Trip Report: Banff/Jasper very long!

Old Aug 14th, 2005, 04:43 PM
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Trip Report: Banff/Jasper very long!

Timid about sharing trip report, but feel I need to because of how much others have helped me plan great vacations!

Day 1: Left Calgary Airport at about 4 P.M. and headed straight into downtown Calgary in route to Banff and Lake Louise. This was the last Friday of the Calgary Stampede and the traffic was terrible! We stopped at a Safeway in Calgary to buy some supplies. We arrived in Banff town at about 6:30, sidewalks were packed with people. Ate at Tony Romas, ribs were cold. Left Banff town for Lake Louise driving towards the lake I noticed a gorgeous property on the right and was pleasantly surprised when it was Paradise Lodge and Suites. We choose this hotel because it had a T.V. for our teenager. Our room bordered the forest on the end of one of the lodge units. It had a living room with a hide-a-bed, a fireplace, a small, sparsely equipped kitchen, a separate bedroom and a deck. Sitting on the deck was very tranquil.

Day 2: Left teenager sleeping and drove to Chateau Lake Louise for breakfast. Breakfast was 20.00 each and ok. Walked along lake trail. As the morning wore on the crowds began to grow! Went back to lodge and picked up teenager to go to Lake Moraine. Road to this lake was very close to the lodge. Beautiful drive up, but the parking lot was getting full! Set out to hike along lake and notice teenager has on flip-flops! So much for long hikes. Decided to hike rock pile since it wasn’t too far. As we hiked we saw the backcountry trails where a ranger makes you travel in groups of 6 because of Grizzles. Once at the top we were so glad we’d gone up rather than around, the view of the lake from the rock pile is not to be missed. After returning to lodge for real shoes we headed up 1A toward Banff. Stopped and read the markers along the way. The wildflowers along the road were beautiful, drifts of white daisies and Indian paintbrushes. Hoped to see wildlife, but saw none. We were glad the signs were visible from the pullouts because it really started to rain. Stopped at Johnston
Canyon mid-afternoon, fearing crowds, but the rain had made them light. All enjoyed the hike. Went into Banff so the teenager could ”shop”. She loved the upscale mall. We ate dinner at the Spaghetti Factory. It was just like the Spaghetti Factories we’ve eaten at in the states, same menu and great for kids. The wait the night before was 1 hour, they have the longest wait in town! We ate early to beat the wait! We were already tiring of eating out and decided to go to Safeway for groceries. The market in Lake Louise had very limited supplies, very little meat and produce. On the drive back to Lake Louise on the faster road we spotted a deer and a brown bear, wildlife at last!

Day 3: Husband wanted to watch the British Open so my daughter and I took a trail ride up to Lake Agnus tea house. I was a little apprehensive as I’m not into horses and hadn’t ridden in years, but new unless I hiked alone this was the only way I was going to get to see it. The trip up was beautiful; I relaxed (not my muscles, my mind) and was enjoying the ride and the beautiful views when we reached the top. The poor hikers along the trail wanted to hitch a ride. We spent 45 minutes at the teahouse and then as we began the ride down the guide’s horse bolted, threw her off and took off down the trail. After experiencing this I no longer was relaxed. I wanted off the horse! The guide had no way to reach the stable and was pretty upset and had some injuries. A couple stopped and lent her their cell phone, she couldn’t remember the number. Called info and the line were continually busy.
People coming up the trail talked of the horse tearing down the trail. I offered her my horse and told her I’d hike down, she and my daughter could ride, but she insisted we stay together. The guide continued to try to reach the stable with no luck. Suddenly around the corner comes a woman guiding the guide’s horse. She obviously knew how to deal with horses and had calmed him a bit. He was scarred of the guide’s overcoat and reared up when he saw her with it on. He was holding his left hoof off the ground; I think she said he had wiped out. I reluctantly mounted my horse and my daughter hopped on hers and we trudged on. As we rode back I realized this was probably our guides first trip and she was afraid of getting fired. Living around stables that are run on a shoestring I should have been more careful! Our 3-hour ride turned into a 4-hour ride. After all the excitement we went to lunch at The Station right next to the railroad tracks in Lake Louise. It was a nice day and we could eat outside and watch the trains go by.

Day 4: After a lazy morning around the lodge doing laundry we packed a lunch and left around 11:30 for Yoho Park. We went over Kicking Horse Pass. At the top of the pass, about 15 min. from Lake Louise we stopped at Spiral Tunnels, We didn’t get to go to Lake Ohara because we couldn’t get reservations. Our next stop was Takakkaw Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in Canada. The road up had 2 of the sharpest hairpin turns I’ve been on. The fall was pretty impressive thundering down the mountain. The drive through the valley back to the waterfall was beautiful. On the way back to Lake Louise we stopped at Emerald Lake. It was a few miles off the main highway. The parking area was small and very full. We had to park about a quarter of a mile up the road and hike back, to the lake. Tour buses stop dropping lots of tourists. On the way out we stopped at Natural Bridge, it was basically big rocks crossing the river with the river flowing beneath. This had been an easy half-day of sightseeing and walking. Went to dinner at Baker’s Bistro at the Baker Lodge and Baker Creek about 12 Km east of here toward the town of Banff on 1A. As we got onto 1A it began to rain, seems every time we drive this road it rains. We slowed by a bunch of stopped cars thinking we’d see wildlife, but saw nothing. The bistro was in a log building; we sat next to the window looking out at beautiful flower boxes and the highway. We had the best meal we’ve had in Canada. As we were having dinner the rain started to pour down. Back in the car we could hear thunder roar and see flashes of lightening. We’re amazed at how quickly the weather changes. Another car is pulled over on the side of the road; this time the wildlife is very evident, a huge elk with an antler span of about 6 feet was munching grass along the side of the road.

Day 5: Today we check out and head up the Ice field Parkway for Jasper. We stopped at Laggans Bakery and picked up rolls and sandwiches since we didn’t think there would be a decent place to eat along the parkway. Lake Louise Village was bustling as usual. The brochure says that this is one of the most spectacular roads in the world. It certainly seemed that way. Every turn brought a different view of majestic mountains and glacier-covered peaks. Our first stop was Crowfoot Glacier. We hiked the steep trail to the look out. It was a short but huffing and puffing hike. The hike was well worth it Peyto Lake was viewable from a platform. Yet another spectacular aqua blue lake to view. We continued to enjoy the beautiful vistas before stopping at the very crowded Ice fields center. We arrived a little after noon. It was a good thing we brought lunch as the restaurants were overflowing. The center had good displays, but a lot of people! We bought tickets for the Ice Explorer and waited 15 minutes for our bus. A tour bus drove us over across the road and up the mountain to the Ice Explorer stations. Where we boarded our Ice Explorer to go onto the glacier. We stopped at a parking area and were allowed to get out and walk around and drink the glacial water for 15 minutes. We didn’t spend all 15 minutes on the ice because it was too cold! The total time of the tour was 1 hour and 20 minutes. The price was 37.00 for adults and 17.00 for children up to 15. We only made one more stop at Sunwapta Falls. The lookout area was crowded because a tour bus had just arrived. We looked at the river crushing down and could tell how it had carved the deep canyon through which it ran. We continued on to Jasper and checked into the Alpine Village. It was disappointing that most of the cabins didn’t appear to have a view of the river. As we walked the short path from the parking area to our cabin we were pleasantly surprised to see that we had a spectacular view of the Athabasca River. We arrived at our hotel at 4:00 and had left Lake Louise at 10:00. The 2-hour drive had taken 6! Our cabin is very spacious, with a large deck and 4 chairs and a small table, a living room with a TV, (a pleasant surprise, even if it only gets 4 channels), plus our bedroom! The living area has a great view of the river. Enjoyed using the barbeque each evening, even in the rain!

Day 6: After breakfast and a lazy day at the lodge we left about noon so they could make up our room. We headed back toward the Ice field on 93 stopping at Backers Chalets to make a rafting reservation. The weather report called for thundershowers today so we decided to try for tomorrow at 4:00.. We jumped off 93 onto 93A for a beautiful drive as the narrow 2 lane road climbed through the trees. Right before 93A meets back with 93 is the turnoff for Acabatha Falls. It was quite impressive thundering over the cliffs. Trails were built in abandoned channels of the river, places the waterfall had been but had changed course and ceased to cut through the rock. We headed back toward Jasper Town and turned on the road for Mt. Edith Cavell. It was a narrow pot holed road with hair pen turns, not quite as sharp as those to Emerald Lake though! No tour buses or trailers were allowed on this road. At the top of the road we parked in the small, but full lot and began our steep climb on the paved trail to the base of Angel Glacier and Cavell Lake. Once again the elevation made the climb a little tough. The lake was clear blue with icebergs floating in it. Beneath the glacier were ice caves, you had to hike over rocks to reach them, and signs warned that chunks of the glacier might fall. We choose not to hike up to them. The hike and drive were well worth the effort, another incredible spot! It was very chilly with the wind off the snow. And we had a few raindrops, nothing major. We drove back into town for a snack and to stock up on groceries. The clouds overtook the village about 5:00 and poured for about half an hour. Back at our lodge the sun was once again shinning so we went out and sat along the river watching for rafts to go by. As we began to barbeque steaks for dinner it began to rain once again.

Day 7: After another slow morning we drove over to the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. It’s a huge community to itself with a beautiful golf course and on Lake Beaufort. The rooms looked more like typical motel rooms; it really made our lodge seem to be a real find. We walked around the island at Pyramid Lake; it was very peaceful and quite as we began our walk. As we were leaving yet another tour bus had unloaded and the bridge was packed with tourists. Went rafting on the Athabasca River in the afternoon. We wore wet suits and booties. I felt like a sausage. Even though this section of the Athabasca River is only rated class 2 white water we had a blast! The water temperature was 4 Celsius, that’s about 43 degrees Fahrenheit. The water had been on the glacier 12 hours earlier. Our daughter swam in the river upstream from our lodge. The trip was quite invigorating. For a 2-hour trip we spent less than an hour in the water. Husband and I went to dinner at Becker’s Chalet. It was a nice dinner.

Day 8: We left about noon and took the Jasper Tram. The tram climbed 3, 243 ft. We were at about 7,500 feet at the top. The view over the valley was incredible. We could see the Athabasca River snake through the valley. It was about 61 degrees at the top and around 80 at the bottom. Drove up Maligne Canyon. The drive was beautiful. We saw a deer on the main highway and sheep near Medicine Lake. There were lots of people at Maligne Lake at the end of the road. As we drove along Medicine Lake we saw big horn sheep, they were cruising along the road and sniffing at the cars. The views from the road were, once again spectacular. We stopped to hike in Maligne Canyon on the way back; it was much less crowded than it had been as we drove in. We hiked to the 3rd Bridge and them hiked back up. It was an invigorating climb. As we hiked thunder roared and it began to rain. By the rime we got to the car it was raining pretty good. In the canyon it got pretty cool. We’ve really enjoyed and relaxed in Jasper. Look forward to returning and doing what we haven’t! Most days we spent about 5 hours sightseeing.

Day 9: We went into Jasper for breakfast. We ate at the Soft Rock Café and had a great breakfast. 2 eggs with bacon, ham or sausage, fried potatoes and toast was less than 6.00. They were cooked better here than at the Chateau Lake Louise.
We were on the road by 10:15. The clouds turned to rain soon after we passed the Ice fields. The drive towards the Ice fields from Jasper was more spectacular than when we came the other way. It seemed like a totally different drive than on the way up. Traffic moved pretty well and we were to Lake Louise in about 2 hours and 45 minutes and back to Calgary area by 3:00. We walked around downtown area, it was interesting, would be fun to stay here except that the Delta Calgary Airport is so convenient. We dropped our rental car and walked right into the hotel. Across the parkway are check inn and a shopping area and food court. Our room is on the 8th floor, which gives us good views of the city and airplanes and mountains. So far this has been a very easy return trip.

Paradise Lodge, Lake Louise
The grounds were immaculate, as were the rooms. The living room had a hide a bed, chair, coffee table, gas fireplace and armoire with a T.V. The kitchen has a small frying pan, 2 pots and a toaster. I had to bake our salmon in the fry pan, one knife and a spatula and a toaster. Our balcony looked over the forest at the mountain. The balcony was right next to our neighbors with 2 other neighbors below. We were in room 53 in the lodge. The small cabins looked rather dark. Our room was 280.00 a night we think we’ll try Bakers if we come back to Banff.

Alpine Village Inn, Jasper
We are in a deluxe one-bedroom cabin and it’s about the best place we’ve stayed. The cabin is quite large with 2 overstuffed chairs, a sofa bed, wood-burning fireplace with a hearth and a T.V. The living room has a large picture window looking out at the lawn and across to the river. The kitchen is small, but well equipped. Lots of bowls and 2 frying pans, every utensil you could need. The dinning area has a table that could seat six and looks out a large window at the river. The bedroom is small with a closet and dresser and queen bed. Across from it is the bathroom and between a closet for 3rd party to use. We’ve enjoyed sitting in the large patio and looking out. We can’t wait to return. Cabins 21 to 26 are by far the best locations, all looking across the road to the river. It’s been fun watching the rafts go by. Our room was 280.00 a night with an AAA discount and paying extra for 3rd person. Compared to where we stayed in Lake Louise, this is a bargain! We have enjoyed the hot tub every day.
CLynnWeg is offline  
Old Aug 14th, 2005, 05:22 PM
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Thanks for posting the trip report. Good counsel.
I had a similar experience with a horseback riding operation at Glacier National Park. The owner was caught in a stampede of horses and had to be airlifted out to be hospitalized. My husband's horse bolted into the parking lot (full of buses) and I was caught on the ground. Horrible. I think a lot of these operations are staffed by people with no horse handling experience. You are lucky you and your daughter were not injured. Welcome home.
cmcfong is offline  
Old Aug 14th, 2005, 06:25 PM
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Thanks for posting your trip report. We'll be in Banff/Jasper in early October and can't wait. Incidentally, what time of the year did you go?
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Old Aug 14th, 2005, 07:01 PM
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Thanks also for posting your trip report! We also recently returned and did a trail ride to the Plain of Six Glaciers over the Big Beehive. It was absolutely gorgeous and our teeenagers thought it was a blast. jThankfully we were all well and there were no mishaps.
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Old Aug 15th, 2005, 07:26 AM
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We did our trip July 14-24. People in Jasper said it had been really rainy this year. We enjoyed the rain and cool weather, seemed much like the Colorado Rockies, but a little cooler.
CLynnWeg is offline  
Old Aug 15th, 2005, 08:20 AM
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Hello CLynnWeg,

Thank you for the detailed trip report. Glad you had a good time.

Your report illustrates a couple of points that are good for first timers to know -- the frequency and speed with which the weather changes and the length of time that it takes to do the Icefields Parkway (Hwy #93) between Lake Louise and Jasper.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Aug 15th, 2005, 04:50 PM
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Thanks for sharing! I had to laugh at the teens flipflops...sounds way too familiar to me

We have done the Lake Agnes/Big Beehive/Plain of Six Glaciers hike and loved it. I think I am glad we didn't see any horses though! Was the guide ok?

We have stayed at Baker Creek several times and absolutely love it. The cabins are basic, and although the kitchens are not gourmet by any means, they did have enough pots/pans to cook real meals. We have already booked our reservations there for next summer. We enjoy the Bistro as well. I am sure with the rain it was even nicer!
Fodorite018 is offline  
Old Apr 15th, 2007, 10:50 PM
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I just wanted to say that even though you posted this a long time ago, I found it to be SOOO helpful to me, as I try to plan an itenerary for our family vacation to Banff/Lake Louise and Jasper.You're attention to detail was so informative. I really appreciate that you shared this with us! Reminds me of the saying, "the world is full of friends we haven't met yet!"
Codi is offline  
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