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Holiday in Alberta and British Columbia, what should we pre-book?

Holiday in Alberta and British Columbia, what should we pre-book?

Jun 27th, 2006, 01:07 PM
  #1  
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Holiday in Alberta and British Columbia, what should we pre-book?

We are a group of four people, from England, who have spent a few months exploring this marvellous site to put together an itinerary for our holiday in September. We have finally set upon the followingbr /> 3 days in Vancouver.
2 days on the Rocky Mountaineer into Calgary.
3 days based in Banff.
3 days based in Jasper.
1 day driving to Kelowna.
1 day driving to the States, spending the night at Anacortes.
1 day in Victoria.
2 days in Vancouver.

There are certain things that we wish to fit into our trip which we would like to know if it is better to pre-book before we leave England, or to wait until we arrive and see what is available. The main things that I am talking about arebr />
During our time in Banff we have planned to visit the Yoho National Park and to carry on to Golden and go to experience the Kicking Horse Resort and the Eagle's Eye restaurant, should we pre-book an evening table at the restaurant?

During the trip from Banff to Jasper we would like to take a trip onto the Icefields on the Snocoach, should we pre-book this?

After our nights stay in Anacortes we will be taking the ferry to Sidney on Vancouver Island, should this be booked? Should we also pre-book the ferry trip from the island back to Vancouver for our final two days?

Whilst on the island we would like to take in a boat trip to see the Whales, is it advisable to book this prior to coming?
Lighthouse is offline  
Jun 27th, 2006, 02:13 PM
  #2  
 
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>>>>>>During our time in Banff we have planned to visit the Yoho National Park and to carry on to Golden and go to experience the Kicking Horse Resort and the Eagle's Eye restaurant, should we pre-book an evening table at the restaurant?<<<<<<

I don’t know if you should pre-book from the UK. I would have thought that the tourist crowds would have died down enough in September that you could book once you reached Banff. However, I’m not sure why you want to dine two hours from Banff. If it was my trip, I would lunch at the Eagle Eye rather than dine there.

>>>>>>During the trip from Banff to Jasper we would like to take a trip onto the Icefields on the Snocoach, should we pre-book this?<<<<<<<<

You cannot pre-book. The rides operate on a first-come-first-served basis.

>>>>>>After our nights stay in Anacortes we will be taking the ferry to Sidney on Vancouver Island, should this be booked?<<<<<<

I don’t know. However, I also am mystified by your reason for spending a night in Anacortes. Perhaps it’s so that you can go to Victoria by one route and return to the mainland by another. If it was my trip, I would go all the way from Kelowna to Victoria in one day, and then I would spend two nights in Victoria. Indeed, given the fact that you’ll have three days in Vancouver at the beginning of your trip, I might even spend three nights in Victoria.

You also should know that Jasper – Kelowna would be a rather long drive in one day. I don’t know if you’re planning to drive Jasper – Lake Louise – Revelstoke or Kelowna or Jasper – Clearwater – Kamloops – Kelowna. If it’s the former route, you could visit Yoho National Park and the Eagle Eye restaurant en route from Jasper to Kelowna, but in that case you would need to break the journey somewhere between Jasper and Kelowna. In fact Golden would be an acceptable place to break the journey. In that case, dining at the Eagle Eye restaurant would make pretty good sense.

>>>>>>Should we also pre-book the ferry trip from the island back to Vancouver for our final two days?<<<<<<

I guess it depends on which day of the week you’ll be riding the ferry. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are busiest. I’ve ridden the ferry on a mid-September weekend, and I was surprised at how busy it was. If it was my trip, I would like the extra level of comfort that I would get from a reservation. But everyone is comfortable with different levels of “winging it.”

>>>>>>Whilst on the island we would like to take in a boat trip to see the Whales, is it advisable to book this prior to coming?<<<<<

If it was my trip, I would pre-book this component.

Hope that helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 27th, 2006, 03:33 PM
  #3  
 
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>>>>>>You also should know that Jasper – Kelowna would be a rather long drive in one day. I don’t know if you’re planning to drive Jasper – Lake Louise – Revelstoke or Kelowna or Jasper – Clearwater – Kamloops – Kelowna. If it’s the former route, you could visit Yoho National Park and the Eagle Eye restaurant en route from Jasper to Kelowna, but in that case you would need to break the journey somewhere between Jasper and Kelowna. In fact Golden would be an acceptable place to break the journey. In that case, dining at the Eagle Eye restaurant would make pretty good sense.<<<<<<

Sorry, I typed the previous message in haste. In hindsight I can see that you are more likely to drive the Jasper - Clearwater - Kamloops - Kelowna route. If you drove the Jasper - Lake Louise - Golden - Revelstoke - Sicamous - Kelowna route, you'd repeat some of the journey that you'd done by train. I'm guessing you want to vary the ground you cover, so I'm guessing you won't retrace the steps that you took by train.

Jasper - Clearwater - Kamloops - Kelowna is about 7.5 hours, not counting stops. It would be nice to take a couple of hours to drive into Wells Gray Provincial Park from Clearwater to see Helmcken Falls. However, you also will gain an hour just west of Jasper, when you cross from the Mountain to the Pacific Time Zone. So, while it would make for a long-ish day, it would be feasible.

Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 27th, 2006, 10:39 PM
  #4  
 
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Hello,

I strongley recommend prebooking of accommodation for Jasper, Banff, Lake Louise and Yoho NP and Tofino.

The villages can be very busy especially at the weekends.

Take a calendar with public holidays in Canada and look for long weekends.

http://www.pch.gc.ca/progs/cpsc-ccsp/jfa-ha/index_e.cfm

Visiting the Rockies and Vancouver Island is extremly popular at these dates and finding a accommodation can be difficult. Monday morning and Friday (late afternoon) are difficult days for Ferry trips, avoid traveling or make a reservation.
tom22 is offline  
Jun 28th, 2006, 12:38 AM
  #5  
 
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Book everything in Banff and Jasper.
I would book Victoria as well.
I was there in September and even had a problem at the better bed and breakfasts. I found two, but for one night each.

Oddly enough Kelowna is popular on weekends. I would also prebook the train trip.

If you are driving back, why not drive all of it. I don't think the train enables you to see what you can see from a car. For example, Rodgers Pass as you cross the Selkirks and Purcells.
The train tracks are down in snow sheds, tunnels and deep ravines. It is like looking up from the bottom of a hole.

You need a car to see the Icefields Parkway anyhow.

Sorry to sound disenchanted with the train, but I know where it goes and I can do better with a car!!

Of course some people like to ride through tunnels. My son did when he was 5 years old. A tunnel was cause for celebration.

bob_brown is offline  
Jun 28th, 2006, 08:07 AM
  #6  
 
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I've taken the Rocky Mountaineer (with a cousin from England) and we were both enchanted with the views of the mountains, lakes and wildlife - we didn't feel that we were looking up from the bottom of a hole at any time nor did we hear any other passengers (almost all of whom were from other countries) complain about the views. Stick with the train trip - it's a wonderful 2 days with good food and lots of history in the commentary.

Also, we spent 4 days in Banff without a car - and managed to see plenty by taking bus tours including a trip to the glacier for the Snocoach ride.
SallyCanuck is offline  
Jun 28th, 2006, 11:05 AM
  #7  
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Thank you all for your input, it has been most helpful indeed.
Judy, in reply to a couple of your comments, our thoughts around "dining" at the Eagle's Eye restaurant was that we could fill our day visiting other attractions, such as Takakkaw Falls, Emerald Lake as well as Kicking Horse itself. Then on the way back to Banff in the evening we could stop at Lake Louise and see it at sunset.
Also we have booked nearly all the hotel's required for the holiday, apart from the one at Kelowna, just in case we do not quite make it that far. With that being said, do you think we will meet any problems booking into a room, on the spur of the moment, in any of the places that would be along our route, including Kelowna itself? We should be doing this particular car drive on Monday 18th September.
Lighthouse is offline  
Jun 28th, 2006, 12:10 PM
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>>>>>>Judy, in reply to a couple of your comments, our thoughts around "dining" at the Eagle's Eye restaurant was that we could fill our day visiting other attractions, such as Takakkaw Falls, Emerald Lake as well as Kicking Horse itself. Then on the way back to Banff in the evening we could stop at Lake Louise and see it at sunset.<<<<<<

I think sunset at Lake Louise will be around 8.20 p.m. – 8.30 p.m. or so on the dates that you’ll be in Banff. I’m basing that on the fact that sunset will be between 7.50 p.m. and 7.55 p.m. in Calgary, and Lake Louise is further west in the same time zone.

Since you’d want to reach Lake Louise a bit before sunset, and since it’s an hour’s drive from Golden to Lake Louise, you’ll need to drive away from Golden at about 7.00 p.m.

I have never been to Kicking Horse Resort, so I don’t know how long it takes to line up for a a chair lift or gondola or aerial tram and get down the mountain. To be on the safe side, I’m allowing half an hour for that.

So, by that estimate, you’d need to be walking out of the Eagle Eye at 6.30 p.m. But the Eagle Eye sounds like an expensive restaurant, the kind where you should not rush a meal. So I would think that you’d need to sit down for your meal by 5.00 p.m. at the latest.

That, in turn, might mean catching the gondola / tram up the mountain around 4.30 p.m. And the worthiness of that whole scheme depends on the mountaintop being clear of cloud.

Once you’d finished viewing Lake Louise, you’d have about a 45 – 60 minute drive back to your accommodation in Banff townsite.

If you want to visit Moraine Lake, Takakkaw Falls and Emerald Lake prior to going to the Kicking Horse Resort, and if you want to walk Moraine Lake’s and Emerald Lake’s shoreline paths, I suggest you set out from Banff 8.5 hours prior to the time that you want to catch the chair lift / gondola / tram to the Eagle Eye restaurant. I base that time estimate on the following elements:

2 hours for Banff – Golden drive in one direction
2 hours for Moraine Lake
1 hour for Tak Falls
1 hour for lunch
2.5 hours for Emerald Lake



>>>>>>Also we have booked nearly all the hotel's required for the holiday, apart from the one at Kelowna, just in case we do not quite make it that far. With that being said, do you think we will meet any problems booking into a room, on the spur of the moment, in any of the places that would be along our route, including Kelowna itself? We should be doing this particular car drive on Monday 18th September.<<<<<<

No, I don’t think you’ll have problems with accommodation. Since your vacation will start after the September 5th Labour Day public holiday, I think the accommodation situation will be okay at all your destinations.

In looking back at the amount of detail I’ve given you, I feel as if I’m losing it. Is that too much information or what? I must give a whole new meaning to the term travel geek. In “real life” I’m a technical writer and technical editor in the health, safety and environment industry. The evidence suggests that I find it difficult to remove my technical writer’s hat when I post messages about travel. I feel compelled to count backwards and check if the plans for any given day are feasible. Yet I feel there is some merit in that. The devil is in the details, as the saying goes.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 28th, 2006, 08:42 PM
  #9  
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Thank you Judy for all the information that you have given to us. In my opinion you can never have too much info especially if you are planning something so special, as this holiday is to us. So again thank you, and please watch out for more questions yet to come.
Lighthouse is offline  
Jul 24th, 2006, 07:44 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
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I concur that I'm feeling like you will be exhausted by the end due to how much time you've spent on the road.

What you need to know is that the roads in this area aren't straight, but curvy, winding mountainous and so it takes a lot of concentration and a lot longer than looking on a map may suggest. The part that troubles me is From Jasper on. I lived in Kamloops and friends drove from Jasper on their trip to see us. They were so exhausted, they could hardly keep their eyes open to visit. Kelowna is another 2 1/2 hrs. beyond that.

Can you extend your time. I concur that Wells Grey Park is spectacular! You could stop there and do an overnight. There is a nice newer (5-6 yr. old) hotel in Clearwater with a pool. In Wells Grey you will see spectacular gorges and waterfalls - several. I would spend an entire day there.

What's the point of Kelowna? I'd rather see Well's Grey thank Kelowna. Driving through Kelowna you do see spectacular lake views, but still, there's nothing special about the city IMO.

Do you want to go to the States just so you can say you were there?

I'm nervous about this idea of 1 day in Victoria. Are you thinking you would take the ferry across then tour then take the ferry home? What I'm nervous about is that the ferry line can be quite long and you might not make it on the time slot you choose and you may spend the better part of a morning waiting your turn. The ferry ride is quite nice but I think it is over an hour. What all do you want to see in Victoria? If you want to see Butchart Gardens that could take the better part of a day too and you wouldn't have seen anything else.

IMO I saw everything I wanted to see in Vancouver in about 2 days. Like the other person said, maybe spend the extra one in Victoria or drive up the coast to Nanaimo & back.
SeasonJoy is offline  
Jul 24th, 2006, 08:20 AM
  #11  
 
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Just a note on the Eagle's Eye at Kicking Horse resort. First you should know that it's only open for dinner on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Otherwise, it's open until 6pm. It may be closed by mid-September (reopening in December), so you should check before firming up your plans.

It's an excellent restaurant with an absolutely spectacular setting. I would certainly recommend that you reserve for dinner. The gondola ride takes 12 minutes, and I would not expect any wait at all (in the height of ski season, I've never waited longer than 10 minutes). You should be aware that Kicking Horse is about a 25 minute drive from the centre of Golden.

laverendrye is offline  
Jul 24th, 2006, 04:11 PM
  #12  
 
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The only thing I would add to all the excellent advice previously posted, is that I agree you should try to extend your time on Vancouver Island. If it were me, I would try to get a couple days in Tofino (west coast of Vancouver Island). Last time I went it was a 4 hour drive from Victoria. It is a beautiful place - good place for whale watching trips. You could take the trip to Hotsprings Cove which includes whale watching.

I spent a couple years in England, and I think you will find that Victoria reminds you of home. You may only need a day there, but you should try to get more time for the rest of the island.

So, as much as I like Kelowna - and I have spent many a holiday there - I would skip it in order to get more time for Vancouver Island.

I have done the drive from Jasper to Vancouver in one day, but it is a long haul. We would get into Vancouver late at night and stay in Twassan so we could get the first ferry over to Vancouver Island the next day.
murphey is offline  
Jul 25th, 2006, 09:59 AM
  #13  
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Thank you all again for the advice you have given us. We are certainly looking at extending our time on Victoria. There will be two drivers on the trip so sharing the driving will help us a lot I am sure.
Lighthouse is offline  
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