Calgary or Vancouver

Oct 11th, 2008, 03:31 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 152
Calgary or Vancouver

When French Riviera inofrmation is requested, i try to do my best to answer questions. Now, it s my turn to approach you all and ask my question relative to our next "grand voyage" when we'll fly to British Columbia.
We are presently planning a visit to BC and Rockies area from third week of may 2008 till about 10.06.09.
We already know some parts of eastern Canada and wish to see different sceneries.
My question, to day, will be :
You, now know which period of the year we are planning to travel. Would begin the trip by an arrival in Calgary and fly back to Europe from Vancouver or the opposite or an other solution (i have check an arrival in Seattle that seems a little more costy than a Canadian arrival).

Merci beaucoup de votre aide.
Eze is offline  
Oct 11th, 2008, 05:12 AM
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I am envious of you--having such an extended period of time to visit.

The Rockies are still cold the end of May, many of the lakes do not thaw until about the middle of June, so I would fly into Vancouver and out of Calgary.

We love the Canadian Rockies and I have always wanted to visit to Vancouver--we'll get there someday.

If you do decide to fly into Seattle, I have read that some car rental agencies do not allow their vehicles across the border---there is transportation from Seattle to Vancouver available. It is often times cheaper for us in the US to fly to Seattle and I have read some posts that include transportation information.

Looks like you are planning on BC(which will be fabulous) but if I had that much time, I would consider an Alaskan cruise out of Vancouver. One of my dream trips is to cruise one way from Vancouver to Anchorage and then spend 10-14 days exploring Alaska. I only hear rave reviews of this trip. You do have to be prepared for rain. Lots of information here on US Fodors and on
LindainOhio is offline  
Oct 11th, 2008, 06:29 AM
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I have driven this route many, many times as I live in Calgary and go to the west coast at least once a year. It is a beautiful and varied drive. I agree with LindainOhio that you should start in Vancouver and depart from Calgary. Vancouver will be well into spring/summer by then whereas Alberta may still be cool. Having said that, we've had many Mays that have had +30C days. There is lots to see in this part of the world and if you take it slowly, you will really enjoy it.
jranger is offline  
Oct 11th, 2008, 07:53 AM
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I came back to this message after thinking that you may have written your return dates as they do in Europe and that you are returning on June 10th rather than the Oct. 6th I first thought. That would make more sense unless of course you have unlimited time and funds. That would still be 3 weeks, still a very nice trip.

Look back for some posts from Judy in Calgary--she has a website with suggested itineraries that are very helpful. She hasn't posted for about a year, so you will have to scroll back a bit.

I would still recommend that you start in Vancouver but if you could delay your trip a bit, the weather would be better, the lakes would be thawed in the Rockies, and the higher level trails would be open. The Rockies do get very busy in July and Aug. We visited for the third time this Sept., a short trip--we had no crowds and fabulous weather. Click on my name for our trip report.
LindainOhio is offline  
Oct 11th, 2008, 11:07 PM
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to Lindain Ohio and jranger.

Thanks vm for your encouraging replies.
Re my trip dates, please read may 2009 and not 2008 till June 10th 2009.
So we'll fly into Vancouver and leave Canada from Calgary.
Eze is offline  
Oct 29th, 2008, 11:49 AM
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An interesting question, at its bare minimum:

(Calgary first, or Vancouver first?)

I think that late May is late enough so that weather prooooobably won't make the difference in the two possibilities, so I'll discount that.

Here, my criteria would be this:

Since you are probably willing to late fate and how you're feeling at the moment dictate SOME of your activities on the ground, I suggest that there will be more OPTIONS in the Vancouver area than there would in the Calgary area.

Thus it seems only right that you should land in Calgary, rent your vehicle, set off on your journey, and then have the door open to various alternatives for the last days of your trip in the Vancouver region. Vancouver has mountains, water, Seattle 150 miles away, Victoria a long ferry ride away.

Not only that, but after landing in Calgary, you'd more quickly reach the "nitty gritty" of your trip (the Canadian Rockies) than you would from Vancouver.

I am strongly in favor of flying INTO Calgary and home from Vancouver.

NorthwestMale is offline  
Oct 29th, 2008, 09:03 PM
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I live in the Rockies (Jasper) and recommend Vancouver first, for the same reason as Linda. The season is more advanced on the coast, and it is still spring, not summer, in the Rockies. The deciduous trees and shrubs in the lowest zone in the Rockies don't even leaf out until the third week of May. The high glacial lakes of the Rockies are frozen until early June so you won't see the emerald and turquoise coloured water (the Maligne Lake boat cruises began operation in 2007 and 2008 around June 3/4); some of the access roads do not open until into June (Mt. Edith Cavell road in Jasper NP for one). Some hiking trails in the sub-alpine and alpine are still snowbound in May.

One more thing - there is a holiday weekend in Canada in May that you should be aware of - the 3rd Monday of May (May 18 in 2009). The resort areas will be busy, so book ahead for sure for then.
krp329 is offline  
Oct 30th, 2008, 07:01 AM
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Another vote for starting in Vancouver and I live in Calgary. The third week in May is iffy weather-wise. It could be gorgeous but we could also have snow. That goes double for the mountains.

I like to visit my friends in Vancover during April or May because of the much earlier spring/summer weather.
ShelliDawn is offline  
Oct 31st, 2008, 02:32 AM
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Northwest Male, Krp 329, ShelliDawn.
I thank you very much for your useful contribution.
Following your advices, we shall delay our trip and rather travel to Western Canada in June.
We actually had decided to travel earlier as we do not want to be in crowds as it seems to be the case for july and august.
Hope June will be all right

Merci beaucoup encore, i'll revert to you when coming to where to sleee and what to do....
Eze is offline  
Oct 31st, 2008, 02:42 PM
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You should take into consideration that some nice side roads are still closed within the Rocky Mountains (end of May, beginning of June), some lake can still be frozen and the mountain peaks will be snow covered & high elevation trails are closed.

West Canada has recently experienced unstable spring weather conditions with a wide mix of different weather conditions (snow, sun, hot, cold, thunder storms ...).

The good thing is that you can watch wildlife more easily and you will love the Rocky Mountains.

But I would also recommend starting the tour in Vancouver. This will put you into the chance, that the snow and frost will disappear into higher elevations and more attractions are accessible.

The good thing is that you have the chance to see wildlife more easily during spring and you will love the Rocky Mountains.

I can also recommend visiting Vancouver Island. We saw nice spring flowers beginning of June on Vancouver Island.
tom22 is offline  
Oct 31st, 2008, 03:14 PM
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Spring flowers are in bloom as early as February and March on Vancouver Island and around Vancouver.
Carmanah is offline  
Dec 27th, 2008, 11:33 PM
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After having read tons of info on various topics such as transportation, weather, accomodations and so on, we have decided to change our plans.

We'll fly into Calgary, last week of august. Rent a car at airport and visit Rockies, drop off car in Calgary airport. Fly into Comox to reach Port Hardy. Bear and whales (orcas ?) watching (two or three days each) Rent a car and drive south visiting Vancouver Island. Drop off car in Nanaimo and ferry to Vancouver, fly back to Nice (Air Canada, Lufthansa, KLM, NWA, BA ?)
Trip duration : no idea but would think of a three weeks duration.

Please what are your suggestions on any of these points ? Specially bear and whales watching.
Thanks again for your time.
Eze is offline  
Dec 28th, 2008, 05:34 AM
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We have been to the Rockies during that time. I think it is a much better time to visit than May. You still have to plan for some cold weather--it did snow one day when we were there, another day we were in short sleeved shirts.

I had great luck finding lodging using We made most of our reservations in March but I actually changed our reservations in Banff several times right before we left--they were offering many September hotel deals this year. What is your budget for lodging?--there are several luxurious lodgings. We tried to stay under 200CAD but I can recommend more luxurious accommodations.

Cars seem expensive in Calgary but we found a good rate using We have also used Priceline here--I don't know if that option is available for Europeans.

You don't mention if you are hikers, but even if you aren't, there are some easy hikes I think you should do.

Here's a suggested itinerary for your Rockies portion--we have not been to Vancouver. I think the minimum time spent here should be 10 days but if you click on my name you will see how we did it in a week.

Arrive Calgary--depending on arrival time, stay by the airport or drive to Banff/Lake Louise. People enjoy Calgary but we have never had the time to stay there.

Spend 2-3 nts in Banff or Lake Louise. We stay in Lake Louise because it is closer to the trails we enjoy. If you prefer having a town atmosphere and better restaurants, you may prefer Banff. They are only 30 minutes apart. Lake Louise has no town--which seems really strange to me.

Spend a day driving the Icefields Parkway--fabulous, fabulous drive--lots of wonderful stops. Pick up a picnic lunch and eat along the way.

Spend 2-3 nts in Jasper. Many more wildlife sightings here, walk to the glacier, walk Maligne Canyon, drive out to Maligne Lake

Drive back down the Icefields Parkway--stop at different waterfalls and overlooks, picnic along a lake. Also guarantees you get to see the sights. We drove this one year in fog---didn't see a mountain---talk about disappointing.

Spend 1 or 2 nts in Banff/LL--drive back to Calgary for flight.
LindainOhio is offline  
Dec 28th, 2008, 09:27 AM
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Linda, may i thank you for the time spent answering my message and your answers.
I know Kayak for flights but i never checked their accomodation suggestions, i'll do it. By the way, CAD 200 could be an average daily "budget" as far lodging is concerned, specially if euro continue to rise, what i am expecting during 2009.
Yes, i would be interested in you recos re more luxurious accomodations. I have had a glance to Fairmont chain, in Banff and Jasper and know, now, that Canada also have this type of hotels (expensive ones) we have where i live...

I have checked car rental sites on the net. Prices are rather affordable, no worry on this side.

Yes, we are hikers. For your guidance, we walked 1000 miles joining our home (french/italian border, close to Monaco) to Santiago de Compostela and the following year, roughly 500 miles to join San Sebastian (Spain) to Santiago de Compostela (2nd pilgrimage)following Camino del Norte. Last, end of october this year, we finished our pilgrimage to Roma, 540 miles. All by foot !
To be honest, we are used to walk "au long cours" rather than making short walks but i am really sure that we'll enjoy those day hikings you are suggesting.

Thanks very much, also, for suggested itinerary for the Rockies section of our trip. It will, definitly, be useful to us during the precise preparation period.

Happy new year !
Eze is offline  
Dec 28th, 2008, 10:13 AM
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August and early September is still "high season" in the Rockies, although the number of families travelling does thin out after the Labour Day long weekend (first Monday in September), after which the kiddies go back to school. Labour Day is a VERY busy time - be sure to book ahead for then.

Your budget of $200 per night is the starting point of hotel prices in Jasper and other resorts in the Alberta Rockies at that time of year - most mid range hotels will be a bit more, and then, add in taxes. (This is based on the last several years; if the economic slowdown affects tourism severely this coming summer, it is possible that rates may soften somewhat.) Banff does have a few budget hotels that are a bit less, or Canmore is also another option in that area. You can expect to pay more in Lake Louise. In Jasper there are only two older hotels with rooms starting at just under $200; the rest cost more, even for just a "standard" room. But another option in Jasper is private home accommodation - rooms or suites, often self-contained, in residents' homes, at about half (or less) the price of hotels -

Here are some more useful links - Jasper Tourism

Banff Lake Louise Tourism

Parks Canada

By the way, I am an avid hiker and have lived in Jasper for close to 30 years (and several years in Lake Louise before that) and would be happy to advise on day hikes in the area if you give distances and elevation gains that you are comfortable with. The "bible" of hiking guides for the Rockies is called "The Canadian Rockies Trail Guide" by Patton and Robinson, and it covers the Alberta & BC Rockies: Banff, Yoho, Kootenay, Jasper National parks, and adjoining provincial parks such as Mt. Assiniboine and Mt. Robson.
krp329 is offline  
Dec 29th, 2008, 04:33 AM
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Thank you krp 329 for your precise answer.
I'll do my best to avoid to be in the Rockies during Labour day week end by advancing the date of our departure.

I have checked sites such as tripadvisor and found affordable hotels and BB. I will check the adresses you sent me.

I will not hesitate to contact you regarding hikes but i have to go into details as where to visit (and hike !)

If Lake Louise seems expensive, we shall stay in Banff or close to Banff, same for Jasper. We prefer to stay in the quietness of a small village, if any.

Thanks very much anyway for your answers.

Happpy new year !
Eze is offline  
Dec 30th, 2008, 05:40 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,477
I would also recommend the Patton hiking book--it is great. The area is really a hiker's paradise with fabulous hikes--I call them view hikes. I am not keen on hiking through the woods. I can do that in Ohio. I want panoramic mountain and lake vistas. Lots and lots of those.

One place you might consider, if money is no object and you can get reservations, is Lake O'Hara Lodge. They book up about a year in advance. Check out their website. It is out of our price range but is my dream lodge. If you do not stay there, you can make reservations to hike the area. Reservations are required to hike there. It is a limited access hiking area, you are bussed to the lake, and must make reservations exactly 3 months before your hiking date. The area is supposed to have fabulous hiking. We actually arranged a day hike here and had freezing pouring rain and only hiked about 1 1/2 hours--no visibility, we were soaked and freezing---the only day of our visit that we did not have picture perfect weather. We spent our time in the warming hut, and begged the bus driver to take us back down early--he didn't, even though the hut was packed with soaked hikers. The information is on the Yoho National Park website--sorry I am not posting the links.

On one of our visits to the area, we actually arrived on the US Labor Day weekend. We had only planned the trip about a month before we left and had difficulty finding lodging. We ended up staying at Emerald Lake Lodge, which so far, has been our absolute favorite place to stay. Some reviews on Trip Advisor have not been favorable but we loved it there. We stopped there for lunch on our last visit--the location is unbelievable. We only paid 200CAD but I see they have greatly increased their rates.

The Fairmonts are all lovely. I personally do not like Chateau Lake Louise but the location on the lake is great. No offense, but a French Chateau in the Rockies seems so wrong to me--I want a lodge--and a balcony.
Moraine Lake Lodge looks fabulous. There are often Luxury Link packages available for Moraine and also Cathedral Mountain Lodge. I have bid on Luxury Link packages before. I call first to make sure they have availability for when we are visiting. There are also several very nice places listed for Vancouver on Luxury Link. see

We very much enjoyed staying at Paradise Lodge and Bungalows in Lake Louise. We had the least expensive cabins but some of the cabins with decks have fabulous views out the back of the property. The cabins are close to the street but the property is very well cared for and the continental breakfast was much better than we expected. Great location. My husband jogged down to the Chateau.

In Jasper, we wanted to stay at Alpine Village, but they had a 3 nt minimum. We were only staying 2 nts. We ended up at Patricia Lake, in their very basic but well maintained cabins. They also have a more luxurious area called the Grove--very new, upscale cabins. We loved it here--spent our Happy Hours on the dock watching the sunset.

In Banff, we got a last minute deal at the Post Hotel--lovely upscale hotel by the gondola (not downtown). Our rooms were lovely (appeared to have been recently updated)and the view from our window was beautiful.

Have fun planning.
LindainOhio is offline  

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