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Banff and Jasper - 6 nights mid May over long weekend

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Toronto
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Banff and Jasper - 6 nights mid May over long weekend

Hi everyone! I know this topic was covered all over the forum but I'm having trouble putting bits and pieces together for our trip.

We love sightseeing, photography, relaxing, and would like to spend a couple of days hiking in scenic areas if possible. Biking would be fun as well.

I would like to get suggestions as to how many days to spend in each area and what activities would be good for this time of year. I'm also concerned from reading about road closures and access to some areas. Here is what I have so far:

Day 1: arrive 9pm Calgary - overnight Calgary/Canmore

Day 2: Icefield Parkway to Jasper - overnight Jasper

Day 3-4: sightseeing/hiking around Jasper, overnight Jasper

Day 5: sightseeing/hiking Lake Louise/Moraine Lake, overnight Banff/Canmore

Day 6: Lake Louise/Banff sightseeing/hiking, overnight Banff/Canmore

Day 7: leftover sightseeing around Banff, drive to Calgary for 4pm flight

Any suggestions on my itinerary would be appreciated!

Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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1. Re: Banff and Jasper - 6 nights mid May over long weekend

May long weekend may be the unofficial start to summer in some areas of the country (like Toronto), but it is still very much early spring here in the Rockies. For example, the deciduous trees (mostly aspen) usually don't leaf out until sometime in the last week of May. Sunshine Village ski resort won't close until after the long weekend... at that elevation, there is still *that* much snow.

The Moraine Lake road is not likely to be open yet when you are here, and the best hiking will be in the valley bottom or at lower elevations.

One advantage to coming then, though, is that all the critters - predators and prey alike - are concentrated at the lower elevations, so it is a great time of year for wildlife sighting.

Fredericton, Canada
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2. Re: Banff and Jasper - 6 nights mid May over long weekend

As krp mentioned the May long weekend is still still early spring like weather for this area. I hiked the Lake Agnes hike in late May - stepped 2 inches off the snow packed trail and ended up hip deep in snow. It took two friends to pull me out. So if you do want to "hike" this area I would suggest bringing Snow Shoes :).

Not to diswade you from hiking...there are some nice trails - just be prepared. Johnston's Canyon is good anytime of year...weather dependent...if it has been a cooler spring take Crampon's with you. Or something you can put over your shoes to keep you from slipping in the icier areas of the hike.

The hard thing about travelling this time of year is the weather conditions - a late snow storm can shut down the Icefields parkway ... usually only for a day - but still can. So be prepared to alter plans. It is not usually busy - so not making you accommodation plans until a couple of days before would not be a bad thing. Last minute hotel deals are usually easy to get - and sometimes could allow you to get some really amazing prices at some of the more expensive hotels.

If you want a "cool" experience and you are going to be in the area for the Long Weekend - the Slush Cup weekend at Sunshine is actually pretty fun. There is a band playing on the hill, people dressed in all kinds of costumes - or in some cases - undressed :) skiing down the hill to jump a "pool" of water at the bottom of the hill. They have BBQ's out around the hotel for hot dogs and burgers. And you can take the Angel Chair up for sightseeing - and if you really want to ... you can ski :)

For Accommodation - depends on what type of experience you want for your stay. I think B&Bs are nice and cheaper alternative to the larger hotels - UNLESS you want the hotel pool, room service experience. Especially on weekends I have found the B&Bs are just a little more quiet than the Hotels. The B&B I stay at in Banff is Mountain Home B&B - the hosts are amazing and the locations is perfect. Just a couple of blocks from downtown Banff - all the restaurants and shopping...but still on a quiet street. Hotels - Banff Park Lodge is a nice option for location close to downtown - The Rimrock Resort - right next to the Gondola and Hot Springs is convenient as well...just a few minutes drive to the downtown area....or if you are able to get a last minute deal staying at the Banff Springs would be a real experience.

Canmore Accommodation - You can get a bit more bang for your buck. I have not stayed in the B&Bs there - it is outside the park - so a further drive to Lake Louise etc. But still doable. They have some hotels - though most of them are older...but nice option is some of the Condos in the area - you can get a studio room or 1 bedroom condo with kitchen - in case you don't want to eat out for all of your meals... for about the same price as a Hotel room in Banff.

The Trip up to Jasper along the Columbia Icefields Parkway is STUNNING. Definitely have your camera ready. Problem is - most of the Lakes - Lake Louise, Bow Lake etc....all the beautiful "BLUE" lakes will probably still be frozen, or just starting to shed their ice. Again it depends of course on the type of spring the area has had. It isn't unheard of for the Ice to shed in Mid May - if they have had a warm February March and April...without a lot of snow...but if they have received a lot of snow in the spring - then all that has to melt before the ice starts to....SOOOO... your pictures might not be what you were expecting. But still quite beautiful.

Jasper itself is at a lower elevation than Banff and Lake Louise - so that area may have less snow - so a bit easier for hiking. There is Maligne Canyon which I think is one of the Must Dos.

And the great thing about Late May - a lot less tourists to get in you pictures :)

Cheers

Good Luck and hope this is of some help.

Maggs

Jasper, Canada
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3. Re: Banff and Jasper - 6 nights mid May over long weekend

One caveat about snowshoeing... spring snowpacks can be very unstable, because of the increasing warmth through the day. A snowshoer was killed by an avalanche near Lake Agnes a couple of winters ago... not on the trail itself, but on the nearby slopes of Mt. St. Piran (but where the trail continues beyond the tea house along the lake shore could also be a danger zone). Also, the Plain of SIx Glaciers trail often has avalanche advisories on it (the trail itself) through May and sometimes into early June (although those were years of exceptional snowfall amounts... this year looks like it may wind up average, at best), because the trail traverses a number of avalanche paths. The slopes where a slide might start are out of sight above, beyond a shoulder of the mountain. So for early season hiking, it's not as simple as just taking snowshoes and using them if the snow starts to get deep... you need to have some awareness of staying out of avy terrain; it's a good idea to double check first with the trail office that where you are planning to go is safe.

4. Re: Banff and Jasper - 6 nights mid May over long weekend

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