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Need help with yet another Rockies itinerary

Need help with yet another Rockies itinerary

Jan 7th, 2004, 09:29 AM
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Need help with yet another Rockies itinerary

I love the ideas you people have given LindaE from Florida. And I really like the timing...not too hurried in the Rockies.
But my situation is a bit unique and I'd love some help with the logistics.
We are flying in and out of Calgary in August (flights are booked...great deal with Jetsgo!) We have free accommodations in Edson Alberta and then in Sicamous and want to use these 2 towns as a base. We will not be going over to Vancouver, we've been there a few times including Whistler, Vancouver Island.
So, here's what I'm having trouble with. I realize we will have to get motels on some nights, but how far afield can we travel each day from Edson? To LL? , Jasper? as far as Banff? We'll have to return each night to Edson. Then which route to Sicamous? At that time we could see the things too far afield from Edson maybe. Then from Sicamous what should we do? Could we drive over Highway 1 and down the canyons from Kampoops and back to Sicamous in 1 day? This would be as far west as we would go. Then to complete the circle , we could see Banff on the way back to Calgary. BTW we will have 2 weeks.
Have I thoroughly confules everyone?
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
Oh and could we possibley squeeze in the southern route back to Calgary ( highway 3) or would that be biting off too much.
kodi is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 09:39 AM
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Jasper townsite is about 2 hours from Edson, driving the speed limit. If you want to hike in Jasper, and can tolerate a 4+ hour round trip, then there are lots of hiking trails in Jasper National park to explore. If you travel Edson-Lake Louise, you could either head to Edmonton and then down ~ 6 hours one way), or go to Jasper, then to the Icefields Parkway, all the way to Lake Louise, which is a shorter and more time-effective route (maybe 3-4 hours? haven't done the Parkway all the way down for over a decade).
From Sicamous, it would probably be feasible to get to Kelowna and back but that's a lot of highway to drive in one day. Kamloops would be more "doable", I would think.
luna is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 10:05 AM
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If at all possible, don't use Edson as your base for visiting the Rockies. You will spend way too much time driving, and Edson is not particulary attractive as a destination. It's in the foothills but you need a very clear day to see the mountains from there.

If you want to stay outside the park boundaries, Hinton would be much better - it is very close to Jasper National Park gates, and about 45 minutes from Jasper townsite.
Visiting Banff from Edson and then driving all the way back is not something I would recommend - you will spend your whole day driving.
(by the way - I'm not sure that you realize that it will take you about 5 hours to drive to Edson from the Calgary airport).

Thinking about your situation a bit more, I would suggest driving to Banff after arriving in Calgary and staying there (or Canmore) for a couple of nights so that you can visit the Banff National Park area. Then drive on to Sicamous and spend some time visiting the Shuswap Lake area. The drive from Banff to Sicamous is very scenic.
After that continue north to Jasper (and further east to Edson if that's what you are committed to doing), and visit the north part of Jasper National Park.

The advantage of this plan is that you will be travelling in one continuous loop, and won't be spending time driving back and forth on the same route.

The disadvantage of this plan is that you will miss the Icefield Parkway, which really is a "must see".
Borealis is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 10:50 AM
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Edson's the killer in this equation.

It really is no-where. The Rocky Mountains go up on an angle, so Edson ends up being far from Jasper, far from Edmonton, and really far from Calgary.

If you are not obligated to spend equal amounts of time in Edson and Sicamous, put the emphasis on Sicamous.

And if you are able to stay other places, even if it costs money, work that into your plans.

Howe far you can go from Edson depends on how willing you are to drive at night. You could get a long way into jasper park if you left Edson at 8 in the morning, had dinner back in Jasper, and then drove back to Edson from 8 to 10 at night. But those are long days. (It'll mostly be daylight even up to almost 10 pm) then you'd have to retrace those four houjrs of driving (two hours to Japser, two hours back at night) for every night you spent in Edson.

You could leave Edson one morning, drive to Edmonton for the day, and return to Edson that mnight. Edmonton's worth a nice day's visit.

BAK is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 10:55 AM
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Thanks for the replies and ideas.
WE have friends in Edson that we do want to visit and we are also trying to keep our cost down so that is why we wanted to base ourselves there. Perhaps the answer is to stay in Edson for less time and spend more time in motels.
Borealis, from Sicamous did you mean to take HIghway 5, The Yellowhead, north and back over to Edson? Is this a scenic highway?
I think because we have two weeks, we'd still do the Icefield Parkway. I"d like to do it both ways, so perhaps could make it a long day from Edson...(or something). NOw not really sure how many days to stay in Edson. Any ideas on where else to stay for a few days, then, mid trip between Edson and Sicamous? THe circle sounds good, but would probably do it the other way around.
No, I didn't realize Edson was so far from Calgary. Is that a nice drive?
Any other help would be great.
kodi is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 10:59 AM
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BAK, we must have been typing at the same time. We don't mind a couple of long days, but I don't think we'd want to do it repeatedly. SO what do you think maybe only about 2 or 3 days in Edson? My friend isn't really interested in seeing Edmonton. REally wants to see the mountains and great outdoors.
From Sicamous, it does sound like we could go west and down HIghway 1 and back in a day, albeit a long one again. MOre ideas very welcome.
kodi is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 11:22 AM
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Kodi - yes, I was thinking about the Yellowhead (Kamloops to Jasper). The drive is pretty in spots (with interesting changes in topography and the types of mountains and vegetation that you see), but it doesn't get exciting until you are in Mt. Robson Provincial Park (100 km = approx 64 miles west of Jasper townsite). The main advantage of this route is that it is a relatively easy drive, but it does take five hours (not counting stops).

The "other" way - Sicamous to Banff to Jasper to Edson has spectacular scenery, but would be on exhausting day of driving (estimate at least 10 hours).

BAK is right - Edson is the killer here, it is not conveniently located to any of the places that you want to visit.
As for the Calgary airport to Edson drive, well, it's quite boring. The quickest way would be to drive on highway 2 north to Edmonton and then west on the Yellowhead to Edson (divided highway all the way with speed limit of 110 km/h = approx 69 mph, although the "traffic" usually travels faster than that and you'll find yourself keeping up with it).
There are of course other routes from Calgary to Edson, but all involve driving on two-lane undivided highways with lower speed limits and in the summer lots of agricultural traffic (tractors etc) which is much slower, and although the scenery may be prettier, it'll take you longer.
Borealis is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 12:17 PM
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Kodi - if you would like to see maps of Alberta, go to:


This should give you an idea of where everyting is in relation to Edson, Calgary and the Mountain Parks.

After some thought, here is a suggestion for another route from Calgary to Edson:

Drive north on Highway 2 to Olds.
Turn west (left) onto highway 27 and drive all the way to the highway 22 junction.
Turn north (right) and drive on highway 22 all the way through Rocky Mountain House and Drayton Valley to the Yellowhead Highway.
Turn west (left) and drive the rest of the way to Edson on the Yellowhead.

You may not save any time this way, but it will be a pretty drive, and you will pass by cattle country, some oil drilling country, large tracts of coniferous forests, and in spots get a view of the mountains in the west.

Borealis is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 02:01 PM
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Wow, you guys are great. Thnaks so much.
Borealis, we could always stay in Calgary the first night, and then do the leisurely trip up to Edson. I think we'd enjoy it more than Hwy2.
So sounds like we should only stay in Edson for a few days...and visit...and do some shorter tours from there, and then head into the mountains, better located to the things we want to do, before heading to Sicamous and doing that area.
Crazy question, but is there anywhere between Jasper and Banff that is more reasonable to stay? Or is it all expensive?
Now after Sicamous, how long would it take us to get back to Calgary for our flight if we went the south route along Hwy 3? How many days would it take without going at break neck speed? Or do you think we have enough to do in 2 weeks?
Oh and thanks for the Alberta map site. I'm looking at the maps, but it's hard to tell how long the journeys will be in the mountains. We do want to see as much as possible, but also want to stop and smell the roses. Am I asking for the moon? ha ha ha
kodi is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 03:03 PM
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I see BAK and Borealis et al have been taking good care of you. I'll step in with my two cents' worth if I may. Here's a largely counterclockwise itinerary which, as one of the other posters mentioned, would be the most effective use of your time. (A counterclockwise itinerary of course can be switched to a clockwise one instead.)

1 Arrive Calgary and look around here.

2 Drive to Edson via more scenic route described earlier.

3 Edson

4 To Jasper

5 Jasper

6 To Sicamous via Yellowhead Highway

7 Sicamous

8 Sicamous

9 To Lake Louise (check out Takaka Falls en route)

10 Lake Louise (Lake Agnes Teahouse, Moraine Lake, whatever)

11 Day trip to & from Colmbia Icefields (which will show you some of Icefields Parkway, from both directions). Overnight in LL again.

12 To Banff via Johnston Canyon

13 Banff stuff in the morning (e.g., go up Sulphur Mountain) and drive to Calgary in the afternoon via the scenic Black Diamond / Turner Valley route described in another recent discussion thread.

14 Fly home

In my opinion you have enough to do for 2 weeks. I think you should forget driving from Sicamous to Calgary via #3 Hwy.

To supplement the websites that others gave you, here is one that shows driving times in the Rockies:


Here's one that shows driving times from Sicamous to major destinations. It doesn't give Sicamous-Lake Louise. I would say that's about 4 hours.


Tips for budget travel. If you're REALLY budget-conscious you could stay in hostels. An Australian friend of ours who was in her early 40s stayed in the hostel in Jasper and complimented it. There was a recent message here in which the Lake Louise hostel was mentioned as being clean (albeit noisy). You could travel with a collapsible cooler and have self-catered picnic lunches.

Good luck.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 04:24 PM
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Yes Judy, I've been very well looked after. All you guys are amazing!! Thank you so much for all the help. Now I have it all clearer in my head what we will do. I will forget about Hwy 3.
We are in our 'autumn' years ( ok, so maybe late summer years!!) and so I'm not sure we'd like a hostel. I've never stayed in one and I just know my friend will want our own bathroom!! But I'll check it out. NOw that I have great suggestions and a tentative plan, I can start doing my research on accommodations etc.
Thanks again. I really appreciate it.
kodi is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 05:06 PM
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Hello again Kodi -
Some more information for you: here is the website for accommodation in Alberta:

Have you considered Bed and Breakfast places? They are usually much better priced than hotels/motels/cabins etc., and you get a breakfast to boot. We have stayed at two different B&Bs in Banff, and were happy with both of our experiences (both were very private rooms with en suite bathrooms).

Unfortunately summer is high tourist season so it will be tough if not impossible to find any bargains. However, in addition to Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper, you may want to consider staying in Canmore. This small town is in the mountains and is just east of Banff National Park gates and a 20 minute drive from Banff townsite. The advantage of staying there is that it is within relatively easy driving distance of the major attractions in Banff and Lake Louise, plus there is an abundance of different types of accommodation there.
If you stayed in Canmore a couple of nights, for your last day you could plan to drive the Icefield Parkway to Jasper, then east to Edson. . . . just an idea, depending on what you decide your final itinerary will be.

One more thing, and something that I usually forget. You gain an hour when travelling from Alberta to BC (the time changes just west of Golden if you are travelling the Trans Canada highway, from Mountain to Pacific time). So that day will have an extra hour for you - 25 instead of 24 hours. (Of course, the reverse is true when returning to Alberta).

BAK was right about the long daylight hours in summer. We are far enough north that we have incredibly long days, over 16 hours of sunshine in June (and the reverse right now!!). By August the days will be slightly shorter, but still long enough to plan a lot of activities per day.

Good luck in planning.

Borealis is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 05:46 PM
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Borealis, thanks, once again. B&B's sound like a great idea and I hadn't yet thought of it. We stayed in B&B's in Newfoundland and met some wonderful people. Thanks for the explorealberta web site too. I just did a quite look at the web site and there seems to be quite a few places to stay. I like the idea of Canmore. Seems a good central place to stay.
Thank goodness we'll have lots of daylight. with our busy schedule, we'll need it!
I am starting to get excited, with so many good ideas to work on.
Everyone has been so great. But I'm sure you haven't seen the last of me!!!
kodi is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 05:48 PM
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Re>No, I didn't realize Edson was so far from Calgary. Is that a nice drive?<

There may be three ways to go; we instinctively think there are just two.

The two are 1/ the obvious straight north from Calgary to Edmonton and then turn left.

And 2/ the drive to Olds and then west and up through Rocky Mountain House and Drayton Valley.

But there's a third route, which is a bit longer, but much prettier. Just go west to Banff, up to jasper on the Icefields Highway, and then back east to Edson.

Back to the subject of Edmonton. It's a lot more interesting than Edson.

The drive from Calgary to Edmonton is pretty straightforward. I used to do it at least once a month because it was still better than flying between the two cities.

But to me, the drive from Edmonton to Edson is really, really boring.

On my map, there's absolutely nothing north or south of Edson. Not even a road to no-where.

Anyway, what would I do if this was my trip? Without specifying days ... and a little different from Judy's plan.

Arrive Calgary,

To Edson via Olds, Rocky Mountain House, DRayton Valley.

To Hinton and Jasper. Jasper area for teh day, back to Edson.

REtrace your route to jasper and down the Icefields Highway to Lake Louise and Banff.

Spend some time there.

Then to Golden and REvelstoke and Sicamous.

Then I'd take the lower, Route 3 highway to Crowsnest pass, and then Highway 22 up through the foothills to Black Diamond and Turner Valley, and then up to Calgary.

I am, in many ways other than professionally, a cowboy, and this takes you through the greatest ranchland in the world. Get yourself some Ian Tyson CDS and play them in the rental car and imagine the CHinook coming in and the snow melting and the cows giving birth and the stars shining at night.


BAK is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 06:12 PM
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Bak, but I have FRIENDS in Edson!!!! That was originally the whole reason for the trip. I can't totally forget them!!! LOL.
Did I also mention that at some point on this trip I want to experience hot springs? SO, I'll be assured of a few relaxing hours between all the driving.
Cowboy country sounds good. Now if you could arrange for us to see Ian , we'd really be all set!! I had heard that he lived in this area. Think you could arrange it???
kodi is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 06:42 PM
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Oh Kodi - if you want to experience hot springs, I would suggest driving to Radium Hot Springs in B.C.
You take the highway 93 turn-off halfway between Banff and Lake Louise, and drive just over 100 km through Kootenay National Park, and there you are! Fairmont Hot Springs is just south of that, about 40 km. And if you golf, you'll love it there.

P.S. - Convince your Edson friends to join you in the mountains, it might even be more fun that way (and you won't have to spend nearly as long in Edson).

(I'm not sure whether you are Canadian or American, so I'll convert the distances for you: 100 k = 62.5 miles, and 40 k = 25 miles.)
Borealis is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 08:04 PM
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Kodi, an inexpensive dinner in Jasper would be to buy some cold cuts and salads from a deli in town and then drive out to the beach picnic area on the shores of Patricia Lake. There are picnic tables there and, as I think may have been mentioned previously in this thread, it stays light well into the evening in August.

(The place that we went to MAY have been Pyramid Lake. There are two lakes, Patrica and Pyramid, next to each other, and my memory is a little fuzzy as to which one it was.)

We did this in August 2002. The only other family at the beach besides our group of four was obviously a local Jasper family with young kids. They arrived when we were already seated, and they piled out of the mini van with their two dogs and paddled in the water and threw sticks for their dogs to fetch. It was fun watching them, and yet we didn't feel crowded in at all. There was more than enough beach for everyone.

I can think of other picnic spots just outside of Rocky Mountain towns (near Chateau Lake Louise, at Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack Lake, both outside of Banff, probably in the parks within Banff townsite too).

I'm not saying you have to "rough it" like this all the time. The night following our evening picnic in Jasper we had dinner at a pleasant restaurant in town. But if you alternate the picnics with the restaurant meals, I don't think you'll feel deprived, and it may help the budget.

We stayed in a B&B in Jasper, but if my life depended on it I wouldn't be able to give you the name. My husband found it by doing a Google search. That was well before I started participating in travel forums (a rather recent development in my life). It didn't occur to me that someone else might ever rely on my recommendation of that B&B. Anyway, one thing I do remember my husband saying was that there were quite a few B&Bs from which to choose.

Oh, I remember something about that B&B that may make it unsuitable for you, even if I could remember its name. Our bedroom did not have an en suite bathroom. Rather, two bedrooms shared a bathroom. We were travelling with friends who had the other bedroom. We didn't mind sharing the bathroom with them. However, had we been on our own, the other bedroom theoretically could have been rented out to strangers, and we would have had to share the bathroom with them. I really wouldn't have liked that.

Also, although it was called a B&B, it didn't serve breakfast. I think most B&Bs do serve breakfast, but it's worth checking to know what is and is not included in the deal. (The B&B owner was upfront about this when my husband made the reservation.)

Anyway, I hope this gives you some ideas of how you can stretch your dollars (albeit without staying in hostels, which you say you don't want to do).

Mind you, speaking of hostels, I've heard that some hostel rooms these days even have en suite bathrooms, if that makes any difference to you. I grant you, however, that B&B are much more charming than hostels. Also, the other hostel guests would be fellow tourists, whereas the B&B hosts would be locals. I like meeting locals wherever I go. They can give one good tips too. The tip about the picnic supper at Patricia Lake came from our B&B hostess.

As always, good luck with your planning.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jan 8th, 2004, 07:40 AM
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Actually, I'm a fellow Canuck, and live outside Toronto and travelling with my best friend. Her husband doesn't care for travelling and so we are able to get away and see parts of our beautiful country.. Your western hospitality is really shining through. (Ok I think BAK is in the Toronto area too, but he must be part western!!)
Picnics sound like a good idea. ANd oh, the Radium HOt Springs sound wonderful. Do you have to be staying there in order to use the springs? Or perhaps would we be able to get day passes or something?
Another question. When renting a car, would a compact be gutsy enough for the mountains, or would we be better off in a midsize.
Thanks again..
kodi is offline  
Jan 8th, 2004, 07:48 AM
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Kodi - unless they've changed it recently, the hot springs at Radium aren't (weren't) connected to accommodation (although there is plenty of accommodation around there).

I'm not an expert on cars, but I would say go for mid-sized, compacts don't have the oomph (technical term for power !) for the long steep inclines in the mountains. But don't go for SUVs or you'll pay a small fortune for fuel.

By the way, gas is (usually) cheaper outside the mountain parks than inside the mountain parks, so you may want to plan your fill-ups with that in mind.
Borealis is offline  
Jan 8th, 2004, 11:01 AM
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Hi Kodi,

If your itinerary is going to include a night in Calgary, and if you're looking for a B&B here, I recommend Lions Park Bed and Breakfast. It offers a full, cooked breakfast for sure. It's on a leafy suburban street, and yet it's close to the Trans-Canada Highway. It's close to a train station, and is a short train ride away from downtown.

There are restaurants close by. If memory serves me the Earls on the Trans-Canada Highway is quite near. Albeit it's a chain restaurant, that particular Earls is quite pleasant.

The only potential disadvantage I can see from the point of view of you and your friend, is that each bedroom only has one bed. (As far as I can tell from the photos, even the twin bedded room has a single bed.) You might prefer a double room with two twin beds. But I could see that being a limitation in several B&Bs. Our B&B rooms in Jasper each had one queen sized bed.

Anyway, if you want to investigate Lions Park Bed and Breakfast in more detail, the URL is:


If you want to get downtown, it's probably easier to catch the train from Lions Park Station, which is a short ride from downtown. Between the one-way streets and your unfamiliarity with the locations of parking lots and parking garages, driving downtown probably isn't worth it.

If you want a reasonably priced hotel or motel in Calgary, there are a few options. One option is to stay in the general vicinity of the airport. Calgary is divided into four quadrants, NE, NW, SW AND SE. The airport is in the NE, so you can be pretty sure that any hotel that has NE in its street address is in the general direction of the airport.

Of the NE hotels, a rather nice one is the Greenwood Inn. Like most hotels and motels nearer the airport, it's located in a largely commercial district, so it certainly is not situated on a leafy suburban street. While the surroundings are not charming, they are convenient. There are shops and restaurants around, and of course the airport is not far away.


Another place to consider is the Quality Inn in "Motel Village" which is a cluster of hotels and motels just off the Trans-Canada Highway, near the University of Calgary, in the NW quadrant. Right next to this cluster of motels is a train station which is a very short ride from downtown. In this vicinity too, there are some restaurants, although the Quality Inn's own dining room serves a decent breakfast. While this area is not close to the airport, it has easy access to the airport. Once you slip onto the Trans-Canada Highway, it's simple to get to the airport. You can recognise properties located in Motel Village by the fact that their street address is Banff Trail NW. The Quality Inn is not fancy, but it's clean and adequate.


If you're entering Calgary from the south, if you choose the Black Diamond / Turner Valley approach to the city or if you choose the Ian Tyson / Hwy #3 route, you'll come in on Macleod Trail South. Near the intersection of Macleod Trail and Southland Drive there is a clean and adequate Travel Lodge.


Literally a stone's throw from the Travel Lodge is a pleasant, quite reasonably priced restaurant called the Santa Fe Grill, which serves a rather nice genre of Tex Mex food (fajitas, steaks, etc.). Besides that, there are other restaurants nearby.

While the Travel Lodge is not as close to a train station as the Motel Village properties are, it is within walking distance of Southland Station from which one also could catch the train downtown. The Travelodge of which I'm talking is at 9206 Macleod Tr. South.

It is not to be confused with the Travelodge at 7012 Macleod Trail South, a property with which I am not familiar (albeit all Travelodges may be similar -- I can't say for sure). If for some reason you choose to stay at the 7012 Macleod Trail South Travelodge, it's within walking distance of a mall called Chinook Centre, which has several restaurants. My favourite one is Joey Tomatoes. There are a few entrees in the $10 range, most are in the $15 range, and a handful are in the $25 range. Joey Tomatoes is a chain, and refers to its cuisine as Mediterranean. I think the Mediterranean designation is very loose. Yes, they do have some nice pastas, but they have quite a variety of other dishes besides (curries, steaks, etc.). Although Joey Tomatoes is a chain, in my experience all Joey Tomatoes are not created equal. The one in Chinook Centre is my favourite one so far. (I don't know whether or not you have Joey Tomatoes in Toronto, hence my going on and on about it.)

My hotel recommendations so far refect my bias against staying downtown if one is going to be here for only one night. If you really do want to be downtown, however, you might look into Hawthorn Suites.

Hope this helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  

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