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Help needed for early June Canadian Rockies trip

Help needed for early June Canadian Rockies trip

Feb 19th, 2013, 03:54 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 120
Help needed for early June Canadian Rockies trip

We've had great vacations thanks to the suggestions of Fodorites, so I hope you can help us refine our plans. Our family of 4, including daughters in early 20s, are flying to Calgary for June 1-10 trip. Mostly, we want to hike and sight-see in Banff and Jasper NPs and want to relax by staying places several nights. An exception is that we are considering a side trip to Dinosaur Provincial Park and Spruce Meadows. Our suggested itinerary:

6/1: Arrive Calgary 11 am. Drive to Jasper. Stay 3 nights. I know there's plenty on the forum about hikes and must-do experiences, but I'm not thinking about that yet, and I know we'll have to be flexible depending on weather.
6/4: Drive back to Banff, giving us two chances to see Icefields Parkway in case one way is raining. Stay 4 nights to explore Banff/Lake Louise area.
6/8: Drive to Spruce Meadows and watch the show jumping. Then drive out toward Dinosaur PP for night.
6/9: Do dino hike/bus ride. Drive back to Calgary.
6/10 Flight home.

Any reactions to the above would be MUCH appreciated. Plus...

Where to stay? Esp. in Jasper and Banff, we want places with cooking facilities to keep restaurant expenses down. I saw a lot of recs for places like Patricia Lake Bungalows, Becker's Chalets, and Alpine Village in Jasper. Are those better than staying in one of the home accommodations in town? We've found that sometimes it's nice to be in a town and sometimes the town is nothing great. At least early June shouldn't be too crowded. Banff sounds like more of a destination than Jasper. Anyone have favorite places to stay around Banff?

Have people been to Dinosaur PP. Is it worth the drive? We thought it would be fun to see some different topography (badlands) and do a different kind of hike. Didn't think we'd have time to fit in the Drumheller museum, and this seemed more unusual. Or would it be better to stay longer in the Rockies?

Suggestions of where to stay in Calgary our last evening so we can get a taste of it? Or better to just stay at an airport hotel?

By the way, ideally we don't want to break the bank with lodgings--something in the $200 range max would be ideal, though the places people rave about may be more than that.

Thanks for any help you can give.
PortiaLucy is offline  
Feb 20th, 2013, 08:59 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 959
Dinosaur PP is one of my favourite places to go and I try to get out there at least once a summer as a day trip from Calgary.

The Lake Louise Hostel is very nice and of course has kitchen facilities. They do have family rooms that can be booked.

Any bookings for Banff/Jasper should be made sooner than later as you're arriving at the begining of "high" season.
ShelliDawn is offline  
Feb 21st, 2013, 07:08 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,477
I have not been to the Rockies that early in the season. I don't know how much snow they are getting this year and exactly when the lakes thaw but I am sure someone here will help with that. We skiied there in late March and there was a lot of snow. I would think the road to Moraine Lake would be open by then but there may still be snow on some of the higher trails.

I would probably stay the first 3 days in Banff or Lake Louise and then drive to Jasper. Your flight does not arrive until 11am. Pick up your car, drive to Banff, have lunch, stop for groceries etc. The icefields Parkway is spectacular. You want to allow the whole day to drive that and stop and possibly take a hike along the way.

We have stayed at Baker Creek, Paradise Lodge and once we got a great deal on Emerald Lake Lodge

Spend the next 2-3 nts Jasper
All the places you mentioned are very nice and we would also consider staying in town. We have stayed at Beckers and Patricia Lake

And then do the rest of the trip that you have planned. We have not been to those places. I think I would skip Calgary and just concentrate on the mountains.

You don't mention what time your flight departs but we just spent our last night in Banff at the Rimrock on a last minute special and then drove to the airport. We did spend a night at the Sandman Calgary Airport Hotel. It was fine.

I will post my trip report from a trip we took a few years ago. It may help you.
LindainOhio is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2013, 10:26 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 593
I think you will find that the home accommodations are a lot more economical, especially for four adults. You can expect to pay under $175 per night for a two-bedroom suite in a private home accommodation (PHA), and it would be substantially larger than the least expensive units at any of the commercial accommodations you listed - and don't forget that, unlike PHAs, their rates will have either 9% or 11% taxes on top of the quoted amount. (I'm not sure if all of them have cooking facilities, either.)

However, if you want a PHA with full kitchen facilities, you better book as soon as possible, since there are not that many of them. You can find them by using the search function on the Jasper Home Accommodation Association website: www.stayinjasper.com - full kitchen is one of the search criteria (vs. units that have a fridge and microwave).

As for town vs. out-of-town, and Jasper vs. Banff ... Jasper National Park (and town) gets half the number of visitors per year compared to Banff National Park (and town) - approx. 2 million vs. Banff's 4 million. Banff's (town) population is about 8000 people; Jasper is almost 5000, so yes, a bit smaller and a bit quieter... many people say it is less "touristy", "quaint" is also one adjective I often hear as well. Both, as resort towns, have a wide variety of accommodations, shops and restaurants; both are attractive towns (being in national parks means there are extra layers of regulations, red tape, and bureaucracy including architectural standards, etc.)

Staying out of town will give you a different experience, but unless you are staying at self-catering accommodation, makes it necessary to drive into town for meals (although some out-of-town accommodations do have an on-site restaurant). Since both towns are quite compact and walkable (and Banff has a local town transit system), staying in-town means you can park the car after sightseeing, stroll downtown to restaurants, shops, pubs etc. (The legal drinking age in Alberta is 18, so your kids are "of age".) It really depends on what type of experience you prefer.

As mentioned, the higher trails will still be snowy. The high glacial lakes, like Lake Louise, Maligne Lake, Moraine Lake, Bow Lake etc. usually become ice free sometime in the first few days of June, so you are likely to see some still ice-covered, others partially ice covered, and yet more ice-free with their coloured water in full glory.
krp329 is offline  
Feb 24th, 2013, 04:45 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 120
Thank you, everyone. This is all wonderfully helpful, though I'm not sure it makes the decision easier. Sounds like there are benefits to every option.
PortiaLucy is offline  

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