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itinerary help

Boston...
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itinerary help

we're spending 10 days in banff/jasper and i'd love to hear your guys' opinion on our itinerary so far! our hotel bookings can't be changed so we just had to make do with what was available. im having trouble finding the best days to visit various areas, given where we are staying. some places we have to drive 30-45 mins from our hotel to get to our destination, or drive 45 mins back to our hotel. i'm afraid it may lead us late into the night, which i would prefer to avoid b/c we plan to wake up early in the mornings to avoid crowds.

here is our plan so far:

7/3 – flying in to Calgary

• 1120pm: arrive in Calgary

• stay in Calgary for the night

7/4: DAY 1 – scenic drive to Banff/exploring Banff town

• drive to Banff

Canmore grocery store

• visit Bow Falls, Hoodoo Viewpoint

• explore Banff, have lunch

Lake Minnewanka

Mount Norquay *time permitting

• dinner @ Banff

Vermilion Lakes

• drive 30 mins to hotel

• stay: Castle Mountain Chalets: Hwy 93 South And Castle Junction 1A

7/5: DAY 2 – gondola and easy hiking

• 615am: wake up

• 730am: drive to Sulphur Mountain Gondola (30 mins drive)

• 8am: Sulphur Mountain Gondola *book, weather permitting

Sunshine Meadows (30 mins drive) → take bus ride

Bow Valley Parkway to hotel

• stay: Castle Mountain Chalets: Hwy 93 South And Castle Junction 1A

7/6: DAY 3 – scenic drive to LL

• 6am: wake up

• 715am: drive to Johnston Canyon

• 730am: Bow Valley Parkway to Johnston Canyon, hike to Ink Pots

• drive to LL

• Lake Louise Shoreline trail

• dinner at Lake Louise

• stay: Castle Mountain Chalets: Hwy 93 South And Castle Junction 1A

7/7: DAY 4 – long hiking

• outfit: hiking

• 6am: wake up

• 730am: drive to Plain of 6 Glaciers (30 min drive)

• dinner at Lake Louise

• stay: Lake Louise Inn @ 210 Village Road

7/8: DAY 5 – canoe and easy hiking

• 6am: wake up

• 7am: drive to Moraine Lake (30 min drive)

• 730am: Moraine Lake Canoe *best time to take pics: 2 hrs after sunrise

• afternoon: Moraine Lake Shoreline, Rockpile, + Lower Consolation Lakes trail

• dinner @ Lake Louise

• stay: Lake Louise Inn @ 210 Village Road

7/9: DAY 6 – scenic drive to Yoho

• 9am: drive to Yoho

• Emerald Lake

• Wapta Falls Trail

• Takakkaw Falls

Town of Field

• dinner @ Yoho

• drive 45 mins to hotel

• stay: Johnston Canyon Lodge and Bungalows @ Box 875, Highway 1A Bow Valley Parkway, Castle Junction

7/10: DAY 7 – scenic drive to Jasper

• 9am: wake up

• 11am: drive Icefields Parkway to Jasper (232 km)

• many stops to make along the way! I do have a question about Columbia Icefields/Athabasca Glacier. Do people recommend booking a tour for that? I've heard mixed reviews about how it is a little disorganized or not that great..?

• stay: Tonquin Inn @ 100 Juniper St, Jasper

7/11: DAY 8 – tours

• 7am: wake up

• 830am to 230pm: Maligne Lake Adventure + Cruise

• 5pm to 10pm:Wildlife Jasper Tour Company

• stay: Tonquin Inn @ 100 Juniper St, Jasper

7/12: DAY 9 – hiking (2)

• outfit: hiking

• 8am: wake up

• 10am:🚶Maligne Canyon (15 min drive) - Bridge 1 to Bridge 5 or 6 (which one would you guys recommend stopping at?)

• 2-3pm: Sunwapta Falls

• 3-4pm: drive to Parker Ridge Trail *time permitting

• 8-10pm: drive to hotel

• stay: Tonquin Inn @ 100 Juniper St, Jasper

7/13: DAY 10

• 10am to 1pm: canoe/picnic lunch on Pyramid and Patricia Lakes

• 1pm: drive back to Calgary

• 8pm: turn in rental car

• 1140pm: flight back home

Would you guys even recommend canoeing on Pyramid and Patricia Lakes on our last day? We have a late night flight and tried to plan plenty of time (7 hrs) for the drive back from Jasper to Calgary.

Thank you!!

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10 replies to this topic
Saint Louis...
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1. Re: itinerary help

Personally, the last day I'd rather spend time stopping at the sights along the Parkway over canoeing. It's a different view coming back down than going up.

Also, you can't drive to the PO6G. You drive to LL and then hike to it.

I'd leave right after breakfast to hit the road to Jasper.

The drive from Jasper to Maligne Lake is at least an hour and then you need to pad your time a little for slow traffic or animal sightings.

Sunwapta Falls is on the way from Banff NP to Jasper NP. Hit that either on your way up or back. No need to backtrack. Parker Ridge is also, along the Parkway. You have a lot of backtracking going on. Plus, you really don't want to drive the parkway at night. We arrived at dusk one trip (rental car trouble) and almost hit a giant elk closer to the town site.

You have things planned down to the minute. Relax a little and just let things happen.

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2. Re: itinerary help

Much too rushed. You have built no relaxation time into your very rigid schedule and for some you are bouncing all over the place.

Canada’s National Parks are a place where you find a bench, sit, and immerse yourself into the beauty. You can easily spend a couple pf hours just breathing the fresh cool air.

I think you’ll end up going home more tired than when you started out.

I would take each day and just list the area you might want to visit time permitting. Two to things each day. I have visions of you running through a hike to get back to the car and off to your next stop. You are trying to do it all instead of doing it well.

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Boston...
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3. Re: itinerary help

@Justbreathe2000 @Edmonton_mamma, Thanks for the feedback! Looking over my schedule I realized that it is definitely way too packed... guess I'm a little too excited haha. So to avoid backtracking, when would you suggest we hike the Parker Ridge Trail?

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4. Re: itinerary help

Parker Ridge could either be on the day you drive to Jasper (day 7 ... start earlier), or, if you want to drive some of the very scenic parkway again, on the day you have it scheduled. If you are going to hike Parker Ridge that day, I'd drop the Maligne Canyon hike, and just visit the canyon more quickly, viewing it from the first three bridges. The canyon hike does not compare to Parker Ridge! Time permitting, you could visit the canyon on your way to or from Maligne Lake. If you do hike the canyon, from the top to 5th bridge and back up is about 4 km, or if you go to 6th bridge, that's an 8 km round-trip hike. Most of it is a pleasant, level walk beside the river in the forest; from bridges 1 to 4 is where the canyon is, and where there is a hill to climb or descend. (The pathway is paved in places and has steps.)

Day 10 could also be a possible Parker Ridge hike day, except that then you might be driving and then flying after getting all sweaty.

If you decide not to do the sno-coach tour & skywalk (which take 2.5 to 3 hours), you can walk to the toe of the glacier, and visit the exhibit in the visitor centre.

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Saint Louis...
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5. Re: itinerary help

I don't blame you for being excited! The Canadian Rockies are my favorite place to vacation. We stopped at the Columbia Glacier after hours on our way up to Jasper and just looked at the glacier and walked around a bit. For us, it was enough, for some that might not be enough. From what I hear the Skywalk is a ripoff. Leave early and check out Maligne Canyon on your way to Maligne Lake. You'll want a quick stop at Medicine lake that day as well. We were able to see the Eagles nesting the last time we were there (2016). Going again in 2020. Can't wait!

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Saint Louis...
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6. Re: itinerary help

On your first day stop in Canmore before going to Banff to get your groceries. We always travel with a soft sided cooler bag to hold drinks and snacks for the days travels. It flattens and travels well in your suitcase. Also, you'll find you are up and about by 6 most mornings. Stay on east coast time and you'll be amazed at how much you get to see and do!

Edited: 09 June 2018, 22:35
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Boston...
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7. Re: itinerary help

@krp329 Oh, I didn't know that was an option! How do we walk to the toe, and how long would it take? Is it safe for those who are not very experienced with hiking? Would you recommend doing that instead of the whole adventure tour? For Maligne Canyon, we are actually going to get picked up and we do not need to make a round trip. In that case, could we walk from Bridge 1 to 5, and then go to Parker Ridge that same day? Thank you!!

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Maligne Canyon
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8. Re: itinerary help

There are actually two trails at the glacier - the Forefield Trail and the Toe of the Glacier Trail. Details are here: https:/…glaciers-icefields

You can also "walk" the trails with google streetview ... here is a shot: https://goo.gl/maps/UrkFx5qaXux

Here is another view - satellite view. https://goo.gl/maps/hQDLMfkvfmG2 Drag the little orange stickperson icon to where the sign marks the beginning of the trail. The trail will highlight in blue and then you can drop the little person anywhere you want to see what it's like.

The canyon from bridges 1 to 5 would be about 2 km (downhill), then the Parker Ridge trail would be 5.4 km. That shouldn't be a problem for anyone of average fitness. The Parker Ridge trail does gain about 275 metres of elevation (about 900 feet), and you are starting out at fairly high elevation, so you will probably notice you are a bit more out-of-breath than you would expect. Although you start just below treeline, the bit of forest you do go through is old growth. Although the trees are not that tall or wide, you have to consider how short the growing season is at that elevation.

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Boston...
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9. Re: itinerary help

@krp329 Thank you so much!! We may plan to walk to the toe via the Toe of the Glacier trail. Would you recommend to do the tour? We aren't interested in the skywalk that much, but walking on the glaciers seems like a great experience. We plan to leave for Jasper first thing in the AM but we like to take many, many stops and many photos so I am not sure how the timing will work out. I have also heard that it seems like a "tourist trap" or "rip-off" from other reviewers.

I've revised my itinerary below - any critiques/feedback would be much appreciated! I do apologize for the format of the last one; I copied/pasted from my word doc and didn't realize how hard it was to read until it was too late to edit:

7/3: late night arrival in Calgary, stay in Calgary for the night

Day 1: drive to Banff, grocery shop @ Canmore. Lunch @ Banff, explore Banff town. Tunnel Mountain Drive and Lake Minnewanka loop. Dinner @ Banff. Drive to Vermilion Lakes. Head to hotel.

Day 2: Sulphur Mountain Gondola (weather permitting). Have lunch. Drive to Sunshine Village and hike Rock Isle/Grizzly-Laryx Lake/Standish Ridge viewpoint. Drive Bow Valley Parkway to hotel

Day 3: early morning - Johnston Canyon to Ink Pots hike (will bring lunch). Then, head to Lake Louise for shoreline trail and Fairview lookout. Dinner @ Lake Louise (any dinner suggestions? Preferably not too pricey, around $$ or $$$?). Head to hotel.

Day 4: early morning - Plain of 6 Glaciers hike, dinner @ Lake Louise

Day 5: early morning - Moraine Lake canoe. Walk/hike shoreline, rockpile, and consolation lakes. Dinner @ Lake Louise.

Day 6: scenic drive to Yoho with stops at Natural Bridge, Emerald Lake, Wapta Falls, Takakkaw Falls. Explore Field / dinner @ Field. Head to hotel

(depending on weather, I may swap Day 5 and Day 6. We are staying at Lake Louise Inn on Day 5, and Johnston Canyon Lodge on Day 6. Swapping Day 5 and 6 would save driving time from Field at night but add time to Moraine Lake which isn't ideal given how busy Moraine Lake gets, but we'll see)

Day 7: Icefields Parkway drive to Jasper (any tips for relatively inexpensive places to fill up gas??). Countless stops along the way, maybe Adventure Tour. Dinner @ Jasper. Head to hotel

Day 8: 2 tours - Maligne Lake Adventure + Cruise, Wildlife Jasper Tour Company

Day 9: Maligne Canyon hike from Bridge 1 to 5 (we're getting picked up by my father, who can't hike long distances, at Bridge 5). Parker Ridge Trail in the afternoon. Drive to hotel

Day 10: Pyramid/Patricia lakes canoe and picnic lunch. No later than 1pm: drive to Calgary to catch 1140pm flight.

Edited: 11 June 2018, 01:48
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10. Re: itinerary help

I have done the sno-coach tour once, and really enjoyed it. However, it is now bundled with the skywalk, so you have to pay for both, even if you are not interested in the skywalk. Bear in mind that coming in peak season as you are, when the sno-coach is parked at the safe zone on the glacier (you get about ten minutes there), it will be parked there with many other coaches ... each carrying almost 50 people. I have counted twenty or more coaches parked on the ice lots of times from the Wilcox Pass hike across the valley.

Day 7 - be sure you gas up in Banff or Lake Louise. There is only one gas station on the Icefields Parkway and it is very expensive! I drove to Jasper from Lake Louise the other day ... gas was $1.289 per litre at Lake Louise; at The Crossing Resort gas station it was $1.999. !!!!!

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