Banff/Lake Louise tips

Old May 19th, 2006, 04:53 AM
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Banff/Lake Louise tips

After looking at x-change rate and airline tickets we are rethinking plans for Spain in Sept and now considering flying to Calgary and going to Banff/Lake Louise. I know there are some colossal inns but we are more the B&B type..any feedback on those? Also, any tips about itinerary?
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Old May 19th, 2006, 05:38 AM
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There are no b&bs in Lake Lousise, that I know of. My husband and I elected to stay at the hostel there, in a private room, because we wanted to be in a quieter area, close to the best trails, and avoid the hustle and bustle of a large, touristy town.

Banff is busy, but we enjoyed strolling through it. There's certainly more to do, and it's not a big drive to Lake Louise. The town has loads of bandbs.

What do you like to do on vacation - hike, sightsee, shop..?
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Old May 19th, 2006, 07:48 AM
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Hello leahinsc,

Depending on how much time you have to spend in the area, you might consider including Jasper in your itinerary in addition to Banff / Lake Louise.

You can get some itinerary ideas from my website:

http://groups.msn.com/CalgaryandCana...kiesTravelTips

The hostel that Molly2 mentioned in Lake Louise village has a reputation for having a party atmosphere in July and August. However, I hear that it quietens down in September. I have a group of senior citizen friends in Calgary who stay there every September during what I jokingly refer to as their annual hiking pilgrimmage.

If your budget is up to it, there are a couple of self-catering, chalet-style properties just outside of Lake Louise. They are Baker Creek Chalets and Paradise Lodge and Bungalows.

A small-ish, old, quaint hotel of which my husband and I are fond in the Lake Louise area is Deer Lodge. Its regular rooms are miniscule. It's better to get a Tower Room or a Heritage Room.

If you specifically want a B&B, you can find one in Field, British Columbia. It's a small hamlet in Yoho National Park, about 20 minutes west of Lake Louise.

As Molly2 said, there are lots of B&Bs in Banff townsite. There also are smaller hotels and inns in Banff, if you don't like the giant hotels. Banff also has some self-catering apartments and townhouses.

Canmore is 15 - 20 minutes east of Banff townsite, just outside of Banff National Park. It has some quite large hotels, small inns, self-catering accommodations, and B&Bs.

Jasper has many conventional B&Bs and "home accommodations." Home accommodations are like B&Bs, except that they don't serve breakfast. However, there are places in Jasper where you can have breakfast, and several home accommodations also come with kitchens.

Jasper also has many self-catering chalets just outside of town. They include Alpine Village, Becker's Chalets, Jasper House Bungalows, Patricia Lake Bungalows and Pine Bungalows. Pyramid Lake Resort has 8 self-catering units per building.

If you include Jasper in your itinerary, you probably need to stay in 2 places. In order to explore Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks, you need to select a base in Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise or Field.

My own preference in the summer and fall is to stay in what I consider to be prime hiking country further west. That means Lake Louise / Field. But as Molly2 said, it depends how you like to spend your time. If you like the energy that comes from having more people around you and having lots of shops and restaurants from which to choose, you might prefer Banff townsite or Canmore.

But the point is that you don't need to switch amongst these places. They are close enough to each other that you can use one as a base from which to visit the others.

If you go to Jasper, however, you will need to switch accommodation. Jasper is far enough away that you cannot reasonably visit it from Banff or Lake Louise. You technically might be able to get there and back in a day, but you would not be able to do the area justice.

Anyway, as I said before, if you go to my website, you'll get some idea of what feasibly can be accomplished in a given time frame.

Hope that helps.
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Old May 19th, 2006, 12:45 PM
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Judy really knows this area , and gives great advice. I can confirm that the hostel, while clean and comfortable, is noisy in the summer. We have friends who stayed there in September and recommended it to us, describing it as very quiet, so we were surprised !

Like Judy, we prefer to be near the prime hiking area, and would probably choose Field as our base. Again, depends on individual interests.
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Old May 25th, 2006, 01:53 PM
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Thanks to both of you for your replies - esp Judy's link and travel advice which I'm sure we will print out and use. We've made our plane reservations so we'll be getting in to Calgary at 9:30pm - doubt that we'll be up for that 5 hr drive to Jasper so will probably stay near airport and leave the next a.m. Hubby wants to do one of the Fairmonts - any feedback? We like places that serve breakfast which is why we're going for B&Bs but if you know of any inns.... We may want a mix of walk into town type places and out in the boonies.
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Old May 25th, 2006, 07:24 PM
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Of the Fairmont properties in the mountains, my least favourite is Chateau Lake Louise. It's true that if you get a room overlooking the lake, the view is stupendous. What puts me off Chateau Lake Louise is the fact that it accommodates so many tour groups. Also, there are lots of people walking along the lakeshore path right in front of the hotel.

The Banff Springs Hotel has a superb view overlooking the Bow River Valley. It's an interesting building that has character. However its character includes the fact that its room sizes vary a lot. If you think you'll object if you happen to be assigned a small room, you may want to think twice about staying there.

A hotel of a similar size on the outskirts of Banff is the newer Rimrock. It's a modern hotel, and its room sizes are consistent.

Whether it's better to stay at the Banff Springs or the Rimrock is a source of endless debate.

Jasper Park Lodge's accommodations are in the form of chalets and cabins that are scattered throughout the grounds. In some ways I think the JPL is the best of both worlds. In terms of the number of guests it houses, it's in the same size range as the other big hotels I've mentioned, but it does not feel like it.

But if you're going to splurge, you might consider staying at a smaller, more intimate property, e.g., Emerald Lake Lodge near Field, British Columbia or the Post Hotel in Lake Louise village.

Although the Banff Springs Hotel is on the outskirts of Banff townsite, it is within walking distance of the centre of town.

The Rimrock is a bit far to walk, but I understand it has a courtesy shuttle bus.

Chateau Lake Louise is a bit too far from Lake Louise village to be considered a comfortable walk.

Jasper Park Lodge is definitely too far out of town to be considered a comfortable walk.

Emerald Lake Lodge is in the boonies (and indeed that's one of its attractions).

The Post Hotel is on the edge of Lake Louise village, but there is not much to the village.
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Old May 25th, 2006, 08:26 PM
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I would wholeheartedly recommend the Post Hotel.

But only if neither of you is a light sleeper.

Or expect there to be tea and coffee-making facilities in your room.

Or that a hotel might offer some type of acknowledgement to a complaint you had made in writing.

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Old May 26th, 2006, 04:41 AM
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ok - in doing some searching I have found Aurum Lodge near Jasper Park , Overlander near Jasper, and Bear and Bison Lodge/Inn and Georgetown Inn in Canmore . Here's what we are thinking. Driving from Calgary up to the Jasper area and spending 2 nites up there and then coming back and spending 2-3 nights in Canmore. Any thoughts? We will do some hiking, would love to hit hot springs, maybe horseback riding...
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Old May 26th, 2006, 07:32 AM
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Aurum Lodge is quite far from Jasper. I've never stayed at the lodge, but have driven through the area in which it is situated. It is a very pretty area. Borealis has written a very favourable review of Aurum Lodge here at Fodorís. Whether or not you should stay there depends on how much time you have to spend on your vacation. If you have some time to spend in addition to the time youíll spend seeing the Jasper, Lake Louise, Yoho National Park and Banff areas, then I think it would be fine to stay at Aurum Lodge. However, I would not stay there at the expense of the other areas. Just my opinion.

Overlander is in Hinton, about an hoursí drive from Jasper townsite, and not a convenient base from which to visit the sights in Jasper National Park, especially if you are on a brief visit. That is an opinion that has earned me criticism in the past, but it remains my opinion.

I am not familiar with Bear & Bison. From its website it looks nice. Iíve stayed at Georgetown Inn several times, and am fond of it. That said, I donít consider Canmore to be an ideal base for a first time visitorís explorations of Banff National Park, Yoho National Park and possibly Kootenay National Park. To my taste, the more spectacular scenery is at the west end of Banff National Park and in Yoho National Park. But if you have your own reasons for staying in Canmore, because youíd like to stay in a somewhat larger town for instance, then Georgetown Inn would be fine and Iím guessing Bear & Bison would be too. Lady Macdonald Country Inn, which is across the street from Georgetown Inn, is very nice too.
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Old May 27th, 2006, 05:15 AM
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Am having a bit of a hard time figuring out where to stay on this trip. Here's what we want. Probably 2 nights in the Jasper area and 2 nites in Banff/Lake Louise. I know this isn't much/enough but this is what we have to work with. We are not into crowds and while we wouldn't mind walking around small towns if given the option we would just as soon stay somewhere that is more isolated but has in-house good restaurant. As far as things to see...hot springs, scenic driving, hiking, waterfalls...
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Old May 27th, 2006, 08:53 AM
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If you want to do the things you say you want to do, you are not going to accomplish your wish list if you spend 2 nights in Jasper and 2 nights in the Banff / Lake Louies area. You're going to spend most of your time driving.

With that time line I believe you're better off staying in Lake Louise. In my opinion Lake Louise is the ideal base for someone who has only a short time to spend in the Canadian Rockies. It's centrally located with respect to excellent scenery and hiking country.

You have sent varied signals about the kind of accommodation you would like, all the way from Georgetown Inn to the Fairmonts. I guess that's what happens when you don't travel alone and you have to consider a companion's tastes. Been there, done that, have the T-shirt.

Here are some recommendations for accommodations that are in the Lake Louise area and, which, while they are nice, are not in the Fairmont / Post Hotel price bracket.

(1) Baker Creek Chalets. Delightful property in the forest, 10 minutes' drive from Lake Louise village. Has good onsite restaurant, but you also have several dining choices that are not far away in Lake Louise.

(2) Paradise Lodge and Bungalows. It has self-catering units. It's located approximately half way between the village of Lake Louise and the lake of Lake Louise, so it's roughly 1.5 miles from each. As far as I'm aware, it does not have an onsite restaurant (but I'm not sure about that). However, there are restaurants at the lake and in the village.

(3) Deer Lodge. This is a quaint, quirky, old hotel that has something like 75 rooms. The stairs creek, but for some reason my husband and I are fond of it. It's at the lake of Lake Louise, and it has an excellent in-house restaurant. The standard rooms are miniscule. At a minimum you should get a Tower Room or, better still, a Heritage Room.

(4) Moraine Lake Lodge. This property is more expensive than the other three I've mentioned. It overlooks Moraine Lake, and is situated near the Moraine Lake parking lot that is very busy during the day in July and August. However, Moraine Lake Lodge does have some things going for it. The accommodations themselves are very nice, and there is a professional guide who takes guests on hikes if they wish. The guide's services are included in the room rate. The parking lot is not quite as busy in September as it is in July and August. Besides that, you would be out and about doing your own sight seeing during the day, so the vehicles in the parking lot probably would not bother you. Moraine Lake gets quiet in the evenings when the day trippers have left. It has an onsite restaurant, and it's 9 miles from Lake Louise.

You mentioned that you liked hot springs. If you're based in Lake Louise, you can visit the hot springs at the edge of Banff townsite or the ones in Radium, British Columbia. Both of those hot springs have been developed into swimming pool type facilities.

If you're interested in natural hot springs that have not been developed into a swimming pool, you might consider visiting Lussier Hot Springs in White Swan Provincial Park. To reach White Swan Provincial Park, you would need to drive south to Radium, Fairmont and Canal Flats, and then turn east to reach the provincial park. The drive would take between 2.5 hours and 3 hours in one direction, not counting stops.

Here's how you might consider spending your 4 days:

Day 1 - Drive from Calgary to Lake Louise. Since you will be passing right by Banff townsite, it would make sense to see the sights in and near Banff on your way to Lake Louise (Sulphur Mountain gondola, a stroll through Banff townsite, a walk in Johnston Canyon, till the Lower Falls at least).

Day 2 - Visit Moraine Lake, the Lake of Lake Louise, Emerald Lake and Takakkaw Falls. However, if you get side-tracked by doing one of the lovely hikes in the Moraine Lake / Lake Louise area and you don't get to Emerald Lake and Tak Falls on this day, you probably could fit them in on the following day, as a detour from your trip up the Icefields Parkway.

Day 3 - Drive up the Icefields Parkway towards Jasper. You may or may not be able to get all the way to Jasper townsite and back. I recommend against trying to reach Jasper just for the sake of saying you've done it. Just go as far as you feel comfortable. Your progress will depend on how many stops you make at scenic lookout points. At a minimum include Peyto Lake, the Columbia Icefields (with the optional ride in the Snocoach onto the Athabasca Glacier) and Sunwapta Falls.

Day 4 - Do the beautiful drive through Kootenay National Park to Radium. Continue south to Invermere, Fairmont and Canal Flats to visit Lussier Hot Springs.

Allowing enough time to get to Calgary Airport for your flight home on your departure day is important. If I was starting from Lake Louise, and if I was flying to the US, I would set out 5 hours before my plane's departure time. This page of my website explains the logistics:

http://groups.msn.com/CalgaryandCana...webpage10.msnw

The TIPS section of my website has links to practical information about weather, what to pack, national park entry fees, driving distances and times, maps, other websites, etc.

Hope that helps.
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Old May 27th, 2006, 09:57 AM
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judy - thanks for all the helpful info. Our flight back to US isn't til 5pm so we have some time to play with our last day. Thanks for all the rec's on hotels...you are right, we are going back and forth between what type we want to stay in. As we've not had to pay for a flight (freq flyer miles) we have a bit more to play w/ for lodging. Moraine is not available - nor is post or Fairmont. Deer Lodge, Banff Inn, Brewster Mtn Lodge are all availabl...someone (you?) said rooms at Deer Lodge were small...what do you think of the ones I've listed?
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Old May 27th, 2006, 10:28 AM
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I'm not familiar with Banff Inn. Brewster Mountain Lodge is charming. However, be aware that both of those properties are in Banff townsite. The crowds in Banff die down a little in September compared with July and August. Even so, I don't consider Banff to be as central a base as Lake Louise is for sight seeing in the Canadian Rockies.

The regular rooms at Deer Lodge are tiny. However, the Tower Rooms are a respectable size, and the Heritage Rooms are even bigger than that. If Deer Lodge has availability in its Tower and Heritage Rooms, I would stay there. If it has only regular rooms left, I would not stay there.

If you'll be flying out of Calgary at 5.00 p.m., you'd have time to return to the city via the more circuitous but more scenic route through Kananaskis Country and the Highwood Pass. This page of my website provides directions:

http://groups.msn.com/CalgaryandCana...iscountry.msnw

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Old May 27th, 2006, 10:48 AM
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I am checking to see if Baker Creek has vacancies. Hate to miss seeing Jasper and the Brewster Icefields - you really don't think that's doable? If we leave Calagary in a.m and drive up to Jasper - spend 2 nites there and then back to LL/Banff area for 2 nites?
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Old May 27th, 2006, 11:20 AM
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>>>>>>Hate to miss seeing Jasper and the Brewster Icefields - you really don't think that's doable?<<<<<<

The 4-day itinerary that I suggested for the Lake Louise area would enable you to see the Icefields. What you called the Brewster Icefields are the same as what I called the Columbia Icefields.

My post stated:

>>>>>>Day 3 - Drive up the Icefields Parkway towards Jasper. You may or may not be able to get all the way to Jasper townsite and back. I recommend against trying to reach Jasper just for the sake of saying you've done it. Just go as far as you feel comfortable. Your progress will depend on how many stops you make at scenic lookout points. At a minimum include Peyto Lake, the Columbia Icefields (with the optional ride in the Snocoach onto the Athabasca Glacier) and Sunwapta Falls.<<<<<<

However, since I posted that suggested itinerary, you mentioned that you would be leaving Calgary at 5.00 p.m. on your departure day. Since you will be flying out in the late afternoon, as opposed to the morning when many people fly out, that does open up the possibilities for you. That was a piece of information that I did not have when I suggested the itinerary.

So, yes, since you'll be leaving Calgary in the late afternoon, I do think it's possible for you to spend 2 nights in Jasper and 2 nights in Lake Louise. However, in that case you would need to sacrifice something from my previously recommended itinerary. I think you would need to eliminate the visit to Lussier Hot Springs.
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Old May 27th, 2006, 12:24 PM
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The Baker Creek chalets have some vacancies. Will check and see what hubby wants to do...I'm opting for icefields and snocoach, one hot springs trip and maybe the gondola in banff - along w/ a bit of hiking about.
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Old May 28th, 2006, 06:26 PM
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ok - I think we've got it. Looks like we'll opt for staying one nite in Calgary as we get in after 9pm and then drive up to Baker Creek Chalets and spend 4 nites there and make that our base to explore Lake Louise, Radium Hot Springs, Icefields Parkway, hiking, and Banff. What do you think?
Baker Creek has a 3 nite hiking special that gives us packed lunches, one dinner meal and lodging and then we'll just take on another nite and figure out the meals once there.
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