Banff, Jasper and what else?

Old Mar 28th, 2022, 01:15 PM
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Banff, Jasper and what else?

We are visiting Jasper and Banff in July for a week. We were thinking of extending our stay by 2-3 days. What else will you recommend that we visit nearby?
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Old Mar 29th, 2022, 09:15 AM
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What are you interested in seeing and doing? How far are you willing to go?

Jasper and Banff are national parks and provide alpine hiking, glaciers, glacial lakes, scenic gondolas up into the alpine, etc. However, because they're national parks, they are managed quite strictly as wilderness and wildlife conservation/protection areas so activities and development are strictly limited within the parks. There are certain activities that are forbidden all together within the parks - it's why you don't see ATV tours or helicopter tours or ziplining in the national parks themselves. It's why you can't rent entire houses or find condos to rent in Banff or Jasper. It's why campers can't just pull over wherever they want and camp wherever they want in the national parks. All of that is carefully managed so the landscape stays pristine.

The parks are the most in-demand tourist destinations in all of Canada and this summer the hotels, bookable activities, and parking lots to the famous turquoise lakes (i.e. Lake Louise) will be at or over capacity, so you'll want to plan ahead and give yourself a lot of time. The towns of Jasper and Banff are small villages where all the hotels and restaurants are, but they're not your typical Canadian towns - they're more like tourism service centers, so culturally, they're more like resort towns where the tourists outnumber the locals by the tens of thousands.

Some would argue you could easily expend your week and extra days there in Banff and Jasper just by staying put and you won't run out of things to do. You could spend all your time just in one national park hiking a different trail each day for example.

However, maybe you want even more national parks to explore? Do you want even more alpine hikes and glacier lakes and wilderness? If so, Yoho National Park and Mount Revelstoke National Park are immediately nearby to the west of Banff. And if you're into waterfalls, Wells Gray Provincial Park is famous for its many waterfalls, and it's a three-hour drive west of Jasper and worthy of 2-3 days. The town of Clearwater is generally where people stay when visiting Wells Gray.

Or are you craving something entirely different? Maybe you want more of a city experience with shopping districts and restaurants/pubs where the locals hang out, where you can browse museums and art galleries and such? If so, Calgary's actually a pretty terrific prairie city. It would give you a taste of contemporary urban Alberta (the province where Banff and Jasper are in). Depending on when in July you're visiting, the Calgary Stampede may also be happening, which is the largest event in the city and it turns the city in a massive party.

Or maybe you want small, quirky mountain towns, but less touristy than Banff or Jasper?

If so, you might want to consider spending a few nights in Nelson, for example - a picturesque historic town with a vibrant downtown strip of diverse restaurants, breweries, shops, and art galleries, located on Kootenay Lake. It has a really artsy bohemian culture. It's about a 6 hour drive from Banff to Nelson.

Or, you could do a small loop road trip during those three days, driving from Banff to Revelstoke (a fun mountain town, home of of the Revelstoke Mountain Coaster) to Nakusp (excellent hot springs) to Nelson, then back to Banff. It'll get you off the main tourist routes and into the smaller, quirkier mountain communities. The entire route would be mountainous and scenic.

Last edited by BC_Robyn; Mar 29th, 2022 at 09:51 AM.
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Old Mar 29th, 2022, 11:02 AM
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Another thought, if you're into paleontology and different landscapes is to head to Drumheller to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology where dinosaur bones are on display. That whole area is a completely different ecosystem and landscape from the Rockies. Look up Dinosaur Provincial Park and the "Badlands" to see what I mean. Drumheller is a 2.5 hour drive east of Banff.
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Old May 10th, 2022, 06:44 AM
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Bookmarking! Great advice, thx.
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Old May 17th, 2022, 01:10 PM
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Canmore is about 20 minutes east of Banff and is, in some ways, nicer. It's quieter, and the mountain views are prettier. Definitely spend time there.
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