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Waterton, Banff and Jasper - need feedback

Waterton, Banff and Jasper - need feedback

Feb 5th, 2003, 04:02 PM
  #1  
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Waterton, Banff and Jasper - need feedback

We are flying into Calgary in early June. What can we expect for weather. Trying to beat the crowds. Plan to stay in Calgary for 2 nights- Hyatt, Waterton for 2 nights- Kilmorey Lodge, Banff 2 nights (Elennors B & B) and Jasper 2 nights- need idea's for lodging. We are looking for suggestions for golf and what part of the trip do we do Waterton- before Banff? Not sure of the logistics. We are just beginning to chart this out so any suggestions would be great.
Char is offline  
Feb 5th, 2003, 05:44 PM
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I think if you look at the location of Jasper, you will answer your own question. If you went to Waterton from Banff, how would you drive to Jasper?
I know how I would do it, because I did it last summer from Lake Louise, deliberately. But I had my route worked out.

I suggest driving to Waterton from Calgary by using the main road to Fort McLeod, then to Waterton via Cardston.
Allow time for the carriage museum in Cardston. It is large and interesting if you are a fan of the old west.

From Waterton drive to Banff via route 522 which takes you into Banff via Peter Lougheed park. The road is spectacular.

While in Waterton you will have to answer the question of what do you do about Glacier National Park. Ignore it?

And I suggest you take your passport. Entry into Canada is not the problem; re-entry into the USA is. I know the de jure rules, but the de facto situation says take your passport.
It makes life easier.
bob_brown is offline  
Feb 5th, 2003, 05:46 PM
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PS I trust you don't plan on much hiking. The high trails will still be snowed in probably. Last year saw late, heavy snow fall and some of the highest trails, those above 7,500 feet, were snowed in until mid July.
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Feb 6th, 2003, 03:50 AM
  #4  
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Bob, Thank you so much, especially about the hiking and the snow. We are coming from Pa. and are clueless. What about golf? Will that be a problem?
Char is offline  
Feb 6th, 2003, 05:43 AM
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Waterton has quite a scenic and challenging course about a km or so from the townsite, quite close to the Kilmorrey (at least it is challenging for me but then I am a terrible golfer). As it is quite hilly, I would recommend renting a cart. Some years ago while golfing there I had the pleasure of watching a young grizzly on the edge of the course. There is always lots of wildlife.

Definately take your passport if you plan on going to Glacier, my brother was nearly refused entry a month or so ago at a border crossing he goes through about twice monthly, where he is well known, because he did not has proof of citizenship. The border guards allowed him to cross "this one time" because they know him well but said it would be the last time.
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Feb 6th, 2003, 05:57 AM
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There are many golf courses in Alberta, but I have never played there. There is a course associated with the Waterton Town Site, but I know little about it.

It is low enough in altitude that by early June the snow should have melted.
Of course that depends on how much snow the Waterton area gets this winter.

Last year we did your route in reverse, except we drove from Jasper to Waterton via Yoho National Park and stayed several days in Field, British Columbia.

Then we drove through Kootney National Park via Crows Nest Pass to Waterton. It took all day to do it because the route is fairly long and the road is slow in places.

Based on my experience, and the amount of time you have, I do not recommend the route, in reverse, that I took.

If you drive to Banff from Waterton, you can do it in about half a day, perhaps a little more depending on where you stop.

From Banff to Jasper, you are looking at a very long day because you will be tempted to stop very often along the Icefields Parkway. It is the most spectacular mountain drive on a paved road in North America that I have seen. (Ruling out Alaska.)

In Jasper, I suggest you move soon to find a place to stay. There are "parks approved" accommodations in Jasper that are rooms or small apartments in people's homes. I am not sure I recommend them.

The one place I have stayed that was comfortable is Jasper House Bungalows. I have stayed there twice. Some of the units have a separate bedroom and a kitchen area plus a sitting \ eating area.

Becker's Roaring River Chalets, or perhaps the name is now Becker's Chalets, is also a nice place. Both it and Jasper House are south of the main town site on the banks of the river.

In town there are several up scale motels.

I think a map will be your best ally in this planning.

I would like to offer a suggestion.
As much as I like Waterton, there is so much to see around Banff, Lake Louise, Yoho, the Icefields Parkway, and Jasper, that I would not go to Waterton, given your time constraints. To me personally, the scenery of Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Yoho (Emerald Lake and Takkakaw Falls) and the Icefields Parkway beats Waterton. For that reason I would choose more time in Banff - Jasper region.

(In fact, I would not spend 2 nights in Calgary! I would get my rental car at the airport and head for Banff immediately. I know, I spent nights in Calgary last summer, but our flight was a late arriver, and before we left I wanted to visit Drumheller and tour the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palenontology. We decided to stay in Calgray and drive over to Drumheller and back on the same day. It is about 90 miles and not much but wheat fields and little towns between Calgary and Drumheller.)


You also need to think about how you return to Calgary. There are essentially 3 ways. One is to return via Edmonton, which is slightly longer.
Another is to drive down the Icefields Parkway to the Crossing and turn east to Red Deer and south to Calgary.
The third way is to drive back via Lake Louise to Calgary, picking the Trans Canada Highway at the east side of Kicking Horse Pass where it junctions with the Icefields Parkway close to Lake Louise Village.



bob_brown is offline  
Feb 6th, 2003, 02:38 PM
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Bob, again, can't thank you enough for taking so much time to share your thoughts. I will go back to the drawing board with some of your suggestions.
2Jacks- great info. and tips. Thanks bunches!!
Char is offline  
Feb 6th, 2003, 05:39 PM
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Let me throw in one more tid bit here.
We went first to that area in 1987.
We treated it as a scouting trip. We were trying to cover quite a bit of ground because we had every intention of returning. So far, the fortunes of travel have been favorable, and we have returned many times.

In retrospect these are my favorite places reached without a long hike:
Lake Louise
Moraine Lake
The Icefields Parkway from Sunwapta Pass to the Endless Chain Ridge (a few miles south of Jasper)
Mount Edith Cavell and the Angel Glacier
Takkakaw Falls
Emerald Lake
Various short walks near Banff -- Johnson Canyon being one of them.

The best places require some hiking and you may be too early for those.

Calgary has some interesting features, but not many. Heritage Park and the museum down town were of interest.
Compared with what awaits you in the Canadian Rockies, I have to downplay Calgary. But of course that is my scale of values.

I think any of us who write here are basing our statements on what we like.
On the other hand, you would not be going out there if there was not a common thread of interest. So I think that although my comments are based on my thinking, they are not without relevance to your planning. At least I hope so. There is nothing more fun that to hear back from someone that they had a great time visiting the places I like.
bob_brown is offline  
Feb 7th, 2003, 01:52 PM
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Bob, Thanks so much. Big decisions now. The only reason we were staying in Calgary was I have 2 nights free at a Hyatt so will rule that out and use the 2 nights somewhere else. The only reason we picked June was that I have a free companion ticket to be used prior to end of July and was trying to avoic the crowds. We are definetly on the same page as what we appriciate. So here is the big question. What month is best for Banff and Jasper where we are not fighting the crowds. When we were in Switzerland last year, could not hike because of the snow so I can relate.
Char is offline  
Feb 7th, 2003, 02:02 PM
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This went before I had a chance to finish. Bob, Should we use the free companion ticket to go to Montreal, Quebec and the mountains (as that is another trip we would like to do as 2nd choice)in June if that is when we need to travel and do Banff and Jasper at another time of the year. That is the $20,000 question to someone who I trust based on all of your feedback. Banff and Jasper has been our dream trip for years but want to do it at the right time since for us it may only be once. Can only afford one or the other this year. Thanks again for taking so much time with me.
Char is offline  
Feb 7th, 2003, 10:09 PM
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That is a tough question about when to go. A lot of it depends on where you want to go. Below 6,000 feet, snow on the trail should not be a problem in mid June. For example, the trail we wanted to take originated at Logan Pass, which is about 6700 feet up.
It was still snowed and iced in. We dropped down about 1,500 feet and the substitute trail was clear.

I think your present plans are fine.
I would go in June and take my chances.
The Icefields Parkway will be snow free.
The streams will be flowing, the water falls will be active.

Lakes above 6,500 feet would well be iced over. Lake McArthur was full of ice last early July. Quite a unique sight.

If you want to hike, and a fairly FLAT snow bank presents itself, lug sole boots and a hiking pole will get you over it. The only thing I fear on the trail is ice!

Even hard packed granular snow can accept a hiking pole if you stab it in hard enough!

In a few places in early-mid June, many trails will be wet, and closed because of potential boot damage to the soil and the vegetation.

On the other hand, trails like Johnston Canyon are either paved or on metal cat walks above the stream.

I think you will have plenty to see and do.
The boat on Waterton lake starts mid to late May and will be going full when you are there.
So I would go early June and enjoy it.
There is so much to see and do, that if anything is snowed over, there is an alternative not far away.

I was not trying to talk you our of Calgary. I was indicating that my scale of values says there are better alternatives, if you love mountains like I do.

Incidentally, I will be there in mid July. Got my reservations lined up last night.

As for Switzerland, if you are there in the second week, September 11 - 17 to be exact, look for me in Lauterbrunnen, Chalet Hörner.
bob_brown is offline  
Feb 9th, 2003, 10:00 AM
  #12  
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Thanks again. Our dates have changed to July or August due to work contstaints. We are still doing Banff, Jasper and will follow all of your points of interest but my husband would like to stay longer and go to Vancouver. We will probably take 10 days to do it and Jasper. all. What dates wioll you be in teh Banffand would you drive to Vancouver or take the train?
Char is offline  
Feb 9th, 2003, 10:40 AM
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That message got sent before I was finished. Since we plan to lengthen our trip and include Vancouver, few thought you may be able to answer a few more questions. Right now, we plan to fly to Vancouver and fly out of Calgary to go back home. Looking at the map, it looks like it would be scenic to drive from Vancouver up to Jasper and then south to Banff for the last let of our trip. Is that how you would approach it if you had 10 days? Have you been to Vancouver?
Char is offline  
Feb 9th, 2003, 11:50 AM
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I will argue just the opposite about driving to from Vancouver to Jasper. The road from Kamloops to Jasper is, in my experience, boring, and not very fast.
The best part is the scenery around Mount Robson, which is within easy driving distance from Jasper.
If you drive from Kamloops to Golden on the Trans Canada, you pass through/near Revelstoke, Mount Revelstoke park, and Glacier National Park. Glacier is worth stopping and looking. If you have a clear day, there are some great views.
The museum at Rogers Pass is worth a visit.

Many of the trails in Glacier are steep, and arduous. I am sure they are for ill conditioned people!! But it doesn't hurt to look. The rock formations of the Selkirks and the Purcells yield some jagged peaks that are in many cases more dramatic than those of the Rockies.

Once you leave Rogers Pass, the approach to Banff is via Yoho National Park, Lake Louise, and some fine scenery.

I summation I don't think there is any contest.

By the way, once you leave Vancouver, stay on the Trans Canada to Hope and take the Coquihalla Freeway to Kamloops.
To see a little more scenery, detour by Okanagen country and continue on to Revelstoke via Vernon.

bob_brown is offline  
Feb 9th, 2003, 11:50 AM
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IMHO In terms of "scenery" it is more scenic to drive from Vancouver to Lake Louise(through Yoho) and then up the parkway to Jasper and back. However the drive from Vancouver to Jasper, is a much easier drive. Maybe I am a bit jaded because I have made the drive from Vancouver to Jasper MANY times...but I find it is a prettier drive (albeit mor difficult and slower) to go through Golden and onto Lake Louise and Banff. Having said that, the Drive to Jasper, down to LL, Banff and finally Calgary makes a nice loop.

Also, Char, I second the motion that you shave down time in Cow-Town...one night is more than enought! The city has little to offer compared to the mountain country.
monkey is offline  
Feb 9th, 2003, 01:00 PM
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Monkey and Bob, thanks on the route info. from Vancouver. Based on your route, how much time would it take to drive from Vancouver to Banff and is Vancouver even worth it. Obviously, they are on differnt ends of the spectrum. Also, how long is the drive going from Jasper back to Calgary sssuming no stops. Right now, we are thinking 3 nights in Banff and 3 nights in Jasper and only one night in Calgary so we can catch an early flight out. We are looking at Bekers Chalets in Jasper and Eleanors house in Banff. If we bag Vancouver, we would have a few extra nights, where would you stay? Thanks guys. Char
Char is offline  
Feb 9th, 2003, 04:52 PM
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Well, Char, you are asking the wrong guy if you want to go to Vancouver. I know what I would do, but that is my approach to it all!! I would swap Vancouver in a flash for the Canadian Rockies, the Purcells, and the Selkirks.

Don't forget, also that there are some interesting provincial parks, too, like Kokanee Glacier in BC. And the drive along the Columbia north from the area around Nelson is interestingly scenic. (You cross the Columbia on a ferry at one point.)

The drive from Jasper back to Calgary is not at all bad. I forget how long it took us because I did not time it, but we left the Greenwood Motel, which is near the airport, and drove to Rocky Mountain House and followed the David Thompson Highway to the Parkway and then went north to Jasper. We got to Jasper with plenty of daylight left, but in July the afternoons are very long.
Of course we stopped as we traveled, so all told I think our trip lasted 8 hours. You can of course make it quicker by not stopping. But that defeats the purpose of being there!!

You have precious little time as it is, so for this trip I would focus on the mountain scenery. You can save Vancouver for a trip that combines it with Victoria and Vancouver Island.
bob_brown is offline  
Feb 17th, 2003, 12:34 PM
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I have not been on the site for a while. Based on all of your great feedback, we finally made our flight reservations and are flying in and out of Calgary and staying 9 nights in the Banff, Jasper area. I am working on the lodging based on all of your feedback. Thinking 4 nights in Banff as I would like to play twilight golf in Kootinay and Yoho (hike and bike during during the day)and play golf at the Banff Springs Golf Cource, then head to Jasper for 3 nights,playing golf one day after 5:00 at Jasper Park. Since we want to play a golf course in Kananaskis- would it make sense to stay in that area for 1 night before retuning home. The last night we will stay in Calgary due to an early flight. Thanks again and I am sure I will post the experience for others.
Char is offline  
Feb 18th, 2003, 04:51 AM
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Char, if you know the dates of your travel you may want to book your tee times quite soon. The courses in the mountains tend to fill quite quickly for the summer months.
hydra is offline  
Feb 18th, 2003, 05:57 AM
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Thanks for that feedback on making tee times early. Are you familiar with the golf courses? I am thinking Banff Springs, Jasper Park afer 5:00 as the rate drops and Kananaskis Country -mt. Lorette course and maybe twilight at Golden Golf Club in Yoho National. If we run short on time, which courses are a must?
Char is offline  

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