Need Banff/Jasper Trip Planning Help

Old Apr 21st, 2003, 10:52 AM
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Need Banff/Jasper Trip Planning Help

We are going to be in the Banff/Jasper Area for three days at the end of May and wanted to know the best itinerary. Below is the plan. Please advise on how to improve it and hotels in the $100-150 range.

Friday night: get into the calgary airport at 10pm and drive to a hotel in Banff.
Saturday: spend the day hiking and touring Banff and the park. Stay in Banff.
Sunday: Drive up the icefield parkway to Jasper. stay in Jasper.
Monday: hike into a backcountry campground in Jasper Nat. Park.
Tuesday: Hike out and start a drive to Vancouver.
messedup is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2003, 02:31 PM
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Here's my two cents worth...

Friday night - since you are getting in so late, why don't you just stay overnight in Calgary - it will certainly cost you a lot less than a room in Banff will, and this way you can have a fresh start in the morning. If your flight arrives at 10, with the wait for baggage and for a rental car(?), you won't get into Banff until 12:30/1:00.

There are a million hotels/motels up by the airport, and even though the area is mostly commercial/industrial (and the ugliest part of Calgary), it won't matter since you're arriving late anyway. Get your 8 hours sleep and you can still be in Banff by 8 am or so.
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Old Apr 21st, 2003, 08:41 PM
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I have been in that area several times, and plan to return again in July.
I strongly suggest you decide on which campground you want to reach in Jasper and find out if you can get there. In late May, there will be a lot of snow still on the trails, lakes will still be frozen over, and trails will be slushy and very muddy if not snow covered still.

For example the most spectacular hike I can think of in Jasper is the Astoria River trail to the south end of Amythest Lakes for a view of the Ramparts. I do not know if the trail will be open by the end of May.

I do not have extensive experience with those trails in Jasper however.

Before you do much more planning, call the park warden and ask about trail conditions. There are lot of good trails out there, but my experience has been in July and September. Lakes above 7000 feet are often 80% frozen over even on July 1.

I agree with the others. Stay in Calgary after you arrive. You will not get through immigration control, get your rental car (if the desk is stil open), and leave the airport for about an hour after your flight lands. Then you will need a while to drive to Banff, arriving about 1 AM or later.

bob_brown is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2003, 08:50 PM
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I totally agree about staying overnight in Calgary the first night...
TracyB is offline  
Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 11:37 AM
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I also agree with staying in Calgary the first night. Hotels are much cheaper there and you will be rested and fresh in the am. Plus, I drove to Banff once in the middle of the night, and a very large animal (elk, deer,?)ran across the road directly in front of my car (thank goodness I didn't hit it). As for hiking to the backcountry campground in Jasper, are you sure you want to do that? It would require taking a bunch of extra stuff, camping gear ,etc. If your trip is pretty much all backpacking and camping, you need that stuff, but for just one night, better to stay in a hotel and hike in daytime. There are planty of great dayhikes.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 11:58 AM
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To Bob Brown- We are going to Jasper in July and your mention of the hike on the Astoria River trail got my attention. Could you please tell me more about your experiences on the trail? How long and difficult is it and what are some of the highlights on it?

Also, I know by reading your posts, which are always very informative, that you know the Canadian Rockies well. Can you recommend any outstanding day hikes in the Banff area?
Thank you
SM is offline  
Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 01:27 PM
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I need to amend my earlier post a bit. Some people think the Maccarib Pass trail out to the Ramparts is more spectacular than the Astoria route.

I think the Astoria route is really good only if you go all the way to the view of the Ramparts. Otherwise for much of the route you are in trees, or climbing up a steep switchback. I did not get all the way to the Ramparts, too long for a day hike -- 20k one way.

If you are going for an overnighter it has a reward at the end. The Maccarib Pass trail is more scenic and more arduous. Again, the big payoff is at the end.

Around Banff, there are quite a few hikes. How long do you want??
The problem with many hikes in the Banff area is the elevation gain. Some of them are quite steep and involve 2,000 or more feet of gain.
Let me suggest this for you. Acquire a copy of the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide by Patton and Robinson. I think it is the best hiking guide of them all written in English.

I can suggest two good hikes near Banff. Johnston Canyon to the Ink Pots and C Level Cirque. Boom Lake is another one that is low on elevation gain.

Around lake Louise, the Plain of 6 Glaciers Trail is a classic. Often crowded, it leads to some good scenery.

My favorite other than the Whaleback in Yoho, which is long, long for a day hike, is the Iceline Trail in Yoho.
First visit the plunge basin of Takkakaw Falls and get a good look at the valls from the bottom.
Then drive to the Whiskey Jack Hostle parking area, leave your car, and head up the trail to the Iceline. (Up the hill a ways, the trail branches. You want to go north, not south.) You can cut off your walk at most anypoint and return. The ascent at first is a little steep, but get up hight enough so that you look down on Takkakaw. The whole perspective changes,and see you see the falls in full context of valley, glacier, and cascade.
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