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Banff (Mar 15 - 25) - Itinerary & Current Conditions

Longwood, Florida
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Banff (Mar 15 - 25) - Itinerary & Current Conditions

Hi Everyone,

We are set to arrive in the Banff area this Friday night. We (wife, boys 7 and 11, and myself) are staying in Canmore the entire time. We will be taking a fairly slow pace and focusing on site seeing (wildlife), as well as hope to do mild/medium-ish hiking and snowshoeing. Other plans include snowmobiling, tubing, and maybe skiing (it's a lower priority). It's been a while since I've been to Banff. In terms of hiking and snowshoeing, what should we expect for the upcoming week? Are any of the areas accessible without snowshoes? We've done the last 2 springs in Estes Park and alot of the easier hikes were done with just hiking boots.

Below is a brain dump of items we have captured by scouring tripadvisor. Are there any items that should be removed based on current conditions. Any other comments or thoughts are always appreciated! .... Thanks, Rob

The Bow Valley Parkway (or Highway 1A) drive

Yoho National Park

Icefields Parkway (Highway 93N)

Bow Lake

The view of Peyto Lake from the viewpoint at Bow Summit

Viewpoint at the top of the hill at the big bend

Columbia Icefield, with or without Brewster Sno-coach ride

Tangle Falls

Athabasca Falls

Smith Dorrien Trail (drive) – this goes down into Kananaskis country – the front mountain range is worth a drive.

Banff Gondola

Wild Cave Tours in Canmore

Tubing at Mt. Norquay

Snowmobiling (banffadventures.com or tobycreekadventures.com)

Bow Falls

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Cave and Basin National Historic Site (not a priority)

Lake Louise

Moraine Lake

Johnston Canyon

Lake Minnewanka

Castle Mountain from the "Kodak Rock" viewpoint

Sunrise or sunset drive along Vermilion Lakes

Bow RiverTrail

Cave and Basin trail

The Marsh Loop at the Cave and Basin

Fenland Trail

Vermilion Lakes

Tunnel Mountain Meadows and Hoodoos

Tunnel Mountain Summit

Greater Sydney...
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1. Re: Banff (Mar 15 - 25) - Itinerary & Current Conditions

I will bump this post for you as it appears to have slipped through. I will say, however, that your research leaves a fair bit to be desired as there will not be much in the way of hiking available, and several of the items you listed will be inaccessible at the time of your visit, like Peyto and Moraine Lakes

Longwood, Florida
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2. Re: Banff (Mar 15 - 25) - Itinerary & Current Conditions

Thanks Frommy for the response. We are very flexible with our schedule and appreciate the insight on Peyto & Moraine Lakes. We are Floridians just looking to get out in the snow and be "kids" with our kids! Can you or others provide guidance on focus areas for snowshoeing as it sounds like hiking any trails might not be an option this early in the year? I know we can ask in a local shop and such, but it would be nice to whittle down the list into items that are accessible/not-accessible.

Greater Sydney...
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3. Re: Banff (Mar 15 - 25) - Itinerary & Current Conditions

I am a summer visitor, and just bumped your post up for knowledgeable people to respond to.

Banff, Canada
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4. Re: Banff (Mar 15 - 25) - Itinerary & Current Conditions

This is transition time, with heavy snowstorms followed by big melts and slush. To find out what's available and what's good when you're actually here, start your visit at the Banff Visitor Information Centre (224 Banff Avenue). I believe that Canmore also has a tourist information centre in their downtown -- ask at your accommodation how to find it.

OK - here's your list, with notes on availability:

The Bow Valley Parkway (or Highway 1A) drive - yes, good for wildlife

Yoho National Park: you can get to Emerald Lake, but it is, of course, frozen over. Takkakaw Falls road is not ploughed.

Icefields Parkway (Highway 93N): If you are not an experienced winter driver, with snow tires (not all-season) on your rental car, I do NOT recommend your driving the Icefields Parkway. March is a heavy snowfall month. The road is tricky after a big snowfall even for the experienced, and there is no cell phone coverage and you will see few, if any police or park vehicles on the road in winter.

Bow Lake: is on the Icefields Parkway

The view of Peyto Lake from the viewpoint at Bow Summit: is on the Icefields Parkway

Viewpoint at the top of the hill at the big bend: is on the Icefields Parkway

Columbia Icefield, with or without Brewster Sno-coach ride: is on the Icefields Parkway. Sno-coach is closed in winter.

Tangle Falls: is on the Icefields Parkway

Athabasca Falls:n is on the Icefields Parkway

Smith Dorrien Trail (drive) – this goes down into Kananaskis country – the front mountain range is worth a drive: You can take a look at the Smith-Dorrien from your accommodation in Canmore -- it starts with the gravel road that snakes up the mountainside above the town. Once again, not recommended unless you are an experienced winter driver with snow tires. Check your rental car contract to see whether it allows you to be on gravel roads.

Banff Gondola; definitely a good opportunity for you and your family.

Wild Cave Tours in Canmore: an option, but talk to them first about what's involved.

Tubing at Mt. Norquay: available at present. Very popular with families.

Snowmobiling (banffadventures.com or tobycreekadventures.com): In spite of the Banff name, these are well outside the park -- I'm not familiar with them.

Bow Falls: is quite spectacular right now with the big chunks of ice.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel: always a thrill to visit - a castle in the Rockies.

Cave and Basin National Historic Site (not a priority): has been closed for renovations for the past three years. Scheduled to re-open this summer.

Lake Louise: is lovely at any time of year. There is an ice-skating rink cleared on the lake.

Moraine Lake: the road is closed until early June.

Johnston Canyon: consider taking a guided canyon ice walk with Discover Banff tours.

Lake Minnewanka: is beautiful at any time of year.

Castle Mountain from the "Kodak Rock" viewpoint: definitely a photo opp.

Sunrise or sunset drive along Vermilion Lakes: gorgeous with the snow on Mount Rundle.

Bow RiverTrail: do-able right now -- just wear reasonably warm footwear. Snowshoes are not needed.

Cave and Basin trail: do-able right now -- just wear reasonably warm footwear. Snowshoes are not needed.

The Marsh Loop at the Cave and Basin: do-able right now -- just wear reasonably warm footwear. Snowshoes are not needed.

Fenland Trail: do-able right now -- just wear reasonably warm footwear. Snowshoes are not needed.

Vermilion Lakes: walk along the lakeside road. It's very pleasant. This road is ploughed, so you can walk or drive, depending on your preferences.

Tunnel Mountain Meadows and Hoodoos: Visit the Hoodoos Viewpoint by car and walk the short trail to the viewpoint over the hoodoos and the Bow River. The trail to Tunnel Mountain meadows is snowy/icy at present.

Tunnel Mountain Summit: a favourite with locals year-round. You may want to get YakTrax or similar devices that attach to your shoes -- this trail can be quite icy.

You will also want to look at these TA pages:

For valley-bottom walks near Banff:

tripadvisor.ca/Travel-g154911-c14522/Banff:A…

For family-travel ideas:

tripadvisor.ca/Travel-g154911-s401/Banff:Alb…

For inclement weather days:

tripadvisor.ca/Travel-g154911-c14480/Banff:A…

Longwood, Florida
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5. Re: Banff (Mar 15 - 25) - Itinerary & Current Conditions

Many thanks Banff ... great stuff that is very helpful!

Edited: 1:49 pm, March 13, 2013
Banff, Canada
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6. Re: Banff (Mar 15 - 25) - Itinerary & Current Conditions

You're welcome! Banff National Park is wonderful in any season -- I'm sure that you and your family will have a great time and will want to return.

7. Re: Banff (Mar 15 - 25) - Itinerary & Current Conditions

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