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Need help for planing a 10-day trip in Canadian Rockies.

Toronto, Canada
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Need help for planing a 10-day trip in Canadian Rockies.

Hi,

I am planing my trip to Canadian Rockies in late August. After reading a lot in the forum, I have got a general idea of what to do during my trip, but details are still very confusing.

Please help check my initial plan and give your advice if anything should be adjusted/added/skipped. I am not sure if I have put too many hiking in some days and too little in others. Please give your advice to balance my trip. Thanks in advance!

Btw, I have not reserved any flight or accommodation yet, but will do as long as trip plan is done.

D1

Arrival at Calgary by noon, picking up car and driving to Banff Town

Driving to / Hiking around Lake Minnewanka.

Stay at Banff Town for the night.

*Question: Will the afternoon be enough for Lake Minnewanka?

D2

Hiking - Surphul Mountain

Exploring Banff Town.

Driving up Bow Valley Parkway.

Stay near Castle Mountain for the night.

D3

Hiking – Johnston Canyon (to Icepots if possible; Upper and lower falls of Johnston Canyon?)

Driving to Lake Louise.

Stay at Lake Louise Town for the night.

*Question: Should I combine the two-day activities into one ? Is it worthwhile to spend two whole days for these places? Or should I allocate more time for the others?

D4

Hiking around Lake Louise, Moraine Lake - Plain of the Six Glaciers, Paradise Valley to Lake Annette, etc.

*Question: Can you please suggest a one-day hiking plan for this area? I am not sure which way to go first and next. Thanks!

Stay at Lake Louise Town for the night.

D5

Early morning driving to YOHO National Park and one-day hiking around O’Hara Lake (Need to reserve bus ticket!)

Stay at Field Town for the night?

*Question: Is staying at Field a reasonable choice? I choose Field coz I think it’s near to the places I’m visiting the next day.

D6

Hiking – Iceline Trail, Emerald Lake and Takakkaw Falls

*Question: Any other place worth visiting during this day in YOHO?

Stay at Lake Louise Town for the night.

D7

Driving up Icefield Parkway – Bow Lake, Peyto Lake, etc

Hiking - Wilcox Pass or Parker's Ridge

*Question: Which one of the two hikings do you suggest taking first? I will do the other on the way back.

Stay at Jasper Town for the night.

D8

Hiking – Maligne Canyon and Lake, Medicine Lake, Mt. Edith Cavell and, Athabasca Falls

*Questions: Is it possible to hike all these places in one day? Do I miss any place? It seems to me hiking information in the forum around Jasper is not as clear as those in Banff.

Stay at Jasper Town for the night.

D9

Driving back Icefield Parkway.

Hiking – Wilcox Pass or Parker's Ridge, whichever is left.

Stay at Lake Louise Town or Banff Town for the Night.

D10

Driving back to Calgary and exploring the city.

Leaving Calgary in the afternoon.

Thanks a million in advance!

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: Need help for planing a 10-day trip in Canadian Rockies.

I can help with a few things, although others are definitely better qualified, but I can get things started anyway.

It is *extremely* difficult to get tickets for Lake O'Hara.

tripadvisor.ca/ShowTopic-g659487-i11598-k733…

If you are trying to come in 2014, then I think you are too late to get tickets for the bus.

Field is a very cute, very small little town. Personally, I would love to spend a night or two there, but there are limited options and services. Given that you won't be including Lake O'Hara, then perhaps Field is off the plan anyway. You might replace it with an extra day in Jasper. I know there are other hikes around Jasper, but there is also Mt Robson Provincial Park near by, which you might want to spend a day exploring from Jasper.

…gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/mt_robson/

Calgary, Canada
Destination Expert
for Canadian Rockies
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2. Re: Need help for planing a 10-day trip in Canadian Rockies.

Welcome

A few general comments...

1) I would try to avoid so many changes in accommodation. Lake Louise and Banff are only about 30-40 minutes apart, and you lose sightseeing/hiking time with each move.

D1 - seems reasonable as long as your flight is on time and the traffic isn't too bad.

D2 - stay in Banff. You can do the drive on 1A as you go to Johnston Canyon

D3 - I think you should keep these as two separate days. Allow time to go slowly along 1A and then 4-5 hours to do the falls and a hike up to the Inkpots. Then time to check into your new hotel and see the lake at sunset.

D4 - You cannot hike at Paradise Valley on your own - must be in a group of at least 4 people. So that may be off the agenda. You can do a full day between Lake Louise (Plain of SIx Glaciers, Lake Agnes) and Moraine Lake. My personal favorite is to start by hiking up to Lake Agnes to get tea/breakfast at the teahouse, then across to the Plain of Six Glaciers via the Big Beehive and back along the lake. Then do Moraine Lake later in the day after the major crowds have left.

D5 - You won't be able to get August tickets for the bus to Lake O'Hara at this point barring a major miracle. The only day openings are in July and September. I would scratch that off your list. I would instead use this day to perhaps do other hikes around Banff or Yoho. You could do a full day of Iceline on this day - it's a long hike.

Staying in Field could be a challenge as it's a tiny town and most places require a 2-3 night minimum. It's almost as easy to go back to Lake Louise.

D6 - I would do Iceline on Day 5 (or save for Day 6 if the weather is bad. Then use Day 6 for Takkakaw Falls, Emerald Lake (nice hikes up from the back of the lake - I had a great view of the lake yesterday early morning from up one of the big peaks there), Wapta Falls, see the really cool train tunnels, walk around Field. You can also hike up to Laughing Falls and Twin Falls from just near Takkakaw Falls.

D7 - hiking depends on the weather. Wilcox Pass is probably the more interesting of the two and has more to explore so should be allocated more time.

D8 - that would be a fall day. You can do Mt. Edith Cavell one way along the Icefields as well as Athabasca. I could see Maligne Canyon and Lake taking the full day between them. Both can be done quickly, but to really hike around and enjoy takes time.

D9 - if you are going on to Calgary, probably better to stay in Banff. More options and cheaper as well.

D10 - note that the airport is north of the city, so you need to allow plenty of time to get there. It's actually easier to go directly from the mountains to the airport on the ring road (albeit some construction now) since that avoids downtown traffic.

Calgary, Canada
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3. Re: Need help for planing a 10-day trip in Canadian Rockies.

Day 1 - Yes, the afternoon should be fine for Lake Minnewanka. Note that if you will be going beyond the Stewart Canyon bridge, you must have a tight group of four and one of your group members must be carrying bear spray.

pc.gc.ca/eng/…minnewanka.aspx

Day 2 - I agree with Ksneds, better to stay in Banff unless there is something about the Castle Junction accommodations that you find especially appealing. (Some folks really enjoy the cabin experience at Castle Junction.) Note that there are no services in Castle Junction--so you have a choice of dining at the Johnston Canyon restaurant, Storm Mountain Lodge, or cooking your own meal from supplies which you purchased in Banff. Otherwise you'll end up driving into Banff or Lake Louise anyway if you're looking for a meal or some nightlife or other activities. Castle Junction is roughly mid-way between Banff and Lake Louise, so both are about 20 minutes away.

Day 3 - Johnston Canyon is a very popular hike. Start before 9 a.m. if at all possible, so that you don't have any problems with parking and the trail is less crowded. You should go at least as far as the Upper Falls. Opinions are mixed on whether the ink pots are worth the extra effort; if you have lots of energy when you reach the Upper Falls, and the conditions are nice, you may as well continue on to the inkpots. If you're starting to get pooped by the time you hit the Upper Falls, it would be best to turn back, as you're now into the zone of diminishing returns.

Day 5 - If you have your heart set on Lake O'Hara, show up for the first bus of the day, at 8:30 a.m. You may get lucky and get a ride due to a no-show. If you don't get lucky, you have the rest of the day to do something else.

I second Ksned's recommendation to spend your last night in Banff, and to use Hwy 201 / Stoney Trail to get to the airport from Banff. You can read more about the pros and cons of different routes between Banff and the Calgary airport in this TripAdvisor Traveller Article; it also has links to Google Maps showing the routes:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g154913-c181366/Calga…

Day 3

Jasper, Canada
Destination Expert
for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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4. Re: Need help for planing a 10-day trip in Canadian Rockies.

+3 on the "too many" accommodation transfers - but to each his/her own, personally I like to avoid them, and also, we really enjoy the driving between Banff and Lake Louise along the Bow Valley Parkway, enjoying the scenery and sometimes wildlife, so don't consider the distance a problem.

D1 - I had the same thought as C_W, in regards to the "tight group of four" + bear spray requirements of hiking beyond Stewart Canyon.

D2 - I have never hiked the trail up Sulphur Mountain, but I have seen it from above when taking the gondola up, and my thought is "why bother with such a grunt of a hike when you can take the gondola". Personally, I would save your hiking efforts for more rewarding hikes, and just do the gondola for the views.

D4 hiking - if you are up for a longer distance and more elevation gain, I would hike the loop that includes both the teahouse trails (Plain of Six Glaciers and Lake Agnes), using the highline trail between them, and if you want "extra", do the Big Beehive too.

D5 - I finally got bus tickets into O'Hara this year (first tried a couple of years ago) - it involved sitting and re-dialling for a combined total of about five hours. (Last time I tried for four hours, with no success.) You can check the availability online, but all the day-use seats on the buses for your dates sold out over a month ago. The YNP webpage for the bus reservation service says the tickets usually sell out in the first hour the phone line is open, three months ahead of the date.

Most guest house accommodations in Field have two or three night minimums. However, if you want to stay there, you might luck out in finding a single night's availability between other, longer reservations. Otherwise, there is the hostel, or a couple of commercial accommodations nearby. (Emerald Lake Lodge, Cathedral Mountain Lodge, Great Divide Lodge (a budget option))

D7 - Re which hike to do first ... see how your time is going on the drive up. The shorter hike of the two is Parker Ridge. Also, weather may factor in. If it is a cool, rainy day, or if the cloud cover is low, you may opt not to hike at all.

D8 - you may have already stopped to see Athabasca Falls on your drive up the Icefields Parkway on D7. Otherwise, save it for a stop on your southward drive on D9. There is no hike there - you walk a short distance from the parking lot to the falls viewpoint. You can take a longer walk along the canyon downstream from the falls. It's been awhile since I've done that, but I don't remember it being very long.

There are both "walks" and wonderful hikes you can do, at both Mt. Edith Cavell and at Maligne Lake. Unless you are extremely fit endurance-type athletes, you probably would just choose one hike; they all are in the "moderate" range, from 8 to 12 km, 400 - 500m of elevation gain. All the hikes (Cavell Meadows, Opal Hills, Bald Hills) have optional extensions up high, for more elevation gain and alpine time.

Driving time for getting to both sites in one day, plus a hike, would make for a long day. Cavell is about one hour's drive from town (maybe about 50 min?), and Maligne Lake would be about 1.5+ hours from Cavell.

Toronto, Canada
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5. Re: Need help for planing a 10-day trip in Canadian Rockies.

Hi, again.

Thanks to all of you for the invaluable advice! You guys are amazng!!

I have adjusted my plan according to all your comments (giving up Lake O'Hara, less accommodation transfers, giving up stay at Field, etc.), but it becomes a 12-day plan now. I hope to squeeze everything back into 10 days (due to budget and I doubt if I will have enough energy for all the hikes). I understand it's not fair to ask you which places are better than others. Please just tell me what would you change if this is your plan to visit Canadian Rockies in 10 days for the first time.

I am tempted to give up activities around Banff on Day2, or giving up hiking in Iceline Trail in YNP on Day6 (I read reviews saying it's actually a 2-day hiking), or squeeze Day9 and Day10 into one day.

Thanks! Thanks! Thanks!

D1

Flying in Calgary by noon, picking up car and driving to Banff Town

Driving to / Hiking around Lake Minnewanka. (beyond the Stewart Canyon bridge, must have a tight group of four and one of group members must be carrying bear spray)

Stay in Banff Town for the night.

D2

Hiking – Surphul Mountain (or Banff Gondola)

Exploring Banff Town and purchasing supplies.

Stay in Banff Town ( or near Castle Mountain) for the night.

D3

Driving up Bow Valley Parkway (1A).

Hiking – Johnston Canyon ( Upper and lower falls to Inkpots ) - start before 9 am!!

Stay in Banff Town for the night.

D4

Driving up Bow Valley Parkway (1A) to Lake Louise.

Stay in Lake Louise Town (or Castle Mountain) for the night.

D5

Hiking between Lake Louise (Plain of SIx Glaciers, Lake Agnes) and Moraine Lake.

Start by hiking up to Lake Agnes to get tea/breakfast at the teahouse, then across to the Plain of Six Glaciers via the Big Beehive and back along the lake. Then do Moraine Lake later in the day after the major crowds have left.

Stay In Lake Louise Town for the night.

D6

Hiking in YOHO National Park - Iceline Trail

Stay in Lake Louise Town for the night.

D7

Hiking in YOHO Nantional Park

Takkakaw Falls, Emerald Lake, etc.

Stay in Lake Louise Town for the night.

D8

Driving up Icefield Parkway – Bow Lake, Peyto Lake, etc

Hiking – Wilcox Pass

Stay in Jasper Town for the night.

D9

Hiking – Maligne Canyon and Lake, Medicine Lake

Stay in Jasper Town for the night.

D10

Hiking – Mt. Edith Cavell and, Athabasca Falls, etc

Stay in Jasper Town for the night

D11

Driving back Icefield Parkway

Hiking – Parker Ridge

Stay in Banff Town for the Night.

D12

Driving back to Calgary and exploring the city if possible.

Flying out of Calgary in the afternoon.

6. Re: Need help for planing a 10-day trip in Canadian Rockies.

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