Confirm Rocky Mountain itinerary

Old Sep 25th, 2006, 09:55 PM
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Confirm Rocky Mountain itinerary

I researched this site a couple of years ago to help plan our Rocky Mountain trip and since then have had to postpone a couple of times due to family emergencies/work/ school, etc. Everyone was so helpful and I'm again needing some tips. However, I've had to shorten our trip to only 5 days, and we are having to leave immediately or our previously purchased tickets will expire.
1. Now, since it's a shorter trip, I need help on what to definitely see, and what I can save for a future date

2. Weather -wise, what can we expect? We are from L.A. and not used to cold weather at all, plus due to health conditions, experience aches and pains from cold. I checked weather channel and it reported about 54degrees(farenheit) high in the day and 30's at night, which is cold for us, so what should we pack? Is there still enough sunshine to really observe Lake Moraine, etc. at it's spectacular best?

JUst to give you an idea, of our (my husband and myself) fitness level and what we're capable of:
-Not fit, tire easily, but would love to enjoy some beautiful scenery, and short (20 min) easy walks.
-Have my six year old with us( should I bring the umbrella stroller) or would that be useless on trails) and my 19 year old daughter.

-We don't like long drives, and too hectic a pace and generally do things slowly, (takes us time to get started in the mornings , as well, Also, health issues prevent anything but mild, easy walks.
(sounds like we're ancient , doesn't it, but we're not, in our 40's)

-I don't want everything to be a blur, just running around, but would like to soak in the place

-I'm hoping accomodations at this last minute won't be a problem since it's shoulder season.
We generally like very clean places, better to upscale, but don't want to spend $500 a night, or even $300(checked Fairmont Banff for those dates), every night.
I was thinking maybe on the last night, Oct. 1 to stay at Banff Fairmont as a splurge, and the rest of the nights, something less extravagant, but nice. We prefer newer accomodations vs.atmospheric and old just because of cleanliness, size of rooms, etc. I prefer to get my scenery and atmosphere from the outdoors.

-We are arriving Sep.28,4:30 pm in Calgary , and departing Oct.2, 4:00 pm. So, I was thinking of staying in Canmore on the 28th, or should we drive out to Banff(mapquest says its another half hour)? I'm thinking we should see the L.L. area on Day 2, oct 29, but rather than drive out there on day1,sep28(mapquest says 2 hrs.15 minutes), and tire ourselves and my younger one by sleeping late that night, stay in Canmore or Banff. I thought we should do Banff on the last day, and since we'll have till about 11:30 a.m. on that last day Oct.2, roam around town that morning. ( we need time to return our rental car as well)

I looked at Judy's proposed 4 day itinerary and adapted it to my needs. The 5 day one to Jasper would just involve too much driving time for us in that short a time.
Here is what I came up with:

Day 1 Sep.28 - Arrive in Calgary from L.A. at 4:30. Knowig us , we will already be tired. ( I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome ) , but we thought we'd drive to Canmore and stay the night there, so that we'd have less driving time than driving to Johnston Falls the next day or even that same evening as Judy's itinerary proposed .(if I remember correctly)
NIght 1- Canmore- Where?

Day 2 Sep.29- Drive straight to Moraine Lake(when does rd. close?), Lake louise,Takkakaw Falls, Emerald Lake, along with stops Judy has mentioned.
Night 2- Field or Lake Louise?

Day3- Sep30 - Drive the Parkway. I would love to see all the proposed stops, but I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to handle 6-7 hrs of driving one way. We would like to be back by 6:30 at our night destination, back in Banff or Lake Louise of Field, so can we fit in Peyto Lake, Columbia Icefields along with snowcoach on glacier AND Sunwapta Falls ( and do it without it being exhausting and hectic? We are not trying to do marathon sightseeing, but would really like to see fewer places, but enjoy them.)
NIght 3 - Lake Louise, Field or Banff?

Day4- JOhnstonCnyon Falls(while we still have some energy in the am), Minnewanka Loop( Is this the same drive as Tunnel Mtn. RD. and the carpark viewfrom above Bow Falls and Fairmont Banff Springs, Drive to Hoodoos, Drive by Vermillion Lakes?) Gondola Ride
Night 4- Banff (Possibly Fairmont )

Day 5- Stroll town centre and enjoy hotel. Leave about 11:30 for rental car return and 4:00pm flight.

What do you think? I would really love to get your feedback and make some hotel reservations tonight. Thanks in advance.
P.S . Also can I possibly add 2 Jacks Lake, Stewart Canyon, Lake Minnewanka, or Cave and Basin?

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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 10:20 AM
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If I were you and following your proposed itinerary, I would spend the whole time in Lake Louise or Banff. I wouldn't change hotels. If you get tired easily, make things simpler.

We enjoyed Baker Creek Chalets and they do have a 2br. Their offseason rate is $180 for the 2br. We stayed in a Jacuzzi Suite which was very nice and was a newer built unit. Perhaps you can call Baker Creek and ask what they suggest.

There are a lot of hotels in Banff, where I am sure you could get a very good offseason rate. It is nice to be in Banff when you are travelling with children--lots of restaurants and shops and it's not that busy toward the end of Sept.

It will be cold in the mountains. We had a dusting of snow when we visited the first week of Sept. You also want to be prepared for rain--you never know.

Judy's website is very detailed--just follow her suggestions and you will have an enjoyable trip. There are many spectacular sights that you can see right from your car---This is the reason you will see Senior citizen bus trips. Great scenery even if you don't hike.
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 12:56 PM
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Thanks LindainOHio for the tips. Judy also suggested Baker Creek and I'm going to start making some calls. Will file a trip report when I get back for those of us who are not as active(but would like to be). If anyone knows about how far we would be able to drive out on the Parkway,given time our time boundaries, please let me know. Also, about any road closures, and if the driving loop I'm talking about is the same as the Minnewanka.
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 02:21 PM
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1000places - no, the Minnewanka Loop is NOT the same as the Tunnel Mountain Rd. The Minnewanka Loop is away from the town of Banff, while the Tunnel Mtn Rd is toward Banff. It is, however, the same exit off the highway - just turn different directions. We did a portion of the Minnewanka Loop - went to the lake and then back the same way - rather than do the whole loop. Tunnel Mtn Rd takes you to the Hoodoos viewpoint, and then into town. If you take the Tunnel Mtn Drive turnoff from Tunnel Mtn Rd, it takes you to the viewpoint overlooking the Bow River and the Banff Springs Hotel (on the other side of the river). There is also a carpark/parking lot nearer the Banff Springs Hotel (same side of the river as the hotel) that gives you a better view of the falls themselves, and you can walk down to the river edge, and/or walk up above the falls on a paved trail.

We stayed at the Banff Springs for 2 nights 2 different trips - the deluxe view rooms give you a great view of the river and falls. Not inexpensive, by any stretch, but a great indulgence.

Enjoy your trip! It is wonderful just being in the area and in the beautiful outdoors in the Rockies!
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 07:44 PM
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I have a couple of observations on this subject developed after quite a few visits to the area.

Given that you have a total of 4 people, why not opt for one of the apartments in Field that has two bed rooms? There are several.

Field is not that far from Lake Louise, something like 15 miles from the lake itself. The drive over Kicking Horse Pass is not that bad at all and usually scenic.

Two of the first three listings are for 2 bed-room accommodations.

I have used Spiral Tunnels in the past, but it is better set up for 2 people.
But it is the best place I can think of out that way with its comfy king bed and huge bathroom.

As for worrying about a schedule, my suggestion is to have a long list, rank ordered if possible, and go as the spirit moves you. If you are visiting something beautiful and interesting, linger and enjoy it.

If it does not attract you, move on to something else. There is a lot out there to see, and you don't have enough time to see it all.

I don't think you can go wrong with most of it, and you can be rewarded highly by some of the memorable views.

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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 10:36 PM
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Dear Bob,
Thanks for the suggestion. It was from a previous post from you that I got the idea to stay in Field as a possibility. Are these apartments kept up well and are they in "spiffy",condition? Not looking shabby or old at all? (Not to be annoying, but that is important to me) .Also, will this extend the drive time getting to the icefields? If so, by how much?
Since this is basically the day before I leave, I probably should decide tonight. That's another factor weighing in. If you happen to see this tonight, please respond. Thanks!
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Old Sep 29th, 2006, 10:46 AM
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I can speak for two of them.
Spiral Tunnels and Mt. Stephens Guesthouse. Both were clean.

Spiral Tunnels three years ago was first class. If Carla Gaffney still runs the place, she is a good hostess. The apartment is on the ground floor of her home.

Because there were only two of us, we never asked if the two sofas in the living room pulled out into beds. I really do not know.

Carla's place is very popular I might add. I tried two years ago to stay there and could not because as early as May the month of August was sold, 100%.

We did not go there this year, opting for Switzerland instead.

I have not stayed in any other Field apartments in the last 5 years.

My general view is that sanitation is not a problem, but these places are individually owned.

as for weather in the summer, it can vary. If you are there in July or August, I doubt if there will be any extremes. But, one year at Lake O'Hara on August 28, we hiked in 4 inches of snow. The weather was not particularly cold. The warden went out on patrol with a beat up umbrella, short sleeves, and no hat.

Most of the trails are not suitable for strollers. I think you could get close to Takkakaw Falls. The trail to Peyto Lake is paved because of the huge number of people who tromp out there. The viewpoint near Chateau Lake Louise is paved as are the parking lots.

You can get close to Athabasca Falls on paved walkways.

Not having gone out there with a stroller, I don't remember any other areas like that.

The Plain of Six Glaciers trail would not be stroller friendly. It ascends 1,000 feet from Lake Louise to the end of the trail over 3 miles, with some bumpy places.

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