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Thread started 12 May 2012 (Saturday) 08:47
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Advice - Trip to Canadian Rockies, Banff

 
PG1
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Location: Australia & Nth America
     
May 12, 2012 08:47 |  #1

Hi Folks,

We (family, 2 kids) are planning a trip to the Canadian Rockies for the first time in July. We will have about 9 days or so and I was wondering about how to divide up the time between Banff, Lake Louise, Icefields Parkway, Jasper +/- Yoho national park and advice on where to stay along this route.

I have Darwin Wiggett's ebooks on this area but would appreciate any advice re where and how long to stay at the various locations, what to see/not miss, general advice, accommodation, etc.

Purpose of visit - enjoy the scenery, photography, kid friendly hikes...

Thank you very much.


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Jon ­ Clemens
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May 12, 2012 10:01 |  #2

I wasn't as impressed with Jasper, but Lake Moraine has to be on the list.


Canon 7D | 400L | 70-200L | 24-105L | Tokina 11-16
jonclemensphotography.​com

  
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thedge
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Location: Vancouver, BC
     
May 12, 2012 10:33 |  #3

My advice would be to spend more than nine days.... :) But I digress.

Camping or hotels? Either way, plan and prepare to be up EARLY. After sunrise there is a lot to see. Make sure you keep warm clothes for your kids on hand, it can cool down in the evenings.

If you like wildlife drive along the Bow Valley Parkway in the early mornings and late afternoon/early evenings. Youll see bears and a lot of other wildlife. There will be lots of other people seeing it too, creating wildlife roadblocks. So dont plan that road to get anywhere fast. Educate yourself and your kids on wildlife, all wildlife. Bears often arent the ones to worry about, unless they have cubs. Its amazing how many people are scared of bears but will walk close to a bull elk.

For hiking, Johnston Canyon is extremely nice and the first part is not strenuous. It is near Banff. Late afternoon light adds to it. Be warned this one is very popular, gets really busy in the first half the of day (park 200 meters down the road, on the grass type busy). I would not want to do it while its busy, the walkways are narrow and it would get crowded and harder to take pictures.

Moraine Lake Rockpile is a must for anyone with even slight interest in photography. Some good hikes around there.

There are some hikes around Lake Louise. The Lake Agnes and Beehive hikes are more moderate (some solid elevation gain, dont carry too much) but are worth it. The Teahouse is good for snacks and resting.

Plan a complete whole day for the Icefields Parkway, each direction. Youll be stopping often. There are many viewpoints. Athabasca Falls is a classic, there are some nice hikes and a good place for lunch at Sunwapta Falls. There are the glacier tours too, can go out on the glacier. I skipped this one myself but ive heard its good.


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sparker1
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May 12, 2012 11:47 |  #4

This is one of the most beautiful areas in North America, and I agree you would enjoy more than nine days. However, your personal preferences will determine how you split the time among the various parks. Our last visit, our fourth trip there, we spent four nights in Jasper and eight nights in Banff, visiting Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Yoho NP and Kootenay Np as day trips from Banff. Also, we spent time in Kananaskis Country (great scenery and wildlife, few people). Three and six might be a good split for you.

The Icefields Parkway (between the parks) is a gorgeous drive with lakes, glaciers, waterfalls and wildlife all along the way. Some of them deserve an early morning visit, which means separate visits, as opposed to a simple stop as you drive the parkway.

Jasper has numerous lakes, a beautiful downtown, a great lodge, Maligne Canyon, wonderful hiking and lots of wildlife on almost any road you drive (so drive all of them). If your kids swim, make sure they get to Horseshoe Lake. Edith Cavell Glacier is another must see. They will enjoy the gondola ride to the top of Whistler Mountain.

Banff is a great town, but often very crowded in summer. Drive the Bow River Parkway to visit Johnston Canyon (several waterfalls), Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Peyto Lake, Lake Herbert, Bow Lake, Waterfowl Lake and Vermilion Lakes (right in Banff) are all good morning spots. Vermilion Lakes is also where sunset is usually good. Drive the loop that goes by Lake Winnewanka, and several others. Visit Yoho and Kootenay if you have time and feel like another drive.

Check my pbase gallery for shots of most places. Link is below, scroll down to "Canada", then select Alberta. Let me know if you have specific questions.


Stan (See my gallery at http://www.pbase.com/s​parker1 (external link))

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PG1
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May 13, 2012 11:42 |  #5

Thank you all. That is helpful information. Do you recommend staying in Banff (2/3) and Jasper (1/3) and then making day trips to the various places? Or, is it too much to drive for day trips and stay for a few nights in between, say, Lake Louise area?


Too much gear, not enough skill or time!
5DIII, 6D & 7D; 16-35 L, 24-70 II L, 70-200 f/2.8 II L, 100-400 L, 135 L, 35 L, 24 TSE L, 50 1.4, 85 1.8
Extender 1.4 II. 580 EX. Gitzo 1541T, 3541LS, Markins Q3T, Q20.

  
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sparker1
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May 13, 2012 18:26 |  #6

I stay in Banff and make day trips to Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay.


Stan (See my gallery at http://www.pbase.com/s​parker1 (external link))

7D, 50D, 300D, EF-S 10-22 mm, EF-S 18-55 mm kit lens, EF 24-105 L IS, EF 50 mm 1.8, Sigma 150-500mm (Bigmos)

  
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pudgy_groundhog
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May 13, 2012 19:18 |  #7

Try to get a reservation for the bus to Lake O'Hara. That was our favorite spot accessible by day hiking (our favorite place is Assiniboine, but that is only accessible by backpacking, helicopter, or if you are a trail runner :P ). Lake Moraine, Lake Louise, etc are all the standard stops, but personally, I don't like the crowds (go early if you visit these spots, which I'm sure you will). The hikes that start at Lake Moraine Lake are excellent (Larch Valley, Sentinel Pass, Eiffel Lake, Wenkchemna Pass), but just know these ones require a group of four to hike (we've never had a problem hooking up with other hikers at the trailhead).

We are hikers/backpackers, so that was the focus of our trips there - the Patton and Robinson book was excellent for planning (among hikers it's considered the bible of the Canadian Rockies). I've also heard good things about "Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies" (that might not be the exact title, but it's close).

We love the Canadian Rockies - you'll have an awesome trip!


- Katherine
pictures from the pudge (external link)

  
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Unrising ­ Muffin
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May 13, 2012 21:08 |  #8

Hands down the best hiking / photo trip I did in the last decade!

Make sure to bring warm clothes, it gets super cold up the mountains (we had snow in July). Sunsets take forever, giving you lots of time to set your equipment properly. A lot of wild life and, unfortunately, lots of folks parking everywhere, even in middle of Hwy #1... idiots.

Anywho, we opted to stay in a B&B in Canmore (we had a blast chasing bunnies) and found it to be 2/3rd cheaper than any place in Banff.

We wanted the stunning drive so we drove from and back to Calgary. If you do the same, make sure to stop in Kananaskis... and Athabasca Glacier while you're at it (before it disapear).

Also, there are better alternatives to tourist traps *cough* Lake Louise *cough* ... make sure to stop at Moraine Lake and Lake Minnewanka, not as crowded and ten folds more spectacular. Hikes are easy and they have picnic areas, so kid friendly.

But if you really want to stick to tourist-crowded-places (Bow Valley in Banff, Johnston Canyon, etc), make sure you get there early: parking inevitably fills up quickly.

Jasper is far less touristic but on the up side, you get so much more wildlife sightings... Never seen so many bears, white tails, marmots and whatever else in my entire life. Great places to see as well, Maligne Canyon being one of them.

I wish I would have bought my 10-22 before this trip, the place is magnificent and its hard to capture such a grandiose and breathtaking place without the proper equipment.




  
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Advice - Trip to Canadian Rockies, Banff
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