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ce0120 Apr 5th, 2005 09:58 AM

Help with Itinerary
My wife and I are considering a Banff vacation. We only have 5 nites and will fly in and out of Calgary. We enjoy nice accommodations but not the Ritz. Kinda upper middle I suppose. Also, we enjoy hiking, being outside, white water rafting, etc... Any suppestions you could make for a good itinerary and/or places to stay would be very appreciated. We would be coming July 1 - 6.
Thank you in advance

brookwood Apr 5th, 2005 11:12 AM

I don't have any suggestions about places to stay, but yu will find that 5 nights will go quickly.

If you like to hike, I think the one I would recommend is at Lake Louise. Take the trail that goes to the teahouse at the far end of the valley. It is sometimes called the Plain of Six Glaciers. If you add on the Beehive extension, you will have a full day of it.

Another gorgeous walk is Johnston Canyon. It is often crowded, so if you go, I suggest very early in the day. I have tried to hike it in the last year or so and both times the parking lot was so full that people were waiting for someone to pull out.

The trails around Moraine Lake are also lovely. A view of the lake itself is in credible.

If you don't mind a little steep upgrades, the Saddleback - Fairview mountain trail leads to incredible views. Sensational in fact.

A drive north along the Icefields Parkway is a must. I suggest driving as far as you can to see all the glorious sights along that road.

If you stop at Peyto Lake, be prepared for the tour bus mobs, but if you turn left at the viewpoint and continue up the trail to the meadows above the lake, you will find a little more solitude.

If you cross over into Kooteney Park at Castle Junction, the view from the road up to the crest of the pass is nice.
The trail to Stanley Glacier (actually the remnants now) is pleasant. Once you get to the basin, the trail becomes difuse. I think you can pick a route to go deeper and higher without much trouble.

There are also a wide variety of hikes near Banff. I highly recommend a book entitled The Canadian Rockies Trail Guide by Brian Patton and Bart Robinson. The authors have literally grown old maintaining their classic book, which is now in its 7th edition.

I think you can read that book and get more ideas for hikes than you will carry out in a lifetime.

I know I have followed several of their recommendations and only scratched the surface. The book is easily found in Banff, and an hour or so of reading it will give you more ideas than you can carry out this trip.

Judy_in_Calgary Apr 5th, 2005 11:21 AM

Hello ce0120,

Brookwood has given you great suggestions. He is absolutely correct that you would not even be able to carry out all of his suggestions in the Banff - Lake Louise area. I know from his previous posts that he also is a fan of Yoho National Park, just to the west of Lake Louise.

Something that he has not mentioned, and that you may be able to squeeze in, if you keep up a busy pace, is Jasper. You could consider this itinerary.

Day 1 - Land in Calgary. Drive to Jasper (5 hours).

This may be a challenge if you've flown from the east coast of the United States, and have been up since early in the morning. If you're doing the drive in summer, however, you will be assisted by the fact that we have many hours of daylight.

If you landed in Calgary at, say, 2 pm, you should be able to get on the road at 3 pm. You could dine in Lake Louise at, say, 6 pm. Even if dinner lengthens your trip by an hour, you could be in Jasper by 9 pm. The sun will set at 10.05 pm.

If you could get this long drive out of the way at the beginning of your trip, it would help you to optimize the use of your remaining time.

Overnight in Jasper townsite. Becker's Chalets is a highly recommended property outside of Jasper townsite, and one of the favourites on this forum. However, it's not the only place to stay in Jasper, so feel free to do more research.

If the idea of driving to Jasper sounds like too much for you, you could drive only as far as Canmore (1-1/2 hours from Calgary Airport) or Banff (1-3/4 hours from Calgary Airport). Buffalo Mountain Lodge in Banff is very nice.

Day 2 - Explore Jasper's environs. You could spend the morning doing the Angel Glacier / Cavell Meadows hike and the afternoon walking in Maligne Canyon.

Day 3 - Drive the Icefields Parkway to Lake Louise. You will be retracing your steps along the same route that you used to reach Jasper. However, the scenery looks different when you view it from the opposite direction, so have no fear that the trip will feel repetitive.

Stop to see Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls, and Peyto Lake. Consider riding a Snocoach on the Athabasca Glacier at the Columbia Icefields.

Overnight in Lake Louise or Banff townsite. Banff is the larger town (7,000+), and it has more of a "buzz" (pubs, etc.). Lake Louise is a small village (1,000), but it's in the heart of some premium hiking and white water rafting country, in my opinion. If your main agenda is the outdoors, I do recommend spending a couple of nights in LL.

Nice properties in the Lake Louise area include Baker Creek Chalets and Paradise Lodge and Bungalows. Deer Lodge is a quaint, quirky hotel for which I have a soft spot.

Day 4 - Go white water rafting on the Kicking Horse River in Yoho National Park. (White water rafting also is available in Jasper, but it's tamer. If you go on the Kicking Horse River, you'll get some Class IV rapids.)

I think you should be able to squeeze in a look at Emerald Lake and Takakkaw Falls as well.

O/N in LL again.

Day 5 - Check out of your hotel. Visit Moraine Lake and, if you have not yet seen the lake of Lake Louise, do so on this day.

Be sure to go to Moraine Lake first so as to beat the tour buses to the parking lot.

You probably would have time for a half-day hike, either Larch Valley from Moraine Lake or Lake Agnes Teahouse or Plain of Six Glaciers from Lake Louise.

Then head for Banff townsite. This time take the Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy #1A), so as to get a perspective that is different from the TransCanada Highway (Hwy #1), which you will have driven on your way to Jasper. If you feel you have time (and if -- as Brookwood has warned -- you can find a spot in the parking lot !!! ), visit Johnston Canyon on the way. Walk at least until the Lower Falls, although the Upper Falls are even nicer. If you run out of time and/or energy to visit Johnston Canyon, you already will have seen the better canyon (in my opinion) when you visited Maligne Canyon just outside of Jasper, so don't worry about it. There are only so many hours in a day.

After that, go on to Banff townsite. Stroll through the town, and have dinner. The gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain is nice if you have the time and inclination.

Where you should spend the night depends on the time at which your flight departs on Day 6. If your flight departs in the morning, you will need to overnight in Calgary. If your flight departs at noon or later, you can spend your last night in the Banff townsite. As I said before, Buffalo Mountain Lodge is a very pleasant hotel.

If you overnight in Calgary, you can choose between a pleasant location that is less convenient with respect to the airport or one that does not have a charming view, but is close to the airport.

If you go for the more charming location, you could consider the Kensington Riverside Inn. It's a boutique hotel on the north bank of the Bow River, across from downtown. You probably will have dined in Banff already. If not, there are several pleasant restaurants in Kensington.

If you opt for convenience, you might consider the Greenwood Inn. It's in a commercial district that is home to big box stores (IKEA, Toys R Us, etc.). Although it lacks charm, the district is clean and safe. The Greenwood Inn itself is clean, comfortable and friendly, and from there it's a clear run to the airport.

What else to mention?

When you enter Banff National Park, there will be a toll booth where you will need to pay a national park entry fee to cover each day that you're in the national parks. Since there will be two of you, the fee will be CAD 14.00 per day. The same pass is valid for all national parks in Canada so, once you've paid and entered Banff National Park, you don't have to worry when you cross over into Jasper and Yoho National Parks.

The weather in the mountains is very fickle. During the day it can be hot, up to 90 deg F. But, by the same token, a cloud can roll in over you, and you can find yourself standing in a cool, wet drizzle within minutes. I have never known it to rain continuously throughout the day, however. Our more usual experience has been alternating sun and cloud.

Regardless of how hot it is during the day, it does cool off at night. A typical night time temperature is 45 deg F, but it sometimes does go down to around freezing point overnight.

The answer to the temperature swings is to pack layers and more layers. You need both summer and spring/fall clothing. If you are keen hikers, you probably know how useful a day pack is for carrying your camera, a rain jacket and a bottle of water.

All mountain restaurants are casual during the day, because practically everyone is tramping around in hiking boots. Moderately priced restaurants are casual at night too. Upscale restaurants require smart casual attire in the evenings.

July 1st will be the Canada Day public holiday. Tourist facilities will be open. The only effect on you will be that that date marks the beginning of the busy tourist season. You would be wise to make reservations ASAP.

Hope that helps.

Cascade Apr 8th, 2005 04:23 AM

Consult Frommer's Guide - we think the best of all ! And it tells you that there are places such as Revelstoke which rivals with the view but are much more relaxing. About our he writes "may well be the highlight of your trip (canoe triup included in rates, alpine meadow to drive in, wildlife, birdwatching, rafting, horseback riding, 900 years old trees, 3 hot springs all within a one hour range

Cascade Apr 8th, 2005 04:25 AM

Sorry, my reply went off before a could wish you "Bon Voyage" and sign.
Rene J Hueppi, Hon.D.phil. and Innkeeper

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