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Itinerary ideas for family travel to Calgary,Glacier Park, Banff, Jasper!!

Itinerary ideas for family travel to Calgary,Glacier Park, Banff, Jasper!!

Mar 30th, 2011, 05:47 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 6
Itinerary ideas for family travel to Calgary,Glacier Park, Banff, Jasper!!

We are coming in by plane to Calgary and would like to see as much as possible of the best spots of this area. We have over two weeks and would like to visit all the areas listed above. Does anyone recommend anything else not mentioned? Should we consider driving across the Rocky Mountains to Vancouver? We will be traveling with a 7 year old and a 17 year old. I would like to have a few points where we spend 5-7 days. I'm thinking 5 days in Banff and 5 days in Jasper. Any thoughts?
stay0693 is offline  
Mar 30th, 2011, 08:05 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,102
Include Maligne Canyon in your time in Jasper.
Banff is about 1.5 hours from Calgary with your rental car.
Jasper is about 4 hours driving time from Banff but count on at least 4 hours parked and sightseeing.
Consider riding "The Canadian" (ViaRail) from Jasper to Vancouver rather than taking the rental car.
tomfuller is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 08:30 AM
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Great! Thanks! Any recommendations on lodging? We like the non-hotel places that feel like the region.
We heard that Yoho Park is beautiful as well. We may spend some days there.
So, here's the itinerary so far -
Day One - Fly into Calgary, settle in
Day Two - Tour around Calgary
Day Three - Drive down to Glacier national Park - not sure how long it will take - any feedback?
Day Four - Check out Glacier Natinal Park
Day Five - Drive up to Banff - stay and tour
Day Six - Banff
Day Severn - Banff
Day Eight - Banff
Day Nine - Banff
Day Ten - Jasper
Day Eleven - Jasper
Day Twelve - Jasper
Day Thirteen - Jasper, Maligne Canyon
Day Fourteen - Jasper
Day Fifteen - Ride Canadian rail from Jasper to Vancouver -
Day Sixteen - Fly out Vancouver

Can anyone add any interesting, must see areas to go to along the way? Any have any recommendation on changing this??
stay0693 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 09:39 AM
Join Date: Nov 2010
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There is a HI Hostel at Banff. There is a HI Hostel that I have stayed at several times about 3 mi. SW of Jasper.
For Glacier, see if you can get lodging at the Lodge at Lake McDonald. Otherwise, I liked the golf resort just outside Columbia Falls, MT. Come over the Going-to-the-Sun highway.
The Canadian only runs three days a week so you may have to cut Jasper a day short. An extra day in Vancouver would be good.
tomfuller is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 11:41 AM
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Wow! It's $800 to go one way on the Canadian Rail from Jasper to Vancouver. Is that pricey?
Looked at the HI Hostel. Seems like a great option for the region. Is this ok for family or is it mostly young singles? Is it quiet or noisy??
Wasn't sure.
stay0693 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 12:40 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
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Yes ViaRail has become pricey. Check to see what the drop off fee is for renting in Calgary and dropping in Vancouver. My first trips on ViaRail were on a Railpass and were a bargain for a single traveler. You might want to check the price to fly from Calgary to Vancouver if the drop fee is high.
There is a co-ed dorm room and a males only dorm downstairs with a mens bathroom/showers and the laundry room. on the ground floor is the womens dorm, a couple of private rooms the womens restroom/showers, the front desk, kitchen dining room and sitting room with library. No alcohol allowed. I've seen people from 18 to 65 there. It seemed very quiet when I was there. Sorry I can't tell you anything about Banff.
tomfuller is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 12:57 PM
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Love the Lodge at lake McDonald. Does it take long to drive from Calgary to this lodge? Can't wait to tour the Glacier Park!!
Any recommendations on order for this trip? I'm thinking the way I have it set up, we can try to one way rail from Jasper to Vancouver. Recommendations on places to stay in Jasper? We'll be there for 5-7 days so a place with a kitchen is always good.
stay0693 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 02:41 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
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Don't know where you are coming from but it might make sense to fly to Vancouver, see the city and then take the Amtrak train/bus to Seattle and ride the Amtrak Empire Builder to Whitefish Montana. Rent a car there that you can drive to Lake McDonald. Go over the Going-to-the-Sun highway and head for Calgary or Banff. Just make sure that you can drive the rental car into Canada. You are not allowed to drop off a car
in Canada that you rent in the US. If you rent a car at Whitefish you can return it at the airport in Kalispell if you want to fly home from there. The fare for the 4 of you from Seattle to Whitefish is as low as $396 in coach.
The hostel I described above is the one 3 mi. SW of Jasper. The one at the Alpine Centre at Banff should have similar facilities.
From Calgary to West Glacier using US 89 and US 2 is only 5.5 hours. Over the GTTS highway will take a little longer since you will be stopping to see some things before arriving at Lake McDonald.
tomfuller is offline  
Mar 31st, 2011, 03:02 PM
Join Date: May 2005
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Hi we stayed at http://www.beckerschalets.com/ in 2007 and loved both the location and the cabins themselves. I see that some reviews are commenting that they need updating but we loved this spot.
Make sure you do Spirit Lake and the Jasper Tramway was fun as well as the Icefields parkway drive which was a real highlight.
A beautiful part of the world!
ozgirl is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2011, 03:53 AM
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We're coming from Boston so I think flying into Vancouver may be pricier than Calgary. It's an interesting idea to fly into Vancouver and take the rail to Washington and then over to Montana.
I'm still trying to figure out the best routes to take for this trip. Can anyone comment? So far this is what we're thinking of doing...
- Fly Boston to Calgary
- 1 night - Calgary
- 3 nights - Drive to Banff(1.5hrs)
- use as home base for 5 nights and visit all sites around - any recommendations on lodging or must see places?

- 3 night - Drive Icefield Parkway to Jasper(5 hrs??)
- use as home base for 5 nights and visit all sites around - any recommendation on lodging or must see places?

- 2 nights - Drive to Lake Louise(3.5 hrs) places to see??

- 3 nights - Drive to Glacier Park Montana Stay at Lake McDonald Lodge

- Want to take tour of Canadian Rockies via rail and can't figure out the most economical way to travel as a family- I think Jasper is the point we need to take the rail from...
The Canadian is $800 one way for our family - pretty pricey but I think it may be our only option?? Maybe we should fly into Vancouver and fly out of Vancouver and see the Rockies 2x via rail?? How long is this ride across from Vancouver to Jasper???
That may work...
stay0693 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2011, 06:17 AM
Join Date: Nov 2010
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Fly to Seattle or Portland. Take the Empire Builder. It joins at midnight in Spokane every night. The next morning you will arrive at Whitefish. The fare is half of what ViaRail charges.
From Whitefish to Banff (via Calgary) is less than 8 hours.
See Calgary, see Banff, see Jasper and Maligne Canyon. Drive over the Yellowhead Highway at least as far as Kamloops.
Drive east on Trans-Canada to Rt. 97. Take 97 south to the border where it becomes US 97. US 97 south to US 2 through Spokane to Whitefish and Lake McDonald.
Return the car and take Amtrak Empire Builder to Seattle. See Seattle and take the Amtrak train or bus to Vancouver to complete your trip.
ViaRail from Jasper to Vancouver is over 20 hours.
Amtrak from Seattle to Whitefish is 15 hours (overnight) 7 days a week. Gasoline is still cheaper in the US than Canada.
tomfuller is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2011, 09:54 AM
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Is the scenery as beautiful on the Amtrak route across the US as the Canadian train from Jasper to Vancouver?
stay0693 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2011, 10:08 AM
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You might be interested in "private home accommodation" in Jasper as an alternative to a hotel stay. These are rooms or suites within a resident's home... you can get a 2 bedroom suite with kitchen for about $150 - $200 per night, with no additional taxes. A hotel with kitchenette will be close to double that, with an additional 11% in tax (5% GST, 4% Alberta Tourism Levy, and 2% DMF) www.stayinjasper.com

VIA's trip from Jasper to Vancouver is an overnight one, and yes the scenery is pretty awe-inspiring. However, you will miss some of it in the dark. I'm not sure which fare it is you've checked, but one way to make it cheaper is to ride in coach (no sleeping accommodation) - sleeping is like on an airplane in a reclining seat; VIA provides blankets and pillows ... it's not an ideal way to spend a night, but I find I can do a one-night trip overnight on the train and still be functional the next day.

The Parks Canada website has really good information about each national park and what to do and see there (the park activities, not the paid attractions) ... www.pc.gc.ca . There are also some beautiful provincial parks in the area, like BC's Mt. Robson Provincial Park (Mt. Robson is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, and the park is adjacent to Jasper National Park). Also, if you drive west from Jasper to Kamloops instead of taking the train, Wells Gray Provincial Park is also a beautiful place to visit for a day or two. You can google "BC Parks" for more info on these.
krp329 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2011, 11:29 AM
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For the fare difference for a family of 4 you can get to see the same scenery from the rental car following the route I outlined. The problem is the return home from Whitefish or Kalispell Montana. (Fly or train?) The westbound train leaves about 9:20PM.
The eastbound train has great scenery from sunrise until you get in to Whitefish about 7:25AM. You will also come through a 10+ minute tunnel before you drop into Whitefish.
Going Westbound on the Canadian you do get a good look at Mount Robson before the sun sets.
I don't plan on visiting Canada again until prices come down.
tomfuller is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2011, 10:10 AM
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The loop I outlined is about 1450 miles. Less than 6 hours from Whitefish to Calgary and less than 6 hours from Calgary to Jasper (1.5 from Calgary to Banff)
There is also a HI hostel in Kamloops which is less than 6 hours from Jasper on the Yellowhead Highway.
After coming back into Washington state, you can stop and see the Grand Coulee Dam on the way back to Spokane.
Even if you fly to Montana and rent a car you can drive into Canada, you can see it all on your terms.
Check the prices of the Amtrak USA Railpass if you live somewhere near an Amtrak station.
tomfuller is offline  
Apr 5th, 2011, 09:57 AM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 34
I was a tour guide both in Calgary and Banff and spent a lot of time in Jasper so here goes.

In Banff - Drive the loop to Lake Mineewanka and take the boat trip down to the end (if time allows). You can also wander through the remains of Bankhead. Don't miss going up the Sulpher Mountain Gondola in Banff and allowing time in the hot pool (they rent and sell bathing suits if you don't have yours with you). Don's miss the Cave and Basin and take the little tour and then then walk up to the hole where the steam still comes out. Allow time to wander around the Banff Springs Hotel. Visit the Trading Post (just after the bridge on the right hand side). It dates back over 100 years. If the weather is poor you might want to pop into the Whyte Museum.
Lake Louise is a must see and allow time to take the drive to Moraine Lake (it was famous for being the scene on our $10 bill). At Lake Louise allow time to walk down to the end of it along the trail on the right side. Wander the hotel and if you want a nice place to stay head for the Post Hotel down in the village. If time allows I would head into B.C. (near Field) and take the drive to visit Takakkaw Falls. This is Canada's second highest waterfall (the drive from Lake Louise is maybe 30 minutes. Don't miss Emerald Lake (it's nearby not far from Field).
Jasper - Saskatchewan Crossing is where you stop for gas and ice-cream and washrooms. Allow time to pull over and admire the view sometimes. The ice-fields are very melted and a bit disappointing now but you still might want to say you stood on a glacier.
Earlier someone mentioned Becker's Chalets. It's about 9 miles before you reach Jasper and is my favourite place to stay (I got married there, on the banks of the river). Don't forget to go white water rafting in Jasper, go up the Gondola, and I guarantee if you want to see an amazing glacier the place to go is Mount Edith Cavell. This is really spectacular and not a very long walk from the parking areay. You won't regret visting this lovely mountain. Don't forget to turn off the road before you reach Jasper at both Sunwapta Falls and Athabasca Falls (both well worth a look). As previously mentioned don't miss Maligne Lake (highly suggest the boat trip down to Spirit Island) and do the the Maligne Canyon walk. I wish I could say there are good B&B's in Japser but there aren't...sorry!. Oh another lovely lake and walk just up from Jasper is Pyramid Lake and bungalows. I've stayed there to and it's not bad and right on the lake. Based on the time you've given you should be able to hit most of these places. In Calgary try your best to allow at least 5 hours to visit Heritage Park and if you want to dress up as a Mountie pop into Fort Calgary and ask for Ruth (She's off Tues and Wed) but she knows all there is to know about the history of Calgary. Tell her Baxter sent you. She also lived in Jasper and worked for a white water rafting company there as well as worked at Heritage Park for many years.
Have an awesome time....don't forget Mount Edith Cavell.
Not sure when you are going but the road up to the Mountain is no usually open until June. Hopefully you are there in June or later.
Baxterpoo is offline  
Apr 6th, 2011, 02:22 AM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 57
Few years ago we rented a van in Calgary my family( Children 6-10 and 13 years) grandfather and grandmother, 7 in total we visited Calgary,Banff,Columbia Icefield,Oakanagan Valley, Victoria, Nanaimo, Cathedral Grove , Tofino and finished at Vancouver. Lot of miles but a wonderful vacation. One of the top 5 of our family vacations
Minogami is offline  

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