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Banff and Jasper or only Banff

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Banff and Jasper or only Banff

We have only a little over a week to visit the Canadian Rockies and prefer to be based in one place rather than changing locations. Would we be missing out by only visiting Banff for a week or are we better off spending 4 days in 1 place and 4 days in the other? Are they different enough to "need" to see both places? What's the driving distance?


Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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1. Re: Banff and Jasper or only Banff

The driving distance is 281 km (178 miles) - it's about three to 3 1/2 hours of driving time (most of the Parkway is 90 km/h limit, with a couple of areas that are less). However, most people make a whole day of it, stopping along the Icefield Parkway to see the various scenic viewpoints, lakes, waterfalls etc. along the way. For more info, check out www.icefieldsparkway.ca

The sights along the way, and in the Jasper area, are similar to those you will see in the Banff/Lake Louise areas - more jaw-dropping mountain scenery. Whether it's different enough to warrant changing locations, only you can say. You could certainly drive from Banff up to the Columbia Icefields and back in a day.

Jasper - the town, and the park - are a little quieter than Banff. Because it is more remote than Banff, fewer visitors come (your thinking is not uncommon) and the town itself is smaller, quieter (Jasper is about 4200 and Banff is somewhere around 7500). Visitors often call it "quaint" and say it has more of a "real" town feel to it, less of a tourist town - I think this comes from two factors: while tourism IS the largest industry here, Jasper also a segment of the population not working in tourism, and although it is expensive to live here, it's not as out of reach to "normal folk" as Banff is.

Calgary, Canada
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2. Re: Banff and Jasper or only Banff

I'd recommend seeing both Jasper and Banff; some people might think, "seen one mountain, seen 'em all", but I find there's a distinct difference between Banff and Jasper, and I am really itching to see the Icefields Parkway once more; that route really is unparalleled in the Canadian Rockies (or in Canada, for that matter). And I agree completely that there is a huge difference in character between the towns of Jasper and Banff. One's not better than the other IMO, but sampling both towns and both parks will definitely make for a more rounded Rockies experience.

However, if you prefer a slower pace with less driving, there is plenty to do and see in the Banff area to keep you happy for your whole visit. But do plan to drive the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93) at least as far as the Columbia Icefields.

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3. Re: Banff and Jasper or only Banff

My vote would be do both. You could maybe do 5 days Banff/Lake Louise & 3 Jasper. Could spend the better part of a whole day on the Banff/Jasper drive if you stopped at some of the sights along the way. Consider jumping into Yoho National Park (close to Lake Louise) to see Takaka Falls and Emerald Lake.

Check out a couple of other recent threads for various ideas.

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4. Re: Banff and Jasper or only Banff

We are just in the process of planning our third visit to the area. I don't know if you are hikers but it is truly a hiker's paradise.

We also only have one week and prefer to stay in one place. That being said, we will be heading to Jasper. The drive up the Icefields Parkway is spectacular and we really enjoyed Jasper.

Our flight doesn't arrive until 11:30 p.m. so we are spending the first night near the Calgary airport. We hope to spend 3 nights in Lake Louise, 2 nts in Jasper and one night in Banff before returning to Calgary to fly out. Wish we had more time.

Our last visit was in 2004. We stayed at Emerald Lake Lodge, Baker Creek Chalets and Becker's. The most we paid for lodging was $170 US. I am having sticker shock over the price of lodging--so here I am on Tripadvisor looking for lodging advice.

Hope you enjoy the Rockies.

Jasper, Canada
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5. Re: Banff and Jasper or only Banff

LindainOhio, to avoid sticker shock in Jasper, you might want to consider B&B or private home accommodation - they're about half the price of hotel accommodation: www.stayinjasper.com

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6. Re: Banff and Jasper or only Banff

I agree with the other postings.

Banff is a much more "urban" posh little town. If you are travelling with children it could be quite pricey. The scenery is beautiful however. It is a very bustling touristy place. Rows of parked tour buses.

Jasper is our families prefered place of the two. We find it to be more family friendly.There are lots of things to see and do while in Jasper. I recommend white water rafting, they have different levels from a float boat to hard core rafting. The tram ride is spectacular and worth the ride. Maligne Lake is beautiful and often pictured in travel brochures. The hike around Athabasca Falls is spectacular. And of course the wild life sightings are second to none.Horse back riding is also a great adventure and beautiful scenery seen only from the back of a horse.

The Miette Hot Springs is a bit of a drive (North) outside Jasper. It is a natural springs pool, heated and said to have healing powers.

An excellent restaurant in Jasper is Evil Dave's, prices are reasonable but the food is awesome. Everyone we have ever encountered in Jasper on our, now, 4 times there; have been very friendly.

The Columbia Ice fields is a definite site seeing stop. Our family walked up the path to the glacier rather than taking the snow coach. Dress warmly for the hike the higher the elevation the cooler the air gets.

If you are an outdoor enthusiast, hiker, biker or hobby photographer Jasper is your place to visit.

Lodging ranges in pricing. From very expensive to more affordable, there is even a hostel in Jasper.

Our family did all the activities listed above in Jasper in about 3 days time.A busy 3 days.

If you are flying in to Calgary you might think to drive up to Jasper first spend 3 days and then begin to back track, going next to The Columbia icefields or possibly Lake Louise for a day and then on to Banff for the last 4 days and from there to Calgary for departure.

I'd be interested to know what you thought after your trip. Banff or Jasper?

Hope this is of some help.

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7. Re: Banff and Jasper or only Banff

i would do both because both areas are really beautiful and some of their own special charm. walking along the bow river in the morning...

Jasper, sitting by the athabasca river sipping morning coffee

all with a back drop of spectacular mountains. jasper is quite special i would try and do both.

Melbourne, Australia
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8. Re: Banff and Jasper or only Banff

If i were you I would spend 3 days in Jasper and 5 days in Banff. Whilst staying in Banff Drive up as far as Columbia Icefield then do the other half of the Icefields parkway from Jasper. Jasper is a beautiful town,we rated it equal to Banff and with Spirit Island,Mt Edith Cavell,Jasper Tramway and other magnificent sights around it it is a place you must spend some time at.

9. Re: Banff and Jasper or only Banff

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