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How many nights in Banff/Lake Louise and Jasper?

How many nights in Banff/Lake Louise and Jasper?

Old May 22nd, 2006, 04:45 PM
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How many nights in Banff/Lake Louise and Jasper?

Hi everyone! I posted a few weeks ago about my predicament (well, it's not exactly a predicament, it's really a good thing!) - my husband and I have two weeks in early August and are thinking of going to either the Canadian Rockies and/or Quebec.

Based on all of the excellent advice I've received here, we've narrowed down our decision and have decided to travel to the Canadian Rockies, spending one week there, then driving to Whistler, Vancouver and Victoria. While we've already been to Whistler and Vancouver, we loved both so much that we decided it was worth another visit. And we'll have the scenic drive to get there too!

We are coming from LA and are planning on taking an early morning flight from LA to Calgary, then driving directly to either Lake Louise or Jasper. We could spend up to 3 nights at each, although I can't decide how to divide our time - do we need 3 nights in each, or should we devote 4 nights to Lake Louise/Banff and only 2 nights to Jasper? We would continue on to Whistler from the last stop.

A little about us: we are 30 yo, love spending time outdoors - although we're not exactly super adventuresome, we love hiking, being in or near water, etc. we also love good food, cute towns, some shopping, basically we're looking for some beautiful scenery and variety in our trip.

Thanks!
holymoly is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2006, 10:05 AM
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When you say Banff are you refering to the whole national park or to the townsite of Banff? If the townsite, I cannot help you much; I avoid it.

If the park as a whole, and you like hiking, there are endless opportunities both there and around Lake Louise.

As for Jasper, the main attraction for me is the drive along the Icefields Parkway. In Jasper itself, there are a few attractions outside of the town.
My favorites are Mount Edith Cavell with the Angel Glacier being a fast retreating sight, and the Whistler which has a tramway to the top and some great views.

Around Lake Louise there are numerous possibilities for walks. The Plain of Six Glaciers Trail is the most popular with extensions to the Beehive a possibility. And don't forget the wonders of Yoho just over the Great Divide from Lake Louise. Takkakaw Falls is an easily reached attraction, and the Iceline Trail, while somewhat arduous at first, leads to some fantastic views on a clear day.

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Old May 23rd, 2006, 12:13 PM
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Hello holymoly,

I endorse what bob_brown has told you.

To Bob's list I would add Moraine Lake (9 miles from Lake Louise) and Maligne Canyon (7 miles from Jasper townsite).

If you arrived in Calgary around noon or so and if you visited Banff townsite and Johnston Canyon on your way to Lake Louise, I think you could get away with 3 nights in Lake Louise. According to what you've said, that would enable you to spend 3 nights in Jasper, which I think would be very nice.

If you were arriving later in the day and were unable to visit Banff townsite and Johnston Canyon en route to Lake Louise, I would recommend 4 nights in Lake Louise.

In theory you can get all the way to Jasper if you arrive in Calgary around noon or so. However, once you've added on the time it would take you to clear immigration and customs at the airport, stop for a meal along the way, etc., it would be something like 8 hours before you reached Jasper. If you're very tight for time, it can be done. If you have a little wiggle room, it's not ideal.

You've said you loved your previous visit to Whistler, Victoria and Vancouver. I have not been to Whistler, but I share your feelings about Vancouver and Victoria. I love them.

That said, have you thought of visiting Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island? It has wonderful old growth temperate rainforests in Pacific Rim National Park between Tofino and Ucluelet. The area has lots of wildlife, both terrestrial and marine. You can view whales, both from land and from whale watching cruises. The area also has some beaches that are good for surfing, although I expect that would be less of a novelty for you since you live in California.

If you take me up on my Tofino suggestion, you might consider this itinerary:

1 - 4 : Lake Louise

5 - 7 : Jasper

8 : Clearwater (Wells Gray Provincial Park)

9 : Whistler

10 : Drive to Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, catch the ferry to Departure Bay / Nanaimo, drive to Tofino.

11 - 12 : Tofino

13 : Vancouver

14 : Fly home.

This route does have a limitation. That is, it does not take you through British Columbia's Glacier National Park (not to be confused with Montana's GNP). That stretch of road, between Golden, BC and Revelstoke, BC is particularly beautiful, and includes impressive Rogers Pass. However, you can't see everything. If you went the Rogers Pass route you'd miss Wells Gray Provincial Park.

My website, to which Tobie provided a link in your other discussion thread, has additional itinerary ideas. The TIPS section has links to practical information about weather, what to pack, national park entry fees, driving distances and times, maps, other great websites, etc.

Hope that helps.

Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2006, 01:53 PM
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thanks again for the replies! how does this sound for a first week itinerary:

day 1 - early morning (7 am) flight to calgary, arrive around 11:30 am, rent car, drive to banff, visit town, drive to lake louise, overnight in lake louise

days 2 & 3 - activities in/around lake louise, overnight in lake louise

day 4 - drive up icefields parkway, making stops along the way, arrive in jasper, overnight in jasper

day 5 & 6 - activities in/around jasper, overnight in jasper

does this sound nice or are we committing too much time to jasper and too little time to the lake louise and banff area? we could easily add one more night in lake louise and take off one night in jasper.

thank you judy for mentioned tofino, i have actually read a bit about tofino and was considering staying in the area instead of victoria. how far is the drive to tofino from the ferry?

also, is it possible to do the drive from jasper to whistler in one day? we don't mind being in the car for one very long day (especially if the scenery along the way is as beautiful as everyone says it is) if it means having an extra day and night in whistler.
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 02:40 PM
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I think Jasper to the Whistlers near Vancouver would be a long day.
The quickest way is to take the route from Jasper to Mount Robson and then to Kamloops. South of Kamloops take the Coquihalla Tollway to its end where it merges with the Trans Canada Highway.

There is another route but it is slower.
The stretch from Mt. Robson to Kamloops is relatively devoid of any real scenery.

I agree with Judy. Missing Glacier is unfortunate because the Purcells and the Selkirks present some of the most dramatic peaks in that part of Canada.

Technically speaking, the Selkirks and the Purcells are not part of the Canadian Rockies, but that does not prevent them from being steep and jagged.

The Icefields Parkway is beautiful. I have not yet seen a drive of comparable length that had so much to offer.

One of my favorite spots is the somewhat wet trail to Panther Falls just off of the Icefields Parkway at the big parking area on Sunwapta Pass. There is anothere waterfall visible across the deep valley, but that is not Panther Falls.

At the low end of the parking lot, there is an almost obscure trail, poorly marked the last time I was there, which leads to the falls.

Viewing the falls is fairly difficult without a rain suit unless you don't mind getting extremely wet. We knew what to expect the last time we visited the area and arrived with our Goretex rain outfits.

When we arrived at the parking lot, the weather was beautiful and the sun was shining brightly. I am sure we presented a rather strange appearance as we headed toward the trailhead clad in rain parka and trousers.

There was this old guy (I was 70 at the time) sitting on the hood of his car surveying nothing in particular when we walked past. He looked at us like he had just seen a couple of nuts, which perhaps he had.

About 40 minutes later we came back up the trail dripping wet. The old guy was still sitting there and his expression almost changed when he saw we were soaked. My helpful wife walked past him and said, "We went for a swim."
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 03:04 PM
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More good info from Bob.

Holymoly, your suggested distribution of time between Lake Louise and Jasper is fine.

There is another way you could do this trip that would allow you to include Jasper, the Icefields Parkway, Lake Louise and the great scenery between Lake Louise and Revelstoke, and STILL have a couple of nights in Whistler. However, this itinerary would involve biting the bullet and getting to Jasper by your first evening, as you initially proposed.

1 - Land in Calgary. Drive to Jasper.

2 & 3 - Explore Jasper's environs.

4 - Drive the Icefields Parkway to Lake Louise, this time at a leisurely pace. Don't worry about driving the Icefields Parkway twice. The scenery looks different when it's viewed from different directions.

5 & 6 - From your Lake Louise base, explore the Lake Louise and Banff areas.

7 - Drive from Lake Louise to Salmon Arm on the shores of the Shuswap Lake or to Kamloops. On this day you would pass through Yoho National Park, which is situated between Lake Louise and Golden, BC. The two popular attractions there are Takakkaw Falls and Emerald Lake. Since you could see them on this day, there would be no need to fit them into your previous Lake Louise sight seeing day.

Between Golden, BC and Revelstoke, BC, you would drive through BC's Glacier National Park and over Rogers Pass, as mentioned previously.

If you wished, you could take the detour and drive the Meadows in the Sky Parkway just before you reached Revelstoke.

8 - Drive to Whistler. If you had spent the previous night in Kamloops, it would take you half a day to reach Whistler (according to the Map Quest website). That would give you the afternoon and evening in Whistler.

9 - Whistler.

10 - Drive to Tofino. This would take roughly 8 hours, made up as follows : 2 hours to drive from Whistler to Horseshoe Bay, 45 minutes to board the ferry (even if you have a reservation), 1.5 hours to cross the Georgia Strait, 30 minutes to disembark from the ferry, 3.25 hours to drive from Nanaimo to Tofino. (But keep in mind it would not take much less time than this to drive to Victoria.)

11 & 12 - Tofino

13 - Vancouver

14 - Fly home

Hope that helps.
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Old May 28th, 2006, 08:46 PM
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How much of a legend is Judy in Calgary. Does Fodors have awards for contributors? If so, Judy would have to win the Canada section, hands down.
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Old Jun 5th, 2006, 05:30 PM
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ttt for rexina
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