Is Icefields in late April worth it?

Old Nov 20th, 2001, 11:21 PM
  #1  
yo
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Is Icefields in late April worth it?

Hello,
I was wondering...I keep hearing how amazing the Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper is. But we're planning on coming in late April when things are still supposed to be frozen over. Will we just see a bunch of ice, or is it still worth the drive? In fact, is it even worth it to come to Banff and Jasper at all when we could just go to Whistler (we're not big skiers either way)? PLEASE, someone help me figure out if we should go to all the trouble to get out to Banff/Jasper when things are still mushy. Thanks a bunch!
 
Old Nov 21st, 2001, 09:43 AM
  #2  
gary
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Late April is hardly mid-winter even in the Columbia Icefields but it can be iffy. So if even the outside chance of wintry weather bothers you then I wouldn't reccomend going to the Canadian Rockies outside of Summer. Whistler is much less likely to be chilly at that time of year although I've been there in mid-may where the temperatures wern't an awful lot above freezing.

Frankly if you're going for dramatic world class scenery the Banff/Jasper region is still better than Whistler. The odds of bright sunshine are also much better in the Rockies. On the other hand if you're looking for a great world class mountain resort then Whistler is better than Banff - in the opinion of those who rate these things anyway.

The other thing you should consider is the immediate alternatives if the weather is lousy. In the Rockies you have Calgary and maybe Edmonton. In Whistler you have Vancouver and Victoria. And one thing you can count on 100% - the weather in Vancouver and Victoria will not be cold. Wet and dreary maybe - but not cold.
 
Old Nov 21st, 2001, 12:20 PM
  #3  
xxx
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"all the trouble to get out there"...not quite sure what you mean by that!!! you get in a car, plan a route and enjoy the amazing scenary. keep your schedule flexable by a day or two on the end IN CASE we get a spring storm but, april is a great time to go.
the whole tone of your question is negative though so i worry you've already decided it's not worth it and would not be a joy to travel with. so, maybe you should stay in expensive whistler, enjoy the overcast days and the rain down below. have fun.
 
Old Nov 21st, 2001, 01:41 PM
  #4  
JMM
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The drive is spectacular especially in winter! We did it one year in February. However if you have a problem with snow and winter weather dont do it. I must agree with the above poster, your attitude seems very negative.
 
Old Nov 21st, 2001, 01:51 PM
  #5  
yo
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Sorry, it was rather late when I posted so I didn't realize how negative I sounded. The source of my dismay is this: we have about 12 days in canada. we have 2 nights in victoria, 3 in vancouver. So the "trouble" is we're going to FLY to Calgary and drive to Banff on Day 7, stay in Banff on Day 8, Drive to Lake Louise on Day 9, Drive the Icefields Parkway on Day 10, drive back down to Banff or Calgary on Day 11 and leave Calgary for home on Day 12. So you can see why Whistler seems abit attractive at this point. I just didn't know if it would still be as beautiful in Banff/Jasper as I've heard everyone rave about once I heard it would still be semi-frozen. Am i being overly ambitious? I sure would appreciate any suggestions or alterations to our itinerary.
 
Old Nov 22nd, 2001, 07:44 AM
  #6  
JMM
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Frozen on the parkway is gorgeous BUT
given your itinerary, I would skip Banff and Jasper (do them another time). Do Whistler instead. Note: However the chances are good that it will be rainy - especially in Vancouver. You might want to take a day or two and go to the Sechelt area - north of Vancouver (generally it has less rain and the ferry rides are lovely).
 
Old Nov 22nd, 2001, 08:17 AM
  #7  
gary
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The chances aern't 'good' that it will be rainy in Vancouver in late April. In fact the liklihood of percipitation at that time of year is about 25-35% and it's about 50% for warm sunny weather but still it's important to be prepared. The gardens by the way are really beautiful in SW BC at that time.

My advice though is that if you don't feel the hectic itinery such as the one you've described will be enjoyable and if you can see another opportunity to visit the Canadian Rockies in the future than opt for the more relaxing vacation including Whistler and perhaps Tofino on the West Coast of Vancuver Island. The latter is similar too but more rustic than the coast of Oregon or N. California and is great for Whale watching. But if this is perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the Canadian Rockies than go for it - it'll be worth it.
 
Old Nov 22nd, 2001, 12:13 PM
  #8  
xxx
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agree with above poster...if it is once in a lifetime, do it...it is GORGEOUS.
or spend more time on the islands, toffino and whistler.
 
Old Nov 22nd, 2001, 12:51 PM
  #9  
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Whistler or Banff to Jasper - there is no contest here at all and 'Whistler' wouldn't even get a mention.
The Icefields highway is the most beautiful road I have ever seen anywhere in the world and April would be a great time to be there. You should see a lot of wildlife and the lakes and mountains are magic.
Whistler - well what can I say " you see one ski resort you see them all" and there are plenty nicer than Whistler. We were bored out of our minds there because we are not skiers.
 
Old Nov 22nd, 2001, 12:55 PM
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I can't see any problem in your planning. I note that you say one day you go to Lake Louise well that is not far at all and Banff is only about 80 miles from Calgary - not a hurried itinerary at all once you get there - it just seems that way. Having been recently to Vancouver Island that would come way down my list of places to go in comparison.
 
Old Oct 14th, 2002, 06:02 PM
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I realize that it's been months since our trip, but this forum has been so helpful, I hope that I can let you know how things went so someone else can be helped. The bottom line: Canada is so insanely beautiful, the more places you go, the more you wish you could stay longer at each one.

Upon arriving in Vancouver, we caught a floatplane to Victoria, which was kind of a neat experience. Problem was, we had to lug all of our luggage (which held all our gear for Banff as well) around. Fortunately the kind staff let us take our luggage, even though it was over the weight limit, but only b/c I called ahead and they said they could send it on a later (and lighter) flight that day. We spent a couple days in Victoria, which was about right, and it was amazing that Butchart gardens was still beautiful, even though it still felt like winter (I'm originally from California). We stayed at Abigail's, which was wonderful and breakfasts delicious.

We went back to Vancouver and stayed at the Listel, which was also very nice. Wish we could've stayed here longer--only did 3 days. It rained one day, but was beautiful the rest of the time. You could spend your whole time shopping here.

Then we flew off to Calgary, where it was definitely wintry (they had had a blizzard the week before). We picked up a rental car and drove off to Banff. Banff was chilly, but sunny. Lake Louise WAS frozen over and we were so tired we decided not to drive to the Icefields or Jasper. Instead, we did a lot of shopping (again), sitting in coffeehouses. Had a great time in the local hot springs and got a massage there. We were at Buffalo Mtn. Lodge for 5 nights, which we HIGHLY recommend. The last night it snowed and it was incredibly beautiful. As I said before, it was far too short a stay.
 
Old Oct 16th, 2002, 06:53 AM
  #12  
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This is an interesting post and as a native Albertan perhaps I can lend another opinion.

For me the magic of the mountains lies in the tall snow capped peaks, incredible green valleys and beautiful bluegreen glacier fed lakes. With this criteria I would hesitate to recommend the Banff Jasper area in late April. While the ground around the Banff townsite will not be snow covered (except possibly if there is a late season snow storm) it won't be green. The trees will not have begun to bud . . . spring in the Rockies comes late, usually in late May and early June. Hiking on major paths (i.e. Johnston Canyon) will be possible but any back country hiking will be iffy (ice and snow will still pedominate). Downhill skiing will still be possible (Lake Louise usually stays open till late April and Sunshine until the May 24th weekend) but locals call it "slurpee skiing" because the snow will have started to melt.

The "piece-de-resistance" of the mountains, those spectacular glacier fed lakes will unfortunately still be ice covered leaving you to wonder about the beauty of the vivid turquiose (sp?) and emerald colours you see so often in postcards and advertisments.

So . . . if you don't mind a little "dull brown" colour mixed in with the majestic peaks then by all means come in late April. But if you're looking for the "postcard view" come in late June, July, August, or September. Unfortunately then you will have to put up with the hordes of other tourists . . . .sigh!!
 
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