Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Canada
Reload this Page >

Planning Banff/Jasper/Mountain towns Trip for Sept

Planning Banff/Jasper/Mountain towns Trip for Sept

Old May 20th, 2023, 11:18 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 177
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Planning Banff/Jasper/Mountain towns Trip for Sept

Due to an unfortunately timed illness my husband and I had to cancel the Scotland trip we were supposed to be on at this very moment. To make ourselves feel better about it we are considering going (from Florida) to Calgary in September. Weíd like to spend a few days around Banff and Lake Louise, then head up to Jasper, and then drive west and explore some of the smaller mountain towns.

We are 75 and 66 and in good health but not up for long (or steep) hikes. We enjoy scenery and nature as well as exploring interesting small towns. My husbandís big thing is photography so weíre going to be stopping a lot to take pictures. We have 12 to 14 days to spend and will have a rental car.

other than Jasper, Banff, and Lake Louise, what towns or areas to the west should we explore? And would we definitely need reservations for every night or would it be safe to wing it at least part of the time, at least outside the Banff and Jasper areas? The Scotland trip required reservations for every night, every dinner, and lunch was recommended. Really takes away any flexibility or spontaneity but there they have so many tourists and serious staffing/supply issues due partly to Brexit that if you donít make reservations early you will be out of luck. So Iím wondering if itís a similar situation west of Banff and Jasper in mid September.

Thanks for any advice!
cslasor is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2023, 07:44 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 431
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Banff National Park and Jasper National Park are THE most visited, most sought after destinations in all of Canada. They only have two tiny towns in each park (the town of Banff and the town of Jasper) which function as tourist service centers, providing the only accommodations within for the vast mountainous parks, so accommodation is quite limited. I liken it to if Switzerland only had one tiny town of 5000 residents and if you wanted to visit Switzerland, you could only stay in that one town and choose from its selection of hotels. Lake Louise is another option in Banff National Park, but it is not really a town, just a cluster of really expensive hotels in the middle of remote wilderness. In the case of Jasper, there is no alternative to staying in Jasper without adding a significant detour to somewhere undesirable. No full house/condo rentals allowed in the national parks either, though Jasper has a homestay program where you can rent a separate suite in a residentís home, which is an option: https://stayinjasper.com

September is third-busiest month after July and August. It is not somewhere to wing, especially in the national parks in this post-pandemic world where demand for the Rockies has soared than even before. This summer they anticipate accommodation in Banff and Jasper, whether a campground, a generic 3-hotel, or a luxury 5-star resort, will be running at 100% capacity due to all the global demand.

However, you can escape the international crowds by heading into some other towns in the adjacent mountain ranges, but I wouldnít recommend winging your accommodation either mainly because the towns are tiny with limited options and September can still be summer-like, and you might struggle finding a good place to stay if you wing it. Your only available options might be dumpy motels or really expensive hotels. Some hotels in those areas can get booked up entirely by industrial working camps installing oil pipelines or whatnot for months at a time. Itís something Iíve heard from the locals when I visited last year for work.

Iíll submit this now but will come back with recommendation of towns to consider- itís not a lost cause! 😊 You have options! Youíll just want to map out an itinerary and lock down those accommodations sooner than later.

Last edited by BC_Robyn; May 23rd, 2023 at 07:47 PM.
BC_Robyn is offline  
Old May 23rd, 2023, 09:31 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 431
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Iím not going to build an itinerary here, but some interesting towns to consider and research to see if itís what youíre seeking (each will have its own official tourism site with all the details on the parks and scenic area nearby)

Hereís where Iíd consider:

Fernie - itís about a four hour drive south of Banff in the Canadian Rockies, but itís not in a national park so it gets a fraction of the tourists that Banff and Jasper do. Itís quaint and historic, a former railroad town, full of local character and heritage buildings with stunning backdrops of jagged mountain peaks. I was there last summer for a night and loved its main street of quirky shops, cafes and restaurants. The area is beloved by river rafters, mountain bikers and fly fishers. Down the road and up a mountain road is Island Lake Lodge - a gorgeous resort in the alpine worth considering for a night or two. I believe Fernie Alpine Resort also operates a gondola, but youíd have to check if itís still running in September.

https://tourismfernie.com


Kimberley - a gorgeous tiny alpine town outside of Cranbrook (a larger town not quite as nice) about an hour and 15
minute drive west of Fernie. It used to have a Bavarian theme and some of its buildings still do. Itís a real cute totally off the beaten path down but super lovely place when touring the Rocky Mountain trench (the valley on then westernmost slopes of the Rockies between the towns of Golden and Cranbrook).

https://tourismkimberley.com/



Nelson - a 3 hour drive west of Kimberley -Ďdnreal cultural and historical hub in the Selkirk Mountains (the mountain range adjacent to the Rockies) on a steep slope overlooking Kootenay Lake (a vast glacial lake), quite possibly my favourite mountain town in all of western Canada. It was a hotbed of American draft dodgers in the 60s and still has a counter cultural hippy component to its residents. It was once a logging mill town but when that shut down, the town diversified and became artsy. The entire downtown is preserved heritage buildings full of small indie bookstores, art galleries, historic hotels, clothing boutiques, craft breweries, fun hip restaurants and vibrant cafes. The town also puts on a lot of live music events. This is a town worth spending a few nights in just to experience the town itself. Itís extraordinarily photogenic.

https://www.nelsonkootenaylake.com/plan/region/nelson


Kaslo - this tiny town is just outside of Nelson and looks like not much has changed since 1900! A historic quirky hamlet on Kootenay Lake with an old historical steamship. A worthy pitstop if driving by. Extremely photogenic.

Slocan Valley towns of Winlaw, Silverton, and New Denver - teeny tiny historic hamlets surrounded by dramatic mountains and lakes - the perfect lazy road trip route. The Slocan Valley connects the town of Nelson with the town of Nakusp. I just drove here for the first time two summers ago. Definitely a hidden secret.

https://www.arrowslocan.com/communities

Nakusp - a picturesque village with hot springs resorts nearby (rustic Nakusp Hot Springs and fancy Halycon Hot Springs Resort) built on the shore of Arrow Lake. Has a cute small downtown with a good pizza shop and a good cafe, a historic hotel and pub overlooking the lake. We stayed at a rustic A-frame cabin in Nakusp Hot Springs two summers ago and enjoyed the hot springs pools by evening. The next morning we strolled over a wooden bridge over a raging river into a forest full of wild flowers, including wild orchidsÖ and we saw a bear!

Revelstoke - on the main driving route between Vancouver and Banff so is often used as an overnight destination for road trippers, but like Fernie itís another mountain lifestyle town with a vibrant downtown of historic buildings, pubs, cafes, restaurants but less hippy flair than Nelson, more rugged outdoorsy culture.

https://seerevelstoke.com

Golden - a short distance west of Lake Louise. Not a pretty town (mostly cheap motels, fast food and gas stations along the highway) but it has a small downtown off the highway and a famous ski resort, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, which is open in the summer to ride the lifts into the alpine (though confirm they stay open in September). I believe they also have rescued orphaned grizzly bears to view.

https://www.tourismgolden.com


Unlike Jasper and Banff (which exist to serve tourists and are cute but not super authentic and somewhat lacking a community feel), these towns above exist mainly as a lifestyle mountain towns with businesses and services that cater to the locals who live there first and foremost. They get a fraction of the tourists that Banff and Jasper do. Itís not better or worse, just a completely different flavour of mountain town.

If you can spend a week split between Banff and Jasper (maybe 3 nights in Banff, then 3 nights in Jasper, one night in Lake Louise), then a week exploring the Kootenays (the region the western towns are located in) youíll be set up for a successful trip. Just book those hotel reservations in advance! 😊

Last edited by BC_Robyn; May 23rd, 2023 at 09:33 PM.
BC_Robyn is offline  
Old May 24th, 2023, 09:29 AM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 177
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you so much for all the great information. This is exactly what I needed and I appreciate the time you took to provide it.
Looking forward to beautiful Canada!
cslasor is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
katherinebw
Canada
33
Sep 2nd, 2015 11:37 AM
jill_h
Canada
4
Jun 26th, 2011 03:39 AM
4glass
Canada
4
Mar 14th, 2010 01:07 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -