Here is a map of the route I would suggest with a stop in somewhere like Kimberley. Kimberley is a Bavarian themed town and quite pretty. Cranbrook is another option but is perhaps not as appealing as Kimberley.
I think you're going to lose some of us who don't know you have about 10 individual threads posted now about this trip. So I'll mention that here in case others want to see what else you have asked and received answers to. No sense reinventing the wheel.Edited: 03 November 2011, 16:54
Depends on what is 'best: quickest? most scenic?
I'll tell you the main options.
Calgary to Cranbrook: 1) get on Highway 22X to Pridis. Turn south on Hwy 22 through Turner Valley/Longview. Stop in to see grasslands park and 'Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump'. Turn east at Hwy #3 and cruise through the Crowsnest Pass to Cranbrook. If you want a side trip, head down to Waterton Park. This is the route I'd recommend. Easy driving, east slope of the rockies, not too crowded; plus getting up intot the Crowsnest and seeing Fernie will make sure you feel like you're 'in the Rockies'. O/N at Fernie (although you can do the whole drive to Kaslo in a day if you want).
2) get on Hwy #1 through Canmore & Banff. Turn south at Hwy 93 to Radium Hot Springs. Could O/N in that area or a little further south at Fairmont. At Radium turn 'even more south' on Hwy 95 and drive down to Cranbrook. This is a very nice route and there are some options to go in to Field etc.. However, it is more touristy and, depending on the time of year, likely more crowded. You are travelling down the Rocky Mountain Trench which is a very interesting geological feature.
From Cranbrook to Kaslo you drive the number 3 to Creston. From there you can: 1) turn north on Hwy 3A and drive up the east shore of Kootenay Lake and take the free ferry to Balfour (just south of Kaslo). This is my recommended route. Or: 2) stay on Hwy 3 and go over the Skyway to Salmo; north on #6 to Nelson and out the west arm to Balfour.
I've never ridden the Rocky Mountaineer so I can't comment on your second question.
have driven all of Redtrails suggested routes.. you have a tough decision ahead! Both option 1 and 2 have great scenery and things to recommend them.. question is will you ahve already spent some time in banff? are you planning on heading back to banff from kaslo? this will make a difference in your route choice..possibly you could post your complete itinerary in one spot? that would help with giving overall advice
as for Rocky Mountaineer.. while I haven't taken it I highly recommend keeping the car and driving.. you have so many options for places to stop and things to see and do with the freedom of a car. Also the route from Jasper down to Vancouver isn't as spectacular as the route through the southern part of the province.I'd only recommend this if you were going to be visitng the Chilcotin plateau and heading down to Bella Coola. I love Jasper .. less "touristy" than Banff So be sure you go there and do spend time driving the parkway both ways. I'd allow at least 7 or 8 nights for the Rockies if you can. . As well you'll be travelling in September so fewer tourists in some spots
thank you so much.......
itinery just forming but i think....
fly in calgary
onite on way to kaslo( 4 mights bear watching)
Banff/Jasper?lake Louise (maybe8 nights)
driving the ice parkway
thanks for bthe route....
am benefitting from people's comments
latest is bear watching in vancouver island.......surely better in rockies
fernie looks fabulous....thks
Why Kaslo? What is it that interests you there? (I love the BC Kootenays and Kaslo is a favourite town. However, to travel to Kaslo from Calgary and then to backtrack to Banff/Lake Louise/Jasper is not an efficient use of your precious holiday time.)
If you haven't done so already, find yourself a BC/Alberta map. Banff is about 2 hours west of Calgary. If you are flying into Calgary, do Banff/Lake Louise/Jasper first. Then head on the two days drive further southwest to Kaslo, along the route suggested by redtail in option #2. If the BC Kootenays interest you, stop off in Nelson as well. From the Kootenays, there are different routes you could take to Vancouver and we can help (if someone has not already provided the necessary information in your other posts - thanks, Mufti for the heads-up). However, you need to decide "why Kaslo" first.
also check bear watching trips from Telegraph Cove on Vancouver island.. or from Port McNeill.. just put bear watching into the search box. think you might be surprised at bear trips from Vancouver island as opposed to the Rockies.. have seen way more bears on the island, in the Chilcotin and around bella Coola than have ever seen in the Rockies...in the fall the salmon will be the draw.
Also agree it's not an effective use of time to go to kaslo then backtrack to banff.
What time of year?
If it's winter there are different considerations to keep in mind.
Personally I avoid driving to Calgary in the winter. I usually take Redtrail's route #2 to calgary from my location outside Cranbrook as I know it best & can drive it fastest, but if in the winter you have car trouble you would be in other kinds of trouble re possible lack of passing traffic/ no where to stop or get help/no cellphone range. I'd say the same thing re Redtrail's route #1 altho I agree it's a wonderful and beautiful drive.
The safest way to go in winter would be to take Highway 2 south from Calgary & hang a right at Fort McLeod and take Hwy 3 the rest of the way. At least on Hwy 2 & Hwy 3, even through the Crowsnest Pass, you are never very far from civilization (ie a tow truck & a cup of coffee).
eastBC op is going in early September.. (they have multiple threads going.. tks to Mufti for that heads up)
re: bears in Rockies.. sounds like op is booked at grizzly bear ranch which has good reviews but still would also look at trips from the island