Banff/Lake Louise/Jasper Itinerary Help

Old May 11th, 2016, 10:50 AM
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Banff/Lake Louise/Jasper Itinerary Help

Hi everyone! Last year, my husband and I went on our first "adventure" vacation to Utah, which everyone here was a great help. We absolutely fell in love and now we're back for more. We're still in the initial stages of planning to visit Banff, LL, and Jasper for 8 nights/9 days from 8/27 through 9/4. We have yet to buy air tickets, so the itinerary might change, but I've noticed that hotel accommodations are going fast, so I figured I better put in a reservation now and cancel later if I need to. I haven't done enough research on which hikes we'd do, but would you guys mind to see if my itinerary makes sense? Also, any advice on where to stay would be great. We're hoping to spend around $200/night USD, but would be willing to spend up to $300/night. We're more concerned about cleanliness and convenience than we are about it being "fancy."

Sat, 8/27: Fly into Calgary arriving at 1:30pm. Drive to Banff. Overnight in Banff.
Sun: Lake Louise/Moraine Lake. Overnight in Banff.
Mon: Banff/Yoho NP. Overnight in Banff
Tues: Banff/Yoho NP. Overnight in Banff
Wed: Drive Icefields Parkway to Jasper. Overnight in Jasper
Thurs: Overnight in Jasper
Fri: Overnight in Jasper
Sat: Drive back to Calgary. Overnight in Calgary
Sun, 9/4: 7am flight

As for Banff accommodations that are still available, the Rimrock seems to be a popular choice but it might be outside of our budget unless our alternatives aren't that good. What are your thoughts of Banff Caribou Lodge or the Delta Banff Royal Canadian Lodge? (Or really any other place, but I would need to check availability.)

For Jasper, the few places that are left are the Tonquinn Inn, Best Western Jasper, Pyramid Lake Resort, and Mount Robson Inn. None seem too memorable, but again looking for cleanliness and convenience to food and hikes. Thoughts?

Thanks again!
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Old May 11th, 2016, 11:54 AM
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Guessing you might already be aware, but the end of your trip coincides with Canadian Labour Day. That will probably affect your search for lodging.

In Jasper, is Patricia Lake Bungalows available?

In Banff, we haven't stayed at any of those, but did eat at the Keg in Banff Caribou Lodge. It's walkable to downtown although not in the center of things. Looked pretty good, however. Can't really speak for the Delta Banff Royal Canadian Lodge.

You might also look in Canmore. It's only about 20 minutes outside Banff, and you might get a better rate.
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Old May 12th, 2016, 05:52 AM
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Thanks for the tips, sludick. I just sent in a request at the Patricia Lake Bungalows, so we'll see what they say. The reviews look great. Have you stayed there before? Looks to be a 5 minute walk to town?
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Old May 12th, 2016, 08:19 AM
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Yes, we've stayed there before, and we will be staying again in September. It's about a 5 minute drive - I wouldn't call it a walk, really. The nice thing about it is that it is just outside town in a beautiful peaceful setting, but still very convenient.
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Old May 12th, 2016, 08:29 AM
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Greetings

People have been reporting very limited availability for summer/peak season accommodations in the parks, especially on holidays and in Jasper.

Your dates overlap with a major holiday, so I suspect that it's going to be a challenge to find somewhere at this late a date. I suspect you will need to be pretty flexible.

My suggestion would be to book Jasper first and don't wait if Patrica Lake takes more than a day to get back to you - start making inquiries as many places as possible. I suspect they have long since been booked up, at least for the Friday. (And may not take partial bookings for the holiday weekend at this stage). At this point, you want a place to stay -- wait and you could be totally out of luck. Any of the options you listed will be fine - good location and offer the basics. I would get a reservation ASAP -- you can always cancel if something better comes up.

Both the Banff options are middle of the range and good location. If I'm thinking of the right place, the Banff Royal Canadian Lodge is about a block or two off the main drag, so easily walkable. I think it's often used by bus tours, but Delta is a good brand, albeit just bought out by Marriott.

Your general itinerary looks good, but I would probably suggest doing Moraine Lake and Lake Louise on Monday or Tuesday. They are likely to be extremely busy over the weekend, with parking lots filled by 9am. Do Moraine Lake first as they close the road to everything but shuttles once the lot is full. Sunday might be a better day to head over to Yoho and/or Kootenay where you won't have quite the same tourist crush.
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Old May 12th, 2016, 09:59 AM
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Thanks for the heads up. Patricia Lake got back to me and they only have availability for a portion of our stay there, so we'll keep it in our back pocket since I'm not a huge fan of having to shift hotels.

With that said, would it make more sense to stay at Lake Louise for one night Saturday into Sunday? I think the Lake Louise Inn currently has availability. In other words,

Sat, 8/27: Fly into Calgary arriving at 1:30pm. Drive to LL. Overnight in LL.
Sun: Lake Louise/Moraine Lake. Overnight in Banff.
Mon: Banff/Yoho NP. Overnight in Banff
Tues: Banff/Yoho NP. Overnight in Banff
...

My preference is probably to just stay at one place in Banff for the first half of our trip so we don't have to move our luggage and visit LL on Mon/Tues. But this was just something I thought about and might help us be there in the morning and not have to roads close on us.
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Old May 12th, 2016, 10:46 AM
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I also just checked - the Bear Hill Lodge and Tekarra Lodge in Jasper has availability - if anyone has any input on either option? Both seem to have pretty good reviews.
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Old May 12th, 2016, 11:58 AM
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There's nothing wrong with staying in LL and Banff, but going to LL first makes less sense. You'd want to be there the night before you go to Jasper (or the night your return) to cut down on the driving. I'd also, again, want to visit Lake Louise and Moraine lake on Monday or Tuesday when the crowds will be a bit less than the weekend masses. See if you can find Tuesday night in Lake Louise -- you can enjoy the evening at the Lake, then head to Jasper.

I've stayed at Bear Hill in one of the cabins. It's up a bit up from the main street, so one of the quietest locations in town. Some might find it a bit of walk to the "centre" of town, but it is very walkable. The cabins are basic with relatively thin walls, but clean and well appointed. The breakfasts in the main building are excellent -hearty and tasty!
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Old May 12th, 2016, 01:35 PM
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Thank you!

Let's say that we switch our itinerary to something like this:

Sat, 8/27: Fly into Calgary arriving at 1:30pm. Drive to Banff. Overnight in Banff.
Sun: Banff/Yoho NP. Overnight in Banff.
Mon: Banff/Yoho NP. Overnight in Banff
Tues: Lake Louise/Moraine Lake. Overnight in LL.
Wed: Drive Icefields Parkway to Jasper. Overnight in Jasper.
...

About Lake Louise accommodations - is there any incentive in staying at the Deer Lodge, which looks to be walking distance to LL than the Lake Louise Inn or Post Hotel, which looks like we'd need to drive our car?
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Old May 12th, 2016, 02:16 PM
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Much better itinerary - I think you'll be much more relaxed that way.

Post Hotel and Lake Louise Inn are about 4km from the lake, so people generally drive.

I've stayed at Deer Lodge a number of times as they offer excellent off season deals. It's great being able to avoid the whole hassle of parking at the lake. Plus a hot tub with the best view in Lake Louise & good food in a relaxed atmosphere. It's run by a company which owns several lodges & restaurants and has their own elk/cattle ranch. They have free tea each day.

The old lodge style building very charming with period touches, but it's not going to appeal to those who want all the modern luxuries. There are no elevators or TVS (though a nice TV room and guest laundry) and the old building is showing wear & tear.

The rooms in the Tower and new wing are modern, but those in the old building have quirks. The walls are thin, and the plumbing is aging, so it's things like not the best pressure in the world and being careful about flushing the toilet or using the sink if someone's in the shower. Bathroom sizes vary from tiny to comically large, depending on the room).

For one night, I think it would be an excellent choice and make for any easy day at the lake. You could do Moraine Lake first thing, then drop your car at the hotel before exploring Lake Louise.
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Old May 13th, 2016, 08:40 AM
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I did some more research on the hikes, and realized that most of the hikes are in the LL area, so we decided to spend 2 nights at Banff, and 2 nights at LL. We won't get the benefit of the different restaurants at Banff, but we'll be closer to the hikes. Hopefully this is the right thing to do...??

I was a bit too slow (bah!) and got boxed out of reservations at the Deer Lodge. They were available this morning when I checked, and now that it's approaching lunchtime, there all gone! I quickly put in a reservation at Lake Louise Inn. A bit further, but will have to do...

Anyway, this is what we have now:

Sat, 8/27:
Fly in Calgary arriving at 1:30pm
Overnight at Banff International Hotel

Sun: Overnight at Banff International
Mon: Overnight at Lake Louise Inn
Tues: Overnight at Lake Louise Inn
Wed: Overnight in Jasper
...

I just reached out to Bear Hill Lodge to see what their cancellation policy. Once I get that, I better put in a reservation quick for Jasper.

Once I get a better feel of the different hikes, I might circle back and ask for your thoughts on my hiking itinerary...

Thanks for all the help!
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Old Jun 1st, 2016, 11:15 PM
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Bookmarking...
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Old Jun 5th, 2016, 03:19 PM
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Bookmarking. Thank you for the excellent information made available. You folks are so wonderful for taking the time to assist others.
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Old Jun 5th, 2016, 06:32 PM
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Thanks. Kgsneds is just awesome.

This September we are spending 2-1/2 weeks, traveling areas we only have touched on previously in BC, on to the Canadian Rockies and back in a loop thru Glacier U.S. We are great fans, although we currently live in Florida. If you need any specific help, please open a separate thread on this forum and we'll try to help.
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Old Aug 16th, 2016, 08:56 AM
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Hi everyone - me again! We're less than 2 weeks away from our trip, and I wanted to run through my itinerary and see if you thought it made sense and/or have any tips.

Sat, 8/27:
Arriving at Calgary at 11am. Driving to Banff. Walk around town. Buy groceries. Overnight at Banff.

Sun:
Johnson Canyon (arrive before 9am due to limited parking). Lower Falls, Upper Falls, Ink Pots (4 hours)
Tunnel Mountain (2 hours)
If we're up for it, Sulfur Mountain (4 hours)
Overnight at Banff

Mon:
Morraine Lake (arrive before 9am due to limited parking).
Plain of Six Glaciers to the tea house. Side trip to Abbot Pass Viewpoint. (4 hours)
Maybe come down Lake Anges and side trip to Big Beehive and Little Beehive (2-3 hours)
Overnight in LL

Tues:
Yoho National Park. See Emerald Lake, Takkawkaw Falls, etc.
Overnight in LL

Wed:
Drive to Jasper on the Icefields Parkway. Stop at Icefields Center for the Toe of Athabasca Glacier (1 hour).
Wilcox Pass (2-3 hours)
Athabasca Falls
Overnight in Jasper

Thurs:
Maligne Lake (arrive before 9am due to limited parking). Most trails are about 1 hour. Try Bald Hills or is this too strenuous?
Maligne Canyon (1-2 horus)
Path of the Glacier Trail (1 hour)
Possibly the Cavell Meadows Trail if not too strenous? (3-5 hours)
Overnight at Jasper

Friday:
Valley of the Five Lakes (2 hours)
Lower Sunwapta Falls and Athabasca Falls (1-2 hours) if we haven't done it earlier.
Maybe Sulfur Skyline to the Miette Hot Springs?
Overnight at Jasper

Saturday:
Drive back to Calgary.
Visit Bow Glacier Falls, Peyto Lake.
Sightseeing in Calgary? Haven't figure out what to do yet on this day. Our flight is at 1am and we don't have a hotel room for this day/evening, so we'll just be killing time until 10pm or so.

Sunday:
1am flight

I also had 2 questions...
1. We have a packable down jacket. Will we need it?
2. Are there water fountains to refill our waterbottles before we head out on the various trails?

Thanks!!
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Old Aug 16th, 2016, 12:41 PM
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Looks like a lovely itinerary!

My only real comment would be that I think you've packed a bit too much into Thursday. I would leave that for Maligne Lake and Maligne Canyon. Parking is much more limited at the canyon, so that's best done first. I've only ever skied in the Bald Hills area, but I don't think it would be overly strenuous. There are variety of shorter or longer trails in the area, depending on your fitness and energy that day.

Edith Cavell is well worth spending time - I'd probably do it on Friday instead of Valley of the Five Lakes. The latter is pretty, but doesn't have anywhere near the "wow factor" as the Edith Cavell area or Maligne Lake. Athabasca Falls would be an easy diversion on your way back into Jasper from Edith Cavell. I wouldn't bother going back out to Sunwapta Falls from Jasper - just visit it going to/from Lake Louise.

The Miette Hot Springs area is about an hour from Jasper, and in the opposite direction from Valley of the Five Lakes/Athabasca/Edith Cavell. Sulphure Skyline is a nice hike, but again, I'd prioritize Edith Cavell and then see what you energy/time/weather is like.

And see what the weather is like - weather will factor into your plans both in Jasper and Lake Louise/Yoho. If the weather is bad on you LL day, perhaps shift around so you can do it in better weather. Keep in mind that weather can often be surprisingly different across the divide, so a meh day at Lake Louise can be nicer in YoHo and vice versa.

I might also suggest skipping the hike up Sulphur Mountain in Banff - it's a lot of elevation gain in the trees, so not much "bang for your hiking buck". Better to take the gondola up and then use your time exploring the top. If you have extra time, check out Bow Falls and the Banff Springs Hotel when you're in that direction to do Tunnel Mountain.

On Saturday, just take your time driving back to Calgary. You can easily kill most of the time on the Icefields Parkway. Perhaps consider having dinner in Canmore, which is about 1.5 hrs from the airport. The rec centre (Elevation Place) is open until 9 or 10pm, so for the cost of a day pass, you could use the showers/hot tub if you wanted to freshen up before heading to the airport.
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Old Aug 16th, 2016, 12:48 PM
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Oops -forgot to answer your questions.

1 - for the trails you're doing, a heavier down jacket is probably overkill. The only place it might be useful is if you intend to do one of the tours/walks on the Athabasca Glacier. I use a lightweight down jacket as a layer for higher elevation hikes, but I doubt you'd need one. Just make sure to have good wind/water proof jackets, plus non cotton layers underneath.

2 - For water, generally no. Other than at major sites, washrooms are pit toilets without running water. The places that would have water fountains (or more likely just sinks) would be Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Bow Lake (in Num Ti Jah, not in the separate washrooms), Maligne Canyon and Maligne Lake. Best to fill your water bottles when possible and carry extra water (I sometimes carry a bottle and bladder - the bladder takes less space when not full). If the trailhead is at a campground, you can usually find a potable water tap somewhere.
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Old Aug 16th, 2016, 01:59 PM
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Great! Thanks for your tips. I was rereading this thread and thought of another question. Usually, I like to do the most important hikes first so in case it rains, we have a couple days to maybe shuffle things around. Not to take anything away from Yoho NP, but would you suggest flipping Sunday and Tuesday since the crowds will be lighter in the Banff area on weekdays. So we'd do Yoho NP on Sunday and then Johnston Canyon, Lower/Upper Falls, Ink Pot, Tunnel Mountain, Bow Falls, Banff Springs Hotel on Tuesday?
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Old Jan 17th, 2017, 06:45 PM
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Old Jan 19th, 2017, 09:22 AM
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We're going to be there about the same time (Aug 26-Sept1), staying in a timeshare near Banff. All the above is really good information. I was thinking about adding a couple of days in Calgary at the end.
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