1st TIME TO BANFF/LAKE LOUISE

Old Sep 8th, 2009, 08:34 AM
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1st TIME TO BANFF/LAKE LOUISE

WE are planning our first trip for next summer and will stay a week. We'll fly into Calgary and take a shuttle to Banff. My husband does not want to drive during this trip because he wants to see the scenery too and not have to concentrate on driving. With this in mind I've found three tour bus companies that have a variety of tours that will keep us busy. Also local float rafting on the Bow River. From what I've read we will be able to walk or talk public transportation throughout the town (someone correct me if I'm wrong). Can anyone offer suggestions with this plan? We're both 62 and and good health but no longer do none stop touring or hiking. All suggestions are appreciated.
Thanks,
M
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Old Sep 10th, 2009, 03:35 AM
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My two cents ... we just returned from our second trip to the Canadian Rockies. Both times, we rented a car and are glad we did. We made frequent stops when we were on the road so that hubby could enjoy the scenery and took our time instead of rushing from one place to another.

Had we not been driving, we would have missed the bugling bull elk marking its territory, another bull elk grazing not far from the road, a black bear browsing for berries in the bushes. These were just on this trip. Similarly, traveling the Bow Valley Parkway the last time, we were able to enjoy numerous wildlife sightings (including bears and a nursing moose calf).

We also would have missed some very beautiful scenery and opportunities to relax in uncrowded places where the busses don't stop (Wildfowl Lakes on the Icefields Parkway, for example). Nor would we have been able to switch plans at a moments notice when weather conditions changed suddenly and we decided it would be smarter to spend the day in Johnston Canyon instead of hiking one of the Banff trails, or continue with our drive when it was drizzling at the Athabasca Glacier the first time we stopped and return to walk on the glacier on the way back when the sun was out.

Like I said ... just my two cents. Whatever you decide, have a great time ... the Canadian Rockies are a beautiful part of the world.

My 2007 trip report: http://www.fodors.com/community/cana...-july-2007.cfm

Blog of 2009 Jasper trip: just started to post following our trip; will be posting regularly: http://2totravel.blogspot.com/2009/0...to-canada.html (link at the bottom of the post to next post in the series; all will be under the September archives)
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Old Sep 10th, 2009, 05:36 AM
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We've been to Banff/Lake Louise/Jasper area several times. The first time we didn't have a car and took several day tours. All the other times we did, and our experiences have been much like eenusa's. A car gives you flexibility and options that simply don't otherwise exist. Like stopping when you spot that bear, elk, fox, wolf, etc or just to pull over on the Icefields Parkway and gaze at the magnificant scenry (or stop at one of the many picnic areas for a picnic lunch).

You might at least consider renting a car for a day or two - especially if you see some places on a tour that you want to revisit.

Having said that, Banff is fairly compact and very easy to get around on foot etc. No need for a car in town.

Rafting on the Bow is a great experience - just double check the tour's policies on bad weather days.

It would be helpful to know what tours you are taking? Would suggest one(s) that take you to Lake Louise, the Icefields Parkway, Athabasca Glacier, Peyto and Moraine Lakes just to name a few.

This is an extraordinarily beautiful area so enjoy.
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Old Sep 11th, 2009, 09:59 PM
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I could not imagine going to Banff/Lake Louise without renting a car. There are so many places that you'll want to explore, but are much to far to walk to or won't be on the bus schedule. Do yourself and your hubby a favor and rent a car.

I did the driving during our trip and I didn't feel like I was losing out on the scenery experience at all.
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Old Sep 13th, 2009, 09:11 AM
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Driving from Calgary to Banff is all flat... in fact, I was quite amazed that you are on the prarie for an hour and a half and then all of a sudden, in the mountains, the elevations seems not to change much. The roads are not winding , there are no drop cliffs and it is simply not impossible to view the scenery while driving safely.

My experience with mountain driving in CA is that you have many hairpin twists and turns while going up large inclies... that is not the ase in Banff.

I think you would be very sorry if you didnt rent a car.
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Old Sep 16th, 2009, 01:22 PM
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Brewster Coach Lines are on the most trusted tour operators in Banff area. They are one of the oldest. I see your husbands point as many times I am the driver and it wears you out. The drive from Banff to the Icefields is beautiful and tiring so I would definitely take a tour bus if this is a tour you would like. Johnson Canyon is a favourite hike/walk I like to take first timers on. You could even rent a cabin at the bottom of the Canyon. You may even want to rent a car to do this then take the 1A Hwy to Lake Louise there are a number of beautiful tranquil spots along this route, you can take Hwy 31 back to Banff. But check out Brewsters I am sure they have a webpage.
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Old Sep 24th, 2009, 07:13 AM
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I have to go with the others on the recommendation to rent a car for the flexibility it will give you. The driving is easy (speed limited to about 50 mph once you are in the park, lower in many places; the highway from Calgary to Banff is a 4 lane divided with a 110 kph (near 70 mph) limit and the visibility is excellent (you can see the mountains from 60 miles away). Lots of places and pullouts to take pictures or just get a break from driving.

If you are absolutely dead set against driving, then Brewster is the way to go, having concessions for all of the various activities in Banff/Jasper.
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