We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Seattle to Banff (First trip!)

Which Banff hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Apex, NC
5 posts
Save Topic
Seattle to Banff (First trip!)

Hi,

Always I get great information from this web site as everyone is kind enough to share his/her experience and/or tips. I have found some kind souls who often give extensive and very helpful info. That's how I got some motivation to ask some assistance for my trip.

Okay to the main topic :)

I'm flying to Seattle on the June 6th from the east coast (NC) and plan to spend about 10 days (leaving Seattle on the 16th) with my family (with 2 low-teenagers). My main focus would be Banff area. However since it's first trip to Seattle, Vancouver area I'd like to spend 2-3 days there as well.

I plan to drive on the 7th and stop in between (purshaded not to drive all the way to Banff in one day by reading some posts here). Where would you recommend to stay overnight?

We've got about 5 days in Banff and vicinity. Other than Banff, Lake Louise, Icefields Parkway, Jasper, would you recommend any place else that we shouldn't miss? My kids will love Glaciers and we like to enjoy the great nature.

As you can see I didn't have much chance to plan it in detail. I'm just thankful that I can have some quality time with my family. Thus, any comment/suggestion/recommendation would be welcome.

I have no idea where to go after leaving banff area at this point. Probably somewhere in between Banff and Vancouver and some place in BC (perhaps west coast) would be good candidates ... (also I'll post some message to other Forums).

Oh by the way I booked the Douglas Fir resort after reading some posts here.

Thanks in advance!

Capelle aan den...
Level Contributor
48 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Seattle to Banff (First trip!)

Hi Dreamer16,

I don't know how you intend to drive back to Seattle, but if you have the time I would include Waterton Lakes NP into the trip, then cross the border into Montana and drive back to Seattle taking Glacier's NP "Going to the Sun" road.

This is what I suggest:

6, arrive in Seattle, spend the night in Vancouver

7, Vancouver

8, Clearwater

9, Jasper

10, Lake Louise/Banff

11, Lake Louise/Banff

12, Waterton Lakes

13, Waterton Lakes

14, Glacier NP (USA), spend the night in East Glacier or Kalispell

15, long drive to Seattle

Capelle aan den...
Level Contributor
48 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Seattle to Banff (First trip!)

East Glacier must be West Glacier

Calgary, Alberta...
Level Contributor
3,855 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Seattle to Banff (First trip!)

Hello dreamer96,

The itinerary that grouse has given you is a good one in certain respects. It includes Waterton Lakes National Park and Montana's Glacier National Park, both of which are beautiful. However, it involves a lot of driving, it doesn't allow you any sight seeing time in Seattle, it allows only a day in which to look around Vancouver, and it takes you through Jasper and Banff National Parks at a rather quick pace.

You could consider sacrificing Waterton Lakes and Glacier National Parks in exchange for spending more time in Seattle and Vancouver (which deserve it, in my opinion) and in exchange for seeing Jasper, Banff and Yoho National Parks at a slightly more leisurely pace.

You could consider this itinerary:

6 - Arrive in Seattle, and overnight there. I assume you'll be flying from Raleigh / Durham. When I do a search for flights from there, they all seem to reach Seattle at night, e.g., Continental Airlines gets in at 8.45 pm. So it doesn't seem practical to drive to spend 2-1/2 hours or more driving to Vancouver that same day.

7 - Look around Seattle.

8 - Drive to Vancouver, and look around Vancouver.

9 - Second day in Vancouver. You will not be sorry to have a second day in Vancouver.

10 - Drive to Jasper. This will be a long day. The drive will take 9 hours, not counting any stops you may do on the way. In addition to that, you'll lose an hour as you cross from the Pacific to the Mountain Time Zone. If your family can cope with this long drive, I think it's worth getting it out of the way so that you can buy some time to spend in Jasper, Banff and Yoho National Parks. Overnight in Jasper.

11 - Do the Angel Glacier / Cavell Meadows hike. Walk in Maligne Canyon. Overnight in Jasper again.

12 - Drive to Lake Louise. Stop at Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls, the Columbia Icefields and Peyto Lake. This could take about 6 hours. After reaching Lake Louise and before dinner, drive west into Yoho National Park and see Takakkaw Falls and Emerald Lake.

13 - From your base in Lake Louise village, visit Moraine Lake and the lake of Lake Louise. There are some lovely hikes in the vicinity of these two lakes. Also, you can rent canoes at both lakes.

14 - Check out of your Lake Louise hotel. Visit Johnston Canyon and Banff townsite in the morning. In the afternoon drive through Kootenay National Park to Radium Hot Springs, then through Fairmont Hot Springs to Cranbrook, BC. Overnight in Cranbrook. Banff to Cranbrook is about 4 hours.

15 - Drive from Cranbrook through Bonners Ferry, ID, Sandpoint, ID and Spokane, WA to Seattle. This will take 8 hours, not counting stops. You will be assisted by the fact that your day will gain an hour when you cross from the Mountain to the Pacific Time Zone.

16 - Fly home.

Hope that helps.

juniper35@gmail.com

Moose Jaw, Canada
Level Contributor
302 posts
32 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Seattle to Banff (First trip!)

Unless you are very fit you will not want to do both the Cavelle meadows hike and Maligne canyon in the same day.

You can drive up to angel glacier and take a short (1 or 2km) walk that is basically flat to the toe of the glacier. This will only take a short amount of time. There is a hike that will take you up to some alpine meadows and is very beautiful, but will take at least 2-3 hours (usually more).

Malign canyon is not a strenuous walk, but can also take a couple of hours if you want to see it all. There are some hills, and depending on the ages of your kids you will want to watch them very carefully. The canyon is a long way down. There are guard rails all over the place, but still you want to keep a close eye on adventurous kids. From Jasper to the canyon is about a 45 min drive.

Moose Jaw, Canada
Level Contributor
302 posts
32 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Seattle to Banff (First trip!)

If you decide to go to angel glacier, stop at Athabasca Falls the same day. They are in the same area ( I think the same road, but it's been awhile).

Then when you leave b for banff it will be one less stop. There are lots of places to stop that day anyway. Consider a trip up to the columbia icefields. It is about $50 CDN per person, but really is a wonderful experience. You take a snowcoach right up onto the glacier. The trip takes about 1 1/2 hrs.

You may want to pack a picnic lunch that day too. The drive can take all day if you want it to, and there are few places to buy food, and they are all expensive and just OK. Stop at the grocery in Jasper and make up a couple of sandwiches, take some fruit and a few drinks. It will save you tons of money, and the meal will be better.

Apex, NC
5 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: Seattle to Banff (First trip!)

grouse, Judy_in_Calgary, ladytonia - many thanks for your replies!

I'd love to go to the Glacier NP, however I'll have to find other time.

Due to the fact that I made reservations already, this is a slightly rearranged itinerary that I was helped.

6 - Arrive in Seattle, rent a car and overnight there. (Judy - you're correct! Thanks for paying attention to the details)

7 - Drive to Cranbrook through spokane. Overnight in Cranbrook.

8 - Drive to Kootenay National Park and check in. Check out Banff townsite

9 - Visit Johnston Canyon and maybe visit Sulphur mountain. (I'm interested in riding a gondola - would I do this in Jasper?)

10 - Visit Moraine Lake and the lake of Lake Louise. Canoeing would be a good option. Check out Yoho National Park and Takakkaw Falls and Emerald Lake.

11 - Drive toward Jasper. Stop at Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls, the Columbia Icefields (snowcoach ride) and Peyto Lake. Check in Jasper hotel (haven't decided yet - looking at one in the Pyramid lake or Patricia lake. Any suggestion?

12 - Do the Angel Glacier. Walk in Maligne Canyon (visit some that we might miss on the 11th). Overnight in Valemount.

13 - Drive to Vancouver. This will be a long day! Overnight in Vancouver.

14 -No car day - Stanley park, Granville Island, Grouse mount.

15 - Drive down to Seattle. Check out the space needle. Fly home (plane takes off near midnight!)

Any comments?

Calgary, Canada
Level Contributor
1,474 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: Seattle to Banff (First trip!)

Unfortunately, you will not be able to see Takkakaw Falls, as the road won't open until June 24. The Cavell road is not open yet, but may open before you get there.

There are several places you can ride a gondola--sulphur mountain (banff), lake louise ski area, whistlers (near jasper), and kicking horse (near Golden).

Calgary, Alberta...
Level Contributor
3,855 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Seattle to Banff (First trip!)

Hello dreamer96,

Your itinerary looks good to me.

Just a couple of commens.

It does not make sense to check out Banff townsite on the 8th, because you would be going in that direction on the 9th when you went to Johnston Canyon and Sulphur Mountain. You may as well combine your visit to Banff townsite with those activities.

Something you might find interesting on the way from Cranbrook to your accommodation in Kootenay National Park is a visit to Fort Steele, a historical town near Kimberley, BC.

There are three summer gondolas that I know about in Banff and Jasper National Parks. One goes up Sulphur Mountain, on the outskirts of Banff townsite, one goes up Mount Whitehorn at Lake Louise, and one is the tramway up Whistler's Mountain just outside of Jasper townsite. I suggest you go up the one that most conveniently fits into your itinerary.

As far as Vancouver is concerned, it's possible to visit all of the attractions on foot and by public transportation. However, since you'll try to pack the highlights into a single day, you may appreciate the availability of your car to get you to Grouse Mountain, which is in North Vancouver, across Burrard Inlet from downtown.

Hope you have a good trip.

Apex, NC
5 posts
Save Reply
9. Re: Seattle to Banff (First trip!)

Thanks jerm for the info - wish we find some nice falls there...

Judy_in_Calgary - We're interested in visiting Fort Steele on our way to Banff from Cranbrookas you suggested. Would 2-3 hours be okay to look around there?

Also bringing our car to the Grouse Mountain makes sense.

I'd like to ask some more questions:

- To exchange some USD to CAD (to my advantage), where would be a good place in my itinerary? Would cash be best or can I use traveler's check in most places?

- I have reserved suites with kitchenette for my family and am wondering whether or not we can find grocery stores in Banff/Jasper selling stuff at reasonable cost. Also are we allowed to bring some food (fruits) to Canada from the States?

- We'd like to start early and come back to where we stay a little bit early. Do all the parks and sightseeing spots open at 9:00AM?

Thank y'all for your kind help!

Calgary, Canada
Level Contributor
1,474 posts
Save Reply
10. Re: Seattle to Banff (First trip!)

----------------------------

To exchange some USD to CAD (to my advantage), where would be a good place in my itinerary? Would cash be best or can I use traveler's check in most places?

-----------------------------

I find my bank card the most convenient way to get cash in a different country. There are bank machines everywhere here. Just watch out for the no-name ATMs in convenience stores; some of them add on an additional service fee. If you go to an ATM at an actual bank, then the only fees you will be charged are from your own bank.

------------------------------

I have reserved suites with kitchenette for my family and am wondering whether or not we can find grocery stores in Banff/Jasper selling stuff at reasonable cost. Also are we allowed to bring some food (fruits) to Canada from the States?

------------------------------

There is a Safeway store in Banff, and a bigger one in Canmore. I don't think there is a large grocery store in Jasper, but I know there are some smaller ones. You probably won't be able to bring fresh fruits or vegetables into Canada.

------------------------------

We'd like to start early and come back to where we stay a little bit early. Do all the parks and sightseeing spots open at 9:00AM?

------------------------------

I can't think of any trails or viewpoints that close at night.