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Itinerary issues... Just can't decide!!

Ireland
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26 posts
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Itinerary issues... Just can't decide!!

Hi all,

My boyfriend and I have decided on the Rockies & Vancouver as this year’s holiday destination. I am trying to come up with an itinerary that balances hiking and sight seeing with chill out time.

I have read and re-read many of the posts on this forum and the reviews of activities and hotels and the result is as follows:

Fly into Calgary on 29th September at 14.30pm, pick up car rental and drive to Banff or Lake Louise

Night 1: Banff/ LL

Night 2: Banff/ LL

Night 3: Banff/ LL

Night 4: Banff/ LL

Drive to Jasper via Ice fields Parkway

Night 5: Jasper

Night 6: Jasper

Night 7: Jasper

Night 8: Jasper

Drive to Whistler

Night 9: Whistler

Drive to Vancouver

Night 10: Vancouver

Night 11: Vancouver

Night 12: Vancouver

Night 13: Vancouver

Drop back rental car and fly back to Ireland on 12th October.

Ok, here's the questions bit:

We are not too keen on doing too much stop starting, meaning staying one night in a place and then packing up the next day to move on (although obviously this is inevitable when getting from Jasper to Vancouver). We prefer basing ourselves in one location and taking day trips.

My question is; is it *worth* taking in Jasper, or would we be better doing the Ice fields Parkway in a day trip from Banff/ LL and extending our stay in Banff/LL area before travelling to Vancouver via the Okanagan wine lands. (I put worth in between ** because I’m sure Jasper has many beautiful landscapes and mountains and I’m not dismissing it – but will staying there add something more to the trip that is not in Banff/LL?)

Having said that, I was bowled away by some of the scenery shown on the rocky mountaineer website (we were considering taking this but it’s just out of our price league) but will you see this scenery if you drive from Jasper to Vancouver.

We are both scout leaders, so would be fairly adventurous and we are looking to get some good hiking time in, but we also enjoy good wine and good food.

This leads me to my next question. I am finding it hard to choose a place to stay in Banff and Jasper (if we get there!). I am obviously taken by the Fairmount’s in both Banff and LL, but they are very pricy. I like the look of the Fox and Brewsters (although that doesn’t seem to have gotten very good reviews on TA). Really, does anyone have a recommendation for a slightly upmarket hotel that is close to restaurants and downtown area. In Jasper however, the hotel choice seems to be quite limited with very few near downtown. I have never stayed in a log cabin/ bungalow resort, are there restaurant choices available in these?

So basically any thoughts on an authentic Rockies trip with as little moving about as possible would be most gratefully appreciated!!

Kind Regards,

Ciara

Alberta,Canada
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567 posts
20 reviews
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1. Re: Itinerary issues... Just can't decide!!

Ciara,

Wow it sounds like you will have a terrific vacation!

Here are my comments on your questions:

1) I would recommend sticking with Banff/LL/Icefields area on this trip. Do LL/Icefields as a day trip from Banff. Spend some time walking around the Chateau Lake Louise - it is BEAUTIFUL. The tour out onto the Glacier is a once in a lifetime experience as well.

2) Having said that - here is another suggestion. If your flights are not locked in yet - consider flying into Edmonton and stopping into Jasper (4 hrs west of Edmonton) overnight on your way to Banff.

3) Jasper is different than Banff - not so commercialized. Jasper is relatively small so even though the hotels don't look like they are close to downtown, it is a short walk. There are 11 lakes within a 3 km walk of Jasper which is kind of cool!

4) The drive from Banff to Vancouver will take about 10 hours if you drive straight through. I would recommend stopping for a night or two in the Okanogan area to get a "taste" of Canada's wine country. A stop in Kelowna would probably work well as it is close to many Vineyards and there is a route that connects you with the Coquahola (sp) that takes you into Vancouver.

5) Hotels in Banff are generally of high quality because of the volume of tourists (tourists = $$ to keep the place looking good). Douglas Fir Resort might be a good choice for you

since it has cabins on the mountainside, lots of trails to hike with beautiful views and is only a 4 minute drive into the townsite.

Good luck with your planning!

Calgary, Canada
Destination Expert
for Waterton Lakes National Park, Nelson
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2,681 posts
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2. Re: Itinerary issues... Just can't decide!!

Hi,

I had a couple of other suggestions, in case things aren't already confusing enough!

If you won't be spending 5 nights in Jasper, you might want to consider heading south to Waterton Lakes National Park for 2 or 3 days of your vacation. Very quiet park, with lots of great hiking trails.

If travelling to the Okanagan, I would recommend you get there via Nelson, BC and spend one day/night there en route. Nelson is a fabulous, friendly little town with a lot of great shops and pubs.

Finally, with 5 days allotted for Vancouver you certainly have time to visit Vancouver Island for a couple of days as well.

One other thing! The drive from Jasper to Kamloops on hwy #5 is a nice scenic drive, but not "as" scenic IMO as the Banff/Vancouver drive on the #1 highway. I do, however, enjoy travelling on the #5 hwy, because it is a lot less busy highway than the #1 is. With the amount of time you have for your vacation, you certainly have time do drive the "old" section of the #1 as well. What I mean by that is that there is a new cut-off highway, called the Coquihalla that runs from just west of Kamloops to Hope. It is a much faster route to Vancouver, but it's heavily travelled and is not nearly as scenic as the old #1 highway from Kamloops to Hope, IMO. The #1 route from Kamloops to Hope is definitely a slower route, but the highway is much less crowded than the Coquihalla and it really is a beautifully scenic route.

You can find lots of photos on my private web travel pages, if you're interested here's the link:

http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/m/adecc/

You can see pictures of Banff, Waterton Lakes, Nelson, Kamloops, etc. It might help you decide which spots you'd like to see.

HTH

Kimberley, Canada
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290 posts
35 reviews
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3. Re: Itinerary issues... Just can't decide!!

goto www.kootenayrockies.com + "places to see" + circle tours + "mountain @ vineyards". Leave Banff and head to Radium Hot Springs (see hot springs link too). Follow loop down west side of Rockies (to Cranbrook) then east through to Rock Creek (consider taking the world's longest free ferry ride by heading to Kootenay Bay -vs. over the Salmo Creston Pass - the highest mountain pass road in North America open year round - to Balfour to Nelson). Get off this tour at Kelowna and head to Vancouver over Coqulihalla toll highway.

Website packed with tons of info and photos - "pretty site" that is definitely worth your time and consideration. . there is "another side" to the rockies.

+ check out www.janicestrong.com for "interesting" hiking book.

Calgary, Canada
Destination Expert
for Waterton Lakes National Park, Nelson
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2,681 posts
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4. Re: Itinerary issues... Just can't decide!!

One other possible route suggestion for the Okanagan (vs the Radium to Cranbrook route suggested above) would be to travel #1 highway from Banff to Revelstoke, then take the ferry south of Revelstoke at Galena Bay, to Nelson.

Jasper, Canada
Destination Expert
for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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18,669 posts
107 reviews
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5. Re: Itinerary issues... Just can't decide!!

Just wanted to mention, in regards to your dates & hiking possibilities. You are coming to the Rockies at the end of September and into October, and depending on how the weather has been, hiking in the subalpine & alpine may be pretty much over for the year on some trails. Usually by mid to late September, the trails above five or six thousand feet will have had snow/ice, and conditions will depend on how much snow/rain there has been, slope aspect etc. It's a good idea to ask about current trail conditions at the Parks Canada trail offices.

There is also plenty of hiking to be had at lower elevations, although it tends to be more forested and less scenic - or at least, scenic in a different way.

By the way, Jasper is a very small town - about two miles long from one end to the other & with downtown right smack in the middle... so while many of the hotels are not downtown, they are only a twenty minute walk from downtown.

Some of the cabin/bungalow places have a restaurant - near Jasper, the following - Becker's, Tekarra Lodge, Pyramid Lake resort & Jasper House - all have one onsite.

Regina - Canada
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300 posts
128 reviews
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6. Re: Itinerary issues... Just can't decide!!

Hi Ciara,

Here's my two cents.....

1. Banff and Jasper are both stunningly beautiful, but similar enough to each other that I would definitely replace two of those days with two in the Okanagen. This would provide you with a little different experience.

2. I agree with CampingGirl, that the most scenic highway is the #1 (Banff to Vancouver). The #5 (Jasper to Vancouver) is less crowded, and might be better if you were in a hurry, but I think the #1 would be my choice for a first time visit. And generally traffic in late September will be much lighter than July/August anyway.

3. I also agree with CampingGirl that you should take the #1 highway from Kamloops to Yale (the Fraser Canyon route), rather than the Coquihalla Highway (#5). The Coquihala is a much better, 4 lane road, but the Fraser Canyon provides some amazing scenery. (If you go via the Okanagen, this point is moot as you won't be going that direction anyway)

4. I wouldn't drive via Whistler. I would add an extra day in Vancouver, and do Whistler as a day trip. That way you can pick your day to visit Whistler based on the weather. It is about a 2 hour gorgeous drive (one way) from downtown Vancouver to Whistler. So you could easily go up and back in a day.

5. There are lots of lovely hiking spots on the way to Whistler between Vancouver and Squamish. This area is close to sea level, so late September/early October should still be good for hiking. Shannon Falls, just south of Squamish, is beautiful and makes for a great hike. If you wanted to do some of these hikes, you might drive to Whistler, stopping for hikes as you go, stay overnight in Whistler, then come back the next day, again hiking as you go.

6. There are lots of white water rafting options in the rockies (Golden and Revelstoke), though you may just miss the end of the season.

My suggested itinerary would be...

6 nights Banff/Lake Louise

Drive to Kelowna

2 nights Okanagen

Drive to Vancouver

5 nights Vancouver with a day trip to Whistler

As an option, you could drop two days from Vancouver and replace them with two days in Victoria and Vancouver Island. If you are interested in whale watching, there are Orca watching options from both Vancouver and Victoria.

To be honest, all of the options you are thinking of will provide will with a wonderful holiday/adventure. I envy you.

Good luck - have fun.

Joe

Edmonton
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453 posts
9 reviews
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7. Re: Itinerary issues... Just can't decide!!

I don't think you should discount Jasper, in my opinion there's as many beautiful natural attractions around Jasper as there is around Banff: Athabsca falls, Sunwapta falls, Pyramid & Patricia lakes up behind the town, Mt Edith Cavell sp?, Maligne Canyon & Maligne Lake. The drive from Banff to Jasper may be one of the most beautiful in the world, you could easily spend a whole day just making the drive & stopping at the many scenic viewpoints along the way. 4 nights in Jasper may be a little much, could probably get away with 3 (or 2 if you rushed around to see everything). The drive from Jasper to Kamloops is a lot less stressful than going thru Lake Louise/Golden/Revelstoke. It follows the valley floor for the most part while the Golden/Revelstoke route has some sections that are not for the faint of heart, it's also more heavily travelled by big trucks & can take forever to pass safely. Great time of year if haven't had an early snow, fall foliage should be at it's peak.

Cambridge, United...
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8. Re: Itinerary issues... Just can't decide!!

calgary zoo is well worth a visit

too much time in jasper but definitely go there so yo do the full bannf-japar route go on the athabasca glacier and stop at eh athabasca falls

id strip some time from jaspar and whistler and do one more stop - perhaps on vancouver island

London
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50 posts
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9. Re: Itinerary issues... Just can't decide!!

We were in the Rockies doing a fairly similar trip last September over 16 nights. Part of which was four nights in Lake Louise and 4 nights in Jasper before heading to Whistler via Kamloops (overnight) to Vancouver. Our favourite stop was Jasper and could have easily spent another night or two there, we are not really into long hikes but sounds like you are so you should have no trouble in filling the time there.

You really mustn't miss the Icefields Parkway Drive from Lake Louise to Jasper, it took us the whole day and even then had to go back to see some of the attractions nearer Jasper ie Athabasca and Sunwapta Falls as we ran out of time on our drive up there.

We stayed in cabins in both Lake Louise and Jasper, there were no on site eating facilities in either but it was just a short drive to restaurants, although there are a couple of cabin resorts at Jasper that do have their own restaurants.

Manchester, United...
Destination Expert
for Pollenca, Port de Pollenca
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10. Re: Itinerary issues... Just can't decide!!

Yes, I would INclude Jasper, but reduce the nights there to three.