Notices

Canadian Rockies Trip Report:

Old Sep 18th, 2008, 04:39 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,477
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Canadian Rockies Trip Report:

We just returned from a fabulous visit to the Canadian Rockies. Last year, while hiking the Grand Canyon with our friends, my husband and I suggested a trip to Lake Louise/Jasper. We had hiked there in 2004 and really wanted to return. We try to find a new vacation destination each trip--there are so many places we haven't been to--but we were truly awed with the beauty of the mountains, lakes, canyons.

Two couples, were able to join us. My husband and I feel lucky to have such fun friends to travel with. You have to be really picky when choosing travelling companions--good friends don't necessarily make good travel buddies.

We flew into Calgary on Tues. 9/9, arriving at 11:30 p.m. and rented a minivan from Dollar--$156/week with $70 for the extra driver. We actually had 2 full size cars reserved for the 6 of us. They offered us the minivan for the same price. We made sure that the van would hold all our luggage--none of us packed light. This worked out so much better than 2 cars. I had worried that one car would be too crowded and I couldn't find a minivan under $550 for the week.

We drove 2 miles to the Sandman Calgary Airport Hotel. Prepaid reservation from Skoosh $132US inc. tax/7 day cancellation. I found this using www.kayak.com and worried because I had never heard of Skoosh. I googled Skoosh and found an MSNBC article noting it as a reputable travel site with good values.

I requested that our room not be on the ground floor since I had read some reviews on Tripadvisor that mentioned noise. We all had ground floor rooms--the hotel was sold out.

I would recommend this hotel. Good location, clean. We did not have any noise.

The next morning we were off to the mountains. Brilliant blue skies. We stopped in Banff for an early lunch at Coyote Cafe, stopped at the grocery store, bought beer and wine, and were off to Lake Louise.

What a welcome! We walk down to the lake from the parking lot and were greeted with the spectacular sight of Lake Louise in all her glory--it was a picture postcard day.

We headed for th Plain of Six Glaciers Trail, stopping along the way for pictures--beautiful trail. On our last visit, we did the Lake Agnes/Beehives/Six Glacier Trail loop. Great hike--hated climbing the Beehives, but the view was wonderful. We never got to Lake Agnes this year though---I love that spot and wanted our friend to see it. Just have to return someday.

We checked into Paradise Lodge and Bungalows. We had the smallest accommodations, the Wilson Cabins with their 3 nt. hiker special. Lake Louise is expensive--$227CAN/7 nt. cancellation. We loved it here, great location, wonderful view of the mountains out the back of property.

Happy hour and then dinner at the Outpost, the casual restaurant at the rear of the Post Hotel. Great atmosphere and very good dinners.

We love Lake Louise.
LindainOhio is offline  
Old Sep 18th, 2008, 12:02 PM
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,477
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thursday: Sunny and beautiful!!!!

When my husband and I visited in Sept. 2004 we had rain (and some snow)almost everyday. We are thrilled to see the blue skies again.

Paradise Lodge offers a very nice continental breakfast in the room they call the library. We met there every morning at 8:00. They had bagels, muffins, toast, jam coffee, tea, hot chocolate. There were small baskets available if you wished to take breakfast back to your cottage.

If you don't mind spending more for your lodging, some of the cottages with the decks had beautiful views looking out toward the mountains--this would have been a great place for breakfast and happy hours. We were very happy with the Wilson cabins though. The whole complex is very well maintained.

It was agreed that today we would take easy hikes since Friday we planned to hike the entire day at Lake O'Hara.

We drove up to Moraine Lake and were greeted with a helicopter delivering stairway slabs to the rockpile. There were barricades at the lake and rockpile--no tranquil vistas here. I approached a construction worker and asked if he knew of any other ways to get to the Consolation Lakes trailhead. He moved the barricade and let us go through---told us we shouldn't have to worry about seeing any bears--the helicopter was sure to have scared off any wildlife.

The rockpile entrance was barricaded but we continued on. The helicopter also moved on and we enjoyed the peace and quiet. The Consolation Lakes hike is only 1.8 miles long, goes through a forest and ends at a boulder strewn area along the lake--very easy hike. At the lake, we were surrounded by the mountains. We first heard and then were able to see avalanches on the tops of the mountains. A pesky ground squirrel begged for trail mix. We all took lots of pictures and then we headed back. By the time we returned, the barricades had been removed and we were able to go to the top of the rockpile. The view of Moraine Lake and the Valley of Ten Peaks is spectacular from here.

We headed out to Emerald Lake Lodge for lunch. We had stayed here on our last visit and it is my favorite lodging in the area. It has gotten very expensive though--we only paid $200CAN in 2004. It is about a half hour from Lake Louise--a beautiful, scenic drive. We planned on eating at Cilantros, bit it was closed so we ate at the Lodge. I had hoped for a piece of bumbleberry pie, but they didn't have it. Very good lunches.

We stopped at Takakkaw Falls. (Takakkaw means amazing and from this moment on, it became the most frequently used word of the week.)

Happy Hour and then dinner at the Station. The Station has a great rustic atmosphere but our meals were only ok.

Tomorrow: Lake O'Hara
LindainOhio is offline  
Old Sep 18th, 2008, 01:13 PM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,477
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Lake O'Hara--I have wanted to hike here ever since I discovered it our last visit. We called 3 months in advance at 8am, got 6 reservations on the bus and this morning was rainy and foggy--no visibility. Bummer.

After breakfast, we hoped for the best and picked up lunch. There are 3 places to get sandwiches--Laggans, the Trailhead Cafe and the very small grocery store--all at the shopping center. (Banff and Jasper have better grocery stores).

For those who have never visited Lake Louise, it is not a cute little ski town. It is really just a collection of lodgings with a few restaurants and a shopping center. This does surprise me. I always think there should be a town like Jasper here.

In the summer though I do prefer it to Banff. It is close to many hiking trails, Emerald Lake, and the Icefields Parkway. When we skiied, we stayed in Banff. Banff does offer much more in dining choices. It was not crowded last week but in the summer, Banff is crowded.

I was surprised at how few people were in the area last week. I remember last visit being surrounded by tour groups getting off busses. There were no crowds at Lake Louise, Moraine; no one was sitting on the benches in front of the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse; very few people on the trails.

We arrived at the bus stop at 10:00--all the stand-bys get on the 10:30 bus.(What are they thinking?)We got off the bus at Lake O'Hara, walked over to the shoreline--we knew there were mountains there somewhere. We started hiking in the rain, thunder,(at first I thought it was just an avalanche) lightning (or else someone took a flash picture of the avalanche). There is no visibility. We were all in agreement to abort this mission, and headed back to Le Relais to dry out, warmed up. We ate lunch and hoped for a break in the weather.

No break. Who forgot the deck of cards? We begged the bus driver, who was just hanging out in the snack bar,(Le Relais)to take the many lingering, drenched hikers back out before the 2:30 bus. No luck. They have to bring up 2 busses at 2:30.

I was so disappointed. This ended up being our only rainy day--really bad luck. Hope I don't have to wait 4 years to get back there.

After cleaning up, we drove into Banff. Banff is a great place to go when it rains. Last visit, we also enjoyed Johnston Canyon in the rain--it's mostly paved. We skipped the canyon this visit. I like Maligne Canyon in Jasper better.

We stopped at the Banff Springs Hotel. Beautiful, impressive hotel--we couldn't leave the Rockies without stopping there. My husband requested spaghetti, everyone agreed Italian sounded good, so we headed downton to find an Italian restaurant.

We enjoyed our meal at Giorgio's Trattoria, lovely restaurant, upscale Italian but no spaghetti.

Drove back to Lake Louise--still raining.

On to Jasper tomorrow. Would have been nice to have at least one more day in Lake Louise.
LindainOhio is offline  
Old Sep 18th, 2008, 01:54 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,477
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Saturday
We awoke to fog but could see blue skies. We hated to leave Paradise Lodge--we really enjoyed our stay there. After a stop for lunch supplies and gas we started driving the Icefields Parkway.

www.canadianrockies.net has a wonderful driving guide for the Parkway with stops and wildlife noted.

We entered the Parkway and the fog instantly lifted We drove the rest of the day with beautiful blue skies. The drive has so many photo ops; lots of stops.

We stopped at Bow Summit and Peyto Lake. From the parking lot, it is a short uphill walk to the overlook. The evergreen trees on this walk were all covered with snow and just sparkled in the sun. It looked like a winter wonderland. The view of Peyto Lake with the mountains and blue sky was amazing.

Lots more stopping and picture taking. We stopped at a roadside picnic table, made sandwiches and enjoyed lunch with the mountains all around.

Our next stop was the hike to Parker Ridge. I highly recommend this hike. The rain the day before had made the trail really muddy though. It is a switchback trail that goes above the treeline to an open ridge overlooking the Saskatchewan Glacier. It is definitely an "on top of the world" experience--and windy. Both times we hiked it, it was windy at the top. When you reach the top, head toward the left--you do get some relief from the wind as you walk a bit lower down the ridge. About 12 mountain goats ambled along the ridge, crossing the trail at the top.

Another stop at the Columbia Icefields Center and then, since it was getting late, on to Jasper. The other stops we would save for our return trip.

We checked into Patricia Lake Bungalows. We had the lakeside log cabin and a #2 and a #4 bungalow. These are in their older section. Patricia Lake also has some newly built, luxurious cabins in the Grove. Our older cabins though, had been updated, were very clean, with lovely flower boxes in the windows. The setting on Patricia Lake is really special. We met at the lake for Happy Hour and then headed into Jasper to see if the Ohio State Game would be showing on one of the TVs at the Jasper Brewery. Bad game at the end of a great day.
LindainOhio is offline  
Old Sep 18th, 2008, 03:29 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 2,832
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for posting this; we are headed for Banff and Jasper at the end of the month. Hope we are lucky with the weather!
azzure is offline  
Old Sep 18th, 2008, 04:33 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,477
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sunday
We met on the dock for coffee--beautiful morning, peaceful lake-- and then drove into Jasper for breakfast. Every time we drove Pyramid Lake Road, the road from Patricia Lake to Jasper, we encountered wildlife. Two black bears seemed to always be there and we also saw elk on this road. On our last visit, we saw large groups of elk, but this time we only saw them in groups of 2 or 3. We ate at the Soft Rock Cafe--the guys all enjoyed their skillet breakfasts.

We stopped at The Other Paw(same bakery as the Bear Paws but down the street) and got bread for sandwiches and cookies. They had sandwiches for sale at both bakeries, along with wonderful looking baked goods.

We drove over to Maligne Lake Road and stopped at the Fifth bridge parking area where we started our hike of Maligne Canyon. This is a great easy hike along a beautiful canyon.

We then continued on to Maligne Lake, ate lunch at a picnic table and then walked along the shoreline, taking some great pictures at the Narrows. This is another beautiful lake, nestled in the mountains. The scenery continued to impress and amaze us.

We drove back Maligne Lake Road and headed up Mount Edith Cavell, a winding switchback road that ends at Angel Glacier. We walked the Path of the Glacier and had planned to at least hike part of the Meadows Trail but it was getting late.

We drove back to Jasper, picked up 3 pizzas at Jasper Pizza and ate on the picnic table outside our cabin, watching the Cleveland Browns game on the flat screen TV inside the cabin.

After dinner, the girls took their glasses of wine, headed down to the dock and enjoyed the sunset. We returned to the cabin in time to see the Browns lose the game.

When we returned to Akron, we were to find that a tremendous windstorm was ripping through the city on this Sunday night. Schools were closed on Monday. We returned to find many of our neighbors without electricity. We still have a telephone pole and wires down next door to us. Luckily we have power.

LindainOhio is offline  
Old Sep 18th, 2008, 05:21 PM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,477
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Monday

Beautiful! Beautiful! Beautiful!
A high predicted of 28C--I'm sure that's over 70F. Inever knew what the temperatures were when we were in Canada--they were always close to or in the 20s(except for that one day that I try not to think about)

Our short trip to Jasper is ending and we hate to leave. We needed at least one more day here. Last night started mid season rates and we saw several people checking in. Our cabins including tax were $207CAN high season/ $147CAN mid season.

Coffee on the dock, breakfast at the Black Sheep. The Black Sheep was actually the sister restaurant to the Soft Rock--same exact menu--more skillet breakfasts.

We stopped this time at the Bear Paw and then on back down the Icefields Parkway. We stop at Athabasca Falls and then Sunwapta Falls, both worthwhile stops and beautiful falls.

We stopped at The trailhead for Wilcox Pass and hiked up to the meadows. Bighorn sheep were grazing and the views were great out over the Athabasca Glacier. There were hikers heading up Wilson Peak but we headed down after reaching the big rock.

We found the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide by Brian Patton and Bart Robinson to be very useful. It is a great hiking guide. We had purchased it at the Banff Information Center in 2004.

We continued on, enjoying the fabulous day, our warmest yet. We stopped along Waterfowl Lake and had lunch on a large flat rock, right on the shore, that served as a wonderful picnic table--great spot for a picnic.

This was to be our final night in Banff and we all hated the thought of leaving. What a fabulous vacation.

About a month ago, as I was checking hotel rates on Kayak, the Rimrock Resort came through at $190+tax $207US on hotels.com for a mountainview deluxe room. The standard rooms were $170. I changed our reservation and booked this. The Rimrock was a lovely, luxurious place to spend our last night. We ate dinner right there at the hotel. I must admit though, that the Happy Hour in the room didn't compare to our Happy Hour on the dock at Patricia Lake.

An amazing thing happened the next morning. Our flight home, which was a Continental Reward ticket had a horrible connection. We were to fly to Cleveland through Houston---that's right on the way to Ohio. Before we left home, I had checked to see if there were any other flights that day. There was a flight to Minneapolis that had available seating along with the Minn. to Cle flight. I asked the agent if we could switch to those flights and she said yes. I would write a letter to Continental but I am afraid she did something wrong and would get into trouble. It made sense to change us but I know that isn't enough of a reason for the airlines to switch us without charging $100 or just saying no. Thought I would share a nice airline story with you. All our flights were also early or on time so we felt really lucky.

The next morning, we packed up, enjoyed the wonderful view out our window and then I went for a short walk around the grounds, while my husband contacted his office. After almost having an elk walk right in front of the car on the drive up to the Rimrock, I was very alert as I walked on the trails around the hotel. There is another great view from the pool deck.

It would have been easier to leave if it had been raining. We drove to the airport, arriving 2 hors before our flight. There was quite a line to get through customs but it is nice to do that in Calgary. We ate lunch and then boarded the plane.

I knew this trip was too short but it still ranks as one of my favorite vacations.
LindainOhio is offline  
Old Sep 18th, 2008, 05:51 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,477
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I was noticing on one of our receipts. We bought about 40 liters of gas at $1.44/L for a total of $58.24. That's just a bit over 10 gallons. Canadians are paying more for gas than we are.
LindainOhio is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2008, 05:47 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 2,149
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Nice report, Linda, thanks for sharing.

Gas here in Ontario was about $1.39 a litre last weekend but is down to $1.13 today.

I don't understand why it's more expensive in Alberta where they have some much of it but it's sent to the US for refining and sent back, I THINK which makes no sense to me but someone else can perhaps explain.

Anyway, I'm glad I don't drive.
SallyCanuck is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2008, 06:41 AM
  #10  
mms
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,533
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Linda--Thank you for sharing Sounds like a great trip! We have been to Banff/Lake Louise several times. I love the Lake Agnes/BigBeehive/Plain of Six Glaciers hike. The first time we went was on our honeymoon years ago and it was mid September and we too found it not crowded at all. After that it has been in the summers due to the kids school schedules, and while that is nice, it is much more crowded. Lucky you this time!
mms is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2008, 08:07 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,034
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great report - thanks for posting. Sounds like a terrific trip. I haven't read every day yet, but I will. And, the hiking and dining info will be a big help for our Aug. 2009 trip.
fun4all4 is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2008, 10:55 AM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,477
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Other restaurant recommendations I had in my file:

Lake Louise
The Post Hotel's fine dining restaurant is rated the best restaurant in Lake Louise. We enjoyed the casual restaurant there-the Outpost Pub

In 2004 we enjoyed breakfast and dinner at Baker Creek where we stayed.

The Truffle Pig in Field has moved to the Kicking Horse Resort


Jasper
Many recommend Evil Dave's--upscale dining and Andy's Bistro

Banff
Restaurants with a view:

Cilantro on Tunnel Mountain Road has a garden patio

Bison Bistro-Bear St. downtown

Rundle Lounge at the Banff Springs-great place for a drink and appetizer

Trip advisor recommends:
Grizzly House-specializes in hot rock fondue

Buffalo Mountain House 211 Bear St. (their General Store has good lunch)

St. James Gate Irish Pub--we spent a rainy afternoon here in 2004



LindainOhio is offline  
Old Sep 19th, 2008, 12:17 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 963
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you were purchasing your gas in the parks, you pay more than if you were in Calgary or other large centers.

Last week in Calgary gas went up to $1.35ish but not $1.44. We're down to $1.16 - $1.20 today.

This summer I was in Jasper and the price was $1.35 when in Calgary it was $1.15ish.
ShelliDawn is offline  
Old Sep 20th, 2008, 09:02 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 593
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Gas is always more expensive in Jasper - and not just compared to the cities. Hinton, one hour east of Jasper, is always at least four cents per litre cheaper, and sometimes much more.
krp329 is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2009, 09:28 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 4
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks so much for posting this! It's just what I was looking for! We are also planning a 7 day trip this fall from Sep 5-12. I've heard a Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper 7 day itinerary is a little too much, but I see it can be done! Sounds like a fabulous trip! Thanks for posting hotel, restaurant and cost info! Great job!
ldnurse is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2009, 03:53 AM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,477
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
When we only visit for a week, I prefer to stay in one location but this is actually the second time we split our week and stayed in both Lake Louise and Jasper. We love Jasper and the drive up the Icefields Parkway. I would love to visit for a couple of weeks but our schedules just don't give us that luxury. Are you hikers?
LindainOhio is offline  
Old Jun 7th, 2010, 11:07 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Linda, I am glad to read your trip report! My husband, son and I are driving from Kansas to Banff and Jasper for a ten day vacation. It has been so hard to decide where to go and what to do, especially since we have never been to Canada. We are arriving in Banff on July 19th and are staying there two nights, to rest up and get groceries (and a bottle of wine!). We are then headed to Lake Louise for 4 days and are staying at the Paradise Lodge. We wanted to do the Lake O'hara hike, but when I called in April, they said they were full up. I could spring for a guided hike, but they want $300.00 for the three of us and I am unsure if it would be worth it, even though I have heard nothing short of spectacular reviews of this area. Mostly we are just going to hike. We are then driving to Jasper for 4 nights at the Alpine Village. I want to take the boat to Spirit Island at Maligne Lake; did you do that, and if you did, how was it? Any other thoughts or ideas for these two areas would be very helpful. A couple of questions I have are: Should we bring mostly cash and do a currency exchange? Where would we do that? Where is the best place to buy groceries? Would Banff work for that? Did you ride any gondolas, and if so, which one did you like the best? I also thought about renting a canoe at a lake for fun, or possibly a river rafting trip. Any suggestions would be wonderful. We are excited to see the ice-field parkway and area big wildlife fans. I also love photography and am looking forward to the wild flowers! Thanks, Cindy
cjamison is offline  
Old Jun 7th, 2010, 04:13 PM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,477
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Banff will be nice--it is only about 40 minutes from Lake Louise. We prefer Lake Louise in the summer because it is closer to the hikes we enjoy. We enjoy the hike to the Lake Agnes Tea House--that is not on my trip report. The previous trip we did the loop---Lake Agnes, the Beehives and then down to the Plain of Six Glaciers--it's a long hike. The Brian Patterson Canadian Rockies Trail Guide is a very good hiking book.

We used credit cards and the ATM. We didn't bring a lot of cash.

You can also just show up in the morning for Lake O'Hara--sometimes there is space on the bus. If not head to Emerald Lake, Takkakaw Falls, or back to Lake Louise to hike.

We love the Parker Ridge hike on the Icefields Parkway--when you get to the top, head straight ahead and to the left for a fabulous view from the ridge.

We stopped in Banff and bought groceries. We also stopped in the little stores in Lake Louise and Jasper for lunch stuff.

We also head into Banff when it rains. There isn't really a town in Lake Louise

We are skiers so we tend to not take the gondolas in the summer.

We have never taken the boat out to Spirit Island but we love walking along the shore of Maligne Lake. A lot of peopel seem to take it.

Renting a canoe would be enjoyable--we always run out of time.

I love Alpine Village but they had a 3 nt minimum and we only stayed 2 nts. Happy hour on the deck at Patricia Lake is a great memory though--and that place is really inexpensive--not as luxurious as Alpine Village.

We loved Paradise Lodge--we had the cheapest cabin--be sure to walk to ward the back of the property--there is a very nice view behind the cabins. Very nice breakfast included in the morning.
LindainOhio is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2010, 01:50 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks Linda, I appreciate all you advice, we can't wait until we get there! Cindy
cjamison is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2010, 08:31 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 88
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
A nice hike is to take the Sunshine Ski Gondola up to the ski area and then hike around Sunshine Meadows...which are located on the Continental Divide. Superb scenery, a good chance of spotting wildlife and, if early in the season, meadows loaded with wildflowers.
Tootsall is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO