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Itinerary help: Banff/LL/Jasper early Sept?

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Thanks in advance to all the TRs I 've read and helpful posts from those of you who have traveled often to these areas! often, posts are for families or large parties, so I hope to hear from the Fodors community.

We are a couple, early 60s, who are very active and look forward to mild-moderate hikes.

We have 9 nights (Sept 6-16) to visit, flying into/out of Calgary with arrivals very early afternoon and same for departure.

Thinking of staying 3 nights in each location, with lots of driving stops, hikes along the routes as well as exploring all 3 areas once checked in.

Friends suggested driving directly to LL ; followed by Jasper; then Banff.

Would love accomodation suggestions for lodging in each place, based on your favorites (we could stay at Fairmont places as this is an anniversary trip, but these look over crowded from photos). Prefer some spacious hotels/cabins , if lovely 4* type lodging . Tripadvisor ratings often inaccurate we have found.

Thanks to all the TRs, hikes have been copied/pasted already :)
thank you!

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    Welcome!

    You could certainly spend 3 nights in each location, but it's worth considering other combinations. Often people might spend an night or two in Banff prior to heading to Jasper, then spending a longer chunk of time in either Lake Louise or Banff after Jasper. Either Banff or Jasper provide a good location for hitting the sights in the Lake Louise/Banff area.

    In general, you will be looking at high season prices and space tends to mean $$$. There are few 4* hotels - I think Chateau is the only one in Lake Louise, one in Jasper (Jasper Park Lodge) and a couple in Banff.

    Lake Louise offers the fewest options for accommodation. Down by the lake, you have the Chateau Lake Louise, which has a wide range of rooms from small to suites. The Chateau also has a wide range of dining options - reservations can be hard to get there if you aren't a guest. I don't think you'd find it crowded - it's a very large hotel with lots of space for guests & visitors.

    Another option near the lake is the Deer Lodge - you'd want Tower Rooms (new rooms, not the older wing). The other option is the Paradise Cabins which is self catering with no dining options (maybe breakfast?) on site.

    About 4km from the lake in the village, the Post Hotel is the fanciest, with the others being more "budget" options that probably wouldn't be 'anniversary trip' quality.

    There are also a couple of upscale hotels with cabin style (1-4 units per "cabin") housing within 20-40 minutes of Lake Louise. These include Moraine Lake Lodge, Emerald Lake Lodge, Cathedral Mountain Lodge and Baker Creek Chalets. All are good quality, though not 4* like you would find in the big city -more rustic with limitations based on their fairly isolated locations (i.e. often no TV, no fridges or microwaves in the room and no WiFi other than in the main lodge).

    As a note, both the Moraine Lake Lodge and Chateau Lake Louise (and maybe others) have a variety of free or very discount tours and activities for guests. These include nature walks etc - so paying more might get some nice perks.

    In Jasper, the Jasper Park Lodge is the only 4* hotel. It has gotten mixed reviews, though I think mostly because people were expecting a different kind of hotel. It's much more rustic than luxury - i.e. Fairmont level service & food, stunning locale, spa etc., but outfitted in a rustic style. Rooms are in the main lodge or in 1-4 unit cabins spread out along the lake. I've stayed there and though it was great. It's a bit outside the townsite, so quiet and you can't beat the location. Might be a good place for a splurge.

    Otherwise Alpine Village, though certainly not 4*, gets solid reviews and has cabins. Though I don't think it has onsite dining (you'd need to check). The other Jasper hotels are chain 2-3* hotels that are nothing unique. Other options include PHAs, a few of which are quite luxurious. Some may have suites, you'd have space to spread out. None would have hot breakfast or any other meals.

    Banff will have a range of options, though you will pay for space. For cabins (which are rarely of the log cabin type - usually just smaller buildings) - try Douglas Fir, Buffalo Lodge etc.

    All places in Banff or Lake Louise will be listed here:
    http://www.banfflakelouise.com/Places-to-Stay/

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    thank you So much kgsneds! Your posts have helped us plan this already!
    as well as others....

    Had looked at lodgings, but we weren't sure if those Fairmont hotels were worth such a big expense: $680 ish CAD for a room with view at LL and $580 or so for the others..... quite pricey and those were SENIOR rates !
    FYI: LL Chateau charges for hikes ($49 pp for 1/2 day ones)....

    is Chateau LL worth the expense? hard to say, I know, but want an opinion.
    Will also look at Paradise.

    Hate to change locations so much : I know LL is about an hour from Banff, but thought to beat crowds if we stay in the 3 spots.
    Will check out Moraine Lake Lodge: a Fodorite stayed there recently and her TR reported positively

    other than Fairmont in Banff, does anyone like Rimrock or Delta Park hotel?

    if the Fairmonts are worth the splurge, we'll go for them. We don't need "fancy " , so much as we do need good wifi for my husband (who has to check with his work even on vacation... sadly)

    thanks again! hope to hear from others as well.

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    There are very limited accommodation options in Lake Louise, so prices tend to be $$$$ in the high season. The best rates are mid October - late November and mid April-May when it's neither summer season nor ski season.

    For any of the Fairmont Properties, join their free President's Club. That gets you free WiFi, daily newspaper and offers for discounts on stays.

    I've never stayed in the Chateau Lake Louise, but have walked around inside. It's probably not as nice as the Banff Springs Hotel, but you can't beat the setting. Thanks for the info on the hikes - that said $50 is a bargain for a half-day hike with a guide.

    People seem give the Moraine Lake Lodge positive reviews. Note that the cabins are right on the lake, and while it's very peaceful early in the morning and late at night, the main hiking trail runs right by the cabins. So it's not likely to be quiet at all during the day, especially on weekends.

    I've heard good things about the Rimrock, though it is a 10 minute drive away from the centre of Banff. So you'd be driving or taking the bus for shopping or other dining options. Delta was just bought out by Marriot - it's not clear what, if any, effect this will have on the hotels in the Delta chain.

    Most hotels should have good WiFi, but ask just to be sure, especially in Jasper and Lake Louise. Some lodges may only have WiFi in the main building, not in the separate units. While outages aren't common, be aware that repairs can sometimes take a bit of time, especially in Lake Louise or Moraine Lake Lodge.

    Note, however, that outside of the townsites, cell reception is spotty to non-existent. Generally there is cell reception in Banff and right in Lake Louise, but none between (or maybe one bar) and none on the Icefields Parkway. So if you go out hiking, don't expect cell reception.

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    thank you again kgsneds for all the details!!!!
    We'll have to decide if we want to pay high prices for Fairmont.
    Will call to check about wifi in rooms , thanks for telling us!
    Hope to decide soon, as we were surprised to find places already booked up for next September!!!

    One last question (I hope):
    is the US labor day weekend more crowded than the following weekend?
    If not a difference in crowds on trails/hotels< we will go then as it is ONLY time frame that JPL and the others not fully booked (surprisingly!!!)

    thanks again!
    anyone else been recently and have suggestions?

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    Labour Day is a holiday in Canada too, and it tends to be quite busy. For many families, it's the last time for a holiday before school is in session.

    After Labor Day, weekdays in particular tend to be quieter - still plenty of foreign tourists, but fewer locals. Weekends are usually busy throughout September. This especially true in the Lake Louise/Moraine Lake area which see a surge in tourism when the larch trees come into their fall colours.

    It does depend a lot on the weather - the last two years we've gotten a dump of snow in early September. That tends to discourage last minute/local travel and keeps people off the hiking trails. But later in September and October, weather was excellent so places were busier than expected.

    As to places being booked up for next September - that's a bit surprising. It's possible that not all places are taking reservations for that far in advance. That tends to be the case for smaller lodges/B&Bs.

    Another, more likely possibility is that some places may currently only be taking bookings that are for a whole weekend (Friday and Saturday night, or F/Sa/Sun for a long weekend). It's not uncommon as places try to minimize turnovers during busy times and don't want people trying to do longer bookings to be blocked out by one or two night bookings.

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    Weather can fluctuate so much, we know from our travels: always be prepared and always enjoy whatever it is (our motto) ;)

    will plan for 9/7 arrival thanks to your advice
    The Fairmonts were the booked up ones: couldn't get into Jasper unless arrived 9-12
    and nothing for Banff at all 9/12-15....

    so, going to go for 8 nights now and keep looking for possible changes as dates get closer.
    I have NEVER had to plan this far in advance: not even for Europe

    If we keep Fairmont hotels (especially wanted for Jasper); we will be flexible and now do:
    9/7-9 Lake Louise (we arrive at 12:30 Calgary and can easily get there)
    9/9-12 Jasper
    9/12-15 return to LL ( and visit Banff as daytrip )
    return 9/15 to San Diego

    will let you know how it goes!!!!!

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