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-   -   Itinerary Help - Calgary/Banff/Yoho/Jasper (https://www.fodors.com/community/canada/itinerary-help-calgary-banff-yoho-jasper-699634/)

Carol_SD Apr 24th, 2007 09:20 AM

Itinerary Help - Calgary/Banff/Yoho/Jasper
 
I will be traveling with my husband and two kids (daughter - 12 horse lover and son - 10 bird lover) from July 21-29. I would appreciate any suggestions to our planned itinerary. The kids are seasoned travelers who love nature, can entertain themselves during longer drives, and will happily hike up to 2 hours. As long as they get some "down" time each day (running around or swimming), they are wonderful travelers. We know it is a busy time of year, but we would like to have some time away from the crowds as well. Suggestions?

SUMMARY
1 – Calgary
2 – Banff/LL
3 – Banff/LL
4 – Banff/LL
5 – Banff/LL
6 – Jasper
7 – Jasper
8 – Calgary
9 – Fly Home

1 – Arrive in Calgary 5:22 pm. Stay in Calgary (Drumheller?).
2- Drive to Drumheller. Tour Royal Tyrell. Drive to Banff/LL area via Beiseker/Airdrie/Cochrane/Canmore. Stay in Banff/LL area.
3 – See Moraine Lake & Lake Louise (Canoe & Hike). Stay in Banff/LL area.
4 – Tour Yoho. See Spiral Tunnel, Takakkaw Falls, Natural Bridge, Emerald Lake, Radium Hot Springs, Return through Kootenay. Stay in Banff/LL area.
5 – Horse Ride (or Raft Trip). Stay in Banff/LL area.
6 – Drive Icefield Parkway and see sites. Stay in Jasper.
7 – Sightsee in Jasper. Mount Edith Cavell & Glacier Hike. Maligne Canyon. Maligne Lake. Stay in Jasper.
8 – Drive to Calgary stopping as desired. Maybe stop by Spruce Meadow or Calgary Zoo for a brief afternoon visit. Stay in Calgary.
9 – Fly home 10:45 am.

Thanks!

Judy_in_Calgary Apr 24th, 2007 09:54 AM

Your itinerary looks just about perfect, Carol_SD.

I don’t know how long a flight you will have had to reach Calgary, and how tired you’ll be when you land on July 21st. You also have to take into consideration the hour or so that it takes to get through Canadian immigration and customs at Calgary Airport.

If you felt it was feasible to do so (but I realize this may be pushing it), it would be ideal to spend that night in Drumheller. The reason I say that is that the Royal Tyrrell Museum unfortunately gets very full on summer weekends. It gets full enough that it does detract from the experience, in my opinion.

A way of getting around that is to visit the museum right when the doors open at 9.00 a.m. or else to postpone your visit till the evening, between 6.00 p.m. and 9.00 p.m. Those are the less busy times.

If you were able to get to Drumheller on the evening of July 21st, you could be at the museum when its doors opened on July 22nd.

Another approach would be to spend the night of the 21st in the northeast quadrant of Calgary. That is the quadrant in which the airport is located. You also would be well placed to start your journey towards Drumheller, which is to the northeast of Calgary, the next morning.

You could get up early, buy breakfast from a fast food window in Calgary, and eat it on the road, en route to Drumheller. You’d want to be on the road at 7.30 a.m. so you could reach the museum at 9.00 a.m.

As you approach Drumheller, you’ll see the deep valley that the Red Deer River has carved into the prairies. A favourite viewing point from which to look at these “Badlands” is Horseshoe Canyon, just before Drumheller. Resist the temptation to stop and look, as everyone else does. Keep going to the museum, which is beyond the town. You can stop and look at Horseshoe Canyon on your way OUT of Drumheller.

Oh, I’ve just had an idea. Instead of spending your first night in the NE quadrant of Calgary, you could spend it in <b>Airdrie</b>, which is a satellite town about 20 minutes’ drive north of Calgary. Then you would be positioned in an even better spot to start your journey towards Drumheller the next morning.

Airdrie has a cluster of motels and fast food restaurants just off Queen Elizabeth II Highway. You should be able to get out of there quickly on the morning of July 22nd – more quickly than you would be able to get out of Calgary.

Airdrie’s hotels and motels are not fancy, but they are serviceable. There are the usual suspects – Super 8, Ramada, Holiday Inn and Best Western. I understand the Holiday Inn has an indoor pool and slide.

Otherwise your itinerary looks great to me.

bob_brown Apr 24th, 2007 01:29 PM

It is a good game plan for an introduction. It is very much like the trip I took in 1987 that made a Rockies Addict out of me. I have been back so many times since that I have lost count.

Not only did that visit addict me, but my son caught the bug too.

I remember on that first trip he was 27 and suddenly Mom and Dad had regained their sanity and intelligence.

Along the Icefields Parkway north of the Icefields Center, we encountered a Moose Jam, which is not exactly one of the chocolate variety.

My son got out of the car to get a photograph. The moose began to move, and as people began to chase along the roadway, he moved even faster. In his determination to get his picture I thought my son was going to chase the critter all the way Jasper. He finally succeeded in taking a photograph, but we had to drive about a mile up the road to retrieve him.


Carol_SD Apr 24th, 2007 05:25 PM

Judy and Bob,
Thanks for your thoughtful replies. We're coming from San Diego via Los Angeles. I think that staying in Airdrie would work well since it would allow us some time for dinner, a quick run to the grocery, some pool time, and a good night's sleep. We'll make sure we're at the museum when it opens and catch Horseshoe Canyon on our way out.

I'm a little concerned about overdoing it on Day 4. I'm not sure what speed one can travel on Hwy 1 (through Yoho), Hwy 95 (Golden to Radium), and Hwy 93 (through Kootenay). We could certainly do an &quot;out and back&quot; in Yoho and skip Radium and Kootenay if that works better. My original plan was to get an early start and spend the morning going through Yoho, spend a couple of hours in the early afternoon at the Radium Hot Springs (fun for the kids and a trip down memory lane for my husband who was there over 20 years ago), and returning through Kootenay in the late afternoon/early evening. Does this make sense?

Thanks.

P.S. My kids would love to see a &quot;moose jam&quot;. We did see a &quot;bear jam&quot; in Mammoth Mountain two summers ago when a mother bear and her cub went looking for food around a lake road.


Judy_in_Calgary Apr 24th, 2007 08:53 PM

The speed limit on the main roads through the national parks is 90 km/hr (56 MPH).

I don't think you need to decide now how to spend Day #4. I suggest you visit Yoho National Park first. When you have gotten through the park, see what kind of time you're making and how you feel.

bob_brown Apr 25th, 2007 07:24 PM

I think it all depends on what you do while you are in Yoho. Viewing Takkakaw Falls does not take long for most people. I tend to linger, and linger, and search for THE perfect photo angle. (Which does not exist I now believe.)

Emerald Lake does not take long, either unless you want to walk around it.

My suggestion is to see Yoho first.
Then go back to Castle Junction via Kicking Horse Pass. (Do not go to Golden because the road from Golden south is without much appeal.)

In Kootenay, after driving over Vermillion Pass, tour Marble Canyon IF!!
the trail is open. I asked earlier and the reply said that the situation was still highly iffy.

Then drive toward Radium Hot Springs.

The road through Kootenay is a BC highway, so it has trucks on it.

Of the items you list, I think the least important from my perspective is Radium Hot Springs.

I think a hike to Stanley Glacier Basin would be better.

If I had my druthers, I'd rather think in terms of spending my time on the Iceline Trail.

of course, I am saying that after having done my sampler. I now return to those items that rank high on my list. Too bad you don't have time to penetrate the backcountry and see the mostly unseen beauty of Yoho.

bob_brown Apr 25th, 2007 07:28 PM

PS It is adventures like the Iceline Trail that make me glad I rarely lock myself in to a fixed game plan day by day. I got up on the Iceline once and the rest of the day's plans went quickly down the tubes. To heck with it, I was seeing what I had come to see!

Ice fields, falls, mountains, deep valleys, beautiful mountains, high hanging valleys, glacial cirques, etc.

Not much else was around that ranked higher. What I did not see mattered not. But I guess one has to know that already to make the decision!

Carol_SD Apr 26th, 2007 05:54 PM

Judy and Bob,
Thanks for the additional tips. As luck would have it, we are now extending the trip by a day so that we can use Frequent Flyer miles for our airfare.

So for now we will keep Day 4 open for exploring Yoho. The Iceline trail sounds beautiful and we'll be doing some more research on this hike. We'll keep our extra day unscheduled for Banff/LL/Kootenay to do whatever seems top priority at the time.

Is there anything noteworthy or fun to see in Calgary on a Sunday evening?

Thanks,
Carol

Judy_in_Calgary Apr 26th, 2007 07:00 PM

&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;Is there anything noteworthy or fun to see in Calgary on a Sunday evening?&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;

I thought the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary might be a good place to visit, since you said your son was a bird lover. But it closes at 5.00 p.m.

Then I thought I'd suggest the zoo, but it closes at 6.00 p.m., and stops admitting visitors at 5.00 p.m.

I am fond of Heritage Park Pioneer Village, but it closes at 5.00 p.m.

Frankly, I think you would be better off staying in Banff as long as you can. Have dinner in Banff townsite, and just drive to Calgary so you can sleep there that night and get up the next morning and catch your plane.

I like throwing a frizbee (sp?) around Prince's Island Park in the middle of the Bow River, adjacent to the Eau Claire district at the north end of downtown Calgary, but that pales in comparison to the mountains. I think almost anything you could do in Calgary on the Sunday evening would be an anti-climax. Just my opinion.

There are a number of festivals in the summer, but a Google search has not brought one up for the weekend of July 29 &amp; 30.


Carol_SD Aug 1st, 2007 09:35 AM

TRIP REPORT &amp; THANKS

We just returned from a fabulous 10 day trip to Calgary/Banff/Yoho/Jasper. We're looking forward to returning in the next couple of years.

Thank you Judy and Bob for all of the great suggestions (to this message and others). They were very helpful.

A couple of things that made this trip a fantastic success:
1. Following your advice to have a rough game plan but taking time to smell the roses.
2. Getting a copy of Ben Gadd's outstanding book.
3. Staying 4 nights at the Paradise Lodge in LL. Outstanding service, perfect for a family, and a good base for exploring. They recommended an excellent, safety conscious whitewater rafting company (Wild Water Adventures).
4. For the kids, balancing hiking with another fun activity most days (canoeing, rafting, horse riding). Also, hiking with the right clothing and food/water kept everyone happy.
5. Taking the time to explore Yoho. We saw a spectacular full rainbow one evening at Takkakaw Falls.
6. Taking our time when driving around and between parks. We found so many nice spots with very few tourists but lots of birds and some mammals. We saw bears, a wolf, osprey, elk, sheep, and many smaller animals. There was a lot of driving but every route had its own special treasures and sights.
7. We're glad we took the time to go to the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller and take the kids on a hike/simulated dig. They loved it.

Once again, Judy and Bob thank you for sharing your knowledge. It helped make the trip a great success. We're looking forward to exploring the area again.

Thanks,
Carol

Judy_in_Calgary Aug 1st, 2007 11:44 AM

So glad to hear you enjoyed your trip, Carol. It's nice that you saw wildlife. Not everyone does.


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