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Travel Questions

New York
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Travel Questions

I have just started planning a potential trip (at the last minute). thinking of flying into Calgary on July 4 or 5, and departing on July 11. I will be traveling solo. My interests are really exploring the Rockies. I like to drive and enjoy walks/hikes. My interests are wildlife and scenery basically. I'd like to spend a day in Calgary, but that is not critical. Here are my questions:

1. When people say it is crowded this time of year, what do you mean exactly? Do you mean that when doing a walk, your constantly around others? when driving, there's a lot of traffic?

2. Anyone feel free to suggest an itinerary. Some I have seen on here look like: 2 days Banff; 2 days Jasper; 1 day Lake Louise.

3. I definitely would want to do one of the Icewalks at the Columbia Icefield.

4. I know with this short notice, I may be paying high prices for hotel rooms (and need to make sure they are even available). do I just search "Banff" or "Jasper" and find hotels that way?

5. Is it unsafe to be hiking alone? Or are there enough other people around that that is not a problem?

6. And finally---am I better off planning in advance and doing this trip next year? If so, is mid-June too early to go in terms of weather/activities?


Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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1. Re: Travel Questions

1. Summer, especially July and August, is the busiest time for tourism in the Canadian Rockies, but one's perception of "busy" really depends on what you are accustomed to. I have had countless Europeans tell me that the Rockies in summer do not seem busy to them. Certain areas are busy and can be crowded with people, at times - the townsites' downtown areas, the shore of Lake Louise etc. The teahouse hiking trails at Lake Louise - the Plain of Six Glacier and the Lake Agnes trails - are both quite popular, so won't give you an experience of "solitude in the mountains". However, there are dozens of other trails where you may not see anyone else.

If you are used to city driving, you will not find traffic volumes anywhere here in the Rockies to be heavy.

2. That's a popular itinerary, especially if your flight out of Calgary on the 6th day is early. Otherwise, if you have time to drive from Jasper to Calgary on the day of your flight, you could split them with 3 days in Banff and 2 days in Jasper - save yourself the hassle and lost time of changing hotels.

4. You can check here on TA for hotel listings and reviews. You can also find complete hotel listings for Jasper at www.jasper.travel and for Banff and Lake Louise at www.banfflakelouise.com . In Jasper, if you are wanting something a bit less expensive than a hotel room, you might want to check into "private home accommodation" - www.stayinjasper.com . Your timespan is getting within range of the online availability report - http://www.stayinjasper.com/avcal/report.asp - that might be an easier way to find a vacancy on short notice.

5. It partly depends on your level of comfort, and which trails you are on. It is safer to be hiking in a group, but lots of people hike alone and have no problems. We do have large, potentially dangerous, animals such as black bears, grizzly bears and cougars. (My friend and I met two adult black bears on a trail yesterday, making for a little jolt of adrenaline, but both we and the bears continued on our merry ways, with no incident.) Even meeting ungulates like elk or moose can be a bit nerve-wracking, especially at close range. (I have lately run into moose several times on hikes too.)

You are not very likely to see any wildlife on busy trails, like the tea house trails I mentioned above. In fact, you're not very likely to see wildlife at all, but it's hard to enjoy oneself if you are constantly looking over your shoulder too.

Note that at certain times of the year, there are some trails in the Moraine Lake/Lake Louise area that are under "tight group of 4" hiker restrictions, both for hiker safety, and to give grizzly bears a chance to feed with fewer interruptions.

6. Depending on winter and spring weather, mid-June can be too early for many subalpine and alpine hikes. That's the case this year, for sure, because we had a much-larger-than-usual snowfall in the Rockies last winter, followed by a cool spring. Many higher trails are still not accessible. However, in other years, other than occasional snow patches or snow on the higher trails, mid-June can be just fine. My husband and I went on a hiking get-away to Lake Louise 2 years ago in mid-June, and hiked the Plain of Six and Lake Agnes trails at Lake Louise, and the Larch valley and Eiffel Lake (Valley of the Ten Peaks) trails, and they were fine, although there were some areas of snow (quite normal in the Rockies at that time of year) - both Sentinel Pass and Wenkchemna Pass were still very snowy, but we didn't go that far on those trails.

Edited: 29 June 2011, 17:03
Edmonton, Canada
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for Edmonton, Yellowknife
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2. Re: Travel Questions

I usually use Expedia, Travelocity to book places, or to check availability and compare.

Banff, Canada
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for Banff, Lake Louise
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3. Re: Travel Questions

Who doesn't love a spontaneous trip? But you will want to secure yourself some accommodation in Banff and Lake Louise. In Banff, the Banff Lake Louise Tourism website will provide you with rates and contact information for every place in town - I always encourage people to contact the properties directly if you have specific questions and needs or are last minute.


You might want to look at some B and B options -

The Banff Boutique Inn - http://www.banffboutiqueinn.com/

Alpine Bed and Breakfast - http://banffalpinebb.com/

At Wits End - http://www.atwitsendbb.com/

A nice central and well located motel in Banff is the Bow View Lodge located right on the Bow River and close to downtown:


We're happy to suggest other choices if you tell us your budget and what you are looking for.

Kootenays, British...
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405 posts
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4. Re: Travel Questions

As an alternative that will give you scenery and wildlife in spades and is more likely to be available on short notice consider Waterton and/or Glacier NP. Waterton is not even remotely as crowded as Banff. It is easy to access from Calgary. May not get to do the icefields this trip but it will get you into some incredible wilderness areas.

Canmore, Canada
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59 posts
20 reviews
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5. Re: Travel Questions

1. "Crowded" is a relative term. Yes -- there are more people here in July & August ... but it is still a small town. Traffic? Only when someone spots an animal on the highway and everyone slows down.

2. I would just visit Lake Louise as a day trip from Banff. That'll save you the time of checking in and out of hotels. Lake Louise is 45 minutes from Banff.

3. Yes -- visit the Columbia Icefields and take the tour. You can do that on your way to (or from) Jasper.

4. Last Minute can either mean High Prices or Great Deals. Last Minute on a holiday weekend means the price goes up because all of the hotels will be sold out. Last Minute midweek or in Mid Season can mean some deals (but can also mean that your options are more limited).

5. I will leave the hiking questions to the others ... I never hike.

6. If you visit the area prior to the 3rd week of June, you will find that pretty much everything will cost less. Once the kids are out of school, the prices go up (and stay up until Labour Day weekend). That being said, who knows what the future holds? I say travel while you have the chance ...

Have a great time!

6. Re: Travel Questions

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