2 weeks Canadian Mountains

Jun 11th, 2006, 07:31 AM
  #1  
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2 weeks Canadian Mountains

We are flying into Calgary on the 5th September and leaving on the 18th. We were locked into these dates using our FF MIles.
I have looked at Judy's site (ASTOUNDING) but haven't found a 2 week itinerary RT from Calgary. We would have cut it to 10 or 12 days, but had to go with 13 days. (Big smile!)

I have read and read and cut and pasted and have many of your great ideas already. But I need to know how long to be where. We want to spend the most time in the Jasper area as we are walkers and wildlife/birder lovers.

What do you suggest about time in each place? (Jasper, Banf, Lake Louise, Canmore or not, Calgary, and the dinosaur place (mind is a blank)

Thanks,

Carol

(Yes, we're also going in December to Eastern Canada - I just started reading all the Canadian posts and we decided, what the heck, we need to do Western Canada too, while we can.)
Brahmama is offline  
Jun 11th, 2006, 09:52 AM
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The "dinosaur place" is Drumheller. We spent a week in Banff/Canmore last September, and went to Drumheller as a day trip. It's a much shorter drive from Calgary, so suggest you make it a day trip from there. I wouldn't plan to stay in Drumheller overnight, though; the town itself is a bit dreary.

But by all means, don't skip going there. It's an awesome place, and you'll spend the whole day there.
sludick is online now  
Jun 11th, 2006, 01:53 PM
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Hello Carol,

Whether or not you should include Calgary is hard to say. It depends what your interests are. Calgary has a population of about 1 million. The closest I can come to describing it is to say that it's a smaller version of Denver, if that means anything to you. Calgary is a modern city. It's pleasant enough. However, I cannot see how it would appeal to someone who has been to Italy, as your previous posts reveal you have done. If you are nature lovers, you might be better off spending as much time as possible in the mountains, except for your visit to the Tyrrell Museum (and even that is about nature, albeit mostly life forms that are extinct).

You might try this itinerary:

Tue 5 - Land in Calgary.

Wed 6 - From your Calgary base, visit Drumheller.

Thu 7 - Drive to Aurum Lodge.

Fri 8 - Explore area around Aurum Lodge.

Sat 9 - Drive to Jasper.

Sun 10, Mon 11, Tue 12 - Jasper and its environs.

Wed 13 - Drive to Lake Louise.

Thu 14 & Fri 15 - Lake Louise and its environs.

Sat 16 - Drive to Banff. (This switch of accommodation is optional. You could spend another night in Lake Louise and explore Banff and its environs from there.)

Sun 17 - Drive through Kananaskis Country and the Highwood Pass to Calgary.

Mon 18 - Fly home.

There is no need to visit Canmore, except if you want to stay there instead of Banff townsite.

Whether or not you need to spend your last night in Calgary depends on the departure time of your flight on the 18th. If you leave at noon or later, you could spend your last night in the Banff / Canmore area.

If you have a morning night out of Calgarry, you'll need to spend the night of the 17th in Calgary. If you drive from Banff to Calgary on the morning of the 18th to catch a flight that noon, you'll have to drive the most direct route, which is the TransCanada Highway (Hwy #1). In that case you won't be able to visit Kananaskis Country on the 18th.

Hope that helps.

Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 11th, 2006, 05:57 PM
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sludick,
Yes, Drumheller! We definitely want a stop there.

Judy,
Thanks for the expanded version and ideas. I have gotten many ideas from your website and they are much appreciated.

About Calgary! My husband was born on a cattle ranch - and taught school for years to be able to feed his horses and keep his cattle. Now that we are retired, we still have cattle (they are our cash cows - as we certainly don't travel as much as we do on our teacher pensions!) So he wants some time to look around Calgary - as we have never made it up there for the Stampede, which he really wants to see.

Italy is indeed lovely - and we did spend our last vacation there totally in the country and little towns. But Canada is also lovely and we have never seen the Rockies north of Glacier. We do travel on a severe budget - and this area has always been very expensive for us. This time - by renting a car (and lots of picnics) - we are hoping to get out away from the extremely high rent district. This is a dream come true for us. A little late in coming.

We have an afternoon flight out on the 18th, so we should be able to stay either in Calgary - if we skipped it on the way up - or in Canmore.

Now I need to reread the posts about the best lodging ideas.

Thanks so much for reading and answering my post - I'll be back with more questions.

Carol

Brahmama is offline  
Jun 11th, 2006, 06:48 PM
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Hello Carol,

LOL! You won't see cows in Calgary outside of Stampede.

If you are interested in cattle country, you would be better off driving Hwy #22, which also is known as the Cowboy Trail. Here is a website about the Cowboy Trail. It has heaps of information, including an excellent map.

http://www.thecowboytrail.com/index.html

The portion of the Cowboy Trail that is south of Calgary is rather attractive, because it goes through the foothills on the eastern side of the Rockies.

North of Calgary the Rockies swing a bit further west, and the Cowboy Trail is not as close to the mountains. Nonetheless, the portion of the Cowboy Trail that is north of Calgary goes through pleasantly undulating countryside, some of it wooded, some of it open. You could travel Hwy #22 north of Calgary till you reached Hwy #11. Then you could turn west on Hwy #11 till you got to Aurum Lodge.

If you are looking for affordable accommodation, some of the "home accommodations" in Jasper are reasonably priced. Home accommodation is like a B&B, except for the fact that it does not include breakfast. On the other hand, many home accommodations include kitchens, so you can prepare your own breakfasts and picnic lunches.

A good "restaurant" in the Jasper area is the beach at Pyramid Lake. You can pick up a take-away meal from a deli in town, and dine al fresco. (I'm sure you'll remember to bring a corkscrew from home in case you want to accompany your meal with a bottle of wine.)

The hostels in Lake Louise, Banff and Canmore are reputed to be good. They apparently tend to be noisy in July and August, but they quieten right down in September. I have a group of senior citizen friends that goes to the hostel in Lake Louise for a hiking expedition every September. You can get private rooms at the hostels, but I think you may have to share bathrooms. There are communal kitchen facilities in which you can prepare meals.

In Banff townsite the Homestead Inn, which is in the centre of town, is a basic, motel-like place, but it's clean and reasonably priced by Banff's standards. It does not have kitchen facilities, but each room has a fridge.

In Canmore, Rocky Mountain Ski Lodge, Drake Inn, and Bow Valley Motel are reasonably priced places. At Rocky Mountain Ski Lodge you have the option of a regular motel-style room or a self-catering unit.

My favourite "restaurant" in the Lake Louise area is the picnic area just downhill from the Moraine Lake parking lot. My favourite table is the one next to the stream that flows out of the north end of Moraine Lake.

Hope that helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 12th, 2006, 04:41 AM
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That table that Judy describes is my favorite one, too. Just get there for a very late lunch or a very early one because it attracts people quickly.

I suggest that you plan for a long day on the Icefields Parkway. There is so much to see that even after many trips driving in both directions I still find new attractions.

Be sure to fight the mobs and view Peyto Lake. There is nothing quite like it that I have seen elsewhere. The color of the lake is astounding and beautiful.

Athabasca Falls are quite a sight as are the glaciers.

bob_brown is offline  
Jun 12th, 2006, 05:11 AM
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Judy,
Thanks for the "Cowboy Trail" site. I had never heard of it and it's just what my husband is wanting.

Looking at Aurum Lodge (which I hadn't heard of) it seems to be a long way from - well - anywhere! I need to get up close and personal with some maps and get a better Idea of what I'm talking about! But the cheapest lodging there in September is $160 plus tax - which is over our budget. It was a lovely looking place and I support the eco theme.

I would like 3 nights or 4 in a Lodge or Cabins away from the townships (for a splurge I'm sure) but hope to find something close to a Lake, and hiking trails around it, etc. Kind of a Poor Man's Chateau Lake Louise.

I like the "home accomodations" in Jasper and have already emailed two places.

Thanks for the wonderful "restaurant" suggestions and for sharing your favorite picnic spots! Just what we enjoy doing.

Lake Louise is a challenge for us - regarding lodging, but we definitely want to stay there. One of my ex-students (who hit it big in technology in Seattle) sent me a postcard from Lake Louise - he was staying at the big resort - and said it was the most beautiful place he had ever seen. And he's truly traveled the world. I kept that postcard (picture) on my refrigerator for a long time - waiting for retirement!

Bob-Brown,
I had read one of your posts where you recommended Enterprise. Thanks for that! Their prices are much better than the others. I also love your story of the gore-tex rain gear - on a nice day - on the way to the falls.

I think the Candian postings are better than on the other areas of Fodor's (doging bullets) because of the great detail and tremendous help and anecdotes that you folks have contributed.

You guys are amazing, and Judy - I can't think of an adjective that can begin to describe you and the hours of work and help that you have shared with all. And I know I speak for everyone that you have helped.

Brahmama is offline  
Jun 12th, 2006, 05:21 AM
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Hello,
As you mentioned you were keen on seeing birds, we had more success in places other than Jasper. Vermilion Lakes in Banff, although in an unlikely spot for wildlife (next to the Trans-Canada Highway), we saw more there than anywhere else. We saw on a regular basis Osprey and Bald Eagle fishing. We also saw American Kestrel, red-winged blackbird, American Robin and numerous other birds such as loons. There was also plenty of evidence of beaver activity though we were never lucky enough to see one first-hand. Also saw mountain sheep on Sulphur Mountain in Banff. We also saw Golden Eagle close to Banff. The Bow Valley Parkway is great for wildlife- elk, golden mantled ground squirrel, columbian ground squirrel, red squirrel. Apparently it's good for wolves too in Autumn. The Icefield Parkway is good for elk, mountain sheep. Best chance of seeing grizzlies is apparently maligne lake road in Jasper.
Hope this is of help
Chris
Chris_Erica is offline  
Jun 12th, 2006, 08:06 AM
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Hi Carol,

Glad you've found the previous information helpful. With the additional information you've provided, I suggest you consider the following:

Tue 5 - Land in Calgary. I don’t know what time you’ll arrive. If you land mid afternoon, you could drive the 2 hours to Drumheller, and overnight there. If you arrive at night, you’ll have to spend the night in Calgary. The Travelodge that is located in the northeast quadrant would be an okay place to spend a night.

Wed 6 – Visit the Tyrrell Museum in the morning.

Drive to one of the small towns to the southwest of Calgary in the afternoon. I’m thinking of places like Turner Valley, Black Diamond or Longview. Longview would be convenient from the point of view that it’s at the junction of Hwy #22 (the Cowboy Trail) and Route 541 that takes you into Kananaskis Country and turns into Hwy #40. There are some ranchers in that general part of the province who are interested in preserving Alberta’s native Pekisko grass. One of those ranchers is Ian Tyson, who also is a Country singer. There are coffee shops in Longview and Turner Valley that sell his CDs and other memorabilia. Anyway, those are cute little one-horse towns where you could meet local people and find out about the local ranching scene. A Google search brought up the Blue Sky Motel in Longview. A double room costs between C$70 and C$79.

Thu 7 - From your base in Longview, consider visiting Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump between Pincher Creek and Fort Mcleod. It would be a full day-trip.

Fri 8 – From your base in Longview, drive through the Highwood Pass, and explore Kananaskis Country.

Sat 9 - Drive to Jasper.

Sun 10, Mon 11, Tue 12 - Jasper and its environs.

Wed 13 - Drive to Lake Louise.

Thu 14, Fri 15, Sat 16 - Lake Louise and its environs.

For accommodation in the Lake Louise area, have a look at the hostel, as I suggested before, and also check out Lake Louise Inn. Both are in the village of Lake Louise. You also could research the hamlet of Field, British Columbia, and find out if any of the B&B establishments are affordable in September.

Sun 17 - Drive to the Banff / Canmore area. En route from Lake Louise to Banff you could drive the Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy #1A) and visit Johnston Canyon.

Mon 18 – Drive to Calgary in the morning. Fly home in the afternoon.

If you have not yet stumbled on it, this page of my website explains the logistics of getting back to Calgary Airport and checking in:

http://groups.msn.com/CalgaryandCana...s/airport.msnw

Hope that helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 14th, 2006, 03:21 AM
  #10  
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I feel as if I have a split personality - as I'm flipping back and forth between this September trip to Alberta and our December trip to Ontario/Quebec. I started working on the December trip first and then as I began reading the western Canada threads, we got hooked!

Alberta:
This is what I have booked and what I'm still looking for.

Tuesday - Fly to Calgary (arrive 1:59 PM)
Spend night in Calgary. We will do Judy's walking tour - adding the Chinese Museum to see the Terra Cotta Soldiers and also the Grain Exhibit at the Stampede. Late afternoon we will go to the Bird Sanctuary (not the right name). So we need to find an Inn or B&B - maybe in the city center. Any ideas?

Wednesday - Aarum Lodge for 4 nights. (Reserved)

Sun - Drive to Jasper for 3 nights - (Checking out Home Accomodations but nothing reserved yet)

Wed - Deer Lodge/Lake Louise 3 nights(Reserved)

Sat - Banf or Canmore for 2 nights (Looking......)

Mon - Fly home (3:30 PM)

Thanks for all the help. It's taking shape but I did have to change my orignal plan as places are filling up for September.

Chris,
Thanks for the great birding notes. I've copied them in my notes.

Judy,
Due to scheduling at Deer Lodge and Aarum we will have to bypass Longview - maybe next time.
While at Aarum we can drive east and maybe get as far as Rocky Mountain House. Is that too ambitious? We do have 4 nights there. (15% discount)

Brahmama is offline  
Jun 14th, 2006, 08:12 PM
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>>>>>>Tuesday - Fly to Calgary (arrive 1:59 PM) Spend night in Calgary. We will do Judy's walking tour - adding the Chinese Museum to see the Terra Cotta Soldiers and also the Grain Exhibit at the Stampede. Late afternoon we will go to the Bird Sanctuary (not the right name).<<<<<<<

The rest of your itinerary is fine, but your Calgary afternoon / evening is very ambitious. It takes about an hour to clear immigration and customs. If you land at 2.00 p.m., it probably will be 3.00 p.m. before you can leave the airport. It will be 3.30 p.m. and perhaps even 4.00 p.m. by the time you're parked downtown and can start your sight seeing.

You may need to choose your priorities. I'm pretty sure the bird sanctuary to which you're referring is the one in Inglewood. It closes at 5.00 p.m., so I think it would be wise to go straight from the airport to the bird sanctuary.

Hmmm, come to think of it, the bird sanctuary opens at 10.00 a.m., so perhaps you could visit it for a couple of hours on the Wednesday morning before you set out for Aurum Lodge. It would take you about 4 hours to reach Aurum Lodge, not counting stops. If you visited the bird sanctuary on the Wednesday morning, it would free up Tuesday late afternoon / evening to visit downtown Calgary.

Not only is the Grain Museum in Stampede Park, which is just beyond the edge of downtown, but it's open from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m., so I don't know how you will fit it in.

I believe you would be able to fit a visit to the Chinese Cultural Centre into a walk through downtown. The CCC stays open till 9.00 p.m., so you could even view the terra cotta soldiers after dinner.

>>>>>>So we need to find an Inn or B&B - maybe in the city center. Any ideas?<<<<<<

Bed and breakfast establishments in Calgary are not that cheap, certainly not the ones that are close to downtown.

Also, the only hotel that's close to downtown that comes close to being what I would call an inn is a fairly expensive boutique hotel called Kensington Riverside Inn. When I use the word "inn," I mean a small hotel with maybe a couple of dozen rooms. Except for the Kensington Riverside Inn, the Calgary hotels that call themselves inns are actually full blown hotels.

Perhaps you should try Priceline and see what you can find in the way of a conventional hotel in the downtown core.

>>>>>>While at Aarum we can drive east and maybe get as far as Rocky Mountain House. Is that too ambitious?<<<<<<

It is not too ambitious. We have driven from Jasper through Saskatchewan Crossing, Nordegg, Rocky Mountain House, Caroline, etc., to Calgary in a day. And that even included a stop of a couple of hours to visit the Medicine River Wildlife Centre, half an hour west of Innisfail:

http://www.telusplanet.net/public/mrwrc/

In fact the shortest way to get to Aurum Lodge from Calgary would be to go through Rocky Mountain House. You could take Hwy #22 (the Cowboy Trail) up through Cochrane, Sundre and Caroline to Rocky Mountain House. Then you would turn west onto the David Thompson Highway (Hwy #11) and drive through Nordegg towards Cline River. Aurum Lodge is somewhere in that vicinity.

Hope that helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 16th, 2006, 06:22 AM
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THanks again for the information. I still haven't done anything about lodging or the car for Calgary - and I've never booked through Priceline. Do they have it fixed so you can bid for certain parts of town? Like downtown or NW - which would be the only places we would want.

Enterprise has the cheapest rates, but I was hoping to pick it up at the airport and save that 30 minutes or so both ways on the shuttle. Hertz - even with AAA rates - was twice as much.

Ok, I'll drop the Grain Museum - that was just a whim anyway! I will do the walk and incorporate the Chinese Cultural Center. (Judy, have you seen the Terra Cotta Soldiers? I figured it would be as close as I would get to China - and always wanted to see those)
Odd that the bird sanctuary doesn't open until 10:00 as the best time to spot birds is early am and late afternoon. But that's good suggestion. We can't check in Aarum until around 4:00 - so we'll have time to do that and make another stop or two along the way.

We really want to go both ways on the Parkway - and we friends that will be in Banff just that day - and we may pick them up for lunch.

I imagine we will take a whole day to explore the area around Rocky Mountain House. That is a National Site, right? I am trying to figure out which pass we need - the one that includes the Historical Sites, or just the National Parks.

Since we are going to Ontario/Quebec in December, I thought there might be Sites there also. But I really haven't looked yet.


Jasper is hard. I checked last night with Patricia's Bungalows - but the only thing they have available are their new lodge rooms - $200++. So I'll go back to the Home Accomodations. I have written to 2 of them, (3 days ago) but have had no reply.

We'll stay at the Georgetown in at the end of our trip because our flight doesn't leave until 3:00.

I have found the Tax return form that I found on your website - That's very helplful.

Things are moving right along.

Thanks again.
Carol



Brahmama is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2006, 05:36 AM
  #13  
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Here's our Updated Itinerary and a few more questions. Maybe I should post the questions separately but I'll try here first.

1. 5th Fly into Calgary. Arrive 2M
Drive to somewhere around Red Deer? We still are fuzzy about this night and what to do.

2. 6th-9thDrive to the Aurum Lodge on HWY 11
We will take a guided canoe tour one day. I need suggestions for the other 2 full days. I can't find anything about HWY 11 on Judy's site. Am I missing it?

3. 10th-12th Drive to Jasper - Alpenglow Lodge (It's really a Home Accomodation)

4. 13th-15th Drive to Lake Louise - Deer Lodge

5. 16th,17th Drive to Canmore - Georgetown Inn
This way we can have a couple of days to see what we have missed or revisit someplace that we loved.

6. 18th - Drive to airport (Flight at 3:30PM) and sadly say adieu!

Any suggestions about something interesting on the way to the airport?

I have read and re-read very helpful info on the board and have copied activity suggestions but am still wondering about September and if that will be too late for some activities.

We have a disappointment about Sept 6 - driving through Rocky Mountain House - as the Historical Site closes THAT DAY. Why would it be closing? Does that mean the roads might be tricky? Any other suggestions for that area? We can't check in our Lodge until about 4:00 PM.

Thanks again - as always.

Carol
Brahmama is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2006, 08:51 AM
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>>>>>>I can't find anything about HWY 11 on Judy's site. Am I missing it?<<<<<<

No, you're not missing it. There is nothing about Hwy #11 on my website. I have driven Hwy #11 on my way to or from Jasper, but I have never treated Hwy #11 as a destination in its own right.

Our challenge is that we come from overseas originally, and we get quite a few visits from family members and friends who have never seen the Rockies. So we find ourselves going back again and again to the premium spots, without going to the less visited sites as often as we would like.

In case it helps, here is Travel Alberta's web page on the David Thompson Highway (Hwy #11).

http://www1.travelalberta.com/conten...?roadtripID=19

If you post another message about this, I suggest you include David Thompson Highway (Hwy #11) in the thread title, so that people with specific knowledge will respond.

Finally, I suggest you ask your hosts at Aurum Lodge for suggestions, either before you get there or after you arrive. Probably it's best to wait till you're there, so you and they can see what weather conditions are like, etc. I bet they know the local area very well.

>>>>>>Any suggestions about something interesting on the way to the airport?<<<<<<

Since you have to check in at 1.30 p.m., you'll have time to do the Kananaskis itinerary suggested on my website. It goes Canmore - Hwy #40 past Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes - Highwood Pass - Longview - Black Diamond - Turner Valley - Bragg Creek - Calgary. If you left Canmore at 8.30 a.m., you'd have time to drive that route at a reasonably leisurely place, and even stop off for coffee in Bragg Creek or one of the other small towns. Here's the URL for that page:

http://groups.msn.com/CalgaryandCana...iscountry.msnw

>>>>>>am still wondering about September and if that will be too late for some activities<<<<<<

September should be fine for most outdoor activities, such as hiking. The side roads that close in winter (Cavell Road to Mount Edith Cavell, Yoho Valley Road to Takakkaw Falls, and Moraine Lake Road) will still be open. The Snocoach rides onto the Athabasca Glacier at the Columbia Icefields will still be operating.

Only a few museum-type attractions will be closed. What you lose by not being able to get into some museums you will gain by being in the mountain resort towns when they are less busy than they are in July and August. They are by no means dead in September. There still are quite a few visitors out and about. But by September the "edge" is off the numbers of visitors, if you know what I mean.

>>>>>>We have a disappointment about Sept 6 - driving through Rocky Mountain House - as the Historical Site closes THAT DAY.<<<<<<

I'm sorry to hear that.

>>>>>>Why would it be closing?<<<<<<

Because the number of visitors drops dramatically after Labour Day. Heritage Park, a pioneer village in Calgary, also closes after Labour Day.

>>>>>>Does that mean the roads might be tricky?<<<<<<

No.

>>>>>>Any other suggestions for that area? We can't check in our Lodge until about 4:00 PM.<<<<<<

You might consider lingering in Red Deer that morning. The Travel Alberta web page that I mentioned above lists all kinds of attractions in Red Deer that I didn't even know existed.

You also might consider visiting Medicine River Wildlife Centre. That is one place in that region that I have visited. It's west of Innisfail. After you've looked through the education centre and seen whatever animals there are in the "hospital," you can go for a walk through the little wood and climb up the hide / tower and observe the wetland area to which wild birds come and go.

http://www.telusplanet.net/public/mrwrc/
Here are instructions on how to get there:

http://www.telusplanet.net/public/mrwrc/

Hope that helps.
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