Itinerary issues... Just can't decide!!

Old Jan 8th, 2008, 03:40 AM
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Itinerary issues... Just can't decide!!

Hi all,
My boyfriend and I have decided on the Rockies & Vancouver as this yearís holiday destination. I am trying to come up with an itinerary that balances hiking and sight seeing with chill out time.
I have read and re-read many of the posts on this forum and the reviews of activities and hotels and the result is as follows:
Fly into Calgary on 29th September at 14.30pm, pick up car rental and drive to Banff or Lake Louise
Night 1: Banff/ LL
Night 2: Banff/ LL
Night 3: Banff/ LL
Night 4: Banff/ LL
Drive to Jasper via Ice fields Parkway
Night 5: Jasper
Night 6: Jasper
Night 7: Jasper
Night 8: Jasper
Drive to Whistler
Night 9: Whistler
Drive to Vancouver
Night 10: Vancouver
Night 11: Vancouver
Night 12: Vancouver
Night 13: Vancouver
Drop back rental car and fly back to Ireland on 12th October.
Ok, here's the questions bit:
We are not too keen on doing too much stop starting, meaning staying one night in a place and then packing up the next day to move on (although obviously this is inevitable when getting from Jasper to Vancouver). We prefer basing ourselves in one location and taking day trips.
My question is; is it *worth* taking in Jasper, or would we be better doing the Ice fields Parkway in a day trip from Banff/ LL and extending our stay in Banff/LL area before travelling to Vancouver via the Okanagan wine lands. (I put worth in between ** because Iím sure Jasper has many beautiful landscapes and mountains and Iím not dismissing it Ė but will staying there add something more to the trip that is not in Banff/LL?)
Having said that, I was bowled away by some of the scenery shown on the rocky mountaineer website (we were considering taking this but itís just out of our price league) but will you see this scenery if you drive from Jasper to Vancouver.
We are both scout leaders, so would be fairly adventurous and we are looking to get some good hiking time in, but we also enjoy good wine and good food.
This leads me to my next question. I am finding it hard to choose a place to stay in Banff and Jasper (if we get there!). I am obviously taken by the Fairmountís in both Banff and LL, but they are very pricy. I like the look of the Fox and Brewsters (although that doesnít seem to have gotten very good reviews on TA). Really, does anyone have a recommendation for a slightly upmarket hotel that is close to restaurants and downtown area. In Jasper however, the hotel choice seems to be quite limited with very few near downtown. I have never stayed in a log cabin/ bungalow resort, are there restaurant choices available in these?
So basically any thoughts on an authentic Rockies trip with as little moving about as possible would be most gratefully appreciated!!
Kind Regards,
Ciara
ciara30011984 is offline  
Old Jan 8th, 2008, 06:28 AM
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Sorry I can't recommend any hotels in Jasper; my favorite in Banff is the Rimrock. I think you're being awfully ambitious driving from Jasper to Whistler in one day and then to Vancouver the next day. Quite frankly I would leave Whistler out of the trip altogether, it's hugely expensive and you would have seen the best mountains already in Banff/LL and Jasper.
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Old Jan 8th, 2008, 07:55 AM
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To be quite frank, Jasper is beautiful, but not worth spending the amount of time you have allotted there - you will get bored pretty quick. Keep Banff as your base - you will have so much to do from there you won't regret it (albeit, you will be doing some driving to certain things). The Icefields Parkway area is definitely doable in a day - no problems at all. I've lived in the Banff/Canmore area for over 10 years, and have visitors all the time, and can honestly tell you that Banff is your best base. The other nice thing about Banff, is that you have a multitude of dining options at night, and with Canmore only being 20mins down the highway, you have even more. Also, there is so much to see in that area, that I've rarely seen posted on these boards - so, ask alot of questions even when you get there - locals really do give out great advice.
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Old Jan 8th, 2008, 10:10 AM
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Hi,

Not to be offensive, but do you realize your trip dates are during the "in between" season for the mountains? Generally, the hiking season is over at the end of September and skiing doesn't start until November (mid to late depending on snowfall). October can be mild, but it can also be quite cold and rainy/snowy (especially at the higher elevations). Mountain weather is always unpredictable, but more so that time of year.

If hiking and sight-seeing are your goals, I recommend changing your dates to be earlier in the year. I don't know if that's a possibility for you.

Jasper is nice, and there's some really nice hiking. It's also smaller, quieter and less touristy than Banff/LL. That may appeal to you. The Icefields parkway is a beautiful drive and would be worth at least a day trip to Jasper to do. It's about a 3 1/2 hour drive one-way.

Driving from Jasper to Whistler in one day is doable, but would be a real grind. It's 5 hours to Kamploops and then another 5 or so to Whistler. And that's assuming the roads are in good condition.
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Old Jan 8th, 2008, 10:54 AM
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I agree your drive from Jasper to Whistler will be a long one. I'd change your itinerary to include a three night (2 days) stopover somewhere in the Okanagan Valley, and then carry on to Whistler. Stay two nights at Whistler so you enjoy it for at least a full day.
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 07:46 PM
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I would not even consider driving Jasper to Whistler in 1 day. Cut the Banff/jasper days, stay in the Okanagan for at least 2 days (excellent time for the winery area, wine fests, catching the end of the good weather). Then move on to Vancouver
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 08:33 PM
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Agreed, the weather in early October can be very unpredictable. It might be gloriously beautiful, or snow. Also consider that is the time of year that the bears are fattening up for hibernation and many trails will be closed to hikers.

Your time in Jasper is generous, its a much smaller town than Banff. Maybe 1000 people? Everything is "downtown", except for the Jasper Park Lodge, because that's all there is! You'll have a car, so I wouldn't worry about hotel location.

The Icefield parkway is worth doing, it's beautiful.
Jasper to Whistler in a day is a long drive, its 800km. At that time of year there probably isn't really any reason to go there, as ski season hasn't started.

I'd skip Whistler, and do the Okanagan instead (the restraurant at Grey Monk winery is very good). Take your Whistler time and a day or two from Jasper and base yourself in Kelowna instead.

You'll have a good trip, but also allow yourself to stop and take in what interests you along the way, you'll see lots in that part of BC that is quite varied in terms of climate and gepography.
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Old Jan 18th, 2008, 11:53 PM
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I would cut time in or omit Jasper. Whistler is not exciting compared to the Rockies, in my opinion. (Love the drive along Howe Sound though.) I would skip Whistler and, as others have said, perhaps spend some time in the Okanagan.

I understand car rental prices are quite high the way you plan to do it.
April is offline  
Old Jan 19th, 2008, 06:42 AM
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I may be biased but I recommend you include Jasper. Many of the posters here will likely agree.
Some of the Jasper cabin type accommodations have on site restaurants. Beckers, Pyramid and Tekarra come to mind. I think they are all still open in early October but it would be worth checking.
Downtown Jasper has the small boutique hotel -
Park Place Inn which is very convenient to all the downtown restaurants.
Your odds of having good driving at the higher elevations are good at this time of year but early snowstorms have been known to cause havoc.
Also you may likely find that some of the higher elevation hiking trails are snow covered.
We don't have long fall foliage seasons but you should be coming through somewhere near the peak time for fall colours.
Enjoy your trip!
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Old Jan 19th, 2008, 11:04 AM
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Hi,

Jasper is actually a town of 4500, not 1000 as someone stated earlier (Banff is about 8000). There is as much to do in the Jasper area as there is in Banff, but I will concede that there are fewer shops & restaurants. However, there are still plenty of those, for a four night stay!

As someone else mentioned, your timing is a little late for the prime hiking (although perfect for fall colours - mainly yellows from aspens). Most years, by early October, the hiking trails in the subalpine ( ie. at elevations above about 5000 feet) will have already had snow and with the day & night warming and freezing cycles (at those elevations, nights are below freezing already at that time of the year), there will be ice on the trails, especially where it is shady in the forest, or on north or east facing slopes. I have hiked in the subalpine as late as Oct. 7 or 8 in exceptional years (years with a very warm & dry autumn), but that is rare, and even then, I encountered a few places on the trail that were dicey. I have also hiked in white-out blizzard conditions around September 20th. I guess I can assume, that as Scout leaders, you know the value of being prepared lol.... when hiking in the Rockies even in summer, you have be be prepared for any and all weather conditions, and this is ever more important in the fall (warm layers including gloves and winter toque, rain gear etc.).

The hiking lower down in the valley will still be fine, but maybe you not are coming all those miles for a nice hike in the woods? (although some of these hikes do have great views.) In any event, the best thing to do would be to visit the Parks Canada trail office before hiking to find out what the current conditions are, regarding snow/ice and bears. It is true that there is more of a chance of encountering a bear in the fall - they are in overdrive feeding frenzy mode, and usually at lower elevations, however, don't let that scare you, just be noisy (hoot and holler periodically) to let them know you are there. Don't bother with "bear bells"; these are not noisy enough and are basically something sold to gullible tourists as a money-maker. At that time of the year, the thing to be scared of is the rutting elk - give them a VERY wide berth.

There are lots of hotels in Jasper and the entire town is walk-able, only two miles long, with downtown in the middle. Jasper Tourism's website, www.jaspercanadianrockies.com has info on attractions and accommodations. Private home accommodation or B&B might also interest you - www.stayinjasper.com .

Personally, I would recommend you do both Banff and Jasper - they are "similar but different". Some of the more popular sites in JNP are: Mt. Edith Cavell, the Maligne valley (Maligne Canyon Medicine Lake, Maligne Lake), Miette Hot Springs, Athabasca Falls, Jasper Tramway etc. Also, Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, is an hour's drive west of Jasper, in BC's Mt. Robson provincial park.
krp329 is offline  
Old Jan 19th, 2008, 02:16 PM
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I agree with those who advise you to visit Jasper as well as Banff.
We were in the Rockies/Vancouver in 2006 and I actually liked Jasper a lot. It has a totally different vibe to Banff - more "homely". Banff is very smart, with lots of lovely shops and restaurants, but there is more than enough to do in and around Jasper for 3/4 nights.

If (when!) I go back to the Rockies, I'd be reluctant to miss out Jasper.
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Old Jan 26th, 2008, 07:41 AM
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Several years ago we took a trip from Calgary to Jasper. Fantastic scenery all the way. We stayed at the Lady Macdonald Country Inn in Canmore going to and on the way back to Calgary. This is a wonderful place to stay. accommodations, food and staff were excellent. It is an easy drive to Banff, Lake Louise and Lake Morraine
from here.
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Old Jan 26th, 2008, 05:36 PM
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Yes, keep Jasper in the itinerary. You will want to give yourself a full day to drive one-way on the Icefields Parkway so you can stop and see all the great sights along the way. There's some great short hikes to beautiful lakes or waterfalls. My favorite stop on the Parkway was a guided hike on the Athbasca Glacier (you need ot book this in advance but it's well worth it!)

Jasper is much less crowded and commercial than Banff (though at hat time of year, perhaps Banff won't be as corwded as the summertime?), so to me was much more of the natural experience that time in the mountains should be. So in summary... you can probably afford to cut a night, but don't miss out on Jasper.
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