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Banff, Glacier or Yosemite?

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Chicago
posts: 17
Banff, Glacier or Yosemite?

Opinions? We are an "older" family of 4 with a 26 year old and 19 year old. We don't take a lot of vacations together anymore but like to visit the national parks. We like to hike and be outdoors. What we have liked in the past: Yellowstone--absolutely great! Spent 8 days checking out the many different parts of the park. Grand Tetons: really scenic, but after 3 days, we felt we had done what we could. Grand Canyon: great, but unless we camped at the base, couldn't fill a week. Black Hills, great! So, with that as a bit of what we like, any thoughts as to Banff, Glacier, or Yosemite? We don't want to just have scenery to look at; we want to be able to get into it! Thanks in advance for your experienced thoughts.

10 replies to this topic
Calgary, Canada
Destination Expert
for Calgary, TripAdvisor Support
posts: 23,142
reviews: 66
1. Re: Banff, Glacier or Yosemite?

Would it help if I were to point out that Banff is actually one of several national parks located near to each other, and all have great hiking opportunities? Immediately to the west of Banff is Yoho National Park, best known for Emerald Lake and Takakkaw Falls (more impressive than Niagara, in my opinion; certainly much higher). To the north of Banff is Jasper National Park, best known for the Columbia Icefields, Maligne Canyon, and Maligne Lake. Two hours west of Banff is Glacier National Park (Canada), and west of Glacier is Mount Revelstoke National Park.

Although Banff Avenue can certainly be very busy in the height of summer, I have heard that it is not nearly as crowded in Banff National Park as it is in Yellowstone or in Yosemite. If you do find it busy, all you have to do is walk 100 meters up any trail to leave 90% of the park visitors behind you.

This list of the "must-sees" of the Canadian Rockies may give you an idea of what there is to see even without hiking:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g659487-c112507/Canad…

Jasper, Canada
Destination Expert
for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
posts: 12,260
reviews: 85
2. Re: Banff, Glacier or Yosemite?

I haven't been to Yosemite, so can't comment on that, but Banff (and neighbouring Yoho) and Jasper National Parks, either together or separately, can easily fill weeks of hiking. I have heard that Yosemite is very, very busy - google tells me that they get a similar number of visitors each year as Banff (4 million), but the park is a little less than half the size of Banff NP. Jasper NP is almost twice the size of Banff NP, and gets 2 million visitors a year - it's noticeably quieter than Banff.

If you can borrow or call in Patton and Robinson's "Canadian Rockies Trail Guide" at your local library, you'll see there are tons and tons of hiking options. There are many other good hiking guidebooks, but this was the original (now in 9th edition) and as far as I know, the most complete for the Canadian Rockies Naitonal and Provincial Parks.

On edit: Further to CW's comments, the contiguous Canadian Rockies national and provincial parks are a UNESCO designated world heritage site.

Edited: 6:39 pm, April 13, 2014
Wv
Destination Expert
for West Virginia
posts: 1,954
reviews: 30
3. Re: Banff, Glacier or Yosemite?

We have been to Yosemite (with Death Valley and to Banff (with Glacier Natl Park in the US). Both of them were incredible! We went to Banff two years ago, and Yosemite 4, I think. My husband wanted to go back to Banff this year, so we have our plane tickets already. We travel in the fall, so Yosemite wasn't very crowded when we were there. We did not like Banff itself, not really town people, but the national park and ice fields parkway are amazing and not crowded. If you like waterfalls and decide to go to Banff, you should also go over to Tekakkaw in Yoho NP....not a bad drive from Banff, and so easy to get to once you are there.

We spend much of our time hiking, but we are not strong hikers, we just like to walk on the trails.

Here is our trip report from Banff area:

tripadvisor.com/…44091306

And here is our trip report for Yosemite/Death Valley. (Las Vegas is cheap to fly into and cheap car rental as well).

tripadvisor.com/…29272660

and the Death Valley part in case that is something you would look at!

tripadvisor.com/…29254089

So while Death Valley and Yosemite are pretty far apart, it didn't seem that way with all the wonderful scenery in between.

I think you could fill either with hiking every day. We saw more animals in Glacier NP, but not as many as we saw in Yellowstone. Just the grizzly bear was really exciting, and the closeness of the big horn sheep and the mountain goat were pretty incredible as well.

Wv
Destination Expert
for West Virginia
posts: 1,954
reviews: 30
4. Re: Banff, Glacier or Yosemite?

The links didn't work so here they are. We do shorter day hikes...I think the max was 8 miles.

tripadvisor.com/…44091306

tripadvisor.com/…29272660

tripadvisor.com/…29254089

Liverpool
posts: 284
reviews: 1
5. Re: Banff, Glacier or Yosemite?

I've been to all three, though Yosemite was a good while ago when I wasn't into hiking. It was wonderful for someone not into hiking, all the famous sights pretty much from the valley floor, but I'm not sure about a full week there. Of the other two I would go for Banff, but I'm not sure I can rationalise why. The big deal in Glacier is the Going to the Sun Road, which you obviously experience in a long line of cars. Having said that there is plenty of excellent hiking, there are other areas of the park, and you'll easily fill a week, particularly if you spend a day or two over the border at Waterton Lakes. Somehow I just liked Banff (plus Lake Louise and the Icefields Parkway) that bit more. I've been more than once and I'd go again, whereas I feel I've 'done' Yosemite and Glacier.

6. Re: Banff, Glacier or Yosemite?

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Chicago
posts: 17
7. Re: Banff, Glacier or Yosemite?

Thanks much fro the reply. From what I'm reading from the other responses, it looks we're going to Banff. Really appreciate the time and effort you guys put into the responses.

Chicago
posts: 17
8. Re: Banff, Glacier or Yosemite?

Sorry for the late reply. I had checked 'send me an email when you receive a reply' and I didn't get anything. I was kind of bummed. Now I check on my own, and here you guys are!! The Trip Advisor forum I like so much.

Any list of "must sees" and "must do's?" Any thoughts as to where to stay? Maybe 4 days in Banff and 3 in Jasper? Or 5 and 2? Or some combination to include Lake Louise?

Open to an itinerary or anything else you want to share.

I am now going to read the very long but great trip summary posted above!

Chicago
posts: 17
9. Re: Banff, Glacier or Yosemite?

I'm going to get the trail guide. Thanks.

Chicago
posts: 17
10. Re: Banff, Glacier or Yosemite?

Don't know if my reply made it you. Thanks much for the info. I knew of Jasper and Lake Louise, but not the others. We will make a point of visiting them. Now for lodging. We'll see what i find . . .

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