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!)