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May 2009 Western Canada/Alaska holiday

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May 2009 Western Canada/Alaska holiday

This is to be a trip of a lifetime for us and I'm hoping someone can tell us if the following itinerary is possible and if we are allowing enough or too much time in the various stops. We would hire a car for the first part of the trip to Jasper.

Day 1 - Arrive Calgary

Day 2 - Calgary

Day 3 - Calgary

Day 4 - Calgary to Banff

Day 5 - Banff

Day 6 - Calgary to Jasper via Lake Louise

Day 7 - Jasper

Day 8 - Jasper

Day 9 - Rocky Mountaineer Fraser Discovery tour

Day 10 - Continued to Whistler

Day 11 - Whistler

Day 12 - Whistler Mountaineer to Vancouver

Day 13 - Vancouver

Days 14 to 21 - Round trip Alaskan cruise

Day 22 - Vancouver

Day 23 - Depart Vancouver in the evening

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Calgary
Calgary
Alberta, Canada
Banff
Banff
Banff National Park, Canada
Lake Louise
Lake Louise
Banff National Park, Canada
Vancouver
Vancouver
British Columbia, Canada
Calgary, Canada
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1. Re: May 2009 Western Canada/Alaska holiday

I love Calgary, but living here is kind of like living in a wonderful, historic city -- that's just two hours' travel away from Paris or Rome. We have competition that is hard to beat in the form of the beautiful Rocky Mountains. And many Calgarians spend a lot of their free time in the mountains, too. So I would suggest that you trade some of your Calgary time for time in the Banff area, or you will go home wishing you had spend more time in Banff. (And even if you do spend 3 or 4 nights in Banff, you'll probably still be keen to return later.) It only takes 2 hours to drive from Calgary International Airport to the town of Banff.

Are you returning to Calgary on Day 6 for a particular reason (wedding, family reunion, other special event)? Or perhaps you meant to write "Banff to Jasper via Lake Louise"? In any case, your route for this day takes you along the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93) connecting Lake Louise to Jasper. You should plan an entire day to drive this route, because it is extremely scenic. For more info and important tips on the Icefields Parkway, read the TripAdvisor Traveler Article "Icefields Parkway" by clicking on the BEFORE YOU GO link on the left hand menu bar, or go here:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g659487-c74055/Canadi…

Depending on when you're travelling in May, there is a chance that there will be snow on the Icefields Parkway, so it is best to check the road conditions and forecast in advance.

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Calgary
Alberta, Canada
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Ile-de-France, France
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Banff
Banff National Park, Canada
Lake Louise
Lake Louise
Banff National Park, Canada
Lisburn, United...
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2. Re: May 2009 Western Canada/Alaska holiday

Thanks Country wife and you're correct I meant to say Banff to Jasper via Lake Louise on day 6 :) And thanks too re spending more time in and around Banff rather than Calgary. I appreciate that we are only going to get a little taster of Western Canada but we do want to see as much as possible in the time we have and shopping isn't top of our list of priorities.

With regard to the roads at that time of year can you tell me if there is a chance that some of the roads will be impassable?

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Banff
Banff
Banff National Park, Canada
Lake Louise
Lake Louise
Banff National Park, Canada
Calgary
Calgary
Alberta, Canada
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3. Re: May 2009 Western Canada/Alaska holiday

In regards to your question about road conditions. We were just there the last week of May and first week of June. The Icefields Pkwy was fine. We were disappointed though that we were unable to reach Peyto Lake because of snow. Also the road to Takakkaw Falls was closed in Yoho National Park due to snow as was the road to Mt. Edith Cavell. I know Spring came later this year to that area, but Moraine Lake and Lake Louise were just beginning to thaw. When we left on the 4th of June, Lake Louise was almost completely thawed. On the plus side, there are no real crowds to speak of. I was there the end of July last year when it was very crowded.

Either time of the year the scenery is breathtaking!

Just be prepared for some things not to be open. But not to worry, you will never run out of things to see and do!

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Lake Louise
Lake Louise
Banff National Park, Canada
Ohio
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4. Re: May 2009 Western Canada/Alaska holiday

Since you mention that this is a trip of a lifetime, would you be able to travel a bit later in the season?

We skied Sunshine/ Lake Louise in April (many years ago, but we could have this year) and they were still getting lots of snow. The hiking in this area is just fantastic but many of the trails are still snow covered in May. You would also miss the brilliant blue waters of the lakes if they aren't thawed.

I am jealous that you have so much time to visit the area. Sounds like a wonderful trip.

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Lake Louise
Lake Louise
Banff National Park, Canada
Greater Sydney...
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5. Re: May 2009 Western Canada/Alaska holiday

I have to agree with C-W, get out of Calgary and up to Banff - we did this three weeks ago with our Calgary resident daughter and did not regret it.

Like a poster above, we found Mt Edith Cavel and Takakkaw Falls roads closed, but there was no problem parking at Peyto Lake and then taking a quite short hike to the top of the rise to view the lake.

Moraigne Lake was nearly dry, and ice covered what water was there, and Lake Louise was about 20% clear, but still staggeringly beautiful. I will see if I can post a picture tonight on the LL pages when I get home.

We drove back down the Icefields Parkway on a very cold day and experienced very light snow falls in 1c temperatures near Bow Lake. The snow melted as soon as it hit the road. This is a trully woderful road to drive on, well built and maintained, with constantly changing scenery all the way. The side excursins to Athabasca Glacier, Athabsca Falls and other places are only a very short distance from the highway. Our drive up took 10 hours, but we did not take any diversions coming back down because of the weather. Also make sure your passengers have sharp eyes and are on wildlife watch during the drive.

Happy planning.

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Calgary
Calgary
Alberta, Canada
Banff
Banff
Banff National Park, Canada
Lake Louise
Lake Louise
Banff National Park, Canada
Lisburn, United...
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6. Re: May 2009 Western Canada/Alaska holiday

Unfortunately we can't go any later because we have 2 pick up one daughter from university at the end of May and attend the other daughters graduation ceremony which we know will be in either June or July. After July we also plan to have a touring holiday with our girls in Germany so we are quite restricted as to when we can fit the holiday in.

We have also encountered a problem with the Rocky Mountaineer. The 2009 schedule hasn't been released yet but on calling them we have discovered that we would have to amend our proposed schedule as follows due to the Fraser discovery tour leaving later than the other Rocky Mountaineer tours:-

Days 1 to 10 travel explore Calgary to Jasper

Day 11 Rocky Mountaineer (RM) Jasper to Quesnel

Day 12 RM Quesnel to Whistler

Day 13 Whistler Mountaineer to Vancouver

Days 14 to 21 Alaskan Cruise

Day 22 Vancouver

Day 23 Vancouver

Extra night leaving late evening on Day 24

Can you tell me if there is enough between Calgary and Jasper to keep us occupied for 10 days and what would you recommend we do in Whistler with only one afternoon and the following morning to spare?

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7. Re: May 2009 Western Canada/Alaska holiday

You will find lots to keep you busy in Banff and Jasper until the train departs, especially if the weather cooperates. There is plenty of pleasant walks and spectacular scenery in both national parks, and if you should become bored with Banff, you can make day trips to Yoho NP as well. I once spent a month camping in Banff and I never felt at a loss for things to do--and I've lived near Banff for most of my life.

One thing that I would recommend, if you have the inclination -- read up now on Banff and Jasper, using the recommended reading here at TripAdvisor's Traveller Article, "Banff Books". Having more background information will make your trip much more enjoyable, I think:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g154910-c13638/Banff-…

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Banff
Banff
Banff National Park, Canada
8. Re: May 2009 Western Canada/Alaska holiday

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