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5 day tour of Calgary, banff, jasper, lake louise, edmonton

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5 day tour of Calgary, banff, jasper, lake louise, edmonton

Hi all, I am adrian and me and my partner are heading to Calgary sometime in February 2011 and we are currently in the planning stages of our trip. We were thinking of doing a 5 day tour of calgary, banff, jasper, lake louise and edmonton. Is this doable or you reckon that we should leave out certain cities if they arent worth visiting. Oh and also, we will be arriving in Calgary at 3pm in February, was wondering if we should drive directly to Banff or just spend the nite in Calgary till the next day? Also is there are B&B places that you might recommend that are convenient and trustworthy? In addition, where are the best places to ski among these cities? Do feel free to englighten us pls and would greatly appreciate your helpful advices. Thank you.

adrian

Edited: 17 August 2010, 08:10
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1. Re: 5 day tour of Calgary, banff, jasper, lake louise, edmonton

G'day Adrian, and welcome to the Alberta forum.

First, I am a summer visitor, so only post in reply as the great locals are still in bed. A few observations:

1. Arriving Calgary 3pm - it will probably be closer to 4pm before getting out of the airport and sunset early Feb will be about 5:30 and 6pm toward the end of the month.

2. Whilst the road is very good between Calgary and Banff, and with part driving at night in deep winter, I would stay in Calgary for the first night.

3. Unless into large shopping malls, there is no need to go to Edmonton IMO, particularly in your short time frame. You probably will not have time to make it to Jasper either.

4. How are you thinking of travelling? Hire car? If so I would caution that winter driving in the Rockies would not be for the faint hearted, and hire cars do not come fitted with snow tyres from what I have read on here.

I am sure that others will advise further, and perhaps better, but that is just something to start you thinking.

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2. Re: 5 day tour of Calgary, banff, jasper, lake louise, edmonton

Excellent advice from Frommy - thanks kindly!

Even in summer, 5 days fo see Calgary, Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise, and Edmonton would be a *lot* of driving. In winter, it's just not practical.

Edmonton definitely has to go - it's four hours of driving to get there from Jasper, and 3 hours from Calgary.

Some places in the Rockies have seasonal closures in the winter. For example, the Moraine Lake road closes in mid-October and doesn't reopen until mid-May due to avalanche hazards. On the other hand, February is the height of the ski season; if you can, I suggest that you avoid the week of 17-21, as this is a big skiing period for Calgarians - school is out and there's a statutory (public) holiday on Feb 21.

Driving yourself from Calgary to Banff in daylight hours in the winter shouldn't be too risky. But if you decide you want to go between Jasper and Banff, I would recommend taking the daily shuttle offered by Sundog Tours in winter:

sundogtours.com/airport_shuttle_schedule.php

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3. Re: 5 day tour of Calgary, banff, jasper, lake louise, edmonton

Hi Adrian,

Good advice from Frommy. You don't have enough time to do all you'd like. Even if you have perfect driving weather for the full 5 days, you would end up not doing much more than driving like mad and seeing a few glimpses from your windshield. You would not have much time to get out and see anything.

Edmonton, from a tourist perspective, is not necessary and neither is Calgary other than as a gateway to the mountains. If all you have is 5 days, spend them out of the cities, since I'm sure you've seen plenty of cities before. Jasper is a full day's drive, you don't have time for it either IMO.

Definitely good advice to overnight in Calgary, particularly when you also factor in picking up a hire car after you arrive. By the time you get your luggage, clear customs, get your car and get out of the city, it will be dark.

Does that then leave you with another 4 days in addition to your departure day? There are 3 ski hills in the Banff area - Sunshine is west of Banff and of course Lake Louise is at Lake Louise. Both are nice, if you're only going to spend one day skiing you might want to go with Sunshine simply because it's closer to Banff. Lake Louise has some absolutely amazing views from the ski hill, though.

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4. Re: 5 day tour of Calgary, banff, jasper, lake louise, edmonton

hi all, thank you very much for your advice. Thus far we are planning to arrive in calgary from singapore on the 9th of February and planning to leave calgary either on the 14th or 15th of february. Yes we are planning to rent a car from the airport and were thinking of driving up to banff first thing we land, so at least we dont have to spend a day in calgary. Me and my partner were thinking really hard of wanting to see Edmonton and calgary quite frankly, but like you all said, since its a city, might as well spend it at jasper, banff and lake louise. For now, we are planning to spend a nite at cheateau lake louise, just for the novelty and for the view, we arent sure if its a good idea to squeeze in banff and lake louise together into a day though most ppl in the forum mentioned so. In addition, what are the cosy B&B places to put up in at jasper and banff? As for the ski places, thank you very much camping girl for giving us the places to go, we will probably try our utmost to ski at those 2 places you mentioned since the trip to canada is specificially meant for skiiing since we come from a tropical country with no 4 seasons.

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5. Re: 5 day tour of Calgary, banff, jasper, lake louise, edmonton

With only five days, I would skip Edmonton too, and concentrate on the mountains.

You can find listings for B&Bs all across Canada at www.bbcanada.com - drill down to Alberta, then the Rockies, then Banff or Jasper. For Jasper, the most comprehensive listings are at the Jasper Home Accommodation Association's website: www.stayinjasper.com ; these are all inspected by Parks Canada and licensed by the town of Jasper (i.e. they are legit, and "trustworthy"). Note that only a handful of homes offer breakfast - usually self-served continental. Most of the homes offer accommodation only. There is a search function on the site, and breakfast is one of the items (along with bed size, private bath, various amenities etc.) that you can search for, if it is important to you. But there is no shortage of places to go for breakfast, or many of the home accommodations have a kitchen or kitchenette, and you can buy groceries and make your own.

The highway between Lake Louise and Jasper - the Icefields Parkway - is a high elevation mountain highway. You should check both the weather report and the road report before setting out, and leave your plans flexible in case conditions aren't good.

As to ski areas, Banff National Park has three - Mt. Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise; Jasper has one, Marmot Basin www.skimarmot.com .

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6. Re: 5 day tour of Calgary, banff, jasper, lake louise, edmonton

One other option, to get you to Banff the night that you arrive, is to take an airport shuttle to Banff. There's a list here:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g154913-s301/Calgary:…

Then you can rent a car in Banff the next day. Make sure to reserve your car in Banff well in advance, though; they are currently in short supply in Calgary, and that is likely to affect Banff as well. (And you should defintely reserve well in advance for a Calgary rental.) For details on the rental car shortage, see tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g154913-i285-k3853…

Edited: 17 August 2010, 17:58
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7. Re: 5 day tour of Calgary, banff, jasper, lake louise, edmonton

wow, thats alot of good info out there from you kind folks! Thank you thank you so much! I will defintiely run this by my partner tonight and we will decide from there so basically edmonton is off the list and also thank you for the links to the airport shuttle and the car rental news, we will definitely want to reserve the car by this month in anticipation for our vacation this february.

I still have 1 more question and i tried searching online for it but not much help was given. I read that to drive on the icefields parkway, a national park pass is needed. I was doing some research and all they sold was either annual passes or daily passes. We will definitely be using that parkway for at least 3 days out of the 5 days we are there, or could be using that parkway up to all 5 days when we are there. Does that mean that we have to purchase 5 daily passes just to use the parkway? Do forgive me if i sound dumb now, haha, but i only see daily passes or annual passes being sold. If so, could anyone also let me in on the price of those passes pls, Thank you all once again for your kind help and assistance.

adrian

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8. Re: 5 day tour of Calgary, banff, jasper, lake louise, edmonton

You are supposed to buy a pass for any day that you will be stopping in a national park or using any park facility (which includes the Icefields Parkway, but not the Trans-Canada highway). The town of Banff is in a national park too, as are Lake Louise and Jasper. You can drive through the park on highway 1, the Trans-Canada, and you don't have to buy a pass if you are not stopping in the parks.

The most informative of the web pages about the pass (which comes in either daily or annual - break even is seven days, if I recall correctly) is the one for Kootenay National Park: pc.gc.ca/eng/…visit23.aspx

Park passes are essentially vehicle passes - if you come by bus, you won't need to buy one at the park gate, and pedestrians are not required to have one. Daily passes are good until 4 pm the next day; annual passes are valid until the end of the month of purchase, one year later. So an annual pass bought on Aug. 1/10 is good until Aug. 31/11.

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9. Re: 5 day tour of Calgary, banff, jasper, lake louise, edmonton

You may find some additional helpful info on the park passes here:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g154910-c13975/Banff-…

Edited: 18 August 2010, 14:28
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10. Re: 5 day tour of Calgary, banff, jasper, lake louise, edmonton

Excellent advice from all. I'm going to pass my two cents on about the ski hills. Try to go during the week when the crowds are quieter. From the Sunshine parking lot, you still have a gondola ride ahead of you to the ski area. We've had season passes at both hills over the years, I prefer Lake Louise; but everyone will have valid reasons for prefering one hill over another. I didn't see your travel dates in February. Alberta has a long weekend in February; Calgary students have an additional two days off from school, will find more crowds in the mountains from Feb 17 - 21.