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8/3-8/10 trip w/ kids ages 15, 13 & 5 - totally overwhelmed!

Chicago, Illinois
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8/3-8/10 trip w/ kids ages 15, 13 & 5 - totally overwhelmed!

We fly in and out of Calgary and I have reservations for the first 3 nights in Banff, then 2 nights in Jasper and 2 nights in Lake Louise. I have tried to come-up with a good list of activities but i would really appreciate some guidance to finalize our plans! Here are my questions:

1. How is my breakdown of locations - should we do 2 nights in Jasper and 2 in Lake Louise instead?

2. In Banff we would like to do the Sulphur Mountain gondola; Lake Minnewanka driving loop and boat cruise; drive along Bow River Parkway and Johnston Canyon with hike to upper falls or canoe Bow river. We would love to do the Discover Banff nightime wildlife tour as well as maybe

3. Our Lake Louise sights include Yoho National Park (with stops at Spiral Tunnels & the Natural Bridge), Emerald Lake & Takakkaw Falls.

4. Should we try to raft / float in Banff or Athabasca falls. If our little one is too young we could split up...

5. Icefields parkway stops - should we do Hector lake, Peyto Lake, Tangle Falls. Sunwapta Falls, Athabasca Falls? Should we take the snowcoach tour the same day as we drive-up or wait and do it the next day after staying in Jasper overnight.

6. In Jasper - Mt. Edith Cavel - path of glacier trail, and then what with our kids age - Maligne lake / canyon, Medicine Lake, Patrica/Pyramid lake... Angel falls?

7. Should we do Johnston Canon while we stay at Banff or combine it with Lake Louise and Moraine lake... In Lake Louise / Moraine Lake what are the best activities for our ages? I think the idea of the tea house hike is great (when we bike we always have an ice cream destination in mind) but not sure if it is worth it or even possible with our 5 year old. I would say she is pretty average in terms of her abilities and interests

Am I missing anything that would be great for kids? Should I cut a little into all of the scenic touring and spend our last night in Calgary or nearby doing something different?

Sorry to be so needy - I was so happy to book the trip but since then I've felt incapable of making a decision so I really appreciate all of the wisdom, insights and advice on this site!

London, Canada
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1. Re: 8/3-8/10 trip w/ kids ages 15, 13 & 5 - totally overwhelmed!

I suggest a side trip to the Tyrell dinosaur museum especially for the five year old. It is amazing for everyone ! The area surrounding the museum is badlands and is a wonderful area to walk in. We did about your tour a few years ago and it truly is breath taking.

Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: 8/3-8/10 trip w/ kids ages 15, 13 & 5 - totally overwhelmed!

That sounds great - do you know where the best place is to overnight if we do that?

seattle
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3. Re: 8/3-8/10 trip w/ kids ages 15, 13 & 5 - totally overwhelmed!

I'd do the Maligne Lk cruise over Minnewanka as its far more scenic and brings you to Spirit Island which you can't get to by yourself. I'm not sure the logic of staying in LL for two nites. Its very very expensive meal wise with a family and its only 45 minutes from Banff. Perhaps add a day in Banff and stay there on the way back from Jasper. Do Moraine Lk early then LL, or use that day as the drive to Yoho since LL is closer. Otherwise I think your itinerary is fine. You can easily raft on the Athabasca river. I do it with jasper raft co. Its fun but not overly aggessive so your smallest would enjoy it also.

Winnipeg
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4. Re: 8/3-8/10 trip w/ kids ages 15, 13 & 5 - totally overwhelmed!

We did the hike to the teahouse at Lake Louise a couple of years ago with a 9 year old (who moaned and groaned for a good part of the hike). It takes (if I remember correctly) about 1 1/2 hrs. up and 45 min. down. It is quite busy at the teahouse and service can be very slow but you will be amazed at the fact that all the supplies are hauled up that trail! I would consider it a semi-strenuous, uphill hike and I couldn't believe the couple of families we saw with strollers. Take lots of water with you and be aware that there are no bathroom facilities between the beginning of the trail and the teahouse. It was well worth the climb but be prepared to go slowly with your 5 year old. As far as staying at Lake Louise goes, your teenagers will probably be bored out of their minds staying there. It's a very small community with a few hotels, hardly any restaurants and no "night-life" to speak of. The hostel there does have a very good restaurant that's open to the public, so check that out for lunch. I think you'd be better off staying in Banff, as other posters have mentioned, because it's only a 45 minute drive. If you are seriously considering the Tyrell museum in Drumheller, you'd probably have to dedicate two days to it. By the time you drive a few hours east of Calgary to get to it, spend several hours at the museum and touring the area, you'd have to spend the night. There are several hotels in Drumheller and you'd have to book well in advance because they fill early in the season. I'd only take the time to go there if you think your 5 year old would really, really be interested. The teenagers would only enjoy it if they're science enthusiasts. The 9 year old girl we took thought it was really boring, despite the fact that the adults enjoyed it. They have a good website, so get your older kids to check it out and see what they think.

Jasper, Canada
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5. Re: 8/3-8/10 trip w/ kids ages 15, 13 & 5 - totally overwhelmed!

About the Jasper portion of your holiday ... I would plan to do the sno-coach tour at the Columbia Icefields on one of your driving days on the Icefields Parkway. Plan to spend all of both days making the drives each way, what with the various stops and viewpoints and allowing for the tour, and be sure to pack picnic lunches, since food services are very limited along the way and very expensive. There are lots of lovely picnic areas along the way.

There is no "Angel Falls" - I think perhaps you are thinking of the Angel Glacier at Mt. Edith Cavell. You have plenty to fill your one day in the Jasper area. If it is a hot day when you are here, you might want to head out to the beach at Lake Annette - it's a shallow lake that gets warm enough for swimming, and has a nice sandy beach, picnic sites, playground etc.

Regarding the Plain of Six Glaciers tea house hike - I think it would be quite a stretch for a five year old, unless s/he is normally a very active child (i.e. playing outside, running around the neighbourhood, every day). It's a six mile hike with substantial elevation gain (don't remember exactly off the top of my head, but around 1200 feet) - and then elevation loss, of course... for any of you, if you haven't done any hill walking before the hike, you will have quite a lot of difficulty walking down stairs the next day or two (painful quadriceps muscles). ;-) Not that it is impossible at all for active kids, even that young... we did a 35 km backpacking trip over three days with ours when they were 4 and 7 (including one day when they walked 15 km or about 9 miles), but these were "free range" kids who spent a lot of time outside in summer, playing and running around. As for teens ... my own experience has been that it was much easier to get my kids out hiking when they were small (3 to 10 yrs.) than when they were older... as teens, it was impossible and the whining and sulking factor made it unbearable. Hopefully yours are more amenable!

Winnipeg
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6. Re: 8/3-8/10 trip w/ kids ages 15, 13 & 5 - totally overwhelmed!

momtwofour4 - Sorry if there's some confusion re: teahouses at Lake Louise, the one I was referring to is the Lake Agnes teahouse. It's closer and a shorter hike than the Plain of Six Glaciers teahouse that krp329 mentions.

London, Canada
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7. Re: 8/3-8/10 trip w/ kids ages 15, 13 & 5 - totally overwhelmed!

When we went we flew from southern ontario on a 7am fight and landed in Calgary at 9am Calgary time. We picked up our car and went to Drumheler. We spent the day there then drove back to Calgary arriving in mid evening. Our daughter was almost 13 at the time and she liked the museum she did however find the amount of time we spent in the car for the rest of the trip a little much. I do recall something to the effect of yeah mom I get it , it's a mountain, it's beautiful , it looks just like the last hundred we have seen! Love teen aged girls!

Michigan
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8. Re: 8/3-8/10 trip w/ kids ages 15, 13 & 5 - totally overwhelmed!

We vacationed in Banff, Jasper. LL June 16-26 and hiked to both tea houses (Plain of 6 glaciers and Lake Agnes). The views were spectacular and we loved these hikes! We took our 10 and 13 year old daughters with us. Previous posters are correct - Lake Agnes teahouse is a shorter hike, but both are uphill, and are somewhat strenuous but very rewarding. I think we actually enjoyed the views along the Plain of 6 Glaciers hike more, but both were great. Our kids really enjoyed the hikes but they are active girls who enjoy nature and the outdoors. We allowed for each of these hikes to be a full day activity so we could stop and rest whenever we wanted to. We also packed a lunch and snacks so we could eat along the trail whenever we got hungry. Then when the uphill trail got tough, we encouraged our kids by promising them any dessert they wanted once they got to the teahouse (bring cash for the teahouses - no credit cards accepted). In the evenings we would just eat dinner, soak in the hotel hot tub and rest. I would think your older kids could do these hikes without a problem if they are somewhat active and enjoy the outdoors. Only you can assess what the 5 year old can handle. I would think you can handle it if you bring food, drink and allow for rest stops when neccessary.

9. Re: 8/3-8/10 trip w/ kids ages 15, 13 & 5 - totally overwhelmed!

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