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HELP with itinerary for mother and son 11 days in Banff-Jasper in Aug

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I plan 11 days in total (including travel days) to the Canadian rockies in August with my 15 yr old son and need help with itinerary. We are not shopping but love the outdoors, kayaking, easy to moderate hikes, biking and rafting. Is the best thing to fly in and out of Calgary (from NYC) and rent car there. Do we need to stay overnight in Calgary or can I drive to Banff directly when we fly in? We are on a tight budget and are staying in HI Hostels which I tentatively booked. Here are the things we want to do, but not sure how much time to appropriate and if it can all be done and especially in what order: 1 Garden Path trail and Twin Cairns Meadow HIKE in Banff 2, Banff Gondola/ Banff Hotsprings 3, White water rafting either kicking Horse or Kananaskis RIver (which one more thrilling?)4 Boat Trip across Lake Minnewaka (do you recommend).5.RADIUM HOTSPRINGS 6 Athabasca Glacier... Lake Louise, tea at Lake Agnes, Columbia Icefields Parkway (read this takes most of the day-where should we make our base for this?) Lunch at Num Ji Ja Lodge, 7 Jasper: Skyline trail hike, Cruise on Maligne lake to spirit Island, day hike in Path of the Meadows, or ride on Jasper Tramway-Mary Schaffer Loop, 8. Yo ho:Lake Ohara, Emerald Lake, (go canoeing). ,Miette Hot springs, Please help me put this together including how many days at the same base for lodging. Ex, when leaving Banff for Lake Louise should I spend the night in LL or go back to Banff? THANKS . It make be possible to add on another day.

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    Hi! In regards to the Jasper items, I think you are referring to the "Sulphur Skyline" hike, and not the Skyline Trail. The latter is a 44 km trail, usually done as a 2 or 3 day backpacking trip; the former is a 9 km day hike, round trip, to the top of a peak near Miette Hot Springs.

    Yes, I would plan to spend most of the day on the Icefields Parkway - there are lots of lakes, waterfalls and viewpoints to stop at, as well as some hikes you could do. Parker Ridge or Wilcox Pass, both near the Columbia Icefields, are both stunning hikes. I'm not sure I would plan for lunch at Num-ti-jah Lodge, though, since it's only about 40 km from Lake Louise.... unless you are going to do a hike at Bow Lake (Bow Falls?) If you are on a tight budget, I'd suggest bringing picnic provisions and enjoying one of the many lovely picnic sites along the parkway.

    The Athabasca Glacier is at the Columbia Icefields. I would not plan on hiking at Lake Louise on the same day you want to drive to Jasper. If you are strong hikers (capable of 15+ km in a day), you can do both of the classic Lake Louise tea house hikes (Lake Agnes and Plain of Six Glaciers) as one loop... have a look at a map for the area (GemTrek makes some good ones) and you will see that the trails can be looped together. I forget the exact mileage (~17? km) and you can make it longer by adding on the Beehive.

    Whether you leave Calgary upon arrival really depends on your arrival time, but yes, it's certainly do-able to get to Banff on day 1 if the timing works for you.

    You'd have to check their websites to be sure, but I think the Kicking Horse River is the only class 4 whitewater rafting in the Canadian Rockies; class 4 being more thrilling than class 2 and 3, which is what the Jasper rafting companies offer. Sorry, I don't know about Kananaskis.

    I notice you have a lot of boat cruises/gondolas etc. in your list - while they are nice, they are expensive, and popular because they are heavily promoted, and because most people are too lazy to get out of their cars and walk. Once you have paid your park entry fee, all the natural attractions are free and you can have a wonderful experience without spending an arm and a leg. You could get by with doing only one of each, or even none of them - if you are interesting in hiking, you will see equally fabulous scenery, without the crowds.

    By the way, hostelling accommodation costs about $30 per person, so approx. $60 for the two of you. There are "private home accommodations" in Jasper that offer rooms in this price range - no frills accommodation, but clean and comfortable, and right in town (if you want some town time). You can find these at - use the "search by budget" option to find the cheaper ones.

    With regards to Lake O'Hara - you have probably already missed the chance to gets spots on the bus in to go hiking there. You need to phone precisely at 8 am MT, three months prior to the date you want, to get those tickets, and be prepared to re-dial. When I tried it, I called all morning and never did get through. There are sometimes last minute cancellations or no-show tickets available - if you are interested, ask at the Parks Canada Visitor Centre in Lake Louise.

    Banff and LL are 45 minutes apart by car; no need to stay in both. It's a lovely drive between them, especially if you drive the Bow Valley Parkway instead of the main highway.

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    thank you so much for your suggestions. Too bad about Lake O'hara. I do not want to do a particularly strenous hike with altitude. Do I have too many things on my agenda for 9 days? I would like to go kayaking or canoeing. Is Emerald Lake best? wIll check out that housing website. there is also airBnB.

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