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Old 06-02-2015, 09:32 AM   #1
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Penticton Banff Yellowstone Truckee

In a previous thread I asked about the Penticton. We now have decided to go east instead of west to include Banff area, down to Yellowstone and then back to Northern Calif. Any thoughts on should not miss places as well as favorite campgrounds and camp sites. We will be traveling right after labor day, so I think the crowds (hope) will have thinned out. Any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated!
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Old 06-02-2015, 09:46 AM   #2
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That time of year is usually the very best weather in that area. I've not been there with the Airstream, so can't comment on the campgrounds. Include Jasper if you have a chance, or at least halfway up there from Banff so you can walk on the glacier.
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Old 06-02-2015, 10:39 AM   #3
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Ah, Canada eh?

We have been to the Lake Louise and Banff areas three times and it is indeed spectacular country. I don't know how much time you have set aside but I would suggest making every effort to see Jasper. Over the years Lake Louise and Banff have been "found" and they are quite crowded through the summer. Your plan for mid September might be a good one.

Last summer we headed up through Penticton and then turned west on 97 to Kamloops and then on north to Jasper. We went without reservations and ended up staying for three days in the overflow parking. The provincial parks in both Jasper and Banff are very large and well maintained. The overflow at Jasper was an asphalt parking area with individual electric hookups, water available and a brand new shower/restroom facility. It was actually quite nice.

At Lake Louise we also had to stay in the overflow area but it wasn't very nice at all. A graveled lot a few miles out of town with pit toilets and no water, electricity or anything. Banff was large enough that we could get in without a reservation.

Lake Louise was the biggest disappointment of the trip. It is now so crowded with visitors that parking is almost impossible and when you do get to the lake the view is obstructed by the throngs of people. Don't even try to take your trailer to see the lake. In September this might not be the case and I would surely give it a try but even then make sure you park the trailer somewhere before you go. The entire drive from Jasper to Banff is something special and it is relatively flat and an easy tow.

Another aside to consider. If you are into wine at all, specifically white wine, the Okanogan (Okanagan in Canada) valley from Osoyoos, on the boarder, to Vernon is Canada's premier wine producing area. The whites are world class and quite affordable.

The first year we went we camped at Johnson Canyon which is where highway 93 from Radium Hot springs comes into the park. When it intersects the freeway to Banff just go a bit past this to the east and that is where the campground is. We drove into Banff one evening for dinner and left our site at dusk and followed the old highway which parallels the freeway. We encountered more wildlife that evening than we ever saw in Yellowstone. Deer, elk, bear, goats were all out. Our daughters were stuck to the windows like glue.

Have a great time and see as much as you can. It is breathtaking.
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Old 06-02-2015, 11:10 AM   #4
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I echo the already mentioned comments. Ours was a late August trip (sans trailer) with incredible weather and views.

Banff was on my bucket list and did not disappoint. (Yes its touristy but I knew that going in) Elk grazing downtown on the Bank lawn. Fairmont Springs Hotel majestic with incredulous flower baskets. (no did not stay at hotel) Salt Lick restaurant upstairs outdoor patio best steak ever.

Banff Tramway great views and hiking.

Yoho and Jasper Parks were worth the visits, the power of ice and water. And yes the US Rockies are grand but the Canadian Rockies were all that plus a bag of chips.

I'm rambling but it was a great trip.

Kayaking lake Jenny, Yellowstone Bison blocking the roadway with calves while we joyfully wanted for the road to clear.

Road to the sun in Glacier in construction (slow) in a minivan with the sliding doors open so we had constant views and photo ops.

And on and on..... Must be time for a road trip.
Enjoy.
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Old 06-02-2015, 02:47 PM   #5
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Thank you for your responses, now we are really excited!
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Old 06-02-2015, 03:07 PM   #6
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Can anyone give me an idea of how many days I need to see each of the parks, Jasper, Banff, Glacier and Yellowstone?
Thanks
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Old 06-02-2015, 03:19 PM   #7
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Wow that's a hard question.

Are you leisurely folks, hikers, drive thru(ers) etc.

Each deserve their own vacation and some of those are very large.

For instance we divided Yellowstone into 4 (pie slices) section as its a big circle. Drive to that section and decide how many pull outs and attractions and hikes we can do. We also collect the National Park Passport stamps so for us the Visitor Center with movies and diorama's take time.

Sounds like multiple trips to me. Or you hit a couple of highlights and move on with plans to come back.
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Old 06-02-2015, 03:21 PM   #8
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Smart idea!

There is a nice large national park campground in the Lake Louise area of Banff. Depending on your route, you might want to visit Waterton Lakes NP (Canada) and Glacier NP on your way to Yellowstone. If the Grand Tetons National Park (just south of Yellowstone) is on your route, for sure we'd stop there!

It's hard to judge what the camping situation will be like after Labour Day. These parks get extremely crowded in the summer, with the campgrounds full to the gills; but anymore with public schools starting so early, the crowds now are starting to taper off by late August. But this is counter-balanced by the problem that the Montana/Wyoming national parks now close their campgrounds earlier in the season. Also, when they stay open, they may stop taking reservations, and put the sites on a first-come, first serve basis.

This isn't a problem, unless you're there over a weekend with fine weather, in which case the CGs can get busy with people from all the communities in the vicinity. Also, many of the old campgrounds are available for shorter trailers only. I think St. Mary's in Glacier takes trailers only up to 23'. On the other hand, the Coulter Bay CG in the Tetons takes big rigs, is huge, first-come first served, but seldom fills up.

Fishing Bridge CG in Yellowstone is designed for large RVs, and has full hook-ups-- but the RVs are packed in like sardines. Not exactly natural, but then, you wouldn't have to spend much time there.

If it were me (and we'll be in Waterton & Glacier the first week of September,) I'd check out each park's official website. (Not the cheesy look-alike sites. In the US, the official park sites are .gov. In Canada they're .ca.) If you can get a reservation, it's probably worth the peace of mind. If you're a senior, be sure to bring along or get your golden age pass-- it's $10 for life, and good for all entrance fees and half price on camping in the parks.

We drove through Yellowstone a few years ago sans Bambi, in the fall, and it was surprisingly crowded. I think everyone else thought to beat the crowds! Parking space at the thermal features is limited, so you may enjoy your tour more with just your tow vehicle, and your AS snugly parked in its campsite.

Have a wonderful journey!
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Old 06-02-2015, 03:31 PM   #9
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If you have the time, and are planning a leisurely trip, I'd allow the longest time for Yellowstone. It is huge , has a lot of beautiful thermal features, and the posted speed limit is only about 40 mph. Ideally you'd have a couple of days per park, and that's not even counting if you like to go hiking or travel with kayaks! (We take our canoe.)

But it's not a bad idea this year to do a more hurried sampler, see what you like, and then plan a longer trip to these parks in the future.
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Old 06-03-2015, 09:18 PM   #10
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I was there last summer. I stayed at Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone the only place with full hook-ups. You will be packed in like sardines but you will not need to move the AS to a dump station. It is central located on the east side of the park. I stayed there a week and was able to see all the park. Then I went just south to Colter Bay Campground to see Grand Tetons. It was a wooded RV park on gravel. It rained almost everyday but a great place to drop the AS and site see around. There is also a very nice restaurant The Ranch House. After a exhausting day site-seeing it was nice to have someone else cook dinner.
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Old 06-03-2015, 10:11 PM   #11
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Glacier and waterton lakes are a must , 2-3 days each, sept. They are not crowded
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Old 06-03-2015, 10:43 PM   #12
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If you enjoy hiking, are in good shape, and have the time while you're in the Banff area, don't miss the Cory Pass Trail, one of the most exhilarating hikes I've ever taken.

Cory and Edith Passes near Banff, AB - a hiking trail

Somebody else mentioned the aerial tram, and I'll second it. It is also a good hiking opportunity. If you hike to the peak rather than taking the tram, the tram tickets back down to the base station are half price. That's what I did the last time I was out there.

There are also an entire series of provincial parks just east of Banff, extending southwards from the town of Canmore. There are some great trails there.

I can't speak to the camping situation at Banff as I was actually in Calgary for business trips and only managed to get to the Banff area on day trips over the weekend, or an afternoon trip once when the meetings finished at lunchtime.

At Yellowstone, I camped at Bridge Bay Campground, in early June. There were no hookups and the showers were over by Fishing Bridge. Great campground, though, with plenty of trees and foliage between most of the sites, and less bear activity than Fishing Bridge. Reserve as early as possible if you have a specific campground in mind, as they do fill up fast.

While you're in Yellowstone, you almost have to visit Old Faithful and the other geysers. I enjoyed the hike up Mount Washburn and its epic views almost as much as the geothermal features. Hiking on the beach around Yellowstone Lake is scenic, easy, and relaxing - unless you find yourself following bear tracks across the wet sand. In that case, turn around. The Mammoth Springs area in the northwest is less active than it was historically, and while somewhat interesting, was something of a disappointment. The Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone should not be missed. I found their splendor more breathtaking than the view from the mountain, or any of the geothermal features.

If you're stopping at Glacier National Park along the way, Going-to-the-Sun Road cannot be recommended highly enough. It is amazing. You can't pull a trailer or drive a large motorhome on the road, though. If you're up fro a good long hike, from Logan Pass you can hike about 7 miles north along the Highline Trail to Granite Park Chalet, with only a few hundred feet of elevation change along the way. At Granite Park Chalet, you can use the restroom, purchase snacks and beverages, or just rest a little. From there, the Loop Trail will take you 4 miles (and ~2000 feet down) to a trailhead where you can catch a park shuttle bus back to the Logan Pass Visitor Center. The views seem endless.
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Old 06-03-2015, 11:19 PM   #13
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If you do head up north, Penticton has the 2nd largest Airstream dealer in Canada with parts ,sales and service! I live in Summerland and work in Penticton at Midtown RV and highly recommend you coming through the Okanagan Valley (Penticton,Kelowna ,Vernon).
I have been to all the areas you are planning to go to and would go to all of them again! Except Yellowstone but we are planning that trip for mid Sept., if my trailer is done by then!
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Old 06-04-2015, 09:41 PM   #14
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For anyone contemplating Going-to-the-Sun road in Glacier NP, not only can you not tow a trailer on it, but I would sure recommend one of the free Park Service shuttles, or the concession's wonderful historic-looking red touring cars (fee.) The reason is that the road gets so congested that, if you're there during the high season, there is no place left to park at the visitor centre at Logan Pass. Highway 2 that follows the park's south boundary but is outside the park, is an easy route to tow your AS between East and West Glacier.

If you drop your AS at an RV park or campground at West Glacier, we absolutely love driving along the east boundary to Bowman and Kintla Lakes. The road is rough and a high-clearance vehicle is recommended, but these lakes are just stunning. All the better if you kayak or canoe.

There is also a beautiful commercial boat ride from Waterton Township to the head of Upper Waterton Lake, which takes you back into Glacier NP and Montana. Hikers often take the boat one way, and then hike back.
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