helibars, Givi luggage, custom trunk mount, custom fender eliminator etc to make it my own. 


Although I’m riding with all of my luggage, I’m packed very light as I wont be camping (timing didn’t allow) and I’m only gone for 3 days.  I like having the trunk to just throw stuff in for easy access.  Spot rides there too.


So, here I am riding away from the sunrise heading west from Calgary along highway #1.  I think some of my favorite shots are shadow shots….



I had to stop for breakfast and gas so I pulled into the golden arches for a quick grease up.  Hard to complain about rotten Ronny’s when you have a view like this….

Then on the road again past Banff to head north on the Icefields Parkway, Hwy 93.  A side note, you can ride through Banff National park without buying a park pass, but you need to have one to ride the Icefields Parkway.  You can buy the Parkway pass a few km’s up the Parkway if the station is open.  If not then you can ride for free.


Unfortunately there was construction for about 20 km’s along highway #1 between Banff and the #93 turnoff so it added some extra time.  That being said, the slower speeds allowed for some good pictures while riding.





I turned north on the Parkway, stopped at the ranger station and showed my park pass and headed up the road for my first coffee stop at a small lake about 3 km’s up the road.  Not a sole was around and I enjoyed my coffee with this view:



Times like these are when you sit and appreciate the good decisions you’ve made in life in order to be able to experience places like this with the freedom of a motorcycle


Back on the road, traffic was light due to my early start.  My ride kept getting stopped due to the incredible scenery though.  There wasn’t a breath of wind or a cloud in the sky so I kept stopping to enjoy the views and take pictures.  I was working hard to not feel like I needed to get going.  At a couple of the stops there were a few tour busses full of foreigners experiencing Canada’s beauty so it was a bit laughable when they started taking pictures of me in my Darth Vader attire complete with mirrored visor…  Oh well, I guess I took pictures of Geisha when I was in Japan so we’re really not that different.

 Bow Lake (panoramic of about 8 photos or about 70 megapixels…):


Next stop, gas at the Saskatchewan Crossing gas station then on to the Columbia Icefields.  This was actually the first time I’ve been here in the middle of summer and have to say it’s beautiful.










I stopped along the side of the road to enjoy another coffee away form the crowds (I’m not a crowd guy. I’m from the prairies, I grew up in a town of less that 1000 people…).  Anyway, I parked across the road from the marker that indicates where the glacier was in 1942.  Pretty dramatic reduction in size in the last 66 years….  The 1908 marker was way out by the main highway.


Back on the road, I continued up to a nice lodge just south of Jasper for a quiet lunch by the river.  As I was rolling in I noticed chairs lined up along the river bank for people to enjoy quiet time on.  There was a guy sitting reading so being the nice guy that I am, I hit the kill on my bike so as to disturb him as little as possible.  I proceeded to unpack my lunch and sit and enjoy a great lunch and a glass of wine:



Unfortunately, I never did actually shut off the key on the bike so it sat there with the lights/grips etc on for about a ½ hour or more…  So, when I hit the button she just clicked…  Fortunately 2 couples on an ST-1300 and Wing had just pulled in so I go one the guys to give me a push.  Off I go into Jasper to get myself some fuel.


The ride from Jasper to Highway 40 is quite nice and brings you out of the mountains and into the foothills.  There’s a nice lake along the way on both sides of the roads.  It was about 85 degrees so there were quite a few people out.  Crazy clear water.



A short time later I was fortunate enough to see a black bear mother and here 2 cubs safely cross the road.




It also got me thinking that I hadn’t seen any wildlife to this point, which is really unusual for this area.  I find viewing wildlife in their natural state to be one of the highlights of riding in remote areas (ie NOT Banff) and seeing road kill is one of my least favorite.


The rest of the ride up through Grand Cache and Grande Prairie was nice and uneventful.  Traffic was very sparse and the views were fantastic.  Speed was adjusted accordingly… 😉










I arrived in Grande Prairie to be greeted with 95 degree temperatures.  I’ve spent a lot of time riding, biking, climbing, hiking and camping in the mountains and up north but the one thing I didn’t plan for was this kind of heat.  This morning I was wearing a heated vest and now I have to change from my Joe Rocket Ballistic pants to jeans.  I’ve become so accustomed to riding in gear 100% of the time that I feel naked…  At least I don’t want to pass out from the heat.  In hind sight I guess I should’ve worn my Joe Rocket Alter Ego gear. 


Anyway, another hour and a half in the northern prairie and I’m at my destination and drinking good beer!


Day 2 and 3 to come.



Wes Hill, P.Eng.

Completions Coordinator

Quicksilver Resources Canada Inc.

(403) 538-5873 Office

(403) 831-7229 Cell



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3 Responses to Calgary to Peace River – Ride Report

  1. Flanders says:

    Dude, I have been on vacation driving mountain roads in a mini van with tent trailer in tow. It was fantastic but I could not help thinking about being ona bike. These pictures make it worse. Good for you. Great pictures and comments.

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