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Vancouver to Banff, LL and Jasper-advice on itinerary?

Brisbane, Australia
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Vancouver to Banff, LL and Jasper-advice on itinerary?

We are a couple mid twenties from Australia, planning a driving trip through the Canadian Rockies in late September 2013. We will be flying into Vancouver from San Francisco. At the moment our itinerary is:

2 nights in Vancouver

drive to Kelowna, 1 night stop in BnB

Drive to Banff/Lake Louise

From here we are trying to figure out the best order to do things - we have 7 full days after we arrive in Banff/Lake Louise and on the 8th day will drive to Calgary for a flight to LA then home to Brisbane.

We have highlighted Banff, Lake Louise, Lake Moraine and Jasper as the places we really want to visit with the following drives/activities at the top of our list:

Bow Valley Parkway

Icefields Parkway and Glacier Experience

Gondola in LL or Banff

Trail ride on horses - half day

Maligne Lake and Spirit Island

Canoeing on Lake Louise

1 night stay at Chateau Lake Louise (celebrating my birthday)

We are aware there will be a fair bit of driving but we are quite used to driving long distances and really enjoy driving as a big part of a holiday especially when there is beautiful scenery - looks like there will be plenty of that!

Any advice from locals on our itinerary and anything we may have missed (or anything we should leave out)?

Greater Sydney...
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1. Re: Vancouver to Banff, LL and Jasper-advice on itinerary?

G'day Brissie_trav, and welcome to the Canadian forums. I hope you are keeping dry and safe up there with all the very nasty weather in your region.

I think that you have done a good job with research, and my only observation is to split your days say 4 Banff 3 Jasper, but the order that you do things in depends on which of the days your birthday falls for the treat at LL. A bit also depends on the time of your flight out from Calgary and where your last night in the Rockies is.

Don't drop anything, but also consider the tramway from Jasper.

Brisbane, Australia
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2. Re: Vancouver to Banff, LL and Jasper-advice on itinerary?

Thanks Frommy, not keeping very dry but one of few in the area with power so we've been lucky so far!

I think we will split it the way you have suggested with LL in the middle, one less night in Banff. We haven't booked our return flights yet so should be able to work this around driving to Calgary on the final morning.

Thanks for the tip on the tramway, we will definitely add this in!

I just noticed on another post that someone mentioned park passes for the area - I hadn't come across this info in any of my searches so far, how do these work? I gather you need to buy a pass if you enter a national park but where do you buy them from? Do you get them in advance or when you get there? Is there a good website I can get info on this?

Greater Sydney...
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3. Re: Vancouver to Banff, LL and Jasper-advice on itinerary?

Good to hear that you still have power, and obviously a roof on. I am just watching the situation on the news.

You need a pass for the National parks in Canada, including Banff, Jasper and Yoho. If there are two of you for 7 days you should do the maths as to whether it would be cheaper to buy daily passes for your time there, or buy an annual pass as 7 days is I think about the breakeven point.

While they can, I understand, be purchased in advance, it is a very simple matter to purchase them at the entrance gates to the Parks but I am not sure where the gates are on your approach from the west as we drove up from Calgary. Here is the info from Parks Canada:

pc.gc.ca/apps/tarifs-fees/tarif-fee_E.asp…

The annual Discovery Pass also gives free access to National Historic sites and I also think is quite good value.

Vancouver, Canada
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4. Re: Vancouver to Banff, LL and Jasper-advice on itinerary?

Personally, I think you might regret going all the way from Kelowna to Banff in one day. I really think there's plenty to see and appreciate, particularly between Revelstoke and the Alberta border. You also lose an hour when approaching Golden (crossing from Pacific Time to Mountain Time). Although Golden itself isn't much of a place, by going from Kelowna to Golden, you have more time to stop in Mt. Revelstoke national park and perhaps see the railway museum, and also Roger's Pass in Glacier national park. The next day you can get all the way to Jasper from Golden, with time to appreciate the Kicking Horse pass and the spiral tunnels and hopefully some time for Yoho national park.

I hope that you can see that with 3 national parks along that route, its a pretty special area, and that's before you get to the jewels that are Banff and Jasper NPs.

Brisbane, Australia
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5. Re: Vancouver to Banff, LL and Jasper-advice on itinerary?

Thanks for the info on the park passes Frommy, I'll check out that website.

Vancouverite, thank you for the suggestions between Kelowna and Banff - to be honest a few days ago after concentrating on the Banff and Jasper forums I thought Kelowna was a tiny town with not much between there and Banff at all! I know now I was rather wrong :) Looking at our flights in and out of Oz it turns out we will probably have a couple of extra days so I think they will be spent exploring this area a little further - it all looks so amazing! Thanks also for the heads up on time differences, hadn't realised that.

We'll now be in the Rockies in early October so I've got my fingers crossed to see as much snow as possible, even if it is just a glimpse on top of distant mountains :)

Vancouver, Canada
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6. Re: Vancouver to Banff, LL and Jasper-advice on itinerary?

Kelowna is a fairly large city these days (haven't been myself in years).

If you have the time, I'd plan for a full day (so two nights) in both the Okanagan Valley (perhaps Kelowna, or perhaps one of the smaller towns) and in Revelstoke.

If you are looking for information, I find the local tourism sites are the most helpful:

http://www.tourismkelowna.com

http://www.tourismvernon.com

http://seerevelstoke.com

http://www.tourismgolden.com

Vancouver, Canada
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7. Re: Vancouver to Banff, LL and Jasper-advice on itinerary?

Okay, I am going throw your whole route around. Since you are leaving to the Canadian Rockies from Vancouver I was wondering why you wouldn't drive up to Jasper first and then make your way down the Icefields Parkway to Banff? It just seems a bit more logical to me instead of going via Kelowna - Revelstoke - Banff and then drive up to Jasper and down to Banff again...although it's not a punishment to see the Icefields Parkway twice! ;)

This would be my itinerary:

Vancouver to Clearwater: This is a bit of a drive with a good 5 hours via the Coquihalla Highway. If you leave early enough you can get to Clearwater by the early afternoon and visit Wells Gray Provincial Park with its beautiful waterfalls. The next day you drive to Jasper which shouldn't take more than 4 hours without stopping...so there will be plenty of time to stop at Mount Robson Provincial Park before heading to Jasper. Stay in Jasper for a few days.

After your visit to Jasper head down to the Icefields Parkway to Lake Louise/Banff. If you have those extra days you were talking about you may want to drive to Golden, stay here for a night and then drive south to Radium Hot Springs and through Kootenay National Park to get to Banff. This drive is about 3 hours without stopping. If you leave early you can take all day to visit this area. And then once you are in Banff you can spend a few more days there.

This is just an idea, especially if you have a couple of extra days this might work too. You have to do what feels best for you of course...we can only give some tips and suggestions! Here is a map on google for the route above: http://goo.gl/maps/pbsPz

Hope you can do something with that!

Ann

Brisbane, Australia
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8. Re: Vancouver to Banff, LL and Jasper-advice on itinerary?

Hi Vancouverite, thanks for those sites I will check them out!

AnninBC thank you for your post, you have certainly suggested quite a few things I hadn't thought of which is great. Part of the fun for me is all the planning and researching an area before a holiday!

I'm glad we have ended up with an extra couple of days to be in this amazing part of the world - I'm already planning for us to come back another time as there is so much to see and do - probably in winter next time for something different :) For this trip I'm going to go do some research on the various suggestions above - we've got a little while to finalise our itinerary which is good!

Vancouver, Canada
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9. Re: Vancouver to Banff, LL and Jasper-advice on itinerary?

Ann has certainly offered another popular option. Personally, I dissuade people who are only going one way between Vancouver and Calgary from going that way for the simple reason that it is the least scenic and the most tedious of the options from a driving perspective. In the last few years, I've done the trip up highway 1 through Banff in both directions, I've done the drive up highway 5 to Jasper and I've done the trip east along highway 3 from Sparwood back to Vancouver.

Of the three, I have no problems saying that the highway 1 route is head and shoulders above the other two in the way of spectacular scenery and wonderful places to stop enroute. Everyone has their own opinion and their own priorities, but it makes me cry to think people come to BC, spend all this time and money, and then drive highway 5 through Clearwater and miss highway 1 through the spectacular Roger's and Kicking Horse passes. Just my opinion, but one I feel pretty strongly about.

Brisbane, Australia
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10. Re: Vancouver to Banff, LL and Jasper-advice on itinerary?

We have decided to stick with the Vancouver - Kelowna - Revelstoke - Banff - Jasper - Lake Louise - Calgary plan. From what I have read, driving the Icefields Parkway twice won't be too awful :)

Now just trying to decide whether to drive Lake Louise to Calgary on our last day (2.30pm flight) or to play it safe and stay in Calgary the night before.

Thanks so much for all the suggestions and advice!