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Thread: The Small Border Crossings: Rouses Point, NY and Alburgh, VT

  1. #1
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    The Small Border Crossings: Rouses Point, NY and Alburgh, VT

    So this last trip I used my iPhone Google Maps GPS and both going to Canada and coming back from Montreal, it sent me to tiny border crossing stations. Really small stations, in Rouses Point, NY (going to Montreal) and Alburgh, VT (coming back from Montreal). As to why the GPS took me to these stations, that is a question for Google. It was my first time crossing at both of these stations.

    The Rouses Point station was accessed via State Route 78 west and then 2 north (I think). The 78W is very unusual as it takes you by a river and there is no guardrail and just a small, steep embankment between the north lane of 78W and the river. So if the road is slick and you skid, you and the car are going right into that river. It's unusual in my experience, travelling on US state routes, to see something like this.

    I knew I was headed to the Rouses Point border crossing because I went over a bridge that crossed Lake Champlain, and then I saw signs pointing me towards Rouses Point. The station is very small, one lane of traffic, one border guard, a pleasant, attractive young French Canadian woman in her early 30s or so. I think me and the guard were the only people within miles, there was no other traffic or signs of human life. She asked the usual battery of questions, I answered one using a few French words (poorly pronounced, of course) which made her laugh, and she let me into Canada. As I was leaving this station, it occurred to me, as a veteran of many, many crossings of the border between US and Canada, that the Canadian border guards are generally younger than their counterparts on the US side. It's very rare I see a Canadian border crossing customs agent over the age of 35.

    Coming back to the USA, my GPS took me to the Alburgh, VT station. As with the route to the Rouses Point, NY, border crossing, you go through a lot of country roads, small towns, farms. It occurred to me that the towns on both sides of the border are really similar, there are lots of farms and farm related vehicles on both sides. I did drive by one farm on my way to Alburgh that had a large flagpole with the Canadian flag sitting on top of it.

    Unlike with Rouses Point, NY, I didn't know exactly where I was headed. Before you get to the Alburgh, VT border crossing, there are no signs warning you are approaching the US border and even the GPS didn't mention anything about it (something for Google to work on). All of a sudden the station appears at what looks like the dead end of the road. Unlike with the Rouses Point station, you have to wait for a large electronic gate to lift up before you can even get into the Alburgh Station. When I got past the gate, I waited for the light to turn green and then drove into the one lane available for traffic.

    There was one guy in the station and just like at the Rouses Point station, I had the sense it was just me and this customs agent and no other humans anywhere nearby. No traffic, no activity.

    So the guy looks at me- he is an older guy than the Canadian lady at Rouses Point, maybe mid or late 40s. He asks me where I was coming from and I told him Montreal, and the purpose of my visit. So then he asks me, "why did you pick this station to cross at?????" I then told him my GPS sent me there. I guess it's mostly locals they are used to seeing at these crossings, but in fact my GPS did send me there. Anyway he asked me where I usually crossed and I told him Highgate Springs and I didn't really know why the GPS had sent me to his station. He then looked at my passport and bid me adieu without asking any further questions.

    If you are looking for duty free shops near these stations like there are near the big ones in Highgate Springs, VT and I-87 in NY, forget about it. You will be lucky if you can even find some place to get a cup of coffee nearby. These are very small, sleepy stations and afterwards I was thinking it must be awfully boring for that Canadian border guard lady and the US border guard guy. There did not seem to be anyone else around and really not much to do for them, except sleep.

  2. #2
    Before I had my Nexus Card, 90% of the time I would cross the border through Rouse’s Point, Montée Glass on the Canadian side.

    I would check the border wait times online before I crossed, and if there was anything over a 15 minute wait I would just take Rousse’s point. It’s only a 10 minute detour from I-87 and the last exit before you hit the main Lacolle Border, There are usually a lot less cars. Even with the one Customs Agent it was still about half the time to cross as the Lacolle border, unless it was a holiday weekend then it can be pretty backed up.

    Yes there is no Duty free but if you want grab a coffee or some snacks there’s places to stop when you get off the exit.

    I never had any issues with the road during the winter as well. (I’ve only accessed it through I-87 though)

  3. #3
    I always cross at Rouses Point. It's almost always quiet and easy, and well worth the extra 15 minutes or so. I find it quaint. Unlike the main VT border crossing at Highgate, which feels like a demilitarized zone, with concrete barriers and fencing, the Rouses Point crossing feels like the episode in I Love Lucy when they cross the Italian border on their bikes. It looks like a small house with a thatched roof. And then, after crossing, go left onto Rang Edgerton and get a nice tour of some Quebec fields. The only downside is that, with one agent, you can sit for a while if there's a car there getting questions--or, more likely, a truck.

  4. #4
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    Rouses Point has been one of my short cuts for years. I would use that crossing if the one at Champlain is over crowded. I drove my motorcycle through the Adirondack mountains last year heading to Montreal and crossed at Trout River, west of Champlain. Sounds similiar to EB's adventure. Trout River has a really small one car garage looking building for the custom agent to sit in. Leading up to the crossing, there was little or no signs indicating that I was crossing the border. I actually drove past the border agent and had to back up to show my documentation.

  5. #5
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    Here is an article that was in the Montreal Gazette about life in these small podunk towns on both sides of the border, in which they interviewed residents on both sides:

    http://montrealgazette.com/news/queb...-daily-hassles

  6. #6
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    Stanstead looks about 5x bigger then where I cross at Coburn Gore (based on the picture in that article). And I do agree that the Canadian Border guards are very young. At least half are female and some have been so attractive as to make my "Story" less convincing then I would have wished.

  7. #7
    The worse border guards are the dickless Americans that think they are Rambo.

  8. #8
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    If the Border Crossing at St Armand / Philipsburg HWY 89 is busy then the small crossing at Morrisville is only a couple of miles away. Also the single point Crossing at Lacoile instead of the main one on the 87
    I have used both. I usually check the website for crossing times and plan my route accordingly. It saves lots of time.
    Do unto other's as they would do unto you BUT DO IT FIRST

  9. #9
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    All who posted here today,,,,, I live in this area and can say you all are quite correct with your statements, especially the Prof's statement.

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