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a few questions about how long and where to stay in Jasper/Banff

a few questions about how long and where to stay in Jasper/Banff

Old May 17th, 2004, 10:08 AM
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a few questions about how long and where to stay in Jasper/Banff

We plan to spend 5 nights at a ranch in Cranbrook in August and then drive up to Lake Louise for 3 nights and then spend one night in Jasper and one night in Banff. Does this sound like the right division of time? We will be traveling with a 8 year old and will want to sight see but not do too much hiking. Should we stay in Canmore or Banff for our one night there?
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Old May 17th, 2004, 11:08 AM
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Hello Cindyf,

I don't know what to tell you. It's really difficult to suggest how you should allocate such a short time.

Much as I love Jasper, and much as I usually encourage folks to go there, I'm wondering if you wouldn't be better off to skip it.

You could spend 3 nights (2 full days) in Lake Louise. This would give you an opportunity to spend one day visiting Lake Louise, Moraine Lake and perhaps even Johnston Canyon. You can rent a canoe at Lake Louise or Moraine Lake, and this is an activity that our kids used to enjoy. You could spend another day in Yoho National Park (Takakkaw Falls, Emerald Lake, etc.).

Then you could drive the Icefields Parkway as far as the Columbia Icefields, ride a Snocoach on the Athabasca Glacier, return to Lake Louise and proceed to Banff / Canmore for the night.

The following day you could do activities around Banff (ride the gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain, rent a canoe on Two Jack Lake, etc.). Then you could overnight in Banff / Canmore again.

Although it would be fine to stay in either Banff or Canmore, Banff is the larger of the two towns and somewhat more appealing to adults who are looking to socialize in a pub / restaurant setting. I personally think Canmore is a bit better for a young family.

Hope you have a good trip.
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Old May 17th, 2004, 12:13 PM
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Thanks Judy. We will be spending one night in Banff on arrival before we go to the ranch so should have half a day or so in Banff at the beginning of the trip before the five nights at the end. Does this change your view on whether we have time to go to Jasper? I would hate to miss Jasper since we are coming from NY and may not get back again any time soon.
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Old May 17th, 2004, 01:35 PM
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>>>>>We will be spending one night in Banff on arrival before we go to the ranch so should have half a day or so in Banff at the beginning of the trip before the five nights at the end. Does this change your view on whether we have time to go to Jasper?<<<<<

Yes, Cindy, I think that perhaps does make a difference.

So, let me re-think this.

Something you could consider doing would be driving from Cranbrook all the way to Jasper in one day. This would involve driving for 7 hours, not counting stops, versus driving for 4 hours. I don't know if your 8 year old would be up to that amount of driving in a day. But if you could pull off that stunt I think it would help you to maximize the use of your time. So then your itinerary after Cranbrook could look like this:

Day 1 - Drive to Jasper.

Day 2 - Explore Jasper's environs, which are great.

Day 3 - Drive to Lake Louise, stopping at various lookout points, including the Columbia Icefields. I believe you would have time to look at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake that afternoon as well. Overnight in Lake Louise.

Day 4 - Visit Yoho National Park. Overnight in Lake Louise.

Day 5 - Visit Johnston Canyon. Do some more activities in or near Banff. Overnight in Banff or Canmore. You could even go all the way to Calgary. Your choice of overnight stay very much depends on what you'll be doing next. For example, if you're flying out of Calgary on the morning of Day 6, I think it makes sense to press on to Calgary late in the afternoon of Day 5. If, on the other hand, you'll be going on to do other activities in the region or if you'll be flying out of Calgary around noon on Day 6, you could spend the night of Day 5 in Banff or Canmore.

If you don't think your 8 year old is up to the 7 hour drive from Cranbrook to Jasper, here's another approach you might try after Cranbrook.

Day 1 - Drive to Lake Louise (4 hours), and spend the afternoon at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.

Day 2 - Explore Yoho National Park. Overnight in Lake Louise.

Day 3 - Drive to Jasper, stopping at scenic lookout points along the way. Drive nominally takes 3 hours, but it easily takes us 7 hours when we do the available activities with visitors.

Day 4 - Explore Jasper's environs.

Day 5 - Drive to Banff. This would be 4 hours without stops, but I recommend you take the Bow Valley Parkway (Route #1A) between Lake Louise and Banff so that you can walk into Johnston Canyon at least up to the Lower Falls. This will add between an hour and 1.5 hours to your trip, making for a total of, say, 5.5 hours. This would still leave some time to do something in Banff townsite and then drive to your overnight base in Banff, Canmore or Calgary.

One of the things that made a difference to my thinking this time was that I actually looked up the driving time between Cranbrook and Lake Louise. Somehow I had thought it would be longer, but the fact that it is "only" 4 hours is helpful, I believe.
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Old May 18th, 2004, 06:24 AM
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Thanks so much Judy. I think I will follow your second option because I think the drive to Jasper will be too long to do in one day. You've been a great help.
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