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Old 07-30-2016, 12:40 PM   #1
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Trip to Glacier and Banff

Looking for advice on a trip to Glacier USA and Banff in September. Camp grounds, things to see, special equipment or whatever. Thanks in advance for your input!
Tim
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Old 07-30-2016, 01:39 PM   #2
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I can only speak about Glacier. Banff was on the agenda at one point (along with Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Jasper), but we decided to leave those parks for another trip.

So we spent almost two weeks at Glacier this month, hiking, rafting, horseback riding. Incredible park. Loved it. I wish we could have stayed much longer.

When I started planning this trip two years ago, another forum member, InterstateFlyer, recommended the West Glacier KOA. That was excellent advice. (Thanks again!) We don't boondock much and absolutely require advance reservations for a trip like this, so that was a good home base for us. Because we stayed there the entire visit, trips to the east side of the park were limited. Next time, we'll see about camping several nights over there too. I'd bet that the campgrounds in the park empty out quite a bit after Labor Day, which would be good because I don't think any of them take reservations.

If you are in to hiking, check out Jake's hike734.com hiking map. It's an excellent resource. He also sells a great Going To The Sun driving guide.

I apologize in advance if mentioning bear spray drives this thread off the rails (like campfires guns GYMs etc), but there's a reason why they sell it at all of the Glacier gift shops. You can even rent it at Apgar Village. If you do pick up a can, make sure to get somebody to show you how to use it.
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Old 07-30-2016, 03:27 PM   #3
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Tim, you are in for some spectacular country with these destinations. We have been to Glacier and Banff a number of times. Last summer we finally did the big trip to Jasper and then back down to Banff.

If you leave GP on the east side you should stop in at Waterton lakes which is just above the border. You can follow highway 2 to Calgary and then it is a short hop into Banff. There is a huge Provincial park right in Banff, Tunnel Mountain I believe. September is a great time to go so you might want to call ahead for reservations. You will have to pay a park entry fee when you get there. It is good for the entire park which is good.

Banff has some of the most spectacular scenery we have seen. Elk hang out at the campground. The Banff Springs Hotel is a must see and is open to the public.

If you leave GP on the west you can follow highway 93 north to Radium Hot Springs where you will enter the park. You can stop and experience the hot springs if you are interested. This road will deliver you to Canada's highway 1 half way between Banff (to the south) and Lake Louise (to the north). There are a couple of campgrounds here that we have stayed at. We camped at Johnson Canyon. We drove into Banff one afternoon, just around dusk, on the old highway which runs parallel to 1 just to the east. It is 1-A and we saw so many animals it was unbelievable. Bear, goats, deer, sheep and elk all came out to feed.

Lake Louise is another spectacular spot but I will be honest and say that it has become so crowded that I doubt we will go back. Very limited parking makes it even worse.

If you have the time I would highly recommend Jasper to the north. The rivers and lakes, mountains and valleys are beyond what I can say here.

As we have said many times, we have traveled extensively through the west and have stayed at Yellowstone and Jackson Hole, done the coast from California all the way to the Olympic Peninsula and nothing compares to what we saw in Banff and Jasper.

Have a great time.
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Old 07-31-2016, 07:51 PM   #4
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Is having a generator along a good idea?
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Old 07-31-2016, 08:01 PM   #5
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Be sure to see waterton lakes park, north of glacier, on the Canadian side, beautiful...
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Old 07-31-2016, 08:42 PM   #6
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Is having a generator along a good idea?
Always a good idea. If you find yourself unable to get into a park they usually have overflow parking. The generator will be nice.
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Old 07-31-2016, 09:01 PM   #7
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Google Lake O'Hara

Visit the Lake O'Hara basin. It is limited access, but you can try to "win" a couple of tickets for a bus ride into the area. Otherwise, you can do as my family did: hike the 7 miles trail in. Then, it is another 5-8 miles of scooting around the various lakes and points of interest. You can ride the bus out, yes, without having won the lottery, but watch the clock so as to not miss the 3 pm exit bus. I guess if you are willing to hoof it in, they take pity on you. Very worth while. One of the most beautiful places that I have ever seen, especially when the larch forest turns golden in the Fall.
The bus ferries people to the back country lodge. $500.00 / night minimum 3 night stay. Too expensive for me! There is a backcountry tent campground, all crammed together, monitored as this is big grizzly country.

Susan
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Old 07-31-2016, 10:08 PM   #8
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We traveled last September from GNP to Watertown Lakes NP , then to Banff. Returned through Radium Hot Springs, West Glacier and West Yellowstone.

A couple of notes; if crossing into Canada at Waterton be sure to check the border operating times. They are not open 24 hours.

Traveling from Waterton to Banff include highway 40 on your route. Spectacular and the highest concentration of grizzlies in North America, so I'm told. The highway connects to 1 at Canmore.

We are heading back to Banff early September then on to Jasper, Kamloops, Torino and back.
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Old 08-01-2016, 12:34 PM   #9
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I can't speak for Glacier, as we have not been there but Banff and Jasper are not to be missed. We camped in Canmore and used it as a home base while we were there. It was easy to walk into town from our campsite. I think the road we loved was 1A. It is the scenic road to Lake Louise. We took that one day and found the cutest little swiss chalet. It was crowded with bike groups having lunch so we didn't stop. We made it to the entrance to Lake Louise and it was so crowded and chaotic that we turned around. There is a great little take out sandwich stop at the gas stop that is fabulous so it wasn't all a wasted effort. Our neighbor in the campground told us about Two Jack Lake. He was a Canadian and said he preferred it over Lake Louse. We went there the next day and it was drop dead gorgeous. Stopped the second day and ate at the Swiss Chalet and it was great. Be sure to take proper rain gear. After two weeks of nonstop rain we bought it in Banff and then it didn't rain a drop after that. Go up the Ice Fields Parkway to Jasper. We couldn't get into the actual campgrounds at Jasper so we actually camped at Valemount and drove back and forth for a couple of days. The campground was nice and the folks were friendly but Valemount was not spectacular. It does line you up for the trek into Kamloops. Jasper was also beautiful and well worth the visit. We count those two areas tops on our hit parade. They share a three-way tie with Tofino. We are going to GNP in a couple of weeks so I am going to follow your thread.
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Old 08-01-2016, 01:35 PM   #10
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Hi from AZ. . . On our 14k mile journey to AK last year, I thought the Icefields Pkwy was as pretty & interesting as anything we saw. Going N in June, lots of wildlife, going S in Aug LOTS of traffic... enjoy, Craig
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Old 08-01-2016, 03:35 PM   #11
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What a wonderful trip. Remember it is going to be cold at night.

Have a good time.
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Old 08-01-2016, 08:36 PM   #12
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Hey you're coming to our backyard. If you are not in to much of a hurry and want to bypass Calgary. Then I suggest you head north from Waterton to Pincher Creek then west to Lundbreck. Just past Lundbreck to come to Hiway 22. Take it north till Longview and go west on the number 40. This will take you through Kananskis. This is a pretty drive and you can find a few campgrounds along the way. Mt Kidd is a nice one and just off the main road. Then the 40 connects to the Trans Canada and you can take this straight into Banff and on to Lake Louse and Jasper if you want.
If you are a rock hound or just like big rocks. A few miles from The turn onto the 22 at Lundbreck is a place called Frank. This is the town that was buried by a landslide in 1903.
Also if you go to Jasper you may want to check out the Columbia Ice fields. This is a glacier that you can take tours on.
Lots to see. Have a great trip.
DaK
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Old 08-01-2016, 08:42 PM   #13
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On our trip around lake superior ( I highly recommend ) the power boxes at the provincial parks were a ways away. We needed a lot of cord. Is it this way in this area as well?


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Old 08-01-2016, 09:12 PM   #14
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Is having a generator along a good idea?
YES &/or solar. You will find if you decide to come up through BC that not many/most of our Provincial Parks for example have power sites.
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