Calgary and Banff

Jan 9th, 2019, 03:48 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 2,153
Calgary and Banff

Just starting to think about summer vacation in Banff area.
We would fly into Calgary. So, is there a way to reach Banff without renting a car. Would love to travel by train so we can enjoy the natural scenery.
We would be traveling from Seattle and are looking mainly for enjoying natural beauty, some hikes etc.
I believe June/July is best time to go there.
Would love any tips or guidance. I will research more as the random thought seems to be attractive for the moment.
Thanks for your help.
ileen is online now  
Jan 9th, 2019, 04:35 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
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The company you are looking for is Brewster Express. The winter schedule is effect until April 30 2019. After May 1 the bus will continue onward from Banff to Jasper.
If you wanted to go to Jasper first, you can ride the ViaRail Canadian from Vancouver to Jasper. The Canadian only runs 3 days a week in each direction. The eastern terminus of the Canadian is in Toronto.
If you are coming from Seattle there are several Amtrak buses and 2 trains daily from King St. station to the Vancouver station. With the border security, the trip takes about 4 hours from Seattle to Vancouver
tomfuller is offline  
Jan 10th, 2019, 02:10 PM
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I cannot imagine coming to Banff and not having a vehicle to get around. If you want to see the scenic areas and go hike etc, you need a vehicle, IME.
mms is offline  
Jan 10th, 2019, 06:20 PM
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Thanks for the replies. I am doing more research to figure things out. Appreciate your input.
Have a great weekend.
ileen is online now  
Jan 11th, 2019, 10:36 AM
Join Date: Oct 2013
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There are increasing public transport options in the Banff & Lake Louise area, so it's quite possible to see the major sites without a car - Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Johnston Canyon, Lake Minnewanka etc. In fact, public transport options can sometimes be easier because you don't have to deal with all the parking & traffic woes. However, for Yoho NP and Jasper NP and most places along the parkway, it's a lot more difficult without car. In Jasper, almost all the popular sites are 30-60 minutes from the townsite, and you'd have to take tours to visit without a car. The exception would be Maligne Canyon which is close enough for a long bike ride or a shortish taxi.

A car is the best way to see the area, though as mentioned, parking can be a major issue at places like Moraine Lake and Lake Louise, among others. So even with a car, you may opt for public transport in some cases, and when driving, arriving very early or late to popular locations. With a car, you do have the advantage of being able to access less popular places - i.e. where the tour buses don't go, and arriving before shuttles/buses start (or after the last bus of the day).

Brewsters is now called Pursuit, but will continue to run the summer shuttle-tour between Banff and Jasper. In the winter months (mid October to mid May), the only option is the once daily non-stop shuttle which is operated by SunDogs. The summer shuttle-tour makes some stops along the way, but not long enough for any real sightseeing, and so is a bit more expensive. If you want to do any sightseeing, then you'd need to do an actual tour.

There's no best time to visit, but if you're looking for a time when there will be access to all the major sites and you can hike the higher elevation trails, then you are looking at mid/late June to mid September. Peak season in terms of accommodation pricing is really late May through early October, and the most crowded time is late June to mid September. Crowds peak on weekends and and holiday weekends (weekend around July 1, August 3-5 and Labour Day weekend.

Especially if you are on a budget, I would suggest booking accommodation as soon as you can. Basic hotel rooms can easily run $250-350, with hostel beds ranging from $40-65 per night. The sooner you book, the more options you have in terms of "less" expensive accommodations. In Jasper, the best deals are often Private Home Accommodations ( which are all inspected and licensed. Canmore can sometimes be cheaper than Banff or Lake Louise, but not such a good option without a car. In Canmore, Banff and Lake Louise, the Hi Hostels can be a good option - private rooms are available as well as dorm rooms.
kgsneds is offline  
Jan 14th, 2019, 11:10 AM
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Thanks for all the ideas. Still pondering, researching and reading.
Appreciate all the help.Have a great weekend and stay warm.
ileen is online now  
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