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Canadian Rockies Trip Advice for Oct 2018

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Sep 3rd, 2018, 06:28 PM
  #1
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Canadian Rockies Trip Advice for Oct 2018

Would love some advice on a potential last minute trip to Canadian Rockies in early October. We’d be looking at 9-10 days, probably Oct. 1 to Oct. 11 (or something like that). We know the weather will be iffy, but beyond that we have a few other questions. First, a bit about ourselves – we’re a couple in our fifties, enjoy hiking (preferably 2-5 miles or so per hike), scenery/wildlife, and cute/quaint towns, and as to accommodations, we prefer B&Bs, Inns, Boutique hotels over large resorts. Trip would include Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise, and Icefields Pkwy, and time permitting, Yoho, Kootenai, other. Any advice would be welcome, but a few specific questions include:
  1. Use Calgary or Spokane airports - We know Calgary is much closer, but we like scenic drives, and using Spokane might give us a broader perspective and more in the way of interesting small towns. We saw advice elsewhere suggesting a route that was essentially Spokane to Banff area to Jasper area, then back down thru Yoho, Golden, Revelstoke, Nelson, Metaline Falls, Spokane. Obviously a lot more driving, but sounded interesting. Thoughts?
  2. Thanksgiving weekend - We don’t yet have any accommodations booked – how big a problem is the holiday weekend? Our preferred accommodation types are noted above (and we’d like to stay below $200 U.S. per night), but we’re not above more mundane chain motels (Comfort Inn, Best Western, and the like) if necessary, as long as they’re clean.
  3. Post-Thanksgiving closures (roads, hiking trails, accommodations, restaurants) – How big a problem?
  4. Any particular B&Bs/Inns/Boutique hotels you’d recommend in Banff and Jasper areas?
Thanks very much!
curiousgirl964 is offline  
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Sep 4th, 2018, 11:39 AM
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1. I'd go for Calgary. The drive from Spokane is not that scenic, especially in early October when things tend to be going into 'winter mode' and you're adding a lot of car time into the mix, plus by October the weather can be less predictable. You'd also have to do it as a round trip - one way rentals are not an option across the border - which adds a ton of time.

Round trip from Calgary would give you enough time to explore more than just Jasper/Banff/Lake Louise - you could see a bit of BC or head south of Calgary to Waterton and/or sights down there (badlands etc).

Also a car rental from Spokane may be an issue because you will need M+S tires to go into BC, and it's unlikely they'd offer them there.

2. Definitely book ASAP. Up through Thanksgiving weekend, it's still very much high season in the Rockies and you're likely to find that options, especially in the cheaper range, are very limited. Weekdays may have more options, but weekends will be booked up with people heading out to see larches, do late season hikes etc.

Thanksgiving will be very busy in the mountains. Might be very hard to find anywhere in Jasper now, so I'd look in Banff or Canmore - or Lake Louise if there's still anything in your budget.

After Thanksgiving, it should be easy.


3. After October 8, seasonal roads and most seasonal attractions will shut. This means no access to Moraine Lake, Takkakaw Falls, Miette Hot Springs and a few other spots. As October proceeds, you also have a higher risk of hitting wintry weather. Attractions that will shut include boat tours, canoe rentals, horseback riding tours etc.

The other issue is that as of October 1, you will need to have at least M+S tires on your rental to drive into BC. This would be a specific request and cost extra. Unlikely to happen out of Spokane.

4. In Jasper, try private home accommodations - most economical and can be very nice. www.stayinjasper.com There are a variety of B&Bs in Banff and Canmore. Many of the Banff hotels tend to be run of the mill, mid range, so nothing special. Moose Hotel gets good reviews. Lake Louise, if you can find a room, would be more special - Deer Lodge or Post Hotel, for instance.

Overall, I would fly in and out of Calgary. I would go first to Canmore/Banff/Lake Louise and hit the sites before the seasonal roads shut. Allow 3-4 nights. After that, it will depend on availability for the holiday weekend. If you can find somewhere in Jasper, stay there for 3 nights (Fr, Sa, Sun). Then back down the Icefields Parkway. You could choose to head into BC for that time or stay around Calgary or southern AB. Or in Banff/Canmore again.
kgsneds is offline  
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Sep 5th, 2018, 07:54 PM
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Another option to consider would be to fly to Vancouver and take the ViaRail Canadian to Jasper. It only runs 3 days/week but you get great views of the Canadian Rockies without driving through them.
There are rental car agencies within walking distance of the Jasper train station. My stays in Jasper have been at the HI hostel.(either private room or dorm).
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Sep 6th, 2018, 12:07 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2013
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The train runs to the Rockies, so on the Vancouver-Jasper train you are only in the Rockies for about 1.5 - 2 hrs of the journey. Certainly other mountain ranges along the way. Also, you'd need to check the schedule as by October you might end up doing that part of the trip in the dark.

The Hi Hostels in the Rockies tend to be nice, but the one in Jasper is the only I do not recommend. Can't speak for the private rooms, but the building is old, and not in great repair. In fact, they are scheduled to open a new hostel next summer, so that building will be shut & torn down after this winter/spring season. The dorms are also large and have set timers on the lights. For a couple, I'd strongly suggest looking into PHAs - especially after Thanksgiving, availability and prices will be good.
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Sep 7th, 2018, 07:35 PM
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I have posted a blog for much (not all) of the trip from WA State - incl.Spokane- to the Canadian Rockies. Although it is focused on the trip in winter, it includes much about the summer gathered from my many trips in the area. Lee's Random Ramblings: Seattle to Alberta in Winter

Last edited by elbegewa; Sep 7th, 2018 at 07:36 PM. Reason: added info
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