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Please help!!!

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London, United...
posts: 3
Please help!!!


I'm travelling alone to Canada for the first time.

I have a full week scheduled in my itinerary for Jasper and Banff.

As I am travelling alone, what is the best and most productive way of sightseeing these beautiful regions?

Would it better to take coach excursions with Brewster or hire a rental car?

I will be staying between Sat 27 May and Sat 3 June but have not booked accommodation. Is it okay to book on arrival?

Thank you

North Carolina
posts: 687
reviews: 5
1. Re: Please help!!!

I'd definitely rent a car. It's easy to get around and you can do a lot more exploring on your own time schedule, rather than going with the crowd. I would feel a bit uneasy about not booking rooms in advance, especially in the Lake Louise area, but someone like Judy who's more aware of what things are like this time of year (I generally go in July or August) can help you better with that. Hope you have a great trip in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Calgary, Alberta...
posts: 3,861
reviews: 3
2. Re: Please help!!!

Hello amrik,

I agree with dudleycath about renting a car.

Compared with July / August, when dudleycath visits this area, the end of May / early June is a much easier time to find acommodation. I would say you could wing it if you wanted to do so. However, it depends how fussy you are about accommodation. If you're looking for something very particular, it's best to book in advance. Also, speaking for myself, I don't like to spend any of vacation time looking for accommodation. So I like to get those kinds of details sorted out ahead of time. However, if you do decide to wing it, you might go to the Visitor Centre in each mountain resort town (Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper) and ask the staff what's available in your price range.

You can get ideas about how to tackle a visit to this area if you visit my website:


My website is aimed mainly at summer visitors. Since you'll be coming to the area rather early in the season, there will be just a few attractions that will be closed to you. I'm thinking in particular of Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park and the road to Mount Edith Cavell in Jasper National Park.

I expect the road to Moraine Lake will be open, but I don't know if that lake will be full and if it'll be looking its turquoise best yet. However, I anticipate that you'll be able to enjoy other lakes (Emerald, Louise, Peyto, etc.). Oh, and by the way, even if Moraine Lake is not yet in top notch shape, the Valley of the Ten Peaks in which it is situated is still worth seeing.

Destination Expert
for Seattle
posts: 15,781
reviews: 84
3. Re: Please help!!!

Judy, doesn't the visitor centers in Jasper and Banff offer hotel accomodation bookings? In reference to driving vs a bus tour. I think that depends on your 'gutsiness". Some people would prefer someone pointing out the historical info and then go back to explore some of this by themselves. I guess it just depends on how adventuresome you are.

Jasper, Canada
Destination Expert
for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
posts: 13,151
reviews: 87
4. Re: Please help!!!

Regarding finding accommodation - in Jasper, you can go to the visitor centre (the rustic stone building with the large lawn kitty-corner to the train/bus station), which is open until May 31 from 9 am to 5 pm, and from June 1st, from 8 am to 7 pm. Walking in the front door, head left, to the back corner behind the fireplace. At the end of the brochure racks, you will see a bulletin board and shelf with two courtesy (free) phones. Jasper Tourism & Commerce also has a help desk there, but I am not sure of their staffing hours. Parks Canada's information people, park pass sales, and the trail office are in the next room (go right when you walk in the front door).

A daily private home accommodation/B&B vacancy list is posted every day, and home-owners write up their info if they have a room available. You can check out Jasper's home accommodations & B&Bs at the Jasper Home Accommodation Association website: http://www.stayinjasper.com . Most homes do not offer breakfast, just accommodation.

For Canmore & Banff, the Canmore Bow Valley B&B Association has a vacancy referral service on their website www.bbcanmore.com ... click on the link on the top right. You can use this for searching in advance, or on the day of - I am told that the visitor centre in Canmore has a computer terminal on hand for visitors to use.

Of course, travelling on your own & depending on what price range you are looking for, the social atmosphere of a hostel may suit you? http://www.hihostels.ca/

Whether to book ahead, or on arrival - for Jasper, you should be ok booking on arrival, although weekends do tend to be a bit busier.

Saturday, June 3 is the date of the Banff Jasper Relay -http://www.bjr.ca/ - a running relay on the Bow Valley Parkway & Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper. Traffic will be a bit slower on the highway that day, with clumps of congestion around the runners.

This is a re-introduction of the JB Relay, a mere shadow of its former self (when it had big corporate sponsors and 2000 runners). It used to run from Jasper to Banff instead of vice-versa, 17 legs of the relay from start to finish ... the winning teams in 16ish hours, the cut off at 24 hours if your team hadn't yet arrived in Banff. Among runners, legends abound surrounding various of the more famous portions of the relay... night-time encounters with grizzly bears, rain, snow, sleet & hail, etc. One year there were four foot high snow banks bordering the road at the top of the hill at the Big Bend. My husband is a runner (age-group triathlete, actually) and has done the race many times in its former incarnation and last year in its new. Our kids have fond memories growing up of following the race along with the team support van and cheering their dad and the rest of the team on, pulling over in the wee hours somewhere and sleeping in sleeping bags in the van, and then the camaraderie of the team breakfast at the Magpie & the Stump in Banff (a huge table of sleep-deprived non-showered runners....) Great fun! But I digress....

If you find yourself in Jasper with time to kill and are a reader, there is a reading area at the Jasper Municipal Library (the former RCMP barracks and jail) with newspapers, magazines etc. You will often see visitors enjoying a quiet moment there. The library is one block from the InfoCentre - back toward the hill (away from the tracks). There are internet terminals available there, cheaper than downtown. You can find out more (and see a picture - it's a cute building) at the Municipality of Jasper website: www.jasper-alberta.com - click on the link to the library about halfway down the blue buttons on the left hand side of the page.

Another option for sightseeing is some of the smaller tour companies - Jasper Adventure Centre, Sundog Tours, Beyond the Beaten Path... most of them offer wildlife viewing tours. There are also a number of guided hiking tour operators.

The Friends of Jasper offer a historical walking tour of downtown Jasper. http://www.friendsofjasper.com/ It's a nice way to learn a bit about the history of the town and the park. It's a 1.5 hour historical walking tour for $2 that goes from the FJNP store in the Information Centre. The program runs nightly at 7:30pm from mid-May to mid-September.

London, United...
posts: 3
5. Re: Please help!!!

Dear dudleycath, Judy in Calgary, davidgmg and krp329,

Thank you so much for your invaluable information and advice.

Considering your advice, I will go for car rental as you are absolutely right - it is convenient and I can travel at my own pace.

My complete plan is Edmonton - Jasper - Banff - Vancouver - Toronto (internal flight from Vancouver to Toronto) over a period of 4 weeks. As I will be doing a lot over 4 weeks, there is a medium risk of delays/obstructions to my plans. This is why I haven't booked accommodation as it affords me some flexibility. Also, as Judy said, it is the low season. But I will take a list of accommodations with me and I have my Lonely Planet guide!!

Judy - thank you for website link, it is very useful and I will explore it in more depth.

krp 329 - thank you for the the Banff Jasper Relay website link. As I'm leaving on 3 June, I hope to catch sight of it as it will be very nice to see. I will also consider hostel accommodation as well.

One more question! I'm travelling south from Jasper to Banff via the Icefiields Parkway. Is it a good idea to have stop off accommodation at the Icefields when I leave Jasper to go towards Banff? As you already know, I have a full week to kill!!

I'm off on Tuesday to Canada so if I have further queries, I'll drop another topic.

Thank you for your time and I will post photos of my travels on this site when I return.


Calgary, Alberta...
posts: 3,861
reviews: 3
6. Re: Please help!!!

>>>>>>One more question! I'm travelling south from Jasper to Banff via the Icefiields Parkway. Is it a good idea to have stop off accommodation at the Icefields when I leave Jasper to go towards Banff? As you already know, I have a full week to kill!!<<<<<<

It depends on your interests. If you want to drive the Icefields Parkway between Jasper and Lake Louise at a leisurely pace, stop often at the many scenic lookout points, and do some hikes, whether long or short, it would be great to be able to cover the Icefields Parkway over 2 days.

Although I have not done the guided walk onto the Athabasca Glacier myself, I have heard rave reviews about it. If you're interested, you can get more information from this website:


The guided ice walk would be an alternative to the Snocoach ride onto the glacier.

But, whatever you do, do NOT attempt to walk onto the glacier on your own. It is very dangerous. People have fallen into crevasses and died. Fortunately those incidents have been infrequent but, since they were totally avoidable, they were a tragic waste.

Jasper, Canada
Destination Expert
for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
posts: 13,151
reviews: 87
7. Re: Please help!!!

You asked: "One more question! I'm travelling south from Jasper to Banff via the Icefiields Parkway. Is it a good idea to have stop off accommodation at the Icefields when I leave Jasper to go towards Banff?"

This is hard to say. The Icefields is only a one hour drive from Jasper. The only place to stay at the Icefields (besides camping) is at the Icefields Chalet. I have never stayed there or heard firsthand from anyone who has, so I don't know what it's like. The old, more picturesque chalet was torn down in 1996 and the new one rebuilt on-site in a partnership with Brewster/Greyhound and Parks Canada. Because of the popularity of the Icefields as a sight to see, a stopping spot along the Parkway, and also the sno-coach tours on the glacier, the old building just could not handle the traffic. I heard that the new one is designed to handle 10,000 people per day (although of course, after hours, there would hardly be anyone around, good if you are looking for the experience of having the place to yourself....) The main part of the "chalet" is really just a glorified bus terminal (imo) surrounded by humongous parking lots. There is a gift shop, cafeteria and a restaurant as well as the sno-coach tour sales area etc. Parks Canada has a great exhibit about the glacier, wildlife etc. that I highly recommend.

I have never seen the hotel lobby area or the rooms, which are on the third floor of the chalet. Maybe because they are separate from the busier parts of the building, they may have a more intimate "chalet" feel, instead of a motel ambiance. From their website - www.columbiaicefield.com/chalet_rates.asp - I see there are 32 rooms, and the rates are not too bad (comparatively speaking) until June 15 ($105 to $120).

If you want to stop off along the Parkway between Jasper and Banff, there are several rustic hostels along the way. There is also a motel at Saskatchewan River Crossing another half-hour south, at about the mid-way point between Jasper and Banff.

I hope when you are back from your adventure, you will stop in here and let us know how your trip went, and if you do stay at the Icefields Chalet, let us know how it is! Happy travelling!

8. Re: Please help!!!

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