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9 Days to Visit the Rockies - How Does Our Itinerary Sound?

9 Days to Visit the Rockies - How Does Our Itinerary Sound?

Jun 5th, 2007, 05:50 AM
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9 Days to Visit the Rockies - How Does Our Itinerary Sound?

We'll be in LL/Jasper/Yoho during the last week of June. I'm trying to put together an intinerary that will be loose enough to give us some breathing room to make last minute changes due to weather, etc. But since we will probably not have chance to come back to the Canadian Rockies for a long time, I don't want to waste any opportunities.

This is our current plan, with a couple of questions. We'd appreciate any of your thoughts and suggestions.

June 22 - Arrive in Calgary about 2:00. Drive to Lake Louise. Where is the best place to shop for groceries?

June 23 - Lake Louise. Canoe either Morraine Lake, Bow River, or Lake Louise in the morning. Hike the Plain of Six Glaciers trail in the afternoon.

June 24 - Lake Louise. Drive back to Banff to hike some trails, maybe do a trail ride on horseback, or take the gondola. Visit Banff town museums. Any other suggestions? Does anyone know if we can pay to use the pool and slides at the Douglas Fir Resort?

June 25 - Drive to Jasper, stopping at Peyto Lake and Athabasca Falls, and others if we have time.

June 26 - Jasper. Raft trip in the morning. Hike Maligne Canyon in the afteroon.

June 27 - Jasper. Take Tramway and hike Sulphur Springs trail. Visit Miette Hot Springs.

June 28 - Drive to Emerald Lake Lodge. Along the way, take Columbia Icefield walk (reservations already made). Canoe on or hike around Emerald Lake

(About the Columbia Icefields walk - it looks like it could be cold. Does anyone know what kind of temperatures we should be prepared for on the walk?)

June 29 - We have reservations for the Lake O'Hara bus. We plan to spend most of the day hiking Lake O'Hara.

June 30 - Drive to Calgary. Stop at Takakkkaw Falls, Spiral Tunnels, Natural Bridge, etc. We not sure whether to do a slow drive through Kananakis or spend some time in Calgary. Any ideas?

My husband gets antsy on long car drives, and my son tends to throw up, so I've tried to limit our long drives as much as possible. I realize that's hard to do on a trip to the Canadian Rockies. Unfortunately, it's the one reason we have to skip going to Drumheller. DH really just wants to have some time to hang around our lodges and not do much of anything.

Devonmcj is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 07:18 AM
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Where is the best place to shop for groceries?

In Calgary on your way out. There's only a small corner store in Lake Louise, everything's over-priced in Banff.

We not sure whether to do a slow drive through Kananakis or spend some time in Calgary.

If you go into K-Country, you'd either have to back-track highway 40 to the number 1 or continue south to Longview and take highway 22 back up to Calgary. Going to Longview and highway 22 is beautiful drive and I highly reccomend it. There are spots along the way you can stop and enjoy some great views etc. to break up the drive. For lunch , you could stop at Kananaskis Village which is just off highway 40 about 20 minutes after the turn-off, and I'm sure there's something in Longview as well.

I found this link to a map of highway 40 through K-Country:

ShelliDawn is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 09:06 AM
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Thanks so much for the information Shelli. I think I may have underestimated how long it would take us to visit Kananaskis. But who knows, maybe my husband will decide it's worth the drive.

Even after all these months of planning, I'm still trying to get my bearings as to directions and distances (and name spellings). I've read descriptions of so many hikes I'd like to take, it makes my head spin.
Devonmcj is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 09:51 AM
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To add a couple of points to the great info ShelliDawn has given you .......

>>>>>>June 22 - Arrive in Calgary about 2:00. Drive to Lake Louise. Where is the best place to shop for groceries?<<<<<<

You could shop in Calgary, as ShelliDawn suggested. Another alternative is to shop in Canmore, which is a town that you pass just before you enter the east gate of Banff National Park. It has quite decent shopping facilities. This also would give everyone a chance to get out of the car and stretch their legs. It would break up the journey from Calgary to Lake Louise.

Something you have to consider is timing. If you are arriving on an international flight, it typically takes about an hour to clear Canadian immigration and customs. So you are unlikely to get on the road any sooner than 3.00 p.m. Then it takes AT LEAST 2.5 hours to drive from Calgary Airport to Lake Louise, and perhaps more like 3 hours. So, even without having stopped to buy groceries, you might be looking at a 6.00 p.m. arrival in Lake Louise. Add, say, an hour for grocery shopping. You might be a quicker shopper than I am, but Iím usually a bit discombobulated in a supermarket with which I am not familiar. So itís possible that youíll arrive in Lake Louise as late as 7.00 p.m. I donít see that as being a problem, but I think it would help you to be aware of it.

More in next post ......
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 09:52 AM
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>>>>>>June 23 - Lake Louise. Canoe either Morraine Lake, Bow River, or Lake Louise in the morning. Hike the Plain of Six Glaciers trail in the afternoon.<<<<<<

PLEASE make this Moraine Lake. If you donít go there for canoeing that morning, when will you see it otherwise. Of the lakes that can be reached with ease (that is, without hiking or catching a bus that requires a prior reservation or whatever), it is the most beautiful. You in any case will see Lake Louise when you hike to the Plain of Six Glaciers in the afternoon.

Canoeing at Moraine Lake or Lake Louise is easy. It is more daunting to canoe the Bow River and, to be honest, I donít even know where you would hook up with an operator who would rent you a canoe, etc. (Keep in mind that such an operator would need to have a vehicle with which to transport you and the canoe to your starting point at the end of your canoe trip down the river.) There are canoeing clubs in Calgary that offer lessons in river canoeing (which requires more skill than lake canoeing).

If you want to do that kind of thing, I think youíll be better off going whitewater rafting in the Jasper area (where the rapids are more gentle than they are on Yoho National Parkís Kicking Horse River). The whitewater rafting companies do this stuff day in and day out, and have the support systems in place. Oh, hang on, I see that youíre planning to raft in the Jasper area anyway, so youíve covered that point already.

More ............
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 09:53 AM
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>>>>>>June 24 - Lake Louise. Drive back to Banff to hike some trails, maybe do a trail ride on horseback, or take the gondola. Visit Banff town museums. Any other suggestions? Does anyone know if we can pay to use the pool and slides at the Douglas Fir Resort?<<<<<<

It appears that you do not have any plans to visit Johnston Canyon. It is a place that I recommend. If you visit the area in June, the parking lot will not be as insane as it is in July and August. Still, there would be no harm in erring on the side of caution and making this your first stop of the day. I recommend that you walk to the Lower Falls at least. This will still leave you with more than enough time to go up the Sulphur Mountain gondola, etc.

If you want to go horseback riding, you might consider going with Warner Guiding and Outfitting who are located in Banff. (There also is another company, Brewster, that is located in the Lake Louise area. Both companies can offer you beautiful trails. Warner offers a greater variety of trails than Brewster does.)

More ..........
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 09:56 AM
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Postscript. It has just occurred to me that you may know about Johnston Canyon, but may have decided to skip it because you already plan to visit Maligne Canyon.

However, these two canyons offer different experiences. If I had time to visit only one of them, I personally would visit Maligne. However, both of them are beautiful in their own ways. I believe the ideal is to visit both of them, if time permits.

More .........
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 09:57 AM
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>>>>>>About the Columbia Icefields walk - it looks like it could be cold. Does anyone know what kind of temperatures we should be prepared for on the walk?<<<<<<

I donít know what the temperature is when you stand on the Athabasca Glacier, but there usually is a cold wind blowing across the glacier. That is what I have found to be the case even on an otherwise hot day. Basically think of it as a spring / fall experience rather than a summer experience.

If I were you I would contact the company with whom you will be doing the ice walk and ask them what you should wear.

It is not only the weather during the ice walk that you need to think about. The weather in the Canadian Rockies is extremely variable. The average day time high in the mountains in summer is around 70 deg F (20 deg C). But the temperature can go up to the 90 deg F range (30 deg C). Conversely, the average night time low is 45 deg F (7 deg C), and it can go down to around the freezing level. It is not outside the bounds of possibility that you will encounter snow, especially in the Lake OíHara area, which is at a pretty high elevation.

So you need to pack LAYERS. That cannot be over-emphasized. You need sturdy sandals for hot weather, and you need socks and hiking boots for cooler weather. You need both shorts and long trousers. If you own trousers with zip-on/zip-off legs, youíll find them very practical. You need a long-sleeved fleece top and a waterproof outer shell, so that you can add or subtract layers as needed. You need sunglasses and sun hats.

It would help if each person had a day pack in which he could carry his/her spare jacket and a water bottle. Refill your water bottle from your hotel tap. Because of the slight risk of contracting giardia lamblia, do not drink untreated water from streams and lakes.


Yes, you can use their pool, at a cost of C$8 per person aged 4 or older.

The rest of your plans look good.

Over and out.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 10:35 AM
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Thanks once again for your thoughtful replies, Judy. You're suggestions are truly appreciated.

Of course, Moraine Lake does make the most sense. It's one of the main reasons I wanted to go to the Canadian Rockies in the first place. There's no way I'll come home without seeing it.

Any suggestions about how to spend the evening in Calgary before we fly home in the morning? We're staying at the airport Delta.
Devonmcj is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 11:11 AM
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I would not make such firm plans because of the weather. I just hope your Lake O'Hara day holds up fine. I have gone there in years past only to see clouds. One year we walked up to Lake Oesa in the snow. I just about fell in the lake before I saw it!!

Best place for groceries?
Canmore. No doubt. There is at least one big supermarket there. I am trying to recall where it is, but just drive into Canmore and ask!

We have shopped there more than once.
Canmore is a big residential area and there is the full supporting cast of stores. Prices for real estate in Canmore are outrageous, but the grocery store is fine.

Before you get too ambitious on the plain of Six Glaciers trail: It is a 6 mile plus round trip walk. It can take more than a casual afternoon.

as for Jasper, you are making a major omission by not visiting Mount Edith Cavell. The Angel Glacier is worth seeing. It is worth six hot springs.

I also think visiting Mt. Robson over the line in BC is worth the effort as well.

Oh well, my editorializing is personal.

I might add that Banff has supermarkets as well. I just like Canmore better.
bob_brown is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 11:59 AM
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I appreciate your editorials, Bob. Six miles is a pretty long hike for us. Do you think the Lake Agnes trail is a better option? I thought about Mount Edith Cavell, but I not sure it will be open when we get there. I was thinking that most of our hikes will depend on the weather conditions. I sure hope we get a nice day at Lake O'Hara, since we can't opt for a different time to go there. I bought rain gear and waterproof boots for all of us so we can at least do short hikes even if it rains.
Devonmcj is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 01:03 PM
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Can you expound on the what is at Lake O'Hare that needs reservations? I have just begun to late plan a trip and have not read anything about that. Also, can you post the website or number where you made the Icefield walk reservations. Thanks.
fae is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 01:12 PM
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To Judy in Calgary,

Wouldn't mind seeing an intineary from you with your expertise in the area for arrival at Calgary at 1:40 on Aug. 6 and depart Calgary at 2:25 on Aug. 14. That gives us 8 nights and 7 full days. Two kids (hardly kids anymore 20 (girl) and 16 (boy)). Love hiking, wildlife, waterfalls, etc. Have been to Alaska. Spend very little time in accommadations but want good sleeping arrangements in that two kids don't sleep well together. I know I am way late in planning but having trouble finding anything less than $300/night. Any suggestions would be fine. We normally get up and are gone all day sightseeing. Not interested in shopping or museums (information centers yes) Not interested in cooking meals - maybe packing sandwiches for lunch sometimes or have cereal/yogart for breakfast. We can raft or horseback ride if you think there is time. Otherwise, would prefer to see sights. Also, would love to rent a jeep if you know where we could. We do that in Colorado Rockies and love it. Thanks SO much for any help.
fae is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 02:26 PM
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>>>>>>Can you expound on the what is at Lake O'Hare that needs reservations?<<<<<<

What needs to be booked at Lake OíHara is the bus to get there. You are not allowed to drive your vehicle on the road that leads to Lake OíHara. Because of the limited amount of seating, you have to book your spots three months in advance of the day on which you want to ride the bus. Since youíve missed the boat on that, you MAY be able to secure one of the half dozen seats that they hold in reserve for last minute bookers. To get one of those seats, you have to phone 24 hours ahead. They say that those last-minute seats usually are taken within 10 minutes of their officeís 8.00 a.m. opening time. A single passenger sometimes can get a last minute seat on the bus when one of the reserved passengers does not show up. However, itís unlikely that there would be enough no shows to accommodate a family group. Another alternative is to hike into Lake OíHara. There always are ample seats on out-bound bus, and you do not need reservations for that. In any event, if you want to look into it the website is here:


>>>>>>Also, can you post the website or number where you made the Icefield walk reservations.<<<<<<



I'll give some thought to your other questions.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 05:22 PM
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About the grocery shopping in Canmore (which I agree is your best option, it's where we purchase food whenever we visit the mountains, which is usually 3 to 4 times each year - just to give you some background info):

There are two supermarkets in Canmore that will be visible to you almost as soon as you drive into town - Save-On-Foods, and Safeway. They are both just off (and parallel to) Railway Avenue. In addition to the supermarkets, there are adjacent stores (liquor stores, at least two sharing the same parking lot with Save-On-Foods), a bank (that my hubby happens to use), a Starbucks coffee shop, gift shops etc. etc.

Canmore is very much a town of timeshares, so all amenities and more are very available (& open long hours too).
Borealis is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 07:24 PM
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The Lake Agnes trail is steep. It os a 1,300 foot climb in about 2.2 miles.

The Plain of Six Glaciers trail gains 1,100 feet to the tea house, which is about 3.5 to 3.6 miles from the parking lot depending on where you leave your car. (And note well where you leave it!!)

I will keep my fingers crossed for the Lake O'Hara hike.

To do a little more editorializing.
My favorite hike is the High Line (not the low line) trail to Lake McArthur.
It has some climbing, but I did it last year and the magic is still there, if the day is clear enough.

Given that you will be there in late June, you need to ask about trail conditions.

I think the most dramatic hike we took to Lake McArthur was in early July when the lake was still 80% frozen.

If not, then hike as far as Schaeffer Lake for the view. A walk around the lake is pretty, too.

My wife reminded me that we have shopped both markets in Canmore. Both are good with the Safeway being a large chain.

The Lake Louise Village market is grim!
Depending on our approach direction we either buy in Canmore or Golden.

If you have had your fill of mountains by the time you return to Calgary, I found Heritage Village to be most interesting. Some of the shops and other shops are manned by staff members who are acting a role as if they were in the early days. I recall the young man who was playing the role of a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman in the police office. He was really good at his job.

I might add that the Ukranian village in/near Androssen does the same thing.
The actor in the hardware store was amusing. He did not know beans about hardware yet the store was stocked with items I used to buy with my uncle, who was a farmer. So when I started asking about the price of 40 penny nails he thought I was talking about the price per nail rather than the size of the nail.

Led to an amusing moment.

bob_brown is offline  
Jun 6th, 2007, 12:23 AM
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Fae, I typed a replied to you earlier, but my response appears to have disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle. Sounds as if Iím saying the dog ate my homework, eh?


Something you may want to be aware of is that Aug 6th will be a public holiday in Alberta. It shouldnít affect you much. When you drive to Banff, there will be quite a lot of traffic coming the other way, as Calgarians return home from a long weekend in the mountains. But thereís a 4-lane, divided highway between Calgary and Banff National Park, so you should not feel the effects of it.


I suggest the following itinerary:

Aug 6, 7, 8 Ė Lake Louise

Aug 9, 10, 11 Ė Jasper

Aug 12, 13 Ė Banff townsite or Canmore

Aug 14 Ė Fly home.


On one of your Lake Louise-based days you could go whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse River in nearby Yoho National Park.

On one of your Jasper-based days you could go horseback riding with Pyramid Stables. Riding also is available through Brewster Stables in Lake Louise and through Warner Guiding (amongst other companies) in Banff. However, Jasper is the place in which you will have some wiggle room, if you follow my suggested itinerary.


Sorry, I donít know about that. Most car rental companies that I know of will commit to a certain TYPE of vehicle, e.g., SUV, minivan, or whatever, but they wonít commit to a specific brand name or a specific model.

More in next post .........
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 6th, 2007, 12:26 AM
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Baker Creek Chalets
Paradise Lodge and Bungalows


Alpine Village
Beckerís Chalets
Patricia Lake Bungalows
Pyramid Lake Resort

In Jasper you also could consider private home accommodation (PHA). PHA is like a B&B, but without breakfast. Yet itís quite common for a PHA to include a kitchen or kitchenette, so you can prepare your own breakfast. The nicer PHAs have private bathrooms, private entrances, etc.

PHAs are cheaper than equivalent hotel accommodation. Staying in a PHA also saves you the tax that would be charged on a hotel room, over and above the rate that typically is published on a hotelís website. Being small businesses, PHAs and B&Bs are exempt from having to charge their guests the 6% federal GST and the 4% Alberta Tourism Levy.

I mention the savings you can enjoy at a PHA in Jasper because it may help to even out your average nightly cost if you encounter more expensive rates elsewhere.

If youíre interested in investigating PHAs in Jasper, here is a web page on which you can search for a PHA that has your desired features:


In the Jasper area I recommend against staying in Jasper East and, worse still, Hinton, as those places are too far away to serve as bases from which to explore Jasper National Park, in my opinion.


Tunnel Mountain Resort
Douglas Fir Resort
Hidden Ridge Resort

Note that these three Banff townsite properties are not "resorts" in the American sense of the expression. They are moderate, but comfortable, self-catering properties on the outskirts of Banff townsite.

A warning about accommodations in Lake Louise and Jasper (and occasionally even Banff). Watch out for stringent cancellation policies (up to 14 days). In the case of Jasper, also look out for 2-night minimum stay requirements (that go up to 3 nights on public holiday long weekends).

Hope that helps.

Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 6th, 2007, 03:52 AM
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Thanks for reminding me about a liquor store, Borealis. No vacation is complete for me without a glass of wine in the evenings, especially if I can drink it while sitting outside on a deck in the mountains, which is exactly what I hope to do. We usually try to test a bottle of local wine whereever we go.

More good editorials, Bob. Thanks so much. I hope you'll keep them coming. I was considering visiting Heritage Park on our last day. The kid can use all the history lessons he can get. He likes to hike, but after a while I'm sure they start feeling more like forced marches to him.
Devonmcj is offline  
Jun 6th, 2007, 08:32 AM
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Judy in Calgary,

So far these are all the accommadations I can line up. Since Jasper seemed to be the hardest, I booked whatever I could get. So.. we will stay night of arrival in Canmore and then I got 3 nights (Aug. 7,8,9) in Jasper at Patricia Lake Bungalows. So straight to Jasper, then make our way back down. I found two nights at Johnston Canyon Resort on Aug. 12 & 13. Have you heard anything about Johnston Canyon Resort?

We will leave from there on the 14th to head to airport with 2:35 departure time. So... I still need somewhere to stay Aug. 10 & 11 and would prefer closer to Yoho and Lake Louise so we can do sites in that area without backtracking. Lake Louise Inn had rooms for $450/night but that is too much for us. Seems like Emerald Lodge was the same way. Any other suggestions of places to check in that area? Thanks again.
fae is offline  

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