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12 days in Banff - Jasper. April or July?

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mexico
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12 days in Banff - Jasper. April or July?

Hi everybody.

I´m spending two weeks in this parks. My plan is to rent a car at Calgary and drive to Jasper, then returning via Edmonton. I would like to camp and hike almost all days but don´t know which time is better. I have to chose between April 13 - 26 and July 16 - 30. Also would appreciate if you think that to rent a car is the best.

Thanks.

Toronto
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for Algonquin Provincial Park
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1. Re: 12 days in Banff - Jasper. April or July?

Complete no-brainer, go with July. April is still winter in the mountains, camping and hiking opportunities will be very limited. Late July is perhaps the best time of the whole year to be in that area.

And yes, renting a car is the best. But it might be considerably cheaper and more practical to start and end your trip in the same place (ie Calgary) so as not to have to pay the one-way drop fee on the rental. From Jasper, the drive back down to Calgary is only about an hour longer (and far more enjoyable, even if you've already done it in the other direction) than the drive east to Edmonton.

wisconsin
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2. Re: 12 days in Banff - Jasper. April or July?

We just returned from an almost two-week trip, and I agree with everything tweed said. There were a couple of times we had to wear jackets because it was cold outside. There's a reason there are very few air conditioners in Canmore and Jasper. We rented our car in Calgary and returned it in Calgary. Our first week was in Canmore, then spent the last 3 nights in Jasper, then had to drive all the way to Calgary to the airport that last day. Was no problem at all as we left early and allowed ourselves enough time. Our flight wasn't until 2:30 in the afternoon anyways. It was super foggy that morning so didn't see a lot of wildlife. If you're set on seeing Edmonton, you can always drive back to Calgary through Edmonton or spend your last days there. You'll encounter a LOT more mosquitoes in July, but only in the Canmore/Banff area. We didn't see one mosquito once we got to on the parkway and into Jasper.

mexico
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3. Re: 12 days in Banff - Jasper. April or July?

Thanks a lot.

I´ll follow your recommendations.

Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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4. Re: 12 days in Banff - Jasper. April or July?

July - there is no question about it. Just to give you a better idea ... April is still ski season in the Canadian Rockies... all of the ski resorts are still open. (Jasper's Marmot Basin and the Lake Louise ski area usually close sometime during the first week of May, and Banff's Sunshine Village stays open until the third week of May.) Yes, the ski resorts are up higher and more "winter-y" than the townsites and valley bottoms are in April, but there are very few campgrounds open in April - for a very good reason - nights are still usually well below freezing, and very few people are camping. The camping season basically starts with the May long weekend (third weekend in May)... although even then, cold temperatures and snowfall are not unusual.

Note that the higher elevation glacial lakes usually have ice until sometime during the first week of June; occasionally the ice comes off in the last bit of May.

Rockville, MD
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5. Re: 12 days in Banff - Jasper. April or July?

Like Turks, we just returned from an almost 2-week trip (July 17-29), and it was fantastic. For the first week or so it was hotter than normal, but still more comfortable than the heat wave we left at home (Washington, DC, area). By the end of the trip in Lake Louise, it was in the 40s night and evening and comfortably warm during the day. Mosquitoes were a big problem, especially in Banff, so be sure to bring insect repellent--the one that worked best for me was Off Active 25% DEET (orange bottle), which I bought there. (For those who hope to avoid DEET, be aware that I first used a picaridin product--Cutter Advanced--but still got bitten a lot.)

If you depart from Calgary, I would suggest staying there the night before if you have a morning flight. If the flight is not too early, you could stay in Lake Louise or Banff the night before (LL is about 2 hours drive and Banff is about 1.5 hours drive--but those times could be longer during peak times approaching Calgary). I would not try driving from Jasper the night before a flight departing from Calgary unless it is an evening flight, because even without stopping to sightsee and hike along the Icefields Parkway it will be a 3-4 hour drive. We had a 10 a.m. flight and found it much less stressful to stay at an airport hotel in Calgary the night before. If you do that, I highly recommend the Best Western Premier Freeport Inn and Suites--it is not near anything except the airport and a mega-mall, but it's very nice and has an indoor pool.

wisconsin
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6. Re: 12 days in Banff - Jasper. April or July?

Another awesome hotel near the airport is The Acclaim. Reasonably priced, awesome rooftop seating area with two big hot tubs, a shower you won't want to get out of and a great restaurant attached, The Pacini. You can see a picture of the shower heads on their website. Freedshop, did you find two weeks was enough time to see everything? We did not, but still felt we'd been there long enough and was nice to return home, especially with the cost of food (eating in and groceries). However, we plan to return to the Rockies in the next 5 years if we can. Such a stunning place. Really, really loved staying in Canmore. We can't say enough nice things about that town.

Rockville, MD
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7. Re: 12 days in Banff - Jasper. April or July?

Hi Turks--Two weeks was just about enough for us, especially the way we broke it up. We were in Banff 5 nights, Jasper 3 nights, Lake Louise 3 nights, and Calgary the last night. We thought 5 nights might be too much for Banff, but it was a great base for day trips to Bow Valley Parkway, Lake Minnewanka, and Kootenay National Park. We also did all the local highlights in/near Banff (Bow Falls, Surprise Corner, Sulphur Mountain Gondola, Mt. Norquay Rd., Tunnel Mountain Rd. to hoodoos) plus my husband took a 2-hour trail ride from Banff. Three nights was also enough for the Jasper highlights on our list (Athabasca Falls, Mt. Edith Cavell, Patricia and Pyramid Lakes, Maligne Canyon and Maligne Lake, Medicine Lake). On the way from Banff to Jasper we stopped at a few viewpoints on the Icefields Parkway and also did the short hike to Mistaya Canyon and the Columbia Icefield Glacier tour. On the way from Jasper to Lake Louise via the Icefields Parkway we stopped at Sunwapta Falls and Bow Summit/Peyto Lake. Three nights were also enough for Lake Louise, which as a village and lake were disappointing. We spent more time at Moraine Lake and also took a day trip to Yoho National Park, with stops at Natural Bridge, Emerald Lake (2-hour hike), and Takakkaw (spelling?) Falls. I was really tired by the end of the trip. Someone with higher fitness level capable of doing longer hikes (we did not do any longer than 2.5 hours) and/or who wanted to do activities such as canoeing and tubing might need more time in these places.

wisconsin
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8. Re: 12 days in Banff - Jasper. April or July?

We did some really long hikes, but still thought we were there long enough, too. I do want to go back some day, though. I enjoyed the Colorado Rockies, but the Canadian Rockies were even bigger and better, especially with all that water color. I'm not too much into repeating trips because there are so many things to do and see in the U.S. and other countries, but this is one trip I wouldn't mind repeating.

Rockville, MD
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9. Re: 12 days in Banff - Jasper. April or July?

I agree--this was one trip that is worth repeating. I hope we can go back before we are too old to hike!

wisconsin
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10. Re: 12 days in Banff - Jasper. April or July?

Oh LOL. Sorry to laugh, but that was funny. You should have seen me for about 6 months before our trip. I had gone to a physical therapist so I could get my hips in shape for this trip. I absolutely love to hike, but I was worried about my right hip in particular, so I faithfully did my PT exercises every day. They only took me about 10 minutes. My hips gave me no problems whatsoever, even on the 10 mile hikes! Stay in shape, keep walking, and you'll be able to hike. I saw a lot of people on trails that appeared to be at least in their 70's and 80's. Gave me inspiration.