Rockies/Banff/Jasper Tour

Sep 17th, 2018, 02:55 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 46
Rockies/Banff/Jasper Tour

Hi. My wife and I are considering joining another couple to visit the Rockies in 2019. We had originally planned to do this on our own as this is how we normally travel. The other couple had suggested the Caravan tour company. We have never used that tour company and are getting mixed comments. If anyone out there has used this company, can you provide your opinion? We are looking at their 9 day Rockies and Glacier Park tour.
bogeyjds is offline  
Sep 18th, 2018, 01:34 PM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 581
When are you going?

Can you provide a link to the specific tour?

I don't have any first hand experience, but I think Caravan generally gets good reviews. My concern would be with the length -- 9 days is certainly enough to see a it of the Rockies and Glacier NP, but it's not exactly a relaxed pace either. To see the Rockies, we generally suggest at least 7 days in Jasper/Banff/Yoho NP, and longer if your focus is on hiking or other outdoor activities. With three nights in either location, you only get two full days in each. Especially between mid June and mid September, with parking issues, that can be barely enough time to even hit the highlights. And you really need at least a few days to enjoy Glacier NP. So 9 days, especially if that counts day you arrive and day you leave, is going to be very compressed.

And while bus tours can be good if you are happy with that mode of travel, especially in the Rockies, they can be limiting. For one, you will be tied into a fairly set schedule, and likely get a heavy push to do the paid attractions (which are nice, but hardly necessary and quite pricey. And mostly owned by one company, which heavily pushes package deals...). Buses also will hit the major sites/attractions where they can park. Which means you are arriving at the same time as your bus load, and lots of other bus loads.

Though you may get some time to do a bit on your own, your mostly locked into those sites. Which means not much flexibility and you can't choose to stop at less visited places or stop at a viewpoint that happens to appeal to you. This is especially true along the Icefields Parkway, which is one of the most spectacular drives in the world. Buses tend to make 3-5 stops, whereas with a car, people make many stops at glaciers, waterfalls, viewpoints, mountains, rivers etc. And bus tours often skip or do very little in Yoho NP, which is often less crowded and just as pretty.

I would also reserch the specific tour - i.e. what does it include. Often they don't include all meals, and frequently you have to pay separately for any paid tours (gondolas, boat trips etc). Which can add up, and end up not being much of a cost savings. The saving tends to be in the time needed to prepared.

Personally if you're used to doing it on your own, I suspect you'd feel quite limited by a bus tour in the Rockies. With four people, it's very easy to rent a car or small SUV, book hotels/B&Bs/PHAs and do your own thing. You have plenty of time to plan - suggest booking by early in 2019 to get the best options/be most cost effective.
kgsneds is offline  
Sep 20th, 2018, 06:56 AM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,024
Take the time to compare Caravan with Brewster. Several times I/we have arrived in Jasper on the ViaRail Canadian both eastbound and westbound. There are several car rental agencies within walking distance of the Jasper train station. The Brewster desk is in the east half of the Jasper train station. I never used Brewster but many of the train passengers that get off in Jasper do.
It's been decades since I was in Banff so I won't comment on any differences between it and Jasper.
tomfuller is offline  
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