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HELP: 10-day Itinerary for Jasper, Banff, Area

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HELP: 10-day Itinerary for Jasper, Banff, Area

At the last minute, we have 2 travel days plus ten full days in the last 2 weeks of August; in/out of Calgary. Two adults in decent shape; two kids (10 and 8). We enjoy eEasy to moderate hikes (no more than 1/2-day); swimming (pools, hotels, hot springs(?)); rafting, horseback riding; biking (day rentals), exploring -- basically, enjoying the outdoors but not like we're on Survivor. Will have a car. Hotels/Inns, but not camping. Prefer to have 2-3 nights in a place rather than to move more frequently. Is there a recommended route that might get Glacier, AB, Banff and Jasper? Should we skip Glacier and focus on Banff, Jasper and the sites on Rt. 93? I've never posted a question like this before, though I'm a frequent reviewer when I travel. People seem to be so full of great ideas and eagerness to help that I thought I'd give it a try. Thanks in advance!

Jasper, Canada
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1. Re: HELP: 10-day Itinerary for Jasper, Banff, Area

Hi and welcome to the forum! My first recommendation would be to read some of the trip reports linked in the second of the "Top Questions" at the top right of your screen,since they will go a long way to answering many of your questions. Is it the Canadian Glacier NP to which you refer (in BC)? If so, you could certainly add it in, perhaps with a few days based in Revelstoke. However, Banff and Jasper do have enough to keep you busy for a lot more than ten days, so if you are wanting to minimize car time in favour of more "doing" time, you could also just concentrate on the Canadian Rockies national parks (Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay.... Waterton is also in the Rockies, but again, would add to driving time.)

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2. Re: HELP: 10-day Itinerary for Jasper, Banff, Area

Thank you. Have spent the last few hours reading trip reviews. Quite helpful. Seems like the biggest constraint will be accommodations on such short notice. Also seems like it doesn't really matter whether we stay in Banff or Canmore (true?). Lake Louise could be a separate 2-night destination (true?); no need to overnight on the Icefields Highway since we could (a) take day-trips from Jasper or LL and avoid a marathon day (our experience with our kids, who are great travelers, is that is still takes us 50% longer to do things than it takes solo or adult travelers); and (b) do part of it heading North and the rest on the return to Banff/Calgary prior to our departure.

Am thinking: Day 1 travel to Calgary and Banff; 2, 3, 4 and 5 in Banff/Yoho; 6 and 7 in LL; 8 en route to Jasper; 9, 10, 11, 12 in Jasper and environs; 13 leisurely back to Banff; Day 14 is travel from Banff to Calgary and return to East Coast U.S. It is 12 travel days, but I think we can make that work. Accommodations are the real concern.

Feedback? THANKS!

Woodbridge, Ontario
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3. Re: HELP: 10-day Itinerary for Jasper, Banff, Area

Hi just got back from a trip including Lake Louise, Jasper, Banff, Calgary - I would agree with your concentration on time spent in Banff/Yoho and Jasper. the two evenings in LL should be sufficient. Do see Maligne Canyon / Medicine Lake (Jasper) and Johnston Canyon (Banff) and Athabasca Falls either going to or coming from Jasper.

Woodbridge, Ontario
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4. Re: HELP: 10-day Itinerary for Jasper, Banff, Area

Re: staying in Banff or Canmore - can't make a suggestion, other than depends on the activities you wish to do and from where they are more accessible. The visit at the Icefields could be a stopover either on the way to or from Jasper.

Banff, Canada
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5. Re: HELP: 10-day Itinerary for Jasper, Banff, Area

So, with 10 days:

Day 1 – arriving in Banff and enjoy the town of Banff. Settle in, stroll on the Bow River and if you have time you might fit in the Banff Gondola. The evening is a wonderful time to go – it’s more quiet around dinner time.

Day 2 – a day in Banff. Walk to Bow Falls and the Banff Springs Hotel. Get in your car and take a drive to Lake Minnewanka for some of the best views of Banff. Don’t miss stopping at Cascade Ponds, Johnson Lake, Two Jack Lake Viewpoint, Lower Bankhead historic sight. This area has some wonderful short walks. I’d recommend taking an hour each to enjoy Johnson Lake and Lower Bankhead. I would also highly recommend the Lake Minnewanka Boat Cruise.

http://www.explorerockies.com/minnewanka/

Day 3 – ½ Day for the “Best of Banff” in your car: enjoy a drive to Surprise Corner Viewpoint, Hoodoos Viewpoint, Vermillion Lakes Viewpoint and Mount Norqay Viewpoint. Pick up a map at the Banff Information Centre. ½ day for an activity: Go for a hike (Tunnel Mountain is a must), rent a canoe or take a tour. I’d highly recommend a Nature Float with Canadian Rockies Rafting.

http://www.rafting.ca/float.htm

Day 4 – check out of your hotel, get them to pack you a picnic. I’d recommend spending this day enjoying Yoho National Park and ending your day at your hotel in Lake Louise. In Yoho, enjoy Natural Bridge, Emerald Lake and Takakkaw Falls. At Emerald Lake you can enjoy a scenic flat walk around the lake – it’s one of the few “flat” walks in our area. It only takes 1.5 hours. You can also rent a canoe, stroll, relax, go for ice cream or have a gourmet meal at the lodge. It’s also a great spot to enjoy your picnic. Take a drive up to Takakkaw Falls to enjoy this incredible waterfall. Check in to your hotel in Lake Louise.

Day 5 – enjoy one full day in Lake Louise. You can enjoy a trip up the Lake Louise Gondola and visit Moraine Lake. It’s also one of the best hiking regions in the National Park. If you like to hike, this is the one place to budget a half day or a full day for walking.

http://www.lakelouisegondola.com/

If you want – you can also do none of these things, enjoy your hotel, the view, a meal, a canoe and a stroll on the lake. The Chateau is amazing, it’s a nice place to relax and take it all in. I would recommend going to visit Moraine Lake either very early in the morning or very late in the evening. It’s an easy 20 minute drive from the Chateau Lake Louise.

Day 6 – start your day early and enjoy your drive on the Icefields Parkway. Take a tour of the glaciers at the Columbia Icefields Glacier Centre. If you wanted to do something really special, you can take a helicopter tour in this area. Book ahead with Icefields Heli – a once in a lifetime experience. End your day in Jasper.

http://www.icefieldheli.com/

Day 7 – Jasper

Day 8 – Jasper

Day 9 – ½ day Jasper and drive back on the Icefields Parkway. If you want to stay some place very special on this night try Storm Mountain Lodge or Baker Creek Lodge.

http://www.stormmountainlodge.com/ OR http://www.bakercreek.com/

Day 10 – drive to Calgary and fly home.

Jasper, Canada
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6. Re: HELP: 10-day Itinerary for Jasper, Banff, Area

I don't think you should have any trouble finding accommodation now, almost three months ahead of your visit. If you are looking for accommodation at some of the smaller properties, or ones more in demand, you may not get your first or second choices, but the national parks are not all booked up yet for the end of August.

Whether to stay in Lake Louise is a matter of choice since you can easily visit it as a day trip from Banff or Canmore - accommodations are more expensive in LL due to the high demand and limited supply... most are so-so motels down in the "village" by the highway, not at the lake. If you want to be at/near the lake, you will pay a huge premium for that. But yes, it could also be a separate stay, especially if you plan on hiking there. You may find the family rooms at the HI Alpine Centre hostel to be the best bet if the hotel rates put you off. By the way, Yoho is closer to LL than to Banff... and also, be sure to drive the Bow Valley Parkway at least once; although it adds a few minutes to your driving time, it's a much more relaxing drive and good chances of spotting wildlife. There are a number of pull-outs with interpretive signage... if you drive it more than once, you can stop at a couple of these each time.

Choosing between Banff and Canmore is also a matter of personal preference. Canmore is a nice town but is not quite as compact and walkable as Banff, and is not smack in the middle of the national park like Banff is, so it adds a bit of extra driving time. But it's not the towns that are the real attraction anyway.

In Jasper, you may want to consider "private home accommodation" - you can get a room or suite in a resident's home for much less than the cost of a hotel room. Many are private and self-contained units. www.stayinjasper.com Otherwise, you'll find the hotels, hostels and cabins at www.jasper.travel and for Banff and LL, all options are listed at www.banfflakelouise.com .

Your itinerary looks good ... it's a bit longer than I thought you had. The trips up and down the parkway can be broken up with walks/hikes and visiting the various viewpoints ... think of them less as travel days and more as scenic drives. :) Pack a picnic lunch, since food services are few and far between, often crowded with tour buses, and expensive.

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7. Re: HELP: 10-day Itinerary for Jasper, Banff, Area

Wanted to thank everyone for the guidance. Our trip is extended to two weeks, arriving in Canmore on August 4 for 6 nights, then up to Jasper for 4 nights, then back to Canmore for 4 more nights before heading back home through Calgary. Chose Canmore in order to have more space (sizeable condo vs. hotel), access to the new community swim center (key for the kids), proximity to so many outdoor activities, and easy access to Banff/LL/Yoho in our rental car. Four nights in Jasper in a cottage at Patricia Lake; then back to Canmore for 4 more nights. This way we get two shots at the Icefields Parkway as well.

"Things To Do" section is full of great ideas, but if anyone has some hidden gems, must-dos, or strong recommendations, please let me know. We are hoping to do some horseback riding, canoeing, rafting (Level 2), biking, arts & crafts.

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8. Re: HELP: 10-day Itinerary for Jasper, Banff, Area

We are planning on staying in Canmore for 5 days Sept. 9-14. I heard there is a marathon in Canmore on Sept. 7. Will that interfere with our stay? Has anyone heard of the Nam Ti Jah Lodge?? We have two more nights to find a place to stay. Did look at the Post Hotel too.

I have copied down some of these suggestions which will be so helpful on our first trip to Alberta. I hear Lake Moraine is beautiful. We plan to picnic for some of our lunches. Are the picnic places easy to find?

Thanks

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9. Re: HELP: 10-day Itinerary for Jasper, Banff, Area

Cookiedeaux, since every TripAdvisor member is different, and every travel plan is unique, we find that the TA forums work best if you post your own questions under a new thread, using the "Ask A Question" button, rather than posting them on an old thread. This means that your thread, with its own title (example: "Canmore & Banff, 5 days in Sept") will be more likely to attract the eye and get more replies than an old thread about a family of 4 visiting at the end of August.

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10. Re: HELP: 10-day Itinerary for Jasper, Banff, Area

It's actually a half-marathon, as well as a 10 km and 5 km run. Since you won't be arriving until two days later, it won't affect you at all. Here is the website, for anyone else who may have questions about it: canmorehalfmarathon.ca/location--start-times

Num-ti-jah Lodge is located at Bow Lake, about 35 or 40 km north of Lake Louise on the Icefields Parkway (highway #93N). http://www.sntj.ca/ They advertise "rest and relaxation, and a digital detox of sorts". Because of their remote location, there are no TVs or phones in the rooms, and I am pretty sure there is also no internet access.

Picnic sites are marked on the maps in the informative booklet Parks Canada will give you when you pay your entry fee into the parks. You can also access the Icefields Parkway map online - open the pdf link at the bottom of this page to get a higher resolution one you can easily read: pc.gc.ca/eng/…Parkway.aspx

If you have further questions, it would be to start your own thread using the "ask a question" button, since your holiday is different in timing from what the OP (original poster) is planning, and they will probably be getting notifications of responses to your post rather than their own.

(On edit: Seems like Country_Wife and I were "simul-posting".)

Edited: 9:19 pm, July 12, 2014