1 Week in Banff/ Canmore!

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Jan 26th, 2018, 10:05 AM
  #1
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Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 16
1 Week in Banff/ Canmore!

Hi all!

My boyfriend and I, along with two friends, are heading to Banff National Park the first week in June. We got an Airbnb in Canmore, because it was cheaper and the area was walking distance to downtown and groceries. We will have a car!
A couple questions:
-Does anyone have any recommendations on Mountain Biking trails?
-My boyfriend and I are super active and into hiking/ biking, but our friends are not. Any recommendations on things we could do together?
-I know early June can be a weird time to go- weather wise. Does anyone have any recommendations on things to pack?
-Any must see sites or restaurants?

All in all, we will have about 6 total days there, as our flight arrives in Calgary in the morning and then we leave the next Saturday.
Any recommendations are really appreciated as we the first people in our friends/ family to go to Banff National Park, so we cannot ask for recommendations!

Thank you again!
chloeforrant is offline  
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Jan 26th, 2018, 11:28 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 569
Welcome!

First, I would ensure that your rental in Canmore is legal. Unfortunately, there are plenty of illegal rentals being offered on sites like AirBnB and the town is actively cracking down on illegal rentals. Red flags include ads that don't show pictures of the front of the property - i.e. photos that could identify the property. Your best bet is to ask for proof of a valid business license. If there isn't one, you take a real risk of having the rental cancelled before you arrive.

For mountain biking, there are lots of great trails in the area. However, early June is quite early in the season, so it really depends on the weather and how long the snow lingers as to which trails will be open and/or appropriate for riding. Especially to get started, the Canmore Nordic Centre is a great bet. They have lots of great trails (free in the summer) for all abilities and you can rent bikes there. An easy flat trail is the Legacy Trail from Canmore to Banff. Goat Creek Trail (name?) from Canmore to Banff is supposed to be good, but it could be early season and you'd have to risk the rental on the Smith-Dorrian Trail. There is a whole network of local trails - your best bet for advice to ask at the rental bike shop (I like Rebound Cycle or Gear Up). The folks there know the local trails and have info on the local trails groups. Also do google searches and look on Facebook for groups/pages on local conditions/trails group. The key will be conditions and knowing which areas are open/shut -- closures can occur because of trail conditions and/or because of wildlife.
Mentioning wildlife, that reminds me that you need to be very wildlife aware when biking (or walking) in Canmore and the Banff area. June is a high risk time for encounters because bears are down in the valleys where the early food sources are ripening and elk are giving birth. Both generally want to stay away from humans, but can dangerous if suprised. Bikes move quickly and often quietly, so are higher risk for an unexpected wildlife encounter. Always check trail reports, stay off of trails that are close and try to avoid trails with warnings and always, always carry bear spray in an easily accessible location. All warnings/closures for trails in the national park will be listed on the Banff NP website. For the Canmore area, it's provincial land, so all closures and warnings will be listed at the Alberta Parks website.

For the whole group, you could try some of the easier and more scenic walks/hikes. Grassi Lakes is a great place - pretty small lakes and waterfalls with a nice view across the valley. Grotto Canyon is another good easy walk/hike with interesting scenery. Definitely take at least a day to see Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Possibly drive part way out on the Icefields Parkway - see lakes, waterfalls and glacier views. For a day trip, I'd suggest going as far as Peyto Lake/Bow Summit. Johnston Canyon is another fun walk/easy hike, and you can do the Lake Minnewanka drive. Same for Tunnel Mountain - good views and you can try to spot climbers on the crags/routes on the mountain. You could ride the gondola in Banff for good views. There are also gondolas at Sunshine and Lake Louise, but the ski resorts will just have shut, so they may be closed for maintainance and those slopes will likely be too snowy to do much. For bad weather days, see if something's on at the Banff Centre or the little arts centre in Canmore. Go the rec centre (Elevation Place) in Canmore - climbing wall, hot tub, pool, gym, cafe, library, art gallery. Or the Whyte Museum in Banff. Not sure when it opens for the season, but the via ferrata at Mt Norquay could be a lot of fun.

As to the weather... laughs... It could be anything from snow to +25c. Most likely somewhere in between. Your best bet is to bring a nice selection of layers (no cotton!) including good rain/windproof outer layers. You'll likely want footwear that can withstand mud and possibly a wee bit of ice & slush. Definitely have a hat and mitts or gloves - you'll definitely need them for early morning rides and possibly later in the day if Mother Nature is having a bit of joke with us.

Lots of great places to eat in Canmore. Summit Cafe for simple, good breakfasts, Chez Francois for nicer brunches. The two Beamers and the two Rocky Mountain Bagel Company shops are good places for quick breakfasts/coffees and sandwiches. Harvest Cafe makes great homemade sandwiches and soups - as a bonus, it's right by the local outdoors consignment shop which can have great deals on outdoor clothing and gear. For dinner, I like the Georgetown Inn, and the Iron Goat has the best view in town. CrazyWeed gets good reviews. I tend to stay away from The Wood (nice deck, but underwhelming food & service) and think the Grizzly Paw is overrated (good beer & sodas, but those can be bought at local supermarkets and at the Grizzly's own retail store). The Drake is nothing special in terms of food, but sometimes has good live music. On Thursday afternoons/evenings, there is a local farmers market in Canmore - great for local gifts as well as food. Usually fruit & veggies from BC (albeit early June may be sparse for that), and a couple of the vendors sell things by weight or piece, so you can buy as little as you need. Good fresh pasta vendor last year and nice local meats.
kgsneds is online now  
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Jan 26th, 2018, 05:32 PM
  #3
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Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 16
Thank you so much for all of your advise! I will definitely be looking into the illegal rentals and getting some bear spray!
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Jan 27th, 2018, 03:08 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 12
Canmore/Banff/Jasper

Hi,
Our family of 5 (ages 22, 25, 27) is planning a 9 day trip in mid August to celebrate my 60th birthday, flying into Calgary. I am looking for suggestions on what areas to stay, and what is a must see. We found a VRBO in Canmore (haven't booked anything yet), would that be a good base point to explore Banff, Lake Louise and Moraine Lake? I know Jasper is several hours away; is it worthwhile to find a place there for a few nights and divide our stay between the two areas, or is there plenty to do staying in Canmore with day trips? We like nature but are not real experienced hikers. Thank you in advance for your suggestions.

Kind Regards,

Marty
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Jan 29th, 2018, 11:42 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 569
Canmore is just fine as a base to see Banff/Lake Louise/K-Country/Yoho NP, but it's not a base for Jasper. Jasper is about 3.5 hrs flat out from Lake Louise, but the Icefields Parkway is rated as one of the most scenic drives in the world and folks often take up 8-10 hrs to see all the sights along the drive. Also, the major sites in Jasper NP tend to be spread out from Jasper townsite, so you need time in that area to see them properly.

If you have 9 days, I would start with either one night or 3-4 nights in Canmore (or Banff/Lake Louise), then to Jasper for 3 nights before returning to Canmore/Banff for the rest of your trip.

I'd book Jasper first as there is no good option for accommodation outside the immediate townsite and accommodation is booking very quickly. With five adults, you're looking at two hotel rooms (easily $300 or more per room in the summer), so a private home accommodation is likely your best option. They are listed at www.stayinjasper.com -- note that they tend to have only 1 or 2 rooms. The townsite is tiny, so if you can't find one that meets your needs, you can start by booking one and then asking those owners for suggestions of close by PHAs that could fit the rest of your group.

Canmore will likely be a bit cheaper and offer more self catering options than Banff. However, with VRBO, as mentioned, be very careful to ensure that the rental is legit. They are starting to lay fines without any previous warnings, so illegal rentals are likely to be very risky. There are certainly legal options on VRBO, but also illegal options. A safer bet may be to look into one of the many commercial condo complexes - they range from basic to quite nice. Things like FalconCrest, Stonerigde, BaseCamp etc.
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Jan 30th, 2018, 07:38 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 12
Thank you for all the information. This really helps and I will try to find lodging in Jasper right away! Thanks Again!
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