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Advice on planning our summer trip

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Washington DC...
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Advice on planning our summer trip

We are planning to do a week in the Canadian Rockies next summer and wanted some advice on how long to stay where. The only definites are: we are flying in to Calgary, staying the weekend and then off to Banff/Lake Louise. Do we need 2 or 3 days there (we love hot springs!)? Also wanted to see Jasper. Then drive to Edmonton for the following weekend and fly home. Worried about drop charge for the rental car or should we just drive back down to Calgary (hwo long and is it scenic)? Thanks for your help!

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1. Re: Advice on planning our summer trip

Yes, you need 2 or 3 days in the Banff / Lake Louise area (at least 2 days if you exclude hot springs and 3 days if you include hot springs).

Then you need a full day to do the drive from Banff / Lake Louise to Jasper.

Then you need a full day to explore Jasper’s environs if you exclude hot springs, and 2 full days to explore Jasper’s environs if you include hot springs.

Miette Hot Springs in Jasper National Park are better than the hot springs in Banff. I recommend that you spend at least 2 days in the Banff / Lake Louise area, 1 day traveling from Banff / Lake Louise to Jasper, and then at least 2 days in Jasper.

Jasper is about 4 hours from Edmonton and about 6 hours from Calgary Airport (not counting stops). If you drive from Jasper to Edmonton, you leave the mountains after about 1 hour. If you drive from Jasper to Calgary, you travel through mountains for over 4 hours. The scenery on the Icefields Parkway or Hwy #93, which connects Lake Louise and Jasper, looks different when it’s viewed from opposite directions, so it is not a waste to travel that route twice.

As you can see, there is not a huge difference between departing from Edmonton or departing from Calgary. My advice is to check various combinations of air fares, car rental rates and one-way drop off fees and simply use whichever combination gives you the best overall price, the most convenient arrival and departure times, etc.

Something you need to keep in mind is that you have to check in for a US-bound flight 2 hours before departure. That’s because you clear US immigration and customs at Edmonton Airport or Calgary Airport. Then, when your plane lands in the US, it’s treated like a domestic flight. Take into consideration that you’ll probably stop for a meal en route from your mountain departure point to the airport. Then build in an extra hour for contingencies. From this you can see that you must not cut your return to the airport too fine.

Go to the top left hand corner of the TripAdvisor screen and search for the following terms:

Inside Calgary

Inside Banff National Park

Inside Edmonton

That will bring you to the relevant “Inside Pages” of the TripAdvisor website, and you will find a wealth of information.

I especially recommend the ITINERARIES page within the Inside Banff National Park section:


Because the weather in the mountains can change so rapidly and dramatically, it is important to read the CLOTHING page:


If you stay in Calgary at all, different neighbourhoods are more convenient for different purposes (arriving, departing or sight seeing). It would be useful for you to read the page about Calgary’s Hotel Districts:


Another page that I think has good information is Inside Calgary : First-time Visitors:


Hope that helps.

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2. Re: Advice on planning our summer trip

A few thoughts from me - minimise your time in Calgary (it's a city) to maximise your time in the Rockies (they're unique). Stay in one of Banff / Lake Louise (for about 60% available time) and Jasper (40% time). The drive up to Jasper is unbelievable scenic. And the return trip from there to Calgary is worth doing (it seems just as good and different in the opposite direction, and is not a duplication)

3. Re: Advice on planning our summer trip

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