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The Rockies in Canada - Lodges - Calgary (lots of ?'s)

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Old Mar 19, 03, 7:05 pm
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The Rockies in Canada - Lodges - Calgary (lots of ?'s)

After having a blast in BC this past summer, I would like to start planning another Canada trip for this summer.

I'm thinking of flying into Calgary (becuase I'm a United/*A fool) and heading west to the Rockies. I have 5 days to devote to this trip.

Is Calgary worth any time? The rodeo is big, but that is not our cup o tea.

My wife and I are avid outdoors people. I rough it, but she has to have a toilet w/running water. Therefore we will be lodging it.

I have only seen pictures of the lodges in the Rockies. Any specific recommendations?

Can I assume even w/the strong US dollar that the well know lodges are very pricey?
And that being the case, does anyone have a less well known options (economical)?

What are not to miss park/rocky mtns attractions?

Any specific hikes/hiking areas?

We were pleasantly surprised at the few amount of tourists on Vancouver Island during the 4th of July week.
I'm sure it will be crowded during the summer, but as crowded as the US rockies?

Other ideas for the Rockies?
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Old Mar 20, 03, 8:19 am
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We spent a couple weeks in the Banff area a year or so ago during the summer.

We spent a couple of days in Calgary and found that was enough. We rented a canoe one day in the Dinosaur Valley, which I think was about an hour out of Calgary. That was OK. It's a very dry terrain, but we were the only ones on the river that I saw. There's also the Olympic park area where you can pay to ride a bobsled. If you only have five days though, I'd skip Calgary and head straight for Banff.

We spent sometime at Johnston Canyon, which we really liked. The hike to the ink pots there is nice. We stayed for one week at some cabins at Johnston Canyon Resort. It's right at the head of the ink pot trail. We enjoyed those. They're rustic on the outside, but furnished nicely on the inside - mica lamps, clawfoot tubs, Stickly-type furniture, etc. We had one right on the river and it was secluded from the others. Some of the others were close to the highway or looked into other cabins - I wouldn't have liked those.

There are tons of great hikes. The Bow River Hoodoos was pretty good. It you like vertical hikes, there are lots of those. We rented a canoe out of Banff too and brought a lunch and ate a stone's throw from an eagle who just sat and watched us.

We weren't nearly as impressed with Lake Louise as we were with Moraine Lake. That was beautiful and much less crowded. I wish we could have gotten into the Moraine Lake Lodge. It was booked. It's also one of the pricier lodges. We originally had a reservation at the Post Hotel, which is supposed to be great, but we didn't like the location - it's kind of close to the highway and there are no lake views.

We did have a tough time getting reservations calling even three months out so I'd start calling now.

A drive to the ice fields is pretty interesting too.

Banff also has a nice artists community and we went to see an outdoors production of The Hobbit, which was fun although it rained. Garbage bags make decent rain ponchos. Go prepared for most any weather. Also, be prepared for lots of mosquitos.

Downtown Banff was crowded and some of the popular hikes were also, but it was also easy to get away from people. Prices weren't cheap - more what you'd expect for similar in the US.

Be sure and eat the blueberries. We bought a big carton of them and cooked with them at the cabin. They were yummy and cheap.
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Old Mar 20, 03, 5:52 pm
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I don't know if this is the kind of thing you would want to do on this trip, but I am sure you will be interested in at least reading about it! This is a link to a Sunset magazine article on historic backcountry lodges in the Canadian Rockies (several in the Banff area). Some are in beautiful and remote locations, some can be extremely deluxe, all are off the busy tourist path for sure.

http://makeashorterlink.com/?F267436E3

Tell me what you think! And if you go to any of these places, I really want details. This is the kind of trip I would LOVE to do.
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Old Apr 10, 03, 11:48 am
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thanks for the replies.

anyone else?......
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Old Apr 10, 03, 12:36 pm
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This is a great area. Calgary is certainly worth an extended visit, but seeing as you only have five days your time would probably be better spent elsewhere. If you like museums, don't miss the Glenbow. Make sure you go to a steakhouse, Calgary gives Kansas City, Chicago, Fort Worth, etc. a run for their money. Hy's is the classic Calgary steakhouse, though there are a couple others that are more highly rated. For Calgary hotels, I'd go with the Hyatt Regency or Fairmont Palliser. I've heard good things about the Sheraton Suites Eau Claire (never stayed there, just walked past it) out by the Eau Claire mall/entertainment area. The Calgary Marriott doesn't look very nice (again, I haven't stayed there, only walked past).

My only lodge experience is with Fairmont/Canadian Pacific at Chateau Lake Louise and Banff Springs. Very nice. I have a strong preference for Lake Louise. I look forward to returning and exploring the lodges more off the beaten path as l'etoile suggests.
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Old Apr 10, 03, 11:15 pm
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As TransWorldOne mentioned, the Fairmont chain has about three or four nice lodges Alberta.

I find however that these lodges are overpriced. If the Lake Louise property is charging something obscene like C$600 a night (which they have in the past), then consider this luxurious Relais & Chateaux property: http://www.posthotel.com/

These lodges look nice too:

www.banffparklodge.com
www.crmr.com
www.rimrockresort.com
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Old Apr 11, 03, 6:57 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">I've heard good things about the Sheraton Suites Eau Claire ...</font>
We stayed there while in Calgary. I'd definitely recommend it. Excellent service.
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Old Apr 12, 03, 1:55 pm
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MANY years ago, I spent two weeks in the Canadian Rockies. Flew into Edmonton, rented a car, and drove to Grand Cache, for a week on a horseback through the Rockies, for some great fishing and riding. Then to Jasper and Lake Louise, and over the Continental Divide to B.C.
Several good hotels/motels in the Jasper area.
See Maligne Lake if you have time, and the area around it. The hotel at Lake Louise is also a good place to base your exploration of the area.
Do you ride horseback? If so, then check into the many trailrides of several days to a week, that are offered in the area. All meals, you'll sleep in tents, but it's fun and the scenery is fantastic. Some of the guides feature fishing trips (my week was spent riding, and fishing for some cuthroat trout on the Smoke River---one of the guys on the trip caught the second largest cutthroat trout caught in Alberta up to that time). I went in July, and the weather was perfect, but nights still got very cool.
Great area to relax and unwind. Scenery is super, interesting towns and side-trips into the mountains.

bj-21.
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Old Apr 13, 03, 7:37 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by blackjack-21:
Do you ride horseback? </font>
Not really and when I do I end up getting the horse Zeus or King due to my size. Us two big guys end up in disagreements over which way to go

I much prefer to hike.
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Old Apr 22, 03, 10:43 pm
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Summer in the Canadian Rockies is considered high season (although this year might be anyone's guess). You need to start booking now if you plan on coming in July/August and even then the choice places may already be booked.

Given a choice, come in September. The crowds are gone, the prices are more sane and the weather is typically alot more reasonable - July can be wet and cold, August and September are generally the most reliable.

If you go halfway to the mountains (40 miles west of Calgary) you come to Kananaskis which is a provincial park in the edge of the Rockies - you get the views without the steepest hikes. There are a couple of very good lodges there, more hiking trails you will ever walk, and one of the best golf courses in the world (and it's a public course) and the park is a lot less crowded than the Banff area (except for long weekends when all of Calgary heads out there).

Although the word Rodeo has some very specific connotations, you can't compare the Calgary Stampede to any other rodeo - it's so much more than that that it's hard to describe. Imagine the Mardi Gras with cowboy boots, not nearly as many college kids going wild but all the fun and good times - it truely is a party to enjoy. It's as much family oriented as it is a major event that Calgary goes all out for.

Two of the best lodges you can possibly stay at are the Deer Lodge in Lake Louse and Emerald Lake Lodge in Field (about 30 miles west of Lake Louise). Deer Lodge is right next to the lake and has far better food but is more rustic than the Chateau Lake Louise but is also cheaper. Emerald Lake Lodge is much more isolated, equally good food and more oriented to the luxury hiking crowds. Either will be a highlight of your trip for sure.

There are some very good river rafting trips out of Golden and Field down the Kicking Horse river if that's to your fancy also, as well as guided ATV trips, backcountry horse trips, and even helicopter hiking trips where you only walk down after a sumptious meal!

Enjoy.
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Old Apr 25, 03, 4:18 pm
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The rimrock is very nice. I know a few people who have stayed and loved it. It is right in the center or Banff.

Calgary can be very hit or miss for weather in July. We have had rain and cold (jacket weather) for the first week sometimes and other years its warm the whole month. Remember the mountains get much cooler at night if you are out that way so bring a sweater. Being so close to them we have on occasion received *gasp* snow in July and August!!!! Don't worry this isn't normal and it doesn't stay. Very interesting to see though

The whole area is great. I grew up in YYZ and moved here 3 years ago after visiting one to many times for business. My boss wouldn't let me relocate so I quit and got another job.

The real benefit is that you get the exchange rate in your favour. Its around $1.42 to a US $ today. Not too shabby.
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Old Jun 30, 03, 10:53 pm
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I don't know if it is too late, but here goes...

1)
One of the most popular (and worthwhile) hikes is the Plain of Six Glaciers Experience at L. Louise.

The first time I did it, I didn't know I'd be going on a hike. I saw a sign by the edge of the lake:
"Tea house 6 km", and decided to walk by the side of the lake and see how far I got.

Pretty soon I was intrigued by the scenery and its changes, and was hooked. This is not one those
gruelling, boring hikes where not too much changes. One of my personal highlights was a meadow area
with Queen Anne's Lace about as high as an adult.

Eventually you wind up in high altitude tundra vegetation, and if you go past the teahouse (you don't
have to go too far past) you'll reach the end with just rocks, near the white cliff of snow and ice
that you can see from the Chateau. There, it seems almost evil, like [email protected] frozen over...

Near the Tea House, there are a variety of exotic looking wild flowers.

This is not a 'backcountry hike', but the scenery and the changes are very interesting. It is quite
popular, as I mentioned - - you'll hear lots of German (not much Japanese, like in Banff) - - so you
won't be by yourself, except (recommended) maybe if you go past the Tea House.

This is at least a 4 hour round trip (if you savor it a little), but I could turn out to be 6 to 8
hours, depending on your interest and if you have slowed down with the years. It is only moderately
difficult, and not as brutal and punishing as many other hikes in the area (since a lot of it follows
the river and glacier up the valley). The most exasperating part is just before reaching the Tea
House ("Will we ever get there...")

A couple of hints: do not follow the trail to the * other * teahouse (Lake Agnes - very steep and
very boring), and, arrive at the parking lot by at least 10 or 11 AM to get a space without too much
waiting, and to get a reasonably early start on the hike, bring a camera (but nothing too heavy), a
medium sized bottle of water, and a light sweater or jacket, a walking stick can be helpful.

Ive done this hike a number of times (even half way up a couple of times in winter), but invariably
I seem to get back to the parking lot about the time it gets dark.

2)
The Buffet in the Grill Room at the Banff Springs Hotel for lunch or dinner. Also wander around the
back (or drive back a bit to get there by car) to look at the rapids, the golf courses with elk, etc.

3)
Also in Banff, there is the Sulphur Mountain Gondola experience...

4)
The town of Canmore is just outside the park gates, and there are lots more cheaper/more available
accommodations than Banff (which is only about half an hour away). Both Banff and Canmore are on
Priceline, but Lake Louise is not. This summer (7/23) I got a room at the Canmore Residence Inn
for $73 US by making a counteroffer on Priceline. Try to avoid the Gateway Inn in Canmore. I hear
the Drake Inn is very nice and quite reasonable in Canmore. If you stay in Canmore before going
into Banff, you could save one day's admission if you are paying by the day. The Grassi Lakes hike
is a nice little warm-up, across the highway from Canmore.

5)
I personally would't spend much time in Calgary.

6)
Take the 1A (old) highway from Calgary to Canmore (Banff), about an hour or less. It is much more
interesting. You can always zoom back on the Trans-Canada Highway to Calgary.

7)
The trip to Jasper is fairly interesting, at least till about half way. There is a great pass and
then the glacier further north.

8)
I'd probably pass into B.C. on one of the two main southern highways, and out the other, for a round
trip.

9)
Once in Banff park, I'd take the 1A in one direction, and the Highway 1 back in the other direction.

10)
The Johnston Canyon hike is OK (interesting), but this is where the non-hikers arrive by the busload.

Have a nice trip...


[This message has been edited by IJK (edited 06-30-2003).]
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Old Mar 21, 05, 8:00 pm
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Originally Posted by IJK
I don't know if it is too late, but here goes...
appreciate it as we did not make the trip, but plan on doing so this year.
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Old Mar 21, 05, 11:48 pm
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Lodges

I've booked 2 nights at the Moraine Lake Lodge and 1 night at Fairmont Lake Louise in early July, with access to area via YYC. First and last nights in Calgary, since cost of Lake Louise lodging is high. I did get a discount at the Fairmont by booking with a service.

My previous experience in the area was limited to camping at Lake Louise in 1975.
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Old Mar 22, 05, 2:41 am
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SW,

Don't forget to bring your flyrod. The cutthroat trout fishing is super!!!

Regards,

bj-21.
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