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Trip Report Banff / Jasper Trip 2.0

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Finally got to take our long-awaited trip to Banff and Jasper, after having to cancel our original plans in June (right during the flooding.) I will try to be brief and cover just the highlights.

Who: DH and myself, plus my brother and sister-in-law for the Banff portion.
When: Aug 31 - Sept 8
Where: Flew to Calgary, stayed in Canmore 4 nights; then DH and I went on to Jasper for 3 nights. Final night in Calgary.

Biggest Impression:
- Canadian Rockies are beautiful!! And different from the Colorado Rockies that I am more familiar with. There is wider valley area between the peaks, so you are not climbing in to mountain passes as much. Plus the peaks are not as high, so at least this time of year, you don't see the snow-capped peaks. The blues in many of the lakes are unlike anything I've seen in nature. You read about it, but you really must see it to appreciate it.

- Diversity: Being from the states, a trip to Canada is rarely considered 'international' travel. But I enjoyed a real international feel, from the signage all in English/French, to the French/German/UK accents we heard all around us, to the metric system and $1/$2 coins! Really added a sense of adventure and fun!

The Best:
- Thrifty Car Rental, from downtown Calgary office. I reserved our full size car here when the price of renting from the airport was about twice that of the downtown office. Cab ride downtown was $40. I asked the agent who helped us in the downtown office if they could help us secure a cab back to YYC when we dropped the car off; he told us we could return the car to the airport. He even changed our paperwork and signed it, to prove this was ok. Sure enough, no questions asked when we dropped off at YYC. So for just a $40 cab ride, we still saved nearly $300 by renting from downtown. Plus, it was our only chance to see downtown Calgary, which is lovely. I recommend this!!
(Also, this smaller office was out of everything except a very tricked out mini van, so we got a free upgrade! What a great start to our trip!)

- Canmore - We stayed here instead of Banff. Highly recommend this; also recommend Rundle Cliff condos, where we stayed. Lots of food/shopping options, plus activities.

- Grassi Lakes hike in Canmore: Fairly easy hike, and huge scenery payoff for the effort. Beautiful mirror effect in the lake.

- Georgetown Pub in Canmore - great fish & chips.

- Banff: As beautiful as all the pictures! Plus, great shopping! Recommend the
Rose & Crown pub; great lamb pita. Can you tell we like pub food?

- Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel; fun to just go walk around. Flowers were amazing! Such elegance everywhere!

- Icefields parkway: Peyto Lake, Sunwapta falls, Mistaya falls - beautiful!! Athabasca glacier. awesome. Easy hike up to the edge, worth doing.

- Jasper - Patricia lake Bungelows; we had a Grove Suite. Pricey, but very nice. Beautiful grounds and lake. Also, Pyramid Lake and the little island there - great for a casual stroll in a beautiful setting.

- Poutine at Jasper Brewing Co; I was determined to try this Canadian specialty, and was not disappointed! Also, pizza at Famoso's - real Italian style!

- Maligne Canyon: Breathtaking, a must see! Also, easy hike.

- Delta Calgary Hotel at YYC: Can't beat the convenience for an early morning flight back home. Took us 5 minutes to get from our room to the check in area for our flight. Actually, the Calgary airport was very easy to navigate both coming and going.

- Weather; thank you Canada for such beautify weather! Upper 70's for highs, clear blue skies, and barely any wind! Rained a bit our final two days, but can't complain at all!

Disappointments:
Not many, but I'll list a few things -
- Wildlife: Where was it?!? We saw a lot of warning signs, but only saw two elk in an entire week. DH and I even got up early (6:00 am) and went out in search, but nothing! Must have been their vacation too.

- Lake Louise/Morraine Lake on a holiday weekend: Don't get me wrong, these are beautiful spots, would not miss them for the world! We went on the Plain of Six Glaciers hike on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. Got there about 10:00 am, and had to go to overflow parking. Not too bad. But by the time we were well in to our hike, the crowds were overwhelming. The tea house was mobbed. My advice, go very early, especially on a weekend or holiday! Had to try Morraine on a Wed, even then, by around noon when we arrived, it was hard to get a parking spot. Go early!

- Wild Bills BBQ in Banff: Don't go, trust me. Bad service, not great food.

- HooDoo circle drive in Banff. If you've ever been to Bryce Canyon in Utah, you could skip this. Unique for Banff landscape, but only about 3 spires. If your time is limited, use it for something else.

In summary, highly recommend this trip, we enjoyed everything about it.

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