Jasper/Lake Louise/Banff itinerary help?

Old Mar 21st, 2006, 04:32 PM
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Jasper/Lake Louise/Banff itinerary help?

Thank you in advance for all you experienced Canadian Rockies travelers. I really appreciate your advice and wisdom. My family (2 adults, 2 kids, ages 12 & 15) are taking an 8 day car trip. We'll land in Calgary and drive either to Jasper or Lake Louise. I'm wondering if the drive to Jasper will be too long, although we're just flying from SF and will be landing before noon. Is there an advantage to driving first to Jasper or could we drive first to LL (a shorter drive) then Jasper, then to Banff. We have 3 nights in Jasper, 2 in Lake Louise, and 3 in Canmore (I picked Canmore because it seems like you can get a bit more space for one's money). I'm trying to pick spacious places because I think our family gets along better when everyone has a bit of room to move around in after being in the car for drives. We are interested in short hikes, hot springs, possible river rafting, icefields, maybe canoeing. Thanks again!
joangk is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2006, 06:27 PM
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The shortest route from the Calgary airport to Lake Louise takes you past the turnoff for Banff. Going from Lake Louise to Banff and then to Jasper means backtracking twice.

I think you need to look at a map and see what I mean.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2006, 04:28 AM
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Our family of 4 (kids were 10 & 14) did this trip 1 1/2 years ago and I think your number of days in each town is right on target. Recommended short hikes include Johnston Canyon (between Banff & Lake Louise), Moraine Lake (Lake Louise), Maligne Canyon (Jasper), Angel Glacier (Jasper -- terrific hike next to glacier), and Old Fort Point Loop (saw a majestic elk on the trail, which leads to a gorgeous lookout over Jasper). The hike in Lake Louise to the St. Agnes Teahouse is a little more strenuous but highly-recommended. You can rest at the top and enjoy delicious sandwiches, snacks, and drinks. By all means do the Snocoach Tour on the Icefields Parkway, which was one of the best parts of our trip. Tip: take water bottles on board so you can sample the delicious, icy-fresh water coming down from the glacier! Our river rafting trip on the Athabasca River in Jasper was a bit mild for our tastes (class II rapids). Perhaps someone can recommend a somewhat more adventurous river. Miette Hot Springs are about an hour's drive east of Jasper and are highly recommended. For a brisk contrast, hop into the small pool adjacent to the hot springs pool. The water is about 50 degrees and I could do no more than stick my little toe in!
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Old Mar 22nd, 2006, 06:41 AM
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Hello joangk,

>>>>>>I'm wondering if the drive to Jasper will be too long, although we're just flying from SF and will be landing before noon. Is there an advantage to driving first to Jasper<<<<<<

If you are tight for time, that is, if you are trying to pack the Canadian Rockies into a very few days, then there is an advantage to going to Jasper first and working your way backwards for your return home from Calgary Airport.

Since you'll be landing before noon, it would be feasible to reach Jasper by that evening. Clearing immigration and customs at the airport takes about an hour. The drive to Jasper, not counting stops, takes about 5 hours. Give yourselves an hour to stop for a meal somewhere, and you could reach Jasper approximately 7 hours after landing.

However, I believe you will have enough days in the Rockies that you don't have to take that "boot camp" approach to reaching Jasper. Going all the way to Jasper on the day of your arrival would mean spending a lot of time sitting (when you combine the plane and car).

If you went to Lake Louise first and continued to Jasper later, you could drive the Icefields Parkway in a leisurely fashion in both directions. This would give you an opportunity to see some of the great scenic lookout points on the way up and then catch some of the ones you missed on the way back.

Although bob_brown is correct in pointing out the double backing aspect of your proposed itinerary, there is merit in ending up in Canmore if that can be your springboard for getting to Calgary Airport on the day of your departure. However, you can stay in Banff or Canmore on your last night only if your departure flight is around noon or later. If you have a morning flight, you pretty much need to spend your last night in Calgary.

For a US-bound flight, I think you should allow 5 hours from the time that you leave Banff/Canmore to take off time. You need 2 hours to drive to the airport, 2 hours to check in for a US-bound flight (I do not recommend trying to cut corners on that), and an extra hour for contingencies.

If you want to eat before your flight, I recommend eating at the airport before checking in. Once you reach the departure gates, the food choices are underwhelming.

I recommend 3 nights in Lake Louise, 3 nights in Jasper and 2 nights in Canmore. That would allow you to go rafting on the Kicking Horse River (Class III and IV rapids) in Yoho National Park from your base in Lake Louise.

Hope that helps.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2006, 04:19 PM
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First, you will be tracking over your steps while going from Banff to Jasper, up the Icefields Parkway. One interesting thought would be to drive from Calgary to Edmonton, staying at the Fantasyland Hotel at West Edmonton Mall (go to www.westedmall.com). There would be lots and lots of stuff for your family to do for the evening. Get an early start the next morning, and you will be in Jasper before noon. You could stay the 3 nights in Jasper, 2 in Lake Louise, and two in Canmore (especially since Canmore is so close to Lake Louise and Banff). From Canmore, you might want to explore Kananaskis Country (the foothills) for great hiking and outdoor activities, since you can see Banff and area just as easily using Lake Louise as a base. Go to www.kananaskis.com for more info about this area.
Have fun!
Have fun!
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