Calgary - Canmore/Banff in July

Mar 13th, 2004, 05:12 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 27
Calgary - Canmore/Banff in July

I'd like to stay for two nights at the Holiday Inn Express Conference center, Calgary, then spend the next five nights at the Marriott Residence Inn, Canmore/Banff with our family of five. Question is; can we use Canmore condo as home base to see not only Banff, but Lake Louise? I figure it's too far to go to Jasper from Canmore. (really don't want to pack up three teens more than I have to.) Or should we book another night near LL or Jasper?

Also, is it worth $300 or so to get tickets for the big stampede/grandstand show in the evening at Calgary Stampede?

Finally, any reviews of the above accomodations would be appreciated. We are staying at these places on accumulated points for free, so obviously anything less that a terrible review will be fine!

Thanks in advance for your help.

jedimac is offline  
Mar 13th, 2004, 07:14 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
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There are several Holiday Inns in Calgary. I think the one you are referring to is located at 119 - 12th Avenue S.W. If that is so, it's a convenient location. It's JUST outside of the downtown core, but within easy walking distance of all downtown amenities. It's also within walking distance of Stampede Park. I have not been into the building itself, but in my experience Holiday Inns adhere to a consistent standard. Every Holiday Inn I've stayed in has had similar standards of cleanliness, etc.

Canmore is a good base for seeing the Rockies IF you're going to have two different bases (for example, Canmore plus Jasper). If Canmore is going to be your only base for seeing the Rockies, it does have a built-in limitation. It's close to the eastern edge of the Rockies, so almost all of the scenic places you would want to see would be west and north of there. Banff, Lake Louise, and Yoho National Park are west of Canmore. Jasper is north of Lake Louise.

If you can have only one base in the Rockies, Lake Louise is more ideal. Basing yourself in LL would give you access to Banff to the east, Yoho National Park to the west, the Columbia Icefields to the north, as well as the immediate environs of LL that are splendid in their own right.

From a base in Canmore you theoretically could see Banff, Lake Louise and maybe even the Columbia Icefields, but you would be retracing the same road many times as you repeatedly departed from, and returned to, your easterly base in Canmore.

So, much as you may hate packing up your family and moving (and I sympathise with you on that score), you really would benefit from staying in Jasper, IMO. If you do go to Jasper, you need AT LEAST 2 nights there. The drive from LL to Jasper is a full day if you stop to see the sights (Peyto Lake Lookout, ride a Snocoach on the Athabasca Glacier, see Sunwapta Falls and Athabasca Falls). Then you need AT LEAST a full day to see Jasper's surroundings, although you easily could spend 2 days there.

I haven't been to the Marriott Residence Inn in Canmore, so cannot comment on the property itself. Perhaps my comment about Holiday Inns is relevant to Marriotts too, but I don't know.

Stampede Park offers rodeo events (bull riding, calf roping, etc.) every afternoon. Then every evening it offers chuckwagon races that culminate in the grandstand show you've mentioned. I personally wouldn't cross a continent to see the grandstand show but, if you've never seen chuckwagon races, I believe you would find them exciting. In my opinion the price of the tickets is worth it for the chuckwagon races.

Even if it's a warm evening when you set out for the chuckwagon races, take a jacket with you, as Calgary typically cools off once the sun has gone down, even in summer. Although we aren't in the mountains, we're at 3,440 feet (1,048 metres) above sea level.

There is a festive atmosphere in Calgary during Stampede, and it's quite a lot of fun. But you do have to accept that you'll hear a lot of country and western music. Even if you aren't normally a C&W person, just accept it and go with the flow. Before you know it you'll probably find yourself line dancing with a bunch of strangers. I suspect your teenagers will enjoy it.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Mar 13th, 2004, 07:27 AM
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Yes Canmore is close enough to most of the main attractions in Banff and Lake Louise that it will make a good home base.
Banff National Park begins two minutes away from Canmore, so as soon as you leave Canmore on the Trans Canada highway, you will be at the park gates. Banff townsite is another 12 minutes past that point (yes! I have actually timed it, especially for Fodors postings). And Lake Louise is a 45 minute drive "west" (actually NW) of Banff on the Trans Canada.

You could drive from Canmore to Jasper and back in one day. It will be a lot of driving, and a long day, but remember that we have incredibly long hours of daylight in July (about 17 hours). So - if you don't mind sitting in a car and enjoying the scenery (with a brief stop at the Columbia Icefield) - and if you like to have an early start to your day - you could easily do it.
However, I recommend staying at least one night in Jasper. It will be more relaxing; you will be able to drive the Icefield Parkway on two different days so if the weather isn't nice one day at least you'll have another chance at seeing the scenery, and you can stop for longer at each viewpoint.
Borealis is offline  
Mar 13th, 2004, 07:36 AM
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Hello Borealis, you and I must have been typing at the same time.

As you may have noticed by now, I have a slower travel style than some people.

Here at Fodors I really try to take into consideration that some people are willing to travel faster and see more stuff, but see it in less detail than I. But it's quite tough to set my prejudices aside.

Anyway, Jedimac, you'll obviously have to decide some of this for yourself, based on your own family's preferences. Borealis is correct in pointing out that we have many hours of daylight in summer, and that does extend what one can accomplish in a day.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Mar 13th, 2004, 08:30 AM
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17 hours of daylight?

We will be in the Banff/JAsper/Edmonton tringle form July 2- July 10. Where can get sunrise and sunset info for that time frame?

Dick is offline  
Mar 13th, 2004, 08:51 AM
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Hello Dick,
You can find that information in a lot of places. For one, ask any amateur astronomer (daylight is not our favourite time of day, and summer is terrible for stargazing !!). Try Environment Canada, or the RASC website for Edmonton (RASC = Royal Astronomical Society of Canada):

I live in Edmonton and can tell you that here at the end of June and beginning of July the sun does not set till past 10 p.m. (10:17 p.m.), but twilight persists all night (astronomical twilight, that is).
Sunrise?? - really early (5 a.m.) - way before I get up (unless the birds start chattering at 4 a.m.!!)

Banff and Jasper are south of Edmonton, so they have a few minutes less of sunshine each day. Remember too that the mountains "raise" the horizon, so that it is daylight before the sun appears over the peaks.

Judy - yes I guess we were writing at the same time (plus my hubby interrupted while I was writing mine - it's Saturday morning and he was off to the bakery to get some fresh bread and wanted to know how much).
I was answering jedimac's question based on the fact that she/he stated that they were staying in places where they had "accumulated some points for free" - so I assumed that's where they would want to spend most of their time.
Borealis is offline  
Mar 13th, 2004, 10:29 AM
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Thanks for the inf
Dick is offline  
Mar 13th, 2004, 03:57 PM
Original Poster
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Posts: 27
Dear Judy and Borealis:

Thanks to you both for the great info. I booked tickets for the chuckwagon/grandstand event in Calgary. Also, We have two golfers in the group, so in lieu of Jasper, we may hang around and play golf one day in Canmore. Other than that we'll hike, white water raft, horeseback ride, see the glacier, etc... I have a 13 year old who would love nothing better than to spend the day shopping. I understand Canmore has nice shopping. As far as food goes, we are not a picky group...
jedimac is offline  
Mar 13th, 2004, 04:18 PM
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>>>>>>We have two golfers in the group, so in lieu of Jasper, we may hang around and play golf one day in Canmore.<<<<<<

If you're based in Canmore, the two most convenient golf courses for you will be Kananaskis and Banff Springs. Here's a website on golf courses in the Rockies.

>>>>>>I understand Canmore has nice shopping.<<<<<<

I'm mystified where you might have heard that. There are many reasons why I might visit Alberta, but shopping is not one of them. I don't know where you live, but Alberta is not at the leading edge when it comes to fashion or anything like that. (Sure, you can find an incredible buckle for your cowboy belt, but is that really what you're looking for? )

It's true that in Banff and other tourist towns there are some paintings and other works by local artists that I like. But I'm not sure that they would appeal to a 13 year old. I hope your child won't be disappointed. I hope your Plans B, C and D (white water rafting, horse back riding, etc.) will be satisfying if the shopping turns out to be underwhelming.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Mar 14th, 2004, 09:58 AM
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Like Judy, I too was mystified by the "nice shopping in Canmore" information.
For a 13 year old girl, any shopping mall in Calgary would be a much better bet (the Chinook is quite nice, but Judy will be able to give you better advice because she lives in the Calgary area.
The mountain park towns (Banff and Jasper) tend to have lots of souvenir shops, but Banff has far and away the most shops, and most selection of goods (sport and souvenir clothes, jewellery, art, even a Christmas shop, etc.) so strolling down the street in Banff may please your (?)daughter.
Canmore doesn't have much in terms of shopping, just a few sport clothing stores, some art galleries, some knick-knack type shops etc.
Borealis is offline  
Mar 14th, 2004, 02:07 PM
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Jedimac, Borealis is right about Chinook Mall being a good place to shop if you're outside of Calgary's downtown core. However, since you'll be so centrally located, I think the Stephen Avenue (8th Avenue) pedestrian mall, which is downtown, will be your best bet.

The most fruitful section of Stephen Avenue / 8th Avenue, from a shopping point of view, is between two department stores, The Bay and Sears, which act as anchors for the many smaller shops between them.

There are a few western outfitting stores at street level on Stephen Avenue. It's a cultural experience to see that many cowboy boots under one roof if you've never done so before.

However, from a teenager's point of view, the most appealing stores are on the second and third levels.

Start at The Bay, take the escalators to the second level, and then use the "Plus 15" glass enclosed bridges to get from one building to the next till you reach Sears.

If you stay at the Holiday Inn at 119 - 12th Avenue S.W., the area to which I'm referring will be 4 blocks north of you.

If you're already on Stephen Avenue, it's worth seeing the Devonian Gardens in Toronto Dominion Square, in the block east of Sears.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Mar 15th, 2004, 10:06 AM
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Re golfing. There are actually a couple of very nice courses in the Canmore area now and I think they would be cheaper than the course at the Banff Springs (last I heard it was $300 to play a round there).
Cruiseryyc is offline  

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