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Driving From Vancouver to Jasper, Banff, Lake Louise all over

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We are spending a couple weeks in Late July up in Alberta, B.C. My aunt lives on Saturna Island and we won't to go see her first then head east through the most scenic possible route... We have time and would really like to spend some time in the mountains...We were thinking of taking the Rocky Mountaineer however, it looks like if we drove we can see a lot more...Should we go Highway 1 or 5, and go through Jasper? Where should we spend the night. We want to have a leisurely trip and do some hiking and sight seeing...So, any suggestions will be greatly appreciated...BTW...Are there any hot springs that aren't a tourist trap like Harrison hot springs?

Thanks all.

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    Hi Jahnsart!

    My daughter and I were doing the Vancouver to Jasper round trip in June so I had all the details worked out and notes made, then we ended up switching to the Gulf Islands instead. Anyway, I compiled all the suggestions from this board, TripAdvisor and Frommers and here they all are...you can weed through them and glean what you need. By the way, you could take the Rocky Mountaineer one way, rent a car, then drive back to Vancouver. You'll have a drop-off fee for the rental though.
    We hope to take this lovely trip next year!

    Vancouver to Jasper --
    Distance calculator: http://www.distancesfrom.com/

    About 9 hr drive over scenic route
    Recommended route---
    Vancouver - Kamloops or Clearwater (overnight) = 3 hr 40 min
    See Wells Gray Park
    Kamloops - Revelstoke = 2-1/2 hours
    - Golden = 1-3/4 hours
    - Lake Louise = 1 hr 10 min (2 nights ??)
    - and up the Icefield Parkway to Jasper = 3 hrs 12 min (2 nights??)


    Banff-

    drive to the paved trail to the hoodoos viewpoint on Tunnel Mountain Road, then go out to Lake Minnewanka and Two-Jack Lake. It’s hard to beat a sunny afternoon with a view of the Bow Valley for your first day in Banff. (Note: the mosquitoes, or whatever bugs those were, at Lake Minnewanka are huge and MEAN. Take bug spray.)
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenthompson/sets/72157624756971986/

    Banff Fairmont - it is like a real castle!



    Lake Louise (3 hours from Jasper) in Banff National Park
    To See:
    Plain of Six Glaciers - about 2 hr hike up, 1-1/2 hr back

    Stay:
    Fairmont Hotel - you can see sunrise colors on the lake, like a mirror, from hotel.
    Chateau Lake Louise, room 659 is a huge suite overlooking lake.
    Emerald Lake Lodge, terrific rooms with fireplaces


    Moraine Lake (7-1/2 mi from Lake Louise)
    Pics: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenthompson/sets/72157624649026183/
    Icefields Experience (snowcoach ride) - worth every penny to stand on a glacier
    Icefields Parkway: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenthompson/sets/72157624794126344/
    Johnston Canyon - hike to falls

    Calgary (stampede is in July)


    Rockies
    National park

    http://www.canadianrockies.net/jasper/jnpaccom.html

    Rocky Mountaineer train
    Journey through the Clouds - Vancouver-Kamloops-Jasper (or reverse) $935 cheapest - middle service would be at least $1600 ea

    Enterprise car pick up Vancouver airport June 21, return to Calgary airport June 29 = $538 full price

    ViaRail is an option, but no good because it travels at night.

    Recommends for drive from Vancouver to Jasper from Fodors-
    1. We took the road to Kamloops and stayed in Clearwater not far from the wells gray park entrance.We stayed at the Wells Gray inn.The next day we continued on road 5,visited MT.Robson and stayed at Becker chalets not far from Jasper on the Jasper-Banff road but a wonderful place near the river and with a gourmet restaurant.
    2. You can go Vancouver - Hope and over the Coquihalla to Kamloops or you can go Vancouver - Hope and up the Fraser Canyon - Hell's Gate - Spences Bridge - Cache Creek - Kamloops.
    The Coquihalla is a four lane freeway that goes straight up over the mountains and is about 90 minutes shorter than the Fraser Canyon but we took the canyon last Summer after many trips over the Coquihalla. It was more scenic, less traffic and Hell's gate is an interesting stop.
    3. If you are planning to drive in two days, let me recommend driving Vancouver to Kelowna (on the Coquihalla Connector), spend a few hours in Kelowna (scenic location in the Okanagan Lake region), then drive to Revelstoke and overnight there.
    The next day drive Revelstoke to Golden, Lake Louise and up the Icefield Parkway to Jasper. Although you'll be driving the Icefield Parkway twice with this itinerary, it's well worth it because it has the most spectacular scenery anywhere in Canada, plus when driving in opposite directions and during different times of the day, the views will be different enough that you'll enjoy it!! The only sight on the other route (Yellowhead) that you will miss when driving option number 2 is Mount Robson (it's about an hour driving west of Jasper townsite).

    Fodors:
    If you drive straight through to Jasper from Vancouver, presumably through Kamloops and up the Yellowhead (Hwy5), you will miss some spectacular scenery. The Yellowhead is far from unscenic, but there are more attractive routes in my opinion.

    The most scenic route is NOT the most expedious route by a long shot.

    If you have the time, let me suggest a meandering route that will be a time eater but long on scenic rewards.

    From Vancouver take the four lane road in the direction of Hope.

    The Coquihalla "Freeway" is the fastest way to Kamloops, but the Fraser Canyon route by turning north on the Trans Canada route is more scenic.

    An alternative is to continue eastward via Manning Provincial Park. It has good overnight facilties and a few view points worth visiting.

    From either Manning or Kamloops, back track a little to BC route 6 from Vernon to Nakusp. You will make two crossing of the Columbia River on this route via ferry.

    Continue north to Revelstoke.
    Rejoin the Trans Canada north of Revelstoke and begin the ascent to Mount Revelstoke National Park (fee). From there continue on the Trans Canada to Glacier National Park. The park visitor center is at the top of Rogers Pass from where the views are excellent on a clear day. Some hiking trails are in the area, but the best hikes in Glacier are steep!!!!

    The Purcells and the Selkirks are spectacular peaks with some of them being heavily glaciated and extremely sharp and pointed.

    From Rogers Pass head on to Golden where you cross the Columbia again. Staying on the Trans Canada ascend the mountain along the Kicking Horse River to Yoho National Park.

    The small town of Field has accomodations in apartments in private homes usually rented on a two to three night basis in summer.
    A motel is there, too, but it fills quickly.

    I have stayed several days in Field for a visit to the wonders of Yoho.
    From Field it is about 14 miles to Lake Louise Village and a little farther to Lake Louise itself.
    Moraine Lake is also in the immediate area, just south of Lake Louise.

    The Icefields Parkway to Jasper starts just off the Trans Canada near Lake Louise Village.

    I usually need all day and then some to travel the Icefields Parkway.

    Once you are in Jasper, then your choices of where to go elsewhere are limited.\
    Edmonton is east, the vast area of northern BC is to your west, and the Icefields Parkway, your initial route, is south. There are not many other ways to go from Jasper.

    My "game plan" in prior years has been to spend the night in Jasper and then return along the Icefields Parkway. I guarantee you that the views are different going south.
    As my adult son said once driving along, "Ho hum. Just another world class, awesome view."

    I kid you not. The great views become so frequent that you forget just how wonderful they are. Over a 100 miles of being exposed to that type of view mile after mile does get to be repetitious. So we stop, take a short walk to a waterfall or something, and then keep driving.

    Unfortunately there are not a high number of overnight accommodations along the route. The Icefields Center has a motel on the floors above the visitor center and there is a motel at a spot known as The Crossing where the David Thompson Highway leads east toward Red Deer, which is north of Calgary.

    It will take some planning, some driving, and a few choices, but you can make a very scenic approach to Lake Louise.

    From Kamloops double back a little to any one of several towns in the Okanagen Valley.

    The most scenic trips I have done were from Nakusp to Revelstoke and then from Revelstoke to Field via Rogers Pass and Golden.
    Before you reach the Icefields Center going south, there is the turnoff for the Falls of Beauty Creek, which you must know how to find in advance.

    There is also the walk out to Bow Falls from the traditonal tour bus stop. It takes a while, but it is a very spectacular waterfall.

    From Tripadvisor:
    There are two different roads to Banff or Jasper from Vancouver The road to Banff is Canada's cross country highway #1 the Transcanada. .in some spots it is very narrow ( two lane) and it follows winding rivers. It is a beautiful drive. There has been lots of work done on the highway and in many places it is now 4 lane. There are places to stop and if you search postings by Judy in Calgary on this forum you will find many suggestions for driving itineraries.

    The road to Jasper is primarily on highway 5. This road has fewer twists and turns than hwy#1 it also goes through wonderful scenery. It also is more two lane as opposed to 4 lane road.

    If you go to either Banff or Jasper you can drive the Parkway between the two and do a loop so o one way come back the other.

    Canadian Rockies driving-
    http://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Travel-g659487-c72290/Canadian-Rockies:Alberta:Driving.In.The.Mountains.html

    Banff, Canmore, Lake Louise & Jasper pros and cons-
    http://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Travel-g154910-c14815/Banff-National-Park:Alberta:Banff.Vs.Canmore.Lk.Louise.Jasper.Etc.html

    Jasper accommodations:
    http://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Travel-g154918-c52537/Jasper:Alberta:Accommodation.html

    Recommend: Glass House B&B

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