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Author Topic: Any Canadians among us? - Icefields Parkway Advice  (Read 2149 times)

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Any Canadians among us? - Icefields Parkway Advice
« on: October 31, 2014, 12:41:44 AM »
I am in the booking (and juggling what I've planned to fit everything in) phase of a big trip I'm doing in August/September next year and am looking at hotels in the Calgary/Banff/Jasper region for the end of August beginning of September. 

My question is not whether you have a spare bed but rather which place I should spend the majority of my time - Jasper or Banff.  I'm totally in it for the scenery and am taking a week to travel from Calgary to Jasper and back - just not sure where I should be concentrating my time...

Any ideas/suggestions/itineraries/local knowledge gratefully received!
« Last Edit: November 02, 2014, 10:27:45 PM by AnnaT »


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Re: Any Canadians among us?
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2014, 06:59:26 AM »
Banff is lovely. I've never been to Jasper, so I can't compare the two, but if you have the time, try to stop by Lake Louise. The scenery is amazing!,_Alberta
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Outdoor Girl

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Re: Any Canadians among us?
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2014, 07:32:41 AM »
You might want to specify a little more in your title.  Canada is a big place!   :)

I'm about 2500 miles from where you're going to be but I have been to Banff; I enjoyed it very much.  Can't help you with Jasper.  If you are into dinosaurs at all, you might want to consider visiting Drumheller.  Apparently, they have a program where you can bunk down and sleep near the skeletons!

If you are in Calgary, check out the Calgary Museum.  They have a simulation of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) that is cool.
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Re: Any Canadians among us?
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2014, 10:10:12 AM »
Loved Jasper!  We stayed there overnight a few years ago.  It was very tourist-y, true, but in a charming way with boutiques and bistros - not garish like Niagara Falls.   The only chain fast-food restaurant I saw was a Subway, and even that was tucked away out of sight.

White Dragon

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Re: Any Canadians among us?
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2014, 12:17:30 PM »
It's hard to say really. Both are lovely.

Jasper has the amazing Lake Louise and the gondola up the mountain. The hike to the peak is steep, but smooth and well marked.
Even if you don't go higher than the gondola level, the views are spectacular.
The Icefields parkway is a nice drive and there are lots of viewpoints and short walks.

If you are interested in geology, Banff is close to the Burgess Shale, which is one of the largest fossil beds in the world.
There are interpretive geo-walks and so forth available too.

Drumheller is about 3 1/2 hours from Banff, so if you want world class dinosaurs, it's very accessible. The drive down into the badlands is quite striking - the area goes from flat / gentle foothills and then the badlands appear like a slice through the prairie. In late summer it will be hot, but beautiful.

I guess it really depends on what you want to see and do.
Art? History? Geology? Nature? Fishing? Hiking? Fine dining? (Banff has a famous wild game fondue restaurant.)
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Re: Any Canadians among us?
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2014, 12:39:33 PM »
I lived near both places for years. I love both. The most beautiful drive in the world is the 3 hour icefields parkway that runs between Banff and Jasper. It is replete with wildlife and amazing views, but the reason it is better than the trans-canada (which also has great views) is that it feels much safer. You aren't driving on the edge of a cliff. As the driver, you can relax and soak in the scenary.

Both places are great. Banff has more stuff and is more touristry. Jasper feels more small town and cozy.

And, for your Canadian history. In WW2, the government treated the Japanese-Canadians terribly and took away their property and sent them to camps in the interior and Banff. After the war, many stayed. That is one of the reasons you will see so many Japanese tourists in Banff. That always makes me happy because the land there is worth a tonne. It seems fitting that a lot of it belongs to Japanese that were sent there as a punishment. The land will always be worth a tonne as they are not allowed to build outside of Banff (as it is a park) so everything has to stay within the town of Banff.


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Re: Any Canadians among us?
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2014, 01:28:25 PM »
I prefer Jasper.  It hasn't had the massive amount of development that Banff has - one reason is that it's not close to a large city.  Banff is about 1 1/2 hours from Calgary, whereas Jasper is about 4 hours from Edmonton.  Also, Jasper's reason-for-being is a railway town rather than a tourist town.

I agree about the Icefields Parkway, and taking the bus/snowcat tour to the glacier is a must.


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Re: Any Canadians among us? - Icefields Parkway Advice
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2014, 10:33:46 PM »
Thanks to all.  I decided on 3 nights in Jasper, 2 nights in Banff and 2 nights in Calgary. 

Amazed at how fast hotels are booking out though - its not until next year and I had trouble finding accommodation in Jasper (booked and paid for already because a lot of the hotels were sold out)!  I figure Banff and Calgary will be easier as they seem to have more accommodation - I'll book them a bit later.

So gondola ride - check; boat ride - check; glacier walk/bus ride - check; Lake Louise - check; Calgary Museum - check (although I'm hoping to catch the Northern Lights 'in the flesh' a bit further along on my trip) :)

Thanks to all for the advice (and I've amended the title to narrow down my Canada request).  This is a big trip for me and I may be back for more advice on different aspects in the months to come. :)