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Vancouver to Rockies to Calgary

New York City, New...
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Vancouver to Rockies to Calgary

Hi all

I'm planning a two weeks trip to Vancouver in mid October.

At the moment, I am thinking two days in Vancouver downtown, then rent a car to Whistler, continue to Kamloops, stay the night there, and arrive at Jasper the next morning. Then from Jasper, head down to Lake Louise and Banff. Spending about 2 nights in Jasper, 1 in Lake Louise and 2 in Banff.

After the Rockies, we will drive to Calgary and take the flight back to Vancouver to spend a few more days there.

My questions are:

1. I see many road trips detailing Banff to Jasper, but not Jasper to Banff. Would there be any actual difference, e.g. the road is harder to drive or less scenic if viewed from a different driving direction?

2. I'm still deciding what to do in Vancouver after returning from Calgary. Is it recommended to spend a day or two in Calgary to see the city and possibly surrounds before returning to Vancouver? If so, what are the attractions in Calgary?

3. Finally, any other comments on my rough plan would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

Jasper, Canada
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1. Re: Vancouver to Rockies to Calgary

Hi and welcome to the TripAdvisor forums!

Your itinerary sounds good. To answer your question, no, it's not harder to drive from Jasper to Banff and is every bit as scenic as driving north... maybe more so, since when you drive south on the Icefields Parkway, you are looking at the north faces of the mountains, which tend to be more rugged.

For information on Calgary, you can read the basics that have been provided in the "Top Questions" and the Traveller Articles (menus on right and left). I'm sure Country_Wife (one of the Calgary DEs) will be along to respond too, as well as some of the other regulars.

Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: Vancouver to Rockies to Calgary

Welcome to the forum, BHan ::

3. As you are going to the Rockies, I would give Whistler a miss. Got to love their marketing team promotions down under though. The Rockies will trump the resort town of Whistler.

I would say there are more interesting itineraries for crossing the province than you have outlined. Have a look here:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g154922-c120076/Briti…

For travel questions through BC, I would suggest posting on the British Columbia Forum as well as reading the Trip Reports in first position (against a push pin) on that forum.

1. But, I mainly wanted to say on this forum, that you would not regret travelling up and back the Icefields Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper.

2. For Vancouver specific questions about what to do and how to get around, you will want to post on the Vancouver Forum. Just a heads up, on each and every forum, in the left sidebar, you will find "Things to Do" - including a tab for Attractions and Tours. krp has already mentioned Top Questions. Have a look at the ones on the BC and Vancouver Forums.

See you there!

Dublin, Ireland
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3. Re: Vancouver to Rockies to Calgary

hi there, myself and husband are just back from Canada and we did the same trip in three weeks. We flew to Vancouver rented a car and travelled to Jasper and Banff with a few more stops on the way. Jasper is lovely and the icefields parkway drive was breathtaking, there is a lot to see on the way so leave plenty of drive time. We were in and out of the car like yo yos. A and AA accomodation in Jasper is like having a mini apartment we loved it because we had space and were tired of hotels. I would spend an extra night in Jasper and skip Lake Louise, you can visit it on your way to Banff as a rest stop. Banff has a bit more happening in regards to shops and restaurants. I wouldn't spend any time in Calgary again we were there for two nights in the Downtown area and it was so quiet and there was a lot of homeless people. We left our car at Calgary and flew back to Vancouver and spent four days there at the end. It is an amazing place so beautiful a photographer's paradise.

Calgary, Canada
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4. Re: Vancouver to Rockies to Calgary

^^^I wouldn't spend any time in Calgary again we were there for two nights in the Downtown area and it was so quiet and there was a lot of homeless people. ^^^

Yes there are homeless people in downtown Calgary, and there are also lots of homeless people in Vancouver too, however they are both citites so that's to be expected right? I think most big cities have homeless pople, do they not?

Anyways, I wouldn't avoid Vancouver or Calgary entirely because there are some homeless people downtown, especially if you want to see these two cities in Canada. IMO both cities have thier merits.

That being said, if seeing urban areas is not the main reason for your trip then I would plan to spend most of your time in the Rockies (Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper). It just depends on what you really want to see.

Edited: 5:20 pm, September 25, 2012
Vancouver, Canada
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5. Re: Vancouver to Rockies to Calgary

One of the best ways, at least on TA, to figure out how much time to spend somewhere is to look in the left sidebar under Things to Do and make a list. That gives a pretty good idea of how many days to allocate.

Homeless people are the unfortunate ones. They are you and me if our circumstances were different. Vancouver's homeless form a community for themselves in the Downtown Eastside, they interact with each other, know each other's business, look out for each other and yes, fight with each other. Pretty much like the average family. :-D They have no power and seldom, if ever, cause grief for the tourist or local citizens.

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6. Re: Vancouver to Rockies to Calgary

Hi all - thanks so much for the suggestions!

I've decided to give Whistler a miss and will be traveling from Vancouver to Hope, Kamloops, Revelstoke, and to Banff. This way, I can travel on Icefields Parkway up and back as suggested by MuftiMixandmatch.

This may be a silly question - but how can I see the grizzly bears in the Rockies (within a safe zone)? I'd really like to see one on the trip. Also, (this question is for my traveling partner) - would grizzly bears come out onto the highway and present a risk issue?

Finally, should I get a GPS when travelling in the Rockies, or would maps be sufficient?

Thanks!

Jasper, Canada
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7. Re: Vancouver to Rockies to Calgary

For most visitors, the most likely way that they will see a bear - whether black or grizzly - is when the animal is feeding alongside a road (bears are omnivores but in the Rockies, wildlife biologists estimate that their diet is 85% vegetarian). The safety recommendations are to stay in your car and resist the temptation to get out to get closer and get a better photo. This is for two reasons - for your safety, and also to avoid the bears becoming "habituated" to humans, essentially for their safety (and long term survival) too.

Bears are killed by cars, trucks and trains all the time... in the parks, there are various places with lower speed limits, some of which are wildlife zones; it's important to heed these.

There are not very many roads to travel on in the Rockies, and things are generally well signed; a map will be sufficient.

Edited: 8:30 pm, September 30, 2012
Vancouver, Canada
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8. Re: Vancouver to Rockies to Calgary

You might be interested in looking into the GPS based tour guide. When you approach a certain attraction, the guide is triggered to give commentary.

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g154911-d1…

New York City, New...
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9. Re: Vancouver to Rockies to Calgary

thanks for the bear tip, krp329 and to Mufti for the GyPSy guide. I previously saw GyPSy guide but found it a little bit dear since we'll be looking at around 6 to 7 days rental. i was thinking of downloading Canadian map onto my current gps, but may be a difficult to figure out a way to do that. Think I'll get a map when I reach there.

Greater Sydney...
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10. Re: Vancouver to Rockies to Calgary

Depending on your present GPS unit. I thought that I would have no problems downloading a map of the US and Canada to my Tom Tom for my trip to the eastern side in June. Paid for it and it was available to DL. Tried to load it to my unit - bugger. While all the information on the web for the model I owned said it would have the storage capacity to retain the Aust maps and fit the US/Canada maps, it turns out that TT's sold here are configured differently from the same model numbers sold in other countries. I tried memory upgrades and lots of other things suggested by TT users but nothing made it work, so I eventually gave up and obtained a refund from TT.

In reality you will not need a GPS for the areas you will be driving to - there are not many roads in those regions.