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Thread: Banff/Jasper/Yoho/Kootenay/Yay!

  1. #1


    I noticed from this post that lost of you have been to this area! I am looking for some input on a 17 day road trip. We're going to get married (no guests) on this trip at Emerald Lake Lodge. (This is an update from an old post.)
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    We have a tentative plan mapped out. If you've been there, care to input? This is for this summer.

    We're going to splurge on Emerald Lake Lodge and also 3 nights at the Durrand Glacier Chalet (remember last year's Banff Film Festival with Reudi Beglinger? Yeah that one!). The rest we'll camp or do cheap hotels. I'll figure if we need reservations once we get more of a schedule then I can research lodging more.

    We plan/hope to hike everyday. Not really into the shops, etc.

    1. leave home
    2. get to Banff/Canmore midday, stay in Banff or Canmore
    3. explore during day, stay in Banff or Canmore
    4. head to Moraine Lake (canoe?), Lake Louise (hike to Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse), sleep at Emerald Lake
    5. hike around lake, Natural Bridge, wedding day, sleep at ELL
    6. Icefields Parkway hikes, sleep in Jasper
    7. Maligne Lake, explore Jasper, sleep in Jasper
    8. head to Revelstoke, see Takakaw Falls or any Icefields spots missed, stay in Revelstoke, pack for chalet
    9. Durrand Glacier Chalet (remote chalet only accessible by helicopter), hike
    10. Durrand Glacier Chalet, hike
    11. Durrand Glacier Chalet, hike
    12. Durrand Glacier Chalet, back in town by 10am, explore Rogers Pass, or Golden?
    13. explore Kootenay, hike Floe lake, etc, stay in Radium?
    14. Kootenay, stay somewhere? (not 100% sure here)
    15. head to Glacier NP (US), stay in West Glacier
    16. explore Glacier, stay in West Glacier
    17. head home

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    I wanted to save a day to try to get Lake O'Hara bus reservations, but I'm not sure if we can fit it in plus we'll have to back track.

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  3. #2
    Sounds like great fun. Haven't been up there in almost a decade since we drove the ALCAN. Not sure what the glacier conditions along the Icefield Parkway are like anymore; given the chance I would still bring a pair of 10 point hiking crampons and explore some.

    Banff is a blast. I can't remember if we stayed in hostels or camped there. The hot springs are worth an hour soak. The Tram ride offers a great hike, we hiked up and rode down for free ;^)

    There are a ton of hot springs along the Canada/Idaho/Montana boundary area that are stunning (thinking mostly non-commercial). If that is your thing I would do some research.

    Jealous of Glacier....still on my list.


  4. #3
    Canyon Wrangler canyoncaver's Avatar
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    Nov 2009
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    First reaction: DO IT! That is one of the most stunningly beautiful areas on earth.

    Second reaction: If you are planning on seeing Glacier NP (USA) do it on the way up to Canada, not on the way back. My wife and I stopped in Glacier on the way back, and it was lackluster compared to what you will see in Banff and Glacier. Nothing against Glacier, it is a great park. It's just that it would make a nice prelude to what you will see in Canada, but on the way back will be a bit of a let down.

    I would recommend kayaking or canoeing as much as possible up there. We took our 16 foot tandem kayak and paddled on Moraine Lake, Emerald Lake, and Maligne Lake. The highlight was a two night trip on Maligne Lake. That place is other-worldly beautiful and was the highlight of our entire trip. Mt. Robson is worth a visit as well.

    We camped the whole time as we found the hotels and restaurants to be quite expensive. One thing to keep in mind is the length of the days up there since you will be so far north. We were there in early July and the sun came up at 4am and went down at 10:30pm. Because there was so much daylight, we did more in ten days than we thought we could do in two weeks.

    Get some bear spray! We saw 11 bears in ten days!

  5. #4
    I thought of that, Glacier NP after seeing the rest! Good to know. I will see if I can rearrange the schedule as some days are fixed (Durrand Chalet), and we need to get married on a weekday (makes it easier), but also want to minimize backtracking. Definitely want to get some canoeing in. Heck, I'm going to canoe in my wedding gown.

    I'm going to have to check the sunrise/sunsets for our trip now!

    Assuming you canoe camped on Maligne Lake, did you make reservations?

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  7. #5
    Get the bear spray after crossing the border, at least as of 2002 we couldn't cross with it in either direction.

  8. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by restrac2000 View Post
    Get the bear spray after crossing the border, at least as of 2002 we couldn't cross with it in either direction.
    Good to know. I'll check into that.

    I see some hikes require 4 people to a group like into Valley of the Ten Peaks.

  9. #7
    Canyon Wrangler canyoncaver's Avatar
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    Nov 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by restrac2000 View Post
    Get the bear spray after crossing the border, at least as of 2002 we couldn't cross with it in either direction.
    Good call. We bought ours in Jasper. We were able to bring it back home, but weren't searched or asked about it at the border.

    We got our Maligne Lake camping permit the day before we went there from the Lake Louise warden station. This was Canada Day week in 2008, so the parks were crowded but the lake was not. I don't know if this is typical or if we just got lucky. I do think we went mid-week but can't remember. There were two other groups at the campsite we stayed at, with room for several more.

    The lake has infrequent tour boat traffic up to Spirit Island. Beyond there, it is electric motors only. Be sure to check the weather and wear PFDs, it is a big, cold lake. The fishing there was also incredible. I caught six trout within about 2 hours.

    The one restaurant we frequented in Jasper was a pizza place where you could get a big, good slice of pizza for something like $4.

  10. #8
    Stay at Radian Hot Springs on the way up... West entrance to the park north east of Cranbrook. We stayed in Cranbrook last year much to our disappointment, then the next day rode through the Radian area... We really missed out!

  11. #9
    First, congrats on the impending marriage. Sounds like a perfect place to get married to me. :)

    Few random thoughts:

    I agree with the above poster about doing Glacier NP first. Or just use those days in Canada.

    If you stay in Canmore, we got a good deal using Priceline. I think we stayed in the Radisson? (it was some chain - we got a good price, lodging can be expensive around there)

    I see you have an extra day in Banff/Canmore. When we stayed in Canmore we did Burstall Pass, which was a neat day hike.

    I see some hikes require 4 people to a group like into Valley of the Ten Peaks.
    This is the case, but the two times we did hikes in this area we had no problems hooking up with other hikers (and one time it was even a group of six requirement). Seems like most people go to Sentinel Pass, but we were also able to find some fellow hikers to go to Wenkchemna Pass. Both these hikes are stellar and I liked them better than hiking around Lake Louise. I liked Lake Louise, but that place probably has the highest number of visitors. If you hike there, get an early start to avoid some of the crowds.

    Get the bear spray after crossing the border, at least as of 2002 we couldn't cross with it in either direction.
    I don't know what current policies are, but we crossed the border in 2009 and had no problems with the bear spray. It was the apple that we had to give up. :P

    We backpacked the Rockwall trail in Kootenay and it was beautiful (especially Floe Lake), but personally, I would opt for Assiniboine or Lake O'Hara instead (provided you can get a bus reservation). It's a 17 mile hike into the heart of Assiniboine, so it's not really a day hike. You can backpack or take a helicopter in - so worth it:

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    If you can get a spot for Lake O'Hara - the Alpine Circuit is one of the best day hikes I've ever done. Even better if you can camp for a few days. But it can be tough to get a permit. If you make a reservation at Abbot Pass Hut, I think that comes with a bus reservation, so that might be an option too if there is space available.

    I have some pictures and trip notes posted if you want to see: - Lake Louise area, Assiniboine, Lake O'Hara - Yoho day hikes, Berg Lake (Mt. Robson), Tonquin Valley, Kootenay (Rockwall trail) - day hikes around Banff/Jasper

    We love the Patton and Robinson book for the Canadian Rockies (considered the bible for the area). I've also heard good things about "Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies".

    You'll have an awesome trip!

  12. #10
    Thanks so much! Great photos Katherine! I can't believe all you guys two with a toddler.

    We could try to shoot for a Lake O'Hara bus reservation for Day 13. It would require 3 hours back tracking to where we just were.

    Alternatively to minimize backtracking, we could skip the extra day in Banff, and we'll know next month if we got the reservation for the bus. If so, it could looks like this:

    Day 2 - get to Banff/Canmore midday, sleep in Canmore
    Day 3 - see Moraine Lake/Lake Louise/hike, sleep in LL village
    Day 5 - wedding day @ ELL

    Glacier NP isn't mandatory, but since we do have to break up that drive back to Utah, it looked like the best stopping point.

    We may have to save getting a backcountry hut for another trip. I was reading about these lotteries and the few I researched, their dates have already passed.

  13. #11

    I would try for a bus reservation for both days 3 and 4. It will increase your chances if you have two days to try for. It's not a far drive between LL village and ELL, I don't think it would be a big deal to switch around the activities for those days if you get a bus reservation on Day 3. It's so worth it!

    Random tip - twice we've seen bears (one black, one grizzly) on the train tracks while driving to Yoho. When you do that drive, keep a look out. They look for grain that has been dropped by the trains (which they are trying to fix - unfortunately, some bears have been hit by trains since they are on the tracks).

    You're right about the drive back - Glacier is a good stop. If you utilize the shuttle system you can do some nice one way hikes there.

    We haven't stayed at Abbott Pass Hut - have just read about it. Didn't know they had a lottery. Not surprising though. I'm not sure how the huts at Assiniboine work since we camped.

    You will have an awesome trip!

  14. #12
    Dreaming of the Winds! homerj's Avatar
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    Cache Valley
    Of the 4 parks, Jasper was our favorite!!!

    -Maligne Canyon and Beauty Creek are a "Must See" on my list! Maligne Canyon (just NW of Jasper) is popular (lots of people), but very pretty. I'd also drive up to Maligne Lake and check it out. Very pretty drive! Beauty Creek was our favorite hike of the entire trip. We thought it was the prettiest and we didn't see anyone the whole time! -Beauty Creek is very easy to miss. It's about 5 miles north of Tangle Falls or about 9.5 from the Athabasca Glacier.

    -Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are very busy (busiest place we visited), but a must see.
    -Johnson Canyon is also busy, but a must see.
    -Lake Minnewanka is a cool area
    -Banff Springs Hotel is worth checking out! Tip: go in a side door (not main entrance because "only guests" are allowed past a certain area) and walk around. There are some very cool ballroom/dinning rooms and the guest room doors are neat coffin shaped doors!
    -We rode the Gondola in Banff. Great view on top!

    -You already know of Emerald Lake and the Natural Bridge...
    -Check out Wapta Falls.
    -In the town of Field, there is this great little restaurant we stumbled upon. We almost didn't eat there. Boy were we glad we did!!! Also, Check out St. Joseph's Church in the town. Very picturesque with the mountains in the background!
    -The Spiraling Train Tunnels are very cool if you get lucky and catch a train coming through (we did!). The canyon is so steep they carved out tunnels that go into the mountain spiral (loop) around and come out lower.
    -Takakkaw Falls (2nd highest waterfall in Canada at 1260')! The canyon was closed when we were there (June. It was a heavy snow year) due to the high avalanche danger.

    -Marble Canyon is gorgeous!
    -Radium Hot Springs

    If you want any more info or pics, send me a PM.

  15. #13
    Ah, well... we decided not to book anything for August for our private wedding. I just freaked out about not being able to enjoy this trip if my dad dies like 1-3 months prior or even worse, while on this trip.

    So we'll just wait - like we were going to - until he passes and then do our trip when I feel I can do it. I'd hate to wait a whole year to get married to do it on this trip with nice weather, so we'll do this trip eventually, but who know if it'll be a weddingmoon trip.

    Thanks for all the tips! I hope to use them next year!

  16. #14
    Me again.

    Well, my dad passed away on June 1 this year. I was able to fly home to be by his bedside for 5 hours before he passed in his own home. I think he knew I was there. He had a few conscientious moments. My sisters are both nurses and did a great job at giving him a peaceful passing in his own home.

    I feel ready to move on to a wedding now as life seems to have resumed to normal for me. We're eloping since my family told me they could not make it to Utah (various excuses). We've just booked an elopement deal at Emerald Lake Lodge for the end of August and we're making an 11 day road trip out of it. We cut out the Durrand Glacier Chalet trip (we'll save that for a ski vacation), and we did not get on the Lake O'Hara Buss (that books up 3 months prior when they open the lines for that specific day).

    So I'm back to read all the suggestions because it's coming up in less than 3 weeks!

  17. #15
    Canyon Wrangler canyoncaver's Avatar
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    Nov 2009
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    Sorry about your dad. Hope you have a great trip to Canada. Let us know how it went when you get back. Wish I was going up to the Canadian Rockies this summer.

  18. #16
    Exciting . Such a wonderful place to be with your partner, I am planning to arrange a good party for my wife on our first anniversary. What is your thought friends?And I will surely gift her new wedding dress.

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