Edmonton/Banff in November

Discussion in 'Geographic Location' started by kaiyen, Jul 8, 2006.

  1. kaiyen

    kaiyen Member

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    Hi all,
    I know there is a wealth of information on Banff in general, but I'm starting here first for a lot of reasons, many very obvious.

    I will be in Edmonton area for a conference in early November (4-9 or someting like that). I know that 250 miles isn't that "close" to Banff but it's a lot closer than Northern California, and I feel like it's a place I need to see. I also know it'll be butt cold, but, again, free airfare makes it worth it.

    So...I need some help figuring out where to stay and, eventually, what to do. I don't have a huge budget, and I've found a few B&B's for like $75 canadian a night that'll do. I don't know the park at all so don't expect to do everything I want to do or get everything I want out of it, and I am willing to get just a superficial experience if that's the best I can do in 3-4 days.

    So...any suggestions? How should I approach this? I am still debating gear, and part of that depends on whether I get some new lenses for my rz67 by then or not.

    thanks,
    allan
     
  2. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    Hi Allan,

    I haven't spent a lot of time in the Rockies, but for the most 'bang for your buck' you might want to scoot over to Jasper then drive to Banff on the Icefields Highway. It'll get you into alpine and take you through some jaw dropping mountain valleys. This is a MUST DO when visiting the Rockies.

    There's also a book in the stores there called something like, "Easy Walks and Hikes in the Canadian Rockies". It has information about short trails leading to lakes, waterfalls, etc. that start right beside the road that you wouldn't even know existed without the book. If you're short on time this book would be handy.

    Murray
     
  3. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    Found it; "Walks and Easy Hikes in the Canadian Rockies" by Graeme Pole, published by Altitude Publishing.

    Murray
     
  4. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    I'll second what Murray said about Jasper National Park and the Icefield Highway to Banff.
     
  5. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    One last tip...when you drive back north to Jasper, if you have the time, take Highway 1A from Banff to Lake Louise if it's open at that time of year. 1A is the old, winding, 2 lane highway. It took my wife and I all day to get to Lake Louise because we were stopping all the time to check out creeks and walk up ridges.

    Murray
     
  6. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Probably I'd do what was suggested but when I got to Banff, instead of turning around, I'd go into Calgary which is only sixty miles. Then I'd take the highway straight up to Edmonton. Calgary to Edmonton is only about 3-4 hours, at 70-75 miles per hour. Straight flat highway.

    In fact if possible, try and to get an arrival flight to Edmonton and then a departure from Calgary.

    I grew up in Red Deer which is right in the middle of Edmonton and Calgary.


    Michael
     
  7. thebanana

    thebanana Subscriber

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    These are all good suggestions. I'd spend most of my time in the Jasper and Lake Louise areas if I was doing your trip. Banff has it attractions, but is mostly a tourist trap. Early November anywhere in Western Canada is a bit of a crap shoot. It could be sunny, gorgeous and autumn-like, or it could be snowing and blowing. Either way, many photo opportunities.

    Bookmark this page, as the forecasts are usually pretty accurate and you'll have some idea what to expect when you start your trip. Good luck!

    http://weatheroffice.ec.gc.ca/canada_e.html

    John
     
  8. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I will third this, 1973 I rode a ten speed on this route and I will never forget the this portion of the trip. Saw my first grizzly bear on this route.

     
  9. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Something that hasn't been mentioned, and I don't know if I remember correctly, but almost all of this is a National Park.

    Someone else can correct me but there aren't many places between the main attractions (Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff) to stay at night.

    So you need to plan your days so as to get from point A and have a time line to get to point B. It's dark around 5-530 if I remember correctly.


    Michael
     
  10. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    I went for a trip there around the first to middle of September IIRC and a week after I left it was snowing. Figure it to be cold and most likely snowy. Check the average temps for the time of year below at the link. Have fun driving in it if your from S. Calif.

    Banff's a nice town. Alot of young people in the summer and alot of Aussie's for some reason? Moraine Lake and Lake Louise are very pretty. Jasper would be nice but the roads will be "forget about it." Snow on the mountains tops should look nice. Try some shots around the Hotel at Lake Louise. Also go to the ski lodge up the mountain from there.

    The average snowfall for Oct- 20cm, Nov- 32cm Average temps for Oct 4.4 deg C ; Nov -4.1 deg C. You might consider going skiing?

    http://www.climate.weatheroffice.ec.gc.ca/climate_normals/index_e.html

    Just plug in Banff, etc. The real page link was extremely long.
     
  11. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    In November, snow is a distinct possibility (on the ground already, or falling) so the hiking may be off limits, depending on how things have gone. You might be stuck to working near the highways.

    That having been said, there is a lot to do near the highways. Mount Edith Cavell and Maligne Canyon are close to Jasper townsite and are impressive. The Icefields Parkway will take you the better part of a day to journey, if you photograph like I do, and you won't have very much daylight in November (Edmonton is at 54 North, so you will get between 8 and 10 hours of daylight depending on what part of November). If you do the Parkway, plan for it to be a one-way trip and spend the night in Calgary, Banff townsite or Lake Louise.

    Jasper National Park is my favourite national park in Canada. It's much less busy than Banff National Park and just as beautiful, if not moreso. Fresh snow on all the mountains will make for some beautiful photographs.

    Take the weather seriously. Unless you live in the Sierra Nevada, the weather even in November may surprise you. -20 C is possible; -10 C is probable. To most Canadians this is not too bad; to someone from California, this might seem impossibly cold. Dress for the weather.
     
  12. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    You may also want to rent a 4x4. The roads are all 4 lane, heavily snowplowed and well maintained. BUT if there is a big snowstorm, it can be pretty slow going.

    Nobody is trying to scare you but you do need to be prepared.

    I also wanted to mention I have ripped through these roads at 80-90 miles per hour in a Corvette in the middle of winter too. Nice sunny day, lots of snow everywhere but on the roads, and little traffic. Just depends on the weather.

    Michael
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 8, 2006
  13. Craig

    Craig Subscriber

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    Michael, the only roads that are 4 lane at the moment are all outside the park, and the park gate to Castle Junction on Highway 1. They are working on twinning the road between Castle Junction and Lake Louise, but it won't be done until next year sometime. The Icefields parkway is all 2 lane.

    Edmonton to Jasper or Edmonton to Banff (via Calgary) is the same driving time, about 4 hours. November is a nice time to visit, the sking hasn't started yet and the tourists have gone home so things are not crowded and its shoulder season for the hotels. You might have snow, or you might not, it just depends upon the year.
     
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  15. kaiyen

    kaiyen Member

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    Hi all,
    First, thanks for all the info. There is much to assimilate. However, bear in mind that this is like 3-4 days _after_ a conference that is _in_ Edmonton. It seems, though, that Jasper>Banff would be pretty neat. I'll keep reading, but is it a good idea for me to start out on a trip like that on the icefield parkway by myself? I don't want to get in over my head.

    allan
     
  16. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    I drove the highway in November with a Bolivian client who had never seen the Rockies before. Snowed the whole damn day, and couldn't show him the most beautiful view from any road in Canada. Still got to Calgary in a day from Edmonton using the Jasper-Banff Highway. The next day it was clear blue sky. Don't worry about driving the road by yourself. It's a public well-maintained winter road, not a goat trail. Be prepared, as someone said though. Take warm clothes and some power bars no matter how nice the weather seems when you leave Edmonton. It's most unlikely you'd ever have to get out of the car if you didn't want to do so.
     
  17. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    I wouldn't get too worried about it as this road is the 'jewel in the crown' of Canada's mountain parks as far as accessability goes...over 1,000,000 people a year drive that road and I've never heard any "Donner Party" type stories yet :wink: They have enough snow removal crews and equipment to keep all those tourists happy and willing to come back again to spend more money.

    Nobody is trying to scare you here, it's just that while traveling in mountainous areas you should expect weird weather at any time of year, and we don't want to give you the impression you can stroll through there dressed only in a thong and a pair of plastic flip flops on your feet. It can rain in January and snow in August...you just never know!

    You're on the right track thinking you should visit the Canadian Rockies since you'll be in Edmonton anyways...just get your butt to Banff because it's calling your name, then you never know what will happen or which direction you'll head from there :smile:

    Murray
     
  18. Craig

    Craig Subscriber

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    The Parkway is a paved road, you'll be fine driving it by yourself, just be prepared for winter conditions. You'll pass through a number of micro climates on the way, so I wouldn't be surprised to get sun, snow, sleet or rain, or any combination on your trip.
     
  19. kaiyen

    kaiyen Member

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    Cool. I will think about this option.

    thanks for the info,
    allan
     
  20. kaiyen

    kaiyen Member

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    Hi all,
    As a final update...this is what I've decided to do, at least date-wise. Conference ends on 11/9. I will drive to banff that day, and check into wherever it is I'm staying (not sure yet). Then do the icefield highway the 10th and 11th, then drive back to Edmonton on the 12th for my flight. I can't miss anymore work so the 12th is the latest I can fly back.

    Obviously still gotta figure out specifics. But I'll get something out of it, I think, even if it's not as much as I had hoped. It's better than not going at all.

    thoughts?

    allan
     
  21. KenM

    KenM Member

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    Yes, yes, Yes, YES!

    If you're in the area, take advantage of it. That time of year, the mountains will be in spectacular form....I drive Hwy. 93 at least 6 times every winter....and it's worth it, every time. Doesn't matter if the weater is good or not, or if you take your camera out of the bag or not. It's still worth it.
     
  22. kaiyen

    kaiyen Member

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    Any suggestions on where to stay in that area? Is it possible to drive half of the highway on one day, stay somewhere in the middle, then the 2nd half the next day? Or should I drive it in one day with some stopping, then spend time in both jasper and banff at each end before heading back? I would rather spend more time on one thing than shortchange all 3.

    allan
     
  23. kaiyen

    kaiyen Member

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    Anyone? Suggestions on where to stay?
     
  24. KenM

    KenM Member

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    There are numerous campgrounds along Hwy 93, and there's also the NumTiJah Lodge, right by Bow Lake. I'll warn you now, it's quite expensive.

    They have some absolutely stunning artwork in the dining room :rolleyes:

    Regardless of where you stay, you'll have to make reservations ahead of time. Check out http://www.num-ti-jah.com/, and http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/jasper/visit/index_e.asp for more information.
     
  25. Ezzie

    Ezzie Member

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    Fantastic advice. I'm going to Banff and Lake Louise for a fortnight's skiing end February, beginning of March, and hope to take a few days off for photography. How much light will there be at that time of the year? I'm used to the cold and the dark, I live 60deg north in Norway.
     
  26. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    Stay in Canmore which is about 15minutes East of Banff and outside the park. Canmore is just a little quieter, tons of very good restaurants and accommodation.