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vancouver to jasper to calgary

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I am trying to plan a trip for my husband and I in July. We will fly into Vancouver, rent a car and drive to Jasper the back to Calgary for a convention.
We will have 5and 1/2 days. Trying to find the most scenic route and must see places. We know we want to go rafting but not sure where that should be. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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    Welcome!

    With 5.5 days, you are going to be spending most of that time driving, and not much time actually getting to experience BC/AB. There are some wonderful places between Vancouver and Jasper, but your timeline would mean driving right by them.

    It's a good 10-11 hrs of flat out driving from Vancouver to either Banff or Jasper. And most of the real rafting is near Revelstoke/Golden in BC, so you'd be struggling to fit in driving to Jasper and rafting.

    If you want to have time for rafting, I would fly to Calgary and explore the Rockies from there. And probably not going to Jasper.

    Note that if you are talking about July 2015, you need to book accommodation ASAP - that is peak season and people are already finding accommodation options very limited in Jasper and Banff (especially in Jasper). Hotels will be $200-250 CAN +, with cheaper options including hotel private rooms & PHAs - if you can find them. Your itinerary may well be dictated by where you can get places to stay within your budget (and where you can still find spots on a rafting trip).

    What are your dates? Do you have other interests beyond rafting?

    If you fly to Calgary, a sample itinerary:


    Day 1 - arrive in Calgary, drive to Banff, overnight in Banff
    Day 2 - rafting
    Day 3 - to Jasper
    Day 4- Jasper
    Day 5 - back to Banff (Moraine Lake, Lake Louise on the way), stay in Banff
    Day 6 - depart

    Without Jasper

    Day 1 - arrive, part day in Banff, stay in Banff
    Day 2 - rafting near Golden, perhaps Yoho NP
    Day 3 - Banff area
    Day 4 - Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Icefields Parkway (part of it)
    Day 5 - flex day (around Banff, or Yoho NP or ??)


    To give you an idea of doing this with Vancouver, it would be something like this

    Day 1 - drive from Vancouver to Revelstoke - 6 hrs
    Day 2 - rafting near Revelstoke. If you have time/energy afterwords, you can drive 3+ hrs to Banff afterwords
    Day 3 - Banff area
    Day 4 - Lake Louise, Moraine Lake
    Day 5 - Icefields Parkway (halfway up and back).
    Day 6 - to Calgary

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    kgsneds is speaking more as a local here, and I only as a visitor. But.... as a visitor, we've done the drive between Vancouver and Banff a number of times. The first time we intended to do the drive in one day, what a mistake. We ended up staying the night in Kamloops, and have since concluded (as kgsneds lines out) that it is a 2-day trip.

    Why? Well, our first error was in thinking that as a major highway, the road would be akin to a freeway. No. No, not at all. Through the mountains and really for the most part except as you draw closer to Vancouver, it was more of a single lane in each direction, with the occasional passing lane. That puts you behind big rigs, campers, etc., for long distances. We ran into rain, and everything slowed waaaay down. All in all, we normally allow about 13 hours drive. No, that doesn't allow for stopping for rafting, easy hiking, or much else than refueling and infrequent potty breaks.

    Now, it can be a beautiful drive indeed. Think about making it a leisurely road trip. I can think of several routes, one includes Jasper, but you will only have a single night each stop, with maybe a chance for a 2-night stay somewhere. You will still spent most of your time driving, with some room for activity breaks.

    I'll come back with a few routings tomorrow, when I have a bit of time.

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    Or you could take the train to Jasper, and rent a car there. Sleeper class on Via Rail is very nice, and the driver gets to appreciate the scenery too. But it may be fully booked if you mean next month.

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    So you have several interesting ways to get to either Jasper or Banff from Vancouver.

    One way is to drive to Clearwater, where you could visit Wells Gray Provincial Parks to see a couple of their spectacular waterfalls. (We stayed in a B&B there.) Then the next day to Jasper, with a stop at Mt. Robson Provincial Park to ogle the spectacular view.

    These two days drive would be most scenic, once you get clear of the Vancouver traffic and into the mountains, except that Kamloops is not very scenic.

    From Jasper you could spend the day driving the Icefields Parkway to Banff, one of the most scenic highways anywhere, making stops along the way for pictures and some of the easy roadside short hikes.

    Calgary is only about an hour or so from Banff. The trouble with that itinerary is that I do not have any rafting recommendations per se, other than Banff. But that gives you 3 days with actual driving ranging 3-5 hours - plenty of time for other activities. Then you could spend 2 nights in Jasper, 2 nights in Banff, if that fits your schedule.

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