9-10 day itinerary in rockies

Feb 1st, 2004, 06:07 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 274
9-10 day itinerary in rockies

I'd appreciate comments on the following possible itinerary. Currently, my flight reservations involve flying in to Calgary at 2pm and out 9 days later. I'm trying to stay one additional night. Assuming 9 nights:

Nights one and two in Banff at Buffalo Mountain Lodge

Nights three and four in Lake Louise at Deer Lodge

Nights five, six (possibly 7) in Jasper

Night seven (or eight) in Columbian Icefields center

Night eight (and nine) in Calgary.

I'd like to go to Drumheller and Dinosaur National Park, but don't want to spending all of my time driving in the rockies. Hence, the uncertainty of whether I'll end up spending one or two nights in Calgary.

Night nine in Jasper
stillhouse is offline  
Feb 1st, 2004, 08:05 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
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Hello Stillhouse,

In general your itinerary looks good to me. The only thing on which I cannot comment is the quality of the accommodation at the Columbia Icefields. I have never stayed there.

I love Deer Lodge, but I should warn you that the regular rooms are miniscule. I really do recommend requesting one of the larger "Tower Rooms." The so called larger rooms are not large (they're not even as large as a room in a Holiday Inn for example). However, the larger rooms are an adequate size.

But I still do recommend Deer Lodge as a place to stay. It's quaint and friendly, and it has an excellent dining room.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Feb 1st, 2004, 08:43 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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Having covered that territory, I think you have a good plan of action.
Let me make two suggestions derived from my visits out there.
One, be sure to see Takkakaw Falls in Yoho. It is over the Great Divide, down Kicking Horse Pass on the Trans Canada. It is spectacular to say the least.

Two, if you possibly can, visit the Royal Terryll Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller. There is no place quite like it that I know of with a clear monofocus on paleontology.

I am glad you are allowing time for a liesurely drive along the Icefields Parkway. It is a beautiful and spectacular drive that looks different when you drive north to south as opposted to south to north. I like both ways and have driven it more than once in both directions. In fact, I have plans to do it again this summer.

I urge you to see Lake Louise in the morning as early as you can possibly get there for the way the sun lights it that time of day, and before the mob assembles. Also, if you are a walker, take the trail called The Plain of Six Glaciers. It follows the north side of the lake and climbs steadily to the moraine at the base of the mountain wall that forms that incredible backdrop for Lake Louise. There is a tea house near the end. A little pricey but the supplies are hauled up by people much of the time and it is a nice place to enjoy a beautiful view.
And don't forget to see Moraine Lake.
If you want to see how angle and positioning can make huge difference, walk to the far end of the lake from the parking lot. When you look back, the scene is entirely different.

In Jasper, I think you can see the sights fairly quickly. The two most notable ones for me are the Angel Glacier, which flows off of the north flank of Mount Edith Cavell, and the Whistler with its Swiss cable car to the top. The views from that high glacial shelf are incredibled.
Mount Edith Cavell is most unusual because of the glacier. I hope the ice caves at the base of the glacier near the lake are still there. They were the last time I was there, but those things are highly transitory and subject to rapid destruction through melting.

Also along the Icefields Parkway, if you are interested, there are some hidden falls in that they are not marked with a road sign or a trail sign. I can tell you where to find them if you want to know. They are spectacular.

Depending when you are there, the Parker Ridge trail may be closed. It leads to a fragile tundra meadow that overlooks the Athebasca Glacier. Often foot traffic is barred to preserve the environment.

The Icecat trip onto the glacier is fun. I did it once, never regretted it, and never repeated it. I think you will find it interesting, if a little cold.

If you have time while in Jasper, drive west, if the day is clear to Mt. Robson, the highest point in the Canadian Rockies. It towers some 8,000 feet above its base.

brookwood is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2004, 09:30 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,466
no personal experience but i haven't read many good reviews about the accommodations on the parkway. that might be a night or two you could save for drumheller. for a different route, on your way back from jasper, you could cut off from the parkway and travel the highway to rocky mountain house to hwy 2 to get to drumheller (instead of going through calgary).
ltt is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2004, 02:08 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 274
Thanks everybody for your suggestions.


I appreciate the detailed suggestions of where to hike. I'd like to hear more about the "hidden waterfalls". My son and I enjoy walking and I also like taking landscape photos.
stillhouse is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2004, 07:12 PM
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There are two big waterfalls along the Icefields Parkway, and they are not hidden at all, in fact they are quite clearly marked (signs along the highway):
Travelling from the south, the first one will be Sunwapta Falls (approx 30 miles north of Columbia Icefields) - there are trails and viewpoints around the falls.
The second (again, travelling from the south, about 14 miles north of Sunwapta Falls) is Athabasca Falls. It has trails and bridges over the narrow and deep gorge.

Your itinerary looks good. I just want to point out that Banff and Lake Louise are only a 40 to 45 minute drive apart, and it may be more convenient to stay in one place instead of two because they are relatively close together (it's less disruptive, not having to pack and haul suitcases and then unpack again) - but it's just a thought.

I'm not sure that I would stay at the Columbia Icefield Centre, mainly because once you have seen the Columbia Icefields, unless you are going hiking in the area, you will be on your way again, and it is really not that long a drive to Jasper.
By the way, Athabasca Falls is only 20 miles south of Jasper.

If you can fit it into your plans, I would strongly recommend (as brookwood wrote above) The Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller. It can be done as a day trip from Calgary (in one of two ways: 1. if you are arriving at 2 p.m., stay the night in Calgary, drive to Drumheller the next morning, visit the area and the museum, and then drive in the evening to Banff, OR 2. visit Drumheller just before flying back home (on your last full day).
You may appreciate the badlands and the museum more if you see them before going to the mountains. The Rockies are so spectacular that they eclipse anything else!!

When in Jasper, visit Maligne Canyon and Maligne Lake, there is a trail through the canyon, and many hiking trails around or near the lake. Plus you will pass Medicine Lake on the way to Maligne Lake, a lovely spot for photographs. (also there are canoe rentals, fishing guides and a cruise available on Maligne Lake).

Hope this gives some extra info to help you plan your trip.
Borealis is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2004, 06:49 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 172
OK, I am not sure what happened to my email address at the top. If you want to know more about the trails, email me directly at [email protected]
(I know it sounds funny, but my name is common, so I had to pick something unique.)
I think we need to exchange a few emails that may not be of general interest. I can pack a lot of detail into it. I have advised others of the falls along the parkway and they have enjoyed seeing them.

My first recommendation to help your planning is to see if you can acquire a copy of the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide by Brian Patton and Bart Robinson. I have two of their editions on my shelf. The most recent revision of the Guide is the best hiking book in the English language. It tops even the classics on Switzerland by Kev Reynolds in terms of trail directions. I still think Kev is a beautiful writer, but Patton and Robinson have put a lifetime of hard effort and meticulous detail into what has become THE classic trail guide for the Canadian Rockies.

I don't leave home without it when I go to Calgary and points west and north.

There is one aspect of stopping frequently along the parkway -- time.
So you may want to consider seriously stopping overnight at either the Columbia Icefields Chalet or the Crossing. The motel rooms at The Crossing are OK, or at least they were when I was there. My room was a shade small, but the bed was newly "foamed" and I slept well.

You can pack a heck of a lot into 9 days out there. So be prepared to go like a buzz saw. I remember going out there tired from my job, and once there my energy level zoomed. It was invigorating.
dixon is offline  

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