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Where to go w/kid? Must start Calgary, end @ Banf 3 nights

new york
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Where to go w/kid? Must start Calgary, end @ Banf 3 nights

Late June trip, have to start at Calgary (coming in from New York). For various reasons, we have to end the trip at Banff for a meeting (3 nights). Would like to minimize long drives (3 hours max with a 7 year old in the car) and backtracking. We have about a week, more or less. Could go 9 days. Was thinking of spending first night after arrival in Calgary at Head Smashed In, then wandering north to Lake Louise for a night or two, then to Jasper, ,then back to Banff for our final three nights. How can I avoid Banff except for the last three nights? How can I avoid backtracking? Should I give up on Jasper and just do the area around Lake Louise and Banff, maybe Golden as well? We like to ride horses, do kid-friendly hikes (we have a 7 year old!), and would love to see a lot of wildlife. Will listen to all advice!

Thanks

Banff, Canada
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1. Re: Where to go w/kid? Must start Calgary, end @ Banf 3 nights

Hi emmalinesmom:

It's hard to completely avoid backtracking, unless you do something like Calgary-Edmonton-Jasper-Lake Louise-Banff, which I would not recommend. If you need to do a little backtracking to visit the really great spots, I hope that will work.

If I were coming here with a 7-year-old, I would go right after landing from Calgary to Drumheller, spend Night One there, and most of the next day at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, looking at all the wonderful dinosaur stuff.

At the end of the day, drive to Calgary and spend Night Two in the downtown. Spend most of the next day at the Calgary Zoo, and, when Junior is worn out, drive to Lake Louise and spend Nights Three, Four and Five there, going riding, hiking and touring during the day. Spend one of your days going up to the Columbia Icefield and back, taking in the great day hikes and viewpoints along the way plus the Icewalk at the glacier itself.

Head over to Yoho, and spend nights Six and Seven there, perhaps at Emerald Lake Lodge. Take in the great hikes, visit the waterfalls.

Then drive along the 1A/Bow Valley Parkway route to arrive in Banff for your meeting. Be sure to read the Family Travel page for Banff:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g154911-s401/Banff:Al…

for fun ideas for Junior.

Calgary, Canada
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2. Re: Where to go w/kid? Must start Calgary, end @ Banf 3 nights

Banff has some good suggestions.

If you want to go to Jasper, I wouldn't worry too much about backtracking to/from Banff--the scenery is great, and you get different vistas in each direction. A second pass will also allow you to make the stops you didn't have time for on the way and you may see different wildlife.

Banff, Canada
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3. Re: Where to go w/kid? Must start Calgary, end @ Banf 3 nights

jerm makes very good point about the Icefields Parkway. It looks quite different when you drive south to north vs north to south. And there is so much to see and do along the way that you could easily take a day in each direction.

new york
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4. Re: Where to go w/kid? Must start Calgary, end @ Banf 3 nights

Great ideas! I will stop worrying about backtracking. Our daughter is not that in the dinosaur thing, but I am. Maybe I could convince her. Is head smashed in not worth the detour? I admit the attraction was sleeping in a tipi. Are there guest ranches in Alberta or unusual accomodations anywhere? I was hoping to find an overnight horse trip to a lodge or tent camp.

I love the looks of Emerald Lake Lodge, but worry that it is not so kid-friendly (looks kind of like a place I want to spend a honeymoon....). Is there a grizzly bear refuge somewhere in Golden (guideboooks don't mention it, but I seem to have read it online somewhere).

Thanks!

Banff, Canada
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5. Re: Where to go w/kid? Must start Calgary, end @ Banf 3 nights

Googling "golden grizzly refuge" yielded this website:

www.kickinghorseresort.com/activities/bear/

Head Smashed In is a very interesting site, but I'm not sure it would appeal to a 7-year-old -- to really appreciate HSI, you need to be able to look at maps and diagrams, picture the land as it is and picture what was there before. Certainly sleeping in a tipi would be fun! But if I were picking just one non-national-park destination close to Calgary, it would be the Royal Tyrrell rather than HSI. I believe there are some ranch homes in the Drumheller area that do B&B, as well. And the landscape around Drumheller looks like something out of an old cowboy movie - very distinctive!

You can organize overnight horse trips out of Banff with Holiday on Horseback www.horseback.com and stay in either a lodge or a tent camp.

Emerald Lake is a beautiful place, with a lovely stoll around the lake itself and amazing hikes available all around. My kids loved it, but every child is different. A good alternative would be to spend that two days going up to Jasper, doing lots of hikes, wildlife watching and the Icefield stuff along the way.

Calgary, Canada
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6. Re: Where to go w/kid? Must start Calgary, end @ Banf 3 nights

One place that does tipi camping is Sundance Lodges, about 15 minutes off of highway 1 between Calgary and Banff. I haven't stayed there, so I can't comment on the place.

http://www.sundancelodges.com/

Calgary, Canada
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7. Re: Where to go w/kid? Must start Calgary, end @ Banf 3 nights

Here is an alternate route that no one has suggested - Enjoy the sights around the Calgary area, and then travel Calgary to Red Deer (or take the 22 via cochrane through Sundre and Caroline, prettier than the highway,) head west Through Sylvan Lake and Rocky Mountain House, Saskatchewan Crossing, and then North to Jasper, then head back South from Jasper on the Parkway through Lake Louise and to Banff.

The Corridor from Red Deer to Saskatchewan Crossing is beautiful, Abraham Lake is beautiful, the mine tour at Nordegg is great, and hardly anyone ever talks about it! You would see most of the regions of Alberta this way - prairie, parklands, foothills and mountains.

Be careful with your choice of horseback adventure, and email them in advance, as many do not allow children under 12, and some no kids at all. I had a heckuva time finding someone who would let me come riding with my 10 year old last summer. Found a nice ranch near Rocky Mountain House - see www.ridethewindranch.com

Banff, Canada
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8. Re: Where to go w/kid? Must start Calgary, end @ Banf 3 nights

These are some great suggestions!

When in Banff, some must-do's for little people:

Fenland Trail Interpretive Trail

Banff Park Museum - animals are fun

Cave and Basin (there's a cave!)

Float trip on the Bow

Boat ride on Lake Minnewanka

banfflakelouise

Calgary, Canada
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9. Re: Where to go w/kid? Must start Calgary, end @ Banf 3 nights

Another tipi camping option if you decide to head into Jasper via Calgary - Red Deer - Saskatchewan crossing - just north of Red Deer in Blackfalds:

http://www.agt.net/public/access/elkview.htm

Kimberley, Canada
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10. Re: Where to go w/kid? Must start Calgary, end @ Banf 3 nights

goto - www.kootenayrockies.com + Places to See link + Circle tour + Rockies and Ranchlands. Calgary through Ctowsnest - stop at Frank Slide - 2 hours from Calgary; then press on to either Fernie - one hour; or Cranbrook - two hours (four hour total gets you half way to Banff). Cranbrook has the "Canadian Museum of Rail Travel" + "Fort Steele Heritage Town" on the way to Banff with is 3.5 hours from Cranbrook. From Cranbrook to Banff you pass by two hot springs (basically right on the road) and one "Au Natural" that is 30 minute slow drive off the road at "Whiteswan Provincial Park" (if you go to any Hot Springs - oranges after "never taste better")

Guarantee you will see many deer + extremely likely to see Mountain Goat/Sheep at Radium Hot Springs on the highway, likley.

Website packed with info on coming through this way + no back tracking and drives that should give you a good chance at par :-).

Hikes ?? - spend $20+ and order Janice's Mountain Footsteps book - www.janicestrong.com. Book has easy to advanced hikes - can't go wrong if you come to our part of the World.

We absolutely love NYC!