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Vancouver itinerary, Vancouver Island, Banff ,Jasper, Lake Louise

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We are planning a trip to the Rockies in November to coincide with big birthday celebrations of my daughter 21, husband is 50. Can you help me with this?

I know it can be really rainy, but that's ok, we are from North UK, where it rains all the time.

We start off in Vancouver with 14 nights and want to see the best of what we can fit in. Any ideas and tips for safe travel, we are renting a Jeep. Any good places to stay from luxury to a bargain, nothing too rough and ready. So far we all want to go dog sledding, whether this is possible in November remains to be seen.

Many thanks Tedsam

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    Vancouver can be really rainy in November but as soon as you leave the lower mainland, it can be really snowy. Are you coming early or late November?

    Is there a particular reason you need to fly into Vancouver? If your goal is to see Banff/Lake Louise/Jasper, then flying into Calgary makes more sense.

    Do you have any experience with winter and/or mountain driving?

    It's a minimum 10 hour drive from Vancouver to Banff in good summer weather. In November, it can take much longer depending on road conditions. Whenever planning on travelling that sort of distance through the mountains, you need to be prepared for delays due to road closures. These delays could be one or two days (or even longer).

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    While the mountains are beautiful and worth seeing at any time of the year, November is probably the worst time of year to come to mountain areas in western Canada. I live in Jasper, and November is when we go away travelling because it is usually a "between season" time... it's cold and grey; the hiking season is over but there is usually not enough snow for winter activities. Summer attractions and seasonal access roads are closed. Some of the area ski resorts do try to open by mid/late November, but that is always at the whim of Mother Nature. (She has been generous with early season snowfall for the past several years ... Marmot Basin, the ski area here in Jasper National Park, has had mid-November openings now for the past several years, with some of the runs and lifts open). It is also the time of year when some restaurants close and their owners take a holiday; since there are so few visitors around, they are not missing out on much business.

    As I said, however, the mountains are gorgeous with new snow on the peaks, and because it is so slow for tourism, you will find good deals on accommodation. Various places may have events or specials on to try and drum up business. For example, in Banff, there is the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival, held on the last weekend of October and first weekend of November. Jasper has "Moonlight Madness", a Christmas shopping event on one of the later Fridays of November; and there are also "Christmas in November" weekend packages held at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.

    Note that you should get a rental vehicle equipped winter tires (not all season tires) - they are required by law on almost all highways in BC outside the Vancouver area from October 1 to April 30th. Also, even early in November, you can expect winter driving conditions at higher elevations, and definitely on the Icefields Parkway between Jasper and Lake Louise (in Jasper and Banff National Parks). Depending on weather, we usually go on a little get-away down to Banff in late October or early November, and we have had winter driving conditions ranging from pretty good to really bad - I would not recommend driving that route without a properly equipped car. (And even so, check the road report and the weather forecast before you go, and plan your drive for daylight, since the road is not patrolled after 3:30 pm).

    I hope I haven't painted too dismal a picture. To sum up - if you plan to come and basically enjoy some sightseeing, relaxation, good meals etc., November will suit you; however, if you want winter activities - skiing, snowboarding, skating, dog sledding - plan your vacation for late November, and know that even then, those are "iffy".

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    Take krp329's cautions seriously..Not to rain on your parade or squash your celebratory plans but weather can be a crap shoot with you being the loser. Early snow, slush, winds etc, etc. However the mountains are lovely with new snow and if the skies are clear you are ib for a big treat. Check out Fairmont Hotels for specials and join their Presidents Club (free, I believe)for any savings. Banff Springs is awesome and Lake Louise likewise. Jasper Park Lodge, altho very nice, is not in the same class IMHO!!! An equipped winter mountain driving experience requires not only winter tires but clothes and emergency provisions..not elaborate but water for sure. Stops are few and far between on Trans Canada, Cochahalla, or heaven forbid driving on #3 (2 lane), caution on # 93- 2 lane and parts of Trans C. 2 lane. It can be very cold but a dry cold that you can dress for in Alberta and eastern mountains. West coast will be ?? who knows!! But come to see this great land and enjoy whatever you get..

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