Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper

Old Jan 20th, 2014, 05:44 AM
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Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper

Considering a trip to this area for 2015. Could go anytime in June or July. I have read that June is often very rainy. Would probably be a long weekend trip. Would spend 4 full days in that area. Would fly into Calgary on a Thursday and Depart Calgary on a Tuesday.

Are my options for lodging just on each end of the parks(Lake Louise/Banff and Jasper) or are there other options in between the two. I'm not totally opposed to renting RV and camping.

We like to hike. Are there "best" hikes to consider.

I'm just at the beginning stage of planning and not sure exactly what we want to do. We would probably do a bus to one of the glaciers. Possibly might do a Gondala ride. I don't have a guidebook yet, but will buy one soon.

Thanks for any suggestions.
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Old Jan 20th, 2014, 06:28 AM
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1. Camping

For Camping at Banff- http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/ban...v/camping.aspx
For Camping at Jasper - Wapiti & Whistlers Campground are the best.
Once you have decided on the campground , see the website http://www.albertawow.com/ to see the pictures and review of campsites.

2. Guide Book
If you are considering buying a guide book, I will suggest Moon hand book Canadian Rockies.

For hikes - The guide book is http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/...2753-item.html.

Since you are flying into Calgary, I suggest you try to see Calgary - Spend the day you are coming/ or flying out to visit Calgary.


If you want to read about attractions online in detail
see http://www.todocanada.ca/attractions...national-park/
and http://www.todocanada.ca/?multi_city=4.

There are three gondola/tramway ride to choose from
1. Banff Gondola 2. Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola 2. Jasper Tramway. I will suggest Lake Louise gondola.

There is a new attraction opening in May 2014 at Icefields Parkway, called Glacier skywalk, at columbia Icefield.
You can walk to the toe of the Athabasca glacier and go on a bus ride to the Columbia Icefield,( Athabasca glacier is one of the glacier that is part of the Columbia Icefield).


Itinerary Suggestion.

Day 1. Banff attractions
Day 2. Lake Louise
By Day 2 2.00 pm travel on Icefields Parkway. Stop at all viewpoints . You will reach Jasper by 9 pm.
Day 3/4 half. Jasper.
Afternoon- return from Jasper to Calgary.

Day 5. See Calgary - a quick downtown Calgary tour (atleast) and fly out.
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Old Jan 20th, 2014, 06:51 AM
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Also consider traveling by the end of June instead of early June, as most attractions will be fully operational by then. You have the advantage of long attraction operational hours. Most of the snow would have melted by then. June is indeed rainy, but traveling in June you have the advantage of having less crowds.
http://www.weatherbase.com/weather/w...Alberta-Canada
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Old Jan 20th, 2014, 08:32 AM
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Hi Spiro- love Banff and Lake Louise area.
The hikes I did was to Johnston Canyon- it does attract crowds but it is so beautiful- we hiked all the way to the paint pots.

We hiked to the tea house at Lake Louise - also attracts a lot of people but something you have to do at Lake Louise I think.

There is a great Visitors Center in the town of Banff with all kinds of maps, and people to help you plan some great hikes- they will also you give you info on any bear sightings.

I did a bus tour from Banff to see some of area- view glaciers, took a big snow cat kind of thing out on the glacier- was fun. Did not go all the way to Jasper but would have loved to do that
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Old Jan 20th, 2014, 11:07 AM
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Your daylight hours will be an advantage..check out the President's Club of the Fairmont Hotels and you may get a deal. Driving is a snap, Johnston Canyon is a great hike to paint pots...up hill all the way but then coming down is downhill so that will be another advantage..Jasper will be a l-o-n-g drive so you might want to scratch that but it is doable. Can/will be chilly, especially when the sun disappears behind the mts. Glaciers will be awesome also. You will have a rushed but great time!! BTW New icefields attraction sounds interesting.
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Old Jan 20th, 2014, 12:22 PM
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I agree that mid to late June would be the best timing. However, you'd want to avoid the weekend closest to July 1, which is a national holiday (June 28-29). A lot of people will likely take Monday off so that weekend is likely to be very crowded and prices high.

June can be rainy, but I've rarely experienced a full day of rain in the Rockies. Often you have a damp morning or afternoon, but nicer weather the rest of the day. If you're hiking, a good rain jacket & layers are a must since the weather can turn on a dime.

Your timeline is quite cramped, so I don't think you'd want to go all the way to Jasper. You could stay at Num Ti Jah or Sunwapta, which are near the Icefields (the hotel at the Icefields is not recommended)or camp at one of the sites. For the short duration, an RV might be more of a hassle than a help given the time needed to rent, get supplies, gas, and clean it for return. Depending on when your flight comes in/leaves, this might a reasonable itinerary:

Thursday night - Banff
Friday night - Banff
Saturday night - Along the Icefields
Sunday/Monday night - Banff or Lake Louise

I agree that Johnston Canyon is a must do, and it's worth hiking up to the Paint Pots. I try to do that earlier in the morning because it's a great place to sit & enjoy the peace and quiet.

Hiking around Lake Louise - you can go to one of the teahouses or hit both as part of a larger loop. You can hike out beyond the teahouse on the Place of Six Glaciers to see the edge of the Victoria Glacier. It requires good solid hiking boots (not sneakers!), but is worth the view.

Along the Icefields, both Wilcox Pass and Parker's Ridge provide nice views of the Icefields. You can see the snowcoaches and watch the people on the glacier (they look like little ants on a big white background!).

I'd skip the Skywalk - the fact that permission was granted to build it at all was very controversial because it's blatant privatization of national park land. It left a bitter taste in a lot of our mouths that the government was cutting back Parks Canada funding while handing over land/funds to a private company. Nevermind the effect of the construction/tours on the local wildlife. And, in anycase, you're paying money for views you can see for free at every other pull over. If you want to learn something about glaciers, do one of the walks to the glacier toe or look at the exhibit in the centre.

The Icefields/Glacier tour is recommended. The main tour is via the "buggies" which drive out onto the edge of the glacier and allow you to walk in a very small area. The later in the summer you do the tour, the more striking it will be. Earlier in the season when everything is covered in snow, the glacier doesn't look much different than the rest of the mountains. But when the snow starts to melt, you can really see the bluish glacial ice and see some of the crevasses and other features (I spent four days hiking around on the Wapta Icefields & got go down into creavasses, and glaciers are fascinating creatures!). If you are going to do the tour(s), I recommend getting there first thing in the morning as there always seem to be tons of coach tours there and you may have to wait for a tour if you get behind a series of buses.

if you are going to hike, it's well worth stopping first at the Park Canada centre nearby (Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, Field). They have free maps, and can give you the most up to date info on the trails, closures (not uncommon in June)and latest weather report and suggest hikes. There is also a Parks Canada desk in the Icefields Tour building/centre.
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Old Jan 21st, 2014, 05:28 PM
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I would probably go as late in July as possible. I would think that the trails could be really muddy earlier in the season. Banff gets really busy in July though. Once you get on most of the trails though, the crowds disappear. We actually have only been hiking there in September.

This area is a hiker's paradise and we have loved many of the hikes mentioned here. I love the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide by Brian Patton. We loved the Trail to Lake Agnes and the Plain of Six Glaciers. These are busy trails so get an early start.

I actually don't think Johnston Canyon is a must do. I would only do it if it was raining--part of the trail is paved. We do enjoy Maligne Canyon though in Jasper.

We love Moraine Lake and there are some nice trails there also.

Look at my trip report and see the information for planning a day hike to Lake O'Hara. You have to reserve the bus exactly 3 months to the day before you plan to hike. Our day hiking there was a total rainout but we will try again when we visit next.

Driving the Icefields Parkway is fabulous. We have never taken the snocoach at the glacier. We love the Parker Ridge hike.

It would be nice if you could spend 2 nights in Lake Louise/2 nights in Jasper and then 1 night Banff before heading back to Calgary to catch your flight.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2014, 11:05 AM
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Sounds like I might need to do 2 trips. 1 for Jasper and 1 for Banff. We are experienced hikers and have good quality shoes, boots, rain gear, etc.

amer_can, What do you mean by "New icefields attractions sounds interesting"?

We probably won't camp, but that was a thought. Still not sure.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2014, 11:09 AM
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I would stay the entire time in Lake Louise or Banff as I prefer not moving much. Lake Louise closer to the hikes we like, but no central town and somehat limited reasonably priced dining choices. Banff for walkable town, large selection of dining, hot springs, and museum. Banff a bit touristy, but fun and not gaudy like some places we’ve been. We enjoy Jasper (always stay at Patricia Lake), if you had an extra day or two I would add that. Most people recommend not doing the Icefields Parkway in a day, but we did it the first time to Banff. Give yourself about 10 - 12 hours round trip and you can hit all of the major sites, walk out on the Columbia Icefields glacier, and do the Parker Ridge hike recommended above. You don’t have to go all the way to Jasper, just Athabasca Falls then return. Not ideal as probably 5 hours actual driving from Lake Louise, but don’t want to miss it.

We’ve done over 15 hikes in this area five miles or longer. I’ve read your other reports Spiro and you would not consider Johnston Canyon a hike, as Linda mentions paved part of the way. If you had an extra hour or two definitely see though. My top three favorite hikes and a few alternates:
1.) Moraine Lake over Sentinel Pass and down through Paradise Valley. This requires car shuttle/hitching/or taxi. We took a taxi from our hotel in Lake Louise and dropped our car off at Paradise Valley trailhead on the way to Sentinel Pass trailhead by Moraine Lake.
2.) As Linda mentions call to reserve the Lake O’Hara shuttle then do the loop of Wiwaxy Pass/Lake Oesa/Yukness Ledges/Opabin Lake/All Souls. There are some exposed drops on this hike, but nothing you couldn’t handle.
3.) Iceline trail in Yoho Park. You walk past Takakkaw Falls on the way back to the trailhead and from there if time go see Emerald Lake.
4.) If you can’t reserve the Lake O’Hara bus consider Stanley Glacier hike in Kootenay Park, Wilcox Pass along parkway, or the Teahouse/Big Beehive/Teahouse loop hike by Lake Louise.

You are going to love this trip. We've been to Yosemite, Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Crater Lake, Mt. Rainer, Olympic, Rocky Mountain, Sequoia, Denali, Kenai, Katmai, etc. and this is the only one we keep coming back to (four times now, again this August).
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Old Jan 22nd, 2014, 12:36 PM
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Icefields attraction seems interesting as a thing to check out but not necessarily to do..Am not a fan of commercial enterprises in out N. P.s
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Old Jan 22nd, 2014, 02:21 PM
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amer_can, You said "New" and capitalized it. Now your last post has me really scratching my head. I don't understand what you mean--It sounds interesting to check out but not to do? I've seen and been on a few glaciers on an Alaska trip. I'm very familiar with commercial enterprises in American NPS, but not sure how the Canadians do it. There are pros and cons to it. It amazes me how really only 3 or 4 concessionaires run 90% of the American NPS services.

Thanks everyone for the info. Keep any other ideas coming.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2014, 05:07 PM
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spirobd! Sorry about the caps on the word new..Stop scratching your head it is not worth it...The skywalk was/is very controversal and might it be interesting to see what the cafuffle is all about. I wouldn't really be very interested in experiencing it as the area can be seen in other ways. As a rule the NPs of Canada do/did not allow commercial projects but this one got into the Icefields. Who knows how but there you have it.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2014, 05:43 PM
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Sending link to the Banff and Lake Louise Info Center

There was a lot of info available here- sometimes a wait to actually get someone to talk to though but worth it once you did

http://www.banfflakelouise.com/Plan-...mation-Centres
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Old Jan 25th, 2014, 01:47 PM
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Yeah, june is a wet month there- try to go in July. You have a very crowded itinery for 4 days. Banff and Jasper are not that close together.
I MUCH prefer Jasper to Banff. Banff is an absolute zoo in the summer. You might want to consider flying into Edmonton instead of Calgary and then just drive to Jasper. Its about 3 hours. Jasper to Calgary is a 7 hour drive, so be aware of that with your current plans.
If you do explore Jasper- Hike down Maligne Canyon- (spectacular, Morraine lake, Athabasca falls, and Pyramid Lake). Of course there is tons of other stuff to do, but I recommend these. Oh, and definitely to out to the Columbia Icefields- I recommend a guided tour ; every year there is some tragedy with a tourist falling into a crevasse.
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Old Jan 26th, 2014, 09:20 PM
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I hate to say it, but as an Edmontonian, I'd suggest flying in and out of Calgary. The drive from Edmonton to Jasper is long and boring. You're only in the mountains for the last hour or so.

It's better to do a round-trip for Calgary and have the chance to see the Icefields Parkway twice. But with such a short timeframe, I think Jasper is a stretch - you're better off doing the Icefields from Lake Louise or Banff. I agree that Jasper is great, but the drive each way is 4-5 hours with minimal stops and that doesn't leave much time for hiking.

Yes, you should only venture on to the glacier as part of the snowcoach tour. You can walk to the toe of the glacier on your own, but is is VERY dangerous to walk on the glacier without the proper gear and training. On the tour, they allow you to walk on a small area that has been carefully checked for crevasses and other dangers.
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Old Jan 26th, 2014, 10:18 PM
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kgsneds..ah-h-h an Edmontonian who knows what he/she is talking about!! Take his/her advise and have a good, safe and memorable trip. The whole trip with Jasper can't be appreciated in such a short time.
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Old Jun 24th, 2014, 02:28 PM
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s;iro,
I don't know if you're still following this post.

I'm taking my daughter to Banff & Jasper in early August. Last year at the end of my Glacier trip I added 2 1/2 days and tore thru Banff & Jasper just to scope out the possibilities of a longer trip. This one will be 5 days.

I'm in the final planning stages. Have one hike to decide on (Lake Agnes or Plain of Six Glaciers) and one night of lodging to decided on (we have 3 nights in Banff and 2 in Jasper and I'm thinking of dropping the 3rd in Banff and adding 1 to Lake Louise)

If you're still following this I can post what I have found.
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Old Jun 24th, 2014, 05:47 PM
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Myer
Banff is only a half hour from Lake Louise so you really don't have to switch lodging.
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Old Jun 24th, 2014, 07:21 PM
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It's a little more than a half hour but I was hoping to get in some Moraine Lake and Lake Louise views early in the morning. It might not be worth it. I still have to decide on the tradeoffs.
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Old Jun 25th, 2014, 04:25 AM
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It sounds like everything else, just depends on how much time i would want to spend at either/both places. I probabaly will just end up doing 2 seperate trips. Still not totally sure. We are going back to Yellowstone next year now. Likely we will not do this one, but still might. Lodging was my biggest concern.
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