Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Best Places To See in Banff and Jasper


There is beauty all around rockies and vista points are every few miles. You can review comprehensive itinerary here, however, if you have limited time, I recommend you to cover places listed in this blog. I have indicated time you approximately need to see these places. As most places have many trails, it's up-to-you how much time you would like to spend. My estimates will help you in planning but nature will ultimately decide it's own course as you go. You could see things beyond imagination. Just relax and enjoy what comes in your way. 

Scenic Highways 

Drives are very scenic on all these highways and wild life will keep appearing on the way. It is common to see people stopover on highway to capture scenic beauty and wild animals. Sometimes this could also cause jams. Drive safe and be ready for WOW moments.

1. Bow Valley Parkway a.k.a Hwy 1A
2. Icefileds Parkway a.k.a. Hwy 93
3. Parkway 93A (7 km From Jasper): An alternate route between Jasper town site and Athabasca Falls, following the old highway. Several scenic picnic areas with names like Otto’s Cache and Meeting of the Waters are found along the way. The Mt. Edith Cave ll road be gins at km 2.5 . Wabasso Campground is located at km 4.5. Access the Moab Lake fire road at km 10.

Recommended Itinerary for Banff and Jasper


Starting on the fringe of the Great Plains and climbing through the incomparable mountain scenery of Banff and Jasper National Parks, this magnificent drive is one of the crown jewels of western Canada which combines exhilarating vistas of forest, crag, and glacier.

The route begins near Calgary, heads west 84 miles (135 kilometers) to the border of Banff, then goes 36 miles (58 kilometers) to the northwest through the heart of Banff to Lake Louise. For 144 miles (232 kilometers), the route follows the Icefields Parkway, one of the world's most stunning roadways, farther north to Jasper. Along the way, look for elk, bears, and other wild creatures; stop to take guided hikes, tour historic buildings, and attend a campfire chat.

One could spend entire life enjoying beauty in these rocky mountains. This blog is based on my own trip with family. i am sharing this to give you a flavour or what you could do during a week long trip. If you have even less time in Banff and Jasper then you can focus on the best spotsWith unpredictable mother nature, you will be bound to adjust as you go but if you are aware of your route than you can quickly adjust and get the most out of your trip. I hope you will find this blog useful. 

Be prepared to experience what I experienced when it was least expected. 

Here are answers to some of the common questions people ask me about planning their trip. Check these before you review detailed itinerary:

  • How long was this trip? 
1 week. I wished I had more time but I could spend months here. 1 week is reasonable amount of time for this trip.
  • Where to stay in Banff and Jasper?
We stayed on route so that we could spend longer time at attractions on the way. This requires you to travel light as you will have to keep changing hotels. If you prefer to stay few nights at the same hotels, you could try the following. 

  • Jasper: Try places listed here. Jasper has very limited accomodations so book several weeks in advance. Jasper is an amazing town. Don't miss the opportunity to stay here and feel the beauty. Accommodations will be costly in summer though.
  • Banff and Lake Louise: Banff has plenty of accomodation. We stayed in Rimrock and it was amazing. We also stayed in Lake Louise on the way to Jasper. You can find a lot of options here.
  • I booked my flight but I can't find hotels esp in Jasper? Do I need to cancel my trip? 
Hopefully not. If you try to look for multiple days hotel in one search then chances are less likely that you will not see any hotel in search results. Jasper is too busy in summers. If you search for hotel 1 day at a time, you will have better luck finding hotels right in Banff and Jasper. You may have to switch hotels but that's probably not that bad as you will be able to get different views from your rooms. Also, many people do multiple bookings and do cancellations 2-3 weeks before their trip, hence, don't loose your heart and keep trying.
  • How is weather in summers? Do I need jackets? 
Weather is very unpredictable, hence, be prepared for lots of rain which makes morning and evening bit cold (10-15 C). Also, if you plan to go to glaciers then you can expect freezing temperatures. You may need rain, spring and light winter jackets. You could manage with just one decent spring jacket and umbrella though. Plan more carefully if you have young kids though. Afternoons are pretty nice most of the days in summer.
  • I am a vegetarian. What options do I have for food? Do I need to pack some food?
There are not many options for food when you are not at the major attractions. Keeping some snacks esp if you have kids is highly suggested as you may not find any food joint for 2-3 hours sometimes. Trail mix from costco was very handy. My family is vegetarian, hence, we booked hotels with kitchen option wherever possible. We carried some easy to cook items. Generally, I was surprised with good quality of food even at the remote places. You should be fine even if you are vegetarian and fine to manage with limited options.
  • Any other thing to consider?
Expect lots of mosquitos so keep mosquito repellent handy. Also,  you could see bears and other wildlife multiple times. If you are with many people and cars around then probably there is less risk but if you are planing to explore in less visited areas then using bear spray may be a good idea. Please do some due diligence to get yourself prepared to deal with wild life. Respect wild life and don't underestimate their power. Visit here for more details. 
  • Do you have more questions?
Please post your comments in this blog or on my video on youtube. I will try my best to help you. I will keep refining this blog to make it even more useful, hence, your feedback is welcomed.

Day 1: Calgary to Banff 

Hwy 1 (alternatively take Hwy 1 a.k.a. Vow Valley Parkway) —> Lanke Minnewanka Scenic Drive
  • Cascade Ponds: Cascade Pond is a day use area that has fire pits, picnic tables and toilets. There is usually wood for a fire, but this is not always the case. You can walk around the pond and have a little picnic with your friends and family. There are 2 shelters in the event of rain, but they are first come, first serve.