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Banff, yoho, jasper national park tour

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May 6th, 2014, 03:40 PM
  #1
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Banff, yoho, jasper national park tour

Hi there,

I'm thinking about heading to Canada for two weeks in September to see the autumn fall, mountains and exercise (hike, bike...). I'm okay with cheaper accommodation / camping and will be travelling alone (34 female). I want to make the most of the outdoors.

I've been looking at timberwolves tours, has anyone hear of this company or been on a tour? Are there any other tour companies you might recommend?

Appreciate your help
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May 7th, 2014, 08:38 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2013
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Greetings

September is a great time to see the Rockies - the weather is generally still very nice, but the main crowds are gone. If you can rent a car, that's the best way to see the mountains. Tour companies are great, but you will limited to their stops and options - and there may be fewer tours in September.

I have not used any of the tour companies, but read the info carefully as many/most use larger buses and tend to be aimed at an older age category. As such, they tend to hit the big tourist sites and not leave time for hiking. If you want to make the most of the outdoors, tours are probably not going to be a good match.

Moose Network is one of the ones that is aimed a a younger age bracket and uses smaller vehicles. However on another board, someone booked on a trip in May or June had it cancelled due to insufficient bookings and was offered a replacement trip with Brewsters on a much larger bus. I would strongly suggest checking out car rental options and see if you can find a deal, at least for a few days.

Nighttime temps can start to drop in September, especially later in the month, so you would need to be prepared if you are going to camp. Temps below freezing would not be unexpected. Generally it's not a bad month, but snow in the high elevations is possible.

A nice, but equally affordable option may be to use hostels. The HI hostels in Canmore, Banff and Lake Louise are all quite nice and attract a wide range of ages. So they are not party central, unlike some of the non-HI hostels. The latter two have inexpensive cafes and other amenities including nice common areas and sometimes free or inexpensive bike rentals. Dorm rooms (usually 4 people) are about $25-30 a night, while private rooms start around $110. They are also a great place to meet people & find hiking or biking partners. If you have transport, there are a series of wilderness hostels in the parks. They are roadside, but would have no showers, pit toilets and limited running water. But fully equipped kitchens, common areas and stunning scenery.

There are lots of hiking options, though many of the trails outside the townsites will require your own transportation (or getting a ride with someone) to access. Without a car, you can do the trails in Jasper, Banff and Canmore. For biking, you can rent bikes in any of the townsites and check out the local trails. Canmore and Banff are probably the best for biking - lots of options and you can do the Legacy Trail between the two. The best place to see fall colours is up by Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. At peak weekends, Parks Canada runs shuttles up to Moraine Lake, so you could probably have easier access from Lake Louise.

If you hike alone, it's up to your comfort level, but I prefer to stick to trails that are relatively well traveled for safety reasons. The main issue is wildlife - you need to make plenty of noise to avoid surprising bears or elk (especially on a bike) and carry bear spray. I strongly suggest stopping by the local Parks Canada Centre (Banff, Lake Louise, Field, Jasper) before heading out - they have free maps, advice on trails and info on restrictions/closures.

Another option, if you really want to see the outdoors, is (budget depending) to consider taking a guided course or trip. Not cheap, so you might have a shorter trip, but a great way to meet people and to really see the national parks. Options would probably best during the first two weeks of September, but they might include hiking, rock climbing or beginner mountaineering.
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May 7th, 2014, 07:41 PM
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Hi there,

Thanks for the great response. I've recently moved from New Zealand to Australia and I'm slowly getting used to the wildlife - snakes and kangaroos in particular that you can encounter out walking...when we go walking in NZ we don't have to think about things like that...only getting lost...

Stupid question but is canada right or left hand drive on the roads?

Appreciate your time,

Rachel
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May 8th, 2014, 08:20 AM
  #4
 
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We drive on the right hand side (so the driver is on the left of the car). I think the UK, Ireland, Japan, Australia/NZL, South Africa and a few other former British colonies are the only countries left that drive on the left.
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May 8th, 2014, 09:21 AM
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Just took a look at the Timberwolf Tours, and they look really nice, though a lot of trips seem to be sold out already. They seem to focus on longer trips, which isn't a bad thing, but not for everyone. Some have lots of hiking, others seem to be more traditional bus type tours. Their trips do seem to make time for hiking and activities other than taking photos , which is wonderful!

Their staff focus seems to be on multilingual guides (French, German, English) with a stress on interpretive (nature/animals/local history), rather than hiking or extensive guiding skills, per se. Interestingly, most of their guides are not Canadian. They look to be enthusiastic, educated trip leaders. and would have all the permissions to lead trips in the parks. However, just be aware that they aren't certified hiking or mountain guides - some may have taken some hiking certifications in Canada or abroad, but none are currently listed as having ACMG hiking guide qualifications.

If you are looking to spend a bit more money on a set tour as with Timberwolf, you might look also at Yamnuska. I've done several mountaineering and ice climbing courses with them, but they also offer hiking and backpacking. My experiences have been wonderful, and their guides are top quality, though they are mountain focused, rather than seeing the sites focused. So if you go that direction, you'd probably want to combine a trip with some sight seeing on your own. You can see their hiking trips here: http://canadianrockieshiking.com and their full range of courses/guided trips here: www.yamnuska.com
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May 8th, 2014, 09:22 AM
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Aack - sorry about the clown face. Not intentional!
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May 9th, 2014, 01:27 AM
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Fantastic, thanks for the info on other hiking options. I guess I just want to get into the outdoors and explore' get away from the mass tour bus options. I'm not an experienced hiker by any means but love exercise / outdoors.
I do not want to carry my own backpack however (previous back surgery but generally no issues - don't want to test it by adding the load of a backpack although I happily carry my golf clubs 18holes)...

I will look into these options thanks,

Rachel
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May 9th, 2014, 08:51 AM
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Sounds good.

If you can carry golf clubs, you should have no problem with a daypack for the kind of trip Timberwolf does. Or even a heavier pack for an overnight trip, though it sounds like that's not what you are looking to do.
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