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Alberta parks to Glacier NP itinerary question

Alberta parks to Glacier NP itinerary question

Old Mar 29th, 2014, 11:53 AM
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Alberta parks to Glacier NP itinerary question

We will be flying in and out of Calgary for a 2 week (!) trip to explore and experience the spectacular nature-June 14-June 28
We will have a car and will use Canmore as our base for the first week where we have rented a lovely property-every minute of that week is definitely not planned!!
I am trying to figure out how to do the 2nd week where we would like to do a loop from the Banff
and/ or Jasper area down to Glacier area, explore the park and end back in Calgary by about 3 o'clock on the last day for our trip home
We are looking forward to driving the Highway to the Sun Road and not sure of the best way to see that park and the best area to stay in
Thanks for your input
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Old Mar 29th, 2014, 12:20 PM
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The earliest the Going to the Sun Road will completely open is June 20th, and that's only if weather permits. Also, June is early for Glacier since most of the trails in the higher elevations will still be covered in snow.


If there's any way you can change your dates to later in the summer, you would be able to experience at its best!
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Old Mar 29th, 2014, 04:54 PM
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Contrary to what you may read, Going to the Sun Rd is not the best scenery in the park.

And I will also be attacked when I tell you to concentrate on two areas; Many Glacier which is the closest entrance to Canada and the eastern side of GTTS Rd.

In addition to Iceberg Lake and Grinnell Glacier hikes for spectacular scenery, Many Glacier is wildlife central.

On GTTS Rd I would hike to St Mary and Virginia Falls and do the hidden Lake hike from Logan Pass if that's open.

In Many Glacier you vould either stay at Swifcurrent Motor Inn or Mangy Glacier Hotel. The hotel looks nicer but the walls are paper thin (spoke to some who complained). My choice Swiftcurrent.

On GTTS Road east side I would stay in Rising Sun Motor Inn. Some cabins are really sparse but location is great.

It's about 3 1/2 hours from Calgary to Many Glacier and a little more than an hour from Banff Townsite to Calgary.

I definitely wouldn't use Canmore as a base for a week of Banff and Jasper.

From Canmore to:
Banff - 20 minutes
Lake Louise - 1 hour
Jasper - 4 hours

If you want to see wildlife they are most active early and late. So you either will pass on that or be making long drives in the dark.

There are some amazing sights within 30 minutes of the town of Jasper. They're out. Too far.

Canmore is ok if you're visiting Banff and that's it.

Last summer I tacked a couple of days onto a trip to Glacier (Mt). We stayed in the town of Banff and also Jasper.

The last day was an all day drive from Jasper to Calgary airport where we slept at the onsite Delta Hotel for a morning flight.

That last day started with a pre-breakfast drive to a road near the town of Jasper where we found a mother black bear and three cubs. Great photos.

Then after some breakfast we checked out and drove down Edith Cavell Road and hiked the Trail of the Glaciers. Spectacular.

Then started down the Ice Field Parkway with several stops (saw a bear beside the highway), Tangle Falls. Stopped at the Ice Fields Visitors Center. Would have like to hike to the Glaciers edge but not enough time.

Made a short stop in Lake Louise as it was foggy on the way up the day before.

Then stopped in Banff. Had dinner there.

Then went down a road looking for bighorn sheep. It was almost completely dark but we found a few. Was able to salvage the photos with some major surgery.

Then drove to Calgary Airport got there after 11PM and returned the car as the Delta Hotel is in the airport across the street from the terminal.

I omitted the things we did on the way up. Hiked to Lower and Upper Johnston Falls, went to Moraine Lake, hiked to a few waterfalls, hiked to Peyto Lake and its turquoise water and made several roadside scenery stops.

What are you prepared to give up to stay in Canmore.

You can see photos of my two trips to Glacier and some in Banff & Jasper at:
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Old Mar 29th, 2014, 11:26 PM
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Thank you for your time and detailed reply wave and Myer
Of course what you say makes good sense Myer and I have taken note of many of your excellent suggestions

At this stage in our lives, we really prefer not to change hotels every 2 nights

We love to come back to a nice home at the end of a day's hiking, open a bottle of wine and throw something on the barbeque and and sit on our terrace/balcony and enjoy the view!
We do not mind an extra 45 minutes to get to lake louise particularily in this beautiful nature-we are early risers anyway and we will not miss much

We will spend one night in Jasper in the middle of our Canmore week-much like you did and return late the following day to Canmore

I am booked into both motels in Glacier-The Rising Sun and Swiftcurrent for 3 nights each-thanks for the recommendations

However I am waiting to hear from the owner of a gorgeous cabin between East and West Glacier for a possible 3-4 night
stay on his property on water bordering the park!!
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Old Mar 30th, 2014, 04:12 AM
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Be sure that your rental car company know you will be taking it to the US ( and bringing it back!).

There are no problems, but you will need paperwork at the border.
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Old Mar 30th, 2014, 04:53 AM
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Good. Swiftcurrent is located right at the Iceberg Lake trailhead. It's a fairly long, most of the day hike but other than the very start which is uphill somewhat it's just a long walk in the park with spectacular scenery.

At the far end of the Swiftcurrent parking lot there a trail for the Swiftcurrent Pass hike. Take this trail for about 10-15 minutes and you'll see a sign pointing left. About 100 yards to Fishercap Lake. To there the last hour or two of the day for Moos and deer. They come down to the lake to eat.

Grinnell Glacier starts with two boat rides from the Many Glacier Hotel. It's a mile shorter than Iceberg Lake but steeper and really tougher on my aging knees.

Also, in my opinion (just my opinion) there's a small waterfall that you must walk thru that's dangerous. It's narrow and slippery. Somebody slipped off when we were a couple of hundred yards behind him.

Rising Sun cabins are mostly very sparse. But great location. Just a few miles the St Mary and Virginia Falls trailhead. Also, not far from Logan Pass if you can get there.

We spent most of a day going to the west side of Glacier. Does not campare. We also spent a day in Two Medicine. While very nice, longer hikes and just more of what we saw. As I wrote. I'd concentrate on Many Glacier and The east half of GTTS Rd.

I don't know what stage of your lives your at but I'm turning 70 in a month and very active. I prefer to stay in one location for at least two nights but I'll stay one if that works better for the trip.

Also my opinion but Lake Louise doesn't come close to the Moraine Lake views. The road to Moraine Lake meets the Lake Louise road about a mile before Lake Louise. It's about 15 miles.

When you get to Moraine Lake park in the lot. Don't go directly to the look. On the way towards the lake look to the left and you'll see "the Rock Pile". Walk towards it and you'll wee a path with rock stairs that goes around the back. Follow the path and stairs up to various viewpoints facing the lake.

Spectacular views. There's a reason that's why they chose that view for the back of the old Canadian 20 dollar bill.

On the way up to or back from Jasper I would make a few stops.

Tunnel Mountain. Do this from your Canmore base. It's actually in the town of Banff.

Johnston Canyon. Do this from your Canmore base. Not far past Banff Townsite. 2/3 mile to Lower Falls and again same distance to Upper Falls. The trail is partly a boardwalk anchored to the side of the canyon.

Peyto Lake. On the way to or from Jasper stop at Bow Summit. This is more of a walk than a hike but you're in elevation. Spectacular views.

Ice Fields Parkway Visitor Center. You can just stop there, see the info signs, look at the glacier across the highway and continue. Or you can take the bus tour on a private road to the glacier. Your choice. I don't know how long it takes.

Trail of the Glaciers. A little below Jasper down Edith Cavell Road. We went about 10:30AM. We only saw one car on the road but when we got to the end of the road the very large parking lot was full. Cars were parking on the side of the road. This is a mostly level .6 mile hike with great views. It ends facing a glacier. There was a sign that read the trail down to the runoff lake at the bottom was closed. That didn't stop many people from walking down to the lake. Beautiful milky-colored water.

There's another trail right near Jasper town. There's an easy hike near the start of Maligne Rd just east of Jasper town.

Hopefully this helps.
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Old Mar 30th, 2014, 10:23 AM
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Thanks for all the info

2 questions -how long does it take to drive from Rising Sun to Swiftcurrents?

Where did you stay in Jasper??

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Old Mar 30th, 2014, 11:14 AM
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I think it took about 45-50 minutes. I don't think that counts the time we stopped to photograph the silver grizzly on the way out of Many Glacier.

We stayed at the Tonquin Motor Inn. I thought it was over-priced. It wasn't my selection. I gave my friend some things to do and he picked that.

In Banff we stayed at the Charleton Courts.
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Old Mar 30th, 2014, 11:18 AM
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The good thing about Canadian N.P. is that they have many lodging choices since there are tourist towns in the parks. I just don't like the tourist town idea.
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Old Mar 30th, 2014, 06:53 PM
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I am not much of a fan of "tourist towns" either (I better watch it, a niece is a full-time resident of Banff!), but they are somewhat of a necessity in an area that draws many tourists from all over the world, to some of the best scenery anywhere.
I remember the days (1970's) when Banff was fairly quiet, and Jasper was pretty well just a little railway town. No chain restaurants then! I guess things have 'progressed' since then, despite the townsites being somewhat rigidly controlled by the Parks authorities.
You know, you are not allowed to rent accommodation in Banff, unless you have a job there? At least, the "ski bums" have to be productive!
Canada has many National Parks, many with no development at all. There does not seem to be a lot of appetite for other tourist towns being allowed to develop, given the Banff and Jasper precedents.
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Old Mar 31st, 2014, 04:10 AM
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I know Waterton Lakes just above Glacier touching the border has a town.

I spent several hours there with my daughter on the way back up to Calgary.

We did the Bear's Hump hike and that was the toughest short hike I've been on. Straight up and many, many high-step railway ties. My old knees got older.

Just to add another Glacier Hike. The first hike you come to when entering Many Glacier is Apikuni Falls. It's pretty short at about 2/3 mile each way. But in that 2/3 mile the elevation gain is 650 ft. Someone once describe that hike as mean. On the positive side you can almost lie down and roll down. The waterfall is worth the climb.
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