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Thread: O Canada! Help me plan a summer trip

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    Default O Canada! Help me plan a summer trip

    Now that the kids are both old enough to travel long distances and keep their cool on an airplane, we'd like to start doing some international travel. I have had my eye on the Alberta/Banff/Lake Louise/Canadian Rockies area for quite some time. We would be going in July or August. I am looking at homeaway.com for vacation rentals and according to Travelocity.com roundtrip flights are $684/person (flying into Calgary).

    There appear to be a lot of affordable rentals in Canmore. Is there any reason we wouldn't want to stay there? Would there be grocery stores and restaurants in the area? It seems to be quite convenient to Banff National Park and Glacier National Park. Would we be able to drive into the parks? We visited Rocky Mountain National Park a few years ago and there was NO WAY we would drive through those mountains by ourselves (we took a charter bus).

    Trip advice please? I am so excited to be planning this trip now that we have gotten Orlando, FL out of the way. It was fun but I want a vacation with beautiful sightseeing, hiking, and relaxing!

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    I would like to know as well.. I've only seen a very narrow slice of my own country (London, ON. to Montreal, QC) but want to plan a trip out west sometime soon.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Elite Member whitetigeress's Avatar
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    All I can say is Lake Louise which is near Banff is freakin' beauuuutiful in the wintertime. Icicles bigger than my whole body and frozen waterfalls galore. FREAKIN' BEAUTIFUL!

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    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
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    I can plan a full trip for you. PM me and give me your email or phone. I've been there about 25 times and know it like I know my own city.
    Life is short. Break the Rules. Forgive Quickly. Kiss Slowly. Love Truly.
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    Elite Member chartreuse's Avatar
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    DOOOO ITTTTTT!

    we were set to take a road trip up to vancouver, then over to banff & lake louise the summer i ended up hugely pregnant. needless to say, i didn't feel like being in the car for hours & hours a day at that point, so it fell by the wayside. i'm so jealous & will be stalking every post to this thread.
    white, black, puerto rican/everybody just a freakin'/good times were rollin'.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Brookie View Post
    I can plan a full trip for you. PM me and give me your email or phone. I've been there about 25 times and know it like I know my own city.
    Appreciate the offer but I'm not comfortable with giving out personal info. Besides, there's other people who are interested in advice about the area.

    For starters, we are looking at a July/August trip next year (looks like summer 2011 is booked up). We don't ski and are not particularly fond of snow. Besides that, it would be nice to get out of the hot, humid southern US in the summer. I may even be able to convince DH to skip our annual beach trip next year, because I'd like to go for 10-12 days.

    We want to stay somewhere relaxing with a great view. Preferably within walking distance of shopping and dining (but no biggie because we'll probably rent a car). It would also be nice if there were walking or hiking trails nearby.

    Question 1: Are there any impediments to renting a car in Canada? We don't have a Canada driver's license, for example.

    Question 2: Is dangerous wildlife a big problem? As I said we'd love to do a lot of hiking and walking around lakes.

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    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
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    Okay well, here's some stuff.

    You won't be skiing up there. Canada does have a summer. The ski hills close and there are hiking trails around them that you can use.

    Definitely rent a car in Calgary; you don't need a Canadian DL. It's about a 2 hour drive to Canmore, which is directly east of the Banff Park boundary. It's a direct shot on Highway #1, the Trans Canada which you'll pick up as you leave the airport. There will be a charge to enter the park system (probably around $100 cdn) and you'll keep a pass affixed to your mirror. Don't plan on having much solitude there.

    How long are you spending there? If you can, spend some time in Canmore - it's a fabulous town that's outside the park so it's a little more casual and not as visited/frenzied. There's a great downtown area that you can park and walk around for the day. Eat at "The Wood".

    Banff is very touristy and the shopping is wonderful there, but as soon as I finish shopping, I leave town. You HAVE to experience it for yourself though and draw your own conclusions; I go there a lot and that's just what I do. If you stay in Banff, investigate a B&B - there are a lot to choose from and it's so much cheaper than a hotel. Banff is normally too crowded for me to spend a lot of time there anymore, and it's a commercial hellhole. I stay in Lake Louise Village, and there are a range of places to stay from semi-cheap to expensive as hell (Chateau Lake Louise, Post Hotel). Just about anyplace you want to stay will be over $100/night. Paradise Lodge is where I stay there - cabins that overlook the valley, or suites that are about a mile from Lake Louise.

    Do lots of hiking at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, which is off the road that leads from Lake Louise Village up to the actual lake. At Moraine, you'll need to hike in groups of at least 4 due to excessive bear activity. (Go to the Parks Canada website and become familiar with the writeup of each park and read the park bulletins.)

    Go to Jasper - about 200 miles up the Icefields Parkway from Lake Louise. The parkway is one of the most gorgeous drives you'll ever take. Take the entire day and stop anywhere and everywhere you can to either explore, hike, or take photos. Stop at the Columbia Icefields and do the tour they offer. Jasper is less touristy than Banff and the restaurants are great up there. Visit Lake Maligne - it's at the end of a long, beautiful drive from the Jasper townsite. You can't stay there overnight but there's a lot of things to do during the day - tour boat trips, hiking, shopping, dining. Pick a nice day to go there, not one that's raining (that'll happen a lot too).

    There is wildlife up there and you can meet a bear, elk, moose, deer etc anywhere on a hike or sometimes in town. Just be aware of your surroundings; they don't want to run into you anymore than you want to run into them but they are not pets, they are not tame and they are not Disney animatronic, which some tourists seem to forget. Don't approach them, don't attempt to feed them. Some people have lost body parts and/or their lives.

    Take different kinds of clothing - shorts, t-shirts, sweats, fleece. You'll be in the mountains - and the weather does whatever it wants to. It can snow, rain, hail or be 90 degrees all in the same day. Get a backpack (just a daypack) and pack wind pants, a light fleece and a waterproof windbreaker if you start the day off wearing shorts (pack opposite if you start the day wearing something warm; it usually warms up during the day but it might not). Get a water bottle. (Go to an REI store or a North Face store and load up on stuff - wool socks, a great pair of boots - and don't skimp on footwear - and clothing that wicks sweat away from you.)

    There are other parks with wonderful hikes that are close to Banff National Park too - Yoho being my absolute favorite. Get a hiking guide from one of the local bookstores and rip out the pages for the hikes you decide to take. Take the pages with you so you'll know what landmarks you're looking at.

    More to come. Feel free to ask questions. Just FYI - I have planned full trips for people, including car, hotel, hiking and restaurants so I know what I'm doing. And I'm not a weirdo.
    Life is short. Break the Rules. Forgive Quickly. Kiss Slowly. Love Truly.
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    Thanks for all the info! Actually I am looking at staying in Canmore. This place looks good

    Canmore Lodging Resort | Canmore Lodge & Boutique Hotel | | Fire Mountain Lodge

    We'll have 2 kids with us so the condo with a kitchen works well. We did that in Orlando. There's another place called Creekside Country Inn that looks like it has a yummy breakfast, but the decor wasn't as nice.

    No problem on the skiing, we don't. We just want beautiful scenery and hiking and a nice place to stay with a view so we can sleep late and read books and drink tea.

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    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
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    Canmore is really nice, but like I mentioned, it's outside the park boundary and if you only stay there, you'll miss out on the best parts of the area.
    Life is short. Break the Rules. Forgive Quickly. Kiss Slowly. Love Truly.
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    Elite Member mtlebay's Avatar
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    travelbug, you can check out the tripadvisor list of hotels in Canmore. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g1...ta-Hotels.html
    some reviews their proximity to Banff and that they prefer these hotels than Banff.
    Go Habs Go!!

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    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
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    One thing you might want to do if you're on Facebook is become "friends" with the various resorts, restaurants and bars up there. You can make inquiries about their activities and keep up to date with any specials they might be offering. Summer is, of course, the most expensive time.
    Life is short. Break the Rules. Forgive Quickly. Kiss Slowly. Love Truly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brookie View Post
    Canmore is really nice, but like I mentioned, it's outside the park boundary and if you only stay there, you'll miss out on the best parts of the area.
    We were thinking we would drive to other places during the day and do hiking and sightseeing. Is there a problem with that? From what I understand Canmore is within a few miles of the parks. Is there a better way? I am just going by our experience staying in the mountains here in the US. We pick a cabin or other place to stay that has the amenities we want, somewhere with a beautiful view, and each day we drive to a site of interest or a trailhead of somewhere we want to hike. If there is a scenic drive we go away for a few hours and drive and then come back to where we are staying.

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    Gold Member Polyester Pam's Avatar
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    I'm from Alberta and you know, I'd be interested in what you find out! I've been to Jasper loads but only a few times to Banff. A friend came to see me from the UK so I did the drive between Banff and Jasper for the first time a few years back and it was definitely worth it. It was amazing and I'd definitely recommend it if you have the time. As for the summer, I took another friend to Jasper last July and it was frigid. I think summer can be a bit hit and miss in the mountains.

    I love the hot springs! Man, I just got my mellow on in there for hours, it was great.

    I'm actually going to Canmore for the first time in a couple of weeks but I hear it's quite nice. I'd think it'd be super easy to just go on little road trips to places throughout the days. I'd like to check out Yoho National Park (BC side) because I'd love to hatch a plan to go check out this famous fossil site called the Burgess Shale. Yes! Get my nerd on!

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    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
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    travelbug - all I can tell you is that it depends on where you want to go. Canmore isn't inside the park - it's east of all of the parks so it'd be a long drive somewhere and a long drive back. In my experience (and I've been there about 25 times), it's better to move around. Stay in Canmore a couple of days (you're flying in and out of Calgary so you could stay there at the end of the trip as well; that's what I do), then go to Lake Louise and stay there for a few days. From there, you can explore Yoho Park and Kootenay Park and venture into British Columbia. Then go to Jasper and spend 3-4 evenings up there. Drive back leisurely.

    Polyester Pam - I ADORE Jasper and I've alternatively roasted my ass off there in the summer, and hiked in fleece - but it IS north... I have done the Burgess Shale hike; it's guided and last time I checked it was about $100/person. It's rigorous - 12 miles R/T and it's killer on the way up but the fossils and the damn view were completely worth it.


    This is me at the shale site. The view back down the valley is Emerald Lake and the surrounding mountains.

    There's another fossil site across the road in the town of Field that's also guided that you can do as well - it's only a mile and a half up, but it's nearly vertical. I froze my ass off up there.
    Life is short. Break the Rules. Forgive Quickly. Kiss Slowly. Love Truly.
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    Gold Member Snoopy's Avatar
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    WOW I can't believe you can hike on the Burgess Shale!1!

    I'm a huge nerd and haven't travelled enough in my own country. Must add this to my "to do" list. Thanks for sharing Brookie!

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