Banff/Lake Louise vacation-suggestions?

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markfaix
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Banff/Lake Louise vacation-suggestions?

Post by markfaix » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:01 pm

After saving our pennies, our family is planning a three generation (ages 78 through 9) one week vacation in the Canadian Rockies in June.

My idea of a good vacation is a relaxed pace, light-schedule vacation at a beach or beautiful outdoor area. I *hate* large crowds, long lines, tour buses, etc. From what I read about Lake Louise and Banff, I will see beauty, but there will be lots of people. DW wants to wake up early each day to beat the crowds. Ugh...

Would appreciate suggestions. We are primarily interested in hiking, zip lining, and seeing beautiful lake/mountain scenery. The 78 year old is in good health except for some mildly gimpy knees but is still pretty strong. The 9 year old is very nimble and has no problem with hiking in steep terrain.

1) Stay in Lake Louise or Banff? Fairmont planned either way. Was leaning toward LL as seems less crowded.

2) Rent a van or take tour buses for the parks? I heard parking can be extremely difficult, so maybe tour buses sometimes better, although I hate sitting on buses.

3) Any suggestions for hikes, zip lining, other activities? Glacier Park worthwhile?

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Alexa9
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Re: Banff/Lake Louise vacation-suggestions?

Post by Alexa9 » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:05 pm

I would peruse tripadvisor and youtube for good ideas:
Some things are must see unless you're coming back and some things you can skip.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wETgdf9FM-4

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climber2020
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Re: Banff/Lake Louise vacation-suggestions?

Post by climber2020 » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:09 pm

I thought Emerald Lake was more scenic and enjoyable than Lake Louise. Much less crowded too. They have lodging on site if you wanted to spend a night there.

We rented a car and split our time between Banff and Jasper with a night at Emerald Lake sandwiched in between; some places were crowded, but overall it was manageable.

If you like hiking, the Iceline trail in Yoho National Park is a great time.

MathWizard
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Re: Banff/Lake Louise vacation-suggestions?

Post by MathWizard » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:11 pm

Glacier Park was a bust for us. We hiked 2 miles to get to a point where we could
look far up to see a Glacier.

Go to Jasper National Park instead, straight north of Lake Louise.
You can walk up the Athabasca Glacier , you can ride a 6 wheeled vehicle up to
the top which is part of the Columbia Icefield which goes up into Alaska, and get to spend a few minutes
walking in top of the glacier.

Get there early in the day, tickets for the trip up onto the Glacier fill up early.
Get the tickets for later in the day, and then you can walk up the Glacier while you are waiting.
It is quite steep, so wear tennis shoes.

DrGoogle2017
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Re: Banff/Lake Louise vacation-suggestions?

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:20 pm

We like Lake Emerald much better. We stayed at Banff so we could have more restaurant choices. We did go to Lake Louise for lunch so we didn’t have to wait in long line.
Lake Louise is better in the sense that it’s next to Lake Morraine. We travel leisurely, so we didn’t get up early enough to get in the line, so we went to Lake Emerald instead, then went back to Lake Morraine in the afternoon.

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Raybo
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Re: Banff/Lake Louise vacation-suggestions?

Post by Raybo » Fri Jan 11, 2019 2:33 pm

There isn't much in the "town" of Lake Louise. The hotel is a good ways up the hill. There is bus service between the two. The hotel has the usual expensive hotel amenities.

I've not been to Banff recently. But, it is a real town that I've heard is choked with tourists and day trippers.

There is some good hiking just past the hotel, but I doubt you'd find it all that interesting after a day or two at the lake.

I'd highly suggest you spend some time in Jasper. In fact, I'd suggest you spend all your time in Jasper. Or, on your way to Jasper (where are you flying into?), spend a day or two in Lake Louise. Jasper is a real town with every kind of adventure outfitter you can imagine. At least, go there. It is maybe 150 miles from Lake Louise, so an easy day drive in the car. The scenery is unbelievable!

If it is something people would like, you might consider riding a bicycle along part of the road between Lake Louise and Jasper. There are reasonably flat sections and it is a wonderful way to see the area.

My suggestion is to rent a car and then drive to places to hike, fish, or just gawk at nature in the large. Note that somethings might still be closed in June. Check out what is open before you go.

I'd also suggest you plan for cold and rain. When I was there in late July, 2013, the mornings were just above freezing.
No matter how long the hill, if you keep pedaling you'll eventually get up to the top.

Colorado13
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Re: Banff/Lake Louise vacation-suggestions?

Post by Colorado13 » Fri Jan 11, 2019 2:49 pm

I was there in August and temps were in the low 90s, so based on what Raybo wrote, I'm guessing the weather can be variable.

Sunshine Meadows, Lake Moraine, and Icefields hikes were great. Johnston Canyon is crowded, but a short/easy/scenic hike. I agree that Emerald Lake is a win.

jacksonm
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Re: Banff/Lake Louise vacation-suggestions?

Post by jacksonm » Fri Jan 11, 2019 3:52 pm

We were there in August of last year. Also stayed at the Fairmont in both Banff and Jasper but only because it was the only thing available when I booked. I do not recommend the Fairmont in Jasper if the weather is warm because there is no air conditioning. The room we stayed in was like an oven, reaching a temperature of 93 degrees inside and not cooling down very much through the night. It was warmer outside at my home in Florida. If you complain they will bring your extra fans and ice buckets. In June that probably won't be a problem.

Banff and Lake Louise were, indeed, extremely crowded. Had to park and take a free shuttle to Lake Louise because all the parking lots were completely full. Never even got to Moraine Lake because it was another shuttle and it wasn't free ($25 apiece I think).

The Fairmont in Banff isn't within walking distance of the stores and restaurants in the city unless you don't mind a long hike. Parking our rental car in the city was always a challenge but we always did manage to find something. (Oh, and they charge you $25/day to park your car at the Fairmont).

I've heard that the busy season really starts in July so maybe it won't be so crowed in June, especially in early June (when it will still be cold - actually it was pretty cold in August). Never been there at any time other than July or August however, so I can't tell you.

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WoodSpinner
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Re: Banff/Lake Louise vacation-suggestions?

Post by WoodSpinner » Fri Jan 11, 2019 4:04 pm

We had an amazing trip in this area a few years ago.

Loved the Fairmont at Lake Louise!!! Lot’s of great hiking right there and we hardly touched our cars until it was time to head for Banf.

Fairmont Banf was a great deal of fun but liked the amenities of LL better. I would stay at both and explore different areas rather than just one. If you are into Wildlife, Jasper was amazing, hands down favorite, BUT....

Check out the Elk herd at the Fairmont Banf Golf course at Dusk and Dawn! Amazing to see!

WoodSpinner

getthatmarshmallow
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Re: Banff/Lake Louise vacation-suggestions?

Post by getthatmarshmallow » Fri Jan 11, 2019 4:11 pm

MathWizard wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:11 pm
Glacier Park was a bust for us. We hiked 2 miles to get to a point where we could
look far up to see a Glacier.

Go to Jasper National Park instead, straight north of Lake Louise.
You can walk up the Athabasca Glacier , you can ride a 6 wheeled vehicle up to
the top which is part of the Columbia Icefield which goes up into Alaska, and get to spend a few minutes
walking in top of the glacier.

Get there early in the day, tickets for the trip up onto the Glacier fill up early.
Get the tickets for later in the day, and then you can walk up the Glacier while you are waiting.
It is quite steep, so wear tennis shoes.
+1 for Jasper. Less crowded, and beautiful.

TLC1957
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Re: Banff/Lake Louise vacation-suggestions?

Post by TLC1957 » Fri Jan 11, 2019 4:56 pm

We did this trip a few years ago in June we saw so many bear we stopped counting. The amount of wildlife was just amazing the most we have scene in all the trips we have taken. More then Alaska, Yellowstone, and all 50 states and 13 Canadian Provinces we have been to yea that many!!

DrGoogle2017
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Re: Banff/Lake Louise vacation-suggestions?

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Fri Jan 11, 2019 5:28 pm

TLC1957 wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 4:56 pm
We did this trip a few years ago in June we saw so many bear we stopped counting. The amount of wildlife was just amazing the most we have scene in all the trips we have taken. More then Alaska, Yellowstone, and all 50 states and 13 Canadian Provinces we have been to yea that many!!
Haha, we saw none. I was afraid of it, that’s why I got an SUV.

hohum
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Re: Banff/Lake Louise vacation-suggestions?

Post by hohum » Fri Jan 11, 2019 6:07 pm

From Lake Louise we did the hike to the tea house at the Plain of Six Glaciers. It was awesome. About an hour, and doable by anyone who's reasonably fit. From the tea house you can eat your lunch and watch (and listen to) avalanches going off.

But it was a day trip .. hike in the morning, lunch, rent boats on the lake in the afternoon.

The Kicking Horse river is in Golden about an hour away, if you like rafting. That water is cold, though!

The hike at Lake Louise and the rafting trip were the high points of our vacation and very memorable.

We missed out on Jasper even though it was a stretch goal -- Canada is just a little too big and we were doing things in other directions.

mountainsoft
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Re: Banff/Lake Louise vacation-suggestions?

Post by mountainsoft » Fri Jan 11, 2019 9:30 pm

Back in 2009 we took a trip through Glacier National Park, up into Alberta and the Canadian Rockies, then back down through British Columbia. You can check out my video of our trip for some ideas: http://www.watsondiy.com/20090726.php

jlawrence01
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Re: Banff/Lake Louise vacation-suggestions?

Post by jlawrence01 » Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:20 pm

Two comments:

1) Book your accommodations ASAP. Prices only head upwards as the summer season approaches.

2) As oil has been in freefall in past weeks, you can expect that the Canadian dollar will be falling in the coming months. You might want to procure some.

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Rob5TCP
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Re: Banff/Lake Louise vacation-suggestions?

Post by Rob5TCP » Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:47 pm

There have been a ton of posts on Banff/LL/Jasper.
One of them is mine from a couple of years ago.
Be aware of fires/smoke (if applicable).
That influenced where we went.
One of the suggested hikes was Johnston Canyon.
Not too difficult for some of the smaller kids;
quite scenic with waterfalls.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_ ... berta.html

https://www.google.com/search?sitesearc ... rg&q=banff
Last edited by Rob5TCP on Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Silk McCue
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Re: Banff/Lake Louise vacation-suggestions?

Post by Silk McCue » Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:47 pm

We did a private hike with Nadine of https://www.greatdivide.ca when we were there. She or Joel can tailor a hike to meet your needs. They have a well deserved excellent reviews on TripAdvisor.

Cheers

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