Short Photo Trip: Banff or Jasper

Dec 5th, 2005, 11:21 AM
  #1  
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Short Photo Trip: Banff or Jasper

Folks,

I'm planning to take a 2 day trip between this Christmas and New Year to shoot snow, icefalls and some wildlife if I'm lucky. Would you recommend Banff or Jasper considering both photo-opportunities and accessibility. I'm flying to Calgary (reaching there on 25th noon and flying out from there on early morning, 28th)

Thank you,
Prabal.
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Dec 5th, 2005, 12:17 PM
  #2  
 
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Go to Banff, it's much closer than Jasper when you're in Calgary. During the summer and fall, there are bus tours at night to show you wildlife (besides mosquitoes). The bus drivers know where the animals gather at night. http://www.brewster.ca/ - check their site for tours and there are other companies as well.

The scenery should be spectacular at that time of year - but dress warmly.
SallyCanuck is offline  
Dec 5th, 2005, 12:32 PM
  #3  
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Thanks SallyCanuck. From reading some resources, it does seem like Jasper would be a little too tight considering the travel time.

Would you suggest that I stay in Banff instead of Calgary? The only thing that I'm not very comfortable about is that my return fligh from Calgary leaves as early as 6 am and that kinda forces me to stay the previous night in Calgary.

At this time of the year, what would be a reasonable driving time from Calgary to Banff ?

Thanks,
Prabal.
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Dec 5th, 2005, 01:06 PM
  #4  
ltt
 
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stay 2 nights in banff and your last night at one of the airport hotels. however, rates will be expensive in banff over christmas.
from the airport, take country hills blvd west to stoney trail (about 15 minutes)- turn left (south). stoney trail takes you right to the highway that goes to banff. total trip should take you about 1 1/2 hours.
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Dec 5th, 2005, 03:24 PM
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Maybe Canmore would be a little less pricey for accommodation? Still gorgeous scenery and not too far to Banff...what do you think ltt? But contact a few places in Banff and see what a couple of nights would cost. Or get a travel agent to do it - stay in one of the less flashy places without all the bells and whistles. There's a modest looking motel near the hospital whose name escapes me - still within walking distance to the main street, etc.
SallyCanuck is offline  
Dec 5th, 2005, 03:57 PM
  #6  
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Thanks Guys!

BTW: if you search for hotels in Banff on hotwire, you only get listings from Canmore. Prices seem reasonable (under 70 that is).

Is Banff mostly accessible during the end of Dec ? Do I need snow boots for example if I go on short hikes ? Sorry if the question sounds stupid. I am from southern CA

- Prabal.
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Dec 5th, 2005, 09:14 PM
  #7  
 
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Hello prabal,

I agree with what others have told you so far.

>>>>>>BTW: if you search for hotels in Banff on hotwire, you only get listings from Canmore. Prices seem reasonable (under 70 that is).<<<<<<

It's fine to stay in Canmore.

>>>>>>Is Banff mostly accessible during the end of Dec ?<<<<<<

When you ask if Banff is accessible at the end of December, I don't know if you mean Banff townsite or Banff National Park. Banff townsite is accessible. The TransCanada Highway through Banff National Park is acceessible. The road from the TransCanada Highway through Lake Louise the village and then another three miles to Lake Louise the lake is accessible. The Bow Valley Parkway, which runs roughly parallel to the TransCanada Highway between Banff townsite and Lake Louise the village, is accessible.

The Icefields Parkway, the road that connects Lake Louise and Jasper, is open through most of the winter (although it doesn't have restaurants, gas stations or flush toilets in winter). However, your tight time frame would not allow you to get to Jasper and back, so that's kind of academic.

You'll probably be able to do some short hikes. However, winter really is not a time for hiking. For the most part you'd need cross country skis or snow shoes if you wanted to get a substantial distance into the forest, away from the roads and away from Banff townsite and Lake Louise village. However, even without leaving Canmore, Banff townsite, Lake Louise village or going far from the roads, you'll have plenty of photo opportunities to keep you busy for a couple of days.

>>>>>>Do I need snow boots for example if I go on short hikes ?<<<<<<

You really ought to have snow boots even if you just walk around Banff townsite and Lake Louise village. If it gets to -25 deg F, which it easily can do around New Year, you won't last outdoors for very long unless you have proper winter gear. Besides that, you should have proper winter gear just in case your vehicle breaks down, and you need to wait a little while for help.

I have Sorel boots, similar to the "Blizzard" model shown on this web page:

http://www.eaglesportscenter.com/pro...l/blizzard.htm

I'm sure you'd be reluctant to invest in a pair of boots like that, since you'd have no use for them outside of the 3 days you'll be in this area.

But I would hate to see you come to this area at the end of December in anything less than a pair of Sorel "Cold Mountain" boots (or equivalent) shown here:

http://www.eaglesportscenter.com/pro...l/mcoldmtn.htm

You can wear runners on the plane, and then buy boots in Calgary. Probably the most practical place for you to buy them is at Mark's Work Wearhouse, which is located in Northill Mall, on 16th Avenue NW / TransCanada Highway / Hwy #1.

To get there from the airport, go south on Hwy #2. Then turn west onto 16th Avenue NW / Hwy #1. Carry on westwards past Centre Street. When you reach the corner of 14th Street NW, Northill Mall will be on your left, on the south side of 16th Avenue NW / Hwy #1.

After you've bought the boots, you can just keep going west on 16th Avenue NW / Hwy #1. That's the road that takes you to Canmore and Banff.

Taking a detour to Mark's Work Wearhouse means you won't be able to use the good route out of Calgary that ltt gave you. However, I believe you would be well advised to make sure you have warm boots before you get onto the highway bound for Canmore / Banff.

The highway from Calgary to Canmore , Banff and Lake Louise is well maintained. Nonetheless, you should familiarize yourself with precautions for winter driving:

http://www.ocipep.gc.ca/info_pro/sel...nterdriv_e.asp

and

http://www.canadianrockies.net/howto...rivingfaq.html

At a minimum you should have a jacket similar to the Lands' End "Extreme Squall 3-in-1 Parka." It costs US$119.50, and if it's worn over other layers it's good to -15 deg F.

It would be more ideal if you came with something similar to the Lands' End Insulated Squall Parka. It costs US$148.00. If you wear it with other layers, it's rated down to -35 deg F.

To see the kind of garment Iím talking about, go to

www.landsend.com

and then go to Men and then go to Outerwear.

You also need to have a woollen cap, scarf, gloves or mittens, wool socks, and long underwear. Jeans on their own are inadequate if you spend any length of time in the cold.

The weather in this part of the world is extremely variable. We could have mild weather while you're here, and then you'll probably curse me for advising you to go to the trouble and expense of bringing all this winter gear. However, if it just happens to be cold while you're here, you'll be very grateful to have appropriate clothing.

By the way, buildings are well heated, so you don't need to be over-dressed indoors. In fact the layered approach is best, so you can add and subtract clothes as necessary.

When I go to the mountains in winter, I typically wear a silk undershirt, a cotton turtleneck top, a wool sweater, and a Thinsulate or down parka.

Hope that helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Dec 7th, 2005, 06:15 PM
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Hello "Judy_in_Calgary",

**Thanks so much** for the detailed response. It really helps because I've never actually been out in that kind of cold, let alone photographing.

I have been able to find a photo tour guide in Calgary who is going to pick me up and drop me off at Calgary and take me to some of those sweet spots in Banff/Lake Louise. So, at least I am spared of worrying about winter driving

I'll write you with some of the specific gears (I don't like the idea of turning into a block of ice, so I'll not be skimpy) that I'm planning to buy and if you can share your comments, I'll appreciate it. I'm almost done convincing my wife that it would be a very long term investment

Thank you again,
Prabal.
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Dec 8th, 2005, 03:45 PM
  #9  
BAK
 
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I'm a photogapher, and I used to live in Calgary -- I picked the winter of no snow, and mostly just wore a busiwness suit during the day, leaving my coat inthe car until I got to the airport and flew somewhere else, where there was cold.

So, whose to say?

If you limit yourself to relatively well travelled routes, you'll be fine with ankle height hiking boots. But when you do get out of the car to take a picture, you can easily be in snow up to your knees, but only for a few steps from car to shooting position.

Bringing cameras and lenses inside from out in the cold often leads to a lot of condensation on the camera bodies and especially on lenses.

Soft napkins from restaurnts work well, but even better are terry cloth face clothes, just to wipe everything off.

Batteries don't like the cold. Depending on what you are using,you might want to keep spare batteries in your pocket, rather than in a bag around your shoulder.

Do you know how to expose for snow? It's notorious for fooling exposure meters, but easy enough to cope with if you know what you are doing.

One of the great things about the rockies is that each way on the same road provides different views. So driving up from Calgary to Canmore to Banff to Lake Louise is quite different from driving back.

It gets dark early in the winter.

Lock your cameras in the trunk, and make sure the little lever inside the cabin of the car, used to unlock the truck, is locked, too.

Thre are photographers' gloves. Thse look normal, but the underside of the fingers are slit open, soyou can wiggle a finger or two or three out from the warmth, adjust the settings, press the buttons, and then return the fingers to warmth later.

And, finally, about the cold.

Use common sense. If the weather forecast say minus 20C, spend most of the day indoors. Go to Calgary and visit the Glenbow museum. If there's a storm forecast, stay inside instead of getting stranded on the highway.

But, for what it is worth, I read more about people being trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains than I do in the Calgary-Canmore-Banff area.

So, don't worry, have fun, dress warmly but you don't need arctic gear if you look at the weather forecasts...

BAK



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Dec 10th, 2005, 06:13 PM
  #10  
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BAK, Judy,

Should I also have a snowshoe at these times considering that I may want to do short hikes into the snow ? What really is the difference if I don't have one (sorry, I know this sounds kinda silly) ?

Thank you,
Prabal.
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Dec 11th, 2005, 08:17 AM
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There will be a few well travelled paths, usually in or near the towns or near the main roads, on which the snow will be compacted and on which hiking will be feasible. In other places the snow is likely to be deep enough that walking will be slow and arduous, because you'll sink into it, perhaps up to your knees. Snow shoes (which look a bit like tennis racquets) and cross country skis distribute your weight over a larger surface so that you don't sink into the snow.

I would advise you against investing in cross country skis or snow shoes ahead of coming here. You probably won't need them. You've hired a guide, and no doubt he'll take you to spots that are accessible without special gear. Even if you do end up needing special gear, you can rent it. It's not worth buying cross country skis or snow shoes for a 2-day trip.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Dec 11th, 2005, 08:21 AM
  #12  
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I can't quite getmy head around how serious a photo trip this is. If you plan to hike away from the roads, yes, snowshoes muight be handy. but if you want to walk a couple of minutes from the parking lots -- and that gets you to a lot of beautiful spots -- you do not need snowshoes.

I've been to the rockies 50 times in the winter, and neverused snowshoes, but I have not set off on serious hikes, either.

BAK

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Dec 12th, 2005, 11:12 PM
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Good advice to wear layers. If it really cold (-20 degrees centigrade) your camera equipment might need to be insulating too depending on how long it is out in the cold. If you are staying in Calgary most of the time it is colder in Banff than in Calgary.
stoneart is offline  
Dec 14th, 2005, 07:32 AM
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Thanks much all. Looking forward to the trip ....

- Prabal.
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Dec 29th, 2005, 10:39 AM
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Dear Prabal,

Here's hoping you post your photos for viewing. Would be very interested. Hope you are having a great time.
SusanEva is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2006, 06:56 PM
  #16  
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Hello SusanEva and All,

I did have a great time. I'll be posting a trip report soon with a link to my photography website. Just waiting for my slides to come back from the lab

My report will focus on helping folks who visit this area with a photographer's eye, but hopefully others will find it useful too.

Thanks and Happy New Year to all,
Prabal.
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Jan 3rd, 2006, 07:27 PM
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Great, looking forward to it.

Happy New Year as well!!
SusanEva is offline  
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