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Best time in Sept.

Orlando, Florida
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Best time in Sept.

We are planning 10 days in the Canadian Rockies in September. We're trying to decide the best time to go for hiking, photography and golf. Our choices are Sept. 8th-18th or Sept 13th-23rd. I know a week probably won't make a lot of difference, but would still like some opinions. BTW....We don't like crowds, so that's why summer is out. We don't mind hiking in cool weather but I've read after mid-Sept. can be iffy. Any thoughts?

Also, we want to shoot for 3 parks. We are definitely planning on 3 full days in Yoho/Lake Louise (including a day hiking Lake O'hara), and 3 full days in Banff. Aside from that, should we spend 3 days in Jasper, or skip Jasper and head to Waterton?

Any advice would be most helpful! Thanks,

Zvia

Calgary, Canada
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1. Re: Best time in Sept.

I'd go with the earlier week, myself, just because I think there is a slight chance that it might be warmer. But we have some lovely Indian summers here; even in early October the weather can be very nice. Of course, coming from Florida, your definition of "very nice" may not include a sunny day with a high of 10C (50F). And of course miserable weather - even snow - is a possibility on any given day in the mountains, even in July or August.

I don't know your definition of "crowds". I've heard that, compared to popular US national parks, the Canadian Rockies are not crowded. But even in the height of summer, all you need to do to avoid crowds is to avoid Banff Avenue and visit some of the most popular places (Lake Louise lakeshore, Johnston Canyon lower falls) before 10 am or after 3 pm. And once you're more than 100m from a parking lot, you've left the vast majority of park visitors behind you.

I'd suggest Jasper for your third park, because then you will be able to spend a whole day driving the Icefields Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper, taking your time to enjoy the scenery, take some short hikes, and of course do some photography. The drive to Waterton via Hwy 40 (Kananaskis Trail) and Hwy 22 (Cowboy Trail) is scenic (- see Google Map http://g.co/maps/qqykk . Driving to Waterton via Hwy 2 is faster but boring. But the Icefields Parkway is jaw-dropping. And it may be your last chance to do the Icefields Parkway before construction starts on the recently-approved Glacier Discovery Walk. (Calgary Herald article: http://goo.gl/SfcBl )

Edited: 12 February 2012, 15:12
Orlando, Florida
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2. Re: Best time in Sept.

Thanks for your response. Although I've lived in FL for more than 25 years, I was born and raised in Ireland, so 50's and sunny is what I consider perfect hiking weather. After doing more research, I understand that the best fall color (mostly yellow Larches) is primarily toward the end of September. But we don't want to leave it too late because my husband really wants to golf.

I think we'll do Jasper for the reason you pointed out....the Icefields Parkway!

Thanks so much,

Zvia

Calgary, Canada
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3. Re: Best time in Sept.

You may already know this, but some of the most popular hiking trails for larches (e.g. Larch Valley) may have the "tight group of four" restriction in place when you are there, as the bears move into those areas to feed on berries. Be prepared to wait at the trailhead for a bit in order to join up with other hikers to make a safe group.

Plug the word "larch" into the forum search box (just above your first post on this page) and you should find out more about when the larches change colour, and more details on the "group of four" policy.

Orlando, Florida
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4. Re: Best time in Sept.

Do you know if there are usually bear restrictions at Lake O'Hara, the Iceline Trail or Plain of 6 Glaciers?

Calgary, Canada
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5. Re: Best time in Sept.

If I recall correctly, the areas that usually have this restriction are Larch, Consolation, and Paradise Valleys. Also, for the first time last year, hikers doing the longer trails around Lake Minnewanka (not just the shoreline stroll) were required to be in a tight group of four *and* one of the group members had to have bear spray. Bear spray has never been a requirement for hiking in Banff National Park before.

Of course, bear activity is unpredictable, and any trail may be affected. You can look at the online trail report for current information: www.pc.gc.ca/apps/tcond/cond_e.asp…

If you're planning to do Lake O'Hara, be prepared to phone for a reservation for the bus *exactly* three calendar months in advance: www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/bc/yoho/activ/ohara/a.aspx

Edited: 13 February 2012, 02:54
Kamloops, Canada
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6. Re: Best time in Sept.

I would choose the earlier time frame. Elk mating will be prime and the sounds of the boys bugling is very intense. Weather is great then too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYzWmKlZtrU

7. Re: Best time in Sept.

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