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Rough draft of itinerary....early August 2024

Saint Louis...
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146 posts
7 reviews
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Rough draft of itinerary....early August 2024

HI there. This is my second post here so thank you so much for those that chimed in on my first regarding lodging for our upcoming trip this August. I'm still a little undecided on a couple nights of the lodging (I keep changing back and forth between what I have double booked). I really wish we could make our trip a few extra nights but with the kids schedules we just can't :(. I thought maybe input on our itinerary may help me finalize my decisions on lodging....maybe I'm cutting something really short in one area or have extra free time built into another. We are a family of 5, (kids will all be teens by travel time). This is a 25 yr anniversary trip for my husband and I so we are planning to stay in premium accommodations (an every 5 year kind of thing) and want to explore the area with the kids (our oldest will be 17 so our family trips may be coming to an end before our next big 5 yr anniversary) but also want to enjoy our hotels we have booked with some relaxing time playing family board games, chilling as a family, etc. We can have a day that's go, go, go.....but very few if any of those would be ideal.

Day 1: Travel day......Arrival at 10pm in Calgary so our 1st night is planned for the airport. We are morning people so this will be the least stressful for our travel day. Hopefully no major flight delays and we can start early and fresh the next day.

Day 2: Pick up car, Drive to Banff with a stop to hike Grassi Lakes en route.....my thinking is this would be a great 'start' hike for our family for the trip....is that correct or would you skip and head straight to Banff?....... Is there anything we should pair with this for the daytime activities or just go to Banff, eat lunch and chill at hotel for remainder of day? Options I have down would be Johnston Canyon or Sunshine meadows.......we would be able to handle another shorter hike this day I believe....but not sure on drive time from Grassi Lakes to Banff to other attraction and back to Banff. Dinner planned for at our hotel (we would eat dinner around 4-5pm MT if that makes a difference in plan for the day....I know that's early for a lot of travelers).....do I need to make dinner reservations for any restaurants at Banff Springs Hotel as a guest prior to arrival?

Lodging: Banff Sprints Hotel

Day 3: breakfast at hotel, options for day are Sunshine Meadows Gondola and Johnston Canyon OR Yoho National Park (mostly driving for this....maybe some short hikes)

Lodging: Banff Springs Hotel

Day 4: breakfast at hotel.....hotel moving day......would like to do whatever we don't do on Day 3 en route to Chateau Lake Louise.....dinner at hotel. Looking for suggestions on which to do on this travel/hotel swap day versus day before when we are staying put in same hotel.

Lodging: Chateau Lake Louise

Day 5: breakfast at hotel.....hike Lake Agnes Teahouse.......afternoon shuttle to Moraine Lake, dinner at hotel?

Lodging: Chateau Lake Louise OR Moraine Lake Lodge (MLL would result in 2 single night stays)

Day 6: breakfast at hotel.....Drive Parkway to Jasper, Jasper town shopping, spend time in cabin at lodging

Lodging: Jasper Park Lodge OR Moraine Lake and not leave for Jasper until following day

Day 7: Maligne canyon hike, lunch, evening Maligne Lake Cruise

Lodging: Jasper Park Lodge

Day 8: Fishing morning, Glacier 2pm hike

Lodging: Jasper Park Lodge

Day 9: Hike Edith Cavell (would we have time on our way up to Jasper to do this stop/hike??), Jasper town....shopping

Lodging: Jasper Park Lodge

Day 10: Depart JPL mid-morning. Drive parkway back down. Stop in Banff for evening dinner and any remaining shopping, return car to airport and sleep at airport Marriott.

Day 11: travel day. 7am flight......any suggestions for what time to leave room at Marriott for flight home (will need to go through customs I think)?

Those are the primary goals/activities I have noted down for the trip. Is there anything you would switch around from how I have it? Are there things I am missing that you would absolutely recommend. I'd love to have a few more days, but we just don't. Any input is greatly appreciate!

Thanks so much in advance!!

Really my lodging decisions are coming down to whether it makes sense to do:

Banff 2 nights, LL 2 nights, Jasper 4 nights

or

Banff 2 nights, LL 1 night, Moraine 1 night, Jasper 4 nights

or

Banff 2 nights, LL 2 nights, Moraine 1 night, cut Jasper to 3 nights

In my original plan (this is my 2nd draft since I've started) I was skipping staying in the town of Banff but after looking at the Banff Springs hotel and finding a decent rate for our family I've decided we really SHOULD stay in town for a night or two to start the trip. I'm afraid if we cut it to a single night in town we won't have much time to explore the hotel which I think I'll regret.

25 replies to this topic
Calgary, Canada
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26 reviews
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1. Re: Rough draft of itinerary....early August 2024

I would cut Jasper by one night but add that night to Banff. One night stays aren’t worth it in my opinion. So 3 nights Banff, 2 nights LL, 3 nights Jasper.

Give yourselves two hours to get through check in, security and US Border services. If you get right through, you can relax and have breakfast in the departure area.

Newmarket, Canada
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9,849 posts
64 reviews
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2. Re: Rough draft of itinerary....early August 2024

I would suggest minimizing the number of hotels and maximizing the number of days at each. Single night stays waste time, and take away from your ability to really enjoy the places you do stay at. If you can keep it to just the BSH, CLL and JPL, and no single night stops (other than the airport hotel before/after a flight), I think it will be a better trip.

For a trip in August, even as a guest of the hotels, yes, you should book your dinners in advance.

Vancouver, Canada
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44,192 posts
69 reviews
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3. Re: Rough draft of itinerary....early August 2024

Well if you were earlier in the plan, the recommendation would be Banff 2 N, Jasper 4 N, LL 2 nights, but its probably too late to change the order? As you have a morning flight and a night at the airport, its not really an issue, but I always feel that's a more efficient way to do things. By putting your LL stay at the end, it leaves more room to revisit any Banff sights that you feel you missed on your initial stay.

I don't think I would bother with Moraine Lake Lodge. Changing hotels is cumbersome and time consuming and while being up at the lake overnight would be amazing for the dark and quiet, its very isolated. You have to eat at the lodge and there's no where to go in the evening. Given your wish for some low key family time, this might work very nicely for you. It doesn't appeal to me (and I love dark and quite isolated places, but I wouldn't pick that one).

I will add that we went up to Edith Cavell in the evening, and again the next morning, and the evening light was much better. Obviously for hikes, you need to be there earlier in the day, but if you just want to pop up for a visit, go in the evening for a chance at some stunning lighting on the face of the mountain. Its in shadow in the morning.

As a general rule, I like to try and avoid stops when my car is full of stuff. I feel more comfortable getting to my new hotel, getting all my things into the hotel, and then heading out. I realize this isn't always practical, and really, theft from vehicle isn't a big risk, but its just one I hate taking if I can avoid it. (Its a HUGE problem in Vancouver, so I can't let go of that when I'm away). So that's one consideration on moving day.

Overall, you have a good plan and some lovely hotels. There's no wrong choices here. I have only stayed at the Chateau LL of those on your list, and it was magical. Make sure you have a lakeview room. Its pretty great to get out of the crowds heading to the main parking lot and duck into the Chateau and dump your car there. You can escape the crowds on the lakefront and get up into the hotel to enjoy the view in peace.

Newmarket, Canada
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9,849 posts
64 reviews
64 helpful votes
4. Re: Rough draft of itinerary....early August 2024

Have you booked your flights yet? It sounds like you'd like more time in the mountains, but you also say you're morning people. So, why are you flying in so late on your arrival day? Can you grab a ~6 AM flight out of St. Louis, and get to YYC in the morning, and then spend your first night in Banff? That will remove the single night stay on arrival, enjoy the afternoon driving out to Banff and have a great first night in the mountains?

I don't know your exact travel dates, but I see options with both American and United, arriving in Calgary around 11:30 AM.

With 9 nights, you can be a bit more flexible with your days in each place... 3 nights each, or 3 Banff, 2 LL, 4 Jasper, or whatever works for your mix of activities.

Edited: 22 February 2024, 15:31
Newmarket, Canada
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9,849 posts
64 reviews
64 helpful votes
5. Re: Rough draft of itinerary....early August 2024

Since you're comparing between the BSH, CLL and JPL properties, maybe these reviews with some photos and videos will be of assistance? Our most recent summer visit was spread across the three hotels, 22 nights total, starting in Banff, then to Jasper, then to Lake Louise. Six people total (4 adults, 2 teens).

Here's the Banff Springs Hotel review:

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/35472711-post563.html

Here's the Chateau Lake Louise review:

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/35475024-post425.html

Here's the Jasper Park Lodge review:

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/35476333-post93.html

Saint Louis...
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146 posts
7 reviews
1 helpful vote
6. Re: Rough draft of itinerary....early August 2024

Thanks so much for all the input already! I do think I might need to nix the night at Moraine Lake Lodge…it would certainly simplify things. Can’t stay everywhere, right, lol? As far as activities….what I have listed is really pretty much what I’ve picked that I think our family will enjoy the most…..do the accommodations pretty well match the activity locations or would you suggest moving things around?

If we were staying at a random hotel I feel like Banff would really only need one night per my activities if I have my locations correct in that most of what we want is more convenient/less travel time to LL but that could be wrong…..however because we would stay at BSH I’d like more than a night just to enjoy the exoerience and explore the hotel. We’ve stayed in quite a few very nice beach resorts and mountain lodges with the kids but nothing close to what the BSH appears to be.

As far as arriving earlier in the day…….I’d love to but I’m already having our oldest miss the last day of summer (high school) practice and if I took an earlier flight he’d miss another day. He’ll be a senior and I feel bad having him miss that extra day (and don’t want his playtime knocked because of me just wanting more vacation time) so the best I can do for a flight after his workout is leaving in the afternoon that day and arriving close to 10pm. There was an option that we could do with two different airlines connecting in Denver and arriving 6pm but I’m nervous one of the flight times would change being this far out or get delayed and then I’m stuck.

I like the idea of doing Banff, Jasper and then LL but I think I’m too late in adjusting my lodging nights with which room types I want. Typically I like to plan our vacations with our best lodging last and work our way up but I honestly don’t know which that will be with this trip. They each have pros/cons. Hopefully we enjoy them all but I guess we’ll see. BSH we have a suite but it’s not huge and the kids (3 of them) like their own beds so we’ll need to utilize both the pullout soda plus have a rollaway….room might get cramped but I think the hotel itself will be a really cool experience. If I could move our Jasper reservation up and keep the same room, I would end the trip with BSH…but I’m too late for that. For CLL you would think I’d book Lakeview but I didn’t….if it was the end of our trip I absolutely would. Right now it’s in the middle and the only suites our family fits in there do not have a balcony. If the 2 bedroom lakeview had a balcony I would also be enticed to book it…but with only windows giving the view I just haven’t convinced myself to spend that kind of extra money….when here we probably won’t be in the room all that much. Compared to when I booked our room we do have (2 bedroom non-lakeview months ago) to the current price of upgrading to lakeview it’s a crazy difference (more than double—by a lot). I know they are currently refurbishing all rooms there however I emailed them to ask if our room would be refurbished and have a/c before our trip and they were unable to confirm that…..which makes me nervous and glad it’s not our last stop. For Jasper….mixed reviews of this hotel/lodge as a whole although I can’t find anything negative regarding our specific room category so I guess that helps relieve some worry. I have booked a 3 bedroom cabin which houses our family very nicely…says it’s newly refurbished and photos look nice. BSH was actually the most expensive to book but I think the cabin at JPL might be enjoyed the most by our family which is partly why I opt for the extra night in Jasper….If I remove a Jasper night I feel like we might be rushed trying to see things and not end up with cabin time.

If we leave early enough to drive down the parkway on departure day I do think we’ll have a decent amount of time in Banff that last evening for anything we missed…maybe I’m being too optimistic.

Thank you for the info on morning vs. evening at Mt. Edith Cavell. I’m not exactly sure of location but I am thinking I remember it being south of Jasper in my reading…..maybe could stop on the way up to Jasper??…or is that a bad plan? I would feel quite comfortable with our Jasper plan/downtime if I thought we could stop there on the way in.

Also I appreciate the warning about leaving luggage, etc in the car when moving hotels. Several years ago we traveled to Hawaii and it was a huge problem there so we did try to avoid activities before dropping bags at our hotels there. This was the first warning I’d read about this area.

Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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7. Re: Rough draft of itinerary....early August 2024

Theft from cars is not a big concern here, but the possibility is always there, I guess, especially if you are at quieter, more remote trail heads. But all of the main scenic attractions have busy parking lots. The usual precautions apply - keep your valuables and hard-to-replace items with you (i.e. electronics, passports) - pack them in a day pack that you can carry (along with an extra layer, water bottle etc.).

At Mt. Edith Cavell, the paths are in sunshine in the morning and early afternoon, and the sun is shining directly on the peak. Once the sun goes behind the peak to the west, it gets noticeably cooler but the alpenglow on the peak can be really pretty when the sun gets low in the sky (and of course, the area is less busy later in the day). It can be hard to get parking there during the peak part of the day - say 10:30 to 3:30. It can be frustrating to circle the parking lots to find a space, and as one opens up, someone who just drove in snags it!

How long you'll need for Cavell depends on what you want to do there. It's about an hour's drive from JPL. The Path of the Glacier trail to the Angel Glacier viewpoint is only 1.6 km (1 mile), round trip, so that doesn't take very long. How long you'll need for the Cavell Meadows trail really depends on how much of the trail you will hike - there are options of varying distances ... out and back to the furthest south viewpoint (closest to the peak) is the shortest and easiest of the meadow options. (Continue straight at the first junction; I almost always do it this way no matter what option I am going to hike as this is the least steep). From there, you can continue up and do a loop (which has a steep descent). At the junction where you would descend, you can opt to continue up onto a ridge; there used to be a sign at a cairn there that said "end of trail 2288m" but it's not there anymore. From there, you can continue up through rocky terrain to the top of a small peak. So you could hike for 2 - 3 hours or 4 - 6 hours.

Edited: 22 February 2024, 18:56
Calgary, Canada
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8. Re: Rough draft of itinerary....early August 2024

On your Day 11 7am departure date - you will need to be out of your room no later than 5am. The joy of the in-terminal Marriott is the short walk to check in and Concourse E, but it is a busy time of the day for US departures. After check-in there is security, then you do American immigration and customs pre-clearance which has become quite quick and easy. Once through that there is a decent selection of restaurants and coffee shop to feed the family if they are hungry.

Newmarket, Canada
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9,849 posts
64 reviews
64 helpful votes
9. Re: Rough draft of itinerary....early August 2024

If you have a suite booked at the Banff Springs, then I think you might be pleasantly surprised with the room size. Many of the rooms at the BSH are indeed very small, because it's a very old hotel, and didn't even have bathrooms in the guest rooms when it first opened in 1888. That's why they're all fairly small, because by adding bathrooms later, they were taking away space from the already-small rooms. But, the 1 Bedroom Suites are of a decent size, and even have a reasonable sized bathroom, unlike most of the other room categories, including the larger 2 Bedroom Suites. When we were there in summer 2022, we stayed in a 1 Bedroom Suite with an adjoining Queen-Queen room, because the 2 Bedroom Suites were all under renovation at the time. I took a video walkthrough of it, so that should give you a good idea of what to expect; just ignore the second room attached. it's not massive, but by BSH standards, it's actually pretty good.

https://youtu.be/rIu5v9zFMUY?si=mL1IVWIojI_M3v6h

Balconies at the Chateau Lake Louise are rare. There are only 5 suites in that hotel with proper balconies, and only 3 of those view the lake. One of them is the Tom Wilson Suite (#303), on the third floor, and it's right in the middle of the construction going on outside, so I wouldn't touch that one until 2026 when the construction is fully complete. The others are the Belevedere and Glacier Suites, and they would work fine for you (they only have one bedroom, but have 1.5 baths and have a pullout sofa in the living rooms), but they're priced about the same as a 2 Bedroom Lakeview, so not cheap.

The CLL room renovations are supposed to be complete by June. But, I can see why they're not making promises to you, because construction delays are very real, so they can't promise. Many of them are complete. My understanding is they started with the Painter Wing last fall (now complete), moved over to the Glacier Wing on the other side, and are finishing with the Barrot Wing in the centre of the hotel. I believe all of the non-Lakeview 2 Bedroom Suites are in that wing. Fingers crossed they have the updates done by then. The hotel has a very big incentive to be fully finished by the start of the summer season, because they operate at near sell-out levels. They want all rooms and suites occupied, so I'd say the odds of you having a fully renovated suite in August are extremely high.

For Jasper, I've not stayed in the three bedroom cabins, because they're not by the lake, but of the signature cabins I have stayed in a JPL, I would describe them as a nice design and great setting, but badly needing to be updated. The furniture is about 10 years past it's expiration date. But the setting is lovely, and having the private outdoor patios, firepit and BBQ is a nice bonus. Here's a video of our last stay in such a cabin. If they say your cabin has been updated, then that's great, because I wouldn't want to be in one that hasn't been recently refurbed.

https://youtu.be/-Ijs4tkwIG4?si=YI64Lo9e_gHm36Y2

Saint Louis...
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146 posts
7 reviews
1 helpful vote
10. Re: Rough draft of itinerary....early August 2024

Thanks again so much everyone for your input/thoughts and helpful information. I apologize for the delay but life has been busy as a mom/school parent for the past month or so and I had to concentrate on other things instead of trip planning. I do think I have set our lodging finally. We will do the first night at the airport as planned and then stay BSH for 2 nights, CLL for 2 nights and then stick with our 4 nights in Jasper. It seems like most of the 'things I'd change if doing it again' comments is that most visitors would have spent more time in Jasper than they originally planned. Since it's the end of our trip I'd like to concentrate on relaxing time there so we'll stick with 4 nights. I've cut back a little on things planned for the area so below is what I've kind of worked up as our 'really hoping to accomplish' list.....if there's anything you really think we should add, please let me know and I'll put it down on our bonus list if we end up looking for extra things to do. I'm ready to start making reservations for activities so hoping for any constructive input before finalizing :)

For a refresher we are traveling the very first week in August (I think that Monday is a holiday so I'm sure it'll be crazy busy and crowded).

Day 1: Arrival....overnight airport

Day 2: Depart airport early.....drive to Sunshine Meadows (opens 8am) and spend morning there.

Lunch???......would you eat here or find somewhere in Banff after exploring Sunshine village area?....afternoon shopping in Banff, dinner at hotel and overnight BSH. (any suggestion which restaurant to book?.....seems like several options and only 2 nights for dinners)

Day 3: Explore Yoho.....would you also suggest doing Johnston Canyon on this day first or move it up to day 2 in afternoon?...Lunch in Field, dinner @ hotel, overnight BSH

Day 4: Move to CLL.....afternoon canoe on LL?....hike around lake on arrival....dinner at hotel, overnight CLL

Day 5: early morning hike Lake Agnes Teahouse......late afternoon shuttle to Moraine Lake...hike around lake?.....I think I can book this through the hotel (CLL)....do I do that prior to arrival?...dinner & overnight at CLL

Day 6: depart CLL and drive ice fields parkway to Jasper......overnight JPL cabin

Day 7: Hiking at Maligne Canyon.....eat lunch @ Wilderness Kitchen.....evening lake cruise, overnight JPL

Day 8: Ice Walks morning glacier hike (3 hrs).....overnight JPL

Day 9: Fishing??....pack up......overnight JPL

Day 10: Drive Icefields parkway back down passing through Banff with stops for shopping/meals along way......arrive at airport to return car and sleep prior to 7am flight next day.

**where would best place to fit Edith Cavell into plans be?....maybe do fishing on day 9 later in day and plan to drive down to Edith Cavell early, then lunch then fishing?? (is fishing better in morning??....it is around here but not sure about there)....could also move day 7 around I think to accommodate fishing...is the canyon ok to hike in the early afternoon??

@DCH in Canada.....Thanks for all the insight/tours of Fairmont properties!.....do you know anything specific about the terrace suite (formerly known as spa suite I believe) at BSH?.....it's 2 bedrooms but only 2 regular beds (1K/1Q) so we'll need to utilize the pullout (wondering how terrible the pullouts are in Fairmont properties) plus have a rollaway....I'm hoping the living area is roomy enough to add the rollaway.

Looks like you stayed in the Whistler Cabin in Jasper....I had originally picked that (and was wondering how old the room felt so thanks for your honest opinion) but then later found a sale rate for the Ridgeline which seems to be pretty recent of a refurb....few years old so hopefully I've made a good choice.

Also, do you have any updates by chance on room refurb for the CLL? I keep finding conflicting info on if the Barrott wing will also be done this summer or if it's waiting to start until after the summer season.

Any suggestions for things we really should add or even swap around for ease of location to our more finalized plans would be great! Thanks again for your input. I'm skipping Grassi Lakes I think........is that a mistake?...would it be worth the time to stop on the way back to the airport or will it be kind of a letdown after everything else?....hope that doesn't sound bad.

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