Rockies in 3 nights

May 16th, 2006, 11:53 AM
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Rockies in 3 nights

I am planning to travel to Calgary/Banff/Jasper areas, arriving on the 26th of August ( at noon), returning on the 29th (evening). My itinerary up to now is :

26- Calgary
27- CAlgary - BAnff - Jasper
28- Jasper- Lake Louise/Moraine areas
29- ????? - Calgary- Vancouver

Please advise me on what is essential to do and see on this short trip. We will be driving all the way from Calgary.

Eustácio Vieira
eustacio is offline  
May 16th, 2006, 12:19 PM
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Hello eustacio,

Please, whatever you do, DON'T spend your first night in Calgary. On such a brief trip you should use Calgary only as an airport from which to access the Rocky Mountains. Since you'll be arriving at noon, you'll have plenty of time to reach Banff that afternoon. I suggest the following overnight stops:

26 - Banff

27 - Jasper

28 - Lake Louise (You might even consider getting a little further west, e.g., Golden, British Columbia. That would give you a start on your long journey to Vancouver the next day.)

29 - Vancouver

My website has details of just such an itinerary. The only thing about my suggested itinerary is that the directions are for a west-to-east drive. You will need to reverse the directions since you'll be driving east-to-west.

If you go to the TIPS section of my website, you'll also find practical suggestions regarding weather, what to pack, national park entry fees, driving distances and times, maps, other websites, etc.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
May 16th, 2006, 12:51 PM
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Hello Judy,

Thank you for your tips. Let me clarify: I won´t be driving to Vancouver, but back to Calgary and then by air to Vancouver. So the 29th is a very "usable" day for sightseeing in the area, as our flight departs at 7pm.

That´s why I left the afternoon of 26th for Calgary, starting the parks on the 27th. Do you still think we should skip Calgary ?

My main interest in going to Jasper is the Icefields Highway itself, but it is very far to go and return on the same day. In Jasper what do you consider essential to see?
I may be wrong but for what I have read the Banff/Lake Louise Area offers more options and scenery.

eustacio is offline  
May 16th, 2006, 01:06 PM
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>>>>>>Do you still think we should skip Calgary ?<<<<<<


>>>>>>I may be wrong but for what I have read the Banff/Lake Louise Area offers more options and scenery.<<<<<<

Each area has its attractions. My favourite lakes (Moraine, Emerald and Peyto) are close or relatively close to Lake Louise.

My favourite waterfall (Takakkaw) is relatively close to Lake Louise.

My favourite canyon (Maligne) is close to Jasper.

My favourite gondola ride (Whistlers Mountain) is just outside of Jasper townsite).

The drive to Mount Edith Cavell, not too far from Jasper townsite, is one of my favourite drives in the Canadian Rockies.

The whole of the Icefields Parkway is wonderful.

I'll give you some revised itinerary options in the next post.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
May 16th, 2006, 01:48 PM
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Okay, eustacio, here’s the suggested itinerary that I promised.

26 – Land in Calgary. Drive to Banff. At Banff turn onto the Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy #1A) and drive to Johnston Canyon. Walk at least to the Lower Falls. If you’re spending the next two nights in Banff, drive back to Banff townsite at this point. If you’re spending the next two night in Lake Louise, continue to Lake Louise.

You need to decide if you’ll stay in Banff townsite or Lake Louise. Banff is a larger and busier (I would say frenetic) resort town. If you like lots of people, restaurants and shops, it’s the place for you. However, if you’d prefer a smaller village, an area in which you can feel closer to nature, you’d prefer Lake Louise.

27 – From your Banff or Lake Louise base, visit Moraine Lake, the lake of Lake Louise (5 kilometres from the village of Lake Louise), Takakkaw Falls and Emerald Lake.

28 – Drive the Icefields Parkway to Jasper. Minimal stops include Peyto Lake, Columbia Icefields, Sunwapta Falls and Athabasca Falls. At Athabasca Falls turn west onto Hwy #93A and visit Mount Edith Cavell before continuing to Jasper townsite for the night.

29 – Visit Maligne Canyon, which is 11 km outside of Jasper townsite. I suggest you depart from Jasper townsite by 10.00 a.m. and drive back down the Icefields Parkway. There are very few restaurants along the Icefields Parkway. Either pick up a take-away lunch from a deli in Jasper so that you can have a picnic lunch en route, or else stop at the Columbia Icefields for lunch. It’s about 1.5 hours from Jasper townsite to the Columbia Icefields.

You must leave the Columbia Icefields by 1.00 pm. (1300 hours) at the latest, but 12.30 p.m. would be better. It takes about 1.5 hours from the Columbia Icefields to Lake Louise and then about 3 hours from Lake Louise to Calgary Airport.

Because you’ll be catching a domestic flight to Vancouver, you should check in 60 minutes before your flight, although a 90 minute check in would give you a bit of room for error and would be better.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
May 17th, 2006, 02:50 PM
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Hi Judy,

Thanks for this excellent itinerary. However, I shall let you know that I will be arriving from BRAZIL, after 20 hours between flights/airports, so probably I won´t get to Calgary so fit to start such a journey.
That is why I was thinking of leaving to BANFF early on the 27th, then straight to JASPER , stopping at your suggested attractions along the way and in Jasper. On the 28th I would start the journey back to explore Lake Louise/Moraine areas, and on the 29th I could very calmly go to Calgary for my flight to Vancouver. What do you think about this ?
Kind regards,
eustacio is offline  
May 17th, 2006, 06:41 PM
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Hi eustacio,

Your plan is okay in some respects.

I was trying to arrange things so that you would have 2 hotels in the Rockies rather than the 3 that your plan would give you.

However, if you will have flown 20 hours from Brazil, it may be too much for you to drive from Calgary to Banff. In that case you may be better off catching a shuttle bus from Calgary Airport to a hotel in Banff. There are several shuttle services. Banff Airporter has a good reputation.

If you do this you could check into your hotel, have a shower and change, take a stroll around Banff townsite, have a fairly early dinner, go to bed and get a good night's sleep.

After that you could rent a car in Banff townsite the following morning and undertake your itinerary or mine.

You also could forego the idea of travelling as far as Jasper. I like Jasper, but I considered a visit to Jasper to be only just feasible. My suggestion that you visit Jasper was predicated on your landing in Banff in relatively good shape. That would have been the case if your trip had taken you to another North American destination prior to the Canadian Rockies. However, since you'll be travelling all the way from Brazil to the Rockies in one go, I imagine you'll be tired on your arrival.

An alternative for you to consider is to base yourself in Banff the whole time and do the following:

27 - Drive to the Moraine Lake / Lake Louise area. You probably would be able to fit in visits to Takakkaw Falls and Emerald Lake in nearby Yoho National Park as well.

28 - Drive up the Icefields Parkway. Drive as far as you feel comfortable before you turn around and drive back to Banff. I am guessing that you'll be able to see Peyto Lake, the Columbia Icefields and Sunwapta Falls before you feel compelled to return.

29 - Visit places that are close to Banff townsite (Johnston Canyon and Sulphur Mountain gondola). You would have time to return to Calgary by the longer but more scenic route through Kananaskis Country and the beautiful Highwood Pass. I've described the Kananaskis Country / Highwood Pass route on this page of my website:

Hope that helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
May 18th, 2006, 06:35 AM
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That sounds very good. Are there any nice restaurant suggestions along the Icefields Parkway (for lunch) and in Banff and Lake Louise areas (lunch and dinner? In Banff is there a charming , comfortable lodge to suggest ? SAme question applies to Jasper (if necessary). Thanks again.

eustacio is offline  
May 18th, 2006, 09:08 AM
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>>>>>>Are there any nice restaurant suggestions along the Icefields Parkway (for lunch)<<<<<<


There are very few restaurants along the Icefields Parkway. The restaurant that you probably reach around lunch time is the one at the Columbia Icefields. It is adequate, but not inspiring. There is a pleasant restaurant at Sunwapta Falls, but you probably would reach it too late for lunch. Something that works quite well is to pick up a take-away lunch from Laggan’s Bakery and Deli in Lake Louise village, and have picnic lunch along the way.

If you drive back down the Icefields Parkway, you might pick up a take-away lunch from Bear’s Paw Bakery in Jasper.

>>>>>>and in Banff and Lake Louise areas (lunch and dinner?<<<<<<



Melissa’s – located in “downtown” Banff, looks like a log cabin inside, serves fresh, local ingredients

Coyote’s Grill – downtown, decorated in Santa Fe style, menu is a fusion of American southwest and Pacific coast, very popular, suggest you make reservations even for lunch

Cilantro Mountain Cafe – located at Buffalo Mountain Lodge on Tunnel Mountain

Cafe Soleil – downtown, the specialty is tapas

Suginoya – also downtown, specializes in sushi


The Beaujolais – standards are very close to those of the Post Hotel in Lake Louise (see below)

Buffalo Mountain Lodge - main dining room – Interesting menu, including local game meats. As with most places, it’s more reasonably priced at lunch time than at dinner time.


Post Hotel – Very expensive. Reservations essential (even for breakfast!). Imaginative menu. Considered to be the best restaurant in the Canadian Rockies and one of the best in Canada.

Deer Lodge – On a par with Buffalo Mountain Lodge in Banff.

Station Restaurant - Pleasant and charming. As is the case with the area’s other good restaurants, the menu includes ingredients from Alberta and British Columbia, e.g., Pacific salmon.

Moraine Lake Lodge – It’s quite a nice place at which to have lunch, especially because it has a nice view of the lake. Moderately priced at lunch time.

Laggan’s Bakery and Deli – A good place from which to pick up a take-away lunch if you’ll be hiking or driving up the Icefields Parkway.

Bill Peyto’s – It’s located next to the hostel in Lake Louise village. Decent food for a reasonable price.


It’s in Yoho National Park, west of Lake Louise. If you happen to find yourself there at lunch time, it has an excellent, upscale restaurant and a casual bistro-style restaurant.

More in next post ...........
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
May 18th, 2006, 09:09 AM
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Alberta is known for its beef, so I suggest you make a point of trying it while you’re here. If you are adventurous and are willing to try a local game meat, you might consider ordering elk or buffalo or some such meat from one of the better restaurants (Beaujolais or Buffalo Mountain Lodge in Banff or Post Hotel or Deer Lodge in Lake Louise). Game meat tends to be lean, so it benefits from being cooked only till it’s rare or medium-rare rather than well done. That way it stays tender. When you get to Vancouver, it would be good to take advantage of the excellent seafood, such as salmon.


All mountain restaurants, including expensive ones, are casual at lunch time. For example, people wear hiking boots into the restaurants. The same is true of moderately priced restaurants at lunch time. However, expensive mountain restaurants are “smart casual” at dinner time. Men don’t have to wear coats and ties. However, it’s also expected that people will not wear hiking attire for an evening meal at an expensive restaurant. I don’t know what Brazil’s cultural norms are. However, dress that would be acceptable in a golf club in Calgary also would be acceptable in an upscale mountain restaurant at dinner time.

Dress codes in Vancouver restaurants are similar to those in the Canadian Rockies. However, since Vancouver is a city environment, its upscale restaurants tend to cater to a business crowd. I’ve noticed that people wear "smart casual" attire in Vancouver’s upscale restaurants even at lunch time. However, if you are on vacation and want to be comfortable in shorts and sandals, there still are plenty of casual but nice restaurants in Vancouver. If you want to find out more about Vancouver, I suggest you start a separate thread with Vancouver in the title.

While I’m on the subject of dress, please let me urge you to bring practical clothing for the mountains. The weather in the mountains changes rapidly, and you need to be able to add or subtract layers to respond to changing temperatures. You also need practical footwear for walking on relatively rough terrain. If you take the Snocoach onto the Athabasca Glacier at the Columbia Icefields, there is always a cool breeze, even on the hottest day. I have seen visitors climbing off the Snocoach onto the glacier in skimpy summer dresses and high heeled sandals. That is an “accident waiting to happen,” as we say in English.

The TIPS section of my website has more practical information along these lines.

More .........
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
May 18th, 2006, 09:12 AM
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>>>>>>In Banff is there a charming , comfortable lodge to suggest ?<<<<<<


A charming property on the outskirts of town is Buffalo Mountain Lodge. It’s built in an “upscale log cabin” style. It has a top notch restaurant and a more casual café onsite, as mentioned in the restaurant list.

Brewster Mountain Lodge is in the centre of town. It has a good deal of charm, but I find the centre of Banff too busy for my tastes in July and August. But keep in mind that you’d be out and about, sight seeing in the mountains all day. You’d only be at the hotel in the evenings. Also, if you like to have a variety of restaurants and shops close to you, you’d probably enjoy being in the heart of Banff townsite.

The Juniper (formerly called the Timberline). This place is close to Mount Norquay, and is even further out from the centre of town than Buffalo Mountain Lodge is. However, it is a nice property with a pleasant and reasonably priced restaurant called Mukamuk.

If you like to stay in self-catering accommodation (an apartment / flat with kitchen facilities), you could consider Hidden Ridge Resort or Douglas Fir Resort. The two properties are in the Tunnel Mountain area, on the outskirts of Banff townsite, close to Buffalo Mountain Lodge. I understand that, of the two, Hidden Ridge Resort has been renovated more recently.


Jasper has a number of chalet-style accommodations that are a short distance outside of the town and that are popular. They include Alpine Village, Becker’s Chalets, Jasper House Bungalows, Patricia Lake Bungalows and Pine Bungalows. Pyramid Lake Resort, which has 8 self-catering units to a building, also is popular.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
May 18th, 2006, 12:53 PM
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Hello Judy,

You've been most helpful, really. I was wondering if there are cars for rental with GPS navigation systems , so that I don't have to use maps all the time. Do you know something about this and if it really works in the region ?
One other thing. If time is left on my return to Calgary, what would be worth seeing there ?
Many thanks,
eustacio is offline  
May 18th, 2006, 02:34 PM
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I’ve heard that cars (including rental cars) with GPS are available. I have not used them myself, so cannot comment on their effectiveness from personal experience.

However, once you get outside of Calgary, there are very few roads. I believe that finding your way in the mountains is simple.

Even Calgary is an easy city to get through if all you’re doing is getting from Calgary Airport, which is in the northeast quadrant, to the western city limits, from which point you have a clear run on a four-lane, divided highway to Banff. Calgary has a population of only 1 million. If you are accustomed to Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, Calgary will feel small to you.

The “Calgary” section of my website has a city map, and an “Airport Ins and Outs” page that explains the logistics of getting out of, and back to, the airport.

The TIPS section of my website has a Maps page that provides links to a variety of online maps.

But if it gives you an extra degree of comfort to rent a car that’s equipped with GPS, don’t let me stop you.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
May 18th, 2006, 02:37 PM
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There is nothing in Calgary that is worth seeing (in your case). I mean that. If you have only 3.5 days in this area, Calgary does not deserve a place on your itinerary.

If you listen to only one piece of advice that I’ve given you, please listen to my recommendation to use Calgary only as an airport from which to access the Rockies.

If, I repeat if, you find yourself with some spare time in Calgary, you could follow my suggested walking itinerary in the downtown core. That also is in the Calgary section of my website.

However, I recommend against going to downtown Calgary. It has a lot of one-way streets, and for that reason it’s not easy for a new comer to navigate. It’s not worth going to downtown Calgary unless you can devote at least half a day to it. And, as I said before, with 3.5 days in this area, you should not be spending a minute, much less half a day, in Calgary.

If you end up back in Calgary with too much spare time, it’ll be your own fault. It’ll mean that you will have left the mountains too early. If you find yourself in the mountains with time to spare, please see one of the mountain attractions that’s on your wish list and that you have not yet had a chance to see.

But perhaps this pep talk is unnecessary. I suspect that, once you get to the mountains, you’ll want to stay there till the last possible moment. You won’t want to return to Calgary earlier than necessary.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
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