AB & MT trip

Old Nov 25th, 2005, 02:11 PM
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AB & MT trip

I am trying to plan a trip to canadian rockies and the glacier/yellowstone NP for next summer.
Fly from Philadelphia to Calgary. Rent a car at calgary airport. 3 hours drive calgary to Waterton(waterton & glacier Np). Spend time(a day or 2) in the waterton & glacier NP.

Then 7 hours drive from browning to gardiner(Yellowstone NP). Spend some time(a day or 2) in Yellowstone NP. 9.5 hours drive from gardiner back to Calgary.
Spend some time(a day or 2 relaxing) in Calgary.

Then drive to Banff. Spend some time(a day) there. Similarly drive to Kooteney, yoho & jasper(a day or 2) and spend some time at all these places and then drive back to Calgary to fly back home.

Is this practical? Can this be done in 9-11 days, including fly and drive time?

If we drive along the same route both ways it might be boring. Any alternate routes for our drive back from Jasper to Calgary?
Any alternate routes for our drive back from Yellowstone to calgary?

Is anything else closeby that we should consider visiting?

njs is offline  
Old Nov 25th, 2005, 09:30 PM
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I frankly think you are attempting too much. In my opinion, Yellowstone is worth double the time you have alloted. Glacier, certainly more than a day or two if you intend to do any more than ride by, take a picture, and go on.

You cannot really do much in the Canadian Rockies in the time you describe. You will spend most of your time in a car waving at the scenery as you go by.

The Icefields Parkway alone is worth a full day.

I don't know of any real alternatives to your routes. Have you looked at a road map?

Also, if you can get from Gardiner to Browning in 7 hours, you will not stop for much of anything!! I know, MaqQuest says you can do it. You can if you drive it non stop.
brookwood is offline  
Old Nov 26th, 2005, 05:29 AM
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We will not be doing much hiking. Taking pictures and appreciating natural beauty is what we do. We prefer stopping at most points of interest for 10-15 minutes and then moving on.

Yes we will add a few of hours to the drive time for sightseeing if the drive is scenic in MT.

According to the plan we end up spending 3 nights & 4 days in canadian rockies including drive time on icefields parkway. Would that not be enough?
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Old Nov 26th, 2005, 09:40 AM
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Again, if all you want to do is drive by, yes, I suppose you would have plenty of time. The problem is that I don't tick that way and probably should not have responded initially.

In Canada, the beauty in many cases is considerable, and hiking some of the trails reveals the inner details and secrets.

I am happy waiting 90 minutes to watch Grand Geyser erupt or waiting an hour or more for Castle. Both geysers to me are fantastic shows, and I have waited for both of them more than once - even at 2 AM under a full moon. But if that kind of activity is a waste of time for you, then I really am out of ideas.

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Old Nov 26th, 2005, 10:10 PM
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Hello njs,

I think it's too ambitious to fit Yellowstone, Glacier National Park and the Canadian Rockies into 9 - 11 days.

Perhaps you could split this into two trips, one to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons and another to the Canadian Rockies and Glacier National Park.

For the GNP / Canadian Rockies trip, you could consider an itinerary that looks something like this:

1 - Land in Calgary, then drive south of the city to the bedroom community of Okotoks, which will give you a good start the next morning.

2 - Drive down the Cowboy Trail (Hwy #22), which takes you through the scenic foothills. Overnight in Waterton Lakes National Park.

3 - Drive southwards to St. Mary, MT and then westwards through Glacier National Park. Consider spending the night in West Glacier or Whitefish, MT.

4 - Drive north through Cranbrook, British Columbia, Fairmont, Invermere, Radium and Kootenay National Park to Lake Louise.

5 - From your base in Lake Louise, explore Moraine Lake and Yoho National Park, which is to the west of Lake Louise.

6 - Drive the Icefields Parkway to Jasper.

7 - From your base in Jasper townsite, explore Jasper National Park.

8 - Drive to Banff. This will necessitate driving back down the Icefields Parkway to Lake Louise. Do not consider this to be a waste, however. The scenery looks different when it's viewed from the opposite direction.

Instead of driving the TransCanada Highway (Hwy #1) from Lake Louise to Banff, take the Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy #1A), and visit Johnston Canyon.

Overnight in Banff.

9 - Drive through Kananaskis Country to Calgary. Driving the more direct route along the TransCanada Highway would take only 1.5 hours. Going through Kananaskis Country would take 3.5 hours (not counting stops). The longer, more circuitous route is more scenic and interesting.

From Banff drive east on the TransCanada Highway. Turn south on Hwy #40. This will take you past Kananaskis Lakes and over the Highwood Pass. Then the road will turn eastwards and become Route #541. When you reach Longview, turn north onto Hwy #22, and drive through Black Diamond, Turner Valley and Bragg Creek.

From Bragg Creek, continue north on Hwy #22 till you reach the TransCanada Highway (Hwy #1). Turn east on Hwy #1, and use it to get to Calgary.

If you find you have an afternoon to spend in Calgary, a good way to use it is to stroll down the 8th Avenue / Stephen Avenue Walk in the downtown core. The indoor Devonian Gardens are worth a look. They are on the 4th floor of Toronto Dominion Square at the east end of Stephen Avenue Walk. After that it's interesting to look at the western outfitting stores on Stephen Avenue Walk.

10 - Fly home.

If you can afford the time, Waterton Lakes National Park would be well worth a second night.

I don't think you should devote more than half a day to Calgary.

From what you've said about your interests, I don't imagine you're interested in the Calgary Stampede. In that case, if you can choose your travel dates, avoid this area from July 7 - 16, 2006. (If you do the trip in 2007, the dates will be July 6 - 15. In 2008, the dates will be July 4 - 13.)

Coming here during the Stampede is not a make or break issue. However, the Stampede does increase the demand for flights, accommodation and rental cars. All other things being equal, it's better to avoid it, unless you're specifically interested in it.

I personally think the latter half of June and the month of September are the best months to visit this area. Those time frames allow you to catch the mountain lakes when they are turquoise, but they also allow you to avoid the busiest months of July and August.

In small resort towns and villages like Jasper and Lake Louise, you'll find that some accommodations stipulate 2-night or 3-night minimum stays. They also have cancellation policies anywhere from 48 hours to 14 days. So do read the fine print.

In Jasper, I suggest avoiding any place that describes itself as being in Jasper East or Hinton. They are too far from Jasper townsite to serve as bases for touring the area, in my opinion.

If you must travel in July or August, you would be wise to book your accommodation by March - April. It wouldn't do any harm to book even as far ahead as January - February.

You can find more tips about the area at my web site:


Hope that helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Nov 27th, 2005, 04:26 PM
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Thanks a lot.
Based on all the feedback, I think I should scale down our trip. Thanks again for all the ideas.
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