Calgary, Lake Louise, Jasper,& Waterton

Old Jan 10th, 2018, 06:24 AM
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Calgary, Lake Louise, Jasper,& Waterton

My husband and I along with another couple (active mid 50 year olds) will be arriving in Calgary on June 16th late evening. We will have a return flight on the 26th early morning. Our first night will be near the airport. Next day we get a car and the adventure begins. Short hikes, fishing, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, history are some of the things we enjoy. Looking for an itenery to visit all or most of the area listed. How many nights should we stay in each area? I would prefer to visit Lake Louise during the week since I've read it is very crowded on weekends. Suggestions on areas to stay that could be a great "home base" if some of these places are good day visits. I've seen some good deals to stay at the ski resorts and wondering if these would make good "home bases" as far as travel time for day trips. Thanks in advance!
Sharon_Moran is offline  
Old Jan 11th, 2018, 07:26 AM
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Lake Louise is also very crowded during the week. The trick is to get there as early as possible, before the buses arrive so you can enjoy the views and then get on the hiking trail before the masses.
I did the Canadian Rockies about 3 years ago, altho' my trip didn't include Waterton. (I did that on an earlier trip from Glacier).

Check out my trip report for some answers to your questions. Relentless Beauty - Panecott's Trip to the Canadian Rockies
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Old Jan 12th, 2018, 03:17 PM
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Which ski resorts are you referring to? Other than Sunshine, none of the ski resorts in the Rockies have their own accommodations. And I wouldn't suggest staying at Sunshine because it requires extra driving to everywhere else and taking a gondola/bus & limits you to the dining option(s) at the lodge. For Jasper NP, you would stay at a hotel or PHA ( in Jasper. For Banff/LL/Yoho NP, you'd stay in Banff, Lake Louise or one of the handful of places outside the townsites.

Generally we suggest at least 6-7 nights in the Rockies. If you are spending one night in Calgary, then head to Banff/Canmore/Lake Louise the next day. You can either spend one night there and head on to Jasper for 2-3 nights or do a longer stint in Banff/LL/Canmore, then head to Jasper. Spend at least one night in Banff/Canmore/LL after Jasper, then head to Waterton for 2-3 nights before flying out.
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Old Jan 12th, 2018, 09:59 PM
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Hello and welcome to Calgary (My home city since 2006)

I would strongly recommend that you follow this itinerary because this is what I have done numerous times and have really enjoyed it and have written about it a lot of times.

June 17th you visit Canmore. When you reach Canmore, visit the visitor's information center. From there ask them for a drive around the mountains. There is a route that takes you from Canmore to K Country and this drive is extremely beautiful and it will take you 4 hours easily to cover the whole area.

From 16 June to 25 June, you will not see Banff and these areas to be very busy because this time around it is final exam time in Alberta schools. Which means not a lot of locals would be traveling to the Rockies. Specially, during the week there would be very little traffic. Even the weekends would not be really busy because of exam time. So don't stress about traffic and crowds in the Rockies. One more important thing, you will not be able to enjoy visiting Rockies, if there are no crowds. And June end is time of decent attendance that you or anyone would never mind.

You should then spend June 18 and June 19 in Banff area. I consider myself to be very knowledgeable about the Rockies. However, my habit is to play a role of a naive and frequently visit Visitor Information Center. I would strongly recommend that you ask the VIC staff what to do during the 2 days you are going to be there? Then you decide what you would like to do and plan your day accordingly. Some of the attractions you can enjoy are Tunnel Mountain hike, Mt. Norquay drive, drive/walk on Banff Avenue etc.

June 20th you should plan to visit Lake Louise and Takkakaw Falls and stay in Lake Louise for the night. You can do 1 or a maximum of 2 days for these 2 places (it might be a rush trip if you tried both places in 1 day but it is doable and you can enjoy it). Takkakaw Falls is such an awesome place that you will really like.

June 21st morning (I am assuming you took 1 day for Takkakaw Falls and Lake Louise) leave early like 9 AM to go to Jasper. Keep a copy and pen in hand. What I generally do is stop at places/landmarks on the right side while going to Jasper and same thing while returning to Calgary. This way I don't miss any landmark or tourist place. 1st stop should be Columbia Icefields. Make sure to walk to the glacier. Your choice if you want to take the bus, but we really enjoyed walking up to the glacier. The next stop should be in Jasper. It will be very easy for you to leave from Lake Louise and reach Jasper by night. There is a planetarium in Jasper right on the main road. Check with them if they are open and you can enjoy their show on 21st night.

On 22nd visit the VIC and talk to them about possibilities of activities in Jasper. In my opinion 2 days to a maximum of 3 days should be more than enough for you. So 25th morning you should leave back to return to Calgary. On your way back stop at the landmarks on right side.

In case if you are able to do Jasper in 2 days then you should plan to visit Waterton on 25th. (I am assuming you've covered Jasper on 22 and 23rd and returned to Calgary on 24th night). You don't need more than 1 day for Waterton National Park and return 25th night to take your next morning flight back home.

Some of the readers may find this itinerary to be a rush rush, but I have done this numerous time over last 12 years. And I have written about these trips on Fodors so many times, so you can easily check my previous posts/replies to get more information. I hope this helps. Enjoy your trip.
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Old Jan 17th, 2018, 11:40 AM
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Actually, by mid to late June, the parks are very busy. Certainly Canadian kids are finishing school, but the majority of the crowds in the parks are not locals - they're visitors from the US and abroad. So not restricted by Canadian school schedules. Foreign visitors start coming in increasingly large numbers in late May/early June. Mid week is usually less busy, but weekends will be bustling unless the weather is quite bad. A few years ago it may have been different, but these days peak season is essentially June to early October. That said, the vast majority of folks never go that far, so a few minutes walk/hike will generally get you away from the major crowds, and you can time your activities to avoid the peak crowds.

I would not suggest doing Lake Louise and Takkakaw Falls on the same day - both will be seeing large crowds by the time of your visit. So best to do them first thing in the morning or much later in the day. I'd also prioritize Moraine Lake ahead of Takkakaw Falls. For Lake Louise, there are shuttles from Banff/overflow parking, so even if parking is full, there are options. The other two locations have no (free) shuttles, so need planning to avoid peak times.

As a note, I would not attempt to drive on Banff Ave. When in Banff townsite, it's best to keep the car parked and walk/cycle/ride the Roam buses.

Also, for a Canmore area drive, be careful about any driving on the Spray Lakes (i.e. Smith Dorrian) Rd. It's often suggested, but a large section starting near in Canmore is unpaved -- rental contracts often forbid driving on unpaved roads. It may be OK as it's a numbered highway, but you need to check your contract. Even if it's OK, be aware that you need to drive quite carefully - it's quite dusty, prone to rockfall and narrow/twisty in sections. And do not stop other than in proper pull outs/parking lots -- I've had some very close calls with people stopping on/partially on the road to take photos/see views without any though to the safety of other road users. If you want to see K-Country, it's often best to go via Hwy 40 (off of the TransCanada), which is paved and has good shoulders/pull overs.
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Old Mar 31st, 2018, 11:38 AM
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When we have previously visited it was mid June. Would you suggest not going the first 2 weeks in July due to bigger crowds?
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