Getting to the Farm
Most festivals are fairly straightforward when it comes to transportation. For a show at the Gorge, you drive due east from Seattle, get in a line of cars, and get directed to your campsite. EDC is even simpler: Get to your hotel or campsite, hop in a shuttle to the Speedway, enter the festival grounds. Shambhala is just a little different, especially if you’re coming from the southern side of the Canadian border. Crossing the border can always be a hassle, so here are a few quick tips for anyone heading to the Farm from the United States.
DMNW Pro-Tip #1: Save the entirety of the route to Shambhala in “Offline Maps” in Google Maps, to ensure you can still find your way in areas with spotty cell service. You can find step-by-step instructions on that here.
Google Map your trip to Shambhala from Seattle, and the first result will likely tell you to head east to Spokane, and then head due north from there until you hit the border. That route will take you to the Nelway Border Crossing. Once you cross in Nelway, you’ll be approximately 10-15 minutes away from Shambhala, continuing on until you see signs directing you to turn left into the festival and onto a narrow dirt road. Follow that dirt road for a few minutes and you’ll soon find yourself in the line of cars leading into the campsite entryway.
Keep in mind, Nelway is a tiny crossing, manned by just a few border patrol guards with 1-2 lines for entry. It’s also the most-used road into Shambhala, so be prepared to wait for a long time. The guards know there’s a festival happening 12 miles north of the border, and as such will tear apart each and every car to ensure nothing illegal is making its way into Canada. It should go without saying, but do not attempt to bring any narcotics — including marijuana — into the country. Also worth noting, the Nelway crossing is open from 8am-midnight.
To avoid the longer lines, you can (and honestly should) opt for the Paterson Crossing (denoted above), heading north right when you hit the Gorge, taking WA-283 north rather than continuing on I-90 east. Paterson is open 24 hours, and in terms of driving time will add approximately 45 minutes to your trip. Even with the added time though, you’ll get less hassle at the border, with shorter lines and a larger staff of border guards to get you across in a timely manner. Head about 10 minutes north of that crossing, and you can go to Ferraro Foods in Rossland for affordable local groceries, before heading east to the Farm.
If you’re headed to the Paterson Crossing, be sure you’re following the correct signs — there’s another, smaller border station that follows the Columbia River that’s also going to be small, crowded, and difficult to get through.
COVID-19 requirements for crossing the border
As we start to get a sense for what travel looks like in the age of COVID, it’s important to remember that there are requirements for crossing the border. Any and everyone coming into Canada at a border checkpoint must download the ArriveCAN app in order to enter the country.
You’ll need to submit your information in the app within 72 hours of when you’ll be crossing the border. If you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with at least one booster shot, you will need to upload proof of vaccination into the app with a high-resolution photo of your physical card, including your name, the name of the government or organization who administered the vaccine doses, the brand name of the vaccine (i.e. Pfizer, Moderna, etc.), and the dates you received your vaccines. QR codes will not be accepted as proof of vaccination.
If you are unvaccinated, you will have to answer a series of questions at this link to determine whether an exception can be made for you.
DMNW Pro-Tip #2: Be sure to withdraw Canadian money before you skip town to avoid ATM fees at the festival; call ahead to your local branch to make sure they carry foreign money, as not every bank does (take out at least $300-400 for the weekend just to be on the safe side). The exchange rate right now is favorable to Americans, with $1 equaling $1.30 Canadian dollars.
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