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6 days on my own to explore Canadian Rockies

Boston...
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6 days on my own to explore Canadian Rockies

I am going to take my first solo post divorce vacation and I have always wanted to go to the Canadian Rockies. Lake Louise and a night at the Fairmont are high on my list. I want to combine hiking ( that is safe for a woman to do alone or join a guided tour) being outside and having down time with a splash of luxury and shopping. I am in pretty good shape, young enough to have fun and old enough to pay for it.

I will be renting a car and thinking of flying into Calgary. What would the your idea of a perfect Itinerary?

Thanks

P

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Canadian Rockies
Canadian Rockies
Alberta, Canada
Lake Louise
Lake Louise
Banff National Park, Canada
Boston...
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1. Re: 6 days on my own to explore Canadian Rockies

I will be going in Summer thinking June

Saskatchewan
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2. Re: 6 days on my own to explore Canadian Rockies

never having stayed at either the Banff springs or lake Louis hotel id pick the Banff springs for being a much cooler looking hotel..though im sure waking up a lake Louis would be pretty special...theres fairly limited shopping at LL while Banff has streets lined with stores and restraunts....lots of hiking trails around LL that you will almost always have other people within sight...the plain of 6 glaciers and lake agnus are wonderful hikes but you certainly wont be alone..also Johnson canyon is a nice hike but is one of the more crowded ones

Calgary, Canada
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3. Re: 6 days on my own to explore Canadian Rockies

I second the Banff Springs over the Chateau. The rooms are small, but the feel of it is great, book early for the spa! Their pool is amazing as well. Rimrock is anothere great little hotel slightly cheaper with a slight luxury feel.

A simple intinerary would be to drive to Banff for 2-3 days...hike and shop the region, then head to Lake Louise for one night...spend a full day there hiking and taking in Moraine lake...maybe hike the 10 peaks. I'd also spend a day and drive the ice field parkway. If time permits, keep going and spend a night or 2 in Jasper.

How many days do you have?

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Lake Louise
Lake Louise
Banff National Park, Canada
Boston...
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4. Re: 6 days on my own to explore Canadian Rockies

to be honest I am pretty open I was thinking total 6 days but I could easily make it 8

thanks

Jasper, Canada
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5. Re: 6 days on my own to explore Canadian Rockies

Is it early June or late June? It makes a difference actually, because there is a good likelihood that some of the trails will still be snowbound in early June. It is still early spring at higher elevations - the ice on Lake Louise usually melts sometime in the last few days of May or the first few days of June. The "10 peaks" referred to is Moraine Lake ... I have hiked to Larch valley there in mid-June, and while do-able, the snow was shin-deep in Larch valley, and knee deep in spots. So I would recommend bringing sturdy hiking boots for June hiking. Even if most of the snow is melted, you can expect trails to be wet and maybe mucky in some spots... it's important to stay on the trail l... go through the wet spots (carefully) instead of around them, which causes the trails to widen, get braided, aiding erosion etc.

Banff and Lake Louise are only 45 minutes' drive apart, so it's not necessary to stay at both - you can do a day trip to LL when staying in Banff (or vice versa, but Banff has a lot more in the way of amenities and things to do other than hiking). Of course, it may be your preference to stay at both, and that's valid too... it's just my own preference when I travel to avoid unnecessary hotel transfers because I find they gobble up extra time.

Be sure to drive the quieter Bow Valley Parkway between Banff and LL at least once... it's a lovely drive along the "old" highway. Do check first though, since part of it traverses important wildlife habitat and I believe there is a seasonal closure in spring at some point to allow critters better access to important early season feeding areas. It may only be possible to drive the half from Castle Junction to LL, but that is still worthwhile (and you'll want to visit Johnston Canyon anyway - that portion of the south end of the BV parkway will be accessible as well from Castle Junction.)

One of the major attractions of the Canadian Rockies national parks is the Icefields Parkway, the drive between Lake Louise and Jasper. It's 240 km that parallels the continental divide, a constant parade of peaks, glaciers, lakes and waterfalls. It's been rated by National Geographic magazine as one of "Twenty Drives of a Lifetime". With 6 or 8 days, I would suggest splitting your time between Banff and Jasper (National Parks, and towns), and enjoying the drive on the parkway both north and south.

So, in short, my suggestion for an itinerary would be Calgary to Banff and Jasper and back to Calgary. The actual order of the stops would depend on flight times in and out.

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Lake Louise
Lake Louise
Banff National Park, Canada
Bow Valley Parkway
Bow Valley Parkway
1,945 Reviews
Banff, Canada
Castle Junction
Castle Junction
Banff National Park, Canada
Canadian Rockies
Canadian Rockies
Alberta, Canada
Calgary, Canada
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6. Re: 6 days on my own to explore Canadian Rockies

Welcome!

Thought I might give some perspective on hiking alone... I have done it, but you have to be well aware of your surroundings, the conditions, closures and your own limits. Some of my solo hikes were probably not well advised, given that there was no-one else around, but I've made it out in one piece. It also can be dependent on your comfort level - I prefer to have people in the area, rather than be totally alone, mostly because of wildlife and the risk of not having cell reception if something should happen.

If you aren't an experienced hiker and don't know the area, you are best to stick with the established, well-frequented trails. June, as mentioned, can be a month of every possible weather condition, so you don't want to be stranded in snow or nasty weather. Also, with elk babies being born and bears coming out, there can be a lot of less than friendly wildlife, so you need to pay attention to closures, warnings and carry bear spray.

I would strongly recommend stopping of the relevant Parks Canada Centre (Banff, Field, Lake Louise or Jasper) and get advice on hiking trails from them. They will give you free maps, and can advise you on where wildlife may be an issue. There may also be postings for some group hikes - the Friends of Jasper Trails (?) have some hikes which are advertised in the Parks Centre in Jasper, for instance. You can also 'like' the pages for the various parks on Facebook to get info on goings on, or look on their websites.

I've felt perfectly comfortable hiking alone on all the trails around Lake Louise, as well the trails around Jasper townsite, Wilcox Pass, Johnston Canyon, Maligne Canyon. Especially if you are coming earlier in June, you might find better hiking conditions over in lower Yoho NP. Emerald Lake is beautiful, and the hike to Wapta Falls is short, but worthwhile. The trails around Moraine Lake are likely to be fairly snowy in June - and not the best for hiking alone. On some hikes, I've actually ending up hiking with other folks - you might find fellow hikers at your hotel or at the trail head.

if you want a bit of splurge, you could do a day or two of guided trips - either hire a guide on your own or do a half/full day trip. Depending on the season, there might be hikes or rock climbing or river trips.

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Lake Louise
Lake Louise
Banff National Park, Canada
Jasper, Canada
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7. Re: 6 days on my own to explore Canadian Rockies

>> I've felt perfectly comfortable hiking alone ... on all the trails around Lake Louise, as well the trails around Jasper townsite, ...

ksneds, almost all of my on-trail bear encounters have been on the Pyramid Bench trails just above Jasper townsite, and in fact, many of them have been within sight of houses! My husband is a trail runner and often meets bears on the Bench, or the valley trails on the other side of the river (near JPL).... actually, that area is a grizzly hot spot in June and between the elk calving ground closures and the Trail 7 closure behind the golf course in the spring, there are not very many trails you can use in that area at that time of year.

The trails at LL are busy and bears do tend to avoid them because of that... yet there were photos posted on facebook last year in June of a griz sow and her grown cubs (i.e. three large bears!) on the trail at the end of the lake. The photos were taken by climbers from on the wall at the end of the lake... there is a pinch point there, with the cliff on one side and the lake on the other and no other way to get through other than the trail. The climbers who were not on the wall wound up bunching together and stepping off the trail to the base of the wall, and apparently the bears totally ignored them as they went by.

LOL, I'm not intending to scare you silly, JBC, but basically everywhere in the parks is "bear country". (I have even had black bears in my yard right here in town several times over the past few years!) I used to hike a lot on my own, but find that I am getting less comfortable doing so as I get older.

There are guided hiking excursions you can take (although they are pretty pricey), and as mentioned, the Friends of Jasper have volunteer-led hikes, usually weekly. I don't think there is yet a facebook page for hiking meet-ups here in Jasper, but I am hoping someone will start one... I am often looking for hiking companions at the last minute, when my days off don't jive with my friends' (we residents are not here on holidays so have to fit our hikes in between work and chores, LOL), so you could always send me a PM.

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Lake Louise
Lake Louise
Banff National Park, Canada
Calgary, Canada
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8. Re: 6 days on my own to explore Canadian Rockies

If you make periodic noise...bears should not be an issue. I've seen them several times on many scrambles I've done and I s&*t you not...not once did they look up in my direction.

Edmonton, Canada
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9. Re: 6 days on my own to explore Canadian Rockies

solo trips are great...good for you to take "the plunge" (sorry for the divorce but make the best of a bad situation). you get to do anything you want when travelling alone.. while i would encourage you to stay at chateau lake louise or banff springs for a few nights as a great treat...i'd recommend staying in the town of banff so you can walk to restaurants / shops. one recommendation...a great day for me is to go to the pleiades spa for a 90 minute massage, then relax in the hot springs, then walk across the road to the rimrock hotel for a drink or hot chocolate and enjoy the fabulous view. personally, i love jasper...if only 6 days...maybe stick to banff/lake louise. if doing 8, i'd do at least 3 in jasper.

Calgary, Canada
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10. Re: 6 days on my own to explore Canadian Rockies

KRP

I should have been clearer - I was really referring to the trails that are right around the town and along the railroad. Since I generally seem to be in Jasper (other than for ice climbing) in late May/early June, I usually wouldn't go in the Trail 7 area. And I would not go alone on any trail with an active bear or elk warning or restriction. I always check in with the Parks Centre first to get the latest news/closure alerts.

Have had a too-close-for-comfort mama elk encounter and that was while hiking with a Park Canada interpreter JUST outside of town at the start of the Mina Lake trail. We were doing a flower-count walk and all yapping away, but managed to get too close to a mama elk. Fortunately she let us go quickly by and we moved well away from where she (and her hidden fawn) were. And had to abort a hike around the Valley of the Five Lakes when another hiker warned me about a bear taking a post-brunch snooze in a tree close the trail.

I strongly prefer to hike with others, but it's not always possible in my situation. Littlechilds - the bears I've come across have certainly acknowledged my presence, but if you stay well away from them and don't try to move closer (and they're not protecting cubs or food), they will generally not desire to get any closer to you.

At Lake Louise the bears certainly don't avoid the lake, but my impression is that they tend to tend to stay down by the river and the campsite. They're not dumb - why bother with the busy lake trails when you've got plenty of other options :o) But they will come by for a gander - I know there was one that frequented the Deer Lodge parking lot.

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Lake Louise
Lake Louise
Banff National Park, Canada