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Jasper and Banff with 9 year old and Husband who hates crowds!

Jasper and Banff with 9 year old and Husband who hates crowds!

Old Jul 24th, 2017, 07:43 PM
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Jasper and Banff with 9 year old and Husband who hates crowds!

Hi All,

Our family will soon be spending approximately 2 weeks in the Jasper/Banff/Yoho area starting August 7th. We are pulling our pop-up camper with us from Michigan and on Monday August 7 will head up from Calgary area to our first camp spot at Whistlers Campground. We are staying there thru Saturday morning the 12th 5 nights) and hoping to high-tail it to Cochrane to see a rodeo (Police Rodeo?) and then stay in Calgary one night then Banff one night until we are camping at Tunnel Mtn Village II (4 nights) or Yoho Kicking Horse Campground if we can get in. Monday the 14th we thought we would head over to Yoho and see about camping, but at least hike something over that way...

My advice request is the following: My 9 year old is a fairly good hiker but only good for maybe around a 6 to 8 mile rt hike - not all day for sure. My husband also despises crowds and I have heard alot of rumblings about how crazy crowded this area will be this August.

So with all that in mind, what hikes/attractions/etc... would you recommend that me and my traveling companions should see and do and would most enjoy?

Also, my son loves to kayak - any (lesser crowded) lakes we could rent something from?

We are into off the beaten path stuff, local establishments (not chain restaurants), and local art and foods... Any advice would be most appreciated!
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Old Jul 27th, 2017, 01:16 PM
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hello,
too bad you are 'hightailing' from Jasper to Cochrane (a 4.5 hour drive) to get to the rodeo. This is a beautiful drive with many extra stops to see, in fact this for many is the highlight of the trip!
Can you cut short 1 day in Jasper and stop mid way so you can enjoy the sights? I looked at the rodeo in Cochrane and the events start at 1pm on the 12th. You would have to be set up in your camping spot already, which means you'd have to break camp in Jasper by about 6 am in order to travel.
I realize camping is tough to book at this late date in such a popular area, but I would have a look at some of the Jasper and Banff campsites along the way for 1 night.

To avoid crowds, try to get to your important sites either early in the day before 10 or later in the afternoon after 4 in order to avoid tour bus crowds. When we went to Lake Louise, we had the view to ourselves when we arrived around 9 am, but then the busses arrived, and it was wall to wall jostling for the best photo-op! Hiking during those hours should be fine, since there are no bus crowds doing hiking.

It is a beautiful area, with breathtaking scenery at every corner. For kayaking, there are rental outfits in both Jasper and Banff that would recommend spots or have organized day trips.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 03:47 PM
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Hi mdinbc,
After looking at our options to get to Cochrane by 1pm that day and the only feasible drive would be thru the Icefields Parkway on a crowded Saturday, we are now going to go to the Pincher Creek Rodeo the 20th of August as it is only 2 hours from Many Glacier Campground in MT and then we can stay another day in Jasper...

Do you have any favorite hikes less than 8 miles rt that you would recommend not strenuous? I would like to do the Plain of the Six Glaciers hike and also the Sunshine Meadows area...

And would you recommend both tram rides? Jasper and Banff? Is one preferred over the other?

Thanks much!
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 09:32 PM
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"We are into off the beaten path stuff, local establishments (not chain restaurants), and local art and foods... Any advice would be most appreciated!"

My thought is this:

Banff and Jasper are spectacular national parks, and because of that, they are certainly worth a visit. However, they are not off the beaten path. After Niagara Falls, they are by far the most popular tourist magnets in Canada. The towns of Banff and Jasper cater to tourists rather than locals and there really is no local food - they're alpine tourist towns with no local food culture. Food is grown elsewhere and brought in and cooked predominantly to appeal to tourists. There are places like the Wild Flour Cafe and the Whitebark Cafe, both in Banff, that I find attract locals, most locals are even from elsewhere. You're going to tourist towns.

For off the beaten path locations with more local (rather than tourist) flavour, consider the towns in the Kootenays (https://www.kootenayrockies.com/), which is adjacent to the Rockies, just west in BC. Compared to Banff and Jasper, which attract the international tourists by the busloads, the Kootenays seem to just attract locals and those in-the-know. Towns like Nelson, Kalso, and Rossland would probably appeal to you much more given what you're seeking They're probably more what you're looking for, although the scenery, while gorgeous, isn't the Rockies... but still have tons of spectacular hikes. Look up Bugaboos Provincial Park, Height of the Rockies Provincial Park, Top of the World Provincial Park, and Idaho Peak, just to get a taste.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 09:34 PM
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And I'm not saying 9 days in Banff and Jasper isn't worth it. I'm just trying to set your expectations. Expect crowds of international tourists in Banff and Jasper. If you're trying to avoid crowds, you're not going to find that in Banff and Jasper, although most tourists in Banff and Japer are the quick selfie/snap-and-shoot variety who spend 5 minutes at a lookout and then head back to the car or bus before heading elsewhere. Once you venture out on a trail in the Rockies, you typically leave the hoardes behind.
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Old Jul 29th, 2017, 06:16 PM
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Thanks for your input - I read it out loud to the spouse and we plan to do hikes nearly every day so hopefully we will be ok... We are camping so likely not eating out very much at all and will hit the touristy things first chance in the mornings...

I already know that we will want to return to the area -- so next time I think it is going to be those other parks you mentioned!
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Old Jul 31st, 2017, 11:44 AM
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+1 to the above advice

I would definitely book all your campsites ASAP. August 7 is the tail end of the holiday weekend and things will likely be booked solid for the rest of the week. There are the first come, first serve campgrounds (like Kicking Horse), but finding a spot would mean arriving very early and being patient. You can easily visit Yoho NP from Banff and save yourself the hassle of having to pack up/unpack more than necessary.

" no local food culture". Really? Having spent a lot of time in the Rockies, especially in the off season, I'd beg to disagree. Certainly, Alberta beef aside, there's not a true Alberta cuisine. But we have plenty of excellent local restaurants and they continue to cook good food and serve long after the tourists have gone.

In the Banff area, you can escape a lot of the tourist crowds by heading to Canmore/Kananaskis Country. Lots of hikes of all lengths - Grassi Lakes (if it's open again) in Canmore is great.

Around Jasper, see if you can get a permit for Edith Cavell. Note though, that trailers are not permitted on the road, so you'd need to leave the pop up at the campground or in the lower parking area before the gate. Wilcox Pass and/or Parker's Ridge along the parkway, and Bow Glacier Falls.

In Yoho NP, again I would not take the trailer up to Takkakaw Falls. There are two hairpin turns you'd likely have to back around. Nice hiking there. Also Emerald Lake has tons of shorter, not to tough options. Walk around the lake, and explore beyond the lake if you have time/energy.

Sunshine is beautiful, but it probably won't be an option. At the moment, it's closed again because of the Verdant Creek fire. The fire is still a few km from Sunshine Village, but they've closed both as a precaution and to allow it to be used as a staging area for fire suppression efforts.

As a note, I'm sure you're aware, but it's very important to keep a bear safe campsite. With a pop-up, you need to keep all food, scented items and drinks in the tow vehicle whenever you are away from the campsite or sleeping & avoid any eating in the pop up. With very few exceptions, pop ups are not solid enough to prevent an incursion by a bear that smells food/scented items.

As a note, the provincial parks in BC are excellent, but I would not recommend Bugaboos. It's stunning, but all the hikes are definitely strenuous - doable for kids, but not on the easy side of hiking. Also, access requires driving down 40km of very rough logging roads. Early in the season, conditions can require 4WD/high clearance, and parking has become a real challenge (plus the need to wrap the lower part of the vehicle in chicken wire to keep porcupines away).

For the trams, Jasper is probably better than Banff. Both have good views, but only worth the cost (not cheap!) if you will have a view.
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Old Aug 1st, 2017, 10:37 AM
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Old Aug 3rd, 2017, 10:38 AM
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Another nice hike is Johnston Canyon about half way between Lake Louise and Banff. It follows along a fast river with waterfalls and overhanging catwalks. There is a short and longer version of the hike, depending on how far you wish to go.
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