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Banff, Jasper with one year old

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Hi, my husband and I are planning to spend 10 days exploring Banff and Jasper national parks with our one year old daughter.

do both parks have paved paths that we can use a stroller? We will either carry our daughter in our ergobaby carrier or put her in the stroller. therefore we will not be doing any intense hiking.

how would you recommend we budget our time? We were planning several nights in Banff and Jasper. Since we are in the area we are considering driving for a few nights to Glacier national Park in Montana as well. do you think adding Montana is a good idea or are we just spreading ourselves thin?

all advice is greatly appreciated!

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    When are you coming? That's a big factor in advice on accommodation and activities.

    With a 1-year old, I'd keep the schedule fairly simple. I think adding on GNP in Montana would probably be a bit much. It might be more reasonable to add on Drumheller or Kananaskis Country.

    If you are flying in via Calgary, I would spend a night or two in Banff. Then head up to Jasper for 3 nights, and back down to Banff/Lake Louise for another 3-4 night. You can head out to Drumheller for a night or go to Canmore and explore a bit of Kananaskis Country. Canmore has nice paths along the river, plus a great rec centre if the weather is bad.

    Havnig more time around Banff isn't a bad thing, as you can spend a day in the townsite, plus head out to Yoho (Emerald Lake has a paved path on one side), Lake Louise etc.

    There are stroller friendly paved paths in a few locations, but the vast majority of trails are hard pack/dirt/mud/rock and/or have stairs/steeper bits. I think you would be a LOT happier with the Ergobaby carrier as it would give you a lot more flexibility to explore and to navigate through crowds.

    For instance, you could take a stroller right at the lakeside on Lake Louise, but to walk or hike along the lake or up away from the lake, a stroller would quickly become tricky or even dangerous (I've seen people take strollers up part way to Lake Agnes, but that is really scary given what could happen if you lost your grip on the stroller and/or the stroller tipped).

    Many of the little interpretative trails at the big sites have accessible routes, but easier to navigate if you can go up/down stairs and not be pushing a big stroller. Other places like Johnston Canyon and most of the trails around Jasper are really not stroller friendly. And the hiking trails are not - if you are coming during the summer, having the baby backpack would allow you to head up to viewpoints at places like Wilcox Pass.

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    The first two weeks of July are definitely peak time here - July 1 is a national holiday. You need to book accommodation ASAP as it's limited and the longer you wait, the less desirable and more expensive the options will be.

    To clarify, most of Jasper and Banff National Parks are not particularly stroller friendly. The townsites of Jasper and Banff have good sidewalks and businesses have to abide by accessibility laws. So no issues getting around the townsites other than hills & the usual sidewalk cracks/uneveness. You could certainly have a stroller on the section of trail between Connaught Street & the train tracks in Jasper and along the river in Banff.

    However, once you get outside the townsites, most trails aren't going to be stroller friendly. At some major sites there are short paved or flat, hard pack trails to allow wheelchair access, but it's limited and can be tricky with all the bus tour crowds.

    Other places would just not work with a stroller given that you'd need to go up stairs, on narrow, uneven or rocky trails or up/down significant inclines.

    As I said, I think the Ergobaby would be a much better option for you and the little one outside the towns. It would give you more flexibility plus cut down on stroller set up/fold away. The stroller would be helpful for days in the townsites/for the little one to snooze while you eat dinner.

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