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Planning a trip to Glacier, Bannf, and Calgary

Planning a trip to Glacier, Bannf, and Calgary

Old Mar 18th, 2015, 05:13 PM
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Planning a trip to Glacier, Bannf, and Calgary

Hi. My wife and I are starting to plan a trip to Glacier and Banff National parks for mid July. Would greatly appreciate some help. We will be traveling from the Boston area. Need advice on how to get there, i.e., what airports are closest to our destinations and where to stay and what must do's. We will have 7 nights. Plan on renting a car. Ideally, we would visit Glacier, Banff and Calgary. Is this possible to do in 7 nights? We are in are 50's and hope to stay at a nice resort, see beautiful scenery, and do mild hiking. My initial thoughts are a few nights at Glacier, a few at Banff, and one or two in Calgary. I looked online at a few of the resorts; mainly at Banff and saw some very nice ones (Fairmont Banff Sprints, Fairmont Chateau St. Louise, and others). They are expensive but our preference is to stay right in the parks and may be willing to splurge if it is recommended since it may be the only time we are there. I am not that familiar with what is available at Glacier or in Calgary but will continue to look. I'll probably post this in the Banff forum as well in case this forum is not familiar with Banff. If our plans are feasible, is there a preferred scenic route to take to Banff? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Old Mar 18th, 2015, 07:06 PM
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Hope this is for 2016. Tough to get lodging for 15 at this point.
Many Glacier is where I think is best for Glacer NP. I think you will need longer than 7 days to do all 3 places.
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Old Mar 18th, 2015, 08:29 PM
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I don't know anything about Glacier, but did go to Banff a few years ago. We flew in and out of Calgary; it was about a two-hour drive to the town of Banff. We based there for four nights, with one night in the hotel at the Columbia Icefields Centre in between. It worked well for us; here's my trip report in case it's helpful.

http://www.fodors.com/community/cana...-of-jasper.cfm
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Old Mar 18th, 2015, 09:40 PM
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Closest airport to Glacier Park is in Kalispell. Delta, United and Alaska air fly into Kalispell with connections through Minneapolis, Salt lake City, Spokane or Denver. I would fly into Kalispell, which is approx. 32 miles from the west entrance of the park, spend 2 to 3 days at Glacier, drive to Banff from the west side of Glacier, spend 2 days at Banff , drive to Calgary and then back to the US and fly out of Kalispell. Banff is about 300 miles from Kalispell and Calgary is about 100 miles from Banff. You will need your passport to enter Canada. I would also check with the car rental place about crossing the border with a rental..
Be aware that the Going to the Sun Road in the park will open at the earliest on July 19th and that is weather dependent. Lots of motels in Kalispell and a few in Whitefish
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Old Mar 18th, 2015, 11:25 PM
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I would skip Glacier Park. Banff National Park is far superior and if you only have 7 nights, I would focus on Banff National Park. The glaciers are bigger and the lakes/rivers are more turquoise and breathtaking. Plus, there are much better hotels and restaurants. Fly into Calgary and stay only one night. The next day, rent a car and make the 2 hour drive north to the park. It's an easy and scenic drive.

That being said, the actual town of Banff is very crowded and touristy. Think loads of tour buses.

Instead, I would highly recommend staying in Lake Louise, or at its neighbor, Moraine Lake, which are both just a half hour past Banff. There are some tour tour buses at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, but many are just day trippers, and they are still less than Banff. Lake Louise might be the most beautiful I have ever seen.

In Lake Louise, if you want to splurge, stay at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise right on the lake. The views are worth it. Hiking right at your doorstep. Wonderful restaurants. An alternative is the Post Hotel in a Lake Louise which is also great, but not on the lake. Great food at this hotel as well.

But my favorite is right next door to Lake Louise, and that is Moraine Lake. Just as gorgeous as Louise, but without all the tourists. Moraine Lake Lodge is right on the lake and a great hotel- not as many amenities as the Fairmont, but more peaceful and gorgeous lakefront views. Hiking and canoeing right outside your door. Very good restaurant in the lodge. And close enough to Lake Louise restaurants (3-4 miles) if you want some variety. If you do major hiking, you may have to sign up at the trail heads to hike in a group of 6, just as a precaution if there have been grizzly sightings. This is easy to do if you check the visitor's center.

I would stay here 3 nights and then head up the Columbia Ice fields Parkway toward Jasper. This is a GORGEOUS drive. Not to be missed. Takes about 3 hours without stops. Multiple jaw dropping scenic lookouts along the way. Multiple hikes along the way should you choose. Pick a sunny day for this drive or you won't see as much. Stop at Sunwapta Falls along the way. Stop at Peyto Lake along the way. Stop at the Icefields info center along the way. Stop at Bow Lake along the way. Spend one night in a Jasper. There is the Jasper Park Lodge there which I haven't stayed in, but supposed to be nice. Good restaurants in Jasper and shopping.

Take the last day to drive back to Calgary, stopping in Banff for last minute shopping and eating. Spend the last night in Calgary before you fly home from the Calgary airport.

Trust me. Skip Glacier.
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Old Mar 18th, 2015, 11:30 PM
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Sorry, I meant stay 2 nights in Jasper (not one).
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Old Mar 19th, 2015, 02:57 AM
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Don't skip Glacier. You are an American.

Do skip Calgary except to fly in and out. Canada will be cheapish because the Canadian dollar is low, but every single person in Japan will be in Banff, Lake Louise, and the Icefields, so there won't be bargains because of lack of demand.

I liked Jasper, the Jasper Park Lodge, and Maligne Lake a lot, but you can't get up there in a week on the ground unless you skip Glacier, which I don't recommend.

You can find lodging for this summer, but you have to get going and be resourceful and flexible.

Check the date given above for the opening of the GTS Highway. I suspect that it is supposed to be June 19.

Adjust your expectations about resorts except in Banff, Lake Louise, and Moraine Lake. The US lodges are wonderful, but the economics of being open for only part of the year mean that luxury updates are necessarily rare. Adjust your expectations about service. There are not enough staff to serve all the visitors and clean all the rooms at the speeds that you might expect. The same thing is true in Florida in the winter, of course. You will vacation like your parents did. They survived.

Eat a lot of pie. People in Montana like pie.
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Old Mar 19th, 2015, 07:44 AM
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Trust me. Do NOT skip Glacier!!
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Old Mar 19th, 2015, 09:16 AM
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$1.00 Canadian dollar= .78 U.S.cents as of today.
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Old Mar 19th, 2015, 11:27 AM
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With a week, I would choose to do Glacier or Banff/Lake Louise/Jasper. I think you need at least 2 weeks to do both.
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Old Mar 19th, 2015, 04:43 PM
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To all: thank you so much for the wonderful input. We have alot to go on and think about. Based on the feedback it seems 7 nights is not enough to do all of what I had originally thought. Curious, is Calgary worth visiting? Thanks again.
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Old Mar 19th, 2015, 05:33 PM
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Other than the largest Mall in the world, It's just another large city.
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Old Mar 19th, 2015, 05:35 PM
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Make that the largest mall in North America
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Old Mar 20th, 2015, 08:44 PM
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Calgary is not worth visiting. But you'll need to stay there the night before you fly out. Not a good idea to risk driving in the morning of the flight. And I think it's easier to stay there the first night as well, unless you find a flight that arrives early enough to allow you to drive to Lake Louise before the sun sets.

As I said, Banff is crowded. Moraine Lake and Lake Louise are not. Jasper is not. Hiking trails all around Lake Louise are not.

I still think if you only have a week- skip Glacier. The scenery is better in Banff, as are the accommodations and the food. The tourists are all on the tour buses, and mostly in Banff. If you rent a car, stay in Lake Louise and Jasper, and if you do any hiking, you can distance yourself from them.

Great golfing in Banff National Park, too, if you are a golfer.

Google some images of each park and let your eyes decide for you.
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Old Mar 21st, 2015, 03:59 PM
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The largest mall in North America is in Edmunton, not Calgary.

Fly into Calgary, rent a car and drive to Banff. Take the drive up to Jasper if you have time; if not, turn around at the Ice Field. Then drive down to Glacier NP, either the east gate or west gate. Return to Calgary to fly home.

You could fly back from Kalispell but I don't know about returning a rental car from Canada to a US location.

HOWEVER. . . your trip to Calgary may occur during the Calgary Stampede, which is July 3-12. That will complicate your hotel and car rental arrangements, so you need to make a decision on your route now. Except for the Stampede, I don't think there's anything special to see in Calgary.
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Old Mar 21st, 2015, 07:05 PM
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I'm heading to Banff for the third time..I'm in OZ so Banff is gloriously different from anything we have here
I'd stay in Banff avenue..if your wife likes to trawl the shops then there's some fine trawling to be done lol
There are many nice places to stay..but stay around the 400 s if you can..that way your walking only ten to fifteen minutes straight down to the centre...
Inns of Banff for eg is on the outskirts..we stayed there one summer and it took a good half hour into town..some nice restaurants there
Next time we stayed at charleston cedar courts.. Not luxury but convenient and next door was the caribou inn which was nice as were the fox suites
I'd go no further than that..it's hard to park sometimes so it's best to walk into the centre for dinner

Lake Louise is gorgeous and besides the Fairmont there is another beautiful hotel..naMe escapes me but it has its own little ice rink and is just gorgeous inside...someone here will advise I'm sure
The drive up from Calgary is lovely cos you can see the mountains looming ..easy and only about an hour and a bit
Calgary is fine..but not spectacular..lots of development going on... Houses being built for as far as the eye can see. Many people have moved there for work so it's booming..aT least that's sweat people told me back in 2013
The hunting store is kinda neat...I bought après ski boots there for 15 dollars.. Best bargain ever lol and it's just a fun place to have a look round...its in the major mall
Make sure you visit lake emerald when you're in the Banff area..that's so nice! We have only sen it in winter and are going three again with the kids this coming January
You will love Banff..it's such a pretty village
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Old Mar 21st, 2015, 08:23 PM
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If I hadn't been to Glacier I would also suggest skipping it.

Don't skip it.

Fly in and out of Calgary. Yes Kalispell is closer but the place you want to be in Glacier is Many Glacier and that isn't any farther from Calgary. An Calgary has a real airport. The drive from Calgary airport is a very smooth, level 3 1/2 hours to Many Glacier.

This is wildlife central. Also, some spectacular hikes.

I wouldn't bother with Calgary other than to arrive and leave.

If you have an early morning flight there's a Delta hotel right in the airport across the street from the terminal.

Banff and Jasper have a lot of great scenery that's roadside. Also, from Banff to Jasper and between there are a fair number of easy hikes with good payoffs.

I would spend 2 days in Many Glacier, drive to Logan Pass on GTTS Rd if it's open and hike to Hidden Lake Overlook and maybe a bit of the Highline Trail for the "cable".

Then go up to Banff / Lake Louise / Moraine Lake (much more spectacular than Lake Louise. You can spend a day with stops and short hikes just going from the town of Banff to the town of Jasper.

Just south of the town of Jasper is Path of the Glacier to Angel Glacier is spectacular and worth the drive itself.

You can see my photos of all these places at: www.travelwalks.com
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