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Banff, LL, and Lake Maligne gondolas

Tennessee
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Banff, LL, and Lake Maligne gondolas

Hello again,

Would it be wise to do all three or if not, which would you suggest? Also, what about walking to Agnes Lake? Would it be as quick when you think about parking and walking to and from the parking area? Thanks much.

Jasper, Canada
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1. Re: Banff, LL, and Lake Maligne gondolas

There is no gondola at Maligne Lake. There is a 90-minute boat cruise that takes you to Spirit Island. The gondola here in Jasper National Park is on a mountain called "The Whistlers" (referring to the call of a marmot), which overlooks the Athabasca and Miette valleys and Jasper townsite; it's about a ten or fifteen minute drive from Jasper townsite to the gondola's lower terminal.

Gondolas/tramways are rather expensive attractions so that is a limiting factor for many people (we get a lot of questions on these forums from people wanting to do one of the three and wanting assistance in choosing). They all have great views, but are all different - the Jasper one, for instance, is the only reversible cable-car in the Canadian Rockies; the other two go around a loop like ski lift chairs do. Another limiting factor may be weather .... if you cannot see the upper terminal of the gondola from the bottom because it is socked in the clouds, visibility from the top is not going to be good so it's probably not worth doing it then - maybe later that day, or not until another day.

The main limiting factor for you is that your itinerary is already really, really full.... as I recall from other threads, you have five days in total in Banff and Jasper National Parks. *Maybe*, if the weather cooperates, you might have time to fit in one gondola - ? (but most likely at the sacrifice of something else...)

I'm not sure I understand your question about Lake Agnes - ? The parking area for the hike is the same one as for visiting Lake Louise. You walk north along the shore of Lake Louise, past the Chateau LL hotel, and you will see the trailhead for the Lake Agnes trail, which takes about 2.5 to 3 hours, according to the Parks Canada information on the Banff National Park hiking page (a link I gave you in another thread).

Perhaps you are confusing Lake Agnes with another lake? I'm wondering if it might be Moraine Lake, where the parking lot can get full to (and beyond) the point of overflowing. At busy times, sometimes cars wind up parked along the edge of the road; I've heard as much as a kilometre from the parking lots. This would certainly add to the time you would need to see the lake, which is why, in peak season, the recommendation is usually to visit early or late in the day, rather than mid-day.

Tennessee
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2. Re: Banff, LL, and Lake Maligne gondolas

krp...thanks so much for you time in helping me! Do you think this a better itinerary so as not to be rushed and see all that we can see. Thought I would leave our last day in Banff just to mill around and do anything that we have not had time to do.

Aug 6. Fly into Calgary, pick up car, drive to Caribou b&b... eat BARPA Bill's.

Aug 7. Early, GyPSy, Safeway...lunch, (45 mins.) Hwy #1 to LL LL2 (one hour rt), Lake Moraine (hour rt), and Lake Agnes(may not do Agnes). Johnston's Canyon (2 hours rt) via Bow Valley Pkwy.

(Think we will get a cooler and enough food/snacks for week's lunches) Dinner: Elk&Oarsman

Aug 8. Minnewanka Lake and boat ride?, Hot Springs?, Gondola to Sulfur Mountain (8am-9pm $34.95 plus tax) Dinner: The Meatball Pizza & Pasta or Coyote's Grill

(Early to miss traffic and for photos.) Pack lunch for Icefields drive

Aug 9. Fill up in Jasper, Lunch, Peyto Lake, Bow Lake, Columbia Icefields, Sunwapta Falls? Athabasca Falls,? Earl's Restaurant OR Patricia's Deli

Aug 10. Hwy.#16 Maligne Lake, TRAM, Maligne Canyon, Cruise? (Smitty's for supper)

Aug 11. Lake Emerald, Takakkaw Falls, LL, LL Inn, Bill Peyto's Cafe 210 Village Rd. OR Explorer's Menu 5-11pm Samson's Mall, Fairmont Chateau LL

Aug 12. Banff , Coyote's Grill OR The Spaghetti Factory Leave Banff by (2:30-3:00) to fill up, return car, check in Super8, shuttle res. Time

Banff, Canada
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3. Re: Banff, LL, and Lake Maligne gondolas

Hi mycuppa:

Just a few notes, below ...

Aug 6. Fly into Calgary, pick up car, drive to Caribou b&b... eat BARPA Bill's.

**you know that Barpa Bill's is take-out except for a couple of stools, right?

Aug 9. Fill up in Jasper, Lunch, Peyto Lake, Bow Lake, Columbia Icefields, Sunwapta Falls? Athabasca Falls,? Earl's Restaurant OR Patricia's Deli

***Maybe fill up in Banff before leaving for Jasper

Aug 10. Hwy.#16 Maligne Lake, TRAM, Maligne Canyon, Cruise? (Smitty's for supper)

***Of course you'll go to Maligne Lake and Maligne Canyon together, and the Skytram either before or after your Maligne trip -- depending on when in the day you get the best weather.

seattle
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4. Re: Banff, LL, and Lake Maligne gondolas

a few things. The Maligne Lk cruise is 10 times better than Minnewanka. Minnewanka is a man made lake. Maligne is inaccessible except by rowboat and spirit island is wonderful.

Banff tram is perhaps the most popular one. LL you can go up and perhaps see bears though I've never done it. Jasper do the Canyon and the Lake cruise, its well worth the drive.

Tennessee
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5. Re: Banff, LL, and Lake Maligne gondolas

Great! We will dismiss the tram in Jasper and Minnewanka boat ride. Might leave the Minnewanka Lake too if we find something else to do. Is there theaters of any kind? You people are wonderful!

Jasper, Canada
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6. Re: Banff, LL, and Lake Maligne gondolas

I noticed the reference to fuelling up in Jasper, but assumed it was a typo, and that Mycuppa meant either Banff of Lake Louise. Mycuppa, you definitely want to avoid having to gas up at the only station on the Icefields Parkway, which is at The Crossing - it's very, very expensive and the line-ups are often quite long.

I had also noticed the restaurant choices, although I am not familiar with Barpa Bill's or any of the other Banff choices other than the Spaghetti Factory, so couldn't comment on those. The Patricia Street Deli is mainly a take-out place too, with a few stools along one wall. I'm not sure how they got their #1 "restaurant" spot here on TA (well actually, I do have an idea - on TA, all food places fall under the one category, so that's why you get a deli and fine dining establishments all in the same category) and I do know that at least several of the reviews are from their employees, because I have recognized names and other details among the reviews... gotta love small town life!) I hear the custom-made sandwiches are good but I would consider it a spot to collect picnic provisions for your lunch, rather than a spot to go for dinner.

Earl's is a chain restaurant and isn't too bad, although for the price, which is mid-range and about the same ballpark as many other Jasper restaurants, there are plenty of other places you could choose. Earl's is one of the few places in town with an outdoor eating area, so it's definitely nice, if the weather is favourable, to sit out and enjoy a meal on their deck (but you would have to get there early).

Smitty's is also a chain, one that is mainly known for its breakfasts (pancakes, french toast, eggs and bacon etc.) - definitely a "down market" choice for dinner, basically just a step up from fast food (especially the location in Jasper; I have eaten at Smitty's in other places and at least they've been newly renovated and nicely decorated. Like the Spag Factory, I mostly have eaten at Smitty's back when my kids were young and picky, and when the cost, for a family, was an issue - both have really cheap kids' menus.)

I hope you won't make any general conclusions about dining in Canada based on these choices, and would encourage you to try something other a chain on at least one of your evenings in Jasper. Unfortunately, though, eating out in Canada (and especially in resort areas like Banff and Jasper) is not cheap ... you will no doubt get some "sticker shock" at the prices here compared to the US. If budget is a big consideration and that is why you are choosing these particular restaurants (since they seem to be slanted to "cheap and cheerful"), you might want to consider getting an accommodation in Jasper where you can self-cater. There are a few private home accommodations (PHA) in Jasper that have a full kitchen, and many that have a fridge and microwave... even with the latter, the local grocery stores have lots of options for canned, frozen or microwaveable meals. Also, PHA is quite a lot less expensive than hotel accommodation - there is a very wide range in what's available, everything from quite luxurious to basic, but clean and comfortable (at less than half the cost of a hotel), and no additional taxes, thus further savings. www.stayinjasper.com is where you'll find them listed, and the search page, where you can tick off various amenities, will help you narrow the choices down.

Tennessee
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7. Re: Banff, LL, and Lake Maligne gondolas

Kip, you are a jewel... What restaurants would you suggest. In Jasper? We will need two nights. And, should we take a sandwich to lake malign? Don't want to be w/o food. Lol. Are the prices in bounds or ridiculous? Do you think my agenda is god w/o a lot of stress?

Also, what do you suggest about car ins? What would be your minimum?

Fredericton, Canada
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8. Re: Banff, LL, and Lake Maligne gondolas

Lake Minnewanka - I was say at least drive the loop - maybe early one morning. Stopping at Cascade Ponds - from there you can get a beautiful sunrise...and early in the morning Rundle Mountain reflects beautifully in the ponds.

There are so many fantastic restaurants in Banff - I would recommend trying at least one of the ones at the Banff Springs. They have one of the best Italian restaurants in Banff...I also have enjoyed the Chocolate Fondue and wine bar - Grapes of Wrath. Whatever you do - Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper - please avoid the "chain" restaurants. I know it is nice to have something familiar...but really there are some Phenomenal restaurants and to go to Smitty's just seems wrong :)

Do not go to the Spaghetti Factory - it is to Spaghetti what McDonalds is to Hamburgers....Do Coyote's please.

If you want to do a Gondola / Tram - I would recommend Banff or Jasper - the Lake Louise one only takes you about half way up the ski hill - if you want the expansive view you then have to climb to the top in order to see the other side.

The drive up to Jasper - will take one full day...8hrs if you want to include everything along the way. Which going in order from the Turn off just past Lake Louise goes as follows.

Crowfoot Glacier and Bow Lake - Num Ta Jah lodge is here as well as the Glacier that feeds Bow Lake. The Crowfoot Glacier is named so because it looks like a crows foot - although melting has changed this a bit.

Next real stop (you will stop a hundred times to take pictures :) ) is Peyto Lake and Bow Summit. It is about a 10 min hike up to the lookout from the parking lot...and soooooooo beautiful.

Next is my fave .. Mistaya Canyon - once parked it is just a few minutes down to the bridge that crosses the canyon. It is a narrow canyon, the view point is right at the part of the river where the Canyon starts...the rocks have been worked for thousands of years leaving behind a narrow canyon with the water rushing through.....Most people miss this stop...a loss if you ask me.

Next is The Big Hill - although there is a road side stop called the Weeping Wall. On the Big Hill there are two view points - the first gives a stunning view of the valley you just travelled up - the second of Veiled Falls.

Next the Columbia Icefields Tour - really worth it...about 2hrs alone can be spent here. And take the Snow Coach tour out onto the ice.

Next is Sunwapta falls, the Goats and Glaciers Lookout point....then just before Jasper is Athabasca Falls....

Are you staying the Night In Jasper - if not I might suggest skipping Jasper, and just going as far as the Ice Fields. Most of the things to see along the way are between Lake Louise and The Icefields.

Your time around Banff and Lake Louise, I would do Johnston's canyon early - or later in the afternoon - although early is my recommendation if you want to avoid the hoards of tourists that come by bus to do this hike. 7 waterfalls. Wonderful. I usually head in around 9am and am on my out as the crowds arrive.

Whatever you do DO NOT cut out Moraine Lake - it is WAY prettier than Lake Louise. Stunning...and climb to the top of the Rockpile if nothing else.

At Lake Louise - if you have time - the Lake Agnes hike is beautiful...and gives you the view of Lake Louise, Mirror Lake at the base of the Bee Hive and then Lake Agnes and the Tea House. The climb is moderate - and steep at times, but easily doable. It is about 45 minutes to 1hr one way. If horse back riding interests you - you can kill two birds and take the trail ride.

YES, yes, yes...Takakkaw Falls is a MUST!! One of my top five things to do. Emerald lake and the Natural Bridge...all nice. Lunch at Emerald Lake would be a good idea.

Anyway...you have a Jam Packed Trip...good luck.

Jasper, Canada
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9. Re: Banff, LL, and Lake Maligne gondolas

Sorry, mycuppa, didn't see your response from a couple of days ago...

Jasper has dozens of restaurants, everything from "Canadian casual" (whatever that means, LOL, but it's a descriptor a lot of the local restos use), seafood (Fiddle River, recommended), Japanese (sushi, recommended), Korean (highly recommended), Greek and Italian (a few of these, I would recommend the Olive Bistro for Greek), Chinese (not recommended), steakhouses (Alberta is a major beef producing province), tapas/Spanish-inspired (not particularly recommended), a brew pub (which also has a location in Banff, I don't particularly recommend the Jasper one for either the beer or the food - it's ok, but rather "meh", and have never been to the Banff one, so can't say anything about it) to non-chain fast food (pizza, burgers, sandwiches, poutine etc.) and "pub grub" (the $6 pub burger and fries at the De'd Dog in the Astoria Hotel is probably one of the cheapest meals in town, albeit not at all healthy!)

It's so hard to make recommendations, not knowing anything about your preferences and budget. You can read the reviews and look at the rankings here on TripAdvisor to get an idea, but almost all the restaurants have their menus posted at the entry, so, assuming you would be taking a stroll around Jasper's very compact downtown area, you could also just peruse some of the menus (to get a general idea of what's available and pricing) and pick whatever appeals to you that night.

For mid-range restaurants, you would find appies in the $10 to $15 range, and main courses from $15 to $20. A glass of wine would be $7 to $10; hard to find a bottle in a restaurant for under $30. (Booze is expensive in Canada, due to all the taxes on it.)

Regarding car insurance - check first with your own insurer to see if your auto insurance at home covers you; here, you can buy an inexpensive annual rider on your own policy that covers rental cars. And check whether you have coverage via any premium credit card you may have - here in Canada, it is one of the benefits included with many cards, so long as you book and pay for the car rental on that card. As a last resort, buy insurance through the rental car agency - this is the most expensive option.

Tennessee
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10. Re: Banff, LL, and Lake Maligne gondolas

Thank you so very much to take the time to share your expertise!