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If you had a week in Alberta or British Columbia, where would you go?

If you had a week in Alberta or British Columbia, where would you go?

May 27th, 2010, 09:49 AM
  #1  
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If you had a week in Alberta or British Columbia, where would you go?

We've been in Banff and Edmonton in winter, and are thinking of returning next summer. I've already asked questions about taking the train from Alberta to Vancouver, and about some of the lakeside inns (Emerald Lake Lodge and Moraine Lake Lodge) but the first question is, where to start in either Alberta or British Columbia.

About us- we're both 59 and reasonably fit. We love both big cities and charming small towns, like to hike (not too strenuous, but moderate is okay), love spectacular scenery. We're not small B&B types -- we actually prefer the anonymity of larger hotels, however, the inns in the Rockies are intriguing. Love to sit on the porch, look at the view, sip a glass of wine, and read/nap. We like good restaurants (but prefer not to "break the bank" - and local funky is as good as well-known). Poking around shops is good, too, but prefer crafts to T-shirts!

So with a week or so to start the trip somewhere in Alberta or British Columbia, where should we start?
sf7307 is online now  
May 27th, 2010, 12:32 PM
  #2  
 
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I will be returning to the area in August. On previous visits we have stayed at
1. Emerald Lake Lodge (lovely accomodation, good food, hiking fine but limited)
2. Mt.Engadine Lodge (fantastic food, very spartan, but comfortable accomodation, excellent hiking easily accessible, remote and uncrowded, but easily reached from Canmore)
3.Lake O'Hara Lodge (the most fantastic wonderful spot I know but totally out of my price range these days, rooms are spartan and comfortable, we shared a bath..yes, for over $200 per day!...but it was fine, loved the food, loved the environment and the hiking was grand
4. Post Hotel (expensive, good food, need to travel to hike,very comfortable accomodations)
5. Chateau Lake Louise (expensive, comfortable, good access to hiking, crowded with a lot of day visitors, good food)
6. Fairmont Banff Spring (not as well situated for hiking as Chateau Lake Louise nor as picturesque, but otherwise very similar)

This year we will be staying at Baker Creek Chalets (thank you, mms, for the recommendation). Look for my trip report in late August. We will also be hiking at Lake O'Hara (please see my post on the need for reservations) because it is too far out of our budget range now. If it were only DH and me (we are about the same profile as you on fitness, age, interests) I would return to Mt. Engadine for at least a few days of the stay. I was very interested in some of the more remote hike in or helicopter in properties, but had to accept that it was a very big risk of poor weather which might keep you cabinbound. Since we have only a week, we opted for Baker Creek. If it rains, etc we have alternatives.
cmcfong is offline  
May 27th, 2010, 01:11 PM
  #3  
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Thank you cmcfong - that is such great information!!
sf7307 is online now  
May 27th, 2010, 04:27 PM
  #4  
 
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Whereever you land, it will be gorgeous. Nothing quite like it on a summer day in a meadow full of wildflowers.
cmcfong is offline  
May 28th, 2010, 06:42 AM
  #5  
 
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I did a trip in August 2008 in which I flew into Vancouver and stayed for 4 nights, and then took VIA rail to Jasper (an overnight sleeper train). I then stayed 4 nights in Jasper before heading to Edmonton (by Greyhound bus) to fly home from there. This type of trip would be a great way for you to spend a week in BC & AB and get a taste of both big city west coast life as well as the small mountain town charm and EXQUISITE beauty of Jasper! You could also do it in reverse (ie. fly into Edmonton - bus or train to Jasper - stay there for x days - then sleeper train to Vancouver).

The overnight VIA train from Van to Jasper was great... it left Vancouver around 5pm so I had 4 hours or so of daylight viewing time to see the countryside outside of Vancouver. Then it was darkness and sleeping time through the interior of BC. However, the best part was waking up to sunlight streaming through the train windows at the crack of dawn (around 6:30am when I was there in late August), and then having 5 hours of beautiful mountain views over breakfast until the train pulled into Jasper around 11am. (The train schedule may of course be different for 2010).

I love Jasper. I prefer it to Banff because it is relatively less "commercial" and has a quieter, more relaxed atmosphere (although don't get me wrong, I still like Banff too!). Jasper has many options for hiking and biking for all activity levels. I found the people at Jasper info centre/National Park office (right across from the train station, you can't miss it) to be very helpful in planning day trips and hiking/biking routes. You are almost guaranteed to see wildlife in Jasper... in only a few days I saw moose, deer, and elk on multiple occasions. I would have liked to see a bear (from a safe distance) but didn't have such luck (although I was timid in this regard because I was hiking and biking solo so I shook my bear bells rather vigorously when going through thick patches of forest .
I was a repeat customer at the Bear's Paw Bakery - wonderful place for breakfast, lunch or snacks. There was one rainy afternoon in which I occupied myself by buying a latte and wandering among the specialty shops in the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge (which would be a lovely place to stay if your budget allows it, but I think they book up pretty quickly). Sorry I don't have any other suggestions for accommodations because I stayed at a youth hostel up the mountain and that doesn't sound like quite what you're looking for.

As has been said before, anywhere you find yourself in Western Canada in the summer will be incredible! Enjoy your trip planning.
sjb9 is offline  
May 28th, 2010, 07:25 AM
  #6  
 
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I would have to agree, Jasper is infinitely more appealing to me than Banff. On our visits there we stayed in bed and breakfasts which I simply cannot recommend. We ended up literally in the center of people's homes. One place had signs everywhere about the rules (we were not allowed to leave ours after nine!...blew that one) and on the day of checkout left a note in our room saying they would appreciate a tip because they hoped to take a cruise that winter. ?
At any rate, there are other options and I encourage you to consider them if you decide on Jasper. Great hikes in the area and somewhat less crowded than Banff/Lake Louise.
cmcfong is offline  
May 28th, 2010, 07:26 AM
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sorry, a bit of a goof in that, we were asked not to leave our room after nine at night was my intended meaning.
cmcfong is offline  
May 28th, 2010, 08:45 AM
  #8  
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I knew what you meant!!

That thing about the tip is a riot (of course, I wouldn't have been so amused if it had happened to me). Did I mention we're not "B&B" people (you've already described WHY!!).

SJB, thanks so much, your information was very helpful. You're right, we're a few years beyond youth hostel stage LOL! But we don't usually opt for top-of-the-line either. Not to say we don't like luxury, we just don't like paying for it The VIA rail trip is high on our list.

Thank you both. We don't usually plan trips too far in advance, but since it's already almost June, it looks like this summer is out, so we'll probably plan this for next summer (although with a trip to SE Asia in the works for next spring, who knows?)
sf7307 is online now  

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