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Banff, LL, Jasper in end of July

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We are a party of 8 and will be visiting Banff, Lake Louise & Jasper in the end of July. We are booked from the 23rd to the 27 at Fairmont Banff Springs, 27th to 29th in Canmore and 29th to 31st in Jasper.

arriving Calgary at 1am on the 23rd.
driving to Banff 23rd am. (have rented a Suburban for this)

we have shortlisted these places to visit.....
Moraine Lake, Johnston Canyon, Plain of six Glaciers
Yoho NP, Emerald Lake/Takkakaw Falls, National Bridge, Spiral Tunnels, Hot Springs
Icefields parkway.....wish to do the 3hr hike up Athabasca glacier
Maligne Lake, Edith Cavell
we have the option to do a gentle raft float tour from Bow river falls going past Tunnel mountain, Mount Rundle, past the Hoodoos, to land near Mount Rundle......is it worth doing this??
we are very amateur hikers with not much experience. we have 4 kids in our grp ages 16, 14, 14 & 10.

whatever advise we get is much appreciated. Thanks!

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    If you want to to the IceWalk on the glacier, book now. They can only take a certain number of people on each tour - very strict limits - and it may be hard to find space for 8 people at this point. Especially since you'd be looking at a Saturday most likely.

    For Edith Cavell, you will need a permit to go up the road. They are only issuing 150 permits for each day - these can only be picked up from 8-10am up to two days in advance. They will likely all go two days in advance, so if you can't pick them up two days in advance, probably not going to work.

    The raft tour could be fun, but it's going to be gentle. You can see the same scenery from hikes and even a bit from the road. So it's really a choice as to whether you want to spend the $$ and time.

    Will the suburban hold 8 people and all your luggage? You need to be sure of this otherwise it's going to be a very uncomfortable trip. Also, it's going to be very, very busy for parking, and you may have a real challenge finding parking spaces at the big attractions and in the townsite. Having two smaller cars might actually give your more space and a lot more flexibility.

    You'll want a full day in Yoho NP to see all those sites - Takkakaw Falls first since it's a slow drive up with the hairpin turns and parking is quite limited. At Lake Louise, I'd allow a full day for Plain of Six Glaciers if you don't have much in the way of hiking experience. You will want to hit Moraine Lake very early to get parking. Same for Johnston Canyon. Can be useful to do those very early in the day or early evening and then plan other activities where you can walk/take a shuttle or parking is less of an issue.

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    Thank You Kgsneds! The icewalk has been booked for the 30th..so Yeaaa!
    here is my somewhat finalized itinery....
    sunday the 23rd...arrive
    Monday 24th...hike of the six glaciers after lunch.
    Tuesday 25h...gondola, hot springs & Sulphur mountain
    Wednesday 26th...
    Thursday 27th...leave early for moraine lake & Johnston canyon
    Friday 28th...yoho np
    Saturday 29th...icefields parkway...Bow river falls, Sunwappta Falls, Peyto Lake, Athabasca Falls
    anything else on the parkway we shud b on the lookout for??
    Sunday the 30th...Ice walk at 1.45...3 hr tour
    Monday the 31st....maligne lake and canyon and then return back to Calgary.

    I was hoping to get some insight on the drive from Calgary to Banff....how is the route? any scenic spots we shoud be on the lookout for? we don't have to be in Banff till 2pm.

    thanks in advance for all the tips...it is a HUGE help in planning!

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    I would strongly suggest planning the Plain of Six Glaciers hike for a morning. Weather is unpredictable, but you're more likely to encounter unsettled weather (i.e. thunderstorms) later in the day. The trail can take up to 5+ hrs if you do a full loop and it's not one you want to be on if the weather is bad - both being exposed and dealing with slippery rock/scree. Also, you could struggle to find parking midday - that lots fills up early and with a Suburban, you won't be squeezing into smaller spaces.
    I find it far better to start hikes early - bring a picnic lunch and supplement with treats from the teahouse. Then you maximize the chance of good weather and can get off the trail and enjoy a relaxed evening. And aren't stressed about finishing the hike to get back for dinner.

    You seem to have the 26th free, so that could be a flex day if the weather doesn't cooperate.

    On the 25th, the gondola goes up Sulfur Mountain, so that's really maybe a half day. The hot springs are right there, but may or may not be of much interest - they can be crowded and a hot spring on a hot day isn't very appealing. There's lots to do in Banff - see the hoodoos, go to the museums, walk along the river etc. For these activities, strongly suggest taking the Roam bus rather than driving - you'll be dealing with major traffic and limited parking.

    On the 29th, it's Bow Glacier Falls near Bow Lake. Bow Falls (on the Bow River) is in Banff townsite. Those are the major spots - Mistaya Canyon seems very popular. Note that it's Bow Lake/Bow Glacier Falls, Bow Summit (the overlook for Peyto), Sunwapta then Athabasca Falls.

    From Calgary to Banff, I'd probably just take the TransCanada to at least Canmore. There is the 1A, but it's not the easiest of driving (prone to pedestrians and loose livestock), nor any more scenic than the TCH.

    You can stop in Canmore - perhaps for lunch and a short walk. Grassi Lakes are pretty or just walk along the river. From Canmore to Banff, the TCH is the only option.

    Maligne Lake is about an hour out of Jasper in the opposite direction from the parkway. So that could be a very full day to get all the way to Calgary. I might suggest getting up reasonably early on the 30th and doing Maligne Canyon before your IceWalk. That way you can do Maligne Canyon and get on the road with plenty of time.

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