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trip - Calgary, Jasper, Banff, Lake Louise -- where to stay?

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I'm flying into Calgary, staying in Lake Louise for 1 night, Jasper 2 nights, Banff 2 night, and our final night in Calgary.
I'm looking for tips as to where to stay for each location as I have never been to any of the areas before.
Any recommendations would be appreciated! I dont mind splurging by any means, although some reasonably priced options would be great also!

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    Check out President's Club with The Fairmont Hotels..They will include The Jasper Park Lodge, Lake louise Chateau and Banff Springs..They often have good deals for their members and joining is free unless there has been a recent change. These places are pretty awesome. But there are lots of more economical places. When will you be arriving?? How do you plan to travel between places?? You will only have time for a quick look see but better than not at all!!!

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    I agree that it would be helpful to know the timing of your trip. President's Club is a good way to get cheaper rooms at the Fairmont Hotels, but prices will vary widely over the course of the year (cheaper in Oct-early Dec and April or so to early June, which is the off season). Prices at peak times can be jaw dropping, prices at off peak can be very affordable.

    Also, do you have a price range or preferred style of accommodation? In Lake Louise, there are not that many options (just hotels or the hostel), so you have to book further in advance for deals. I like Deer Lodge, but it has its quirks and isn't for everyone.

    In Banff and Jasper there is a range of hotels, some cabins or a range of B&Bs, with Jasper having a smaller range due to it's size.
    I think in Jasper it's nice to go with one the places that has rooms in Cabins or one of the nicer 'B&Bs'. Note that B&Bs tend to be one or two rooms rented out of someone's house - they range from simple to very nice, but not all provide breakfast. I've stayed in one of the cabins at Bear Hill - not fancy, but clean and great breakfasts. Also, if you want quiet in Jasper, it's probably best to avoid a hotel right on the main street, as that's where the clubs and the railroad tracks are located.

    Have fun

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    We are flying into calgary on January 8th, driving to Lake Louise that day to stay one night, the following day we will be driving to Jasper for a 2 night stay. We then plan on Heading to Banff for 2 nights and spending our final night in Calgary.
    I know its a lot of driving (we've rented a vehicle) but that is no issue for us.
    In terms of price range, I would like to not have to go over $300 -- and cheaper (as long as quality is still good) the better.
    This is a surprise trip for my hubby so I'm doing the planning on my own.

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    January, eh?

    Well, I would strongly reconsider the driving from Lake Louise to Jasper and back to Banff. Winter driving here is not for the faint of heart, and the Icefields in winter is not all recommended unless you are quite comfortable driving in snow, have flexibility in plans and are equipped for winter driving (snow tires, extra supplies, blanket, flashlight etc.).

    To explain, the Icefields (between Lake Louise and Jasper) is not maintained like most other roads (even in Alberta), much of it is at fairly high altitude and temporary closures of some or all of the highway are not uncommon in the winter. The highway is not maintained between 3:30pm and 7am in the winter, and even then, it's not plowed, it's graded. That means that they pack the snow down, so you are driving on a layer of snow. As such, you car MUST have snow tires or chains. If you don't, there's a chance you won't be allowed on the highway (I don't know how strictly it's enforced, but you have to go through a manned gate at each end, so they can check). Remember that four wheel drive doesn't necessarily help on ice/packed snow - you just end up in four wheel slide.

    Also, there are NO stores/services or gas between Lake Louise & Jasper during the winter, and cell service is essentially non-existent. And there is no patrol (i.e. no CAA/AAA, no wardens, no police) between 3:30pm and 7am. So if something happens, you need to be prepared to wait a while for help or walk a long while to a pay phone.

    You also will be facing very short days - around 7 - 7.5 hours, and you don't want to be driving after dark. The other factor is that you won't be able to much in the way of sightseeing along most of the Icefields unless you are going on guided or back-country trips. Pullouts may not be plowed, bathrooms will be closed and everything's likely to be under several feet of snow, at least at higher elevations.

    Parks Canada has a brochure here about winter driving on the Icefields:

    Without being a Debby Downer, I think it would be very risky to plan two drives along the Icefields. The risk of encountering bad weather or closures are not negligible and you'd be spending two long days without a whole lot to do (or see, if it's not sunny). There are several better/alternate options. In January, I'd either not do the drive or arrange your plans to only do it once.

    1) Skip Jasper. You could spend 5 days between Banff and Lake Louise and Canmore, and have a great time. There are plenty of winter activities (skating, skiing, snowshoeing, short hikes) and great food/hotels. You could venture out for a day trip along a bit of the Icefields if the weather is good, or take a guided tour.

    2) Book transport between Jasper and Lake Louise on one of the buses/shuttles. Brewster and Sun Dog both offer shuttle services. In Jasper, most winter activities can be assessed via tour companies (Maligne Canyon etc.), and the Jasper itself is easily walkable.

    3) Drive outside the parks. This isn't very scenic, and the QE2 can be hairy in the winter as well.

    4) Book your flight out of Edmonton, so you can do LL and Banff, then only have to risk one drive, which can be done on the QE2 if the Icefields is closed or in bad condition. Or take the bus between Banff and Jasper.

    Early January won't be particularly cheap, but neither will it be holiday time jaw-droppingly wallet draining. I would definitely check out deals at the Fairmonts. Jasper Park Lodge is wonderful and has a range of rooms & suites, some of which would be in your price range. Some of the high end B&Bs might also be well within your range, and be convenient to walk around town.

    In Lake Louise, the nicer rooms in Deer Lodge would fit the bill, as would deals at the Chateau. There are certainly other nice hotels too - Paradise Bungalows (Lodge?) and a couple of others than get good recommendations.

    I'm not knowledgeable about Banff, but there are many options there.

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    Lake Louise - Deer Lodge / or Chateau Lake Louise
    There really is no other choices in Lake louise other than those 2. We stay at the Deer Lodge a few times adn prefer it over the Chateau Lake Louise.

    Jasper - Jasper Park Lodges / or Sawridge Hotel. Same thing here. The third choice would be Athabasca Hotel. The drive up from Lake Louise to Jasper is absoultely amazing. You come all the way, I won't recommend missing it. It is less developed than Banff, and in my opinion, unspoiled.

    Banff - Buffalo Mountain Lodge / or Banff Mountain Lodge. Some may suggest Banff Spring Hotel due to its location.
    I prefer Buffalo Mountain Lodge and Banff Moauntin Lodge is much cheaper nut you get what you pay for.

    Calgary downtown - Delta Bow Valley / or Sheraton Eau Claire

    You can find info on all these hotels on-line.

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    You mentioned staying in Calgary on your last night.

    When do you leave. Are you planning on spending any time in Calgary.

    If you're just there for the night with a reasonably early flight out, there's a Delta Hotel in the airport right beside the car rental return and right across from the terminal.

    You can return you car the night before, get up in the morning and walk across to the terminal. In winter you can cross indoors on the second floor.

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    I agree with the above post from kgsneds. You don't want to drive to Jasper in January.

    I like to stay in lodgings in Banff in the winter and Lake Louise in the summer. Lake Louise is closer to trails we enjoy. There is a nice town to walk around in Banff and it is not too crowded in the winter. It is a really nice ski town.

    The Banff Springs is a lovely place to stay in the winter--It is like staying in a castle and you have the outdoor hot springs right there. I see it is only about $200/nt for the dates your ar looking at. The rooms are all different. It has been suggested to me that you not book the cheapest rooms since they are very small.

    In Banff, the Rimrock is also very nice and rates are $163. We enjoyed staying there in the summer.

    There are also some nice B&Bs in Banff. We have never stayed at them.

    In Lake Louise, there is the Chateau right on the lake.$200 We loved staying at Emerald Lake Lodge--about a half hour drive from Lake Louise, but we stayed there in the summer.

    We have stayed at a cabin at Paradise Lodge and also stayed at Bear Creek Lodge but both in the summer.

    You will find plenty to do while staying in Banff. You can drive partway up the Icefields Parkway toward Jasper--pick a sunny day. Drive out to Emerald Lake for lunch. Stop and check out he spiral tunnels.

    Ski(if it's not too cold) We loved skiing Lake Louise--beautiful, beautiful views fromt he mountains. The only time that I ever skiied a bowl was when we skiied Sunshine. We were there in March and it was beautiful. Even in March though, we had to stop skiing because a snowstorm prevented us from seeing the hills--a major white out---then the next day sunny skies.

    Bring your boots, gloves, ski jackets and winter clothing and be prepared for cold weather.

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    I have now taken a further look at some options and I am leaning to Jasper Park Lodge in Jasper, Buffalo Mountain Lodge in Banff,and Baker Creek Mountain Resort in Lake Louise.

    Does anyone have experience with these properties?

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    Again I suggest President's Club..for Jasper. Don't know Baker Creek Mountain Resort but isn't that away from the Lake area itself? And does Buffalo not have only condo type accom? I can't remember but Buffs rest. is great! Good thing you will have wheels as Buff. is up top of Tunnel Mt.Don't think nthey have a shuttle but maybe.

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    Jasper Park Lodge is nice, but I also recommend joining the President's Club for discounts (it also gets your free WiFI and I think newspapers).

    One thing to consider with the lodge is that it's about 10 minutes outside Jasper proper. So if the weather's bad or you want to drink with dinner, you have to consider your transport options. The lodge has a variety of food options (fewer in the winter), but while quality is good, they can be pricey.

    Baker Creek is actually up on 1A (Bow Valley Parkway), so it's not in Lake Louise. It looks like a 10-15 minute drive, depending on conditions. Looks gorgeous, but it will mean some driving to get anywhere else (i.e. any other food options, stores, the Lake, skiing etc).

    Remember that in January, the roads & weather could be OK, but you could also encounter nasty weather in which you do not want to drive at all, let alone after dark (which is about 4pm to 8:30 am then).

    Again, we aren't trying to be Debbie Downers about Jasper, but just realistic about winter conditions in the mountains. We've already had heavy snow in Edmonton/Calgary/Banff/Jasper and over the weekend parts of the main highway between Edmonton and Calgary were closed due to snowy conditions.

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    "I have now taken a further look at some options and I am leaning to Jasper Park Lodge in Jasper, Buffalo Mountain Lodge in Banff, and Baker Creek Mountain Resort in Lake Louise"

    I have stayed at all 3 properties. The Buffalo Mountain Lodge has great accommodation (a real fire place in the room), great food, good mountain setting and away from the hustle and bustle of the Banff town site. There are many trails available nearby and only minutes away from the town site by car. They may even offer a shuttle so you don't have to worry about parking at the town site.

    Same goes for Jasper Park Lodge where the service and food is A1. Setting is absolutely wonderful. Best hotel in Jasper IMHO.

    So far, you have made 2 great choices.

    Seeing your 2 choices for Jasper and Banff, I would say you will be disappointed with Baker Creek as IMHO didn't feel that it is on the same level as your other 2 choices. I also did not like their "setting".

    I posted earlier recommending Deer Lodge for Lake Louise. I still stand by that recommendation. It is walking distance (5 minutes?) to the shoreline of the world famous Lake Louise through the big parking lot. They have a roof top hot tub with a view of the mountain and over the tree top view of the glacier. The dining room is fabulous and offer a selection of wild games.

    The Chateau Lake Louise is a wonderful hotel, the key is to get a room facing the lake. I had a suite on the third floor facing the lake a few years back and it was magical (but then, so were the price :( ) Everything is pricy at this hotel but they have a café with decent prices. If you can find things on sale, the gift shop prices are okay.

    The Emerald Lake Lodge is a bit out of the way and the setting is gorgeous. The food is good there as well.

    I saw a few posts about driving from Banff to Jasper and people are recommending against driving. All I can say is that the view on the Icefield Parkway is absolutely incredible, more so in the winter than the summer. There are also less vehicles on the road.

    You have to exercise caution and drive to the speed limit or below. They typically will keep the road clear of snow but be aware of weather changes and sudden gust of wind and snow drift. Obey all road signs although we always stop at the do not stop sign (avalanche zone) and take picture of us and the sign :D.

    Have winter tires, it is a must. Take you time to drive and don't rush, stop at all the scenic view points.

    Just be aware of the elements and if there is a winter storm, then you will have to change plan. They will close the Parkway if there is a winter storm and no passage would be allowed. Also, there is no service in winter months between Lake Louise and Jasper except at Saskatchewan Crossing. Make sure you get a full tank of gas before you leave Lake Louise or Jasper.

    You will enjoy your stay at the Canadian Rockies!

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    Two corrections to Eschew's information.

    The services at Saskatchewan Crossing are closed in the winter meaning that there are no services (food, gas, stores) between Jasper and Lake Louise during the winter months. Restrooms at the rest stops are either closed or not restocked.

    Also, the road is only kept clear in the sense that it's graded (scraped down to a few cm of snow), but it's not plowed like in other places. So you are often driving on packed snow. And avalanches are deadly serious - there has already been one very close call this winter and those signs are there for a reason (in the winter!).

    I'm not advising against all driving on the Icefields - just arranging your trip to only drive it once or venturing along it as a day trip. It would suck to book a really nice place in Jasper or LL or Banff, only to be unable to get there, or to spend a whole day staring at clouds. If you go as a day trip, you can be flexible so you can get a day when the weather is optimal.

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    correction ... and update
    (1) The full name is "Saskatchewan River Corssing", most just called it Saskatchewan Crossing.
    (2) The Gas station/motel/restuarnt/shop at Saskatchewan River Crossing is seasonal as kgsneds had pointed out. That's why the need to get full tank of gas at Lake Louise or Jasper before departure on my earlier post.
    (3) I thought the National Park Ranger Station at Saskachewan River Crossing is occupied year round, so if there is any kind of emergency, it is a potential place to seek help. Has anyone stopped in at the Park ranger Station in the winter at all and can confirm it is occupied year round?

    While in Jasper, Maligne Canyon Ice Walk would be a good activity.

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    That's a thought.

    The park gate just outside of Saskatchewan Crossing is operational year round, so it would make sense for the warden station to also be open. I can't find any solid info, but some sources suggest it's occupied full-time only seasonally (May-Oct), but might have a skeleton staff or have someone there during the day.

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    We have stayed at Baker Creek--I said Bear Creek in an earlier post--it is not in Lake Louise. but Lake Louise does nto have a town. I wouldn't stay there in the winter. It's a step down from your other lodging. Lake Louise is only a half hour from Banff so I would probably spend the whole 5 nights in Banff and take day trips. There's enough to do there and you wouldn't have to change hotels.

    Did you look at the Banff Springs Hotel website? I think that it is a very romantic winter destination hotel. Don't book the cheapest room--book at least one level above cheapest. Some of the rooms are tiny

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