Planning a summer of Canadian Rockies

At last, we have all campgrounds in the Canadian Rockies reserved! I posted about our 2017 travel plan previously. We had to modify the plan a bit due to the lack of availability in Jasper National Park campground during the time in my original plan. So far, our travel schedule this year is shaping up with some fixed schedules in the summer (for the Rockies) and end of year (for the overseas trip) and some flexibility in between.

We’ll be in Oregon in April for solar system installation, Stimpy services, visiting with friends. May is still up in the air. Our first campground reservation in Canada is in June. Here are where we will be in the Rockies.

Timeframe Campgrounds Places to Visit
Early June (2 wk) Bow RiversEdge, Cochrane, AB Calgary, Kananaskis Country
Mid June (10 d) Whistlers, Jasper NP Jasper NP
Late June – Early July (2 wk) Tunnel Mountain, Banff NP Banff NP, Yoho NP
Mid July (1 wk) Redstreak, Kootenay NP Kootenay NP, perhaps area around Bugaboo Provincial Park
Late July (2 wk) Lamplighter, Revelstoke, BC Mount Revelstoke NP, Glacier NP in BC

Note: Read about our experience in Parks Canada campground reservation if you think about getting a spot in the Canadian national park campgrounds.

And on the map…

Where we'll be staying

Where we’ll be staying

I’d love to spend more time in the Rockies into late summer. However, we’re planning some time in the Vancouver, BC area after the Rockies, around early August. We also want to make our way down to Oregon by mid August for the solar eclipse, which will occur on August 21st this year.

I’ve been reading about places to see and things to do in the Rockies. We would like to hike as much as we could handle. Many of fellow bloggers have shared their experience and I’m definitely taking notes. I’ll post about what on my list of things to do in each national park when we get closer.

Have you visited the Canadian Rockies? What was your experience?

22 Comments

  1. As for Jasper, promise me you’ll go see Maligne Canyon… but go beyond where the bus people stop and take their photos and do a hike. I really like hiking up the canyon from the “5th Bridge” as it’s not as crowded there and you can slowly be awed as you walk up and see the canyon getting deeper and deeper and more impressive as you go.

    Also, hands down my FAVOURUTE place for a quick (7C ground water temp) swim or cliff jumping session is Horseshoe Lake. The neat thing about it is that water flows into it and then THROUGH it from the underground springs of the karat water system there. And as you first approach the lake (only about 200m from the parking lot) the water flows down under your feet and disappears into the karst system below you. Stop and listen there and you’ll hear it flowing. Not many people know that. And horseshoe lake, with its dramatic cliffs, gorgeous water and rock colours takes the most incredible photos. This is a roadside stop more than a hike.

    Also in Jasper, go have a drink on the outdoor terrace of the Jasper Park Lodge, then hike around the lake and up to the Old Fort viewpoint. It’s spectacular.

    The best sandwiches in town for hikes are made at the Patricia Street Deli. Choose ones made from the chicken they roast on site. Amazing.

    Rent a canoe and paddle around Pyramid Lake. It’s gorgeous & tranquil.

    See Athabasca Falls. You’ll be with the crowds, but is absolutely spectacular. Walk around to the far side and its view point so that you feel the light, misty spray in your face.

    A decent day hike is Valley of the Five Lakes.

    Jasper is like the country cousin to the Banff area. Not nearly as developed, posh and sophisticated. It’s a little rugged, a railway town, and a lot of fun.

    Eat dinner at Evil Dave’s for decent spicy food or go to the Raven Bistro for all around yummy food, fun drinks and great atmosphere.

    Don’t do the hot springs (Miette). They’re just a big swimming pool. Not very hot. Disappointing. But DO do the Sulphur Skyline hike behind them. It starts from the hot springs parking lot. It’s amazing.

    The other thing seriously worth doing is hiring a guide and walking up on the Columbia Glacier. It’s part way between Jasper and Lake Louise. Don’t do the machine crawlers they take bus loads of people up the side of it on. Do an actual hike with an experienced guide. It’s like nothing you’ve experienced before.

    People love the Jasper Skywalk, this new, arched, glass floor Bridge that’s been built for tourists. But beware of a few things. First, it’s only accessible by hopping on a Brewster Bus and going on a tour. Brewster owns it and the access rights to its site. Second, no matter what the photos online show you, you are NEVER alone there. You are with crowds that disgorge from the busses in hoards. Third, it’s ridiculously expensive for what you get. Fourth, it’s far, far away from Jasper townsite. So it’s misleading in its name (based in Jasper PARK).

    I clearly need to get posting about the Jasper area! Ha! I’ll see if there’s anything else I can think of.

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    1. Yes, you definitely have to write a few blogs about Jasper. 😄 Thanks for the tips, esp. for Maligne Canyon. One of the first pictures of Jasper NP that inspired me to want to visit was of Maligne Lake. It was taken of the lake in late spring, I think. I’ll check out the Glacier Walk too.

      Thanks for spending time writing about all of these places. I can’t wait for the trip.

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      1. Too bad you’re not here in the winter, because doing an ice walk through Maligne Canyon is one of the most incredible things to experience! The weird thing about the water system in the Jasper NP area is that most things (waterfalls, streams, lakes) are fed by underground springs… they rise up from caves and tunnels and it’s known as the “karst system” (but not like the hong karst formations in Thailand!).

        Some lakes, like Maligne Lake, empty out in the winter, like a big bathtub draining, as the spring sources kind of freeze up where they come up from underground… like a big bottle stopper is in them. As a result, places like Maligne Canyon virtually empty out.

        Walking through Maligne Canyon in the winter is a little like walking in an Arizona slot canyon. You are far, far below the water level (where it is in the spring) and the rock is smooth and sculpted and it is a magical experience. You walk by some of the cave openings that are usually what the water comes up and through 3 seasons of the year, and their entrances are like gaping holes, fringed with feathery frost crystal formations. It is truly incredible, There is a bit of water in there, but the companies that do guided tours suit you up with very warm water proof boots and giant crampons so you can get up and over some of the frozen waterfall formations. It’s one of those “bucket list” things to do . Trust me on this. 😉

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        1. It does sound amazing. You really need to share your wisdom and experience about Jasper NP one of these days on your website Sheri. I am excited about it by just reading it from here.

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    1. Haha. Oregon’s weather gets a reputation for being rainy and wet. It’s true for the Willamette Valley in the winter. Summer here is gorgeous however. As for the solar eclipse, we are coming down because Oregon is in a total eclipse path. And to minimize the chance of cloud, we’ll be in Central Oregon, the east and desert side of the state.

      I went through some angst trying figure out where to stay in the Rockies. Now that all are set, I can spend more time figure out what to do and to see.

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      1. It is a little stressful booking those samp spots. They are limited and they go so quickly and they’re in such high demand this year, with the 150 year celebration of Canada as a country, opening up the parks free to all Canadians. Glad you sorted through it all. I forgot to mention before you did the bookings that many people’s favourite place to camp in Kananaskis is the Mount Kidd RV resort.

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  2. Happy New Year! Looks like 2017 is going to be an incredible travel year for you. I’ve never experienced the Canadian Rockies but have seen photos and am envious of your trip. (Though I know that all that advance planning is hard work!) It sounds amazing!

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    1. Happy New Year to your family too. We’re excited about this year travel. I had wanted to visited the Canadian Rockies when we still lived in Virginia but it’s never materialized. So I’m glad that it’s finally happening.

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      1. great .. thanks.. I think I witnessed one when I was small.. I remember my dad making me look at the sun via one of those masks welders wear.. well only the glas part. ..but then that could have been a partial too

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