Jasper to Canmore


Feb 5th, 2007, 01:35 AM
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Jasper to Canmore

I've been reading all the wonderful postings so I'm rethinking my itinerary and would appreciate some assistance.
I'm taking my 70 something parents to Canada next September. We'll be arriving in Jasper by train at 4PM. I've booked the Whistler's Inn for it's proximity to the train station. The next morning I pick up a rental car at Avis. We have almost four days to see the area. We have reservations in Calgary on the last night and also the car will be dropped at the Airport so we won't have to backtrack anywhere.
So what's a good itinerary? My parents are in good shape but hiking would be minimal, more like walks. I was thinking one night somewhere between Jasper and Banff, allowing enough time to do the Icefields Glacier tour. Canmore seemed a good choice for two nights and I was looking at the Drake Inn because it looked like an easy walk to town. Any suggestions?
stxdeb is offline  
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Feb 5th, 2007, 07:07 AM
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i would spend at least 2 nights in jasper. a full day to see the icefield parkway on your way to banff (don't spend a night along the way - not too many great places and you can do it in one day). then i'd stay your last few nights in banff. then onto calgary. with so few nights, i would stay right in the town of banff rather then canmore.
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Feb 5th, 2007, 07:17 AM
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I agree with ltt. I definitely agree with the 2 nights in Jasper. I might suggest Lake Louise instead of Banff.

Here's a suggested itinerary.

Day 1 Ė Arrive in Jasper, stroll around the town.

Day 2 Ė Rent car and drive 7 miles to Maligne Canyon. Spend an hour or two walking there. If you take it at a leisurely pace, it is not difficult. Continue to Maligne Lake, which is about another 45 minutes beyond Maligne Canyon. Consider doing the cruise across Maligne Lake to Spirit Island. Not everyone likes this cruise, so do a word search for other posts about it, and make up your own minds. I actually do like it. If time permits (and especially if you do not do the cruise to Spirit Island), return to Jasper townsite and then do the beautiful drive to Mount Edith Cavell. Stop a couple of times along the way to look at the views of the Astoria River Valley. Spend this night in Jasper again.

Day 3 Ė Drive the Icefields Parkway to Lake Louise. It nominally takes 3 hours to drive the Icefields Parkway from Jasper to Lake Louise. However, if you stop at the scenic lookout points, it takes more like a full day. There are many places to stop, but the bare bones basic list includes Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls, the Columbia Icefields (thatís where you ride the Ice Explorer onto the Athabasca Glacier), and Peyto Lake.

Day 4 Ė Visit the lake of Lake Louise (3 miles from the village of Lake Louise). Walk along the lakeshore path. At Lake Louise there is an optional hike you can do to Fairview Lookout. Itís an uphill walk of just over half a mile. The path departs from the boat dock from which they rent canoes. If you are willing and able to do that little hike, the elevation you will gain will provide you with a better view of Lake Louise than you can get from the shoreline (albeit the shoreline path is very nice too).

Then visit Moraine Lake. Walk the shoreline path. Have lunch at the restaurant at Moraine Lake. Then walk to the top of the pile of rocks at the north end of Moraine Lake. Although this walk is uphill, it is a must. My sister, who was 69 and on a waiting list for knee surgery, made the effort to do that walk in September 2006. When she got to the top she said she was ever so glad she had because it would have been an awful shame to have missed that view.

In summer I recommend that folks visit Moraine Lake first and Lake Louise second. Thatís because Moraine Lakeís parking lot fills up as the day wears on, and itís nice to get there ahead of the crowds.

However, in September there is another consideration that does not exist in summer. In September the sun gets up over the surrounding mountains later in the day, around lunch time. When Moraine Lake is shaded, it is a very pretty blue-turquoise colour. But when the sun shines on it, it changes to a green-turquoise colour that is spectacular. The ideal is to see both colours, the blue-turquoise and the green-turquoise. If you can see only one colour, itís better to see the green-turquoise.

In the afternoon do the 50 minute drive to Banff townsite. I recommend the ride in the gondola up Sulphur Mountain. Stroll around the town of Banff. I donít know if youíll have time to do much more than that.

You could drive to Calgary and have dinner there. But there also is merit in staying in Banff townsite for dinner and driving to Calgary after dinner. That way you would miss Calgaryís rush hour traffic.

If youíll be catching a morning flight out of Calgary on Day #5, the most convenient area for you to stay in would be the northeast quadrant in which the airport is located. Greenwood Inn is a pleasant property in that area. If itís too rich for your purse, do a Google search for HOTEL + CALGARY AIRPORT. Hotels that are in the vicinity of the airport are recognizable from the fact that their street addresses end in NE, and many of them have the word "airport" in their name. But there is only one hotel, the Delta Calgary Airport Hotel, that is actually inside the airport complex.

If your flight will leave Calgary around noon, you could actually spend your last night in the Banff / Canmore area. But be aware that you should leave Banff / Canmore about 5 hours before your flight. Itís a 2 hour drive to Calgary Airport, you need 2 hours for check in, and I like to leave an extra hour for contingencies.

Once youíve gone through airport security and US immigration and customs, the food choices at the departure gates are abysmal. If you want to eat before your flight, you would be better off using the airportís quite respectable food court on the second level or one of the full service restaurants on the third level. The best restaurant in the airport complex is the one in the Delta Calgary Airport Hotel.

The people in the Canadian Rockies usually are very friendly, and you ought to be safe from humans. Last summer, however, I had two different friends whose vehicles were broken into in the Canadian Rockies. This was a shock to me. It was something that had been unknown to me in the previous 30 years. But, because these incidents have taken place, Iíll warn you to keep your passports in your hotel safe. On days on which you are transferring from one place to another, keep your passports with you when you stop at scenic lookout points. Keep your luggage in the locked trunk of your car. Do not leave cameras and other valuables on a car seat. Since youíll be catching the train, I take it youíll be sight seeing in Vancouver as well. This advice also is applicable to Vancouver.

Hope that helps.
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Feb 5th, 2007, 02:53 PM
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Great itinerary Judy. Thanks also to Itt. But I have one more night... if I spend two nights in Jasper and one night in the Lake Louise area, I will have one more night before I have to spend the night near the Calgary Airport. And yes, I have a very early departure so I'm staying at the Hilton Gardens ( recommmended on this site).. I'll drop the car around 5PM and take the hotel shuttle back to the hotel.. By then it will be a bite to eat and ealy to bed. So, what else can I do in this expanded time?
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Feb 5th, 2007, 03:16 PM
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You may have time to include visits to Takakkaw Falls and Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, to the west of Lake Louise.

On the day that you drive to Banff, you'll have time to visit Johnston Canyon and walk to the Lower Falls.

Then it would be fine to stay at Drake Inn in Canmore.

On the day that you drive from Banff / Canmore to Calgary, you can take the longer, more circuitous, but very scenic route through Kananaskis Country. It's described on this page of my website:

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Feb 5th, 2007, 06:25 PM
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I have driven the Icefields Parkway from soth to north and south to north more than once, with a few part-of-the-way trips thrown in.

As said, there are not many places to stay. The Icefields Chalet at the Icefields Center has motel rooms, which are ok. The problem is the cafeteria.
My son ate there (he is 47) and said it was UGH!

The Crossing is a motel-gas station-restruatnt conglomerate about two thirds of the way along toward Lake Louise. It is acceptable, but not luxurious.

There is also the Num Ti Jah Lodge, which I have have never used nor do I know anyone who has. Most reports on it say it is overpriced for what you get.

For a day long trip south on the Icefields Parkway, I encourage stops at Athabasca Falls, the Icefields Center, and quite a few of the pullouts along the way. Peyto Lake is a short walk after a quick detour off the parkway to the parking lot. It is heavily visited I might add, but the view is almost required!!

Around Lake Louise, I endorse highly Takkakaw Falls. Get as close as you can with out taking a bath! The force of the falling water is awesome.

The Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are 5-star attractions. Which first? I would say get to Lake Louise early in the day before the tour bus mobs arrive.

Moraine Lake also is very popular, so I think it is a tossup as to which to try and see first. The viewing area at Lake Louise is larger.

The best view of Moraine Lake is from the rock pile at the parking lot end. Climbing up on that thing can be a little tricky, but I did it when I was 71, post hip replacement, so I don't think it should be a major problem if you are prudent.

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Feb 5th, 2007, 06:37 PM
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I was in a hurry when I posted my last message. If you run out of time to do things at the east end of Banff National Park on the day that you drive from Lake Louise to Banff / Canmore, you would have time to do one or two things in the Banff area on the morning of the day that you drive to Calgary. That is true even if you drive to Calgary via Kananaskis Country.
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Feb 6th, 2007, 12:58 AM
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jannieween is offline  
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Feb 6th, 2007, 04:00 PM
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Wow, so much to see so little time. I need to spend some time studying the map and I'll regroup. I'll let you know what I come up with! Thanks to all.
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