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jxt Feb 14th, 2009 10:03 PM

Itinery please for 3 nights in Rockies
HI, I need help planning an itinery for the Rockies - we are from New Zealand and this will be our first visit.
We can fly into either Calgary or Edmonton on the sunday evening (24th May). If we choose Edmonton, is it a realistic itinery to hire a car the next day & drive to Jasper, hopefully seeing somthing of the area & spending Monday night there. The next day (Tues) would be the icefields parkway, ending up in the Lake Louise/Banff area for Tues/Wed night. This would only give us the Wed in the Lake Lousie/Banff area and the next morning - we have a flight out of Calgary at 3.00pm on the Thursday How long do we need to allow to get from Banff area to airport & how long do we need to allow for check in for the flight?

LindainOhio Feb 15th, 2009 05:01 AM

Since I see you are taking a cruise that starts in Anchorage, I would spend this pre cruise time seeing the Kenai peninsula. 3 days is not enough time to justify the time it would take to get to fly to Calgary, get a car, drive, check in, check out etc.

We love the Canadian Rockies but if I was in Alaska, I would want to see as much as I could. I would choose it over the Rockies. (since I have never been to Alaska, I probably am not the best one to be advising you)but I have researched this a lot. Alaska is huge with spectacular scenery but it takes time to get around. There are also more wildlife viewing opportunities in Alaska. There are some really great posts here listing suggested itineraries for the Kenai peninsula. Search back--reading them will get you so excited for your trip. I get excited reading them and I am not even travelling there. I would love to spend 2-3 weeks travelling around the Kenai peninsula and seeing Denali.

If you really want to see the Canadian Rockies for only 3 days, I would fly into Calgary and spend the 3 days in the Lake Louise/Banff area. I would skip the drive to Jasper--even though we love Jasper. The Icefields Parkway drive takes all day with stops.

Speaking of spectacular scenery and great hiking--- We would also love to visit New Zealand but that is a really long flight for us here in Ohio.

ShelliDawn Feb 15th, 2009 09:14 AM

<i>we have a flight out of Calgary at 3.00pm on the Thursday</i>

Do you already have this flight booked? If so, and you are determined to see the Rockies for those 3 days (instead of as Linda suggests staying in the Alska area) then fly into Calgary as well. The fees for dropping a rental car off somewhere other than where you picked it up are way too expensive. It's only an hour drive from Calgary to the mountains (3 from Edmonton) so you'll be maximizing your time in them. You could do a day trip from Banff to the Columbia Icefields and back nicely.

jxt Feb 15th, 2009 09:24 AM

We are having 4 days pre cruise in Alaska - not very long I know but the best we can do. And yes I definitely want to see a glimpse of the Rockies! Thanks for the advice we will fly in &amp; out of Calgary. We will probably do the Icefield Parkway on our first day - should we plan to drive back to Banff the same day or stop in Jasper for the night &amp; then drive back the next morning?
LindainOhio - hope you make it to New Zealand one day, it is a lovely country, very scenic!

NorthwestMale Feb 15th, 2009 01:20 PM

The last time I was in the Canadian Rockies, I had taken a detour to Calgary on the way home from Alaska.

While the scenery was spectacular in areas near Banff and the like, it was very clear to me that the optimum time to see the mountains there just wasn't at a point immediately after driving through Alaska.

Alaska has mountains eeeeeeeeeeverywhere, and that renders the Canadian Rockies somewhat inferior for scenery.

Here's a photo of Alaska from outer space:

IF you are pressed for time, and on a tight schedule, while also making a semi-unrealistic quest to have a quick trip to the Cdn Rockies, I think that you might do just as well to not put yourself through so much with only a small window of time.

Alaska has mountains in every direction, and anyone traveling around the state can't help but see tons of them.

I suggest reconsidering your side trip.

laverendrye Feb 15th, 2009 01:37 PM

If you arrive on Sunday night, then drive from Calgary to Jasper on Monday, I would certainly stay there on Monday night. Tuesday you could return to the Banff-Lake Louise area and do some sightseeing in that area on Wednesday.

On the other hand, if you want to forego the Icefields Parkway, 3 and a half days is not too much to see the sights in that area, and you would have a much more leisurely visit. My inclination would be not to drive to Jasper. As beautiful as the drive to Jasper is, for the first time visitor the road between Banff and Lake Louise and into Yoho Park is just as scenic. Moreover, you would not really get much time to explore Jasper and its surroundings.

After your first visit, you will surely want to return to see more!

If you have a 3:00 pm flight on Thursday, you should allow an hour and a half from Banff to Calgary airport. Check-in is one hour for domestic flights and two hours for flights to the U.S. as you will clear U.S. customs and immigration at Calgary airport.

jxt Feb 15th, 2009 04:02 PM

Thanks everyone - the trip to the Rockies is prior to us going to Whitehorse to spend 3 days there with our son &amp; then onto Alaska. If we were not fitting in the visit to Whitehorse we would have spent more time in Alaska. The original trip to Canada was to see our son &amp; then we decdied to do the Alaskan cruise &amp; as we knew we were going to be in Whitehorse first we decided to start the cruise in Anchorage. Our son is going to join us in the Rockies &amp; then we will all travel up to Whitehorse. Yes I know I could cut out going to Whitehorse &amp; all spend the extra time in the Rockies but we do want to see his new life in the Yukon. The alternative is to cut out the Rockies &amp; spend the whole week in Whitehorse but we were trying to combine both!

DaveS Feb 18th, 2009 09:19 AM

I would go for it if this is your only chance to see the area. If it was me I’d base myself all three nights @ Lake Louise maybe at the Chateau (rates should be pretty good) or other. Schedule something like this:
- Arrive Monday and take a walk/hike right out from the Chateau beside Lake Louise and up to the teahouse or beyond. If you’re lucky the road to Moraine Lake will be open and you could visit there as well.
- Icefields Parkway. Not ideal as a day trip, but we did it our first time in the area. You wouldn’t have to drive all the way to Jasper to see most sights, maybe 400 Km. round trip. On a 12 hour day (days will be long) figure 5 hours driving and hour stops at Peyto Lake (maybe ½ hour), Mistaya Canyon, Columbia Icefields, Sunwapta Falls, and Athabasca Falls. Leaves time for lunch and other short stops for viewing along the way. View on the drive is different both ways.
- Venture out to Yoho Park with stops at Emerald Lake (nice place for lunch) and if the road is open to Takkakaw Falls. If you want a full day then head down to Banff to visit the Banff Springs Hotel and maybe the hot springs.
- Leave 10:30 – 11 AM for 3 PM flight.

You could also do this out of Banff if you prefer more of a town to stay in/near. Icefields drive would be that much longer though.

ltt Feb 18th, 2009 10:35 AM

fly in and out of calgary. i would not make the drive all the way to jasper but you could spend one day driving PART of the icefield parkway and then return to banff or lake louise - wherever you are staying. just stay in one place for the 3 nights.

jxt Feb 18th, 2009 09:28 PM

I have booked to fly in & out of Calgary - we arrive at Calgary 8.30pm so will probably spend the night there (unless you have any other suggestions) & then set off the next day. We do realise we will only get a taste of the area but am still looking forward to it. Have just booked the flights but haven't started to look at accommodation yet. I would like to at least do part of the Icefield Parkway but at least I have cut back my original plans of including Jasper!

haphol Feb 19th, 2009 07:24 AM

Hi! You mentioned your son is going to join you in the Rockies.Is he going to meet you at the airport then you'll all carry on together? I know alot of other's on this board will boo hoo this suggestion, but I would drive to Canmore the night you arrive. It'll probably take you about an hour or an hour and a half, depending. I would stay there for the whole 3 nights and tour from there. What did you want to do. Just site see or did you want to golf or raft or hike? It might be too cold yet to do any water stuff.

Banff is about a 20 minute drive from Canmore. You would probably spend close to a day there, if you go on the Gondola to Sulphur Mountain, then the Cave and Basin museum and the hot springs. A tour of the Banff Springs hotel would be nice too. There is a parks building on main street that have all the hikes, etc mapped out. Some are guided. I went once on a bird watching tour to the Vermillion Lakes just on the outskirts of Banff. But honestly, I saw more birds around my friends slough out on her farm. It was something to do though.

Another interesting hike, on a paved boardwalk, is Johnson's canyon. It isn't too far from Banff either and isn't too strenuous. A very nice falls, too and you can hike beyond, but we didn't.

There is also the Peter Lougheed Park which is in the Kananaskis region, between Calgary and Banff. The Spray Lakes are beautiful and there are nice places to hike around there too. If you like to Golf,the Kananskis golf course is beautiful! There is also a casino on the turn off up to there, if you like that kind of activity.

As far as accomodation goes, we stayed our last time in Canmore at a lodge called Blackstone lodge. It has a kitchen and separate bedrooms, so you could stay with your son, but it's more like a small apartment. It's new and clean with nice underground parking,pool and hot tub. Canmore has lots of nice little shops and some wonderful restaurants. It's busy but doesn't seem as touristy as Banff.

Like others have said, there is so much to see and do in the area. You'll just have to go out and enjoy it. Hope you love it and welcome to our province.

haphol Feb 19th, 2009 07:37 AM

Sorry, just me again. I see you have 4 nights that's even better! I just went to the Blackstone Lodge website. If you look under activities, there are lots of things listed to give you some ideas what to do in the area. Take care.

barryozed Feb 19th, 2009 07:39 AM

I have spent alot of time in the Rockies, we just love it. If you are lucky, try to get into Lake Ohara in Yoho Park (other side of the mountain from Lake of the most spectacular scenery in the Rockies, my wife says it is where God goes on vacation. Another place to look at on the way home is the back roads through Kananskis and stay at Mt. Engadine, beautiful small lodge that is visited each morning and evening by Moose who come to rollin the mud and eat the minerals in salt near the river....beautiful. Also stop in Johnson Canyon while driving through Banff, wonderful hike.

laverendrye Feb 19th, 2009 12:53 PM

I understand that the OP is arriving in Calgary at 8:30 pm from New Zealand. If that's the case I would certainly not recommend, as haphol does, getting in a rental car and driving to Canmore that evening. Better to have a good night's rest and set out in the morning than to drive through an unfamiliar city, in an unfamiliar car, on the other side of the road after a long and tiring flight.

jxt Feb 19th, 2009 01:10 PM

Hi, you are all giving me plenty to think about! Yes we will have travelled from NZ so will probably spend the night in Calgary but before booking will look at whether we could make it to somewhere like Canmore - our son (he is meeting us at Vancouver airport & flying over with us) could drive - he is 26 so no problems with him driving the rental car.
Also we will still be in NZ time so although tired it will still be daytime to us. We love walking/hiking (like golf too but not on the agenda for this holiday!)but would only want to do shortish walks (?1-2hrs)to combine with sightseeing. Definitely not casino type people - we like the outdoors, wildlife & meeting locals & fellow travellers.

Aramis Feb 20th, 2009 05:56 PM

Canmore is only about an hour from the Calgary airport and it will still be light until about 22:00 (sunset is 21:33)

I would make the drive, especially if your non jet lagged son can do it so that you unpack one less time and/or get an early start on some of the road work.

Alaska more scenic than the Canadian Rockies (scoff) - I mean really who do these folks they are saying that?

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