Jasper and Banff and Glacier

Old May 2nd, 2016, 05:16 PM
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Jasper and Banff and Glacier

I am sure these topic has been completely discussed, and I have looked at some of the discussions. We have a second home on the Olympic Peninsula but want to stretch our legs and eyes and see more of the beautiful BC and US scenery. Hiking and photography are uppermost on our to do lists. Our primary home is in Oklahoma so being able to tour this amazing country in the Northwest is such a treat for us. Are the following travel plans too ambitious to fully appreciate the areas we are touring?
1. Leave Port Townsend, Wa and drive to Kamloops, BC via the Frazier River canyon
2. Kamloops to Banff staying at the High Country Inn
3. Banff High Country Inn
4. drive the Icefields Parkway to Jasper- tent camp in oTenttik in a campground
5. drive back on the Icefields and splurge at the Post Spa
6. drive to Glacier (US) and spend the next three nights at Apgar Village beside Lake McDonald
return to Port Townsend

We definitely want to hike as much as possible. Or much as possible with a husband who also wants to take photographs.

One big question is whether or not we should spend the night in Jasper. Is it worth it to drive the entire Icefields Parkway? We definitely want to stop and hike along the way. Thank you for any guidance!
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Old May 3rd, 2016, 08:25 AM
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Welcome!

Jasper and Banff are in Alberta, not BC

First, when is the trip? And have you booked accommodation? Accommodation in the parks is already extremely limited for this summer (June - September) - if you haven't booked things yet, availability may really dictate your itinerary. The oTentiks are very popular and I suspect they have long since been completely booked since reservations opened in January. Japser is the trickiest for accommodation.

For Banff and Jasper, are you intending to spend one night in each place? If so, this plan is way, way too ambitious. We generally suggest at least 3-4 nights in the Lake Louise/Banff area and 2-3 nights in Jasper. That would just scratch the surface without that much hiking or photography time.

But, yes, you absolutely want to drive the full length of the Icefields Parkway. That's the crown jewel of the Rockies, and rated one of the most spectacular drives in the world. It's why you come to the Rockies!

If you only have this time frame, my advice would be to scrap Glacier NP. You barely have time for the Canadian Rockies, let alone Glacier NP in the US (we also have a Glacier NP in Canada so be clear which you mean to avoid confusion). Getting from Lake Louise to Glacier NP is essentially a full day - a day you don't have. And the scenery won't be that much different in Glacier NP that in the Canadian Rockies - with limited time, just do one area.

I would suggest driving across the Rockies - but don't stop in Kamloops. It's mostly chain hotels without much in the way of scenery - stop in Salmon Arm or Revelstoke or Kelowna.

Then spend three nights in Banff/Lake Louise, at least two in Jasper, then another in Lake Louise, Banff or Canmore before heading back to Port Townsend.
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Old May 3rd, 2016, 12:17 PM
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I so appreciate you advice! I was able to snag two nights in the oTentik at Jasper and have been trying to figure out a way to work around our reservation at Glacier, US. I also appreciate the advice of not stopping at Kamloops and I found a lovely B and B at Revelstoke, so that may become our stop. Perhaps we will have to ditch the Glacier reservation and save that for another visit. Thank you again for giving me a heads up on the time needed in each area.
and..oops..sorry about the boundary issue. I am sure Alberta justly claims much/most of the Park as theirs. Again, thanks!!
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Old May 3rd, 2016, 12:43 PM
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Sorry about the clown face - that was a smiley!

Banff and Jasper NPs are entirely in Alberta - Yoho and Kootenay NPs are in BC. So while the Rockies are in both provinces, the park boundaries are clearly delineated.

Great that you got the Otentiks. Note that you still need to bring bedding/sleeping bags and any cooking gear. Given current weather, fire bans are quite likely, so plan on needing a stove or going into Jasper for any hot food.
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Old May 3rd, 2016, 01:26 PM
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Again...thanks so much for all your clarifications and reminders about fires, especially in regards to cooking!
We are going in late August and it looks like we can choose between Banff/Lake Louise accommodations at the High Country Inn or a vrbo at Johnson Canyon resort or perhaps Lake Louise Inn. Are you familiar with any of these properties? You have been most helpful!!
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Old May 3rd, 2016, 02:30 PM
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The High Country Inn is in Banff, not Lake Louise. Right on the main street, so easy walking distance to restaurants & shops. And on the Roam bus line. Nothing fancy - low to mid range.

Johnston Canyon Resort is just a hotel with basic cabin-style accommodations right off the 1A about halfway between Banff & Lake Louise. It's not a VRBO like you might be thinking - private rentals aren't permitted in the national parks. They just list on VRBO as well as having their own direct booking.(I would check rates on their home page as VRBO rates may be a bit higher to cover the cost of listing on VRBO).

The term resort is used very loosely in the Rockies - in this case, it's just a cabin-style hotel. There are no private grounds or any other amenities besides cafe & gift shop.

Pretty location, but it will be super busy during the day because just about every bus tour stops at Johnston Canyon & at the cafe/gift shop. Only the one dining room with set hours, so you'd be looking at 20-30 minutes drive to Banff or Lake Louise for other dining or shopping options.

Lake Louise Inn is right in Lake Louise - it's in the "village" area, about 4km from the lake. Again, village is a loose term because there is no residential area - it's a cluster of hotels, and one tiny "mall" with a handful of shops. Plus some housing for hotel & ski resort staff. The Inn has an informal dining room, and is within easy walk of several other options. It's not fancy, but I've heard good things from people who have stayed there.

So your choice is going to be about location - all are going to be equal in terms of accommodation, with Johnston Canyon probably the most basic. Johnston Canyon will be a drive to anything but Johnston Canyon, the others will have lots of walkable options (or in Lake Louise, easy drive to the lake).
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Old May 4th, 2016, 04:43 AM
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Driving from Port Townsend WA to Revelstoke will make for a long day if you take the Fraser Canyon route. I suggest that you take the Coquihalla Highway (No. 5) from Hope to Kamloops and continue from there to Revelstoke.

You might also want to take several hours to visit Revelstoke NP before heading on to Banff/Lake Louise. Depending on the month, you can drive the Meadows in the Sky Parkway to a point 6000ft above the Columbia River and a short hike to the summit.

Alternatively, you could stop in Golden BC and take the gondola at the Kicking Horse resort. There is a very nice restaurant at the top and wonderful views in all directions.
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