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Old 07-31-2018, 10:57 AM   #1
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Banff, Jasper next July

My DW and I are planning a trip to Alaska next year. Due to family activities, we will not be able to leave until later July. We would like to go up through the Banff/Jasper area, but I am having difficulty with the planning. It seems like people either drive through in a day or two, or stay 2 weeks. We have a certain amount of flexibility in our plan, but not a week in that area. For most of the trip, we will "wing it", but this is the first leg, and our plan is to arrive on a Wed. Originally I was planning 3 days, but that doesn't seem like enough time to see much. Maybe we should just drive through and hope our health and finances hold out for another, longer trip in the future. If we work out maybe 5 days instead of 3, would you stay in one location and day trip? Would you make reservations or wing it? We plan to be able to dry camp for a few days at a time (generator, small fresh water and gray water tanks).
Thanks in advance for any/all comments.
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Old 07-31-2018, 06:37 PM   #2
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We were just at both Banff and Jasper on our way to Alaska. If you want to get a reservation at the park for a site with hookups, you had better be on your computer the minute they start accepting reservations. Jasper was first in Jan. and I signed in after about 3 hours of the site opening up and I could not get a reservation with full hookups, and the full hooks were already reserved for most of the year. You can bet that the next day when Banff opened up for reservations I was there asap and got a reservation.
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Old 07-31-2018, 08:40 PM   #3
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Apart from the National Parks which fill up really quickly for reservations the second they open the books, there are also multiple Provincial Parks. Here is the link. https://www.albertaparks.ca/albertap...sit-our-parks/

I can't really comment on these because I have never stayed at any of them. However, with the current exchange rate favouring the US $ many more of us Canadians are staying put and camping locally. Hence the short supply of available sites.

Doing Banff and Jasper would take several days but the drive between the two is stunning (Icefield Parkway). Early August has a holiday which next year falls on Monday Aug 5th so sites will be even more difficult to find on a long weekend.

If you're staying anywhere in a NP the park pass has a charge of $136 (Cdn) and is valid for a year for any park in Canada but is an extra fee you have to budget for. Daily passes are also available but work out equally as expensive. Here's the link. Welcome to Parks Canada Passes and Permits

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Old 08-01-2018, 06:59 AM   #4
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Thank you for your help. Is it practical to stay at one more central location and day trip both directions, or more practical to move locations between the two? I really don't have a concept of the travel time.
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Old 08-01-2018, 02:23 PM   #5
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We stayed in Banff last year in May 2017. We toured the area but left the 5er at the campground. The drive all the way to Jasper and back was an all day affair. I decided at the time that if I ever go back that way to get to Alaska I would definetly take the trailer with me after Banff and heading up to Jasper.

By the way, say you wanted to just be able to say you drove to Alaska but you didn't really want to go all the way to say Anchorage or the Arctic Circle. You can drive from Jasper to Hyder Alaska and it's only 679 miles.

Hyder is a speck on the map that shares the city with it's Canadian sister Stewart BC. Hyder is most famous for being the city in Alaska that is the closest driveable destination from the lower 48.

According to Wikipedia:

"Hyder is accessible by highway from Stewart, which connects with the British Columbia highway system and claims 100,000 tourists annually. It is the location of the annual Hyder Seek gathering of long-distance motorcyclists who travel from all over North America each Memorial Day weekend. It became popular with long distance motorcycle riders in 1998 when author Ron Ayres set a record of riding to the contiguous 48 states in six days. Ayres went on to add to the 48-state record by continuing on to Hyder to establish a new 49-state record of 7 days, 0 hours and 20 minutes. Ayres named the new long distance ride the "48 Plus" and it has become popular with members of the long-distance motorcycle riding Iron Butt Association. Hyder was the starting point of the 2014 coast-to-coast Scooter Cannonball Run, which ended in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Because of its accessible proximity to Stewart BC, and its isolation from other communities in Alaska, Hyder has many commonalities with its Canadian neighbor, with both American and Canadian holidays observed,and a shared international Chamber of Commerce. Children who live in Hyder attend the Bear Valley School in Stewart. It is the only place in Alaska not to use the 907 area code, instead using British Columbia's 250. Although Alaska is officially in the Alaska Time Zone, residents of Hyder set their clocks to British Columbia's Pacific Time. Both American and Canadian currency are accepted, except by the U.S. Post Office, which accepts only American dollars."
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Old 08-01-2018, 03:34 PM   #6
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Thank you hbillsmith. Using 2 different campgrounds is what I was thinking. It seems from my online reading that it won't be as difficult to get a campground in Jasper as in Banff.
We may end up hitting Hyder, but at this point I doubt it. We would really like to see more of Alaska, and perhaps drive to the Arctic Circle (will plan that part later). I am thinking 8-10 weeks, which will put us mid to late September. My DW is thinking 6-8 weeks as she already misses her grand babies and we haven't even left yet.
As one who has done this trip, any other thoughts on the Canadian Rockies?
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Old 08-01-2018, 03:44 PM   #7
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Been to these two parks many times. I would suggest staying at a campsite slightly after entering Banff Park, from the town of Banff. Then stay one night and tour the parks the next day, ending the day camping in Jasper Park a little north of Athabasca Falls. The campground in Banff is hard to get a site without reservations, but had no trouble with the one in Jasper. It is a long day touring the parks in one day but we have done it without hurrying and the daylight is longer up there that time of year.
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Old 08-01-2018, 03:46 PM   #8
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We went to Alaska this summer on vacation and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would go back right now, if I could. I cannot get it out of my mind. We did a one week cruise up the inside passage and another week on our own for a land tour. I am looking forward to the day we can retire and drive up for an entire summer. I would get a job up there now, but leaving DH, kids, grandkids, and parents would be difficult, even though I would have no trouble finding a job in my field.
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Old 08-01-2018, 04:04 PM   #9
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I'm following this since I'm planning on next year too.
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Old 08-01-2018, 07:00 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by K_and_I View Post
Thank you hbillsmith. Using 2 different campgrounds is what I was thinking. It seems from my online reading that it won't be as difficult to get a campground in Jasper as in Banff.
We may end up hitting Hyder, but at this point I doubt it. We would really like to see more of Alaska, and perhaps drive to the Arctic Circle (will plan that part later). I am thinking 8-10 weeks, which will put us mid to late September. My DW is thinking 6-8 weeks as she already misses her grand babies and we haven't even left yet.
As one who has done this trip, any other thoughts on the Canadian Rockies?
We made the trip last year. We left Montreal at the end of May, and back mid-august, total of 10 weeks, including stops in Vancouver and Victoria. I support what others have told you: 2 nights in Banff, leave early from Banff to drive the Icefieds parkway between Banff and Jasper: many stops and things to see (Petoe lake, Columbia Icefields, Lake Louise etc). It is one of the most scenic road in the world, so take your time to enjoy It. For the rest of your trip, don't go to Hyder first, finish your trip in Hyder. A quick overview, we went from Jasper-Dawson Creek...Whitehorse, Dawson City, Top of the world highway, Chicken...Fairbanks, Denali, Anchorage, Homer, Seward, Valdez, Tok, Skagway...Steward (BC)-Hyder (Alaska). Did not go to the arctic circle, spent 22 days in Alaska. I still have flashbacks from this trip, the nicest camping trip of our life.
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Old 08-01-2018, 08:38 PM   #11
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Thanks again for all replies.
Eagle2405, you mentioned leaving Banff early and driving the Icefield parkway to Jasper, and all of the sights to be seen. Is there room at many (most) of these sights to pull off with a camper? I would hate to drive past the beauty I've heard described and not see it because I couldn't park the truck and camper (29' TT- hitch to bumper).
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Old 08-01-2018, 10:25 PM   #12
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Good question. No problem for Columbia ice fields. Not recommended for lake Louise, too many peoples there. Petoe lake, we left our FW on the access road. I suggest spending 3 nights in Banff and 2 in Jasper, we find there is more to see around Banff. From Banff, visit as much as you can including Lake Louise, Moraine Lake etc. We were there early (june 10th), but Banff is extremely busy in peak season. On your way to Jasper, take a chance for Lake Petoe, and again It should be easy to stop at the Columbia icefields.

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Old 08-02-2018, 01:12 AM   #13
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We've done that trip twice in the last three years. See my post "Canadian Rockies More Beautiful than Alaska".

We never arrived with reservations and the NPs directed us into their "Overflow Campgrounds" a few miles away from each park. These normally do not have services, just outhouses. But anywhere up there has stunning scenery.

And here's a hidden gem for you. It's near the top of the longest, most majestic climb up the grade from a valley floor to a mountain pass. The valley and mountains are huge. You'll know it because your pedal will have been on the floor for several minutes climbing that grade. I'm sorry but I don't know the name or location, but I had no trouble recognizing it from the description once I was there, and you won't either. It is south of the ice fields location.

There's a very large pullout (maybe 1/2 acre?) on the right, most of the way up that long climb in that gigantic valley. Everyone stops there for the incredible views back into the valley. Walk to the trees at the uphill end of this pullout. There's a little trail that in one minute will lead you to an incredible deep gorge cut into the marble by a flowing stream and series of waterfalls. Everyone stops for the valley view but no one sees that gorge because of the trees. (A local guide told me about it in town.) Send me good thought when you see it!
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Old 08-02-2018, 03:40 PM   #14
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I appreciate all of the comments and tips. I maybe could go without reservations, but would like fhu for at least one of the campgrounds as our gray tank is small. I'm still wondering about the feasibility of parking the tv/tt combo along the icefield parkway.
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Old 08-02-2018, 03:46 PM   #15
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There is a visitor center with ample parking across the ice field parkway from the Columbia Ice Field.
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Old 08-02-2018, 04:15 PM   #16
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Forgot to mention, you still must pay to camp in the overflow campgrounds, but that allows you access to the dump, showers, etc at the main campgrounds.
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Old 08-02-2018, 08:23 PM   #17
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Sounds like a plan. I don't mind paying to stay in overflow if I have access to water and dump (hopefully there are generator hours). If I can't find parking, we'll head up to Jasper, find a campground, and make the drive through the icefields again.
Thanks again for all help.
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Old 08-07-2018, 02:04 PM   #18
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For anyone following this thread, I found a website with a LOT of information about the Banff/Lake Louise/Jasper area:

http://banffandbeyond.com/

Start with their Trip Planning section and go from there.
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Old 08-08-2018, 10:43 PM   #19
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Finding a site in Jasper in 2019 will be challenging to say the least.. They are renovating the largest campground and 781 campsites will be unavailable..

https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/jas...-map/whistlers

I'd recommend looking around Hinton (1hr away), Edson (1hr 45min away), Valemont, BC (1hr27 min), or McBride, BC (1hr50min away)..
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