Banff/Jasper itinerary help

Mar 31st, 2008, 06:00 PM
Original Poster
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Banff/Jasper itinerary help

I am going to the Canadian Rockies with my father (who is 75) in mid July. He's always wanted to go there so I'm trying to get as much into our 10 day trip as we can. Any suggestions or comments on the below itinerary would be greatly appreciated!

Day 1 - Calgary to Waterton Lakes park
Day 2 Waterton lakes park to Glacier national park
Day 3 drive Going to the Sun Road in Glacier
Day 4 Glacier to Banff national park
Day 5 - White water rafting on Kananaksis river (we need a grade2-3 trip). Moraine Lake in afternoon
Day 6 - Drive Bow Valley parkway to Lake Louise
Day 7 Drive to Jasper via Icefields Parkway and do Ice Walk
Day 8 Drive to Maligne Valley and Lake
Day 9 Jasper Tramway then drive to Calgary
Day 10 - home from Calgary

Are there any major sights/activities that we are missing? I know it is a lot packed into 10 days but it may be the only time my dad gets to go. He is in pretty good physical condition so moderate activities are possible. Thanks for any thoughts you might have!
dw732 is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 07:55 AM
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Honestly, this itinerary doesn't make much sense to me. IMO there's too much driving and not enough doing/seeing. With only 10 days I would take Waterton/Glacier out and stick with the Banff/Jasper area.

But, I'm one of those people who think it's better to really explore one spot well then just pass by a whole bunch of different ones.

Also, you realize it's only a 1/2 hour drive between Banff and Lake Louise? If you are determined to spend a night in Lake Louise (which one of your previous posts indicates), I would see Moraine Lake the day you drive to Lake Louise.
ShelliDawn is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 03:06 PM
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Well let us start from the premise that you have left out quite a few of the really scenic parts of the Canadian Rockies.

If you want me to elaborate, I will. Otherwise, I don't want to go into detail unless you are really interested.

I am no expert, but after 8 visits I know what is good and what is of lesser value.

But, just as a sample, where are Moraine Lake and Peyto Lake on your agenda? I don't see them mentioned.

bob_brown is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 05:58 PM
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He has Moraine Lake on day 5, after white water rafting. But day 6 he's only got driving from Banff to Lake Louise.
ShelliDawn is offline  
Apr 1st, 2008, 06:55 PM
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Bob: Please elaborate on your thread and I appreciate your comments. Thanks.
dw732 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 05:08 AM
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Either Day 4 or 5 you may want to go up Sulphur Mtn on the Banff Gondola - it's a great view on a reasonable weather day.

Day 6 - you may want to do the Johnston Canyon walk, at least to the lower falls. We did this with my 82-year-old mother last spring, and she did quite well and loved it - and she has a year old hip replacement!

On Day 7 (and Day 9), you will probably stop many times on the Icefields Parkway to see many views and take some short walks - for example, Peyto Lake. Instead of the Ice Walk, you may want to take your dad on the Ice Explorer out onto the glacier - depends on his stamina and stability - the ice is slippery.

I can't comment on the Waterton and Glacier parks, as we are just going there ourselves in September, on a long trip up to the Canadian Rockies. But if you leave those out, and spend more time around Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper, you will fill your time, and you won't be disappointed. The Icefields Parkway alone, both ways, is worth the trip!

Have a wonderful time! Your father will love it! My mother was in awe of the mountains, but liked all of the waterfalls even better.
newretiree is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 09:56 AM
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Well I think you are an expert, Bob, so please do elaborate.

My husband and I will be in a similar situation. We hope to visit the Rockies in September. My husband isn't able to do strenuous hiking and I'll have hopefully recovered from surgery by then but might not be quite up to par. So we would love to know the places you would recommend with these restrictions in mind.

I haven't spent much time in the Rockies since I was a kid - later trips have been just zipping through, so would like to see it with 'fresh eyes' as if I'd never been before.

We'll have about ten days, driving from the west coast of Canada.
April is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 12:41 PM
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Judy_in_Calgary traditionally has been very good with itinerary suggestions for western Canada. I haven't seen her post in quite some time now (I do hope everything is okay).

However, she does have a website with excellent information for helping plan a trip to this part of the world including suggested itineraries, weather expectations, what to pack etc. I hightly recommend it for anyone planning a trip:
ShelliDawn is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 04:56 PM
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Well, I don't think I am an expert. I am just a guy who has gone there a lot because I like to!

If Waterton is incuded I recommend the boat ride on the lake, but in the day time. I tried a late evening cruise, but if there were any wild critters about, we did not see any - too dark!

In Glacier US National Park, my suggestions are to drive the Sun Road, at least from the eastern side to Logan Pass. If you are up to a hike, walk north along the Garden Wall trail toward Granite Park. A very prominent feature known as Haystack Butte will be obvious to your left as your walk along. Go at least that far. If you continue on a mile or so beyond that point there is a better chance to see both goats and sheep. (I have a photograph of a group of 6 young rams that were using the same trail. We both yielded the right of way!!)

Near Banff, certainly the drive along the Bow Valley Parkway past Castle Mountain to Johnston Canyon is more tranquil than the Trans Canada! The hike at Johnston Canyon is scenic and fairly level.

In the Lake Louise area, Moraine Lake is virtually a must see. Some of the east-west valleys near Moraine Lake are also interesting and scenic hikes, e.g. Larch Valley.

Lake Louise in the morning with the sun rising higher and gleaming off of Mt. Victoria has given some people a spiritual experience.

The hike From Lake Louise to the tea house toward the end of the trail, the Plain of Six Glaciers, is really nice because you begin to see the side valleys that feed into the main line of the Victoria Glacier. If a person is energetic, a side trip off of the Plain of Six Glaciers trail to the Beehive is an option.

Another energetic but very rewarding trip if you have the legs to do it is the Fairview Mountain Summit. The view from the top is awesome, but the ascent is steep!

Over the Great Divide, there are Kootenay and Yoho National Parks.
In Kootenay, the view from the summit of Vermillion Pass is nice. For a short hike, Marble Canyon has reopened after being closed for at least two years. It is a slot canyon that is hundreds of feet deep and about 6 feet wide or less.

A rewarding short hike is to the Stanley Glacier Basin, but it is more basin than glacier now.

In Yoho National Park there is Kicking Horse Pass itself with its spiral rail tunnels and north of the Trans Canada you can find the awesome beauty of Takkakaw Falls.
The road to the falls goes over some steep switchbacks that are not suitable for trailers. The tour buses have to back up or down the middle of a series of 3 sharply curved switchbacks.

Also in Yoho many people like Emerald Lake which reached by a turn north is a little farther down the highway toward Golden from the visitor center.

On the Icefields Parkway itself, there are many places to stop.
Bow Lake, Mistaya Canyon, Peyto Lake, the Icefields Center, Athabasca, and Sunwapta Falls, many views of the mountains, Parker Ridge (if the trails are open) and, for the explorers, Panther Falls and the Falls of Beauty Creek. Finding the last two is a little of a challenge.

At Peyto Lake there is a short extension hike to the Bow Summit where one can look north and south for lovely views, particularly of the Mistaya Valley.

Once in Jasper there are several objectives worth the effort. I personally like visiting the Angel Glacier and Mount Edith Cavell.
If the trail is open, head up toward Cavell Meadows and climb high enough to see the surface of the Angel Glacier so you can see the origin of that tongue of ice that drapes over the side of the cirque.

Then there is the Whistler reached by a Swiss-designed aerial cable lift, Maligne Canyon, and Maligne Lake. (Or a lung buster of a hike up the side.)

And last, but certainly not least, if time permits, drive west from Jasper into British Columbia for a view of Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Robson towers some 8,000 feet above Kinney Lake on its southern flank. I remember standing there trying to figure out just where the top was. It was a loooong ways up there!!

This is sort of a quick run-through of the highlights I personally have enjoyed in the past.

There does not seem to be time on this itinerary to reach my favorite destinations because each requires a long hike.

For those of you planning a longer trip, with a desire to get on the trails, there are so many that Brian Patton and Bart Robinson have put in many hundreds of hours compiling the hikers' bible for the Rockies: The Canadian Rockies Trail Guide.

My favorite walk takes some doing to reach, but it is the Whaleback Trail that lies to the west of the upper reaches of the Yoho River Valley.

The Iceline Trail that ascends the Yoho Valley opposite Takkakaw Falls is a good one, too. It can actually be crowded on a sunny Sunday.

All in all, there is a lot to see out there, and I have not even mentioned my favorite destination of them all: Lake O'Hara. Getting there takes planning and a little luck because admission is limited and a fee is involved.

bob_brown is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 07:36 PM
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Thanks everyone for your helpful comments! Especially, Bob, thanks for sharing all your wonderful experiences. Your suggestions are greatly appreciated! I'm just sorry we don't have enough time to do it as in depth as I would like.
dw732 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2008, 10:28 PM
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I live in Edmonton and we're in Jasper at least once a year, twice most years; we've also been to Banff many times both in the winter and the summer, and we've visited Waterton and Field/Yoho as well. My suggestion is to focus on one or two destinations and get some quality experiences, rather than trying to cram all of the parks in.

I would, if I weren't a "local" do longer stays in either Jasper + Banff, or Jasper + Waterton (I am very partial to Jasper, we consider it our second home) and get in some of the really pretty hikes in both locations. Believe it or not, although the parks are all in the Canadian Rockies, there are pronounced differences in the looks/configuration of the mountains from park to park, as well as climatic and latitudinal differences in the flora in each park.

Just my two cents' worth.
luna is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2008, 12:45 AM
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Thanks very much, Bob, and everyone.
April is offline  

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