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Banff/Waterton question for Judy-In-Calgary

Banff/Waterton question for Judy-In-Calgary

Old Apr 10th, 2006, 11:41 AM
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Banff/Waterton question for Judy-In-Calgary

I have read with interest your suggestions to the people planning a combined Waterton/Banff trip. Though it sounds like a lot to do in one trip, your suggestions sounded great. I am faced with planning a trip for 4-6 moderately adventurous adults who have expressed a desire to see Glacier National Park, but the approach in the US via Kalispell is going to be prohibitively expensive. I have never been to Glacier, but have hiked in Banff...Valley of the 10 Peaks, Lake Moraine, Peyto Lake, Athabascar Glacier, etc., though not all the way to Jasper, all 10 years ago, but was just amazed at the beauty of the area. Would you say that Banff/Jasper would give people a similar experience to Waterton/Glacier? We are on somewhat of a budget, but since we mainly are interested in outdoor activities (hiking/biking/maybe rafting), don't anticipate a lot of extraneous expenses other than room and board. Any help would be appreciated. The travel window would be 7/14-7/22 with arrival in Calgary Friday evening and overnight there, and return at midday Saturday.
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Old Apr 10th, 2006, 12:48 PM
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Wow, philsbert1. This is exactly the kind of question I dread. First of all, being addressed by name. Secondly, being asked to state which of my children is my favourite, as someone around here expressed it. Thirdly, being tempted to take responsibility if the enquirer's vacation doesn't meet their expectations. Fodor's pay is too low for this level of responsibility. Hey, I'm just kidding. I'll give your question my best shot.

I think that if you have only a week and if you're going to pair up mountain national parks, it's better to pair Montana's Glacier National Park with Alberta's Waterton or to pair Banff NP with Jasper NP.

If Calgary will be your entry and exit point, if you have just a week, and if the other members of the party have seen none of these mountain national parks, I think Banff and Jasper might be the way to go.

One of the reasons I say that is that you reach the mountains soonest if you go to Banff, and you leave the mountains latest if you return from Banff. If you have a noon departure from Calgary, you can stay in the mountains through your last night.

You could consider this itinerary:

Fri 14 - Late arrival and overnight in Calgary (book something in the northeast quadrant ASAP, because the Stampede will still be on)

Sat 15 - Drive to Jasper, stopping to see some of the landmarks along the Icefields Parkway.

Sun 16, Mon 17 - From your Jasper base, explore Jasper National Park.

Tue 18 - Drive back down the Icefields Parkway, stopping to see some of the things you missed on the way up. Overnight in Canmore, Banff or Lake Louise.

Wed 19, Thu 20, Fri 21 - From your Canmore, Banff or Lake Louise base, explore Yoho National Park, Banff National Park, and Kootenay National Park.

Sat 22 - If you're staying in Banff, set out for Calgary 5 hours before departure. (If you're staying elsewhere, adjust drivig time accordingly.) Fly home.

I will be very glad if anyone who has a contrary opinion shares it here so that you can choose from amongst the different opinions.

Hope this has helped.
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Old Apr 10th, 2006, 01:41 PM
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Thanks so much for the information and recommendations! Sorry for the direct address in the message line, but I had read your response in the earlier posting and sounded like you had a great appreciation/knowledge of the areas in which I was interested. I know it's difficult to pick between locations of such beauty/grandeur, but I promise I won't hold you responsible for any missteps we might take. ;-) It's been a while since I was in Banff, but it was an incredible trip. I did not make it all the way to Jasper, but hiked a lot in the areas I had mentioned using Banff as our base. We stayed at the Banff Springs Hotel, but its glamour and amenities were wasted on us as we were gone most of every day.
Do you have any recommendations re places to stay as a "base" in Jasper and/or near Banff. There will be 4-6 of us, so cabins/condos or multibedroom hotels would be better. Also, we will most likely get in to Calgary Airport earlier than I had thought (midday) on the first day, giving the option of traveling on or seeing something of Calgary that evening (during the Stampede..is that advisable?)
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Old Apr 10th, 2006, 02:20 PM
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No problem, philsbert1.

In Banff you could consider Douglas Fir Resort, and in Jasper you could consider Becker's Chalets. I believe both properties offer 3-bedroom units.

When it comes to Calgary, if you don't have a specific interest in the Stampede (and it sounds as if you do not), I suggest you give the downtown core a wide berth and head for the hills ASAP.

I don't know where you will have flown from, how long you will have been in the air, and what time you will have woken up on the morning of your arrival. If you feel up to it, you could drive from Calgary through Bragg Creek, over the Highwood Pass, and through Kananaskis Country before proceeding to Banff townsite. This is a longer, more circuitous, but also more scenic and interesting way of getting from Calgary to Banff. If you landed at noon you would have the time to do it (if you had the energy to do it). You don't have to decide now. You can see how you feel when you land, and decide then. Anyway, directions are on my website. But, since my website provides the directions from Banff to Calgary, you will need to reverse them. I will split the URL over 2 lines, as it is quite long:

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

kananaskiscountry.msnw
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Old Apr 11th, 2006, 07:31 AM
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I am not exactly Judy, but in my 8 or 9 trips to those places I will say this:
I prefer Jasper, Yoho, Icefields Parkway, and Jasper to Waterton - Glacier.

Yes the Sun road is spectacular, but so is the Icefields Parkway.

I run out of things to see and do in Waterton,and I was there just last summer.

The one hike that would make Waterton standout is Crypt Lake, but that one is a touch route, not for the novice hiker.

On the other hand, if you have never been to Glacier, I suggest going.
But to see the real beauties of that park, one must leave the parking lots an head up the trails.

Highline Trail from Logan Pass is a favorite. It is one that can be followed for hours and many miles, or stopped and retraced after a coupe of hours. You can do either without feeling shortchanged.

Obviously I like the area, or else I would not go back to often from 2,500 miles away.
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Old Apr 11th, 2006, 10:43 AM
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Thanks for all the suggestions! I had considered the Glacier-Waterton option only because I haven't seen those, but the others traveling haven't seen either [Jasper/Banff/Yoho or Waterton], and I can vouch for the beauty and wonder of the former, and certainly wouldn't mind seeing them again. There also seemed to be many choices of things to do along Icefields Parkway, hiking-biking-rafting, etc. We will be flying in from Atlanta, but I think we will have plenty of energy to do some traveling the first day. I remember the last trip I managed to take a short hike up ?Tunnel Mountain? (right behind the Banff Springs Hotel) soon after our arrival and before we lost light. Does anyone have favorite hikes in Jasper or Banff. We are fairly hardy day-hikers and usually do 5-8 miles at a time, though we'll pace ourselves a little on vacation.
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Old Apr 11th, 2006, 03:50 PM
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I have one favorite at Lake Louise: The Plain of Six Glaciers Trail. If you have the stamina, go up to the Beehives, but that is a stretch for some people.

In Jasper, I have another favorite: Angel Glacier.

There are others of course.

Along the Parkway, I like Parker Ridge if it is open. Often it is closed because it crosses fragile tundra. From the top of the ridge, one can see the Athabasca Glacier.

Other short walks are at Bow Lake, and Peyto Lake. Peyto Lake has a paved trail, and it is often crowded to the limit. If you have time, continue to the left relative to the viewpoint, up hill, to the meadows above the lake. At the summit you can see a long ways.

There are some others. At Sunwapta Pass, from the lower end of the big parking lot, there is a short trail to Panther Falls (Fall of Nigel Creek).
These falls tucked away, hidden virtually. The falls you see across the valley are NOT the ones I mean.

Panther Falls are the highest in Banff, but seeing them requires a little effort. I warn you, a rain suit is handy on this walk.

My wife and I went down the trail to the falls on a bright clear day. We were dressed for a monsoon with our Goretex outfits. Some guy sitting on the hood of his car saw us go by. His expression was priceless, like where are these nuts going in rain suits on a virtually cloudless day. When we came back about 40 minutes later, we were drenched. Water was still dripping from our jackets and pants.

The same guy was still sitting there, quite probably to see if those idiot people were coming back. My helpful wife walked past him and said, "We went for a swim."

Well, that was not that far fetched of a statement because the spray from the falls is intense if you venture far enough to see the the main cascade.

Taking a photograph requires some doing if you want to keep your camera dry.

There are also the Falls of Beauty Creek and the roaring Athabasca Falls just south of Jasper townsite.

Let me flip the coin a little more.
Glacier on the east side has several good walks. If you have the stamina, to to the remains of the Grinnell Glacier. It will take most of the day and a good deal of stamina.

Iceberg Lake is a 10 mile round trip. The trail ends at a mountain tarn tucked under 3,000 foot cliffs.

Two real gems of Glacier are out of range except for strong hikers.
One is the remains of the Sperry Glacier. The drawback is that the elevation gain is about 5,000 feet over about 8 - 9 miles of trail

The other gem is Lake Ellen Wilson, but it, too, is secluded and somewhat remote. Fewer than 3% of all visitors to Glacier ever see it. It too can be reached from the trail to Sperry Chalet.
Either hike done in one day would be taxing.

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Old Apr 12th, 2006, 11:30 AM
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Thanks for the hike suggestions! I believe I did Parker Ridge hike 15 years ago when I was there. Is that the origin of the Saskatchewan River? Re accomodations, it may end up just being two of us, so any comments re Hidden Ridge, Caribou Lodge, Tunnel Mtn Chalets, Rocky Mountain Resort, Brewster's Mtn Lodge, or any others as opposed to Douglas Fir in the Banff area? Also the Jasper House or other acomodations near Jasper? Thanks for all your help!

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Old Apr 12th, 2006, 08:07 PM
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>>>>>>Re accomodations, it may end up just being two of us, so any comments re Hidden Ridge, Caribou Lodge, Tunnel Mtn Chalets, Rocky Mountain Resort, Brewster's Mtn Lodge, or any others as opposed to Douglas Fir in the Banff area?<<<<<<

Brewster Mountain Lodge is a charming place, but it's very centrally located in Banff townsite, which is crawling with people in July. If you want to be slightly removed from the crowds, you could stay on the outskirts of town. Hidden Ridge, Douglas Fir and Tunnel Mountain Chalets would qualify from that point of view. If you want something on the outskirts of town, but don't need a multiple-room suite, you could consider the Juniper (formerly the Timberline).

>>>>>>Also the Jasper House or other acomodations near Jasper?<<<<<<

Jasper House Bungalows are popular chalets a short distance outside of Jasper townsite. There are others that are equally popular -- Alipine Village, Becker's Chalets, Patricia Lake Bungalows, Pine Bungalows, and so on. If you want to watch your budget, you may be able to find something a little more moderately priced if you look for a bed & breakfast establishment or for home accommodation (like a B&B, but without breakfast). Do a word search here for Crayston's (home accommodation), and read laurafromtexas's comments about the property.

>>>>>>Thanks for all your help!<<<<<<

You're very welcome.
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Old Apr 13th, 2006, 07:57 AM
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I have stayed at Jasper House twice.
Both times we had kitchen facilities and a floor plan that gave us a separate bedroom as well as a sitting/eating area.

The complex is located on the banks of the Athabasca River and we could easily walk down to the river itself and watch the rafts go by.

The facility is comfortable.

The drawback is that it is a favorite with the tour bus companies and it tends to fill up early in the season, like before the end of May.

Of the places I have used in Jasper for over night accommodations, I think it is the best one to date.

My son and his family (2 boys + wife) used Patricial Lake bungalows. He liked it fine and thought highly of the place. Unfortunately, the last I heard it has a 3 night minimum which might be a factor in making a decision.

Beckers Chalets are also highly recommended. I have visited the area, and talked to people who like them very much. I think on this forum you will find quite a few fans of Beckers.

I know what you mean about Kalispell. We flew there once several years ago and rented a car from Rent A Wreck. We actually had a fairly new car, but the average daily milage cap on it was very low. Had we not been headed for Sperry Chalet, which meant 2 nights deadhead in the parking lot, we would have surpassed the milage cap very easily.

As it was we had to pay extra for the excess miles. Avis, Hertz, and the other on airport sites were prohibitively expensive unless you have a special deal or some kind of deep discount coupon.

I find flying into Calgary better, and often cheaper. Last year I rented from Enterprise, which is off airport.
The shuttle service was very prompt and got us between the airport and Enterprise office very quickly.

I would uses Enterprise again because of the quick service. I know one poster said he would not because of the shuttle ride. Two contra indicating factors are that (1) we did not have to wait very long for our car, and (2) we would have driven that way anyhow. The last time I rented from Avis, I had to waid 30 minutes before I could get in the car.
So the convenience of an on airport location was substantially negated by the long wait.
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Old Apr 13th, 2006, 09:24 AM
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bob_brown...Thanks for the info! I certainly have no problem going away from the airport for car rental, and tried Enterprise, but they are listed as being "sold out" of cars for the entire middle part of July. Go figure. The best rate I was able to find was Alamo via my Entertainment book coupon, though still pricey. I thought it might be due to the traffic for the Stampede, but rates were the same after as well. The best deal so far has been decent-priced RT airfare to Calgary from ATL but since this is via Delta, it may not be valid after 4/18; guess I'll find out soon. A 3 night minimum would not be a problem as we are thinking 3 nights in Jasper area and 4 nights in Banff area. May I ask if any of the chalets/cabins stand out as being newer or more recently refurbished than the others? I have read a lot of positive things about Becker's Chalets. I have also read from some that they preferred having a base of operations closer to Lake Louise area as opposed to Banff, as more of the hikes and activities are in that direction. I don't remember how long it takes to drive (with summer traffic) from Banff to Lake Louise. Also, I have heard a lot about Emerald Lake; is that a good side trip?
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