We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Need help deciding

King of Prussia...
Level Contributor
518 posts
20 reviews
Save Topic
Need help deciding

Hello everyone,

My wife and I are trying to figure out how to spend a 10 day (9 night) trip. Here is a bit of info about us if that may help. We're in our early 30's and love the outdoors and hiking. We'd take a beautiful view from a mountain any day over a late night in the city. With that said, we're looking for a vacation that allows some great scenery, hiking, nature, and good food. We don't want to spend the entire time packing and running to the next spot, but don't mind a couple 2 day stops. After a fair bit of research, I came up with 4 possible itineraries, please help us pick one:

1 - Fly from Philly to Seattle - spend 1 night in Seattle, Ferry to Victoria for 2 nights, Ferry to Vancouver for 4 nights (1 night in Whistler), and Amtrack back to Seattle for last night before flying back to Philly. (Reason flying to Seattle is b/c approx 40% of cost of flying into Vancouver)

2 - Fly from Philly to Vancouver, Ferry to Victoria for 2 nights, spend 2 nights in Tofino, then go back to Vancouver for 5 nights (2 of the nights in Whistler), then fly back to Philly

3 - Fly into Calgary and go to Canadian Rockies for 9 nights (not sure of how to split it up),

4 - This last option can start in either Vancouver or Calgary and work from east to west or vice versa. Fly into Vancouver and spend 4 nights there with a day trip to Victoria (possibly spend 1 night there). Then make way over to Rockies for 5 nights.

As far as timing, we were planning on going anywhere from end of May to early Sept. We are very flexible with that part. We'd appreciate any insight anyone has to any option.

Thanks!

Calgary, Canada
Destination Expert
for Calgary
Level Contributor
26,321 posts
86 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Need help deciding

So if I understand you correctly, option 1 is primarily Victoria & Vancouver; option 2 is Victoria, Tofino, Vancouver, & Whistler; option 3 is the Canadian Rockies; and option 4 is Vancouver-Rockies-Calgary (or Calgary-Rockies-Vancouver).

Given what you've stated about what you're looking for, I'm not sure why option 1 is even under consideration, as that's primarily an urban experience, at least compared to the remaining 3 options. Option 2 is stronger, as you'll no doubt be visiting Pacific Rim National Park, but that is only a tiny portion of your holiday time. Options 3 & 4 get you into the mountain parks (i.e. Banff National Park, Yoho NP, Kootenay NP, and Jasper NP) which are a huge protected wilderness area of over 20,000 sq km (or 7800 sq mi), with fabulous scenery and lots of hiking. There's lots of great dining in Banff - I swear that's half the reason my husband enjoys going there - and some excellent restaurants in Lake Louise as well. (I'm afraid I'm not knowledgeable about Jasper's dining scene.)

Option 4 allows you to explore interior BC; you may want to see the Okanagan Valley (famous for its orchards, vineyards, and wineries), the Shuswap Lake (best known for houseboating), or the scenic Fraser River Canyon. Option 3 means you can split your time more or less evenly between Banff and Jasper, and you can really see the spectacular Icefields Parkway, which was named by National Geographic Traveler magazine as one of the 20 most scenic drives in the world.

Jasper, Canada
Destination Expert
for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
Level Contributor
20,028 posts
120 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Need help deciding

If hiking is a priority (and from your stated interests, I think it is), then the best time to come (for best conditions and all trails open in the subalpine/alpine) would be mid-July through mid-September. Subalpine wildflower season in the Rockies is mid-July to mid-August.

King of Prussia...
Level Contributor
518 posts
20 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Need help deciding

Thanks for the info! I guess I should've prefaced the post with us originally looking into going up to the western Canada side to see Victoria and Vancouver as we've heard amazing things about it. The whole Canadian Rockies idea came after doing further research, as we thought it might best suite our travel style. Interesting point about the winery - my wife and I are huge winos (definitely not connoisseurs, but like wine if you know what i mean)!

With that said, how is the traveling between the Rockies and Vancouver? I'd prefer not to drive, but can if it can save us a good deal of money (>$200). Also, what are the road conditions like b/w June and Sept? I'm not a fan of driving in the snow, but can if necessary.

Thanks in advance for all of your help!!!

Sherwood Park...
Level Contributor
259 posts
19 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Need help deciding

If you want scenery, I suggest flying into Edmonton, renting a car and driving to Jasper (3 hours), there are all kinds of hiking and dining options there. Jasper is less busy than Banff so it is quite a bit more relaxing in my opinion. Drive from Jasper through the icefields parkway to Banff (2-3 hours). Banff is an amazing town with very high quality restaurants. Pretty much everywhere in Jasper and Banff are loaded with amazing hiking trails, but the easier ones do get extremely crowded in the summer. We usually opt for the harder trails to avoid the crowds. Kananaskis is about an hour from Banff and has some of Alberta's best trails. That would eat up your 10 days pretty nicely.

BC is also amazing. Whether you are driving through the wine valley around the Okanagan, or floating down the Penticton canal, or wandering around Vancouver. I haven't been to the island yet, but I've heard it is the nicest place in Canada from more than one person. The thing about BC compared to the national parks of Alberta is city vs nature. You definitely get a better nature experience in Alberta.

If you have any specific questions, let us know.

Greater Sydney...
Level Contributor
18,549 posts
92 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Need help deciding

Road conditions at that time would be no problem at all. The roads are very good and I had no problem early June, and we drive on the opposite side of the road here.

I definitely believe that given your preferences it comes down to between options 3 and 4. I would not consider Edmonton as an option personally.

Edited: 24 January 2010, 05:25
Sherwood Park...
Level Contributor
259 posts
19 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Need help deciding

I don't think many people would consider Edmonton, unless they wanted to shop at the worlds largest mall. But in order to avoid back tracking, it gives a good fly in location to rent a car and begin the drive to Jasper. You can definitely hit a lot more if you don't have to loop around.

Greater Sydney...
Level Contributor
18,549 posts
92 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Need help deciding

"shop at the worlds largest mall"

Sorry, ShaneL, but if you check your facts this you will find that it is now the 6th largest in the world, but still the largest in Nth America.

There is no need for a loop if driving one-way from Vancouver, and there is certainly nothing against, in fact it is often recommended, driving the Icefields Parkway both ways if hiring/dropping off a car in Calgary.

Sherwood Park...
Level Contributor
259 posts
19 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Need help deciding

Simply slowing down and taking advantage of the many wonderfully located roadside turnouts or extra large shoulders eliminates the need to drive the ice fields both ways. That in turn cuts your drive time in half, and gives you more time to see more places and do more things. Not to mention that some of the most spectacular parts of Jasper National Park are on the highway between Jasper and Edmonton. Besides, Calgary's attraction is its proximity to the mountains and getting out of the city to visit them. In other words, Calgary is not worth wasting your time other than to fly in or out of. Not that Edmonton is much better, but for maximizing your time avoiding the backtracking is your best bet, which would include Edmonton for arrival or departure flights.

Ultimately this is all opinion, I just know most people with limited time don't like wasting their time driving the same road twice needlessly. For us locals it is a much more realistic possibility.

6th biggest mall is still pretty awesome. Thanks for checking my facts though...

Greater Sydney...
Level Contributor
18,549 posts
92 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Need help deciding

"some of the most spectacular parts of Jasper National Park are on the highway between Jasper and Edmonton"

Oh, come on. In comparison to the JNP section of the Icefields Parkway? Many regular local posters describe the drive from Edmonton to Jasper as boring.

10. Re: Need help deciding

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This post was determined to be inappropriate by the TripAdvisor community and has been removed.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

Our staff may also remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason. Thanks for being a part of the TripAdvisor travel community!

Removed on: 24 January 2010, 15:16