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travel from Banff to Jasper

Montreal
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travel from Banff to Jasper

we are two seniors from Montreal who are heading off to Yellowknife for September 12 to 16 to see the aurora. We would also like to visit Banff, Maligne Lake, Lake Louise, The Columbia Icefields. Being seniors we would rather not spend all day driving. On the other hand, it seems that a bus tour would be done in a day or so. One possibility is to arrive in Calgary and then drive to Vancouver, but I have no idea if that is practical or easy. Or, how long it would take. We would prefer to do this before arriving in Vancouver to head for Yellowknife.

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33 replies to this topic
Jasper, Canada
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1. Re: travel from Banff to Jasper

Calgary to Vancouver via the Canadian Rockies is a very popular itinerary ... people do it all the time. We normally recommend a minimum of eight or nine days for a trip driving from Calgary to Vancouver and visiting the Rockies. This is based on about 5 or 6 days split between Banff and Jasper National Parks, and two days to drive across BC to Vancouver. If it is this September that you plan to do this, you should be looking for accommodation in Banff and Jasper NOW, especially Jasper. September is still peak season.

If you prefer not to drive, you could get a shuttle from Calgary airport to Banff. You can visit various places in Banff National Park using day tours, or the hop-on, hop-off bus. You can take a tour from Banff up the Icefields Parkway to Jasper, which includes a stop at the Columbia Icefield/Athabasca Glacier. From Jasper, the best way to get to Vancouver is VIA Rail - the train runs three times per week. (The only other option is Greyhound, yuck.) If you take VIA, you'll want to allow extra time in Vancouver before your flight to Yellowknife... VIA is often late. (Also, Vancouver is a really nice city to visit!) There is also the very expensive, luxury tour train, the Rocky Mountaineer.

Alternatively, there are lots of tour companies that offer multi-day coach tours from Calgary to Vancouver via the Rockies. Visit a travel agency for more information, or try an internet search. Some of the various companies are Cosmos, Caravan, Tauck, Trafalgar...

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Banff National Park, Canada
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Calgary, Canada
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2. Re: travel from Banff to Jasper

Calgary to Vancouver is about a 10.5 hour drive, not counting stops for fuel, food, or road construction. Most people break it in to a two-day drive, so if you're not really keen on a lot of driving that's not a good option. Probably the best way would be fly to Calgary, rent a car, visit Banff and Jasper for a few days apiece, then back to Calgary and fly on to Vancouver. Calgary is only a 1.5 hour drive from Banff so it's not a lot of backtracking.

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Alberta, Canada
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Banff National Park, Canada
Jasper
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Jasper National Park, Canada
Montreal
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3. Re: travel from Banff to Jasper

Thanks to both of you. I jumped at the suggestion of tours from Calgary to Vancouver and found one for the right time slot, but it is sold out. So now it looks like I should try to find a place to stay in Banff and take a day tour to see a bit of the park and then a tour to see the Icefields and Lake Louise and then Jasper. Then fly off to Vancouver. I know we want to spend some time on the glaciers themselves. Is this practical? Or should we just take a day tour which does all of this?

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Alberta, Canada
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Banff National Park, Canada
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Banff National Park, Canada
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Jasper National Park, Canada
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4. Re: travel from Banff to Jasper

In order to tour the sights in the Rockies, you really need 2-3 full days in each of Banff and Jasper. Its a lot more than a day tour.

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Banff National Park, Canada
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Jasper National Park, Canada
Jasper, Canada
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5. Re: travel from Banff to Jasper

>> I know we want to spend some time on the glaciers themselves.

There is only one glacier that is easily accessible to most "regular" people (unless you are have mountaineering skills, or want to hire a mountain guide) - that is the Athabasca Glacier. Your options for getting onto the glacier are:

1/ the sno-coach tour (bundled with the skywalk), which takes you up onto the glacier then gives you about ten minutes on the ice in a delineated "safe zone". You share this zone with ten to twenty other sno-coaches, each with 40 to 50 people on board. (It's not a "solitude in the mountains" type of experience.) Note also that by mid-September, it can be pretty darn cold at that elevation... so if you want to maximize the time on the ice, be sure to bring a warm layer and windproof jacket.

2/ or you can book an "ice walk" tour, a guided hike on the glacier, for three or five hours. www.icewalks.com This is an awesome experience, highly recommended.

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Athabasca Glacier
Athabasca Glacier
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Jasper National Park, Canada
Montreal
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6. Re: travel from Banff to Jasper

Thanks, good advice from all. It looks like most tours that cover what we want to see are loops, eg Vancouver to Vancouver.

I guess I should book a place in Banff and do day tours in and around. Then shuttle back to Calgary to fly to Vancouver. I got really excited by the Icewalk and have contacted them.

I once did the Rocky Mountaineer which was really expensive. Any comments on taking a train from Banff to Vancouver after the touring?

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7. Re: travel from Banff to Jasper

Unfortunately, there are no VIA passenger trains from Banff to Vancouver. As krp laid out for you in an earlier post, you can take a tour to Jasper, then take the train from Jasper to Vancouver, if you’d rathergo by train.

Edited: 14 June 2018, 23:09
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Banff National Park, Canada
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Jasper National Park, Canada
Montreal
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8. Re: travel from Banff to Jasper

I read that about VIA and Banff. However, IIRC when I took the Rocky Mountaineer from Calgary in 2001(?) it stopped at Banff for 2 hours to board passengers. So I thought there might be a train.

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Banff National Park, Canada
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9. Re: travel from Banff to Jasper

The Rocky Mountaineer is not ViaRail, and it is the only passenger train which stops in Banff.

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Banff
Banff
Banff National Park, Canada
Montreal
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10. Re: travel from Banff to Jasper

oops!

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