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Canadian Rockies: Travel times & stops

Jervis Bay...
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Canadian Rockies: Travel times & stops

Can you please check that the things we want to see (not just drive by) on the following list are achievable in the time allocated? I have found a number of “travel time sites” which give conflicting reports. Times stated are just driving times.

We arrive in Calgary at 1:30pm we wouldn’t be able to drive that day but could take a bus at $50 pp to banff. We would then need to hire a car in Banff to go to Vancouver. Would we be better to stay overnight in Calgary and leave early in the morning with a rental car from there?

Could we go from Revelstoke to Vancouver in one day? How much is there to see that would add to the time for a straight through trip?

Day 1: Calgary>Banff 1.5hr Banff>Lake Louise 1hr Lake Louise>Jasper 4hr

Panther Falls, Mt Edith Cavell "Path of Glaciers", Jasper Tramway

Day 2: Jasper > Banff 4hrs

1.Athabasca falls, 2.Sunwapta Falls 3.Columbia Icefields tour: Ice

explorer (1.5hrs) 4.CrowsfootGlacier, 5. Bow Pass 6.Lake Louise

Lakeshore walk 7.Moraine Lake walk 8.Gondola up Sulphur Mt

Day 3: Banff> Revelstoke 3.25hrs

1. Lake Minnewanka Tour

Ascend Roger's Pass, sumit of Glacier NP, Follows canadian Pacific Railroad.

2.Kicking Horse Pass (spiral tunnel) 3.Takakkaw Falls 4.Natural

Bridge 5.Emerald Lake

Day 4: Revelstoke > Kamloops 2.5 hrs

Day 5: Kamploops > Vancouver 3.5 hrs

Calgary, Canada
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1. Re: Canadian Rockies: Travel times & stops

" Would we be better to stay overnight in Calgary and leave early in the morning with a rental car from there?"

Hard to say. In the shuttle bus, you can enjoy the scenery better because you won't have to drive. And you may find that you get a better rental rate in Banff because of the surcharge involved with renting at the airport or within 24 hours of arrival. But you would have to do some research to see if there are any net savings.

"Could we go from Revelstoke to Vancouver in one day?"

Yes, but that's a lot of driving for someone who hasn't seen the mountain scenery before. (7 hours, not including stops for food, fuel, and bathroom breaks.) It really depends on how well you tolerate long drives. Personally, I start to turn to jelly after 4 hours.

"Day 1: Calgary>Banff 1.5hr Banff>Lake Louise 1hr Lake Louise>Jasper 4hr"

This is a classic itinerary mistake. I don't have a problem with anyone choosing to drive 6.5 hours in one day -- but there are some routes which demand that you take your time. If you were driving from Edmonton to Lethbridge via Calgary, I would say go for it. It's an easy, boring drive, may as well get it behind you as quickly as possible. However, National Geographic Traveller magazine called combined the Bow Valley Parkway route (Banff to Lake Louise via Hwy 1A) and Icefields Parkway (Lake Louise to Jasper) one of their 20 "drives of a lifetime". With 6.5 driving hours planned for this day, you could risk being forced to see much of the scenery through your car windows.

But in checking your other posts, I now see that you are planning to visit during late June. That means that you will have lots of daylight (weather permitting, of course). In fact, experiencing our long late June days may be one of the added charms of your trip. Sunrise is around 5:30 a.m. and sunset will be roughly 10 pm, giving roughly 16.5 hours of daylight.

Jervis Bay...
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2. Re: Canadian Rockies: Travel times & stops

…gov.bc.ca/popular-topics/…calculator.asp

gives the drive time from Calgary to Jasper as 4.5 hours (not turning off to Lake Louise etc). Is this not right?

The idea was to see nothing much on the way except close to Jasper as we are taking it slowly on the way back the next two days.

Greater Sydney...
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3. Re: Canadian Rockies: Travel times & stops

Google maps gives what I would regard to be a more reasonable estimate of drive ONLY time Calgary to Jasper as 5hrs 37m. Perhaps the calculator you used may just apply the distances and not the fact that the Icefields Parkway is limited to 90kph for nearly all of its length, with a few slower areas as well. In my experiences, both here in Oz and in Canada, Google is fairly accurate.

You certainly do seem to be doing a "drive-by" of these wonderful regions.

Edited: 20 February 2012, 05:27
Calgary, Canada
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4. Re: Canadian Rockies: Travel times & stops

Just based on my own experience, it's 1.5 to 2.0 hours from Calgary to Banff (depending on where in Calgary you start, and whether you're going through heavy traffic or not). Then 45-50 minutes from Banff to the Lake Louise exit, assuming you're taking the Trans-Canada (Hwy 1) at 90 km/h, and not the more scenic Bow Valley Parkway at 60 km/h. And finally it's 3.5 hours from Lake Louise to Jasper. None of this includes time for food, refuelling, bathroom breaks, or scenery. So, best case, 5.75 hours of driving, not 4.5.

I should point out that the calculator that you used is from the British Columbia government, and your route is entirely in Alberta, not BC, so it's not too surprising that the time estimate isn't very accurate. Hopefully it's more reliable for BC routes!

Jervis Bay...
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5. Re: Canadian Rockies: Travel times & stops

Thanks so the Calgary to Jasper leg is 5+ hours.

Can you please give me driving time estimates for seeing the sights listed above or is that too dependent on traveller preferences?

Jervis Bay...
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6. Re: Canadian Rockies: Travel times & stops

>>>"Could we go from Revelstoke to Vancouver in one day?"

Yes, but that's a lot of driving for someone who hasn't seen the mountain scenery before. It really depends on how well you tolerate long drives.<<<

I have read various trip reports saying that you wouldn't miss much doing a round trip from Calgary to Banff/Jasper so this question was really asking about the scenery from Revelstoke to Vancouver.

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7. Re: Canadian Rockies: Travel times & stops

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g154922-c120076/Briti…

Here are 3 driving routes between Banff and Vancouver described in the above link. Each will have its own scenery as described in the write ups.

There is another option as well. You could drive from Revelstoke west to Cache Creek and then down the Fraser River and Fraser Canyon to Hope. Lytton is where the confluence of the Thompson River and the Fraser River is situated. South of Lytton you will enjoy the craggy rugged Fraser Canyon with the canyon gondola ride at Hell's Gate. This route takes a bit longer because it goes further west that the other routes before it turns south. The Fraser Canyon road is steeped in gold rush history from the 1860s. The towns along the Fraser River section of Hwy 1 are very old and very small and would be a different experience, not to mention seeing the cliffs of the Fraser Canyon. there are hoodoos just up the Thompson River from Lytton.

www.hellobc.com is a good website for exploring the towns on those routes to the coast.

Jervis Bay...
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8. Re: Canadian Rockies: Travel times & stops

Thanks Mufti.

I am trying to work out if I need more time to do all those things on Day 2 and Day 3. I can stay at Golden instead of Revelstoke. I would like to do short walks but not hikes.

I am thinking of Merritt instead of Kamloops as it is closer to Vancouver and I have read about traffic in the late afternoon into Vancouver. Minter Gardens is a definite. I am not sure about Lytton as I was trying to spend as much time as possible in the Rockies. I don't want to "fly by" things and am not sure how long each thing will take.

We have a coast road in Australia which takes about 3 1/2 hours to drive but 7 hours to visit. I am not sure which parts of the Rockies is like this. Obviously the Icefields Parkway is : )

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9. Re: Canadian Rockies: Travel times & stops

Have you had a chance to explore the "get directions" feature on maps.google.ca at all. I think if you could do that and plan for 5-6 hours driving, you could then allow yourself an aggregate of 3-4 hours stop time wherever you wanted for a 8-9 hour day in all.

Sorry I can't speak to your Day 2 or 3 plans. The Rockies folks will do that for you. But for planning how to leave Banff, take a day now to look through that article in #7 and explore the attractions in various places. Where the weight falls will determine your route. Then you can sort your stopping places. You won't have to fly by things on the way to the Coast. And you won't be able to beat the traffic on Hwy 1 from about Langley west to Vancouver. Not unless you travel at 11 at night or 5 in the morning. It's just a steady situation for most of the day.

IMO, only the IP is like the Great Ocean Road. Everything else is much more manageable according to my first para above.

Rather than Merritt, I would stop in Kelowna. Or even Peachland which is only 7 km from the entrance to Hwy 97C. More amenities, prettier.

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10. Re: Canadian Rockies: Travel times & stops

Day 2, to get a reasonable experience and see/do the things you have listed, could be 10 to 12 hours easily, and you left out Peyto Lake which is an absolute gem.

Both Revy and Golden are too close to your jumping off point at Banff to make much sense for balanced driving, and Golden does not have much going for it. I like the suggestion by Mufti of Kelowna and that is the route we drove then continuing south on #97 to Penticton then via Princeton to Vancouver. It is a bit longer than the direct route through Kamploops though.