Canadian Rockies Itinerary for May

Feb 1st, 2006, 12:48 PM
  #1  
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Canadian Rockies Itinerary for May

OK...I'm slowly narrowing down my itinerary. It's pretty ambitious but we generally cover a lot more ground in a day than most people.

Arrive Calgary 2:34 PM,May 19th. Pick up rental car and head to Drumheller and see the sites around the Dinosaur Trail Fri afternoon/evening. Go to Royal Tyrell Museum 9:00 AM Sat AM and then drive to
Kananaskis whenever we get done at the museum.

Spend a couple of nights in Canmore and check out Kananaskis, Banff and Johnson Canyon. Start up the Ice Fields Parkway and
overnight at Aurum Lodge. The moon is supposed to be only 15% and not rise until 3 AM so hopefully we'll get some clear skies so
we can see the stars there.

Back to Icefields Parkway and over to Jasper for 2 nights.

Head to Field or Lake Louise for 2 nights. Go rafting in Golden and check out Lake Lousie and YoHo.

Drive through Kootenay and Crowsnest Pass on the way to Waterton. Spends 2 nights somewhere around Waterton and hope to get lucky and hike Crypt Lake.

Check out Head-Smashed-In on the our way back to Calgary Airport check-in 1:15pm.

Is this last part doable? I'm not sure what the drive time is from Waterton to Calgary through that route or how long it would take to see Head-Smashed-In.

Also any ideas on drive time from Field to Waterton through Radium Hot Springs? Will I have enough time to stop and see any key sites in Kootenay on the way down to Waterton?

Thanks for any comments,
Marcia






mdod is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 01:14 PM
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>>>>>>Is this last part doable? I'm not sure what the drive time is from Waterton to Calgary through that route or how long it would take to see Head-Smashed-In.<<<<<<

Yes, I think so. Waterton to Calgary is 3 hours, not counting stops, if you drive up Hwy #2, which is a major divided highway. The route is flatter and less scenic than the Cowboy Trail (Hwy #22), which is further over to the west, in the foothills. However, you're not going to have the luxury of using Hwy #22 on this timeline.

Add half an hour to get to Head-Smashed-In from the point at which you have to turn west onto Provincial Secondary Route #785 to reach the Interpretive Centre. Add another half hour to do the same thing in reverse when your visit to the Interpretive Centre is finished. So add 1 extra hour in total for the return trip on that road.

Allow 2 hours to go through Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre.

Add 1 hour for lunch (anywhere but the Interpretive Centre's cafeteria -- it's an interesting museum, but its cafeteria is not its strong point).

So, by my count, you need to leave Waterton 7 hours before you report to the check-in counter. That means leaving Waterton at 6.15 a.m. That wouldn't be my idea of fun but, since you have an ambitious travel style, it may be acceptable to you.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 01:29 PM
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Oops, let me wipe the egg off my face. The Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre will open at 9.00 a.m.

Let me work backwards, and see how this can be done.

You need to arrive at the airport at 1.15 p.m.

Allow an hour for lunch on the way to the airport. You may have a quick bite somewhere, and you may not actually use an hour for lunch. But let's assume an hour anyway, just for contingencies. So that puts you back to 12.15 p.m.

It takes 2.5 hours to drive from Head-Smashed-In to Calgary. So you must leave Head-Smashed-In at 9.45 a.m.

But Head-Smashed-In only opens at 9.00 a.m. In my opinion it takes 2 hours to really do it justice. It's a much smaller museum than the Tyrrell. However, to appreciate what Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump has to offer, you have to do a lot more reading of the labels that explain the exhibits and you really ought to watch the movie. Ideally you should walk outside, amongst the landscape features that played a role in the buffalo hunt. I just cannot see that you would get your money's worth in 45 minutes.

If you skip Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, the compensation would be that you would be able to drive from Waterton to Calgary via the Cowboy Trail (Hwy #22). It would take you 4 hours (not counting stops) to drive from Waterton to Calgary via that route. If you add an hour for lunch, you'd need to leave Waterton at 8.15 a.m.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 01:42 PM
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>>>>>>Also any ideas on drive time from Field to Waterton through Radium Hot Springs? Will I have enough time to stop and see any key sites in Kootenay on the way down to Waterton?<<<<<<

The drive from Lake Louise to Waterton by the route that you're proposing takes about 7 hours, not counting stops.

Things that spring to mind en route from LL to Waterton include hikes in Kootenay National Park, unspoiled Lussier Hot Springs near Canal Flats, Fort Steel Historical Town just north of Cranbrook and Frank Slide Interpretive Centre in the Crowsnest Pass area. Fort Steele and Frank Slide each are worth some hours.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 02:12 PM
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I have driven from Field, through Kootenay to Waterton. From Radium Hot Springs south and then east is a slow road.
The highway on either side of Crow's Nest Pass is narrow, wiggly, and full of traffic. It took us almost all day to make the drive, and we did not stop much in Kootenay. I did not think the drive was all that scenic to be honest about it.

My preference is definitely for the route that takes Alberta 40 south to Longview and then south along Alberta 22 to Route 3 and from there through Pincher Creek to Waterton. I have driven it both ways and think it is preferable.

The part of the drive along route 40 is through the southern part of the peaks that form part of Banff. You see some very spectacular, glaciated peaks on that route.

If you wish, you can detour by Peter Lougheed Provincial Park for a look.
It is not much of a detour because the road goes right by the entrance.

My problem would be whether or not the route is open in late May because it is the highest paved motor road in all of Alberta.

As for Head Smashed In, I am ambivalent about it. We went last year, and the main attraction for us was that it was a special day at the Jump. Various Native American groups were there demonstrating dances. There was one young man who did a hoop dance that was one of the most dazzling exhibitions of agility, strenth, and coordination that I have ever seen.

Also in driving from Waterton to the site of the museum, be sure you check the roads. The most direct way involves driving on a dirt/gravel road. I learned how on dirt roads in my youth, but I am not sure how it would be in the early spring if the road machine has not yet groomed the surface.

The Royal Tyrrell Museum is worth infinitely more time than the Buffalo Jump. It is a classic, particularly for anyone who has some knowledge of palaeontology. If you have none, then bear in mind that the museum contains " ... the most remarkable fossil displays anywhere in the world, in Canada’s only institution devoted entirely to palaeontology." [From the museum's web site.]

You might want to view the web site to see if it appeals to you.

I have visited the museum twice, and hopefully will be able to repeat it in another year or so. The presentation changes some as the years go by.


bob_brown is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 03:58 PM
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>>>>>>My problem would be whether or not the route is open in late May because it is the highest paved motor road in all of Alberta.<<<<<<

Hi Bob,

Yes, that is a challenge. You can get into Kananaskis Country by driving down Hwy #40 about as far south as Kananaskis Lakes. However, the road over the Highwood Pass, which is to the south of that, is closed until June 15th.

>>>>>>As for Head Smashed In, I am ambivalent about it. We went last year, and the main attraction for us was that it was a special day at the Jump. Various Native American groups were there demonstrating dances. There was one young man who did a hoop dance that was one of the most dazzling exhibitions of agility, strenth, and coordination that I have ever seen.<<<<<<

I take your point about Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. Perhaps I should be more diligent about qualifying my recommendation of the Interpretive Centre. I have a particular interest in the lifestyles of hunter-gatherers. Although I find Head-Smashed-In interesting on its own, it's all the more interesting when I think of it in conjunction with other museums that I've seen that feature aboriginal lifestyles, including museums in Africa and Australia. In the case of Alberta and British Columbia, it's interesting to compare the lifestyles that the indigenous peoples of two contiguous provinces used to have. A person can appreciate this if they have visited Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump and the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver and/or the Royal BC Museum in Victoria.

>>>>>>Also in driving from Waterton to the site of the museum, be sure you check the roads. The most direct way involves driving on a dirt/gravel road. I learned how on dirt roads in my youth, but I am not sure how it would be in the early spring if the road machine has not yet groomed the surface.<<<<<<

Yes, that too is a good point. We drove the road in early May 2005. As it happened, the weather was clear and the condition of the road was good (albeit we had prior experience of driving on gravel roads). I agree that a person would need to take current conditions into consideration.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 05:24 PM
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Hm....7 hours is a long drive and it doesn't sound like I'd be missing out on anything spectacular if we didn't go the Kootenay route.

The "Moon Handbook" said, and Judy confirmed, that 40 by Highwodd Pass is closed until June 15th so that option is out ;-(. My friend had mentioned that the Cowboy Trail (22) to Crowsnest Pass is gorgeous. Any idea how long it would take to drive from Lake Louise to Waterton via Cochrane? I know we can stop at Frank Slide just after 22 hits 3, but are there scenic lookouts or short hikes along the way to break up the drive?

I have ordered "Parkways of the Canadian Rockies" and "The Canadian Rockies Trail guide" which I'm hoping will help me a lot with planning.
mdod is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 06:50 PM
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High Marcia,

Well you don't actually need to go to Cochrane, which is on Hwy 22, some miles north of the TransCanada Highway (Hwy #1).

What you could do is drive east along Hwy #1, past Banff and Canmore. When you get to the intersection with Hwy #22, turn south. You'll drive through Bragg Creek, Priddis, Turner Valley, Black Diamond, Longview. After Longview, keep going till you reach Hwy #3. Turn east onto Hwy #3 until the intersection with Hwy #6. Turn south onto Hwy #6 and drive through Pincher Creek and on down to Waterton Lakes National Park.

That route takes 5 hours (not counting stops).

Bragg Creek is a nice hamlet in which to stop for a coffee or a meal. It has a couple of cute craft stores.

Black Diamond and Longview also are rather quaint little towns.

Eight miles south of Longview is Bar U National Historic Site if you think it would grab you. I believe it usually opens the last Saturday of May, and that's the day you'd be driving, isn't it?

About half way between Longview and the intersection of Hwy #22 and Hwy #3, is Chain Lakes Provincial Park. If you feel like getting out somewhere and going for a walk, that would be a pleasant place to do it.

Just off Hwy #3, a short distance west of the intersection with Hwy #22, is Lundbreck Falls. These falls are pleasant enough, but not as good as Athabasca Falls and Sunwapta Falls on the Icefields Parkway IMO.

Oh, I just came across this web site by accident. I'd never seen it before. It has a map, descriptions and photos of the places to the south of Calgary, both along Hwy #22 and Hwy #2.

http://www.albertawebride.com/

Here's a good map of the Cowboy Trail. Click on the map till it enlarges.

http://www.thecowboytrail.com/map.jpg
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 07:23 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions new link Judy. Sounds like a good trade to me.

Marcia
mdod is offline  
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