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10 Nights Banff, Jasper, LL Itinerary Help

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Hi. I am now at the "fine tuning" stage of planning our trip to Canada. I have overlapping hotel reservations that I will need to tweak and finalize/cancel, etc., very soon and would greatly appreciate your help with this before making airline reservations. I only recently became aware of the fact that Monday, August 7 is a holiday in Canada, therefore making the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday proceeding it, a holiday weekend. Originally, my plan was to fly into Calgary July 27, arriving 10 AM and follow this itinerary:

Thurs., July 27: Arrive 10 AM Calgary. Rent car. Drive To Banff. Arrive in Banff around 2-3 PM.
Stay at Banff Springs Hotel. Go out to dinner in Banff.
Fri., July 28: Banff. Gondola & Sulpher Mtn. Mineral Spring pool at night. Overnight Banff Springs.
Sat. July 29: Banff. Johnson Canyon? Bow Parkway? Suggestions? Overnight Banff Springs.
Sun. July 30 In AM, Drive Icefields Parkway, stopping at ice explorer, etc., and view points on way
Arrive Jasper around 4 PM. Overnight Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
Mon. July 31: Jasper. Explore town. Mt. Edith Cavell? Gondola? Overnight Jasper Park Lodge
Tues. Aug. 1: Jasper. Drive to Maligne Lake for cruise, stopping at Maligne Canyon on way.
Overnight Jasper Park Lodge.
Wed. Aug. 2: In AM, drive on Icefields Parkway, stopping at lookouts, view points we missed.
Arrive Lake Louise aprox 2 PM. Overnight Fairmont Chateau LL
Thurs.. Aug 3: Lake Louise. Lake Agnus Tea House Hike; Hike around Lake
Overnight Fairmont Chateau LL.
Fri. Aug 4: Brewster "Lakes & Waterfalls" tour to Morraine Lake, Yoho NP. (Or do ourselves w/o
a tour, but considering time of year, and our nervousness about bears, we may be
more comfortable on a tour?)
Overnight Fairmont Chateau LL
Sat. Aug. 5: Lake Louise. Nothing scheduled. Could easily take this day off of LL and add onto
beginning of trip, giving us a 4th night in Banff? Just thought since we will be using
one fully day to go to Yoho and Morraine Lake, it might be good to have this extra
day in LL area? Opinions on this are most welcome!!!
Sun Aug. 6: Drive to Calgary in AM. 3:30 PM flight home.

So my question is....given the civic holiday on Aug. 7, and the fact that many folks will be making a long weekend of it, is it advisable to shift our dates back one day....arriving Wednesday July 26 instead of Thursday July 27? This would put us at Lake Louise for Tuesday Aug. 1, Wed. Aug. 2, Thurs Aug. 3 and Friday Aug. 4, leaving bright and early on Saturday Aug. 5, therefore only being in LL for one day of the holiday weekend celebration. Do you think it will make that much of a difference? Also, if you think we should take a day off of LL and put at beginning of our trip instead, we would miss holiday weekend entirely, even if we kept arrival date of July 27. Sorry so confusing and indecisive!!! Again, I DO have reservations that, at this point , over lap so I have the freedom to move things around a bit before finalizing and getting airline tickets/canceling hotel reservations, etc. so your help would be most appreciated. Also..please feel free to make suggestions about things to do and "must sees" as my itinerary activities are pretty general. We are a family of 3. Myself, my husband (both in late 50'.s) and our 19 year old daughter. We are not big hiker. Enjoy easy-moderate walks and a little challenging hike (like Lake Agnes Tea House), plus, as mentioned earlier...we are fairly terrified of the bear situation!!!! Don't want to throw baby out with bath water so we definitely want to visit this beautiful part of the world, but scenic drives, overlooks, boat rides, gondolas...all these were meant for this particular family of chickens : ) Thanks again for your help!

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    Starting to really come together. A very lovely itineary. Just a few comments.

    1) Don't worry about bears. The hikes you have mentioned will have lots of folks, so the bears will likely be well away from any people. You can rent bear spray if needed, but I wouldn't have any concerns about safety. I spend many, many, many days in the parks year round and have only encountered bears once on the actual trails. And from a distance.

    2) It wouldn't hurt to move the trip back by a day if you can (in terms of accommodation). You'd be headed back to Calgary as most folks are headed out of the city.

    3) Due to major construction, access to the Edith Cavell Road this summer is by permit only. Permits are free, but have to picked up in person in Jasper up to two days in advance between 8 and 10am. They are for a specific time and only 150 per day. Especially for July/August, I suspect the allotted permits will be snapped up two days in advance. So your best chance of getting to Edith Cavell is probably August 2, maybe August 1.

    On August 2, take your time. No rush to get to Lake Louise. Unless the highway exits are shut, you'd be allowed up the road to the lake (and the Chateau), but it could be a long, slow drive through daytime crowds. So might be better to time it to arrive after 4pm anyway.

    Give yourself all day on the 3rd for hiking - you might want to think about trying to get to Plain of Six Glaciers. Lake Agnes is scenic, but unless you take the highline connector back, there are no views of Lake Louise. You have to go up to the Little Beehive for any real views. P06G really isn't much more a hike in terms of elevation gain, and worth the views. Even if you don't go the whole way, you can still see the glacier and a good view back down the lake.

    August 4/5 - just drive yourself. If you have a car, doing the Brewsters' tour would be a waste of money and time. It's not going to leave you hiking time anyway, and those sites will be full of people, so the bears will be off on their own holiday. Plus, in your car, you get can get to more places and faster. The bus will have to back around the hairpin turns up to Takkakaw Falls - VERY slow. You should do Moraine Lake first thing on Friday - get there very early. Then you could go to Yoho or ??. In Yoho, I'd do Takkakaw Falls first, then use the rest of the day for Emerald Lake and possibly Wapta Falls. Emerald Lake has nice, easy hikes that can be extended as far as you feel comfortable.

    I think you have enough time in Banff. You can use one day one for Banff townsite area including Lake Minnewanka, and another day for Johnston Canyon and part of Bow Valley Trail. Gondola is nice if the weather is good. The hot springs are near the gondola, but not at the gondolas (they're a short drive from the base of the gondola).

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    Love your itinerary! My comments would echo kgsneds on the Banff side and re bears - and also moving your arrival date to avoid the long weekend.

    Plain of Six Glaciers is my almost-most-favourite hike in the world, and if you find it too long or too hot or too wet, you can easily hike/walk to the end of the lake and just go up as far as you choose. There's often rock climbers at the far end of the lake, fun to see them do their moves. The views as you go up are ... well, I hope you go and see for yourself!

    Heading to Johnston Canyon, it's a very popular place so I suggest either go early or later, vs mid-day. It's a paved path, used by all ages including strollers etc, and beautiful the whole way. Also recommend you take the Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A) which parallels Hwy 1, all the way to Lake Louise, with Johnston Canyon access at Castle Mtn Junction. It's a slower drive, vs racing along Hwy 1. Check with the hotel for any Parkway closures before you check out. banffquest.com/bow-valley-parkway.html

    You probably already know the three Fairmont properties are wonderful old railway hotels, and come with so much history. They have done some lovely (needed) upgrades over the past year at JPL - it is very different from the Banff Springs and Chateau Lake Louise, with a more spacious, relaxed vibe. You can easily walk around the lake it sits on, Lac Beauvert. Aptly named. Love the outdoor swimming pool there, open even in winter.

    I certainly recommend taking the Jasper Tramway if the weather is clear, you have long views in almost every direction up at the top. There is a trail that takes you higher but it is quite steep - suggest you go part way. It will be chillier up there too, so wear layers and a hat that won't blow off. Not unusual to see a train moving along the valley floor from the top, the railway is part of how Canada came to be... if you enjoy music, check out Gordon Lightfoot's Canadian Railroad Trilogy.

    Maligne Canyon is interesting, but we really enjoy the drive in to Maligne Lake and the boat tour. Take a jacket, it can be cool on the water, and also a bit damp from spray. Amazing scenery that many folks never see except in pictures. If you go to the end of the lake, the tour will likely give you a few minutes around Spirit Island, an icon for advertising Canada's National Parks.

    Heading back from Jasper on Hwy 93, I suggest you take the 93A South, which again parallels the main highway from just south of Jasper town to Athabasca Falls, which is also very much worth a stop. Again, it's a slower drive, and you could see more wildlife such as deer or elk. Possibly, maaaybe a bear, but you are at zero risk in a vehicle with your windows up! For all the times we have driven that route, we saw a black bear only once, so it is actually very special to be able to see them.

    I hope you love your time in the Rockies as much as we do! I would be happy to answer other questions, i'm sure kgsneds would as well. Places to eat...?

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