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only 1 day at BANFF

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NY
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only 1 day at BANFF

Hello...dilemma...I'm flying in on Edmonton and planning on a one day trip to Banff. I'm only a beginner in photography but I heard the best place to take scenic pictures are up in the Canadian Rockies. Due to the limited amount of days (or day) in BANFF, can someone suggest a few places to visit for these great scenice views? Thanks!!

Calgary, Alberta...
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1. Re: only 1 day at BANFF

Hello zoo54924,

I don't know if you're aware that Jasper is between 3.5 hours and 4 hours west of Edmonton, and Banff is between 4.5 hours and 5 hours southwest of Edmonton.

I've been told that, if you start early in the morning, you actually can drive a circuit that goes Edmonton - Jasper - Lake Louise - Banff - Cochrane - Airdrie - Red Deer - Edmonton.

That circuit would cover 675 miles, and it would take 12 hours to drive if you did not stop. However, you no doubt would want to stop a few times, say at Jasper townsite, the Columbia Icefields, the lake of Lake Louise (3 miles from the village of Lake Louise), Banff townsite, and finally perhaps for a snack in Red Deer. I think the stops would add up to about 4 hours. So you'd be looking at 16 hours altogether. If you left Edmonton at 6.30 a.m., you'd get back at 10.30 p.m.

But that would allow little time for photography.

Banff, Canada
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2. Re: only 1 day at BANFF

Hi there:

The thought of doing a one-day trip to Banff from Edmonton and return is (IMO) horrifying!

If you want to spend most of your day taking pictures rather than driving (and driving, and driving, and driving), and you really have only one day, head east instead of west. Go to Elk Island National Park and shoot the bison, the waterfowl, the beautiful rolling landscape, the little lakes, maybe even northern lights, if you stay til dark. Enjoy yourself, and save gas and rubber!

NY
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3. Re: only 1 day at BANFF

Thanks for the responses. the one day trip will actually begin from Calgary as we will will first land in Edmonton around Thursday 12pm, rent a car and drive directly to Calgary. If time permits, we may do a nice dinner in Banff, see the sunset etc... The next morning (friday) we plan on doing an all day sight seeing event in Banff starting from Calgary. Would we have a good days worth of sightseeing in Banff per this schedule? One thing to keep in mind.. we will be driving back to Edmonton (friday PM)

Calgary, Alberta...
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4. Re: only 1 day at BANFF

>>>>>>Thanks for the responses.<<<<<<

You're welcome.

>>>>>> the one day trip will actually begin from Calgary as we will will first land in Edmonton around Thursday 12pm, rent a car and drive directly to Calgary. If time permits, we may do a nice dinner in Banff, see the sunset etc... <<<<<<

It would be a great idea to have dinner in Banff. In fact, unless you absolutely have to do so, you should avoid driving into Calgary at all.

From Edmonton Airport you could drive southwards on the Queen Elizabeth II Highway. The last town you'll reach before Calgary is Airdrie. At the southern edge of Airdrie, turn west onto Big Hill Springs Road. When you hit Hwy #22, turn south. Drive through the town of Cochrane and continue south till you reach the TransCanada Highway (Hwy #1). Turn west on Hwy #1 and continue to Banff.

If it takes you an hour or so to clear immigration and customs at Edmonton International Airport, you should be able to reach Banff by 6.00 p.m.

But do be aware that, after having climbed off your flight, you would be facing a drive of 4+ hours to get to Banff.

But then, from Edmonton Airport, you'd be looking at a drive of about 2.5 hours to get to Calgary. (Edmonton Airport is well to the south of the City of Edmonton, which will be helpful.)

>>>>>>The next morning (friday) we plan on doing an all day sight seeing event in Banff starting from Calgary.<<<<<<

I am utterly mystified by your plan to spend the night in Calgary. After your dinner in Banff, which is located in such a picturesque position in the mountains, you would face a drive of between 1.5 hours and 2 hours to reach your Calgary hotel (depending on where in Calgary you were staying). Then on the Friday morning you again would have to drive between 1.5 hours and 2 hours to reach Banff National Park.

If there is ANY way you could change your plans and spend that night in Banff National Park, it would be highly beneficial to do so.

>>>>>>Would we have a good days worth of sightseeing in Banff per this schedule? One thing to keep in mind.. we will be driving back to Edmonton (friday PM)<<<<<<

I don't know when you'll be doing this trip. The date of the trip is relevant because sunrise and sunset times vary so much throughout the year.

If you go just west of Banff townsite to the nearby Vermilion Lakes at sunset, you can get great photos of Vermilion Lakes as well as fabulous photos looking eastwards towards Mount Rundle. The mountain glows pink and gold at sunset.

The following morning, I would recommend that you drive the hour or so to Moraine Lake (9 miles from Lake Louise). To my taste Moraine Lake is the prettiest lake in the Canadian Rockies. Walk to the top of the pile of rocks at the north end of the lake.

After that, visit the lake of Lake Louise (3 miles from the village of Lake Louise). Lake Louise is beautiful at any time of day. It is very special at sunrise, but I don't know how practical it would be for you to reach it in time for sunrise. Again, this is dependent on the date of your trip.

You would need about 3 hours to drive from Banff to the Lake Louise area and do any kind of justice to Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. Then, from Lake Louise, you would need to count on 6 hours to get to Edmonton. You would need to allow time, let's say an hour, for lunch. If you will be flying out of Edmonton to the USA, you will need 2 hours to check in. Well I used to say 2 hours to check in. Perhaps it's now 3 hours with the extra precautions they're taking since the recent terrorist scare in the United Kingdom.

You can get a rough idea of Banff's and Lake Louise's sunrise and sunset times from this website:

http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/

The website does not show Banff and Lake Louise. It does show Calgary. Look up Calgary's times, and then figure that Banff's and Lake Louise's times are a bit later, because they are further west in the same time zone.

Hope that helps.

NY
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5. Re: only 1 day at BANFF

Judy_in_Calgary and Banff:

you guys have been very, very helpful. I failed to mention that the main purpose of this trip is to attend a wedding in Edmonton on Saturday...therefore limiting my days at BANFF. And the reason for the drive back to Calgary after BANFF is that we have relatives who will provide housing for me and my wife.

Now, that we got that cleared up, I have a rough draft of my itinerary and would love to run it by you guys for suggestions/comments:

Day One: Thursday 12PM

- Arrive at Edmonton Airport, pick up rental car, and off to BANFF we go. ....after 3 - 4 hours driving..

- arrive at BANFF. Figure I can do a little sightseeing...I'll take the gondola ride to SULPHOR MTN. Enjoy the view..head back down to town and off to Fairmount Springs Hotel for a nice, relaxing dinner. After dinner, if time permits, enjoy a nice hot spring at UPPER HOT SPRING near the gondola ride. Then, drive back to Calgary and call it a night.

Day Two: Friday ( early in the morning)

- Grab breakfast and off to Lake Minnewaka Loop for a nice scenic drive, admiring the colors and the wildlife ( if we're lucky ).

- After the Minnewaka Loop - > maybe back to town and towards Hoodoos Viewpt.? If not, straight towards Vermillion Lakes...

- after some pictures at Vermillion -> head up Bow Valley Parkway towards Lake Louise. 3 or 4 Main things to do in that area:

a). Moraine Lake

b). Lake Louise

c). Fairmount Chateau at Lake Louise

d). if time permits, the Teahouse at Lake Agnes

- pictures are taken...and we'll hop on the Icefields Highway to PEYTO LAKE. Hopefully we can grab an afternoon snake at Bill Peyto's Cafe but main attraction is the Peyto Lake itself.

- after Peyto Lake, if time permits, we can maybe see some glaciers? at Crowfoot glacier. If not, back up the icefields highway and connect to Highway 11. -> cut across and connect to highway 2 North and back up to Edmonton.

so let me know what you guys think...this trip will take place in two weeks.

on a side note...i really want to take a nice picture of glaciers. any recommendation are always welcome!

Calgary, Alberta...
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6. Re: only 1 day at BANFF

Zoo54924, the distances involved are greater than you think they are. It's not only the distances on their own. It's also the fact that some of the side roads in the mountains, like the one to Moraine Lake, are quite winding and have a speed limit of 60 km/h (38 MPH).

On the Thursday, figure 1 hour to clear immigration and customs at Edmonton Airport. Then figure on 4 – 5 hours (not 3 –4 hours) to get to Banff. Figure on 1 hour for Sulphur Mountain. Driving to the Banff Springs, parking there and having dinner will take a couple of hours. Then it will take 2 hours to drive to Calgary. That takes you to 11.00 p.m., without bathing in the hot springs.

So what are you going to do? Arrive at your Calgary relatives’ home at 11.00 a.m. and then leave again early the next morning? Won’t you want to visit with them and catch up on their news?

Even supposing you do manage to make an early start from Calgary, forget Minnewanka Loop, Hoodoos Viewpoint and Vermilion Lakes. There is absolutely no way you have time to see them.

I recommend against the Bow Valley Parkway, because its speed limit is 60 km/h.

Even if you stick to the TransCanada Highway, it will take you 3 hours to get to Moraine Lake. You need an hour to do it justice. Then you need at least 1 hour at Lake Louise. The Victoria Glacier forms the backdrop to Lake Louise, so you’ll certainly see a glacier.

Then you need to eat somewhere. Bill Peyto’s Restaurant is not at Peyto Lake, but rather in the village of Lake Louise, next to the hostel. Let’s give you an hour for lunch. Now it’s 6 hours since you left Calgary.

Forget Chateau Lake Louise. You’ll see it from the outside when you visit the lake of Lake Louise (3 miles from the village of Lake Louise). I don’t like its interior (or for that matter its exterior) as much as I like the Banff Springs Hotel. If you were at the Banff Springs the previous night, I don’t believe you need to see Chateau Lake Louise as well. Besides that, it’s an academic question. You don’t have time.

Take 30 minutes to drive to Peyto Lake. Take 1 hour to photograph Peyto Lake. Even without being enthusiastic about photography, it takes about 40 minutes to walk from your car to the viewing point, snap a couple of quick pictures, and walk back to your car. I believe you will need an hour at Peyto Lake.

If you take Hwy #11, it will take you 4.5 hours to drive from Peyto Lake to Edmonton.

So, this is the timing that I think you need to bank on:

3.0 hours – Drive from Calgary to Moraine Lake

0.75 hours – Look at Moraine Lake

0.5 hours - Drive to Lake Louise

0.75 hours – Look at Lake Louise

1.0 hour – Lunch at the village of Lake Louise

0.5 hours – Drive to Peyto Lake

1.0 hour – Look at Peyto Lake

4.5 hours – Drive to Edmonton

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

12.0 hours - total

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

Hope that helps.

NY
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7. Re: only 1 day at BANFF

you've been a great help in this ordeal. But i have good news. I'm staying over Friday night at Four Points hotel 2 miles away from BANFF. So how would that change the itineray..? definitely more room to work with.

How bout the hot springs? any recommendations for that? And glaciers?? I'm in love with glaciers...

Calgary, Alberta...
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8. Re: only 1 day at BANFF

Hello zoo54924,

The Four Points is in Canmore, which is 16 miles from Banff. It's a HUGE improvement over spending the night in Calgary.

But the really ideal place to spend the night for your purposes, I believe, is Lake Louise. That said, there is a smaller stock of accommodation in Lake Louise, it's harder to find a reservation, and it tends to be more expensive than Canmore or Banff.

Suppose you were able to find Lake Louise accommodation that was within your budget for the Thursday night. This is what you could do on the Friday.

8.00 a.m. - Set out for Moraine Lake.

9.00 a.m. - Drive to Lake Louise.

10.00 a.m. - Drive to Peyto Lake.

10.30 a.m. - Stop and look at Peyto Lake

11.30 a.m. - Set out for Columbia Icefields

12.30 p.m. - Lunch at Columbia Icefields

1.30 p.m. - Snocoach ride onto Athabasca Glacier at Columbia Icefields

2.30 p.m. - Set out for Jasper

4.00 p.m. - Arrive in Jasper and turn towards Edmonton.

6.00 p.m. - Arrive in Edson and have dinner there.

7.00 p.m. - Resume journey to Edmonton

9.00 p.m. - Arrive in Edmonton

I guess you could accomplish the same thing if you spent the Thursday night in Canmore. But in that case you would need to set out for Moraine Lake at 7.00 a.m.

NY
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9. Re: only 1 day at BANFF

actually, the plan is still the same for thursday night where we'll be staying with relatives in Calgary.

We have points for sheraton so we're going to stick to Four Points. Thanks FOR ALL YOUR help. I'll keep you guys posted on my trip...

Calgary,Alberta,Cana...
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10. Re: only 1 day at BANFF

Friday if you are heading to Edmonton take the route thru Jasper since this is by far the most scenic drive in the Rockies but keep 6hrs for this since you might want to stop and look or more if you stop in Jasper for dinner and a hotspring