visit Banff and Jasper July 4th weekend

Jun 9th, 2005, 09:23 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 1
visit Banff and Jasper July 4th weekend

Hello everyone,

I'm going to drive to Banff and Jasper the July 4th weekend and spend 9 days in total. I see that Jasper camp site can be reserved now. Which site has the best views? Is Edmondtown worth visiting? People have told me that I would get bored to visit US Glacier NP after seeing Banff and Jasper. What's your thought? Any big / small sights you would add/remove from my itinerary?

Can I easily find hotel or room in locals' home in Banff and Jasper towns on the day of arrival?

7/2 Sat
Start: Seattle
End: Golden, BC (60 mi from Lake Louise)
Travel Distance: 508 mi
Interesting Stops: Rogers Pass

7/3 Sun
Start: Golden, BC
End: Lake Louise, AL
Travel Distance: 60 mi
Interesting Stops: Yoho, Castle Junction, Radium Hot Springs

7/4 Mon
Lake Louise area
Interesting Stops: Canmore, Deadman's Flats

7/5 Tue
Start: Lake Louise
End: Jasper
Distance: 150 mi
Stop by various places along the Icefields Parkway (many), lodge at local’s home

7/6 Wed
Jasper area
West and South, including Robson

7/7 Thu
Jasper area
Central and East

7/8 Fri
Start: Jasper
End: Calgary
Distance: 420 mi
Stop: Edmonton, theme: cities and farms

7/9 Sat
Start: Calgary
End: Kalispell, MO (right past Glacier Park)
Distance: 300 mi
Stop: Waterton Lake National Park (CA, World Heritage), Glacier Park (US)

7/10 Sun
Start: Kalispell, MO
End: Seattle
Distance: 520 mi

Thanks,
Amy
amynfishing is offline  
Jun 10th, 2005, 07:44 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,465
Hi amynfishing -

To answer your first question - you should definitely make reservations now - the July 4 weekend in the US is on the other side of the July 1 weekend in Canada (our national holiday) which means that the mountain parks will be busy, especially if the weather is nice.

I'm not quite sure that I understand your route. For example - which way were you planning to drive to see Radium Hot Springs en route to Lake Louise from Golden? It's not on the most direct route, you would have to detour south 105 km (66 miles), and then travel another 133 km (83 miles) up through Kootenay National Park to get to Lake Louise (and by-passing Yoho). . .???

Canmore and Dead Man Flats are not near Lake Louise, they are closer to Banff, and are not in the mountain parks.

Were you planning to drive Jasper to Edmonton and then south to Calgary?? That's a lot of driving - a minimum of 7 hours, not including driving through the city of Edmonton. Won't give you any time for visiting or seeing anything in Edmonton. Plus the route is mostly across rolling prairie - and gets monotonous after a while (especially Edmonton to Calgary).

There is a lot to do and see in Edmonton (a city of over a million people); most tourists head to West Edmonton Mall, which has the dubious distinction of being the largest shopping mall in the world (although I heard recently that Shanghai now has the biggest one).

Instead of driving Jasper-Edmonton-Calgary, I would suggest a more scenic route. Drive south of Jasper to Saskatchewan River Crossing, then take highway 11 to Rocky Mountain House, and from there drive south on highway 22 - the Cowboy Trail - to Cochrane, which will bring you within a 10 minute drive of Calgary.

Borealis is offline  
Jun 10th, 2005, 08:27 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
Hello amynfishing,

I agree with everything Borealis has said. Here’s an itinerary for you to consider.

7/2 Sat – I think it’s a bit too ambitious to drive all the way to Golden. I think you would be better off driving only as far as Kelowna in the attractive Okanagan Valley. In that case you would have some time to relax by the lake in the afternoon. However, if you really do want to press on beyond Kelowna on this day, I suggest going as far as Revelstoke, but not Golden.

7/3 Sun – I suggest you do the Meadows in the Sky Parkway, which is in Mount Revelstoke National Park, just outside the town of Revelstoke. Then drive Hwy #1 to Golden. You will go over Rogers Pass and you also will lose an hour when you cross from the Mountain to the Pacific Time Zone. Between Golden and Lake Louise you’ll pass through Yoho National Park. I recommend that you take the side roads to Emerald Lake and Takakkaw Falls. Overnight in Lake Louise.

NOTE: There is a smaller stock of accommodation in Lake Louise than there is in Banff or Canmore. Although I consider Lake Louise to be more centrally located with respect to prime scenery, you can find a larger range of accommodation in Banff and Canmore. Therefore, if budget is an issue, you could consider using Banff or Canmore instead of Lake Louise as a base for this portion of the trip.

WHEN YOU SEARCH FOR ACCOMMODATIONS IN THE MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARKS, LOOK OUT FOR 2-NIGHT AND 3-NIGHT MINIMUM STAY REQUIREMENTS. ALSO LOOK VERY CAREFULLY AT THE CANCELLATION POLICIES, AS SOME PROPERTIES HAVE 7-DAY CANCELLATION POLICIES, AND A FEW EVEN HAVE 14-DAY CANCELLATION POLICIES.

7/4 Mon – I recommend that you concentrate on Moraine Lake and Lake Louise on this day. Go to Moraine Lake first, because its parking lot tends to fill up. There are many beautiful walks you can do in this area – all the way from easy lakeshore paths through moderate hikes to ambitious hikes. Overnight in Lake Louise again.

7/5 Tue – From your base in Lake Louise, visit Banff townsite and its environs. Drive east from LL on the Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy #1A). Visit Johnston Canyon. Go there first, as it’s another of those parking lots that fill up. Walk at least to the Lower Falls (1 hour there and back), but better still to the Upper Falls (2-1/2 hours there and back). Then continue to Lake Winnewanka outside of Banff townsite. If you like, take the gondola up Sulphur Mountain. Stroll down Banff’s main shopping street. Have dinner in Banff if you like. Return to Lake Louise on the TransCanada Highway (Hwy #1) for a change of scene. Overnight in LL again.

7/6 Wed – Drive from Lake Louise to Jasper. You seem to be aware of the fact that there are many stops on this route. I trust you’ll be sure to include stops at Peyto Lake Lookout, the Columbia Icefields, Sunwapta Falls and Athabasca Falls. Overnight in Jasper.

7/7 Thu – Visit Mount Robson Provincial Park. Overnight in Jasper.

7/8 Fri - Use this day to see the central sights in Jasper National Park. I recommend driving to Mount Edith Cavell, stopping a couple of times to look at the view of the Astoria River Valley and then doing as much of the Angel Glacier / Cavell Meadows hike as you feel like doing. After that walk in Maligne Canyon. If time permits after that, do the hour-long drive to Maligne Lake. It’s a road along which we’ve always been fortunate enough to see some wildlife.

7/9 Sat – A day’s drive from Calgary to Kalispell will not do justice to Waterton Lakes National Park and Montana’s Glacier National Park. I suggest you not only skip Edmonton and Calgary, but also postpone Waterton / Glacier to a future trip.

I suggest that you drive to Cranbrook, BC, and overnight there. That would involve driving back down the Icefields Parkway to Lake Louise. The scenery looks different when it’s viewed from the opposite direction, so don’t be concerned about double backing. At Lake Louise drive east on the TransCanada Highway (Hwy #1) to Castle Junction. At Castle Junction turn south onto Hwy #93, and drive through Kootenay National Park to Radium Hot Springs, BC. At Radium, turn south and drive on Hwy #93 through Invermere and Fairmont Hot Springs to Cranbrook.

7/10 Sun – From Cranbrook, drive to Sandpoint, ID, Spokane, WA, and on to Seattle. You will gain an hour as you cross from the Mountain to the Pacific Time Zone.

Hope that helps.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 10th, 2005, 09:42 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,019
Having driven those roads a few times also, I think everybody above knows the terrain very well and knows the area better than I do.

I have driven south to north and north to south on the Icefields Parkway often enough that I can tell you for sure that it looks different depending on the direction, time of day, time of year, and the cloud cover. It is one road I never have found tiresome.

Guess what? I will be driving it again this summer. I feel deprived if I don't make it out there every other year at a minimum. Something is missing when I don't go.

To comment more specifically on the good orderly direction you have been given above, let me add a few remarks of my own.

Mt Robson on a clear day is a beautiful sight to see. Even if the top is stuck in the clouds, it is still a pretty mountain. It rises about 8,000 feet straight up it seems.

The road from Kelowna to Golden can be slow. Usually, I am slowed considerably at Rogers Pass!! The views of Glacier National Park are too good to pass up.
I think there is more to see in Glacier than in Revelstoke NP.

Also, the ascent from Golden out of the Rocky Mountain Trench up the Kicking Horse canyon to Kicking Horse pass is spectacular in itself. As you enter Yoho National Park, you pass by the turn to Emerald Lake and to Takkakaw Falls.

As waterfalls go, Takkakaw is incredible. Of the alpine - glacier fed types of falls, I rate it number 1 of the ones I have seen.

And the Angel Glacier is another outstanding feature of the mountains around Jasper. Too bad all of those glaciers are retreating because of global warming.

I don't know that you will be bored if you go to the US Glacier National Park after the Canadian Rockies. It is different because of the type of rocks that make up Glacier, US.

The rock formations that were pushed up and over younger rock in Glacier are very ancient sedimentary rocks that have very few fossils. No fossils with spines have yet been discovered in those rocks.

Geologically, the Lewis Overthrust Fault that makes up most of Glacier is thought to have occurred while the mountains to the north were also being formed. So both Glacier, US, and Waterton are considered to be part of the Canadian Rockies.

Ben Gadd in his Handbook of the Canadian Rockies has an excellent section on the geology of the whole region.

It and the Rocky Mountain Trail Guide by Brian Patton and Bart Robinson are vital to my enjoyment of the region.

Ben has a very good description of the most common animal found in the Rockies, which most often appears in July and August. Its name? Homo not so sapiens.
(That is not Ben's title.)

I will not attempt to paraphrase his remarks because Ben is not to be imitated. He writes too well.

Imitation might be a sincere form of flattery, but a poor imitation is also often atrocious. Ben's knowledge is so extensive that there is no substitute for reading the second edition of his incredible book.
bob_brown is offline  
Jun 28th, 2005, 02:12 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 1
Hi amynfishing,

I think all these people have given you great advice. It is a long drive from Seattle to Jasper and back in 9 days and to expect to cover what you mentioned is too much driving and not enough time. My only additional comments are as follows: I would definitely give Edmonton a miss. Nothing to see there except a big mall which is becoming a white elephant anyway. Definitely come back through Calgary. You don't want to miss seeing the city. Added bonus: the Calgary Stampede starts July 8. It is fantastic for visitors. You should not miss stopping in Calgary. follow this link for more information: http://calgarystampede.com/

I am not totally clear on your route but it sounds to me like you planned to come up to Vancouver and across to Golden. Therefore you would miss Kelowna on the way here. So, maybe go there on the way back. I agree that it is a slower route but the Okanagan (Vernon, Penticton, Kelowna) is beautiful and a nice change after all the mountains.

Have a great trip!!
zman11 is offline  

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