(Closed) Canadian Bees, recommendations for our vacation in the Canadian Rockies !

posted 5 years ago in Travel
Post # 5
168 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

@MrsOrange:  i actually just got back from a vacation in banff! here are a few fun recommendations (I have been over six times lol) 


In banff make sure to go on the banff gondola and Columbia icefields (if you book early with airmiles you can score major discounts). for the gondola, pack layers especially a windproof one. and a hat as well as sunscreen. if you can leave the rest of the day for wandering around he banff townsite. there are tons of fun shops and a great atmosphere. a really cool activity for banff occurs on weekends only. at the banff springs hotel they host a four hour breakfast. it is expensive but amazing. the hotel is one of the original railway hotels and the hotel itself is beautiful. if you can swing it, I would recommend this being your luxury hotel night. 


A super short drive away is lake louise, morraine lake, and maligne lake. all three are on the same road and worth seeing. think crystal clear blue spring fed lakes trimmed by mountains. the lake louise hotel is a sister hotel to the banff springs and almost as beautiful. if you are outdoorsy, take a hike around the lake to the teahouse and enjoy lunch on the waters edge. 


On your way to banff or lake Louise, you will pass canmore. if you are looking for water related adventures this is the place to go. many companies offer white water rafting lessons and tours onto the river and it is a ton of fun. 


As far as hot springs go, do not bother with the banff hot springs. they are crowded and poorly maintained. go to miette hot springs near Jasper. when went they were beautifully maintained and deserted. they also overlook a beautiful mountain view. definately worth the trip. 



I don’t know how much of a drive you are willing to take but if you have some time drive to waterton lakes. they have kayak tours through the glaciers and some of the prettiest scenery in the Rockies. you can also cross the border and do the sea to sky highway to the mountain peaks from this location. 



That is all I can think of for now. but if you have more questions or need info feel free to message me. 

Post # 6
837 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@MrsOrange:  I second what PPs grave suggested. As for attire, that part of the country can be really hot that time of the year. Or not. You’ll have to make sure to check the long term forecast ahead of your trip. But due to changes in elevation with many of the outdoorsy activities you’ll certainly want layers and a good windbreaker. 

Post # 7
275 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

I live in Calgary and my Fiance is a big photographer so we’re in the park a lot for that reason.  What type of photography might help narrow down where you should go.  Like,  animals/landscape?  Specific animals or specific features you’re looking to capture?

For fancy hotels I’d highly recommend a fairmont property (there is one in Banff and one in Jasper)  The Banff one is called the castle of the Rockies (officially the Banff Springs Hotel) and it’s got some amazing turn of the 20th century charm to it and amazing views.  Jasper’s property is a bit more rustic and more like cabins that are higher end.  Picking between the two,  I’d stay at the Banff Springs.   Any dining you’ll do here is also going to be amazing – but you will pay for that privledge.   Fairmont also has reputation for great spas.  Another good spa in Banff is at the Rim Rock.  If you stay at Banff Springs I’d check out a “tour of the castle” which goes through the history of the hotel including how it contributed to the start up of travel agencies that kicked started tourism in the world (not just the region) which I thought was pretty cool.

For hikes… hmm… there are SO many I’m not sure where to begin. I’d probably stop into a ranger station / info center and ask the parks staff.  The reason I recommend this is because they know the trails intimately – they can help you pick one for your requirements (and provide maps) but they also know trail conditions and locations of bears which will help you stay safe when you don’t really know the mountains.   You MAY have snow near mountain summits in september (but no,  it’s not really cold – but you’ll want some layers).

For stuff to do:

In banff –  visit the hot springs (especially nice after a hike).   the gondola up sulfer mountain offers some great views and photo ops  and mountain goats like to hang around up there.  You can hike sulfer mountain to save the cost of the gondola but it’s steep and not pretty until the top.  Lake Minnewanka is a nice lake for photos and water activities and is close to banff.  If you’re after animal shots,  there are some ways to “cheat” a bit – you can join up on a wildlife tour.  I beleive there is also a bear santary around that lets you get safer photos of bears and dramatically increase your chance of seeing one (I’ve never been here – but i’ve seen them advertised in the tour provider shops)  Another very scenic lake is Lake Louise which you probably will pass going between banff and jasper.

 By Jasper,  if glacers strike your fancy take a trip on a ice explorer in the columbian ice fields.  You’ll get to see ice crevaces and such and it’s quite educationals with great views.

If animals are your thing and you have time the trip from Banff to Radium goes down a highway were I almost always see widelife – but it can be a dangerous road so drive with caution especially during twilight or at night.   In Radium you’re almost guarenteed to meet a group of big horned sheep that I’ve seen in town every trip I’ve ever made here.   There isn’t much in Radium except the hotsprings (which I actually like better than Banffs) but it’s a great place to see animals.   Last trip to Radium we saw 2 bears, mountain goats, mountian sheep a few times, 2 types of deer several times over, a coyote and elk….. and this was just off the highway. 

If you are able to make it to Golden (maybe to far out of the way) the white water rafting is world class.  By september the water is a bit lower and I’ve never traveled the lower canyon at that time of year but that’s a very challenging set of white water and a ton of fun.  You might be able to rent kayaks in Golden but I’m not sure I’d try it there unless you are experienced with white water kayaking.

Banff dining can be kind of pricey – you might want to take the short trip out of the park to Canmore for dinners.  The best resturants in Baff however are mostly steakhouses.  Trip advisor or yelp can help you pick good places here.  I’m not sure about Jasper but many of the smaller hotels in Banff are more rustic – anything that’s called Chalets will probably be what you’re after.   Again, I’d probably go through trip advisor because I don’t stay over night often.

For what to wear,  mountain climates can be unpredictable and weather changes quickly as you hike or change altitude.  In Septmeber in the towns you might have 80 degree weather but it will more in the 60s once you gain a bit of altitude and then you might turn a corner on a mountain and it’s back in the 70s.    I’d bring strudy footwear (with grip and ankle support if you’re hiking – I wouldn’t go anywhere near a harder or technical hike without proper hiking boots but easier hikes don’t need them),  whatever you’d wear for 80’s weather and then layers that would allow you go drop twenty degrees.  Often we’re wearing shorts with track pants,  a tshirt with a fleece and/or a lighter jacket.   I’d always have rain protection with me on any hike out there.  I will often bring gaters to keep my feet drier if there is any mud or a creek that might need to be crossed.  If you are prone to being really cold,  bring a wool hat and light gloves (not something I would need in september though).

Post # 8
2297 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

if you can swing fairmont hotels – do it. the fairmonts in the rockies are historic and amazing, so luxurious and are in some of the best spots in the rockies. they have amazing amenities!

i lived in jasper for a summer, i suggest going rafting on the athabasca river – so much fun!


have fun, the rockies are amazing!

Post # 12
2297 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

@MrsOrange:  great, i loved the rafting. also – if you’re going to stay at a fairmont, go online and sign up for their president’s club (it’s free). you’ll get some extra perks, and can create a profile of preferences (for example, my dad is allergic to feathers, so when he makes a reservation all the bedding is microfibre). 

i think it entitles you to things like free wifi, calls, newspapers etc and you get a special check in desk that is much faster

i’m SURE there will be a spot where you can add that you are celebrating your honeymoon and they are pretty great at going the extra distance 🙂 

Post # 13
275 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

@MrsOrange:  You won’t find much for archetecture in the parks with the only exception I can think of being the banff springs hotel.   I wanted my wedding photos here but you can’t without a wedding there and they are basically a six figure events when they are held there.  *le sigh*.   If you are not a guest they can be quite anal about photography in general so if you show up without a room just make it look like you belong.  Calgary has some though – most of our historic building down town are all sandstone,  we have the calgary tower (looks like the olympic torch) and an arena looks like a giant horse saddle to represent our ranching.  Most of that cool stuff is in the downtown core and the areas immediately around it.  I’m not sure if you’ll spend any time in the city at all.    Park archetricture id mostly alpine or rustic – nothing overly unique. 

Scenery is not hard to find :).  The lakes mentioned through the thread are all nice.  In banff drive up tunnel mountain for some nice valley look outs.   They have some hoodoos up there (rock formations on the side of the mountain carved by wind) the exact spot escapes me so you might need to ask or check a guide.  Give yourself time to stop off at all the lookout points through the park (there are many but add time to the trip) and you’ll get some great views.   You can take mini hikes not far from the turn outs to get some more unique photos. 

For animals,  Elk, deer and sheep should be the easiest to spot.  They will often hang out very close to people.  Even though they are comfortable around you, doesn’t mean they won’t get upset and startled.  I think you’ll be there during rutting season which makes thier behavior a bit more unpredicable.  Make sure you give them space and never crowd them – take photos with a telephoto lens ect.  Make sure they have an escape route that’s not behild you or over a highway (you don’t want to see them get hit by a car…)   Take some time to slowly walk behind hotels and buildings into light trees and shrubs and you’ll find the elk and deer. For sheep you’ll have to be up the mountains a bit or by a rock face – look up. You will not find animals on highway 1 in the parks very frequently (they have animal fences and overpasses  that help the animals cross the road without getting hit by the heavy traffic on that highway.   You will have to make stops and walk a ways away from the highway to see anything or take a different highway (not as direct).  I recommend you take the 1a (bow valley parkway) over the transcanada #1 from Calgary to Banff if you have daylight.   I see lots of sheep up on the cliffs right off the road on the way to banff quite frequently and it’s much better for scenery.   This road is very narrow and windying through the native reserve which can make it kind of dangerous at night with animals or in bad weather and the speed is lower so it’ll take you longer but it’s worth it if you are there for the sights.    If you are GPSing your way out of calgary and can’t find it… Take AB2 (deerfoot) from the airport north to Stoney Trail and head west.  Exit west onto Crowchild trail and that becomes the 1a and will join up to the transcanada in Canmore before the park with little effort on your part.  Bears are harder to find as they are mostly scared of us.  You will likely be high up in the mountains assuming food supplies held out but you’ll also find them around rivers at that time.  I’ve seen bears while rafting which is kind of cool. 

Post # 15
3256 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

@MrsOrange:  Your fancy hotel is the Fairmont Lake Louise.  Lake Louise in the summer is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, in any country I’ve visisted.

Post # 16
6123 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

@MrsOrange:  We honeymooned in the CA rockies!  Well we got married there too (Emerald Lake!), but also did an 11 day trip.  Definitely side trip to Yoho NP since it’s right there as well.


"Oh Canada!" – a roadtrippin' honeymoon


PM me if you’d like to read my weddingmoon blog with more details!




Fancy hotels are:

Banff Springs Hotel, in Banff

Rimrock Hotel, in Banff

Chateau Lake Louise, in Lake Louise


Fancy Rustic:

Buffalo Mountain Lodge, in Banff

Cathedral Mountain Lodge, in Field

Emerald Lake Lodge, in Field



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