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Banff and Jasper 7 day itinerary

Orlando, Florida
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Banff and Jasper 7 day itinerary

Hi all,

I know there are a bunch of questions like this on here, and I've reviewed a number of them, but I've had so much luck using TA forums for itinerary help in the past so I thought I'd stick with what works.

My wife and I are planning a trip to Banff and Jasper for end of August. It's a little last second, but it's tough for us to do it more in advance with our jobs. We will most likely fly in and out of Calgary, arriving mid-day Saturday and leaving the following Sunday. So we'll a full 7 days (Sunday through Saturday) to explore. Any help on overall plan like number of nights to stay each area (Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff) as well as specific things to do is greatly appreciated.

As for what we like to do - coming from Florida, part of it is just being in the mountains in general. We like taking pictures, so good overlooks, lakes, waterfalls, etc. are great. We probably won't be doing any serious hiking, but I do like getting out for smaller hikes up to 3 or 4 miles. So just relaxing, enjoying the outdoors, getting some good pictures, seeing wildlife where possible.

My initial thought is that we'd arrive that Saturday and make the drive through and up to Jasper. We should be able to leave the airport in Calgary around 1:30pm. I figure that allows us to drive and maybe make a couple of the really quick stops along the way. Google Maps says 5 hours drive, but I don't know how accurate it is. Hoping to take in a couple of the sights along that drive, get some pictures, and get up to our first stopping point in Jasper.

I know we'll want to check out the ice fields, whether an ice walk or the truck/bus option. And I will want to try one of the gondolas (or more if you recommend doing multiples of them).

So that's a basic overview. I don't want to write a novel, but happy to clarify anything I've left out. Any tips on amount of time in each place, what to visit from each location, etc?

Thanks in advance!

Toronto
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for Algonquin Provincial Park
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1. Re: Banff and Jasper 7 day itinerary

The Icefields Parkway, ie the stretch of Hwy 93 between Lake Louise and Jasper, is one of the world's best scenic drives, with lots of viewpoints, hiking trails and wildlife along the way. Although it's less than a 4 hour drive, you should really allow most of a day to do it in order to accommodate some of these stops. If you drive straight from YYC to Jasper after your afternoon arrival, you'll have to pretty much drive straight without stopping.

What I'm trying to say is that since you're going to spend some nights in the Banff/Lake Louise area anyway, why not make at least one of those nights your first one, so that you have a longer time to migrate north to Jasper. Of course, you'll be doing the Icefields Parkway again on the way back, but there is so much to see and do along the route that it's better to spread the stops between two trips. (The Columbia Icefields is one of these stops, roughly midway between LL and Jasper.)

Orlando, Florida
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2. Re: Banff and Jasper 7 day itinerary

Thanks for the reply. I had a couple of reasons for getting in and driving right up, though neither of them may be good reasons. :-)

The first reason was just to maximize our time. I didn't know if we'd have the time to do much around Banff if we stayed there the first night. So I thought driving all the way up would be a good use of our time. The other reason was just to minimize the changes in lodging. So like I said, maybe not great reasons.

If we left Calgary around 1:30 or 2 and just went to either Banff or LL, would that give us time to knock something off the checklist in either location that day still?

Also, are there many longer stops (like the Columbia Icefields) along the Parkway that we'd want to split those up to do some on way up and some on way back? Sorry for all the questions - just trying to plan a trip a little last second and haven't had time to do as much research as I usually do for our trips.

Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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3. Re: Banff and Jasper 7 day itinerary

Google maps is quite accurate on the driving time from Calgary to Jasper, perhaps just a little on the conservative side - the Icefields Parkway from LL to Jasper has a 90 km/hr speed limit, with a couple of slower areas, and inevitably, you get stuck in a line of traffic behind a slow moving RV ... no point in stressing about it; slower traffic means it's easier for the driver to enjoy the views!

In regards to which town first: Jasper or Banff ... it's basically "six of one or half a dozen of the other", as the saying goes. You do have time to drive right up to Jasper on your arrival day, and should be able to make a couple of stops on the way. Then you can make the rest of them on the way south to Banff a couple of days later. Some people do it this way, others choose to spend a day or two in Banff or Lake Louise, then up to Jasper, and then back down. The latter option would not be my preference; I like to avoid unnecessary hotel transfers. But if you choose that option (only as far as Banff on day 1), you would have time to do something with the rest of your day... there are a number of attractions in/near the townsite. You really can't lose either way.

I would suggest checking out the "Canadian Rockies" forum (a sub-forum of the Alberta one), and check out the "Top questions" at the top right of the webpage... the second in the list of TQs is a compilation of trip reports, which will give you lots of itinerary ideas, what to see and do etc.

Edited: 29 July 2013, 16:30
Orlando, Florida
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4. Re: Banff and Jasper 7 day itinerary

Thank you again. Regardless of the order, we were roughly looking at 3 nights in Jasper, 2 in LL, 3 in Banff. Does this sound like a good split for central location?

We may have to do shorter in Jasper or move things around because I haven't found much availability. I guess that's what you get when you have to plan trips kind of late.

Orlando, Florida
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5. Re: Banff and Jasper 7 day itinerary

I do have an additional question. We were thinking about doing the Columbia Icefield adventure during our drive from Jasper back down to LL. If we did that, we would have our bags with us in the trunk. Is that area prone to theft or are we pretty safe to leave things in the car while we do it? The other option would be to do it from either LL or Jasper and back. Figured it made more sense time wise to do it on the drive, but didn't want to get our stuff stolen either.

Thanks again for the help.

Greater Sydney...
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6. Re: Banff and Jasper 7 day itinerary

Do it on the drive. Your luggage will be perfectly safe, but usual precautions as for anywhere - do not leave things on display in the car.

Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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7. Re: Banff and Jasper 7 day itinerary

The parking lot at the Columbia Icefields visitor centre is a busy, wide-open parking lot where any attempt to break into parked cars would surely be noticed very quickly, I would suggest parking as close to the building (and near lots of other cars), for peace of mind, as much as anything else. Parking lot theft is not a big issue here ... can't say it "never" happens, but it tends to be the more isolated trailhead parking lots.

Orlando, Florida
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8. Re: Banff and Jasper 7 day itinerary

Thank you both! Very excited for the trip :-)

9. Re: Banff and Jasper 7 day itinerary

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