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Trip Itinerary help with timing and suggestions

Toronto, Canada
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Trip Itinerary help with timing and suggestions

Hello everyone!

I've been doing a lot of reading here, and I have to say there is an incredible amount of information to absorb. But I have to say, almost as exciting as doing the trip it self in person!

It seems there are several travel buffs and locals on the forum who are happy to help out, so please forgive me for taking the "easy" route and asking more questions and doing my leg work through you all!! I guess you can say that I am a bit overwhelmed with the amount of info, that I need some help piecing it together and also putting together somethings I may be overlooking.

A little background, I've done the family road trip (Father, Grandmother, younger brother and a friend and myself) from Calgary to Vancouver once before, about 8 years ago or so. (I am currently 35) It was a trip that most of the travel buffs and locals here shake their heads to...a whirlwind tour/trip. Now married, and taking care of my in laws, I've had the privilege of playing tour guide in giving my in laws and my wife to visit places in Canada which they may not have done on their own. We did a road trip (again a whirlwind tour!) from Toronto to PEI and back in a week. Yes, we didn't get a chance to soak in all the treasures, but time was short, and everyone was content with a tasting of things along the way. My position is, that the whirlwind trips I am planning are: 1) Give them some memories that they may have never had the opportunity to achieve on their own, 2) Give them a tasting to wet their appetite, to aid in planning a more in depth trip in the future.

With those two thoughts in mind, please forgive me for cheating through the magnificence of the Canadian Rockies, yet again, but it is my gift to my in laws and my wife. A taste of the most beautiful parts of Canada, for them to remember, and hopefully use as a springboard to go back to again soon.

So here we go: The skeleton of the itinerary. I am having issues with timing, so it is literally a skeleton. I will lay out the destinations planned, and hopefully I can get your help to piece it together.

Day 1: 05/18/13: Arrive in Vancouver.

- Probably early/mid afternoon local time.

- We have relatives here. So most likely we will be sleeping over in Vancouver.

Day 2: Depart Vancouver 9AM

- Directly to Jasper?

- Online maps say 8-9hrs straight drive. But obviously it will take longer than that. Are there any MAJOR or MUST SEE things on the way? Debating on whether to sleep over in Kamloops, but I'm thinking that will take a day off our already short trip. If there are some nice viewpoints, or a waterfall along the way, then I'm ok with the straight drive to Jasper with a few breaks.

Day 3-5 Spread between Jasper and Banff.

Day 6 Leave Banff for Calgary - Leave Calgary for Toronto

-------------

Must see or Must do things we have in mind:

1) Icefields Snocoach excursion

2) Banff Gondola (I think there is one more Gondola and the Tram in Jasper. Would you all agree that the Banff Gondola provides the best scenic views?)

3)Need a recommendation for a good Hot Spring along this route. We are considering the Inns of Banff, and make use of their hotpool, but if you can recommend a good hot spring along this route. I remember seeing pictures of one that looks like the pool is nestled between rocks?...Atleast one visit to a good hotspring is a must.

4) Mount Robson? Not sure if this is just a viewpoint or if there other things to do here. In Google Maps I saw a tourist centre of some sort at the foot of the mountain.

5) Can't forget Lake Louise - Stop by for pictures. I imagine the lake may not be thawed out for canoeing.

6) Stop by Peyto Lake, Bow Lake, Moraine Lake along the way for a quick viewpoint/pictures?

7) Any waterfalls to stop by that are in walking distance, or short hike?

As you can see, 1-3 are the paid attractions. The rest I am trying to see which ones I can squeeze in along the way. Yes, it's MOSTLY driving. But again, my wife and in laws are geared up for that. My father in law cannot walk or stand for long periods of time due to stroke related damage to his right leg. So he has a limp and cannot walk far nor quickly. We are happy to stop off at view points for 20-30 min just to be able to take in the sights and take some pictures, or MAYBE go for an hour hike max...but would have to be not too challenging obviously.

Also, is it possible to BBQ with a portable charcoal BBQ throughout this trip?

Thank you all in advance to those who help. You will be helping me create a great memory to my senior in laws and my wife (along with earning brownie points with my wife for making her parents happy!) I know I am asking for a lot here, so I totally understand if this does not generate much of a positive response or I get flamed for a ridiculous whirlwind tour! (Yikes!)

Cheers,

Eugene.

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: Trip Itinerary help with timing and suggestions

Welcome to the forum, Neotek ~

This is an extremely short time, as you say. I would consider arriving Calgary, actually and spending all your time in the Rockies. You would then experience something of value.

Arrive Calgary and drive immediately to Banff

2 nights Banff

One full day on the Icefields Parkway

2 nights Jasper

An additional day on the IP

1 night Lake Louise or Banff

Drive the 2 hours to YYC.

If you must arrive at Vancouver, then I would suggest you consider adjusting your expectations a bit.

1 night Vancouver

1 night Revelstoke

3 nights Banff, with one full day on the IP, by driving half way up it and then turning back

Drive the 2 hours to YYC

1. Doable

2. Doable

4. No time

5. Doable as a day trip from Banff, or as an afternoon driving from Revy to Banff.

Toronto, Canada
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2. Re: Trip Itinerary help with timing and suggestions

Thanks MuftiMixandmatch for your quick response!

Starting in Vancouver is a must unfortunately for two reasons.

1) We are only able to see our relatives on the weekend.

2) The rental companies with with I have a discount with do not have any availability for vehicles going from Calgary to Vancouver, but plenty going from Vancouver to Calgary! Aiya!

I am trying to see if we can add on an additional day to our trip. Flight was, no change in price, but obviously an additional day in the hotels. Which I know is well worth being able to see a little more.

I'm still leaning towards doing the direct drive to Jasper on Day 2.

Day 3 would be backtrack to Mt. Robson, and something else in the area, along with an evening in the Jasper touristy area? I need to take a picture next to the old steam train. :-)

Day 4 would be to continue towards Banff along the Icefields parkway:do the Snocoach, site seeing along the way. Any vistas/viewpoints, falls along the way? Arrive in Banff.

Day 5 - Lake Louise, and maybe a couple of stops/visats/viewpoints along this route, hot springs in the evening.

Day 6 - Something, and head to YYC.

I am thinking that if I get a late flight departing Calgary, that maybe I could do Lake Louise in the morning on Day 6. Or just take our time to Calgary and maybe visit a site in Calgary?

Tell me what you think of these revisions.

Thanks!

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: Trip Itinerary help with timing and suggestions

It looks as though you have got it sorted the way you would like it. I just noticed the quick mention of 5/18/13. As you may be aware, the lakes will be covered in ice until about the first week of June and a number of trails will be affected by snow or perhaps mud. Some access roads may be closed.

<<Any vistas/viewpoints, falls along the way?>> When you open the following link, also open the PDF link below the image you see for a more legible map:

pc.gc.ca/eng/…visit38.aspx

Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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4. Re: Trip Itinerary help with timing and suggestions

5/18/13 is right in the middle of a long weekend - if I am reading your itinerary correctly, that will put you into Jasper on Sunday, the 19th. If so, I would strongly suggest you make your accommodation reservations ASAP.

Regarding your other questions -

2/ I am not sure I would agree that the Banff gondola's views are better than Jasper Tramway's. They are both spectacular, but different. On a clear day, it is possible to see Mt. Robson from the Jasper Tramway, even though it is 100 km away.

3/ Both the Banff Upper Hot Springs and Jasper's MIette Hot Springs are commercial pool-type faciltiies, with the mineral water from the springs piped in (and the water is chlorinated, to meet public health standards). There are some times of the year when the Banff springs do not supply enough water and it is supplemented with municipal water.

4 & 5/ There are two sets of waterfalls near Mt. Robson - Rearguard Falls and Overlander Falls. Both require a short walk on a trail to view the falls; Rearguard is shorter than Overlander... Overlander also involved walking quite downhill (and then back up to the car). They are both quite lovely. There is a hiking trail that starts near the visitor centre, to Kinney Lake (and beyond if you are backpacking). It's 9 km, return, to and from Kinney Lake, which is one of the lower glacial lakes in the Canadian Rockies. It wil be thawed by then, but most of the others will not be. However, it doesn't sound like that would be a suitable activity for your group.

6/ Moraine Lake is 14 km each way from the Moraine Lake road junction with the Lake Louise road. The road is not likely to be open yet, that early in the season. Also, the Peyto Lake viewpoint, which is at almost 7000 feet and is the highest point along the Icefields Parkway, will involve walking on/through snow to get to the viewpoint. I am not sure if the parking areas will be ploughed out yet - if so, there is a closer lot for buses and vehicles with a blue handicapped parking tag; otherwise, I doubt your father-in-law would be

able to get to the viewpoint.

7/ Tangle Falls is located about 10 km north of the Columbia Icefields Visitor Centre; there is parking on the west side of the road and the falls are right beside the east side of the road. Definitely worth a stop!

About the portable charcoal BBQ - there are lots of picnic areas all through the parks, so if you are equipped with everything you need, I don't see why it wouldn't be possible. Here in Jasper, there are even picnic shelters at the Lake Annette picnic areas, just a couple of kilometres from town, so even if it is raining (or snowing, which is almost a tradition on the May long weekend), you could BBQ there. However, if you are asking about using it at your accommodations, you will have to ask each of them to see if it is possible.

Toronto, Canada
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5. Re: Trip Itinerary help with timing and suggestions

Thank you so much for the tips krp329! I am in the process of fine tuning my itinerary at the moment.

Looks like there is some good news though! I may have an additional night/day added to the trip!

Toronto, Canada
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6. Re: Trip Itinerary help with timing and suggestions

I just took a look at Overlander and Rearguard falls. Are there any viewpoints for falls that are TALL!! Or taller? I remember during my first drive through the Rockies about 8 years ago and remember seeing some magnificent falls that were towering above us. We didn't have the luxury of stopping, but this time I do.

Can you recommend/pinpoint any? If they are a 20-30min hike like Rearguard, I think we can manage that.

Mahtomedi, Minnesota
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7. Re: Trip Itinerary help with timing and suggestions

Are you thinking of Takakkaw Falls in Yoho? My guess the road up there will not be open.

Jasper, Canada
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8. Re: Trip Itinerary help with timing and suggestions

On the Icefields Parkway, there are several sets of falls on the "Weeping wall", just north of Saskatchewan Crossing. Tangle Falls is also located right beside the road, with a pull-off for parking, about 10 km north of the Icefields Visitor Centre.

Where did you drive (what route) when you came through the Rockies last time?

Toronto, Canada
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9. Re: Trip Itinerary help with timing and suggestions

Thanks all for the tips regarding the waterfalls.

Great news, I managed to add on another day to our trip. We're now at 6 nights 7 days! YAY!

I some more questions.

For our drive from Vancouver to Jasper, what is the more visually pleasing route?

1) From Kamloops, continue on Hwy 1 to Lake Louise, then go North to Jasper?

2) From Kamloops, take Hwy 5 to 16, then 16 to Jasper?

Taking a little long/shorter is ok. Just want to get the best bang for the buck along either route. Of course, I'm sure both are great, just wanted to get some feedback from anyone who's done both!

Also, for one of our days, I wanted to visit Lake Louise in the morning, then head for the Radium Hot Springs. But I was thinking of the LONG WAY around: Hwy 1 --> down 95 -->Radium.

Then after a relaxing time in the hot springs, head to Banff to our hotel.

I took a look through Google maps Street View briefly. Just wondering if anyone recommends this scenic detour, or is it mostly obstructed by tree lines close to the road?

Thanks again all!

Toronto, Canada
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10. Re: Trip Itinerary help with timing and suggestions

My father was reminscing of his first trip to the Rockies over 10 years, shortly after he came to Canada. He has mentioned to me, 3 Valley. That was all he knew. So I did a little digging. A ghost town? :-) How's the scenery here? Worth the stop?

Hence why I asked about the 2 routes in the previous post.

Thanks!