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7 days Itinerary in May in the Canadian Rockies - Banff & Jasper

7 days Itinerary in May in the Canadian Rockies - Banff & Jasper

Old Apr 19th, 2009, 03:44 PM
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7 days Itinerary in May in the Canadian Rockies - Banff & Jasper

I have planned my Spain and Italy vacations using the forums here and have always got very sound advice making my trips highly successful ... Coming back again for the same reason ... We are off to Banff and Jasper National Parks ... Will be there from Sun, May 24 to Saturday May 30 ... Here is our tentative itinerary so far ... Please provide general critique/ level-setting of the itinerary ...

We are a husband/wife couple traveling with our 3 yr old son

Day 1 Sun, May 24 - Drive from Calgary to Banff; City activities in Banff (Tea at Banff Springs Lodge) ; Drive onto Lake Louise and Stay at Paradise Lodge (1Km from lake Louise)

Day 2 Mon, May 25 - Lake Louise/ Lake Morraine Area; Overnight again at Paradise LOdge

Day 3 Tue, May 26 - Yoho National Park ( Emerald Lake, Takakkaw Falls); More in lake Louise/ Lake Morraine Area; Overnight again at Paradise Lodge

Day 4 Wed, May 27 - Drive on Icefields Parkway using full day (Peyto Lake, Athabasca Glacier, Weeping Wall, etc) to reach Jasper; Overnight at Patricia Lake Bungalows

Day 5 Thurs, May 28 - Jasper Area, Maligne Lake, Medicine Lake, Athabasca Falls etc; Overnight again at Patricia lake BUngalows

Day 6 Fri, May 29 – More in Jasper Area; Overnight again at Patricia lake Bungalows

Day 7 Sat, May 30 – Spillover day / Drive back to Calgary with stops on way as needed; Reach Calgary by 8 PM

Specific Questions---

- What else to do around the town of Banff??

- What are the must see sights in both the parks and enroute?

- Any feedback on Paradise Lodge in Banff and Patricial Lake Bungalows in Jasper?

- What are the best outdoor activities, the operator to chose and location? We are interested in ATV, glacier walks, horse treks/ horse rides, zipline, and rafting.. We have one more couple traveling with us so we can take turn at watching each other’s kids… But we would like to limit the number of activities to 2 at the most … So need to chose the 2 activities that have most bang for buck in terms of location, scenery, experience and operator efficiency …

- Which of the lakes are likely to be thawed and have the nice color?!? We were a little bummed to find out after booking our tickets that the classic turquoise color will not come till July

More questions to follow later …

Thanks a lot,
Vibhav
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Old Apr 19th, 2009, 06:39 PM
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There is an old saying about the Rockies: When its springtime in the Rockies, stay away. You may find thawed lakes by the end of May, let's hope so at any rate. The ones at the lower elevations will be, but Lake Louise is at an elevation of 5,741 feet; Moraine Lake is a little over 6,000 feet.

Lake Louise normally has some thawing by the end of May, but it has not reached the view people see in early July.

We visited Lake McArthur in early July one year and it was still about 70% ice covered, although the ice was breaking up. I had never seen a lake with that much ice cover on it and I found it fascinating. (McArthur is reached by trail only.)

Whether or not the road to Takkakaw Falls will be open is a good question. One year an avalanche blocked the road until late June - early July.

In Jasper park, I doubt if the road to Mount Edith Cavell will be open before June. The opening date all depends on the amount of snow during the winter months.

The Maligne Lake Road is already open. There you can take a boat ride on the lake.

Athabasca Falls should be roaring away as meltwater comes down. As a child I was fascinated by big waterfalls; hopefully the falls will be fascinating to your youngsters.

The Ice Explorer buses at the Icefields Center should be in operation when you are there. I did it once and thought the experience worth the price. My grandchildren were young teen agers when they went and they enjoyed it. I don't know how interesting the glacier trip would be to younger children.

Patricia Lake Bunaglows will be ready for guests and it is a good place to stay. My son and his family stayed there their last visit and they felt it was a very nice place to stay.

In all, I think you will find quite a few attractions.
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Old Apr 19th, 2009, 09:05 PM
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Maligne Lake is another of the high elevation glacial lakes, and it will not be thawed until late May /early June. The last two years, the boat cruises began June 3 and June 4.

There are no ATV tours or ziplining in the national parks. There may be tour operators offering these activities - they will shuttle you outside the park for them. For the rest of the activities you have listed, it's good you have child care available, otherwise you would be very limited with your son along, as he is too young for horseback riding, rafting or the guided glacier hike. (Don't go onto the glacier without a guide - it requires mountaineering equipment and know-how. A few years back, a family went up on the ice at the Columbia Icefields without a guide, and their ten year old boy fell into a crevasse. It was a hot July day, and the wardens were on the scene within an hour and pulled him out not too long after that, but it was too late - he died of hypothermia.)

For information on what to do and see in the parks, visit the Parks Canada page, or the local tourism boards:

www.pc.gc.ca (pick whichever park you like from the menu)
www.banfflakelouise.com
www.jaspercanadianrockies.com

There are lots of hotel reviews for both properties you are staying at at www.tripadvisor.com

Hope this helps.
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Old Apr 21st, 2009, 09:31 AM
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Thanks so much Bob and krp329... I am really getting this feeling now that we may have booked our too quickly and maybe end of may is not a good time to go there... just last night my wife got confirmation from horseback riding trip to the tea house that they will not be open either at that time...

So, really not much in terms of activities we can do there at that time... I think I need to salvage the trip now and make it a completely scenic trip from the car...

I need help from you guys to still make is successful... Please help me modify the itinerary to include as many scenic points on the trip as possible... Here is my revised itinerary:

Day 1 Sun, May 24 - Drive from Calgary to Banff; City activities in Banff (Tea at Banff Springs Lodge) ; Drive onto Lake Louise and Stay at Paradise Lodge (1Km from lake Louise). Anything else we can do that day here????

Day 2 Mon, May 25 - Lake Louise/ Lake Morraine Area; Overnight again at Paradise Lodge. If Moraine lake road is not open, what else can we do this day????

Day 3 Tue, May 26 - Drive to Yoho National Park ( Emerald Lake, Takakkaw Falls); What else in Yoho that we could do????? Back to Lake Louise and more in lake Louise/ Lake Morraine Area; Overnight again at Paradise Lodge

Day 4 Wed, May 27 - Drive on Icefields Parkway using full day (Peyto Lake, Athabasca Glacier, Weeping Wall, etc) to reach Jasper; Overnight at Patricia Lake Bungalows

Day 5 Thurs, May 28 - Jasper Area, Maligne Lake, Medicine Lake, Athabasca Falls etc; Overnight again at Patricia lake Bungalows

Day 6 Fri, May 29 – What can we do in Jasper on this day???? I heard Mount Edith/Cavell road will not be open either.... Overnight again at Patricia lake Bungalows

Day 7 Sat, May 30 – Spillover day / Drive back to Calgary with stops on way as needed; Reach Calgary by 8 PM

Please help me modify this itinerary and suggest things... Do we think about including Kootenay NP as well?

Also, some general questions:

1. How has the winter been this year compared to last couple of years? Warmer or about the same?

2. For view of Peyto Lake, is Bow Mountain Summit the only good lookout or is there any other place as well? The reason I ask is that I heard that Bow Summit road may be closed at that time as well...

Thanks so much for your help!!
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Old Apr 25th, 2009, 12:34 PM
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Your schedule doesn't look too bad. Stay flexible: you'll undoubtedly find reasons to adjust as you go along and as the weather dictates.

To answer your questions:

1) winter comparison? Really irrelevant. It can snow at any time any year. Historical statistics are meaningless in the mountains; Mountain weather can, and does, change from sunny and warm one minute to cold and rainy 1/2 hour later. Be prepared for all and be prepared to enjoy all.

2) There is no such thing as "the Bow Summit Road"... the Bow Summit is a pass on the Banff to Jasper highway. There are many scenic outlooks all along this highway and unless you live up there and can stop at all of them there will always be another view you've missed!
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Old Apr 25th, 2009, 07:29 PM
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Not that it's relevant, but this past winter was the coldest we have had in many years... cold enough that the tree guys think it may have been enough to significantly knock back the pine beetle population that is trying to invade from B.C. (Those critters need a couple of weeks with temps below -40 before it kills them!)

By "Bow Summit road", I assume you are talking about the short road (driveway, really) between the Bow Summit/Peyto Lake Viewpoint parking lot and the Icefields Parkway. I don't know if it will be open or not - certainly, there are likely to still be good sized snowbanks there; whether Parks Canada will plough it out, I don't know. And yes, this is the only viewpoint for Peyto Lake. However, that lake will also likely still be frozen over, so you won't see the turquoise water that the postcard views show.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 03:10 PM
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Here is my recommendation, for what it's worth:
add Kananaskis or Canmore for one day to your trip. End of May should be okay for hiking or biking at both locations. Check out Deer Lodge at Lake Louise. Restored historic hotel, walking distance to Lake Louise with a rooftop hot tub, you can see the glacier and the mountain from the hot tub. Great sunset view and misty morning. Forget about horses, take a hiking trip to the tea house by Agnus Lake even when it is closed. Relatively easy hike, no more than 1.5 to 2 hours one way. Spectacular view. Also can take lake shore trail to other side of lake. Totlly different view and perspective of the lake. Lake Louise is still solidly frozen as of last weekend.
Morraine Lake is still not accessible as of last weekend. The road is closed and is still snow covered. It may open after May 21 if it melts enough or the road gets plowed.
Activities at Banff - not sure why tea at the Banff Park Lodge. It won't be high on my list. Places to visit in late May: Banff gondola, Sulphur mountain hot spring, cae and basin, Trading Post, dinner at Grizzly House, Bow Fall, Johnston Canyon, Tunnel mountain, Banff museum, side trip to Radium hot spring / Golden.
There is not much to see at Peyto Lake at this point. The beauty of the lake is the different colors which is not there when it is still forzen.
Columbia ice field may be open and worth taking the special bus up there if available.
If you really want ATV, go past Jasper and on to Valemont BC.

I will be posting some Canadian Rockies pictures on webshot. The link is below.
http://community.webshots.com/user/e_s_c_h_e_w

Good luck!
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Old May 7th, 2009, 09:08 PM
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Well, I don't know about some of these replies about the weather in the Rockies in May. I've taken some of the loveliest photos of Lake Louise at the end of May - lake is thawed, but there is still snow at the higher elevations that makes a dramatic photo in the early morning sun.

One thing for sure - the weather is unpredictable. It could be cool, cloudy, rainy in the valleys and snowy at higher elevations. On the other hand it could be sunny and hot! The weather doesn't change from spring to summer in a gradual fashion, it could be "winter" one day and "summer" the very next day, or the reverse!!

Post Hotel is lovely place to stay, the dining room has wonderful cuisine and a great wine cellar. The only drawback is the location - for some people it's too close to the railroad and trains rumbling by especially at night.

Patricia Lake Bungalows is in a scenic tranquil spot by Patricia Lake; if you will be staying in one of the units at The Grove, then you've chosen well - they are new and very comfortable.

In Jasper you can take the gondola (Jasper Tramway) to the top of Whister's Mountain for an incredible view of the valley below and mountain ranges to the north and west (on a clear day you can even see Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, 100 km to the west).

You can go whitewater rafting on the Athabasca River when in Jasper - many of these summer activities open on the May long weekend (May 16th this year).

I don't think that you can ATV in the National Parks - it would be too destructive to the wildlife (both flora and fauna).

As for this past winter, it was cold in December and March, but warmer than average in November, January and February. So on average - probably a slightly warmer than average winter, but colder than the past few winters which have been much warmer than average.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2009, 07:57 PM
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Vibhav,

I am wondering how was your trip to Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper. We are doing the same trip for 6 nights to the three places. You posted your preliminary itinerary. Now that you have gone on the trip. can you give me some tips as to how many days I should spend in each place. I plan to fly into Calgory and then drive to the three destinations.
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Old Jul 1st, 2009, 02:04 PM
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ttt. Please report back! I was trying to figure out what to do for a week in August, and this looks perfect! Trying to be very budget conscious, so was wondering, if we fly into Calgary, looking for cheap but decent rental car and approximately cost of lodging, petrol etc. Also, is renting a car the most practical? Any trains?
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Old Jan 13th, 2013, 10:05 PM
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Bookmarking
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Old Jan 15th, 2013, 02:44 PM
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we are taking a trip to Vancouver and Victoria...one day each..then Silverleaf train for 2 days to Jasper...2 days in Jasper...on to Lake Louise and Banff for 2 days. We have booked a tour and the price seems high to me ($10,000) for the two of us. It is small group so I was wondering if any one has done fresh tracks canada. thanks for any info
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Old Jan 15th, 2013, 10:43 PM
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Hi, therose1,
I checked the freshtracks website, and I would say a very good proportion of the $10 000 is the cost of the train. t's a shame you can't work out a way of doing it yourself. You don't have much time in Vancouver which seems a pity, as there seems to be lots to look at there.
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Old Jan 15th, 2013, 11:13 PM
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My husband and I are doing pretty much the same tour as you but we are starting in Calgary. We catch a bus from Calgary to Banff and on to Jasper for 2 nights, and one full day when we take a Lake Maligne tour. We then catch a tour trip from Jasper to Banff via the Icefields, and stay in Banff for 5 nights. While in Banff we have some booked tours. We join the Rocky Mountaineer in Banff for the trip to Vancouver (2 days, for the most expensive part of our trip at over $NZ4 200. We have 5 nights in Vancouver and one in Victoria. We travel to Vancouver Island by ferry, returning to Vancouver by floatplane. Altogether, activites, fares and accommodation is costing us just on $NZ10 000, which I think equates to around $CAD7 000. Our accommodation is good quality and recommended by fellow travellers and our travel agent.
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