Lake Louise to Banff

Old Sep 27th, 2005, 04:00 PM
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Lake Louise to Banff

How does one get from Lake Louise to Banff? And from Banff to Jasper? Jasper to Calgary?
Auscaz is offline  
Old Sep 27th, 2005, 04:54 PM
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Arghhhhhh! When I click on your name to see the history of your posts in order to find out more context, I don't see the posts I was hoping to see.

Perhaps it's my imagination, and perhaps I'm getting you mixed up with someone else, but I seem to recall your asking questions in connection with a winter trip. It would be helpful if you could confirm whether I'm right or wrong about that.

Also, I seem to recall that you (if you are the person I'm thinking of) will be travelling with your spouse and two children.

The time of year, the number of people in your party, and the point from which you'll approach the Canadian Rockies all affect the answer to your question.

If you were travelling in summer, I would say drive, drive, drive, drive, drive.

Even if you're travelling in winter, I'd be inclined to say drive.

From your name, you must be from Australia. Perhaps driving on the right hand side of the road (and what's more, driving in winter) may give you pause for thought. However, if you were willing to do it, it would give you the most flexibility.

On the Alberta side of the Rockies, the roads usually are in good shape. Occasionally driving is treacherous (e.g., when there is a blizzard in progress) or even not permitted (e.g., on the rare occasions on which the Icefields Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper is closed owing to freezing rain or something like that).

When you travel in this part of the world in winter, it helps if your itinerary allows one or two spare days for contingencies of the kind that I've mentioned.

Most of the time, however, the paved roads are well maintained, and driving on them is very feasible if you take some common sense precautions.

It is particularly easy to approach the Rockies from the Calgary side, i.e., from the east.

Driving from Vancouver, i.e., from the west, can be a little more challenging. For a start, it's a long drive. What with the number of hours of sunlight being as few as they are in winter and the drive being as long as it is, I think it's a good idea to break it up with an overnight stop.

In addition to that, the west side of the Rocky Mountain range cops more snow than the east side. It is not uncommon for the TransCanada Highway (Hwy #1) to be closed somewhere between Golden and Revelstoke, BC for a day or two, once or twice a winter.

Actually the Rockies are only one of several mountain ranges between Lake Louise and Vancouver. British Columbia has what is known as a shattered climate. That is to say, each mountain has its windward side that gets lots of precipitation and its leedward side that gets much less precipitation. Hence, within a relatively few kilometres of each other, you can have temperate rainforests and rather arid areas. Anyway, the point of telling you that is to point out that there are several stretches of road between Vancouver and Lake Louise on which, if your luck went that way, you could encounter a dump of snow while you were driving.

It's possible to drive from Vancouver to Lake Louise or from Vancouver to Jasper. However, if you did that in winter, I would highly recommend a planned overnight stop. In addition to that, it would be even more important to have a couple of days' grace built into your itinerary.

If you have reservations about driving from Vancouver to the Rockies, you could catch a train. In that case you would have a few options.

The expensive Rocky Mountaineer could take you from Vancouver to Banff or Vancouver to Jasper. In either case, the train would stop in Kamloops for the night, and you would stay in a hotel in that town. The journey would take the better part of two days. You'd travel only in daylight, so would see all of the scenery along the way. The journey from Vancouver to Kamloops is identical in both cases. Although both mountain routes are scenic, the one from Kamloops to Banff somewhat more so than the one from Kamloops to Jasper.

Another train is VIA Rail. It travels through the night, so you miss some of the scenery. Besides that, it only gives you the option of going to Jasper, not Banff.

The cheapest amongst the non-driving options would be to fly from Vancouver to Calgary and pick up a rental vehicle in Calgary.

When you leave Calgary and drive westwards, the first town you reach is Banff (about 1.5 hours from Calgary's western city limit). If you continue northwest from there, you get to Lake Louise in another 50 minutes.

Then you head north from Lake Louise for about 3 hours and reach Jasper. The Icefields Parkway, the road between LL and Jasper, is particularly scenic. It is open for the vast majority of the time through the winter. The only time it closes is in exceptional circumstances brought on by harsh weather. That said, you should be aware that the few facilities that exist on the Icefields Parkway in summer (3 restaurants and 1 gasoline or petrol station) are closed in winter. Therefore, it's all the more important to be self-sufficient when you turn onto the Icefields Parkway in winter.

The Icefields Parkway is not served by rail, so you cannot catch a train from LL to Jasper.

There are bus services that operate in the area. For example, there are shuttle buses that go from Calgary Airport to Banff and Lake Louise. There are shuttle buses that connect Banff and Lake Louise to each other and to each of the ski resorts in the area (Norquay, Sunshine, and Lake Louise). (Lake Louise is an odd case, because there are a lake, a village and a ski hill that all go by that name, and they're all a few kilometres from each other.)

There are not many bus services that operate between Lake Louise and Jasper in winter. In fact the only one of which I'm aware is the one operated by Sun Dog Tours. But I'm open to correction on that point. There may be others of which I'm not aware.

I think you will find, however, that if you are a family of four, and especially if your children are teenagers paying adult fares, bus fares will work out to be pretty expensive.

I still believe your most economical option is to rent a vehicle and drive, if you're willing to do that.

Here is another post in which winter driving advice was offered to another poster:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...9&tid=34680098

If you are going to drive in the mountains in winter, please do follow the links. They contain important information.

If I am wrong about your story, especially about the timing of your trip, please disregard what I've said. My suggestions would be different if you were visiting in summer.
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Old Sep 27th, 2005, 08:31 PM
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Hi Judy - you are amazing considering the number of people you advise!! Yes I am travelling in winter with husband and two teenagers. Despite all the fantastic advice about the Rockies, I still cannot get my head around the planning, only insofar as where to go when.

We have booked and confirmed Lake Louise until 27 Dec and need to be in Whistler on 3 January. We are looking at Banff and Jasper and it seems from observing these forums, that Jasper is preferable to Banff for teenagers. That said, and having 7 nights to organise, we are trying to decide how long to spend in each and where to spend New Year. We had intended to stay at the Banff Springs, but I have yet to read a positive comment about it in a forum!

I am also wondering if we would be better off being in Vancouver for the night of 2 Jan, so that we can go to Whistler from there. Are the two Faimont Hotels (Banff and Jasper) witihn walking distance of their respective villages.

Thanks for your advice re driving. I think my husband views this as a last resort!

My boys have never ski/ snowboarded before so I am sure we will find plenty to do. I just don't want to be in a position where we are spending so much time travelling from one place to another. Teenagers don't do this very well. Perhaps we should forget Banff completely and just go to Jasper for 5 days and back to Vancouver for 2, altho that requires flying on 1 Jan, which may be a problem being a public holiday.

Hope you aren't too confused by the above! My travel agent is pressurising us to make some decisions, in order that we might book I suppose.
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Old Sep 27th, 2005, 09:52 PM
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>>>>>>We are looking at Banff and Jasper and it seems from observing these forums, that Jasper is preferable to Banff for teenagers.<<<<<<

I don't know from which post you got that impression, Auscaz. I personally am someone who prefers Jasper to Banff in summer. That's when I appreciate Jasper's quietness compared with Banff. Banff is so full of people in summer. But even in summer, I try to qualify my opinion by saying that Jasper and Lake Louise are better for people who like quieter places, who want more rest and relaxation, and who want to feel closer to nature. I try to remember to state that people who like the "buzz" of a busy town, with its restaurants, shops and people, would prefer Banff.

Now when it comes to winter, I like paying brief visits (of a couple of days each) to each of the mountain towns. Of the three, Banff holds my interest for the longest period. Of the three, I think Banff is the best for teenagers. There is the most for them to do in Banff. But Jasper is fine for them too. If they're skiing / snow boarding, Lake Louise is great too.

Anyway, I'm saying all this so you won't be put off Banff, which is a fine place to stay in winter. From Banff, your kids can get the shuttle bus for the 16 km ride to Sunshine, which is a great place to ski and snowboard. My younger son (early 20s) has just relocated to Vancouver for a year. However, for several years in a row until now he had bought a season's pass for Sunshine. He and his friends would go up there every opportunity they got. He is not a skier, but a snowboarder. He loves Sunshine for boarding.

>>>>>>We had intended to stay at the Banff Springs, but I have yet to read a positive comment about it in a forum!<<<<<<

I have read plenty of positive comments about it on forums. I believe some of the negative comments come from the summertime, when tourists who are not guests of the hotel traipse through it. This is not nearly as much of a concern in winter.

Another thing that is hit and miss about the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, or so I've heard, is that the room sizes are inconsistent. Friends of ours stayed there during a quiet part of the winter. We saw their room. They had paid for a regular room, and they were upgraded to a suite at no extra cost and without asking. On the other hand, I've heard stories of guests being assigned quite small rooms. One of the things about the Banff Springs is that, while it's a magnificent looking building, it is old and therefore quirky. That is, the room sizes are different.

I have heard good things about the service there. Apparently the concierge is excellent, and you can ask to be set up with every imagineable winter activity.

However, if you want to be sure ahead of time of the room size you're going to get, you'd be better off going to the Rimrock. It's a more modern hotel, and its rooms are consistently sized. I've stayed there, and the service is excellent.

I'm on record as saying that I prefer smaller, more intimate hotels. If I have any say in the matter, I steer clear of the big hotels. But again, that statement needs qualification. Usually I'm providing an opinion to a summer visitor.

My opinion is just the opposite in winter. When it's cold outside, having larger indoor spaces in which to wander around is a welcome feature. In winter I like the big hotels.

The Banff Springs, Rimrock, Chateau Lake Louise all are beautifully decorated for Christmas, and I'm sure the same is true of the Jasper Park Lodge as well.

>>>>>>Are the two Faimont Hotels (Banff and Jasper) witihn walking distance of their respective villages.<<<<<<

They are a little way out of town. I have walked from the Banff Springs Hotel to town in winter. It's definitely feasible.

I consider the Rimrock to be beyond walking distance from town, but I understand it has a shuttle bus into town.

The Jasper Park Lodge is not within walking distance of Jasper townsite, well certainly not in winter.

I'll put on my thinking cap and provide you with one or two suggested itineraries in the next post.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Sep 27th, 2005, 11:16 PM
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Here are a couple of itineraries to consider:

Itinerary #1

Tue, Dec 27 Transfer by shuttle to Banff

Wed, Dec 28 - Banff

Thu, Dec 29 - Banff

Fri, Dec 30 Banff

Sat, Dec 31 Shuttle bus to Calgary. Fly to Vancouver.

If you fly from Calgary to Vancouver, you need to leave Banff 4 hours before your plane's departure time. If you were catching an international flight, I would say 5 hours, so as to allow for the 2-hour check in that is required for international flights. However, since Calgary to Vancouver is a domestic flight, I imagine it'll require only 1 hour for check in. In that case it probably would be okay to leave Banff 4 hours before take off. This page of my web site explains my thinking about timing:

http://groups.msn.com/CalgaryandCana...s/airport.msnw

If I were you, I would pick the brains of the people at the shuttle bus company about optimum timing as well.

Oops, now to continue with the itinerary:

Sun, Jan 1 - Vancouver

Mon, Jan 2 - Vancouver

Tue, Jan 3 Whistler

Itinerary #2

Tue, Dec 27 - Banff

Wed, Dec 28 - Banff

Thu, Dec 29 - Banff

Fri, Dec 30 SunDog bus to Jasper

Sat, Dec 31 Jasper

Sun, Jan 1 Jasper

Mon, Jan 2 Catch VIA Rail train from Jasper at 3.30 p.m. Overnight on train.

Tue, Jan 3 Arrive in Vancouver at 7.50 a.m. Transfer to Whistler (about a 2-hour bus ride).

More in next post .....
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Old Sep 27th, 2005, 11:20 PM
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Variations

Rocky Mountaineer

If you want to catch the Rocky Mountaineer instead of VIA Rail, you would have the option of travelling by train from Banff or Jasper. In either case, you would have the option of departing on Thursday morning (arriving in Vancouver late Friday afternoon), Sunday morning (arriving late Monday afternoon) or Tuesday morning (arriving late Wednesday afternoon).

I think a Tuesday departure on the Rocky Mountaineer is out, as it would get you to Vancouver too early or too late for your needs.

One option is to depart on the Rocky Mountaineer on Thu 29th. It would get you to Vancouver on the afternoon of Fri 30th. That would give you Sat, Sun, Mon in Vancouver before your Tue 3rd transfer to Whistler.

Another option is to depart on the Rocky Mountaineer on Sun 1st. It would get you to Vancouver on the afternoon of Mon 2nd, and give you that Monday night in Vancouver before your Tue 3rd transfer to Whistler.

More .....
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Old Sep 27th, 2005, 11:25 PM
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Flying from Edmonton

Still another option, which I haven't mentioned so far, is transferring from Jasper to Edmonton International Airport (which is about a 4-hour drive) and then flying from Edmonton to Vancouver.

But remember that a 4-hour drive to an airport really means departing from Jasper 6 hours before taking off. By my calculation you need 4 hours for the drive, 1 hour for check in, and 1 hour for contingencies.

If you're staying at the Jasper Park Lodge, they have a shuttle bus that takes their guests to Edmonton Airport.

SunDog does not have a scheduled bus service from Jasper to Edmonton Int'l Airport. It does run a fairly costly limousine service to the airport, but the cost would be more reasonable if it was shared amongst 4 people. Still another option is to catch the Greyhound bus from Jasper townsite to downtown Edmonton, and then catch Greyhound's shuttle bus from downtown Edmonton to Edmonton Int'l Airport.

You can look up Greyhound's Jasper-Edmonton schedule and fares on their web site. Their airport shuttle bus does not show up on their web site. I phoned them about it on behalf of another poster not all that long ago. If I remember correctly, the airport shuttle bus left every half hour on the half hour. The ride took just under half an hour. If memory serves me correctly, the shuttle fare was in the order of C$13 per person (but my memory on that point is fuzzy).

More ......
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Old Sep 27th, 2005, 11:27 PM
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Keeping everyone happy

All the options I've given you are feasible by public transportation if your husband absolutely doesn't want to drive.

Something your husband and you might want to do is look at my list and eliminate any ideas that are unacceptable to you for any reason (because of budget considerations, your husband's wishes around driving or not driving, etc.).

Then you might want to lay the acceptable options before your teenagers and let them choose. We found that, when our kids were teenagers, there was better "buy in" when they had participated in the decision.

Hope that helps.
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Old Sep 28th, 2005, 04:05 AM
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I would say, that Banff & Lake Louise is wonderfull for skiing. You have access to different mountains and can enjoy the different slopes. Access is possible by bus-transportation.

Jasper skiing areal is small in comparison to Whistler or Banff/Lake Louise.

The Jasper park lodge is outside the village and you need a ground transportation into the village (it is not in walking distance). Also all other activties in Jasper require ground transportation by bus or car.

Whistler is different and you do not need a car in Whistler. Most point of interest are within walking distance.
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Old Sep 28th, 2005, 09:46 AM
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Auscaz, I agree with everything tom22 has said (and he managed to say it without writing a novel ).

Jasper to Calgary

The reams of information I provided notwithstanding, no one has yet answered your question on how you would get from Jasper to Calgary.

Driving

Nominally the drive from Jasper to Calgary takes 5 hours (assuming good road conditions, etc.). If you were driving the route yourselves, you undoubtedly would want to stop in Lake Louise or Banff for lunch. Allow at least half an hour for that, but more realistically an hour. If you're flying out of Calgary, allow an hour for check in. Then add an hour for contingencies. So, if it was my trip, and I was flying out of Calgary, I would leave Jasper 8 hours before my plane's departure time.

Just in case you think there may be a short cut that connects Jasper and Calgary without having to drive past Lake Louise and Banff, there is not. The LL / Banff route from Jasper to Calgary is the shortest one.

SunDog bus

SunDog Tours has a number that is toll free in Canada (and probably in the U.S. too). The number is 1-888-SUNDOG1 or 1-888-786-3641. Obviously it's not accessible from Australia, so I took the liberty of phoning them and asking them the timing and pricing of their bus service from Jasper to Calgary. Kelly Ann, who answered the phone, gave me the following information.

The bus leaves Jasper at 8.00 a.m. and gets to Banff between 12.15 p.m. and 12.30 p.m. The bus driver has a lunch break and then sets out for the return trip to Jasper at 1.30 p.m., getting into Jasper around 5.30 p.m.

Passengers who want to continue to Calgary catch the airport shuttle, which leaves Banff between 1.00 p.m. and 1.30 p.m. Kelly Ann said the departure time was not written in stone, and the company would accommodate passengers' needs within the range of half an hour or so. The airport shuttle arrives at Calgary Airport around 3.30 p.m.

The adult fare for the combined bus rides to get from Jasper all the way to Calgary Airport is C$105 + 7% GST. Teenagers pay the adult fare.

More .....

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Old Sep 28th, 2005, 09:50 AM
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Museums

I'm sure your head is spinning with all the information you've collected for your trip, but I feel duty-bound to tell you about two fascinating museums in Western Canada.

One is the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller, which is between 1.5 hours and 2 hours east of Calgary. Its collection of dinosaur skeletons is amazing. If it was my trip, I would be willing to go to however much trouble it would take to incorporate a visit to that museum into my itinerary.

If you were staying in Banff, you could drive to Drumheller (3 hours if you bypass Calgary and go through Cochrane, Airdrie and Beiseker), have lunch (1 hour), visit the museum (2 hours), drive to Calgary (2 hours), check in for your flight (1 hour) and allow time for contingencies (1 hour). By doing this, you could fly out of Calgary around 6.00 p.m., and land in Vancouver around 6.30 p.m. (although the flight will last 1.5 hours, you'll gain half an hour when you cross from the Mountain to the Pacific Time Zone). Say it takes you half an hour to retrieve your luggage and half an hour to ride a cab to downtown Vancouver. You could leave Banff at 8.00 a.m. local time and be at your Vancouver hotel's registration desk at 7.30 p.m., which would not be that bad of a sacrifice in return for having seen one of the finest museums of its kind.

However, do be careful about the museums' closing days. During the winter it's closed every Monday, and in addition to that, it's closed on January 1st.

The other museum that I recommend to you is the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. It's open on New Year's Day, but is closed on Mondays throughout the winter.

Your other posts suggest you'll be visiting Europe on the same trip. Canada, like Australia, cannot compete with Europe when it comes to churches, palaces, art galleries, and museums that display classical antiquities, etc.). However, each of the museums that I've mentioned does not pretend to compete with Europe's museums. Each one houses a collection that is interesting for its own reasons.

Judy out.
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Old Sep 28th, 2005, 09:47 PM
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WOW!!! Judy, you are amazing!!! Don't know what little smiley face can give a standing ovation for that, but you certainly deserve it...
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Old Sep 28th, 2005, 11:55 PM
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I agree Mr Kindallas - Judy is truly amazing. She has done more for the planning of our trip than our travel agent!
Thanks Judy.
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Old Sep 29th, 2005, 12:06 PM
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Thanks for the compliments. I'm glad to hear that the information felt helpful.
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