Banff/Jasper in August

Feb 23rd, 2006, 06:58 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Aug 2003
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Banff/Jasper in August

I have read many of the posts in this forum. They are filled with good information. However, I could really use some educated advice. We (2 adults, 1 5 yr old) have booked a trip to the Canadian Rockies for August. We will fly into Calgary arriving late on a Tues and will leave the afternoon of the following Tues. We plan to spend the first night at a hotel in Calgary as the plane arrives 10-11pm. Should we plan to do anything in Calgary before driving on? Can you recommend an itinerary? Should we spend time in Jasper as well as Banff/Canmore? What about hotel recommendations? If we go to Jasper, I am intrigued by Patricia Lake Bungalows or Becker's Chalets. In Banff/Canmore, we are looking at Marriott Residence Inn, Charlton's Cedar Court, Best Western Pocaterra or Best Western Siding 29. We want to do a lot of hiking, see the icefields, wildlife, etc. As our son has had problems with motion sickness, we want to minimize the driving without sacrificing too much of the experience. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
emom is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2006, 08:16 AM
  #2  
 
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Hello emom,

I think your decision to spend the first night in Calgary is a good one, given that you will be arriving so late. Beyond that, I don't think your overall visit will be long enough to warrant spending time in Calgary. If it was my trip and I only had a week, I would want to spend every available hour in the mountains.

If your son has a problem with motion sickness, I do not consider Canmore to be the best base. Canmore is at the east end of the mountains. If you stayed there, you would need to do a fair amount of driving back and forth to the prime opportunities for hiking and seeing great scenery around Lake Louise and in Yoho National Park. That means that you'd be driving between 75 and 90 minutes in each direction every day just to get to the places that you wanted to visit. In your circumstances, I think Lake Louise is a better base.

And, yes, I think you can fit Jasper in as well.

I'll post a suggested itinerary in the next message ......
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2006, 08:40 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
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Here's the suggested itinerary:

Tue - Land in Calgary and overnight there.

Wed - Drive to Banff townsite. It's bustling with people in the summer, but it's in a pretty location, and I do consider to be worth a look. Consider taking the gondola up Sulphur Mountain (but I don't know whether or not that would affect your son). When you leave Banff townsite, get onto the Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy #1A), and visit Johnston Canyon. This unfortunately could be a challenge in that it's a popular place, and the parking lot fills up. Thereafter continue to Lake Louise.

Thu - Hike in the vicinity of Moraine Lake and Lake Louise.

Fri - Visit nearby Yoho National Park and see Takakkaw Falls and Emerald Lake. There is nice hiking in Yoho NP as well.

Sat - Drive the Icefields Parkway (Hwy #93) to Jasper. It nominally takes between 2.5 hours and 3 hours. However, by the time you've stopped at several o the scenic lookout points and perhaps done a short hike, it might be close to the end of the day before you reach Jasper. Hopefully the opportunities to get out and walk, which you in any case would want to do for the sake of the scenery, would be helpful to your son.

Sun - Explore Jasper National Park. Maligne Canyon is only 11 km (7 miles) from Jasper townsite. You can spend anywhere from a few minutes to all day in it.

Mon - Visit Mount Edith Cavell. The side road to Mount Edith Cavell has some tight turns in it. I hope that won't upset your son. You in any case have to take that road slowly, and it's good to stop and get out and look at the lovely views at least a couple of times along the road. It would be a rewarding side trip if your son could cope with it. When you reach the trailhead, you might like to do the Angel Glacier / Cavell Meadows hike. It's a half-day hike if you do the full circuit, but you can do only part of it if you prefer.

In the afternoon, drive to Canmore. This nominally would take 4 hours. If that would bother your son, you could break up the driving by stopping at scenic lookout points that you had missed on the way up. (Depending on your situation, you might spend less time at Mount Edith Cavell in order to allow yourselves more time for stops on the way to Canmore.)

Tue - If you'll be flying to the USA, leave Canmore about 5 hours before your plane's departure time. If you want something to eat before you check in for your flight, depart from Canmore about half an hour earlier. The airport has quite a respectable food court. If you want to have lunch at a nice restaurant, there is one in the Delta Calgary Airport Hotel. Once you check in, go through US immigration and customs, and wait at your departure gate, the food choices are very ordinary.

My time estimate is based on the following breakdown : 1.25 hours to drive from Canmore to Calgary's western city limits, 30 minutes to cross the city and reach the airport, 2 hours to check in for a US-bound flight, 1 hour for contingencies. That adds up to close to 5 hours

Without knowing just how bad your son's motion sickness is, it's difficult to give advice. I don't suffer from motion sickness myself, so it's hard for me to put myself in the shoes of someone who does. I've just tried to guess what it might be like.

Anyway, I hope that information helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2006, 09:01 AM
  #4  
 
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Postscript.

If you think the drive to Jasper would be too much for your son, you could stay in Lake Louise the whole time.

In that case you could spend one day going as far up the Icefields Parkway as your son can manage, from your base in LL. I believe you would be able to see Peyto Lake, do the Bow Glacier Falls hike, and visit the Columbia Icefields on that day.

On another day you could set out from your Lake Louise base and go hiking in Kootenay National Park. To do that you would drive about half way from LL to Banff and then at Castle Junction you would turn south on Hwy #93 as if you were going to Radium.

On still another day from your LL base you could do one of the hikes in the Moraine Lake / LL area that you had not done on the Thursday. For example, if you'd hiked to Plain of Six Glaciers on the Thursday, you could do the Larch Valley hike from Moraine Lake on this day.

Over and out.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2006, 11:13 AM
  #5  
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Join Date: Aug 2003
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Judy, thanks for the suggestions. Sounds like a good itinerary. We've done mountain driving with my son before, but nothing like the rockies. So long as we can stop periodically, he's ok. So I think your suggestions will work. Do have any suggestions for accomodations in Lake Louise? We were hoping to keep under $200 US per night.
emom is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2006, 11:39 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
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At today's exchange rate you could get a loft chalet at Baker Creek Chalets for 213 USD (245 CDN). A loft chalet has a living room with a kitchenette, a bedroom with a queen bed, and a loft with 2 twin beds above the living room.

I am having trouble getting into Lake Louise Inn's website:

www.lakelouiseinn.com

so cannot check prices. However, I'm pretty sure one of their loft suites would fit into your budget. Their regular rooms are nothing to write home about. However, the loft suites are spacious and pleasant.

Hope that helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Feb 24th, 2006, 09:17 AM
  #7  
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Judy, you are a wealth of information. Thank you. Unfortunately, the Lake Louise Inn won't work. The loft suite is over $300 and I've read too many reviews of the standard rooms. Baker Creek Chalets look good but I do have some concerns. It appears from the photos that the loft is accessible by ladder (not staircase). I am uncomfortable sending a 5yr old up a ladder, especially if he has to get up in the middle of the night, which 5 yr olds tend to do. So, after a little more research, I am thinking of giving my family a few options. Please tell me if I'm making any huge mistakes.

Option 1: Spend the week at Baker Creek Chalets
Option 2: Spend 4 nights in Lake Louise at either Baker Creek or Deer Lodge (kitchen area is not essential for us) and 2 nights in Jasper at either Patricia Lake or Beckers
Option 3: Spend 4 nights in Banff (Banff Caribou Lodge, Douglas Fir Resort, High Country Inn, or Carlton's Court) and 2 nights in Jasper

If we choose option 3, we will either have to live with the extra driving or alter our activities somewhat.
emom is offline  
Feb 24th, 2006, 09:30 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 243
emom: Has your son tried using those elastic bracelets to help with his nausea? I use them, and they really make a difference. You can buy them at Walgreens, etc. Oh, whoops, I see that he's just 5, so they'd probably be too big. But will send this anyway for when he gets older. It sounds silly, but it's really helped me, and it beats Dramamine, which makes me sleepy. They also have Dramamine for children now, but once again, five might be too young, and you don't want him to be sleepy the whole time. I've dealt with motion sickness all my life, so am sensitive to his plight.

We did a similar trip last summer, and I just wanted to tell you that the highlights were hiking to the Edith Cavell glacier (might be a long hike for a five year old) and Moraine Lake, which has an easy path around the lake, and is THE most beautiful place I have ever been. The road there is curvy, though, as I recall. About the hike to the Edith Cavell Angel Glacier--you can also hike the meadow, which we did not have time for. But the hike to the glacier is shorter.

Also, your son will love Pyramid Lake in Jasper because there's this little island that you can get to by a bridge. It's just perfectly kid sized--plan to picnic there. We rented a paddle boat, and it was a windy day, and our legs were already sore from so much hiking, and once we got out on the lake, it was all we could do to get the darn thing back in. When we turned it in, I asked the man if anyone else had ever rented it for such a short time. He said, "Oh, yes. The couple before you." My lesson learned is that paddle boats are always less fun than they look!

And, if you ride the gondola up to Whistler Mountain, I wouldn't even try to hike on up much farther with a five year old, not to the top, anyway. But do hike for a bit--we saw hoary marmots, and they were so CUTE! My boys loved them.

And if you go to Maligne Lake, which paled (literally) in comparison to Moraine (we were there on a cloudy day, though, so it wasn't the brillant turquoise that Moraine was on the sunny day that we were there), there's this field of HUGE boulders along the way. It's to the right on the way there, though you might see it better on the way back. You can turn in and park, and your boy will have a blast climbing around.

My sons were 9 and 14, and I'm trying to think about what else they loved the most. They enjoyed going up on the glacier at Athabasca (spelling?). The bus was jostly, but it's a short ride. And they loved sliding around on the ice.

We did so many waterfalls and canyons that they all kind of run together--it's just all so beautiful! Tkae Judy in Calgary's advice--we did, and it was great. Have fun!


CindyW is offline  
Feb 24th, 2006, 11:32 AM
  #9  
mms
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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emom--I can help with the Baker Creek Chalets. Yes, the one bedroom lofts do have a ladder vs a staircase to the top. Our kids did fine with it, but I can see where you might be nervous with a younger child. There is a couch in the living room though, so maybe he/she could sleep on that? Otherwise look into the 2 bedroom cabins. We have stayed in those as well. We really like Baker Creek and were to return in July, but had to cancel due to a conflict with a family reunion. It broke our hearts to have to cancel!
mms is offline  
Feb 24th, 2006, 09:17 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
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Patricia Lake Bungalows have in the past imposed a 3 day minimum. My adult son hit that problem with his family in 2004. I am not sure if the 3-day minimum is still in force or not. Check the web site.

Beckers is very popular. I would not wait to book a cabin if that is where you decide to go.

I think you need to look at the self catering apartments in Field. Mt. Stephen Guesthouse is fairly good choice with a queen sized bed and a fold out couch and a full kitchen.

Some of the others have two bedrooms.
Check the Field Accommodations Guide for details.

brookwood is offline  
Feb 25th, 2006, 03:47 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
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I agree that you need to book early at Beckers especially for August We made a booking about 6 weeks ago and found that our first choice the riverside cabins were already fully booked.
Also the alpine village cabins in Jasper were also totally booked.
pearcey is offline  
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