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Itinerary help for 20 days in the Canadian Rockies

Itinerary help for 20 days in the Canadian Rockies

Feb 11th, 2009, 01:11 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Sep 2004
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Itinerary help for 20 days in the Canadian Rockies

Hi,

I might be a little premature in asking for help, but I am just so excited to plan. I just bought a guidebook last night and I am feeling overwhelmed. We will have 18-19 full days in the area, excluding travel time. From doing some preliminary reading, we are thinking of spending that time in Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, and the American Glacier National Park. I am in my mid-30s and my travel partner is in her 50s. We love hiking and scenery, but I am worried that we will be physically exhausted from hiking too much hiking. We only want to do day hikes, no more than 15 miles at the most. Does anyone have suggestions as to a rough breakdown of amount of days we should spend in each area? We are open to other interesting areas nearby, perhaps to break up some of the time in the national parks. This would be really helpful in my initial planning. From reading the trip reports, most people seem to only spend 1-2 weeks in the area. Thanks!
lia018 is offline  
Feb 11th, 2009, 01:13 PM
  #2  
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oops, my title is wrong. It's not 20 days, but 18-19 days.
lia018 is offline  
Feb 11th, 2009, 03:26 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
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Since the areas are relatively close together, excepting the US Glacier National Park, and since the trails don't require a reservation, you don't have to make too many plans except for lodging. So, one day you are up near Jasper and decide you're tired of hiking? go off to Miette Hot Spring for a long soak in the pool, or maybe you find yourself in Kootenay and need that break there. Radium Hot Springs is only a short drive and you still get to soak out the sore muscles. Want a complete change of pace for a day or 2? Check out the history of the mining district near Balfour and New Denver, spend a night near there and go on up to Revelstoke, enjoying the ferry ride across Upper Arrow Lake before heading back toward Yoho National Park. Need even more change? Go west from New Denver and end up in Vernon before turning north through Kamloops to Clearwater for a tour of Wells Gray Provincial Park (there is hiking there too). Make a loop of it and return to Jasper by way of Mt. Robson Provincial Park.
rm_mn is offline  
Feb 11th, 2009, 03:34 PM
  #4  
 
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You didn't mention the guidebook that you bought but one we really liked was called "Walks and Easy Hikes in the Canadian Rockies" by Graeme Pole. There are a lot of hiking (and scenic traveling) books but we really liked that one because it had numerous hikes that didn't require you to be a fit teenager to hike them. Being in our 50's and from a relatively flat area, we appreciated being able to see areas without wearing ourselves out.
rm_mn is offline  
Feb 11th, 2009, 08:21 PM
  #5  
 
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You don't say what time of year, or even what year, you're planning for...

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I worked out 15 miles to be 24 kms. That's a really, really long distance for a day hike.

I have "Walks and Easy Hikes in the Canadian Rockies" by Graeme Pole and think its a great book. There's also "Classic Hikes in the Canadian Rockies" by the same author. This book has single day and multi-day hikes in it and there's very little overlap with the hikes in the first book. If you're up to a 24 km day hike, you may find some the trails in this book more at your level. Both books cover trails in Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay and Waterton Lakes National Parks and "Classic Hikes" also covers Peter Lougheed, Mt. Robson, and Akamina-Kishenina provincial parks.

If you're planning on going to the US GNP, you may want to consider visiting Waterton Lakes since they literally border each other. In fact, you can do a guided day hike from Waterton to Glacier with an American park ranger and a Canadian guide and then take the boat ride back again.

How much time to spend in an area depends on what you like to other than hike. You have almost 3 weeks and that's wonderful. My first thought is to pick 3 places as a base camp for roughly one week each. That gives you plenty of time to explore an area well and travel at a relaxed pace.

The town of Banff is very busy with shopping (pricey, it's a major tourist trap), lots of restauraunts and some small but good museums. Jasper is smaller and quieter. Waterton is smaller still, just a few hotels and restaurants really. Lake Louise is a village with a number of hotels and a small strip mall. All have their charm.

I'm big into hot springs, especially after hiking. You could visit the 3 in the national parks; Radium Hot Springs (in Kootenay park), Banff Upper Hot Springs and Miette (in Jasper park, but 30-45 min drive from the town of Jasper).
ShelliDawn is offline  
Feb 11th, 2009, 10:34 PM
  #6  
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Thank you for all the replies. They are very helpful! We are planning on going there around June 1-19, 2009. Right now, I just have the Lonely Planet guide (sorry, fodors!) so the hiking book suggestions are great. We don't particularly enjoy shopping or museums. I am really into photography. The hot springs sound good. Looks like there is good white water rafting on the Kicking Horse river that sounds like fun. I think hiking and photography are our biggest interests, but we would get too tired hiking large distances every day. I think ShelliDawn's advice to get 3 different base camps is good. What 3 towns would people recommend for the Banff, Jasper, and US Glacier NPs? From what I've read, it seems like the Lake Louise area would be an ideal location for the Banff area, but it's too expensive. I'm hoping to find accommodations for $100 USD a night with private bath and 2 beds. Is this reasonable? Thanks!
lia018 is offline  
Feb 12th, 2009, 02:42 AM
  #7  
 
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If you really plan to take longer hikes, you may want to reconsider that early June date. When we were there in early June a few years ago, several of the places we wished to hike were closed due to the snow that lingered on the trails. One, the Parker Ridge trail still had nearly a meter of snow on it. When we returned in August the trails were all open.
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Feb 12th, 2009, 08:57 AM
  #8  
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Unfortunately, those are the only dates we can travel so I will have to do extra research into which trails might be open at that time. Parker Ridge was one of them, unfortunately. Is there a good website for hiking trails with photos from those hikes?
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Feb 12th, 2009, 12:09 PM
  #9  
 
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There are sites like http://www.trailpeak.com/ that have write-ups and pictures but may not have the specific hike you're interested in. If not, do an internet search on the trail. Many people have uploaded pictures to personal sites/blogs.

Since you are planning on coming in June of this year, I highly recommend that you figure out your accomodations sooner than later. June isn't as bad as July/August, but accomodation can book up pretty quick in the Rockies for the summer.
ShelliDawn is offline  
Feb 13th, 2009, 12:17 PM
  #10  
 
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Without taking away from what others have said about Banff/Jasper, you did mention Glacier Park in Montana. This is a vastly underrated area and, even though I'm Canadian, I most highly recommend that you spend a day or two there. The drive over the "Going-To-The-Sun" road (especially in one of those quaint tourist "buses" is something not to be missed. Dress in layers and be sure to take your camera; you'll kick yourself forever if you don't. It's best to have someone else drive because you would have a VERY hard time keeping your eyes on the road: the scenery is that impressive.

True it is a bit of a trip from Banff but you can always make Waterton Park (Glacier's Canadian "twin") an overnight way-stop.
Tootsall is offline  
Feb 13th, 2009, 05:19 PM
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Coming in early/mid June will definitely limit your hiking into the subalpine and alpine areas, because some of them will still be snowbound. In Jasper NP, the road to Mt. Edith Cavell doesn't open about about mid-June, and the hike to Cavell Meadows doesn't open until the end of June.

When you encounter a snowy patch or muddy/wet spot in the trail, please stay on the trail. Your boots will dry out... but if you go around, you damage the fragile vegetation at the edge of the trail, which creates wider, "braided" trails and contributes to erosion. The growing season is very short at higher elevations, and it can take years for damage to recover. Cavell Meadows is one spot that was being "loved to death" (and it is slow to dry out in spring), so after much rehab work (thousands of volunteer hours, rebuilding the trail and replanting native plants), it doesn't open until trail conditions are such that damage won't re-occur.

Most day hikes in Jasper National Park are about 8 to 15 km (or less) - that's about 5 to 9 miles.
krp329 is offline  
Feb 15th, 2009, 05:20 PM
  #12  
 
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You will have to look around to stay within a $100/nt lodging budget. We use www.kayak.com to check out lodging rates.

Banff has some more affordable lodging options available. Lake Louise is more expensive, but closer to many of the hikes we enjoy.

The hostel in Lake Louise is very nice. I have not stayed there but it gets good reviews in the summer. I have read some bad reviews in the winter when it is overrun with ski bums.

In Jasper you can find affordable lodging in many of the homes that rent out rooms. I also think that Patricia Lake Bungalows has some affordable motel rooms (about $85/nt). We stayed in one of their older cabins. They are very clean and we loved being right by Patricia Lake. Becker's might have also had some affordable cabins. We stayed in one of their duplexes.
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