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Where should we stay between Banff and Jasper? How long?

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Where should we stay between Banff and Jasper? How long?

Hi. We're going to be between calgary and jasper Aug 20 - 28th. We fly in late, so we plan to spend 2 nights in Calgary. Then we've booked the 22nd in Canmore and the 23rd in Lake Louise. Then the last night of the trip, the 27th, we're back in Calgary again.

So, does anyone have any recommendations for the 3 nights remaining? We'd like to drive up to Jasper during those 3 days. A couple possibilities would be to stay another night in Lake Louise, then stay either in Jasper 2 nights or somewhere in between. Or we could stay a night in Banff or another in Canmore on the way back to Calgary?

We're not really sure what the best plan is; we know we want to spend some time around Banff and Lake Louise, but we're not sure how much time we need. Also, we'd like to drive to Jasper, but once again, how much time should we spend? Do you recommend sleeping in Jasper? Somewhere on the Icefields highway? Or just do the highway as a day-trip? I know we want to do a glacier hike at some point in there, too, which we'd do at some point between banff and jasper.

Also, any recommendations on which glacier hike is the most interesting? There's a Columbia Icefields Glacier (bus?) tour for $38 departing 2 hrs north of banff, a Mount Edith Cavell Glacier tour for $60 from jasper, a Maligne Canyon Ice Walk for $50 from jasper, or an Ice Walk (Ice Cubed or IceWalk Deluxe) $55-65 from Columbia Icefield (1.5 hours south of jasper).

Thanks for your help!!

Calgary, Canada
Destination Expert
for Calgary
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25,588 posts
86 reviews
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1. Re: Where should we stay between Banff and Jasper? How long?

It's a four-hour drive from Lake Louise to Jasper on the magnificently scenic Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93). Most people plan to spend the whole day driving this road, so as to enjoy all the scenic viewpoints along the way. Fuel first before leaving Lake Louise/Jasper, and get a boxed lunch; both food and fuel are in very short supply on the Icefields Parkway.

Also in short supply on the Icefields Parkway is accommodation; there are only 4 places (aside from campgrounds) to spend the night along the parkway, and only two of them are near the halfway point (The Crossing Resort and Icefields Chalet). (The other two spots are Sunwapta Resort, which is about 40 minutes from Jasper, and Simpson's Num-ti-Jah Lodge, which is about 30 minutes from Lake Louise. Check the TripAdvisor Reviews before you plan your stay; all four are fairly unique properties, and the word "resort" is used quite loosely in Canada.

The decision on whether to go to Jasper or not depends on how much time you want to spend driving in order to get there & return; if you want a more relaxed holiday, you may wish to skip Jasper, but on the other hand, it is definitely worth seeing if you are more of the "road warrior" type.

The Columbia Icefields Glacier trip departing from Banff is, in fact, a bus tour to take you to the glacier. You can also ride a special bus onto the glacier itself: http://www.columbiaicefield.com

I'm not aware of any glacier walks at Mount Edith Cavell, but perhaps Jasper expert Krp329 knows more about this? The Maligne Canyon icewalk is a seasonal activity; it is only possible in the winter. I have, however, heard many people say that they really enjoyed the icewalks offered at the Columbia Icefield. Whatever you end up doing, please remember that it is *extremely dangerous* to take an *unguided* walk on a glacier; visitors have died doing this several times in the past.

Jasper, Canada
Destination Expert
for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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18,669 posts
107 reviews
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2. Re: Where should we stay between Banff and Jasper? How long?

The Cavell walk is a guided hike to Cavell Meadows, which has a stunning view of the Angel Glacier from across the valley. This glacier is not accessible unless you are a mountain climber. This is a very popular hike in the area and a guide is not necessary, unless you want the information/education part of the experience (or transportation to the trailhead, if you do not have a vehicle or are nervous about driving the Cavell road) - you can learn a lot about the natural history of the area, flora & fauna etc. that will help you better appreciate and understand what you are seeing.

The Maligne Canyon IceWalk is only available in the wintertime. There is no ice there in the summer; it's all melted now - come back in January for that.

The Brewster Sno-Coach tour takes you up on the Athabasca Glacier in a large bus equipped with special tires, and lets you out at a safe place on the glacier to enjoy the view.

As far as I know, the only true glacier hike is the Ice Walk - they equip you with all the necessary mountaineering equipment (crampons, harness & rope etc.) to ensure your safety, and take you for a guided hike on the glacier. I have never done this, but hear it is a very worthwhile experience, and that you will learn about and get to see many glacial features (crevasses, millwells etc.) I would imagine you need to be reasonably physically fit for this, as it is a couple of hours' hike at a fairly high elevation, with some uphill hiking.

The distance between Jasper and Lake Louise/Banff is such that I would not recommend it as a day trip. You can either stay at Banff/Canmore/Lake Louise and go as far as the Columbia Icefields as a day trip, or go all the way to Jasper and stay overnight.

I assume you have a vehicle. In my opinion, it's not really necessary to change accommodations between Canmore and Lake Louise, unless you have a specific reason for doing this. They are close enough together that you can visit both from a base at one; the drive between them is scenic. (This is also based on my own preference for as few transfers as possible when I am on holiday.) Accommodation in Lake Louise is limited (and more expensive) and there is not a lot there for shopping, restaurants etc., so many people choose to base themselves in Banff or Canmore for access to more amenities, and because there is more accommodation in a wider price range there. Lake Louise is popular for avid hikers because of proximity to trails. Field, BC is even smaller than Lake Louise.

I would suggest an itinerary such as:

Aug 20 & 21: Calgary

Aug. 22-24 (3 nts): Camore/Banff/Lake Louise or Field as a base & tour Banff/Yoho/Kootenay NPs as desired.

Aug. 25-26 (2 nts): Jasper

Aug.27: Calgary

I would suggest making accommodation reservations for Jasper as soon as possible, especially if you want to book a more economical private home accommodation (www.stayinjasper.com) rather than a hotel (www.jaspercanadianrockies.com).

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3. Re: Where should we stay between Banff and Jasper? How long?

Wow! Thank you both for the recommendations on the itinerary and glacier walks. I think we'll probably spend 2 nights in Jasper if we can find a place at a reasonable price. If not, then we'll probably just spend one night there and base the other nights out of Canmore and/or Lake Louise. And thanks for the clarification on the walks... we'd actually like to walk on the glacier, so I think we're going to do the icewalk (the short one). We'll let you know what we decide once we get everything booked... and later I'll also post my opinion of the icewalk (assuming we do it)!

Thanks so much!

Banff, Canada
Destination Expert
for Banff, Lake Louise
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2,950 posts
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4. Re: Where should we stay between Banff and Jasper? How long?

Definatley stay in Banff for a night or two... it has a hub of things to do, offers great dining, scenic views, and you'll definatley be able to find reasonably priced accomodation...

try the Arrow Motel, Driftwood Inn, Banff Boutique Inn, Red Carpet Inn, or Irwins Mountain Inn

Banff Lake Louise

5. Re: Where should we stay between Banff and Jasper? How long?

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