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Icefields Parkway - one day or two?

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NC
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Icefields Parkway - one day or two?

We are leaving Lake Louise on Aug. 6 for the ice fields parkway. we have ordered the GyPSy. I have maps! We do not have a hotel on Aug. 6 and I don't know what to do.....don't really want to come back to LL. Don't want to go all the way to Jasper in one day (we have hotel in Jasper on Aug.7). Is there any outfit where we could get camping equipment for one night? Is that crazy? Or somewhere to stay along the parkway that is decent? (I am a bit picky....sort the of Chateau LL type:) thanks!

Calgary, Canada
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1. Re: Icefields Parkway - one day or two?

I don't think you will find any accommodations on the Icefields Parkway that are up to your standards, if you're a Chateau LL kind of person. But if you're willing to give tent camping a try, this TripAdvisor Traveller Article will give you information on tenting and tent rentals:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g659487-c124649/Canad…

Traveller Articles are written by TA members like you and me, in response to popular questions on the forums.

Note, though, that you want to be sure to have a really warm sleeping bag if you're camping along the Icefields Parkway - or anywhere in the Rockies, really - as overnight temperatures can dip close to freezing even in summer.

NC
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2. Re: Icefields Parkway - one day or two?

thank you for your response! Two more questions: would we be able to really explore the ice fields parkway by coming back to LL at night and going back out in the am? Do you need to go all the way to Jasper? Second: should we do the Icefields Bus Trip or the "Ice Cube" we saw write ups about?

Calgary, Canada
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3. Re: Icefields Parkway - one day or two?

What is the reason for not wanting to go to Jasper all in one day? If you're concerned about the amount of driving, keep in mind that you will be stopping at many scenic viewpoints, picnic spots, and "camera ops" (e.g. wildlife) along the way. Most people plan to spend the whole day on this trip in order to enjoy them and take their time. In my experience, breaking up the 3.5 hours of driving in this way makes the driving feel much shorter than if you did it non-stop.

The Ice Explorer ride onto the Columbia is a "bus tour" type of experience; you will ride in a fairly warm, comfortable coach, and spend most of your time admiring the scenery from the inside; at the turn-around point, you will be able to get out and walk on a piece of the icefields that has been checked for safety. The Ice Walk is more like a hike - you will be taken by the guide for a long walk on the surface of the icefields. Ice Cubed is the 3-hour walk; there is also a 5-hour walk. You will learn a lot more about the natural history and geology of glaciers while still having an adventure.

If you enjoy hiking, then I would recommend the Ice Walk; if you're more into comfort, then the Ice Explorer ride would be a better choice. And if you have kids, there is a minimum age for the Ice Walk.

NC
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4. Re: Icefields Parkway - one day or two?

We will book the ice cube.....sounds wonderful. We don't have a hotel in Jasper, that is why I asked. We want to take two days to do the icefields parkway, so I better find a place to stay in Jasper! The Jasper park lodge gets some terrible reviews, and some friends returned from there and said it is not worth the money to stay. So, I have called a number of places, but they are booked. Want a lodge type experience with fireplace etc.

Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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5. Re: Icefields Parkway - one day or two?

If you want to drive the Icefields Parkway but not go all the way to Jasper, I would recommend going as far as Tangle Falls, which are 10 km north of the Columbia Icefield/Athabasca Glacier. This would entail about five hours of driving (round trip); it would be a full day with the various stops. Adding in an ice walk would make for a very full (but enjoyable!) day.

If you go all the way to Jasper, and are concerned about having enough time for the various stops on the parkway, you could concentrate on the southern end, and then "do" the northern end either from your base in Jasper (if you are staying multiple nights), or on your way back to Lake Louise (if you are going back that way).

Alpine Village has log cabins with fireplaces, although whether they have a one-night vacancy on such short notice may be the difficulty. I'm not sure if Becker's Chalets have fireplaces or not, but they might suit as well. They are located 10 km south of Jasper, on the Icefields Parkway, at a very scenic bend and overlook on the Athabasca River. Tekarra Lodge or Bearhill Lodge may also have fireplace units.

On rereading, I see that you are booked in to Jasper for August 7th, so probably the most convenient would be to get an additional night at the same accommodation, and to avoid a transfer. Where are you booked for Aug. 7?

Personally, I don't feel that tent camping for one night is worth the effort (and additional effort for you, in acquiring equipment, which will be unfamiliar to you). Setting up camp and taking it down can eat up a lot of time. Also, if you are the "Chateau LL" type, I can't imagine that tent camping and campground outhouse toilets are going to be to your liking.

The options for accommodations along the parkway are Num-ti-Jah Lodge (only about 40 km from Lake Louise), Saskatchewan Crossing "Resort" (motel), the Glacierview Inn (Icefields Chalet) or Sunwapta Falls "Resort" (bungalows), which are about 60 km south of Jasper. If you want to do the parkway in two days, what I would suggest is Day 1 from LL to the Icefields and overnight there (availability permitting), Day 2 do the Ice Cube walk and then on to Jasper. If you try to do the walk on the first day, you will have to dash from LL to the Icefields to get there in time, and won't have time for a lot of sightseeing stops on the way.

Banff, Canada
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for Banff, Banff National Park
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6. Re: Icefields Parkway - one day or two?

I agree with krp. Staying at the Icefield is a special experience - you get to see the place in the evening, when it is practically deserted. The hotel itself is nothing special but the views are glorious! Consider taking along a cooler with your favourite snacks in case the food outlets at the hotel are not to your taste.

NC
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7. Re: Icefields Parkway - one day or two?

you all are wonderful and we thank you for all of the ideas and input! I am working on this!

Atlanta, Georgia
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8. Re: Icefields Parkway - one day or two?

For an upscale place in Jasper, look into the Patricia Lake Bungalows. Both their "Grove" section and the Cavell Suites are brand new and really nice. Our Cavell suite had a fire place.

NC
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9. Re: Icefields Parkway - one day or two?

they are booked :( but I thought they looked great! Everything I called was booked and so I got a "suite" at the Best Western in Jasper. I am sure it will be fine; we'll be tired from a full day of hiking and driving the parkway and will arrive late, check out the next morning! Then back down the Icefields Parkway for more hiking and sightseeing. I think this will work out fine. Thanks so all, we are very excited. We now have the entire 7 day trip planned and booked!

Banff, Canada
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for Banff, Banff National Park
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10. Re: Icefields Parkway - one day or two?

Enjoy your trip!!