Calgary/Banff Trip

Jan 9th, 2007, 04:13 PM
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Calgary/Banff Trip

I am planning a trip to Calgary and then on to Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper. How many days will I need and what month is the best time for going. I am flexible in my dates and want to go when the weather is the best.Also should I go from Jasper to Vancouver or back to Clagary to return home.
AMATTHE is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 05:35 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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Amatthe, I just finished planning an itinerary for my trip in July with the help of folks on this forum.

You can look at sample itineraries at following link.

I would think you need at least 9 days for a comfortable trip to cover everything. Late June to Late August should be a good time to visit the area. July is a peak season and so start booking early if you decide to visit in July. Whether you continue to Vancouver or return to Calgary really depends on your flights. You can visit Vancouver if you fly out of Vancouver otherwise you will need 1-2 extra days for a long drive back from Vancouver to Calgary to catch the return flight.

But again, I am no expert. So please consider other responses you may get from experts on this forum.
mtravel is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 06:18 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
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If you fly in and out of Calgary, visit three of the four contiguous mountain national parks (Banff, Yoho and Jasper National Parks), and just briefly take in what most people regard as the "must sees," you should spend no less than a week.

That having been said, we have taken visitors to the mountains for as little as one day, when they have been very short of time, for example, people who were in Calgary for business meetings and just wanted to catch a glimpse of the mountains while they were here.

If you want to fly into Calgary, drive through the Rockies, and fly out of Vancouver, I would say you would need a minimum of 10 days, although I think 2 weeks would be much better (and 3 weeks would be better still).

To my taste the best time to visit the mountains is from the middle of June to the end of September (and certainly no later than Canadian Thanksgiving, which is the second Monday in October). The reason is that that is the period during which you can see the mountain lakes at their turquoise best.

Within that time range, July and August are the busiest months. The latter half of June and the month of September give you most of the benefits of summer, but with somewhat fewer people around.

The advantage of June is that the days are at their longest.

The advantage of September, and especially mid-late September is that the autumn colours are at their best. Most of the forests are comprised of coniferous, evergreen species. However, there are enough species whose leaves turn yellow and gold to put on beautiful displays.

Be aware, though, that we do not get the reds and oranges that the eastern half of the continent gets.

In July the average day time high in Banff is around 20 deg C (70 deg F). The average night time low is around 7 deg C (45 deg F). But the temperature easily can get up around 30 deg C (90 deg F) and go down as low as freezing. So you need to pack LAYERS. If you go to the TIPS section of the website that mtravel gave you, you will find a What To Pack page.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 12:46 PM
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I think the late June - early September time frame is best. July is indeed peak season.

Bear in mind that you have 4 contiguous national parks and at least 1 major provincial park to include in your planning with 2 of the parks being huge: Banff and Jasper. The other two parks are Kootenay and Yoho, which are on the other side of the Great Divide in British Columbia. Also not to be skipped if possible is Glacier National Park, which is located west of Golden, B. C. The views from Rodgers Pass are excellent on a clear day.

In addition, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is its own park entity, but it is still the same Rockies and has merits of its own. By the time you figure that the whole intermountain park area stretches for well over 250 miles, you can see it is a huge area.

You need to allow time for a long day on the Icefields Parkway. Unfortunately there are not many places to stay overnight between Lake Louise and Jasper. I know of 3: the Num Ti Jah Lodge, the Crossing (gas, motel, store, eatery) and the motel at the Icefields Center where one can take the ice buggy out onto the Athabasca Glacier.

I suggest strongly that you acquire two guide books to help you plan.

The first one is The Canadian Rockies Trail Guide by Brian Patton and Bart Robinson. I have the 7th edition and it is even better than the 6th edition which was a major upgrade over the earlier ones. I have quite a few hiking guides and this is the best one in English that I have ever seen.

The second book is Handbook of the Canadian Rockies, 2nd edition, by Ben Gadd. This book, too, is one of the classics. Having authored 3 books myself, I stand in almost reverant awe of Mr. Gadd when I read his masterpiece. If you want to know about the geology, flora, fauna, climate, and weather in the Canadian Rockies, there is no other book that even approaches this one.

I am one who believes the more you read, the better prepared you will be, and the better you are prepared the more you will enjoy your trip.

I think you can take suggested itineraries from people, but in the end, I for one plan my own. I find out what other people recommend, and then try to incorporate those that strike my interests into my daily routines.

There are a few places in the Rockies I think are absolute musts, at least for me. In no particular order:
Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, Athabasca Falls, the Athabasca Glacier, Peyto Lake, Takkakaw Falls, and the Angel Glacier, and the Falls of Beauty Creek.

And then I have my favorite backcountry spots that take effort and planning to reach: The Whaleback Trail, which leads to views of the best of the Rockies, and Lake McArthur, particularly if one takes the Highline Trail which is not one for the skittish.

I also think a view of Mount Robson on a clear day is well worth the drive from Jasper. And if you have the energy walk to Kinney Lake for a neck bending look up at the top of the mountain some 8,000 feet above your head.

If you drive to Vancouver, there is usually a stern drop fee for a rental car. You might be able to find a bargain where the drop fee is concerned, but I have not been so fortunate.

I think you would be ahead of the game to spend your time in the Canadian Rockies and Glacier National Park before returning to Calgary.

How long does it take? Good question. Estimates will vary. I think at least a week can be put to good use and 9 days would be even better.

I first went in 1987 on a scouting expedition. We learned a lot on that trip and we have gone back 6 times since then. Each time we find something a little different and we revisit old friends - like Moraine Lake and Twin Falls Chalet for a couple of nights.

We happen to like the backwoods feeling of the Chalet, but it is rustic. So it is not for everybody. From there one can see Twin Falls, which would be high only list above, except it is a 12 mile round trip to see the falls.

We stay overnight and do the Whaleback trail. Also, Waterfall Valley is one of the hidden gems that takes some real effort to see. The trail is steep, long and unmarked which is why I say it is an effort. The reward is without parallel, however because one finds something up there that is becoming a scarce commodity: silence and serenity.
bob_brown is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 06:48 PM
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OOPS. Now you see why I needed a good proof reader. High on the list, not high only list.

Also, I missed the name of the pass.

Rogers Pass instead of what I wrote.

Nothing like proofing it after the fact. Better late than never.

Even so Rogers Pass is crossed on the Trans Canada Highway.

I hope by now that the road that leads from Yoho down to Golden has been finished.

The descent is a lesson in geology, if one cares to learn it. The Columbia River at the point is flowing north along a fault line that is known as the Rocky Mountain Trench. It is where one of the tectonic plates that make up British Columbia collided with the North American Plate.

Strictly speaking the Purcells, the Selkirks and the Monashees are not part of the Canadian Rockies because they are on a different chunk of the earth's surface. That part of British Columbia came from someplace else.

bob_brown is offline  
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