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Lodge as a base or progressive accommodation?

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Greenock, United...
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Lodge as a base or progressive accommodation?

I am planning a trip late July/ early August for myself and partner to take in as many if the main day hikes in the Banff/LL/Yoho area as possible. We have a budget of around $4000 pp. (excluding flights from the UK) for a two week trip and will hire a car if necessary.

We are wondering what others believe to be the most convenient way of exploring the area. Is there a huge advantage camping close to these areas or is it possible to get up early enough from a lodge base in Banff/LL and explore these areas before the huge crowds set in?

The possibility of visiting Jasper for a few days has also been discussed but that decision will rest on whether we decide to spend say 10 days in LL area and 4 in Jasper or if we progressively move in that direction over the two weeks.

Any advice from past experience will be greatly received.

San Francisco...
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1. Re: Lodge as a base or progressive accommodation?

I prefer to move progressively, spending 2-3 nights in each area. The drives are scenic, but the scenery is somewhat repetitive, so there's no advantage to spending excessive amounts of time driving back and forth to a home hub.

Greenock, United...
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2. Re: Lodge as a base or progressive accommodation?

Thanks TA133 I am inclined to agree with you. Given that I plan to begin my tripmiddle/late July do you think there is any preference as to which direction I progress - Jasper to Banff or vice versa?

Also should I try to include a night stay on the Icefields Packway between Yoho and Jasper or is it best to spend one full day making the journey with car stops?

Edited: 27 August 2013, 19:14
3. Re: Lodge as a base or progressive accommodation?

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Edmonton, Canada
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4. Re: Lodge as a base or progressive accommodation?

so, are you planning on bringing camping equipment over here or renting an rv? in my opinion, there is nothing better then tent camping in the mountains but that takes a lot of planning/equipment and rv renting is very expensive. you should definitly have a vehicle. two weeks is a perfect amount of time to explore, banff / lake louise / yoho / jasper. you could also consider 2 nights in wells grey provincial park in bc, an overnight white water rafting trip somewhere or drumheller in alberta. if you want to just rent a small car, there are some nice accommodations of all types...book early to get your choice...it's expensive in the national parks...camping would be cheaper and would give you a little more flexibility. perfect combination for me would be to camp for most nights so you can enjoy a fire, stars, etc and then crash at a hotel a couple of times to sleep in a "real" bed, catch up on tv, etc. but again, camping is more complicated...if you get a couple of days of rain...you want good tarps, ropes,...you'll need an axe, cooking gear, chairs to sit on....

Greenock, United...
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5. Re: Lodge as a base or progressive accommodation?

Hi lttt

As stated earlier our budget is around $4000 each for the two weeks (I've been informed that should be enough to cover a car rental, lodges and general spending money).

From previous camping experience I completely agree that the whole atmosphere being under the stars next to a fire is unrivalled...BUT those trips were with Trek America and the Adventure Company who provided all the equipment. Unfortunately I believe the cost of acquiring a comprehensive set of kit would outweigh the benefits of camping so it will definitely be car rental and lodges.

I would definitely be interested in including whitewater rafting in my itinerary, do you have any advice on where is considered the best place to do this?

Once we have the definitive list of hikes we want to complete this will be easier to plan in detail but I think there may be some benefit in starting in Jasper so we can maybe spend the last few nights in a nice hotel in Banff depending on how the budgeting goes.

With that in mind so far I am thinking:

Starting in Jasper for 3 nights

Full day driving exploring the Icefields (with possible stopover)

2 nights Yoho

2 night LL

5/6 nights in Banff

Vancouver, Canada
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6. Re: Lodge as a base or progressive accommodation?

mec.ca/AST/…rentals

If camping is an experience you want to have, it would be possible, but don't do it to save money. Do it for the ability to stay in places you just couldn't otherwise, and have that campfire under the stars.

Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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7. Re: Lodge as a base or progressive accommodation?

Some of the national parks have "Otentik" tents available for rent (canvas tents with wooden floors, already set up and ready for occupancy)... at Whistler Campground in Jasper National Park for sure, and possibly also one campground in either Kootenay or Yoho NP. Check the camping page for each park for more info, if you are interested. www.pc.gc.ca is the main Parks Canada site, then choose the park, then in the left side menu "Visitor Info/Where to Stay/Camping".

Banff, Canada
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8. Re: Lodge as a base or progressive accommodation?

There are oTentiks in Banff NP at Two Jack Lakeside campground.

Calgary, Canada
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9. Re: Lodge as a base or progressive accommodation?

This TripAdvisor Traveller Article lists places where you can rent tenting equipment, as well as places with tents already set up:

tripadvisor.ca/Travel-g659487-c124649/Canadi…

Canada
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10. Re: Lodge as a base or progressive accommodation?

Ian - where are you flying into? If it's Calgary then jasper is quite a way to get to on your first night, especially after a long flight. It sound's like you are adventurous so I would recommend shortening the amount of time you stay in Banff. Banff is spectacular but it is very busy in July and August. Definately take in Jasper it's amazing. Your budget will allow you to do a lot.

I would rule out camping. You only have 2 weeks but with 8k you would only want to camp to get to places where there aren't perfectly decent hotels. Many of these places require major treks. To get the benefits of camping mentioned by others and to get away from the big campgrounds, you would really need to plan and prepare to make it worthwhile.

Here is an ideal schedule for you assuming you fly into Calgary.

Stay your first night in Banff or Canmore. They are only a 1.30 hour drive from Calgary and is a great decompression from the UK. You can have a few beers to kick off your holiday and get a good nights sleep. Then either kick around Banff for another day and night or go straight up the icefields to Jasper. The icefields parkway drive is about 4 hours from LL to Jasper but you can easily spend the whole day stopping off at the various sights along the way without even doing the columbia icefields thing. 2-3 nights in Jasper would be perfect and have you as relaxed as you possibly could be. If you don't stay at the Fairmont then at least kick back with a beer on their lakeside patio one nice evening, definately not to be missed.

Then head back down the icefields Parkway to Lake Louise and stop there for a night.

There are plenty of hotel options in LL but other places to consider staying for one night nearby which are old backcountry style lodges (no TV's in either):

Num-Ti-Jah lodge -On the shore of Bow lake. The only place to stay on the entire Icefields Parkway. Rustic with a great dining room.

Storm Mountain Lodge - a bit out of the way down the southern part of Hwy 93. Very rustic cabins with their own real log fires. They do a great package including dinner. The restaurant is one of the best in the National Parks.

After this, I would head towards Golden, BC and spend a few nights. There are loads of things to do there. The town is a bit of a diamond in the ruff but you will discover very pleasant places to hang out in town. You can stay in the ski resort in Golden, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, which in the summer, has by far the best value accommodation within striking distance of the national parks (it 's between the Yoho and Revelstoke national parks). The resort is open during the summer (check out the VRBO site for some examples). There is a gondola to an amazing restaurant on the top of the mountain with multiple hikes from there. They also have a very large Grizzly Bear refuge in the resort where you can take a guided visit to see the orphaned grizzly bear, Boo, really quite an amazing experience. Golden also is the base for some of the best whitewater experiences in the world on the Kickinghorse River. There are numerous hikes and drives So in short, check out Golden. It's not very well marketed in the UK, so I can understand why people miss out on it.

Afterwards, I would head back towards Banff and spend your couple of nights there to get used to lots of people again :-) You could always tag on a stay in Emerald Lake Lodge at some point in your schedule. It's near Field, between Lake Louise and Golden. If you don't stay in the lodge, it is still very much worth a small detour to see the lake and the natural bridge.

I hope that answers your question about whitewater rafting and gives you some alternative ideas to the usual places people visit. I have left out specific sites and treks to do along the way as there are far too many to mention. Be assured that there is a huge amount to discover. For treks, I would recommend the book "Don't waste your time in the Canadian Rockies". It's deliberately opinionated and helps you do the most rewarding hikes in the limited time you have available. I bought it after doing one of the hikes it says not to bother with, and can vouch for the author's judgment. My other tip for hiking would be to get some adjustable hiking poles. I used to think they were just for show but they really do save your knee joints. Just ask some of the old-timers you'll meet on the trail and they will agree.

Anyway, have a great time!

Edited: 31 August 2013, 02:29