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Thoughts on 9-day Rockies Itinerary, please

Thoughts on 9-day Rockies Itinerary, please

Apr 15th, 2009, 12:20 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,568
Thoughts on 9-day Rockies Itinerary, please

We have our plane tickets and now must complete plans for our 9 days in the Rockies in late August. Our preference is to make day excursions from several bases, rather than change lodging often, so my first thought is to divide our time like this:

Days 1-2 Drumheller for the paleontology museum
Days 3-6 in Banff
Days 7-9 in Jasper
Days 10-11 back to Banff or somewhere else nearby?
Day 12 airport hotel

We are thinking of backtracking Banff-Jasper-Banff because we expect the Icefields Parkway is worth seeing in both directions, especially if weather is not ideal on one of those days, and would allow nearly a full day for the drive (with multiple stops) each way.

Is there any obvious flaw in this plan? Or is there another place we should stay for two nights? We are not much into hiking (husband has some mobility limitations) but make lots of photo stops and love scenic boat rides, aerial trams, and the like.

Thanks in advance for your comments and recommendations. I've received great advice from Fodorites for previous trips and really appreciate this resource.
kayd is offline  
Apr 15th, 2009, 02:08 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 959
It is nice to drive the Icefields Parkway both directions. You could change one of you Banff stays to Lake Louise. It's about 1/2 hour drive between the two and you could save yourself some driving time if you did things closer to Banff while in Banff and other things closer to Lake Louise while staying there. You may also consider staying in/closer to Field if you're planning on doing any sightseeing around there (e.g. Yoho NP).
ShelliDawn is offline  
Apr 15th, 2009, 02:08 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
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Although it is a bit of a drive, you might want to take a side trip to Dinosaur Provincial Park and see where some of the fossils were found. This is about 100 miles each way.

The Jasper Tram was a favorite of mine. There are trails that will allow you to hike to higher elevations for some real stunning vistas and there is a restaurant at the top of the tramway that your husband could spend some time at while you hiked up if you wanted to.

Miette Hot Springs is east of Jasper and is a real nice place to go soak out the muscles. It's a fair distance off the highway on a paved road and quite inexpensive. 2 hot pools and a "plunge pool" that is quite cold. You pay an admission fee and can soak for hours if you wish. No splashing allowed.

On your way between Banff and Jasper, take the Trans-Canada west to Yoho National Park. Stop when you see the turnoff for the Spiral Tunnels. Then find the road to Takakaw Falls. An easy, nearly flat trail will take you as close to the base of this falls, the 4th highest in Canada, as you will want to go. Take raingear for the spray off the falls.

Since you are already pretty near, you might as well go see the natural bridge, just a short walk from the parking lot. It's on the Emerald Lake road so go take a look at Emerald Lake too.

If the mobility issues are not too limiting, the Lake Louise Gondola gets you up high enough to see a long ways there too. If I remember correctly, you can see the lake from the top and the valley where Moraine Lake lies too. Another Gondola that gets you some great vistas (and another restaurant) is at Golden, BC.
rm_mn is offline  
Apr 15th, 2009, 05:39 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,477
You will love this trip. Did you see my trip report from last Sept.? Click on my name to find it. We did a very similar trip.
LindainOhio is offline  
Apr 28th, 2009, 11:27 AM
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Thanks to the advice you all have given, we will spend our last two nights in Field, taking in Takakaw Falls and Emerald Lake and Yoho sights on that leg of the trip, maybe make our way to Golden, too.
kayd is offline  
Apr 29th, 2009, 11:11 PM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,735
I think the Tyrrell museum closes on Monday except for sumemr months. Check befiore you go. They used to ahave free admissions on Tuesdays. Do the disnosaur trail loop while in Drumheller. Go on the historic Bleriot Ferry (car ferry) across the river. Stop at the Horseshoe Canyon. Watch the sun rise there if you can. Stop at the nearby Head Smash in Buffalo Jump for a bit of history and culture if you have time.

Lake Lousie is a must stop. If you are of avergae fitness. Do the teahouse hike, takes 2 to 3 hours on a return trip. Stop by nearby Moraraine Lake as well. Do the Sulphur Mountain Gondola at Banff. Spend an evening soaking in the Sulphur Mountain Hot Spring. Do a horse back riding trip.

In Alberta, it doesn't get dark until after 10 pm in August so you have lots of day light hours.

Take a drive to Radium hot spring while in Banff. Also, consider Canmore and Kananaskis if you have extra time.

While on the Icefield Parkway, feel free to take side trips and drive up the trails to scenic view points. To get to most great scenic look out points, you have to drive off the main road to see them. Example: Peyto Lake, Johnston Canyon etc. Take the Bow Valley Parkway at least once instead of the main Icefield Parkway. Drive the old coach road from Calgary to Banff (Hwy 1A) instead. You can take the Tarns Canada nback to Calgary.

If you see wildlife, do pull over. Make sure you are well off the main road and on the shoulder for safety. Do not approach wild life. Do not feed wild life.

Take the "bus" to the Columbia Icefiled from the Interpret Center. Bring an empty water bootle with you.

Jasper Sky Tram is okay. While in Jasper, take a drive to Pyramid Lake, Take a drive to Mt. Robson.

Patricia Lake is interesting. It is famous for the Habakkuk project. An "ice ship" prototype was built there during WW2. It is suppose to be an unsinkable aircraft carrier. It cannot be torpedoed and sunk as it suppose to self repair with cold icy sea water, forming ice and filled the hole. Project was too expensive, WW2 ended, and the project scraped. Summer came and the ship melted away and now lays at bottom of the lake.

My personal opinion is that Emerald Lake is over rated. The lodge is over priced as well. Deer Lodge much cheaper at Lake Louise. Run by same outfit that runs Emerald Lake Lodge.

Waterton Lake is only 3 hours from Calgary. I like it better than Jasper and Banff as it is not commercialized. Great hiking trails, you can walk right across the border to the US side and no one will stop you. Easy level walking along lake shore. No custom agents, no border patrols, no fence, no wires, no homeland security, nothing. (Okay, maybe hidden cameras.) You walk through the clear cut tree lines that signify the border and the internation border markers, that's it. There is a Rangers' station on the tip of the Waterton Lake on the US side where you can hike to, or take a ferry. If you go to Waterton, see Lake Cameron and hike Crypt Lake. Warning about Waterton, wild life all over. Deer and elk roams freely in town site, grazing on people's lawn. Cougar alerts and bear sighting very common. Stop at Ranger station and get free big map. Mark bear sightings on map.

If you are a Star Trek fan, stop by Vulcan. Tourist Trap. Vulcan was there before Star Trek made it a household name.

If you are a movie buff, do the Alberta movie tour. You can see all the places that were in the movies such as Brokeback Mounatin, RV etc. Here is the link to the Travel Alebrta web site for the Alberta Movie tour.


If you are an "old western" or "frontier" history buff and is interested in 1800-1900 wild west, take side trip to Edmonton and visit Fort Edmonton Park. Well worth the 3 hour drive. (The Calgary Heritage Park and Fort Calgary is much smaller and not even close in comparison.) Brad Pitt shot part of the Assisination of Jessie James in the Park. Many other western movies were filmed there. Restored electric cable cars and restored steam engine trains provides transportation within the Park for free. Vintage cars from the early 1900s roam the streets.

While in Edmonton, visit West Edmonton Mall. North America's laregst shopping Mall and the World's second largest. It was the world's largest until the "big one" openned in Bejin last year. See the full size replica of the Santa Maria (of Columbus fame) inside the mall.

I travel through the Canadian Rockies about once every couple years, usually spending at least 2 weeks or more on each stay. 9 days is too short. If you need more info, ask! Most info should be available on the web anyway. Plan your trip, allow for extra time. Speed limit is much lower inside the Mounatin Park.

Good luck!
Eschew is offline  
May 2nd, 2009, 11:31 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,465
Do you really want to spend 2 days in Drumheller? The Royal Tyrrell Museum shouldn't take an entire day. You can usually do it as a day trip from Calgary.

Just a correction to one of the posters above - they must have been thinking of June-July - by late August you won't have daylight till 10 p.m. even in Alberta!! At the beginning of August in Banff the sun sets just before 9:30 p.m., and at month's end it sets by 8:30 p.m.

When in Jasper be sure to drive to Maligne Lake and take the cruise to Spirit Island; hike the rocky trail at Mount Edith Cavell to the "toe" of Angel Glacier; canoe on Pyramid Lake or Lac Beauvert; hike up Old Fort Point for a view of the "hanging valley"; do some white water rafting on the Athabasca River - lots to do in Jasper, and it isn't as commercialized as Banff.

Have a great vacation!!!
Borealis is offline  
May 3rd, 2009, 04:40 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,944
Go to Mirvish.com to find a list of nearby hotels, and to see info on two that have package deals with the Mirvish company, which operates sevral downtown theatres, including the Royal Alexandra and Princess of Wales.

BAK is offline  
Jun 16th, 2009, 05:35 AM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 5
Just returned from a week in the Canadian Rockies that included three nights in Jasper, two in Banff and three in Waterton. Much has already been written about Jasper and Banff, so I will add some comments about Waterton.

Much smaller than Jasper and Banff, Waterton is part of the International Peace Park with Glacier NP in Montana. Excellent hiking, much wildlife. The village of Waterton Park is quaint, smaller than Jasper and Banff. Canoeing, kayaking on Cameron Lake, the far end of which is in the US. Several hikes across the borders to British Columbia and the US.

The two-hour, 11-km cruise on Upper Waterton Lake leaves from Waterton Village and crosses the border about half way down the lake. You will stop for 30 minutes at Goat Haunt Ranger Station on the US side. No customs clearance unless you hike in the US or back to Waterton (eight miles). Fabulous views.

Highly recommend that you visit Glacier NP if you go to Waterton. Cross the border into Montana at Chief Mountain. See spectacular views on Going to the Sun Road, a 50-mile drive that crosses the park east to west. A one-week pass to Glacier is $25US.

If you visit Waterton, we recommend Shintangle Springs B&B. Just down the road from the park entrance, spacious modern rooms, hearty breakfasts.

Visiting the Canadian Rockies for more than five days makes the annual park pass the best value. Cost is about $138 Canadian.
LarryBernath is offline  

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